TIME startup

ManServants: The Startup That Promises to Make (Almost) All Your Fantasies Come True

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Ladies, are you tired of (and maybe a little grossed out by) the male strippers at bachelorette parties? Do you wish instead that you could just hire a hot guy to serve you food, do your laundry, or dole out creative compliments whenever you walk into a room? Beginning in the fall, new San Francisco-based startup ManServants promises you can have all that, and more, with their rent-a-perfect-guy service.

The men for hire go through “a very rigorous training process,” co-founder Dalal Khajah told Mashable, and they can be hired to do whatever the client wants. During the testing phase of the service, one woman wanted a sassy gay friend to give her relationship advice. Another wanted her man to serve her food while singing songs from The Little Mermaid.

The singing will cost you extra – according to ManServants’ website, the standard services include waiting on you hand and foot, serving drinks, acting as a body guard, taking photos, giving compliments, and “[cleaning] up your hot mess.” For an additional fee, you can get your ManServant to do things like speak in an accent, or give you a spa day complete with cucumber water and chocolate covered strawberries. (The website doesn’t say what it will cost you to hire your ManServant, but he will be compensated by the company beginning at $80 per hour and $300 per day.)

Josephine Wai Lin, Khajah’s business partner, explained all the customizable options: “Every woman’s fantasy is different.”

But one thing the men won’t do is fulfill fantasies that are less innocent than say, singing “Under the Sea.” In the ManServants code of conduct it says, “A ManServant keeps his penis in his pants and out of the lady’s face.” Chivalry isn’t dead!

The company’s vision is “to empower women to make their own rules. Rules a ManServant may then follow.” So watch the hilarious promo video, and start coming up with ideas.

TIME relationships

Sigh: Men Think Women Who Listen to Them Are Sexier

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Listening woman Image Source RF/Wonwoo Lee—Getty Images/Image Source

A new study shows that men think women who are aware of their feelings are attractive, but it didn't necessarily work the other way around

Dusty Springfield was right all those years ago when she said the best way to a man’s heart was to “show him that you care.” A new study shows that men are more sexually attracted to “responsive” women who tend to their needs, but the same can’t be said about what attracts women to men.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that after just meeting, men were more likely to be sexually attracted to a woman who was “responsive,” which meant “aware of what I’m thinking and feeling” or “listening to me.” Men perceived responsive women as more feminine, and therefore more sexually attractive.

Dr. Gurit Birnbaum, one of the authors of the study, said that “responsiveness” could also indicate which women would be viewed as long-term partners vs. short term hookups. “A responsive partner may be perceived as a warm and caring and therefore a desirable long-term partner,” she said in an email.

Unsurprisingly, the female attitude towards male “responsiveness” was more complicated. On the one hand, some women saw responsiveness as an indication that the man would be a desirable mate, while others suspiciously viewed it as a ploy to manipulate them into sex. Still others thought that “responsiveness” was un-masculine, and therefore not sexy.

So there might be actually some science behind the whole “nice guys finish last” thing.

What a bummer.

TIME relationships

Who Talks More, Men Or Women? The Answer Isn’t As Obvious As You Think

A recent Northeastern study joins a long list of literature on the topic

A study released Tuesday sought to answer the ages-old and oft-debated question, do women really talk more than men? This most recent answer seems to be: well, it depends.

Northeastern University Professor David Lazer and his team studied 133 adult subjects in either professional or relaxed settings and gave them all “sociometers,” a device about the size of a smart phone that measures social interactions.

Their results found that the gender who spoke more very much depended on the setting. Women were slightly more likely to engage in casual conversation during a lunch hour but much more likely to engage in long conversations during an academic collaboration. However, men were more likely to dominate conversation when placed in a professional group of six or more people.

“So it’s a very par­tic­ular sce­nario that leads to more interactions,” Lazer said. “The real story here is there’s an inter­play between the set­ting and gender which cre­ated this difference.”

While Lazer might have been the first researcher to use sociometers in such a study, the question of which gender talks more has been asked many times before. A number of self-help books have cited this statistic: women utter an average of 20,000 words a day while men speak an average of only 7,000. A researcher from the University of Pennsylvania who tried to track this statistic’s origin found that it may have come from a 1993 marriage counselor’s pamphlet. The pamphlet’s numbers were, surprisingly, unsourced.

In the world of actual science, one 2007 study found that women and men use roughly the same number of words a day: 16,215 words for women compared to men’s 15,669. And while one 2004 study found that girls spoke a negligibly small amount more than boys, another from the same year found that boys spoke up nine times more in the classroom.

