BOSTON—According to a Boston University study released Monday, men from lower-income backgrounds are significantly more skilled at communicating their attraction to women than their middle- and upper-class counterparts.
"Many people would assume that the relative dearth of educational opportunities available to men in lower economic strata would result in inferior communication skills," said Boston University social anthropologist Dr. Mary Schoen, co-author of the study. "To the contrary, our research finds that they are up to four times more adept at conveying their interest in women than men with higher incomes."
Lower-income men, Schoen said, have a variety of phrases at their disposal to clearly and concisely communicate their attraction to members of the opposite sex. Among them are, "Slow down so I can get a look at you," "Mmmm, you are lookin' fiiiine today," and "I wouldn't mind a piece-a dat."
"Cultures in which the written word is not stressed generally tend to develop a greater oral tradition," Schoen said. "Never before, however, has the propensity been placed in a socioeconomic context, specifically with regard to how certain demographic subsets are better able to articulate their desire to get with that hot little mama over there in the red dress."
The study found that 95 percent of men who earn less than $18,000 a year were able to loudly and publicly voice their approval of specific body parts on women. By contrast, a paltry 3 percent of men who earn more than $75,000 a year could do the same.
"Though they scored substantially higher in math and science aptitude, upper-class males were surprisingly inept at simply letting a coworker know her ass looked nice in a skirt," said Dr. Marybeth Clarke, Boston University sociologist and the study's co-author. "It's not that they didn't notice the ass. They simply were unable to convey the sentiment."
Even more remarkable, low-income men are often able to initiate communication with women they do not even know.
"It's one thing to be able to strike up a conversation with a friend or coworker," Clarke said, "but the challenge is that much greater when you're trying to talk to a stranger who's running to catch a train."
The study also found that the communication skills of economically disadvantaged men are virtually unaffected by context, remaining consistently high regardless of the race, class, or mood of the woman being approached.
"Whether the woman was black or white, rich or poor, cheerful or profoundly depressed, these men were consistently able to get across the message that they would enjoy engaging in intercourse with her," Clarke said. "Their requests to 'let me get up on it' or 'give me a little sugar, honey' were unfailingly clear, regardless of who the woman was or her emotional state at the time."
Lower-income men were also seven times more likely to ask women questions. Among the queries noted in the report: "Where you going all dressed up so sexy?," "Where did you get a pair of legs like that?," and "Hey, baby, wanna suck my root?"
Schoen said the idea for the study first came to her during the summer of 1998, when she was gathering data for an interdisciplinary research project on access to healthcare among the nation's poor. While studying admittance procedures at various hospitals in East Los Angeles, the south side of Chicago, and New York's Spanish Harlem, Schoen was impressed by the direct manner in which men in these communities expressed to her their admiration for the shape of her body.
"All I had to do was walk down the street to notice the discrepancy in communication proficiency between rich and poor males," Schoen said. "While well-to-do men would steal furtive glances at my chest, less well-off men would loudly and confidently state their opinion on the matter."
Schoen was not just struck by the directness of the poorer men's remarks, but by the "vast vocabulary" they employed in doing so.
"These men did not simply say, 'I like your breasts,'" Schoen said. "They used a vast array of terms: tits, jugs, knockers, knobs, headlights, titties, ta-tas, cans, hooters, boobs, boobies, bazooms, rack, mounds, maracas, milk cans, milk bags, yabbos, fun bags, slappies, coconuts, jabungos, melons. The full list, which is included in the report, is nine pages long."
Schoen said she and her colleagues are "heartened" by the findings.
"The nation's economically disadvantaged males face many problems. Fortunately, an inability to express themselves to attractive young women in public is not among them," Schoen said. "It is up to all of us to encourage these men to develop their skills even further, that their voice might rise, loud and proud, from car windows and construction sites all across the nation."