Women Gazing At Men

Gazing at men

Lately I’ve been asking why women don’t get so excited by naked men

Elizabeth Hall Magill @ Yo Mama has asked the same question. And she wonders how women can better appreciate the male form, without objectifying them. Here’s an excerpt from one of her posts (with permission).

So—where does that leave a woman’s gaze?

Neither here nor there.

And yet, we have eyes. We gaze. And we like what we see.

As I pondered this issue, I realized something: perhaps men posing sexually seem homosexual not only because we are used to the male gaze. Perhaps it is also because we are used to the female pose.

And here we encounter a difference between media (artful or otherwise) and life: real sexiness is rarely posed. It just happens. But in “sexy” pictures of women, the women are aware of the gaze and arranging themselves for it. So, when a man does the same thing, we read him as feminized. And when a man strips for a woman, he can be seen as “performing” something generally feminine, and therefore we define it as insincere, the object of a joke. Not true eroticism.

In one of my favorite essays of all time, Looking at WomenScott Russell Sanders says:

When I return to the street with the ancient legacy of longing coiled in my DNA, and the residues from a thousand generations of patriarchs silting my brain, I encounter women whose presence strikes me like a slap of wind in the face. I must prepare a gaze that is worthy of their splendor.

This is how I feel about men. And I bet I’m not the only one.

We’re all conditioned to ignore the fact that women feel this way about men. How many times a week do you think a man checks out his wife as she reaches into the refrigerator to get something from that bottom drawer, or reaches high above her head for a rarely-used dish? How many times a week does he check out the women walking by him on the sidewalk, riding a bike in the gym, or sitting in the next office? Magazines love to make little pie charts telling us about how often the male brain does these things. I’ve never seen a pie chart telling me how often the female brain does similar things.

And yet.

Sexy Brad Pitt

Sexy Brad Pitt

Men get things from the refrigerator or the top shelf, and often look damn good doing it. They walk on the sidewalk, ride bikes, and work right next to us, looking good all the while. And women notice.

What we need is more women noticing themselves as they notice men. Thinking about how they feel when the tide of desire leaves and returns, leaves and returns. And owning that tide.

And then we need women talking about it—not giggling, not blushing, not encouraging men to mock the idea of their own desirability. Somebody ought to talk about it so often and so loudly that a pie chart becomes inevitable, cause we just know women are thinking about sex so dang much that we better measure it.

After that, we need female photographers and directors, tons of them, taking pictures of and telling stories about men being men. Holding babies in the middle of the night, shirtless and vulnerable and full of fatherly love and strength. Squatting in the middle of a road, looking at a rock (clothed, as squatting naked in the middle of the road is unnatural and possibly unsafe). Running on treadmills, making copies in the office while wearing snazzy ties, washing the dirt off their hands after a day working outside, laughing with their friends, kicking a tire and making dinner and coming home at the end of a long day. We need to see men being men through the eyes of women, not men posing as the objects of female desire. And we should see them in all their shapes and colors—in all their splendor.

You know what I think?

I think men would totally get being sexy in this way, and I think they would love it. They wouldn’t feel like objects, they wouldn’t feel feminized, they wouldn’t pose or feel goofy. They’d be themselves, and they’d be damn glad that the women they’ve been checking out all this time are checking them right back.

Which means the female gaze would no longer be marginalized, masculinized, or mocked. It would be honest, and it would be powerful—as powerful as desire itself.

This is a rerun which I am posting to help answer a question posed by Eric U.

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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 May 11, 2015, in body image, feminism, men, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 57 Comments.

  1. I agree, I don’t find most posed pictures of naked/half naked men sexy at all. Men to me do seem sexier in real situations, unposed and with their clothes on… at least to begin with. Though I don’t see the connection between posed models and homosexuals. I find it quite arousing to see men kissing in the street, for example. So that aspect is not putting me off the pictures. Maybe it’s the arrogance of it that puts me off – the unspoken attitude of ‘hey look at me’ is just not sexy.

