Do Women See Sexy Men As Sexy?

Picture10[1]When women look at men who are sexily posed or who show skin, they don’t always seem sexy, as I’ve discussed before. Is there any hope?

First, the problem: Imagine watching the Bikini Open “in reverse” so that women are fully clothed while men wear revealing Speedos. What about nearly nude men dancing on platforms? Or a camera focused on a man’s butt as he walks by. All this may look sexy. But women may well see it all as “gay.”

In fact, a sexily posed man may be played for laughs, a favorite ploy of Sacha Baron Cohen.

But then, women are so used to sexualized bodies being meant for men’s “consumption” that women can come to see nude or near-naked men through men’s eyes, too. And of course, sexualized images of men that are meant for men would be gay. (Nothing wrong with being gay, but it’s not a big turn-on for women.)

David-Beckhams-Shirtless-HM-Super-Bowl-Ad-Video[1]Yet David Beckham can show skin and still look sexy. Maybe it’s because he seems so hyper masculine and hetero that it’s hard to think of him as gay. Sociologist, David Mayeda, has been theorizing on what makes men seem sexy to women. He describes Beckham this way:

Tattooed, rugged, athletic, showcasing a lean musculature and menacing glare, Beckham embodies a (dominating) masculinity… he is globally recognized, financially wealthy, and married to a woman who also holds currency in popular culture. This last point is critical. By being married, Beckham confirms his heterosexuality, and her extraordinary beauty and international popularity raise his standing as a “real man.”

110909--fathers-baby-hmed-2p.grid-6x2[1]So must men be hyper masculine to seem sexy? Not always. Plenty of women find buffed men holding babies alluring. Again, the images are muscular and masculine. Having produced a baby he sure looks hetero. But the loving care signals something of the feminine side: sensitivity, not dominance. He’s masculine in a fatherly way.

Men are sometimes confused by women who want masculinity and tenderness. This just goes to show that many women do like both — perhaps especially combined. And who knows, there may be extra appeal in the sense of a man who appears committed to his partner and family.

Looks like “sexy men” too often fit inside a box that is as narrow as the box for “sexy women.” The current feminine ideal is skinny with big boobs while the current masculine ideal is limited to hard-bodies + dominance. Or toned + sensitive.

GQfeature6vLuckily “sexy” and “attractive” can also exist outside the “bodily sensual” box for both women and men.

Enter Don Draper who is sexy by way of his face, his confidence, and his success, despite being generously draped in clothing. This is a sort of sexy that may work like a dog whistle. No bare skin to trigger notions of sexuality in men’s eyes, so that leaves women free to notice it.

But it would be nice for both sexes to move further away from our cramped boxes.

As a last note, this is all about imagery. Both women and men can find real-life men and women pretty sexy even if they don’t match these cultural ideals.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 16, 2013, in men, psychology, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 69 Comments.

  1. Nicolette Morgan

    I can’t speak for all women, but I do know how I decide whether a man is sexy. I can look at a photo and think a man looks beautiful or sexy, but I agree with what you said above about how people need to escape the narrow boundaries set for beauty. Have you ever met someone and started out thinking they were not attractive at all, then gotten to know them and became exponentially more attracted to them? Probably yes, because this happens to most of us. As you get to know someone their features, skills, and hobbies start to morph your brains image of them making them more attractive or sexy. I think that feminine qualities about guys can be endearing and sexy. Watching a guy play with a child and have nurturing quality’s is a huge draw for most women. Also if a man is being sexual in a silly way that can also be funny to women and therefore a sexual draw.

  2. I completely agree with your conclusion, that people need to get out of their small box of what is “sexy”. A lot of people see sexy as only what the media show, and it is pretty much a universal type of look for both sex’s. I wanted to add up about some type of actions, like playing the guitar, that can add up to the sexy image. People are attracted to the perfect picture they have in their mind, and it is currently hard to get off of it. A lot of people are kind, generous, nice, caring, funny, smart, but all those qualities don’t get recognized enough.

