If you’re a woman, you know that delivering a perfectly timed eye roll can feel nothing short of transcendent. Annoying roommate tries to throw some passive aggressive shade your way? Eye roll it off, baby, nothing can touch you.
Here’s the crazy part, though: science suggests that women started eye rolling as an evolutionary means of asserting our dominance over other women. Uh, what? This is not what I was expecting — definitely thought we developed this as a defense mechanism to scare off overly persistent suitors.
Let me break it down for you: In 2013, Tracy Vaillancourt of the University of Ottawa published a paper explaining that a woman’s survival is directly linked to the survival of her offspring. As a species, women often avoid engaging in tactics involving direct aggression in order to protect our physical well-being, so we can continue to be there for our kids. Instead, women lash out in less overt ways and rely on “indirect aggressions” — i.e. criticizing someone’s appearance, spreading rumors and, of course, the classic eye roll.
Evolutionary scientists suggest these indirect aggressions evolved to help women attract and secure a mate. If a woman came face to face with a “competitor” (for instance, a seemingly more attractive female,) she could easily reinforce her status as a boss bitch with a mere flicker of her eyes. All of a sudden, high school makes so much more sense.
Vaillancourt’s research also suggests that when it comes to eye rolls, women are more sensitive than men, stating that they can “trigger our fight-or flight-system.”
To be honest, it grosses me out that the eye roll may have evolved from an innate female desire to vie for male attention. But I can’t lie, I’ll always love a nasty eye roll. Roll on, babes.