    Personally, I think sensuality (as in being pleasing to the senses) is more important for many women before sexuality. The way a man looks, smells, tastes, feels, smiles, talks, dresses, thinks etc. initiates a sensual reaction before a sexual one. And females react more strongly to this than males perhaps?

    • I could never figure out why I would often see pictures of sexy men and think, “That looks gay” Not sexy, until I read an article in sociological images that said that women are so used to thinking of sexual images been meant for men that when we see a sexy guy we see it through the eyes of men. I mentioned it in class and my Women students not in mass like, “Yeah, that explains it!”

      But there is always a bell curve to these things, so not everyone is going to experience things in the same way. But it seems to be a very commen way for women to experience sexy men.

  2. Something similar actually came up at home not long ago –

    My husband will soon be going to yet another (!) bachelor party at a strip club, and I always hate it when he goes. It’s not that I’m jealous of him looking at or touching other girls, it’s that I feel left out.

    We live in a world where there are entire industries that cater to men’s sexual appetites, but women’s sexual appetites are all but invisible. So it’s all fine and dandy that he can go out and be flirted with and touched and have beautiful female bodies all around to look at, but where’s mine? When is it my turn?

    Oh well.

    • It’s ok with me. You go now. See the Chippendales, ok? I’ll be worried, though. Here’s what I “know.” Men strippers. And those guys who show up at the wedding showers? Huh? I have seen, too, those Girls Gone Wild. Too wild. It is your turn. It is just that my wife is not interested in that. Oh, well. She had her chance…. :o)

    • I know you say you are married, but if you ever need to see what happens in and stays in Vegas,here is a great link. http://www.bachelorettevegas.com/men-shows/chippendales.html

      • I’m guessing you can find a strip club for men in any town, but you need to go to bigger towns to find one for women. My dad lives near Las Vegas and if you look at the billboards there’s only one or two that she has a sexy man. Everything else is women. Which reflects the culture at large. We were constantly being bombarded with the idea that sexy = women, Women don’t find themselves thinking about sexy men, they don’t learn to see men and sexy in the same way that men learn to see women are sexy. We don’t selectively height and review male body parts, making them intriguing, or focus the camera on them… So we end up seeing men differently.

  3. Great essay! I find that men are the sexiest when their physical selves are aligned with their productive selves and their intent manifested in motion. By this, I mean that, they are engaged in some type of work or activity, and so completely in tune with it that their action is not self-conscious, but is an full expression of who they are… a kind of masculine efficiency.

    • Another thing. Women have more orgasms when they have sex with good looking men. There are researches on this. A theory is that way their children have more chances to ger better genes by the good looking men

      • Ok. I’ll check it out.

      • Source: The Female Brain (2006) Louann Brizendine

      • “Another thing. Women have more orgasms when they have sex with good looking men.”

        And when they have sex with men with lots of money/wealth..

      • Huggy bear – there is this theory based on researches, that women date and marry men based on fulfilling their needs but when and if they cheat on him they will prefer the sexy good looking man to get his best genes for the child. Its never the other way around.

  4. Why feed the female gaze just for the sake of it. It’s been very apparent how un stimulating the male body is and limited, and so unattractive that even women programmed to find men sexually attractive, still get more aroused by lesbian porn. Women have their visual stimuli and to get their rocks off of, I don’t see the reason to change that….I don’t know the word to use, but I know it’s meant well but feeling women should see more sexy men or better things for men to be sexy but comfortable. I don’t know, it’s like pity, pity for the male body. It’s like the equivalent of adding bumper rails to a bowling alley so you can hit strikes and you can feel better.

    • I’m not aware of any women who have been programmed to find the male body arousing. Who are these women? and I will say that objectification is a problem, as I will discuss more later – and have discussed in the past. In that the visual can be a huge obstacle to enjoying sexuality when women are so busy trying to fit it, or feeling like they don’t fit it, or their male partners are noticing that they don’t fit it (Thinking his partner isn’t curvy enough, or is too curvy, or whatever) instead of enjoying sex – which doesn’t need to be visual at all!

      • When a man is in bed with a woman, he’s not thinking about her supposed flaws and he’s turned on by her body. Too bad women don’t get much looking at their man’s body in bed and makes every action to seem like false advertising and not genuine.