  3. Whether it is his guitar-playing ability, his handyman expertise or penchant for photography, sexy body, women love a man who has a passion and is good at it. There is always something very alluring about a lively, interesting guy with skills that women found sexy about men not only their sexy body. I believe wives are more aroused when their significant others were making a cup of coffee or whipping up a cake than using a power drill or a saw. Additionally, women are happier when their men are cooking, helping around the house, including ironing and building flat-pack furniture than just their physical looks. As a woman, I agree because it will surprise some men because today women are turned on by men doing masculine activities rather than by their masculine or six packs sexy body.

  4. I was really interesting when I saw this title that talks about whats the sexy in women’s eyes. When I was imaging of a sexy man, the first word comes to my mind is acting like a tease. Which makes me feel weird since I personally recognize those famous male models as masculine people. I wondered that if there is anything shows women are thinking those tease men sexy because it seems equal if this situation happened. However, it shows that stereotype kind of existing in our society since women do not really like those teasing men. In fact a man is sexy or not for women is based on his appearance and masculine temperament. However, I don’t think different definition of sexy for men and women is breaking the balance of the society. It feels like different jobs of people have different responsibilities, and the only reasonable way to keep this world in balanced is doing our own job.

    • Now I’m wondering if women experience pictures of sexy men in the same way that men often experienced pictures of sexy women. I know that men often think that the woman wants to have sex with him. That’s never occurred to me that the sexy man in the picture wants to have sex with me, And is teasing me. I just notice that he looks attractive. I’ve never seen any research on this.

      I am a little unclear on what jobs you think men and women should be doing differently. These days most men and women do similar sorts of things.

  5. I am more attracted to the image of Don Draper than the sexy David Beckham picture. I like the idea of being sexy without showing a lot of skin. When I saw one of the episodes of What Not To Wear from TLC, they were explaining this idea to the woman who was always wearing very tiny clothes. She said she wanted to feel sexy. They explained her outfit was sending a wrong message to other people. She does not need to show her cleavage all the time. If she is confident about herself, people will see no matter what she wears. Like Don Draper, his sexiness is very attractive. I hope to see the media will find more different ways to advertise sexy images rather than usual “almost naked” pictures.

  6. The definition of sexy though is sexuallly attractive AND exciting. Word synonomous with sexy are seductive, desirable, alluring, etc, all which relate to something that provokes or stirs up some feeling. Something that is a turn on or arousing stirs up excitment, and more than mildly arousing. Sure women aren’t excited like men are, but I think there’s an under estimation of women’s reactions to men’s bodies. Don’t forget, women might hide their reactions or admit or be less vocal or show signs of seeing a hot man’s body, because they don’t want guys coming on to her, or be looked at as a slut. Like I said, if you read the comments from some of the women, there were sexual thoughts apparently that crossed their mind and there was an ad in the super bowl with a shirtless calvin klein model, which his body was sexualized with the camera, and big news to that. And if you read some of the comments, there were apparently sexual thoughts provoked from the women. To me, if a person’s body provokes sexual thoughts it’s arousing or pretty arousing, maybe not extrememly arousing, but quit arousing. I think part of the reason other than men’s bodies are less sexualized, that women look at nude men or porn less than men do watching women is women like to have more story lines or create something in their head. It’s not so much because they aren’t visual, but I think women like to be more creative that a lot of visual things like porn don’t provide.

    A nude man is a nude man, nothing to show his lust for her, or she can;t feel his body, etc. The fact of the matter is that men’s bodies and not necessarily guys a woman likes or loves or knows well, can and do create sexual thoughts. I mean women do have sexual fantasies and I’m sure quite a bit right? I’m sure, some of the guys bodies are nice and what not and while some are fantasies of maybe their husband or boyfriend or crush, there are plenty of single girls who have sexual fantasies and maybe it could be them think of a guy they know who’s hot. But some of these guy’s they can or might not know well at all or hardly know and this would make of one of two guys, I’m sure there have been other thoughts more than two, so a decent chance of other fantasies of a hot guy they saw at beach shirtless or out somewhere, or the hoit guy that works at the register at starbucks that they see, etc.

    • Sure, a nude man can provoke sexual thoughts. But just not fetishized. Women are unlikely to masturbate to nude pictures of men. Women’s sexual fantasies more frequently are focused on her on sexiness — but through his eyes. More specifically, having a guy who she finds attractive find her irresistible.

