Two Things Women (and Everyone) Should Know About Male Attraction …

I have two points to make about male attraction to women that I think everyone should at least think about if not know.  One of them I can prove; one of them is controversial but is clearly true for me.  Both of them relate to the myth that men are attracted to a small subset of women, generally young blonde white women with large breasts and small waists who are exceptionally thin.

1) For pretty much any type of woman you can find, there is a not insubstantial group of men that find that physical type exceptionally attractive.

For the proof of this one, you can’t look at fashion magazines and models or movie actresses.  Those ideals are either not driven by what men find attractive or are aimed only at the qualities that most men find attractive in some way.  No, you need to go look at pornography.  And not the pornography that you’d see in your local corner store, but the really good stuff, in the stores that sell only that.  So, today, you’d really need to look at adult DVD stores, I think.

I dare anyone to go into one of the really comprehensive stores, or even do a search on the internet for pornography and argue for any of the normal stereotypes.  Only white women?  Let me direct you to the section dedicated entirely to black women.  Or the one for Asian women.  Or the one for Latino women.  Blondes?  You get all types, and while I don’t know if it exists myself I wouldn’t be surprised to find genres dedicated entirely to redheads or brunettes (in fact, TV Tropes outlines how all the hair colours can be seen as exceptionally attractive).  Young?  Well, just turning 18 is a specialty, not the norm, and let me direct you to the section specifically dedicated to older women.  Thin?  Let me direct you to the section specifically dedicated to, um, full-figured women.  Large breasts?  Let me direct you to the sections dedicated to legs or butts with no real concern for breast size, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find sections dedicated to women with smaller breasts.

And then we can get into stereotypes.  Submissive, say?  There’s a large section for dominant women.  And you get women in roles from the traditional — nurses, stewardesses, secretaries, etc — to not-so-traditional — doctors, businesswomen, and so on.

And these are all relevant because they make enough money to make producing them worthwhile, meaning that a significant enough portion of men find it appealing enough to pay enough money to have it make enough money to, well, make producing it worthwhile.

Yes, these are indeed specialties, and so in some sense it isn’t being treated like “the norm”.  But that doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that for any woman no matter what area she falls into she can be assured that at least some men will not only find her attractive, but exceptionally so.  Those who fit more into “the norm” — which is only what most people can agree on — get more choices, but might only get appealed to as an average, not as exceptional.

Thus the first lesson:  when considering men as a whole, men are a lot less narrowminded with respect to attraction than it might seem at first.

2) Attraction often includes things that go beyond physical appearance.

This is the one I can’t prove, but that I’m positing based on my own reactions.  Being excessively analytic, I sat down and tried to analyze what attracted me the most in the women I’m attracted to.  I noticed a few traits stood out:

  • I like women who wear glasses.
  • I like women who are petite.
  • I like long, dark hair.
  • I prefer conservative dress most of the time.  A nice women in a nice, knee length skirt with a nice blouse and shoes is more likely to draw my attention than the women in the mini-skirt and bikini top.
  • I notice legs more than anything else.

Now, that last seems mostly physical, but I’m not picky about it either (“showing” is usually enough for me).  And the third one is iffy; I haven’t really figured that one out yet, but it might count because to me it usually frames her face better and since faces reflect a lot of your personality — through expressions, for example — that fits.  But the others are directly explainable by appealing to the personality of the women I’d like to date:

  • Glasses are, stereotypically, representative of intelligence.  I really like smart women.
  • I always find petite women what I’d call really “cute”.  Cute, to me, implies “nice”.  I like nice women.
  • Conservative dress implies someone quieter, maybe a little shyer.  I’m quiet myself, and so really like someone who’s not likely to be a party girl or world traveller.