        It can be a problem being objectified. I’m not saying I want or want men to be objectifed, because if a man is just standing around to be a little pretty accessory that would annoy a man as he’d like the lust, but he’d want more appreciation than being a sexy toy to look at and that’s it. It could be tiring too with body pressure and not being able to dress certain ways because it’s too revealing. But not wanting that, but it would be nice if a man knew that women valued him more, which it seems the case, but his body isn’t just sexy but lust worthy. Meaning he can be left alone when out and dressed certain ways, and might not cause arousal just from looking, but women seeing him shirtless can provoke thoughts of sex or desire in the back of her mind and when he’s with that woman, she loves the way his body looks and finds it so sexy and lust worthy plus his personality, etc, but his body is visually stimulating too for sex and a dual lust because of his personality and body, The spark being equal with personality and body. That would be ideal, but the way you talk makes it seem most of it is personality and whatever body goes with it, not much to do with her sexual turn on with his personality.

        Go figure, but men would like to know that their attractive, fit bodies, are lust worthy just from how hot it looks itself. It’s not cool to have your body being irrelevant for arousal, as it’s quite a turn on to have your body desire and aesthetics of your body provoking some arousal too along with personality. Yeah you don’t want everything about just the body, as then you can love value with your other assets, such as intelligence and personality, talents, etc. But you know it’s very human to want your ego stroked and desired and not the opposite or fake desire for your body.

      • It’s funny that the thing you complain about is exactly what I would like.

        And this thing is, most women have poor body image — about 80% — so it’s not like they are experiencing their allure the way you suppose they do.

  5. Rewiring of the gaze, both male and female of how we see ourselves and others, esp. both genders. Turning a woman’s gaze of desirability inward so she can find it in and for herself rather than looking outside for it. I think a man holding a baby or just being passionate about whatever he loves doing- that’s sexier than any pinup– although I still love my pinups of Greg Evigan and Shaun Cassidy from the 70’s unabashedly.

  6. “t’s funny that the thing you complain about is exactly what I would like.

    And this thing is, most women have poor body image — about 80% — so it’s not like they are experiencing their allure the way you suppose they do.”

    I don’t want to be a sex object per se,but somewhere in between. Not obsessed about and just body parts to women, and nothing more like women have to feel or deal with society. But a man of many talents and worthy, but whose body is arousing to my partner visually too or women having visual lust for men’s bodies, just not in a fetishsized way. So somewhere in the middle. If there was a scale for the left being 0 or close to that with lack of body parts being arousing and the right side being the fetishsized level of arousal. Women would be on the far right side of the line while men’s bodies to the far left. I’d like it to be in the middle of that line for men and maybe it would be good for that for women too. Both in the middle line of still sexy and stimulating, but not taboo or obsessed about.

    You said you would like that. You probably would like less arousal, because you know what is’ like to be desired and lusted for visually. You don’t like it, but I think its great too. Who doesn’t like creating lust from people they find sexually attracvtive and being desired visually? It’s quite the buzz. It’s such a turn on to me and feels great as it’s natural to not simply want to be wanted, but your partner being visually stimulated by your body. You don’t like it? So if say your husband, bf, lover, whoever is being intimate and all the things he does to you body is simply from him loving you and being “emotionally into you?. And nothing from him having visual lust and desire toward your sexy body and the aesthetics of your body and him lavishing it and wanting it so bad? Seems like women don’t like being objectified, but they love the joy men have playing with their breasts and nipples, not simply because it turns and feels good for the woman, but because her body parts turn him on when being into just because of how sexy they are and it provokes his desire to lavish it.