      • I wonder, however, to what extent women actually RELATE to men as sexual. I actually don’t know if I’m unusual, but even though I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, if I see a naked woman I imagine what it’d like to have breasts etc and how sexy it would feel…maybe I’m a bit trans? Haha…or projecting a need to feel sexual. I wonder if women ever do that? Like they see a naked man and imagine how arousing it would feel to have a penis or whatever, or just be naked?

      • I’ll bet that a lot of men wonder about that, though they may not admit it.

        I constantly wonder what it would be like to be in a man’s head. Not just on that issue but just generally. I suspect that there would be a big variety of ways that men would experience themselves.

      • Yes, I’ve always wonder just how different it would feel to be a woman. I mean, obviously, essentially the same (I mean especially when compared to how it would feel to be say a dog), but I don’t think the differences would be SO foreign, aside from things like pregnancy maybe?

      • I don’t know that the differences would be hugely different. But women and men are raised in different cultural worlds, making us different enough that I’m curious.

  7. Maybe more than sexy. I mean I don’t know if fetishsized is everything. Sure there’s no women shocked or surprised seeing a shirtless guy or anticipating for that like a guy waiting to see a topless woman. But if cetain poses of a shirtless man can bring out sexual thoughts, it has to be pretty arousing or can be. Not to the extreme like men towards women, but more than mild arousal too. Like I said, its the sexualizing part I think that really does it more so. I think if men’s clothes and poses were revealing but provided mystery and sexualized, women would be more excited seeing guys bodies, if doing so didn’t make men look gay. That’s the trick though, because doing so, can make guys look funny, because people aren’t accustomed to it. To bring up my point about sexualizing vs taboo, Women’s boobies, especially the nipples are not shown on regular tv, but ass is as far as thongs go. I have and guys have seen that plenty of times, yet seeing a nice butt froma woman in a thong can be quite arousing for me and many other guys. Because the aesthetics, plus the way women’s clothes sexualize and accentuate their bodies which men’s clothes doesn’t and how it teases men visually. Skimpy bikinis can get guys pretty aroused depending on the bikini, the hotness of the woman and hotness of her body and create sexual thoughts from guys, even though nothing taboo is being shown. Guys have seen women in bikinis in beaches. Sure it’s not where they can’t contain themselves, but some can still cause a stir, but luckily most guys know how to handle themselves and control themselves and not gawk and what not, thought some guys can’t and can be creeps.

    • Yes. Women can see men as very attractive and at least mildly arousing, even if they aren’t fetishized. I suspect that men are more likely to have sexual thoughts about women in bikinis than women are to see men in swim trunks, though, just because women are more sexualized in our culture. Yeah in our culture women = sex in a way that men don’t, because sexual images are almost always female, and they are ubiquitous.

  8. This previous text write there was to explain this link to the article I was talking about. A naked man used in the Kraft ad and it works because its light hearted but sexy to women at the same time, so not seen as “gay” and still masculine. But I do think women can be turned on by a half nude or naked man depending on the guy and situation, if sold the right way or mysteryin a cetain way. To me arousal doesn’t simply mean, hey i want sex with that person, as other things or info may still be needed to get really wrapped into wanting said hot person as thier personlaity, etc. But if an image makes a person have a sexual thought towards that person, then it is arousing. Look at some of the comments though from some of the women. Some were just saying the guy is sexy, but some were making comments about having the salad dressing off the man’s body. here’s the article here :

    • Sure he can be sexy but he probably isn’t having a fetish effect. Compare: Playgirl went bankrupt meanwhile, men made plenty of nudie magazines profitable: Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, Barely Legal…

  9. I think you’ll find this article interesting. I came across it because of something else. I saw a commmercial and it made me curious about good looking people in ads and googled that and just went to see the links that showed. I went down a little and came across another article. Something weird about this one million moms group upset about something stupid, but othe than them, the small minority. It was interesting though, like you said how men posing can look “gay” to women. But it depends on the pose, where a man can wear little, but still come off as masculine and not look gay but sexy to women. And like I said, its probably the lack of sexualizing of men’s bodies, but how its done. I don’t think its simply body parts that are or aren’t covered, but how portrayed. For example, back in the day seeing a topless woman was a big deal, as the internet wasn’t around. And I remember how when I was a teen just seeing tits turned me on. SEeing them in person and easily through the internet, can be nice, but nice simply seeing turn me on and it seems to be more so for a lot of guys, because there’s isn’t the mystery before the internet. The easy access of seeing boobs has desensitized a little.