Above all, Lazer’s study proves that the debate on the subject roils on. However, for those who still believe women to be the more talkative sex, this old Chinese proverb may offer insight: “The tongue is the sword of a woman, and she never lets it become rusty.”

TIME movies

Think Like a Man Too Has Very Little to Do With Thinking Like a Man

Think Like a Man Too
Matt Kennedy / Screen Gems / Sony

The sequel stays away from gender politics

Though 2012’s Think Like a Man was a surprise smash-hit — a hit big enough to inspire think pieces about whether Hollywood would finally change the way it addresses African-American audiences, eventually grossing over $91 million — it wasn’t without its share of detractors. The ensemble comedy, based on the Steve Harvey advice book Act Like a Lady; Think Like a Man, was entirely predicated on the idea that men and women think essentially differently and that women must scheme (“think like a man”) to get the attention of the men they want/need. The Washington Post noted that it was “serving up patriarchy with a smile” and relied on stereotypical types. Ms. magazine said the book and movie were “emblematic of the sexist and racist critique and regressive advice bombarding black women.” Even a positive review in the Los Angeles Times noted that the movie was surprisingly enjoyable considering that it’s based on a “blithely sexist” book.

The movie’s sequel, arriving in theaters today, has been getting reviews that indicate it’s not likely to capture the box-office magic of its predecessor (it’s got a mere 22% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes) — but it’s also unlikely to earn the same degree of gender-politics criticism.

As TIME’s Richard Corliss put it in his review of the movie:

Harvey’s book spurred the plot of the first movie: the women read it, learning how their beaux thought, and then the men read it too, like the advance answers to a pop quiz. The sequel drops that notion; the book isn’t mentioned, and Harvey shows up only as the face on a Family Feud slot machine. In its stead we get a surfeit of nothing. Each couple pursues its dispute for the first act, gets separated in the second and apologizes and nuzzles in the third.

The cutesy pun on “2” and “Too” in the film’s title might be taken to imply that men and women alike, this time around, are thinking like men. But even though the characters don’t completely shed their stereotypical slots — the clueless one, the irresponsible one, the shrew, the player — the question of thinking like the more general stereotype of Man or Woman ends up being pretty much irrelevant.

After all, the fact that it’s a sequel means the characters all start out with personalities that audiences have already spent about two hours getting to know. They’re also mostly coupled off, no longer trying to game the system in the service of one-sided love. If your starting point is with actual people in actual relationships, it’s harder to lump them all together into shallow groups.

Too is hardly a radical feminist rallying cry — it’s still a marriage plot centered around a low-stakes battle of the sexes about which group can throw a better party — but it’s also in some ways a rebuttal of the very idea of the movie and book that allowed it to exist. In fact, when it jettisons the ‘act like a lady/think like a man’ dichotomy in favor of uncomplicated Vegas silliness, its plot takes a fairly egalitarian turn. Pretty much every character, regardless of gender, wants the same thing: a crazy bachelor(ette) party; a fun night with friends; a relationship that can move to the next level; a beautiful wedding for the couple that brought them there. Further, admitting that they want those things doesn’t stop the characters from finding happiness. Nobody has to pretend to be what they’re not, because the movie doesn’t separate the way the men act or think from the way the women act or think, which means there wouldn’t be anything to pretend even if they wanted to. The characters aren’t exactly dramatic ground-breakers, but at least they’re being themselves.

And it’s not just Think Like a Man Too that’s challenging those stereotypes: just as the movie hits theaters, the new trailer for star Kevin Hart’s upcoming project The Wedding Ringer dropped. Again, it’s not exactly a revolution, but nobody could argue that these guys don’t care about weddings:

 

TIME Body Image

‘Bigorexia’ and the Male Quest For More Muscle

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Man working out. Vetta/Getty Images

Much has been made of the decreased effect of gravity on female movie stars in recent decades, and how this sets an impossible standard for girls, leading to body image issues.

But a similar effect has taken place with men, with the scale moving in the opposite direction.

Charlton Heston spent most of the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes shirtless, but such a torso would never suffice for today’s action hero. That’s why the 2001 reboot had former underwear model Mark Wahlberg as the lead.

The James Bond body stayed pretty static across multiple actors, until the perfectly ripped Daniel Craig added 007 to his tagline. When Casino Royale premiered hearts went aflutter when his license to thrill physique sauntered out of the ocean blue.