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like being “lied to”. A man would like to know and what a turn on it would be for a man to that when his woman is giving him a blowjob, it’s not just for his pleasure that turns her on and she enjoys. But it would be nice for the man if it was also his cock getting her revved up to and her loving cock and the way it looks and part of her turn on too. Same with if she grabs his ass or kisses his chest, it’s the nice muscles and nice ass that is part of her being revved up too. To have your body lusted for and visually turned on by how sexy it looks, therefore arousing is quite a buzz and turn on and feels good. Men would like to feel desirbable too and their body desirable and feel that lust that women get from men. I’ll put it this way. If I’m good at making desserts and good at making tasty looking, delicious desserts and was making some for my gf. Sure I’d be happy she enjoys it in general and likes it for my sake. But it would be nice, for her to genuinely find the dessert I made, delicious looking, and he to genuinely love the taste and want more of it, because it looked so good and tasted so good, thus the “hunger” for it. So it’s not simply from it being somethijng I personally made, but it looking delicious in itself.

    • Here’s what I don’t like about the objectification of women, on the most personal level of my experience:

      1) Like the 80% of women who don’t feel that great about their bodies, I spend my time distracted, wondering whether I’m attractive enough. I think I’m supposed to look a certain way and I don’t feel like I do. It’s a total turn off. I would be much more comfortable having sex if it was all about the physical pleasure and emotional connection. And not having to worry about how I look — whether I measured up. It’s a huge distraction! And it makes sex the opposite of enjoyable.

      2) Ever since I was a little girl, and completely undeveloped, I just hated sexualized images of women amidst a dearth of sexualized images of men. It made me feel exposed (the grownup me I would become) — like women were exposed and men didn’t have to be. (And I suspect a lot of men wouldn’t like it either, Considering how often male nudity is avoided in movies. And at least one university allowed nude sculptures by Rodin — if they were women. But no nude men! I’ve often wondered if the men who made that decision didn’t like feeling vulnerable, Either.)

      3) The other part is that I didn’t like how women seem to be completely defined by their sexuality, Like that’s all that matters about them. I felt like there is so much more to me and I wanted that to be seen. I wanted to be seen as a well-rounded person, Not like something that existed to gratify someone else.

      • I’m sorry for your insecurity and many other women’s insecurities. I’ve said it before that I feel bad and I’d like things to change in that respect. I find it interesting how you and other women pay attention so much to the fake idealized images from the media, but ignore the various body types men appreciate. On top of that, most often men don’t care or see the flaws that women see or obsess over such as cellulite, and stretch marks and fat here and there, etc. You and other women need to know that if a man is dating you and intimate, he finds your body sexually attractive and sexy and doesn’t care or see your supposed flaws and finds your body sexy and arousing. Not only that, but I find it interesting how women have such hang ups and feelings about their body even when having sex or being intimate with a guy they like or love. As the signs are obvious of how sexy their bodies are to their men and if they only got out of their own neurotic self analysis, they’d see the big time lust and visual appreciation their men have of their bodies.

        When a woman takes off her top even with a long time partner, I guarentee his eyes still light up seeing her breasts and ass and don’t forget how turned on her man gets touching said body parts and other sensual parts of her body. Women don’t see to get that enjoyment on men’s bodies or if they do,I’ve found out, that it’s a fake enjoyment.

        I think part of the reason men in charge of media have always shown women sexually but not men is for two reasons. I think they don’t want to lose power like you said or in a vulnerable powerless position and also probably due to some homophobia as well.

        But like I said, if you saw what I wrote. I’m not saying, I want men to be sex objects like women as it’s not good to be just a pretty thing to someone and nothing more. Like I said, somewhere in the middle would be nice for both men and women. I think Europe or how Europe used to have it was ideal for women. Women could go topless at beachs and views of sex more healthy, positive and more relaxed. Women and sexuality not taboo and women not tied to their sexuality like here in the US. But things weren’t completely de sexualized like in tribal cultures or nudist colonies, as women still wore clothes in malls and places other than destined nude beaches. So there was not the taboo or obsession about boobs, but still sexual appreciation and desire but not in an obsessed way like in the US. Women don’t have to deal with the obsession like US but still get the benefit of being with their man and having men still visually lust for their body and lavish it up when being intimate and be turned on by their naked bodies in sexual moments and still finding eroticism to their bodies.