    But what still draws mens arousal, is because the way women’s bodies are portrayed whenever used, or shown its to symbolize sex. You” rarely see a woman in little clothes in ads or tv in a casual setting, it’s always to seduce. Whereas, men’s bodies many times can and are used in casual settings, not aimed to seduce. But also the big thing is how the female body is accesorized, with form fitting clothes that show her shape or barely there clothes, all that seduced but yet not showing it all. The way a woman’s body and clothers teases the man’s eyes and how sex is package from clothing, etc. Clothes and things aren’t set up that way to teases women’s eyes and because they aren’t used to it, it comes off as gay or weird. Well I’ll put it this way, when I see a pretty nude woman, can be a turn on, but not like arousing, arousing. It’s usually clothers that show a body part off but not completey showing, or the mystery or a suggestive pose of a nude woman or movement or action. See this is a powerful thing, and that usually isnt done when using men to sell sex for women. But the few times it does happen, I’ve seen by comments that it does turn women on if done in the right way or can, because beings something suggestive and interesting to the woman viewing.

  10. I think that’s why sometimes using pure scientific studies and lab stuff as fact is not always the best indicator. Non happy faces or serious, upset faces more sexually attractive to women? Maybe in a lab, but in real life which I think should matter more, that doesn’t seem to be true. Actually, a man is more likely to be sexually attractive if he’s smiliing, or looks happy and women see a smiling face from a man. The reason being is basic, a man smiling usually projects confidence and contentness in one’s self. From what I’ve ever known, women may vary on what attracts them to a man. But confidence has always been a man attractive quality women find in a man. If a woman sees a man’s face that is smiling she’s more likely to be attracted to him or interested in him, because it shows he outgoing, and a huge thing for human beings, approachable and friendly. Go to a club, social event, bar, etc, whose the guy women are chatting up? It’s the smiling, fun loving, confident, having fun guy there, dancing and socializing. Because he’s upbeat, having fun, is friendly and approachable and people just gravitate to that. They aren’t chatting with the smug, upset, serious, sad looking guy there.

  11. It’s just a matter of a definition of “sexy men”

    It seems that there are different “attributes” that make each gender more attractive.

  12. By the way, the dude posing at the top in that zebra shirt and those shorts,lol..posing like that looks gay. It’s comical and makes him look funny. I don’t think it discredits men or means that men can’t pose or look sexy, but the fact of the matter is there are obvious differences with men and women and gender differences. A man posing like a woman, looks gay or effeminate. A man sticking his butt out and with those goofy shorts looks comical. It makes me think of sacha baren in Borat. Guys can pose with little clothes and it can be sexy to women, but the thing is guys are gonna act like a man and want to pose like a man and women like that too. There was a scene that got alot of attention back in the first james bond movie with daniel craig where he was on the beach and he was shirtless and just had short swimming trunks on. A big reactiion from women liking that. But the thing is, he wasn’t bent over and posing like the guy in the above picture, but stutted out of the water like a regular stright guy and it got women’s attention. A man being sexy is him being himself and acting in a regular guy masculine manner. A guy posing to be sexy is that, not when trying to do the poses like women do, as that doesn;t work. Because guys bodies are different and behavioiur is different. I mean a dude looks funny, wearing a mid drift shirt, because thats just goofy just as a guy, swatting his hand limp wristed. That looks gay, whereas, a girl doing that is normal or just simply a girl acting or being girly. A straight man looking girly, looks funny and gay does it not?

    • Of course Sacha Baron Cohen’s gay-looking pose doesn’t discredit the possibility of men being sexy. I go on to give examples of three different ways in which men do look sexy. The post is about what makes the difference.

