Front-page teaser for a WaPo article that — on clicking — is headlined "Lust, monkeys and the science of human desire."
Now, I'm not interested in monkey sex at all. The science I want to know about is the journalism of the web. Why was the front page, the page that invites you to click, all gendered up with "female monkeys" and "women," but the title at the site of the article is sex neutral, with "monkeys" and "human desire"? There are 2 other differences that suggest that the front page was intentionally skewed toward women: 1. Omission of the word "science," and 2. Substituting "sex lives" for "lust."
(What's stereotypically female about "sex lives" for "lust"? "Lust" is
about the urge and it's also the name of the sin, whereas "sex lives"
implies that one's whole existence comes into play. "Lust" is racy and
emphasizes the motivation to seek release, but "sex lives" speaks of sex
as an integrated element of personal well-being that permeates one's
body, mind, and relationships with others.)
I suspect that different readers get different teasers on the front page and WaPo knows I'm female and is therefore serving me the female teaser. (Search for "monkeys" on the WaPo front page and let me know what title you get.) But the text of the article justifies the female-oriented headline, not the neutral one. It's about research that —"[l]ike lots of current research on human and animal sexuality" — upends the conventional notion that the male is the aggressor in sexual relations.
The author of the article, Daniel Bergner, says the conventional notion "may be soothing for society." I'd say that challenging that notion is also "soothing." In modern day America, over and over, I've seen a preference for reporting scientific research in a manner that promotes the female. So, if the conventional notion is that the male is dominant, vigorous, and successful in acquiring many sex partners, there is an eagerness to perceive that the opposite is true.