A brilliant study was performed to better understand those mysterious female humans, their relationships with designer handbags, and how everything women ever do is about snagging a man and keeping other women away from him because they are gold-digging harpies. From Slate's analysis:

Carlson School of Management Associate Professor Vladas Griskevicius and his PhD student Yajin Wang—no doubt experts in human's evolutionary biology—have published a study that they claim demonstrates that women want to own designer handbags because they're hardwired to show off how much their man spends on them so other women back off.

I'll give you a minute to get your eyes back into position from rolling them into the back of your head.

And from the University's article on the study:

"It might seem irrational that each year Americans spend over $250 billion on women’s luxury products with an average woman acquiring three new handbags a year, but conspicuous consumption is actually smart for women who want to protect their relationship," says Griskevicius, coauthor of The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made Us Smarter Than We Think. "When a woman is flaunting designer products, it says to other women ‘back off my man.’"

....

In another study, Griskevicius and Wang made participants feel jealous by having them imagine that another woman was flirting with their man. Shortly afterward, the women completed a seemingly unrelated task in which they drew a luxury brand logo on a handbag. The result? When women felt jealous, they drew designer logos that were twice the size of those in the other conditions.

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What demographic are we talking about? VERY RICH WHITE PEOPLE? That's surprising.

"The feeling that a relationship is being threatened by another woman automatically triggers women to want to flash Gucci, Chanel, and Fendi to other women," explains Wang. "A designer handbag or a pair of expensive shoes seems to work like a shield, where wielding a Fendi handbag successfully fends off romantic rivals."

Oh, it's automatic! Silly me. I didn't even know I was doing it.

Scribbling the labels of designers on the handbags larger had to do with keeping their man from being snagged by other women? As a way to intimidate your man's potential mistresses? Assuming the sample size was large enough to have any real significance (it wasn't), I can think of all kinds of flaws in this study.

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  • For instance, what was the overlying emotion of the women who drew "smaller" ones. What is the definition of a woman who is "not jealous"? Is she relaxed? Is she secure? How do we know she doesn't have underlying jealousy already?
  • Did the same women draw the label twice, once small and then once large - because that says something about what drawing something twice might have to do with it.
  • Perhaps, when one is worked up about something, maybe they would draw something larger. Drawing something smaller requires more control of the hand, patience, and concentration. Emotional stress in any form surely could contribute to this. Maybe not. Except that wasn't considered here.

A surprising finding in the paper was that feelings of jealousy triggered a desire for luxury products not just for women in committed relationships but also for single women. "Many single women obviously want designer products, but instead of these products saying back off my current man, the single woman is saying back off my future man," adds Wang. "Conspicuous consumption for women has a lot to do with subtle status within the female group."

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Oh, see, single ladies only like nice things in relation to men! I want my Gucci purse to show you ladies that I am going to bag the man, and you're not because I am rich (?) already and men go for rich women (?) with designer bags (?) and you should know to back off all men because of your cheap bag (?). Or because I have a rich man (?) who loves me more than anyone will ever love you because he bought me the most expensive purse (?). I agree with the sentiment we may be showing off for other women, but these two yahoos are coming at it from an assumption that all women are inherently competitive with other women and all things they do point back to keeping a man.

I think that is a big assumption to make GOING INTO this study.

What about those of us who don't focus on labels? Or who are with men who can't afford/wouldn't buy expensive designer gifts for us? Do we buy them for ourselves to subconsciously protect our relationships? Puh-lease.

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I don't know how I have any female friends, since I've clawed all their eyes out!

TL;DR: Two researchers spend too much time watching Real Housewives of New Jersey, draw conclusions about female human species.

ETA: Apparently Jez already ran this but I missed it. OH WELL THIS IS MINE.