  13. Men’s health muscley? some of them are muscular, but my step dad has the magazine and a lot of them really aren’t that muscular. I mean those body builder magazines, those guys are gross. Most of the guys in men’s health look like regular guys who work out and are in great shape, but not body builders. I see some leanness and a lot of girls actually like that body. Channing Tatum who so many girls find him hot and his body, his build is not much different build wise from men’s health guys and I wouldn’t be surpised if he hasn’t been on the cover yet, as they do feature actors and singers sometimes on it. I’m 180lbs, and definitely not a really muscular guy and those guys muscles aren’t much bigger than mine. The difference is these guys are so toned. The guys in cosmo I think are toned but don’t have the torse build and a lot of women actually like that broad shouldered, v shape which men;s health guys have more so than those cosmo guys, or I’m assuming, cause I don’t look at cosmo. And the “women don’t find men sex or they find women sexier” is not true. I used to think that when seeing goofy comments on the internet and yahoo answers, and I do realize there are girls who are bisexual but deny it or some who are brainwashed. But most of the girls I’ve ever known would like at a girl like she’s crazy or like shes a lesbian if she said women are sexier than men. It’s pretty simple, you see women’s behavior and it shows that they find men sexier.

    My ex girlfriend, who even had a little bi tendencies, was really attracted to guys. girls she founds pretty but guys bodies she found sexy. Whenever I was shirtless she would check me out and you say this might be, because she already was attracted or the emotional part.But when I first saw her, and had my shirt off, I saw a smirk like “how did you know I had a nice body”” and she smiled and told me how she say my shirtless picture on facebook. She saw the picture on facebook before we dated, and apparently liked what she saw. I don’t know about you, but while girls do admire each other’s bodies, I can see the difference in how women look at a good looking fit man’s body versus a pretty woman. The girls I see might look and notice a pretty girl, but its not much expression or they don’t ususally talk aboutg it whereas, they notice the cute guy, the glances show the difference. Another things is girls are just more discreet than guys when looking. It’s hard to notice, but since I’ve been better away of my surroundings,

    I’ve noticed girls checking out my butt, I’ve been told to have a nice butt ha. But girls do find guys sexy and judging from the behaviour of checking out, their behaviour shows they find guys sexier than women, which you’d expect if they are straight. They might say otherwise or think that, but the proof is in the pudding by behaviour, I don’t think a guy has to be really ripped or toned to be lust worthy or for girls to check him out either. I’m definitely not ripped like a mens health guys, but I’m thin and have muscles, I’ve always had kind of an athletic build and since lifting, have v shape and I’ve noticed looks when out and about from girls and at the gym too. It was actually kind of funny, and I got teased for it and got called magic mike now ha, as a woman, she looked 40 but pretty attractive. Well she was with a her gf and she was bummed about something and said she was sad, and I was like I’m sorry and she said I could cheer her up by taking my shirt off lol, I was basically sexually harassed ha, but I didn’t mind, it did kind of stun me, and I wish I had soemthing funnny to say back but I didn’t partially cause a girl worker next to me was laughign when that happened, so I go distracted.

  14. “Him-directed” – I am so stealing that phrase!

    I can see men as aesthetically pleasing and know that yes, lots of people find them sexually attractive – George Clooney, for instance – but it never gets into even thinking of them in a sexual context. Closest I get to that is if some man happens to look like my beloved, say if he’s got the same sort of hair. Even then it’s just the strangeness of it rather than “he looks sexy”, and it’s definitely “him-directed”!

  15. I don’t see “sexy” men as sexy very often. The only man who’s always sexy to me is my beloved, (SFW) and if it’s not his face I’m looking at, the body doesn’t really make any difference. But once I’ve photoshopped a pic to make it a portrait of him (he passed over years ago, so current photos are not a thing) then it becomes sexy. I’m not exactly asexual; “single target” describes it much more accurately. It’s not the what, it’s the who.

    I actively dislike buffed or very muscular male bodies; to me they’re as unappealing as it gets. They just read as self-absorbed or downright threatening; what are all those muscles for? Same with a face that looks like it was drawn with a ruler: ugh. Give me a feminine-looking man any day.

    • I can relate to a lot of what you say. There may be some differences. Like I can totally see Brad Pitt as sexy. But compared to my beloved, it’s just not that big a deal. If I’m in love I’m rather him-directed.