There has been a shift in what gets seen while shirtless on the silver screen, and men have noticed. Schwarzenegger was one of the first, followed quickly by Jean Claude Van Damme, as guys who fit the description of, “Well, they can’t act, and their English isn’t so good, but damn, they look pretty from the neck down, so … roll camera!”

But such hyper-muscled warriors were anomalies in the 80s. Christopher Reeve may have looked good as Superman, but he was positively puny compared to Henry Cavill’s 2013 version of the man of steel.

An entire industry has sprung up around the desire to achieve the latest male movie star musculature. Stories of regular actors being transformed for specific roles have permeated the media and lead to training tales a-plenty in magazines sporting the word “muscle” in the title.

In the year following the 2006 film 300, Google Trends shows a 300% increase in searches for the term “six pack abs.” Many magazines promise to relay the secrets of the “Superman workout” or the “Thor workout” or the “300 workout” or the “Insert-name-of-pumped-up-movie-hero-here workout.” What is often left out is the explanation of how these physical transformations become tightly controlled labor camps for the actors, and how the muscle gains and rippling midsections are fleeting.

This media pressure can lead to muscle dysmorphia (colloquially known as “bigorexia”), which is an obsession with not being muscular enough. Listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it strikes primarily among men who are already lean and muscular, compelling them to quest for even more muscle mass and ever lower levels of body fat. It can lead to compulsive exercise regimens that decrease quality of life, as well as disordered eating. Sometimes, anabolic steroids are sought out to quench one’s desire to be huge. The supplement industry sure has cashed in on all of this. It’s worth noting that many of those muscle mags are owned by supplement companies and used as vehicles to hawk their mass gaining wares.

Recently I interviewed Hugh Jackman about his Wolverine transformation, and instead of dwelling on the details of his workout, I asked him about the extremes taken to prepare him for shirtless scenes. “… everything changes the month before, and I’m timed down to the day,” Jackman told me. “There is water dehydration for 36 hours before. It’s quite a scientific process to looking your best.” He also told me of how his motivation to train so hard comes from knowing he’s going to be on a big screen in 3-D, and that he doesn’t keep that shape for long.

I also interviewed the stars of 300: Rise of an Empire and learned about how training and diet takes over the actors’ lives. And in a recent interview with actor and Old Spice pitchman Terry Crews he told me about taking diuretics to lean out for shirtless scenes.

Overall, I like seeing these powerful physiques on action stars, but I also understand what it takes to achieve them. I just wish more men realized what a near-impossible standard is being set, and instead of fretting over their own lack of visual “perfection,” would just sit back and enjoy the show.

Fell is a syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He blogs at www.SixPackAbs.com. You can follow him @BodyForWife.

 

 

TIME medicine

Viagra May Boost Risk for Developing Skin Cancer, Study Finds

Men who use the little blue pill may have twice the risk of developing melanoma

There may be a dangerous link between Viagra and melanoma, according to new research.

Men involved in long-term health research who used Viagra for erectile dysfunction nearly doubled their risk of developing melanoma, a study published in the June issue of JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Researchers evaluated nearly 26,000 men who disclosed during a Harvard study in 2000 that they used sildenafil citrate, or Viagra, for erectile dysfunction. None of the men evaluated had any instance of cancer during the initial study. Between 2000 and 2010, however, researchers found the men who took Viagra were at nearly twice the risk of developing skin cancer.

Over the course of the study, during which participants were given questionnaires once every two years, the researchers identified 142 cases of melanoma, 580 of squamous cell carcinoma, and 3030 of basal cell carcinoma. They did not, however, find a direct link between erectile dysfunction and melanoma.

The study’s authors say though the results may indicate Viagra increases the risk for melanoma, their research alone is not enough to affect clinical recommendations.

TIME relationships

The Worst Questions Women Get When Online Dating

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Keyboard with red heart on button, close-up Vstock—Getty Images/Tetra images RF

I was having brunch with some girlfriends the other day, and we got on the subject of first dates. While we all had different experiences, there was one thing we all agreed on: There are a few questions we are absolutely tired of hearing from guys on a first date. Here they are, in no particular order.

What do you do for fun?
It’s a generic question that breeds generic answers, and doesn’t really give you additional insight into who I am. Asking me what I “do for fun” kind of makes me feel like I’m on an interview, not a date. Some of you may be thinking that this question means the guy is trying to plan a future date for us. I really wish you were right, but that’s what makes this question extra annoying: The same guys who ask me what I to do for fun will turn around in two weeks, and ask me what I would like to do for our first date, even though I’ve given them a list of things I do for fun. It makes no sense to me!