        Men don’t get that, So i’m not saying I want men to be sex objects, but to be valued overall, but still elicit sexual arousal or desire and sexual thoughts of their body or more so than now. Especially with their partner or sexual context. A happy medium for both men would be nice, though it seems they’d be going in different directions. Women’s bodies not taboo and obsessed and less sexualized while, being shown for more of their other values such as intelligence, personality, talent, etc. And men being adored and lusted more on their bodies, but not to where they are shown as accessories like women and not fetishsized, but still keeping their other values too.

      • Well you just got finished saying that you find it hard to get aroused by a woman who doesn’t have a certain body type. So it’s not just media. We hear guys talk about the sort of thing. And we hear a lot. I sometimes wonder if that is why women enjoy sexuality more in partnered sex with a man she has an emotional connection with. If you’re with a man who totally loves you and seems totally into you, You can let a lot of those insecurities go. When I have asked that question class I often see my women’s students nod their heads in agreement.

        Have you seen this post?

        Lose Virginity, Lose Self-Esteem?
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/04/20/lose-virginity-lose-self-esteem/

    • I could only get one of these links to work, Daily Mail. I assume they say basically the same thing.

      But this is still different from what I’m talking about. Women don’t look at nude images of men and masturbate. They are having actual sex with actual men. And things could certainly work this way in a society that eroticizes male dominance – with regard to part of what The study found.

      On the other part, most people who study women’s sexuality find that what happens in bed, among women who orgasm, is that the woman gets aroused by seeing herself through her lover’s eyes. Because she is the sex object, not him. But does that mean his looks don’t count at all? No. The more attractive a guy is, the more of a complement it is that he has chosen her — and the more excited she Will be by the thought that he chose her. But she will also find him more attractive. Even though his attractiveness won’t be arousing in the way it is when a man looks at a nude female porn star.

      I can only imagine that it’s sort of like a man who sees a beautiful woman, but she isn’t dressed in a sexually arousing way. He is drawn to her. He wants to choose her as a partner. Her beauty enhances his interest. But he’s not going to be masturbating just because he saw picture of her.

  7. “Well you just got finished saying that you find it hard to get aroused by a woman who doesn’t have a certain body type. So it’s not just media. We hear guys talk about the sort of thing. And we hear a lot. I sometimes wonder if that is why women enjoy sexuality more in partnered sex with a man she has an emotional connection with. If you’re with a man who totally loves you and seems totally into you, You can let a lot of those insecurities go. When I have asked that question class I often see my women’s students nod their heads in agreement.”

    I’m explaining how visual arousal is natural with sex, otherwise people wouldn’t have physical preferences. Such physical attractivness can make a difference in one’s desire for sex with the person and part of it can be due to arousal. There are more women than you think who might not be interested in fat guys because, they don’t physically desire or can’t get into sex. Others obviously don’t care. A woman doesn’t need to have the insecurities if the man is showing interest with her as he already likes her body or else he woulldn’t even be dating with her and he would be turned on by her body.

    • First. People have cultural preferences. And individual preferences. But they both seem to be learned. you don’t find the same preferences in all cultures. And in some cultures people aren’t even visual when it comes to arousal. And feeling like you are left out of what is considered attractive isn’t at all appealing. At least 1/2 of women experience sexual dysfunction. This is a big reason why.

  8. Men don’t want to be sex objects but would like to be seen as more,but I wouldn’t want it due to women feel they should have more men shown sexy, like a sympathy thing. It should be genuine desire.

  9. It’s a topic that I usually discuss with my friends. When we see a man talking with a female stranger, we tend to think that the man is macking on the woman. Yet, when the situation is reversed, a woman striking up conversation with a male stranger, we might just think that she has questions to ask. Males are very often considered to be hunters while women are considered to be preys. I think it isn’t true at all but a stereotype. I’ve seen many female friends of mine pursuing other guys like hunters. They created many chances to stay alone with their “preys” by hook or by crook, while the guys would just think those were all coincidences and feel lucky.Males are not the only ones who will be interested in female strangers or friends. Of course women can be the ones finding someone sexy and start pursuing.