  16. I’ve always felt that the buff musclemen that women are supposed to find attractive are merely representative of what men think that women must like, perhaps because men assume that the more masculine a man is, the more a woman must find him sexy. Personally, big muscles are not my cup of tea, and as your post suggests, many women feel that way.

    Perhaps ironically, the men I find most attractive are male fashion models. Fashion models don’t have bulky muscles, because they have to be slim enough to look good in a tailored suit, and many of them have truly beautiful faces. I say ironically, because their job is to sell menswear, so their target gazer is not women but men, most of whom are presumably heterosexual. I suppose they’re selected to make the clothes look good, so perhaps that entails a standard of beauty that is more universal than what-men-like and what-women-like.

    I know that beauty and sexual attractiveness are not necessarily the same thing, but I do think that they are closely correlated, and that perhaps beauty is a simpler explanation for attraction than social conditioning or evolutionary preference. (And although beauty is in the eye of the beholder — at least supposedly — the physical standards that male models have to adhere to in order to get work are pretty narrow and well-defined.)

    • Yes. Mostly these attractive men (in women’s eyes) are toned more than having large muscles. Women like the toned men portrayed in Cosmo more than the muscley men of Men’s Health.

      That said one study found that men thought women preferred large muscles, when women really preferred average-built guys.

  17. I really like your blog. I am curious about how you define sexual attraction. Many people regard it as being aroused by looking at someone. Do you think you can be sexually attracted to someone who doesn’t necessarily arouse you by looks alone but triggers desire for sex specifically with them?

    • Thank you. I’m glad you like my blog.

      I don’t think you need actual arousal to be sexually attracted, largely because women’s bodies don’t give great feedback. So a woman could find a man very beautiful or attractive in some other way (great sense of humor, they have a lot in common…) and want a relationship with him, or sex with him, even if she doesnt have a clear sense of arousal.

  18. I am not sure if it’s relevant, but why women rarely (if ever) make the first move?
    Is it because they dont see men “sexy” or good looking enough so they don’t feel like aproaching a man because they won’t be attracted by his looks alone?
    I am not sure about the theory that women aren’t as visual as men.
    If they weren’t visual then women wouldn’t be interested in beautiful clothes, makeup and all these beauty products that are targeted to women. Women care more about looks than men, they pay more attention to the details.

    Is it because their desires are repressed and they have learned that if they make the first move then they will be called “easy” ?

    or women indeed don’t care about men’s looks that much?

    • The reason women don’t make the first move isn’t because they don’t find men attractive. It’s because they’re taught not too. Women are taught that they are supposed to wait passively by while men make the first move. That can make some women feel like men have more power, because “we” have to wait around. I plan on blogging on this in the not-too-distant future. I think it has something to do with society feeling uncomfortable when the roles are reversed and women take the lead.

      • That may be true, but a lot of women don’t make the first move because they don’t want to. They don’t HAVE to. Take it from a guy, making the first move is not really all that “empowering” it’s nerve wracking and getting rejected time after time can eat away at your esteem pretty quickly. Also, many women don’t make the first move because “if he really cared, he would come over and talk to me.” they see it as demeaning to have to go talk to the guy themselves.

        I’m sure there are a lot of women who would love to make the first move but don’t because society tells them not to, but don’t kid yourself. Plenty of women don’t make the first move because they see it as demeaning.

      • What you say makes sense. I have experienced all of the above. I hadn’t realized how difficult it was to make the first move until my high school had a Sadie Hawkins dance. Suddenly, I “got” what guys have to go through.

  19. Just as another data point, Spanish teenagers can’t get enough of Mario Casas.

  20. Just a few thoughts on what would make a man look sexy and not “goofy looking” like is some movies.

    Whenever I have a doubt about something and we are confused I think that we should like what is happening in nature. Animals are not influenced by media and industries that are trying to sell products so they behave naturally,

    Oddly enough, the human species may well be the only species that the female is considered to be more beautiful than the male.
    In animals, the males are the ones who are trying to impress the females with their looks, colors,, singing. For instance the famous beautiful peacock is the male trying to impress the females. Singing birds are mostly males trying to mate with females. The deers with the long impressive horns are males. And perhaps the most noteable example, the lions. When someone thinks of lions, the first image that comes in mind is the male lion with the long hair.
    But on humans, the females have the long hair and wear the “colorfull” clothes and males have mostly short hair.

