Feminists should feel immense schadenfreude when they read this headline:
Mosquitoes prefer men, says study
The study itself, going by the report, seems somewhat dubious to me. It has found that more men between the ages of 15 to 40 get malaria than women, and the researchers have concluded that sex hormones may have something to do with this. A plausible explanation, to my mind, is that men spend more time outdoors and in mosquito-infested areas, as the last quote in that piece also indicates. A correlation alone proves nothing, and maybe mosquitos, like many of us, merely make the most of what is available.
But I really shouldn’t quibble. Any alleged preference that mosquitos show towards men is clearly a sign of good taste, which has never before been so lamentable. It’s bittersweet, this news.
Update: Shazia Khanam, who works in the laboratory that conducted this study, writes in that the study covers the doubts I’d raised, and that the Mumbai Mirror reported it badly. She writes:
I am a research scholar working under Prof Shobhona Sharma, from the same laboratory which has conducted this study (Mosquitoes prefer men). The study has been communicated to be published in an international scientific journal. Although we are still awaiting the confirmation, I would say that, most of the doubts and questions which any intelligent person would raise, have been addressed e.g. men spending more time outdoors compared to women. Its a pity that media personnel with little scientific knowledge fail to report such studies in the correct perspective. e.g. The first sentence of this article is factually wrong. Mosquitoes don’t preferentially bite males more. Mosquito strain Anopheles stephensi bites both male and female without any bias. What we have observed in this study is that the severity of the disease is more in case of males falling in this age group. You will understand the study in a better manner if you read the original scientific article. I will forward the article to you once it gets published.
Poor reporting of scientific research is hardly anything new, of course. Anything for a sensationalistic headline.