Anyone who’s ever walked across a rowdy construction site at lunchtime knows that unwanted attention from admirers—however flattering—feels the opposite of good. Now the results of a new study have quantified the negative effects of sexual objectification—not in humans, but in fruit flies. Scientists found that too much attention from males actually harmed female fruit flies’ ability to successfully adapt to environmental conditions, thus inhibiting them from passing on their ‘superior’ genes.

"We found that sexually attractive females were overwhelmed by male suitors," said Steve Chenoweth, associate professor at the University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences to Science Daily. "Female fruit flies with superior genes that allow them to lay more eggs were so attractive to male suitors they spent most of the time fending off male suitors rather than actually laying eggs.

Talk about poetic irony. Besides explaining biological phenomena, studies such as this can help us to discuss difficult social issues, which would otherwise be too loaded with subtext. Next time you or someone you love faces unwanted objectification, just tell the aggressor about the poor drosophila (or the fruit fly). How has public sexual attention affected you or those you know? What can be done to reach a mutual understanding between subject and object? 



  1. ABC News Radio: Is Too Much Sexual Attention Bad for Women?
  2. Science Daily: Attractive female flies harmed by male sexual attention