    So how the male animals trying to impress the females, what’s their sexy mating poss?
    I think that they are trying to look bigger, stronger, more decisive (e.g. confident) etc. so the notion that a male should masculine may not be entirely wrong.

    But we should clear that a confident man must also be caring, unselfish, otherwise he is an arrogant which is a turn off for most women.

    In ancient Greece the ideal body was the lean toned male body. At that time there was no media or industries selling products, so they considered the male body to be attractive on purely aisthetics reasons.
    Whereas today the female body is used as a mean for industries to sell products.
    If it wasn’t for commercials or male’s pleasure the female body wouldn’t have been overused in the media.

    So the ideal male body of the ancient wasn’t based on commercials, and it could be not entirely wrong.

    • And males also protect — and many nurture — their young.

      Of course, if you look at animals you find varieties of behaviors among species.

    • I think it’s more that the in some SOCIETIES/CULTURES/TIMES the women is considered the more beautiful. And, you have to ask, WHO considers them the more beautiful? In nature, peacocks are obviously more visually impressive than pea-hens, but if you take away makeup, hair, clothing.etc, and put an average woman next to a man, who’s to see which is more beautiful? Like you say in ancient Greece the toned male was the epitome of male beauty. I mean, why the need to compare anyway? Can’t we just embrace both as beautiful in their own way, not more than one another? Or at least acknowledge it’s subjective and quit trying to talk about ‘objective’ beauty? I mean it wouldn’t be acceptable to say white women are objectively more beautiful than black women, would it? So why is it acceptable to say women are objectively more beautiful than men?

      • I agree. I’m trying to point out the social construction so that we can get past it. I don’t see any reason that men shouldn’t be seen as attractive as women.

  21. Looking at images of people I do not know I find myself judging their sexyness much more harshly than with people that I do know. With people I know being sexy encompasses so much more than body. Thankfully, as I grow older I have found that I do find that my own age group can be sexy to me.

    In pictures confidence and a nice body go well together for me – female or male. Skin is OK, but I do find my requirements about well-trained and not too skinny bodies coming into play. There society has its hold on me.

    • I agree. That’s why I added that last paragraph.

      But these sorts of “idealized” images tend to make people think that that they need to match them. Particularly women, but increasingly men too. And that leads to low self-esteem and eating disorders. The images aren’t healthy.

  22. I have heard many people saying “women have to be thin and beautiful but it’s ok for men to have a beer belly and not being beautiful” and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    Everybody have accepted this double standard with out questioning it.
    It seems that women must not value the physical appearance of men but on the other hand women are valued mostly on their physical appearance.
    What if men were judged by their appearance and women by their personality.

    So women have to chase the high standars set by the media and always trying to be more and more beatiful and comparing themselves to the impossible bodies of female models but for men it’s ok to be lazy and eat whatever they want – hey they are men, it does not matter what a man looks like, he is still entitled to a thin beautiful woman.

    The irony is that males have naturally much lower bodyfat percentage than women,
    still women have to be ultra thin, which isn’t healty for them and men have to have extra fat because… they are men, which of course isn’t healthy for them as well.

    • It’s interesting to see what people will internalize. I got interested in social psychology from a sociological perspective in order to answer this question: How does society get inside our heads so that we don’t question it?

      • when it comes to expressing a matter of taste or opinion most of the people open with this line “everybody says that…”
        so if “everyone” thinks something then that has to be the right opinion.

        When ever I express a different opinion about something that I like or dislike and someone gets shocked “but everyone thinks that…”
        I just reply “and why should I care about what anyone thinks?”

      • Good point. It’s just that when people internalize society they don’t realize they have done it. Maybe you are alluding to that.