As it turns out, there’s a TV Trope that summarizes this really well:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Meganekko

“Literally, “glasses girl” — one of the classic “sweet girl” stereotypes in anime. Cute enough without going overboard or posing the threat that a more conventionally beautiful girl might, the meganekko is usually pleasant, smart, and clever. And something about the fact that she needs glasses seems to imply an endearing vulnerability that makes her far more accessible to the average guy. After the Yamato Nadeshiko, she’s the second-best girl that a boy can bring home to meet his parents and probably the more realistic of the two. Naturally, as with any stereotype, the meganekko can be inverted or subverted, but the vast majority in anime are sweet, smart and — when found in a major role — usually more than a challenge for a male lead to keep up with. Occasionally she’s an unpopular character within the story, but not with the fans. ”

But that’s just me.  I’d predict that this carries over to most men, but they just don’t realize it.  Women who, for example, dress more provocatively tend to attract men who want someone with a more sexual personality (women that I’d call “sexy”, which to me is different than “attractive”).  Men who find women who dress more adventurously like more adventurous women.  And so on.  This is probably one main reason why men’s fashion generally doesn’t express personality and women’s fashion is obsessed with expressing personality.

I’d actually guess that this could be tested by taking the same woman and giving her different styles, and seeing how men react to her or her picture.  I’d expect the average attractiveness rating to not change — since it will fluctate mostly equally across all men, as some will find the style change more appealing and some less — but at the individual level unless they realize that it’s the same woman for each individual man it should change significantly.

It is more complicated than this, because personality leaks through in more ways that just in style and clothes and the like.  A woman who wears glasses but acts like a bubblehead isn’t going to attract men who like smart women, but will attract men who like dumb ones.  Style also includes body language and carriage, which are all judged.  But it seems to me that when you factor everything in, in general a significant part of what attracts a particular man to a particular woman is indeed something about her personality, or at least what he thinks her personality is.

So, the second lesson:  Men are less shallow than you might think because their evaluation of “looks only” doesn’t generally mean looks only, but also includes guesses about her personality.

This has been a public service.

8 Responses to “Two Things Women (and Everyone) Should Know About Male Attraction …”

  1. history.punk@gmail.com Says:

    Exactly! Every woman is attractive to someone, but no women is attractive to everyone.

  2. Watson’s Privilege … « The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] don’t know myself. I don’t, again, think I objectify in that way; it seems that for me sexual attraction always includes her personality and so couldn’t be objectification. There should be a way to settle that, though. So many of […]

  3. You Can’t Look, and You Can’t Touch … « The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] in my case being attracted to someone already includes what I think she’d have to say, at least generally… But even I can make a distinction between women I’d like to have sex with, women I’d […]

  4. Well she used to look good to me … « The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] I had talked before about some facts about how men are attracted to women, and this is carrying on in the same vein. I pretty much literally had an experience like that Robert Palmer song lyric. At work, I interacted with a woman from another group. I’d always thought that she was kinda pretty, to be honest, but not gorgeous. She moved on to other products, and so we didn’t see each other for what had to be over a year. Well, recently I moved to another floor where that group was sitting, and at one point I headed to the coffee station and say an incredibly attractive woman there, and I wondered — as is my wont — who she was. […]

  5. The Lost Mary Jane: Spider-man Casting and Looks in Movies | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] Tying back to something I’ve talked about before, they are conflating their personal standard of attractiveness with an overall or objective view of […]

  6. Tropes vs Women: Strategic Butt Coverings | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] In Persona 3, given the right outfit, you might get a good look at Mitsuru’s butt when she gets a critical. And yet her personality, in game and in her S-link, is developed enough to almost make her my favourite female character ever. Sexy to men and a person aren’t mutually exclusive … and often have to be combined. […]

  7. Are Women Too Picky? | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] is no such standard of overall attractiveness as everyone likes different things. I, of course, talked about that a long time ago. But there is clustering, and those who are more in line with the things that most people find in […]

  8. The Eternal Question | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] Essentially, Jennifer is indeed the Ginger/movie star to Bailey’s Mary Ann/girl next door.  And since I like smart women in glasses, the fact that she’d fit the Meganekko role means that yeah, she’d definitely work […]

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