So, why are you single?
There is no faster way to make me feel like I’m failing at life than to ask me why I’m single. I mean, what is the right answer to a question like this? Should I say, “Well, I don’t hook up right away, so most guys get bored with me, and that’s why I’m single!” Or should I say, “I get really clingy around month three and it scares guys off, so here I am, solo!” The world already gives single girls the side-eye; there really is no need to bring up singledom on dates.

You’re so pretty, I’m surprised someone hasn’t taken you off the market! (aka, “Why are you single: The Remix)
This is one of those backhanded compliments that really has no response. When men say this to me, it makes me feel like something is wrong with me — especially because 99% of the men who use corny lines like this will not make any moves to take me off the market.

What kind of guys/girls do you like?
This question is tough, because I understand it. As a Plus-Size Princess, I often wonder if the guys asking me out have dated big girls before (not that it matters, but I do wonder), and I’ve learned that the answer is rarely helpful. If his last three girlfriends looked like Jennifer Lopez, I may feel insecure, but if his last three girlfriends looked like Rebel Wilson, I might wonder if he’s a chubby chaser. On the flip side, when a guy asks me what kind of guys I like, I might feel uncomfortable, especially if he doesn’t fit my normal boyfriend mold. I don’t want to have to tell Kevin Hart that my last three boyfriends were NBA players. That’s awkward, and irrelevant. In the end, knowing a person’s “type” really doesn’t matter as long as they’re attracted to you.

So, do you like (adjective here) guys/girls?
This question is a little different from “what kind of guys/girls do you like?” As a plus-size woman of color, I hear this question in two scenarios. Either the guy is trying to see if I’m cool with him not being black, or the guy is trying to see if I’m cool with him being skinny. For me, the answer is always the same: “I like all types of guys.” I mean, if I’m on a date with you, it’s because I’m open to dating you, no matter what you look like.

Why did your last relationship end?
So, are you trying to make me to cry on our first date? This is information you’ll get eventually, but maybe we can keep it light and positive on the first few dates, please?

Do you live alone?
Seriously, why does a man need to know if I live alone? In my opinion, this question just shows that he’s calculating how soon we’ll be hooking up, which is just tacky.

If you’re someone who has trouble making small talk on dates, one of my tricks is to start with current things, and go from there. Meaning: Instead of asking “What do you do for fun?” I’ll ask “What did you do this weekend?” and from there, I’ll get to learn what the person enjoys doing in their free time.

Instead of being in the moment and asking about things based on the person we’re with, people come with these dating interview questions that they use on everyone they’ve ever met, and expect sparks to fly with generic inquisitions. Meh. I call these annoying dating questions, but they might just be lazy dating questions.

Have you had any of these questions on dates? How did you respond?

RELATED: What If Your SO Didn’t Like Your Body?

On her blog, Plus Size Princess, CeCe Olisa has detailed everything from what it’s like to be the only big black girl in a yoga class (fine, thanks!), to her adventures in plus-size dating in the Big Apple. Now, the New York City transplant is lending her poignant, often-hilarious voice to R29.

This article was written by Cece Olisa and originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

 

 

TIME

What Happens When Men Try to Sound Sexy

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Piotr Powietrzynski—Getty Images

Thanks to mate selection, women may be better sweet talkers

A low, breathy voice is what we’ve decided as a society is “sexy,” whether you’re male or female. But according to a new study, men are not very good at it.

In the study, published in Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 20 men and 20 women were asked to use a sexy voice, and 40 people listened to determine whether they were successful. Women were much better at it than men, by lowering their voice and adding a touch of hoarseness. Men could not achieve that. “In fact, although not significantly, it got a bit worse when men tried to sound sexy,” said study author Susan Hughes, a associate professor of psychology at Albright College in a statement.

So, why is it so hard for men to turn women on with their voice? Well, the researchers think it may have to do with mate selection. Men tend to care more about attractiveness when it comes to finding the right partner, so women have evolved to learn to play up their attractive qualities–like their sexy voice–in order snatch a mate and beat out the other competition.

The research also looked at other voice manipulation abilities and found that both genders are successful at making their voices sound smarter, but men outperform women when it comes to making their voice sound more confident.

To attract women, men may just need to lower their voices instead of trying to sound sensual. Other research suggests that women like men with deep voices because it makes them sound bigger.