    • The irony is that males have naturally much lower bodyfat percentage than women, still women have to be ultra thin…

      Thank you for that. I don’t know why nobody mention it. I’ve heard men saying that women are made to be thin. How ignorant must they be? Women give birth and until recently they did that much more often. Not only the female body has more bodyfat, but it changes much more than men’s. I’ve heard that there were ideals for the female body, because it was difficult and this was how women could compete for men. I think that it is not only difficult but impossible and if men want much more sex than women(the same people say it) then women don’t have anything to compete for. In nature the male is very often the more beautiful.

      • Possibly, the pressure for female beauty comes from the fact that once women’s productive labor (making meals from scratch, washing clothes by hand, making soap, making candles, husking corn…) moved into factories, looks were about all women had to offer middle-class men. Whereas men could offer women financial security — which women couldn’t obtain for themselves since they couldn’t be very highly educated or get well-paying jobs. Now add advertising which appeals to people based on insecurities. They try to make women feel bad about themselves by having idealized images that no one can fit. You can get people to spend a lot of money on products for something that can never be realized.

        More recently industry/advertisers have figured out that the same thing can work with men. So men’s self-esteem is also beginning to suffer and they’re also starting to get more eating disorders.

  23. Well written.

    You could post a photo of Brad Pitt’s body in Fight Club and ask
    “Do women AND men see sexy men as sexy?”

    I wonder then how many people, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, would still insist that the “male body is ugly”.

    • I seriously doubt that anyone thinks the male body is ugly. But because sexiness is almost always created for the male gaze, and because women’s bodies are almost always seen as “the sexy body,” women can come across (To both men and women) as sexier than men. And, sexually posed men can often come across as “gay.” So sociologists are trying to figure out when it is that sexually posed men do seem sexy and when they don’t. What makes the difference?

      • Many people say that the male body is ugly because it is rough, with no curves and it’s hairy.
        They have used to seeing the images of female models in the media.

      • Yes, we are accustomed to seeing women as the sexy image in media, which makes women come across as the sexier sex. But I have never heard anyone say that they found the male body ugly. Ignored, yes. But ugly? That’s just crazy.

        I would like to see both women and men portrayed as sexy. I would like to see both women and men portrayed in a lot of various ways other than sexy. And I would like to see “sexy” expand outside the narrow box.

      • I rarely heard women said male body is ugly, but I often heard they say men body looks funny and unattractive when naked. Its same as ugly in my opinion.

      • Maybe you mean the penis, as opposed to the entire body. Even for women who don’t find the penis all that attractive she can still find her man extremely attractive.

      • No, I’m not talking about penis, but the whole male body in general. I have several times hearing women saying they hate it when men wear shorts, because men looks “ugly” ( yes I swear they said ugly ) and hairy. I have heard women said men body looks funny because we are “boxy” and don’t have beautiful curve like women. I heard many many many many women said they prefer to see men clothed, no matter how attractive the men is, because men look better clothed, because they said men body looks funny when naked. Its not about penis. The first time I heard women said men body looks funny and unattractive is from my own mother when I was a kid. It clearly affect my self esteem.

      • I’m happy to say that I have never heard any of these things, and never thought them myself.

        I suspect that only a minority of women see the male body that way. But when your own mother tells you that at an early age, it is especially powerful.

        On the other hand, hardly any women feel good about their own bodies. Nearly 80% of young women have poor body image, thinking they don’t look like what “attractive” bodies should look like.

        I’ve been through this myself. What I’ve found is that it leads to low self-esteem and low confidence. And then it’s the low confidence that makes you look unattractive to other people.

        When my confidence increased men seemed to find me more attractive.

        Here’s more on this subject:

        Bad Boy Allure

        Believe You’re Beautiful – Others Will, Too

        Can A Small-Breasted Woman Be Sexiest Woman Alive?

        And here’s an article on how self-confidence might be gained:

        I also recommend meditation. And as a sidenote, my self-confidence rose a lot when I got my values sorted out and actually became glad that I was me and not someone else who had different values. That may sound strange and it might not work for others but that’s what happened with me.

  24. I completely agree with you in regards to moving further away from our cramped boxes. I have been kicking around the idea of anticipation for awhile, exploring it a little deeper … Time to wander off and write.Thank you for your thought provoking post this morning!

  25. Hold on, I’ve gotta go change my avatar. (LOL)

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