Research Suggests Women Really Do Need a Sweater at the Movies

What Women Really Think
July 23 2013 10:00 AM

Research Suggests Women Really Do Need a Sweater at the Movies

Why is it so cold in here?

Photo by Patricia Hofmeester/Shutterstock

Feminists are routinely accused of denying that there are any differences between men and women because we're skeptical of stereotypes that hold that women are inherently more irrational, less sexual, or less aggressive than men. But this simply isn't true! Feminists readily admit that women are far more likely to get pregnant than men are. I also suspect feminists would happily acknowledge the strong possibility that women tend to get cold more easily than men. Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with the contention that the person who has to bring a sweater to the movie theater in the middle of August is exponentially more likely to be female. 

No need to just trust your gut on this one: Robert T. Gonzalez of io9 rounds up the research looking into the widespread belief that women are far more likely than men to want an extra blanket on the bed, and the findings largely suggest that yes, there's a real difference in heat perception between men and women on average. While studies have found that women's actual core body heat is slightly higher than men's, women's extremities are a lot colder:

But in 1998, researchers at the University of Utah added a layer of subtlety to science's understanding of gender and body temperature. As had been found in previous studies, the researchers observed women tended to possess higher core temperatures than men (97.8 °F vs. 97.4 °F). Their hands, however, were consistently colder. A lot colder. While men registered an average hand temperature of 90 °F, the mean hand temperature for women was just 87.2 °F.

Just 87.2 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you've long believed that straight men are more likely than any other group to exclaim, "Christ, your feet are cold!" upon brushing up against their female partners in bed, you are almost surely correct. 

The theory is that women's body composition, which tends to have a higher fat-to-muscle ratio than men's, explains the difference. Which means it's about baby-making, and sadly for sexists, it doesn't really say much about whether women are able to do math. For those of us who spend summers fearing overly enthusiastic air conditioning or consider airtight gloves the must-have accessory of the winter, it's good to know that we're not crazy. Like menstruation, menopause, and Republicans trying to take away your rights, shivering all the time is simply part of the package deal you get when your body has a uterus to take care of. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



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