 

TIME

When A Guy Gets An Eating Disorder

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PhotoAlto/Ale Ventura—Getty Images/PhotoAlto

Study finds men don't seek help for eating disorders because they don't recognize the symptoms

The idea that eating disorders are “women’s issues” is such an engrained gender stereotype, that men do not even realize when they are suffering from one, a new small study says.

British researchers interviewed nearly 40 young people, 10 of whom were men, about their eating disorder experiences. The participants, who were between the ages of 16 and 25 with eating disorders, answered questions about early symptoms, recognition of their problem and getting help. When it came to the men, the findings were unsettling.

All of the men in the study said that it took them some time to realize they had a problem–and that their symptoms were indicative of an eating disorder. During that time, the men said their eating disorder-related behaviors–like obsessive calorie counting and purging–became an even greater problem. One of the predominant reasons it took these men so long to get treatment, they said, was the perception that eating disorders are women’s problems. One participant told the researchers that he thought eating disorders harmed “fragile teenage girls.”

The men also reported that their families and friends did not seem to catch their symptoms, and they themselves weren’t entirely sure what the symptoms of an eating disorder were. For the men, it was only when their disorder became an emergency that they realized what their problem was. Even when they realized they had an eating disorder, it took them awhile before they told anyone–fearing they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

While the study is small, the findings are not uncommon. When Matt Wetsel, 30, was a freshman in college, he realized he had a problem. He was sitting in class, in so much pain that he had trouble standing up when the class ended–and it was all due to hunger. Wetsel developed an eating disorder at the end of high school, after what he describes as a massive depressive episode. He didn’t sleep and he lost his appetite, and unfortunately after awhile, he became used to not eating. “No one had said anything to me. Only one coworker told me she thought I might have an eating disorder, and just hearing that terrified me,” says Wetsel.

When he finally decided to get help, most of the literature available, and support groups at his school, were catered to women. Even today, Wetsel, who serves on the Eating Disorders Coalition Junior Board, says a lot of the conversation about eating disorders and men focuses on what makes them different from women. In some cases, men are suffering from muscle dysmorphia, which is the obsession with not being muscular enough, but it’s certainly not the case for all men with eating disorders.Wetsel feels like men and women often have very similar experiences when it comes to eating disorders and that focusing on what makes eating disorders in men “unique” doesn’t help. “When there’s so much focus on the differences, we overlook the sameness,” he says.

Some research shows that eating disorders are on the rise among men. There’s no denying that media depicts men in similarly impossible physiques as they do women. Research has shown that 25 percent of men with a normal weight think that they’re underweight. But perhaps it’s merely a growing awareness among men and the greater community that eating disorders are not gender exclusive. At least, that’s what we need to realize if we want men to get treated. As the latest study shows, framing eating disorders as something that happens to women delays men getting help.

After seeking treatment, Wetsel tracked down his former coworker to tell her he was doing something about his eating disorder. “She was so happy for me, she gave me a kiss,” he says.

 

TIME Rape

Nearly Half of Young Men Say They’ve Had ‘Unwanted’ Sex

New study says it's possible for women to rape men: 18% of surveyed guys say women used physical force to make them have sex against their will

A new study challenges some widely held assumptions about coercion, sexual assault and gender. According to a paper published in the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 43% of high school and college-aged men say they’ve had “unwanted sexual contact,” and 95% of those say a female acquaintance was the aggressor.

Researchers surveyed 284 young men and found that 18% reported sexual coercion by force, 31% said they were verbally coerced sex, and 26% said they’d experienced “unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors.” Half of those surveyed said they ended up having sex against their will, 10% said sex was attempted, and 40% said the coercion resulted in fondling or kissing.

Dr. Bryana French, who teaches counseling psychology and black studies at University of Missouri and co-authored the study, says that male victims are often less willing to describe sexual coercion in detail, “but when asked if it happened, they say it happened.”

But what about the, urm, erectile aspect of sex? French says that the study defined “sex” as oral, vaginal, or anal, so it’s possible that the sex didn’t involve an erection. But she also said that it’s not impossible for men to have an erection even if they don’t want to have sex. “Sometimes when women are experiencing sexual violence, their bodies respond in ways that don’t correspond to how they feel,” she said. “They can not want the experience to happen, even if their bodies said otherwise.”

French’s survey sample was small, nonetheless, she hopes her research helps upend our assumptions about sexual violence and gender. “That’s an unfortunate myth, that men can’t be raped by women,” she said. “This is not to deny the gendered impact of sexual violence, but it’s important not to ignore that men are victimized too.”

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