Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Serve Up a Wire Story (or: Meat Keeps the Heat)

Watching health-related wire stories surface, in all their repackaged, stock photo-ed, frosted with crazy headlines glory, is always interesting.

This time the news is a study that showed fat men are able to maintain erections longer during intercourse than thin men; an average of 7.3 minutes versus 1.8 minutes, due to increased levels of the hormone estradiol.

Pick a photo: (headless) fat man fondling own belly; fat man lying in bed, fat man eating (the fuck?); (headless) fat man with belly fondled by other; or thin men in bed with women, all heads attached (??).

Pick a headline:
Fat Men Enjoy Longer Lasting Sex
Chubby Chaps 'Better in Bed'
Fat Men Capable of Making Love for Longer Duration, Claims Study
Bulky Lovers Make Better Love--Study
Women Should Look to Larger Lovers for a Bit of Nookie
(That last one is from a site that claims to be the "leader in extramarital dating since 1995"...not linking it.)

Decide how to convey the news (while, note, admitting naught but heterosexuality and assuming that female sexual satisfaction revolves, planet-like, around only The Unit). Posit a norm, anticipate our surprise at the news, shape data to the most confusing black and white, draw conclusions about what we're supposed to "do," and let it stand until the next study comes along to be misinterpreted:
"It may come as a surprise to many women, but chubby chaps can actually make love for longer, says a new study. . . the lardy lovers' secret lies in their spare tyre and the other rolls of fat, which affect the balance of their hormones."
"In a new and surprising revelation, fat men last longer in bed. Women will certainly surprised by this new scientific study which found that fat men could be best during sex."

"Women may swoon over six pack gym jocks, but disbelievingly they might opt for 'fatter men' than fitter ones when it comes to fulfilling the act in bed, claims a new study . . . The fatty men may be heaving a sigh of relief, but the fitter ones are not ready to accept the research."
(Okay--most--although not all--of these news sources aren't particularly reputable, and this is all stupid easy shootin, but all the uninformed interpretation is scarier, yet much the same, as stories spread across more solid news sources. Such as the recent widespread wire story about people "not knowing" they are fat, using BMI as the determiner, but not including even widely accepted criticisms of this very imperfect measuring tool. For that we get fear-bating headlines like: Fat and Unaware; Americans Blind to the Obesity Epidemic; Many Fat People Don't Realize They Are Fat; Obese Don't See Themselves as Obese.)

Blah blah. Misinterpreting study results of any kind at all is a revered art, but the inability to let information stand on its own reaches high pitch around fat + health + sex.

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