  10. In magazine’s of clothing, sports etc their is always a male model half naked with a irresistible perfectly muscular body. Many women find it sexy and others don’t. I have talked to some of my girl friends of what they think when they see a male model half naked. Do they find it sexy? What is sexy to you? Some say that their body is sexy, but what they trully believe is sexy is how he is. They way he acts, dresses, talks to a female, you might be muscluar but a hard working men is a sexy men this is what some of my girl friends say. If you are muscluar and a jerk, you are not worth it.

  11. I very much agree with the call to action on the latter part of this blog post. Certainly we need more women sharing their perspectives stories on other women and men. From my own memory, I can only really recall women writing primarily about the lives of women. This is of course an important subject matter, but I cannot help but see the double standard. Men have for a very long time been afforded the privilege to write about the lives of men and women (for example Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary). Men’s view points on a variety of topics are of course important, but it is stifling to consider that all non-men writers are largely underrepresented. I think we do a disservice to ourselves when we focus on the perspective of one gender and not include the multitude of equally interesting and valid view points from other genders. As such, there is certainly a need in our education and in our culture to learn more about women’s perspective on variety of topics, including their perspective on the lives of men. This expansion should also be applied to the larger forms of media (beyond literature), arts, and research.

  12. I think that beauty should be appreciated regardless of being male or female. I would compliment who ever is good looking no matter what they classify themselves as. However, women in my culture are looked at in a sexual way, men even invented words to describe those women who are walking by. Even women with full covers are not safe, I guess its not just the idea of covers, its because she is a woman. I don’t know much about women gazing, but when I was a teenager, my female friends would mostly talk about how handsome are celebrities, of course not mentioning any guy from our circle because then she would be considered as a bad girl for looking at guys in that way.

  13. It is clear that women don’t get as excited looking at a man than how a man would get excited upon gazing at a woman. I would personally account this due to the fact that men mostly gaze at women due to their feminine curvy appearance. This is as opposed to women who might only be gazing at the men’s facial appearance. The distinction between real life and media as brought out in “sexiness” is somehow captivating. This is whereby real sexiness is taken to be the real and natural one and cannot be achieved by posing while on the other side (media), sexiness could be easily achieved by a woman simply posing. The catch comes where a man has to do the same if he is to be labelled sexy. It is widely seen to be off for a man to pose and those who do so are seen to be more feminine. The same is concluded to a man who decides to strip for a woman. Generally, some actions are seen to be better-fitted to be done by women and men who try to carry them out are seen to be off. Therefore, some things are better off done by women and not by men.

  14. This reminds me of what my friend and I were talking about on the last season of the Bachelorette. We were watching the Bachelorette and one of the group dates was bringing all the men to a strip club and making them learn a routine and perform it in front of a full crowd of people (not to mention, on national television). I was shocked by the fact that this seemed like an acceptable “date”. It made me think that if the situation was reversed and they would have done the same thing on the Bachelor and made all the girls strip, it would be offensive and racy. It shows how if women were to do it, it would be inappropriate and expected that they would be over sexualized by how men would look at them. However, it is acceptable for the men because it is just a performance and women don’t really look at men in as sexual a way that men look at women, like stated in the article. I found that fact very interesting.

  15. I think the part that gets missed out in these discussions is that its only a very tiny elite of men (something like the top 1%) who have looks good enough for women to say they are attractive. i.e. the bar for male attractiveness is WAY higher than for female attractiveness.

    As an example: avoiding being overweight Vs being muscular. Women only have to avoid being fat to be considered hot, but for men you have to be muscular with a flat stomach. The former is way easier than the later, which can often take years, more physical effort, specialised diets, and even supplements/steroids.

    • There are a lot of different views on this. A while back my brother was saying he thought it was a lot easier for men because all they had to do was not get fat and work out — which is easier for men because their higher testosterone levels turn more food into muscle. But women needed a more precise type of body to be thought sexy. When that is nearly impossible to achieve naturally: skinny but big breasts or skinny waist but big breasts and butt. There’s the plastic surgery option but that is expensive, it has to be redone every 10 years, And it often removes breast sensation. And about 80% of young women have poor body image. Men and women both don’t think that they are all that’s sexy or attractive. But they also make a bigger deal over than it is. Women are more attractive than they usually think they are, and so are men. Plus, looks aren’t the only thing that matter. One study found that as people get to know you they find you more attractive.

      • Sure women will find it harder than men to build muscle due to less testosterone but thats a meaningless comparison as theres no pressure for women to be muscular in order to be attractive. I can promise you that building muscle is not easy. A minority of men might find it relatively easy if they have the right genes and are really into gym work. Yet even then its a huge commitment over a long period of time. Most men will need to adopt a special diet, and many use supplements/steroids as mentioned.

        I’ve worked to loose weight, and I’ve worked to try to put on muscle. I’m under no illusions that the later is far far harder.

        I don’t think women have to be super skinny or large-breasted to be considered attractive. Basically, in my view, men are way more likely to find the average woman attractive and women are way more likely to be told they are attractive, but its also a bigger consideration for men in who they want to date. Male attractiveness is perhaps less important to women (but seemingly more important all the time), but the bar is way higher.

        I’m also suspicious of surveys that ask people to report their attitudes. I suspect that many women are likely to claim they don’t find male strippers sexy because they find it embarrassing to say so. But just look at the popularity of the chippendales, Magic Mike movies etc.

      • My point wasn’t that Women would want to build muscle. My point is that it’s harder for women to keep the weight off and keep a prized slim figure. Like you said, it’s not like men easily build muscle. But it’s a lot easier for them to not be fat because more of their calories are turned to muscle, Without making them bulky. And women also prefer just a more average build versus muscular. Women think that men want skinnier than men actually want. And men tend to think that women want more muscular than women actually want. Both like an average size.

        Women do find male strippers sexy. They just don’t get sexually aroused the way men do. They don’t masturbate to naked men. That’s why Playgirl went bankrupt amidst a plethora of girlie magazines. And the reason behind that is that we don’t fetishize and sexualize the male body — By doing things like selectively hiding and revealing; or telling people that a body part is super-sexy — but don’t look at it. All of that creates huge sexual tension. And as a culture we don’t obsess over male body parts. Cameras often focus on a woman’s behind. But not a man’s behind. Almost all of our billboards are sexy women, comparatively few with sexy men. And that’s how, as a society, we create the sense that women’s bodies are sexier. And that’s probably, in turn, because men have had more control over media and art, And see sexy from a hetero Male viewpoint (about 95% of men seem to be attracted to women). see these:

        Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Attractive
        https://broadblogs.com/2010/11/04/men-aren%e2%80%99t-hard-wired-to-find-breasts-attractive/
        Women Learn the Breast Fetish, Too
        https://broadblogs.com/2010/11/29/women-learn-the-breast-fetish-too/
        Women Seeing Women as Sexier than Men
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/01/10/women-seeing-women-as-sexier-than-men/

        Men: Erotic Objects of Women’s Gaze
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/04/14/men-erotic-objects-of-women%e2%80%99s-gaze/
        Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/10/24/man-as-object-reversing-the-gaze/

        Men, Women React to Male/Female Nudity
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/01/19/men-women-react-to-male-female-nudity/

        Also, it takes more to get women sexually interested in our culture. Probably because we do so much more to repress women’s sexuality. See this: Repression: Not What You Think It Is https://broadblogs.com/2014/10/27/repression-not-what-you-think-it-is/

  16. Just being average build as a man won’t get you considered attractive.

    Fetishes: Breasts are over-sexualised due to being covered-up but I don’t think that accounts for other body parts being the subject of fetishes (feet, hands etc).

    I disagree that there are comparatively few sexy men on show in the media. Its awash with topless hunks, or hunks in their underwear these days. Even daytime TV (e.g. Ellen). Women get away with talking about sexual stuff in the workplace that would get a man in deep trouble if he did the same. I’ve been there and seen it happen.

    I also disagree that women are more sexually repressed than men these days. Male sexuality is viewed as dirty, women’s as fun and empowering. The men who get to brag about their conquests are the top of the pile. The reality is most single men are pretty starved of sex. Men get placed by society on a hierarchy such so that the men at the top financially or physically (most attractive, tallest) get a hugely disproportionate amount of the attention, sex and pretty much carte blanche to do what they like sexually, whilst the average man is policed vigorously. Of course none of this gets covered much in the typical research or media discussions which are dominated by women, or politicised by being conducted and published by those with a ‘feminist’ perspective.

    • Build doesn’t matter that much. Women are mostly “Face women.” Meaning they mostly care about what a man’s face looks like, Not what his build is. For women this is true whether you are talking about a long-term relationship or short-term fling. And they prefer average builds over muscly men.

      But that doesn’t mean that they need the most attractive men in the world. A study of Tinder found that women tended to reject men with perfectly chiseled faces, Thinking they would be snobbish and narcissistic.

      About half of men preferred body over face, if they had to choose, for a short term fling. But three quarters of men preferred face or body for long-term relationships.

      The focus on face for both women and men, and the focus on pictures on Tinder, is because most people think that face tells you more about a person.

      Another study found that the more you got to know someone the more attractive they became.

      Some fetishes aren’t cultural since you find them in all societies — but usually only among a small minority of people. It seems that something strange happened with wiring. Other fetishes, like breast fetishes, are cultural, varying from culture to culture. You don’t find them everywhere.

      The next time you look around at billboards and television commercials or look at magazine ads, actually pay attention to how many sexy men you see compared with how many sexy women. And even notice the difference in how the cut of clothing is for women compared with men.

      Now, sure, there are way more topless men. But that is exactly why topless men aren’t arousing. It’s ordinary. Same thing in tribal cultures.

      If you think that Women are less sexually repressed than men you must not be paying attention, Or reading the blog posts I recommended. I guess that explains why Women who are sexually active get labeled “sluts” and “ho’s” and some even end up killing themselves. Whereas guys end up getting high-fives for having sex.

      If I’m going to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t pay attention to reality and evidence, I don’t see the point. I feel like I’m just wasting my time — so I will stop wasting my time.

      By the way, a feminist perspective takes the view that men and women are of equal worth and dignity and should have equal rights and opportunities. I have no idea why anyone would have a problem with that, Unless they are extremely insecure and the only way they get their self-esteem is feeling like they are better than a little over half the population.

      • This is just one of the reasons why a feminist ‘perspective’ works to shut out opposing views, including the voices of men. Rather than listen and treat with consideration you make a personal ad hominem attack and silence me. Bad social science on so many levels.

      • I’d never thought of a feminist perspective that way before, but including the notion that there’s no point in wasting time on folks who are immune to evidence and reason works for me.

  17. Theres an interesting book called ‘Dataclysm: who we are (when we think no-ones looking)’ by the co-founder of the OK-Cupid dating site. He goes through data of actual behaviour (such as who gets the most replies to their emails etc). Theres an interesting chart at the beginning of the book that shows how women are far harsher in judging men’s looks than men are with women’s. Regular people of the opposite sex get rated for attractiveness on a 1-to-5 scale, and the men’s ratings of the women are pretty much a normal distribution, with the mean around 3, whereas women’s ratings of the men are skewed to the lower end, with far more men being rated as 1 or 2, and practically none as 4, let alone 5.

    • That doesn’t tell the whole story.

      Men tend to flock around the most attractive women. Women are more equal opportunity

      Here’s what Dan Ariely and colleagues concluded from their study of HotOrNot members:

      [Men] were significantly more influenced by the consensus physical attractiveness of their potential dates than females were. [Men also] were less affected by how attractive they themselves were . . . In making date choices, males are less influenced by their own rated attractiveness than females are.

      Another dating site, OK Cupid, found a similar pattern when they looked at data about who gets messages. They asked their customers to rate profile photos of the opposite sex on a scale of 0 to 5. They then tracked the number of messages for people at each level of attractiveness. The graph below shows what women thought and what they did – that is, how attractive they found men, and who they sent messages to.

      Men who were rated 0 or 1 got fewer messages than their proportion in the population. That figures. But even men who were only moderately attractive got more than their share. Generally, the fewer men at a level of attractiveness, the fewer total messages women sent. The 4s, for example, constituted only 2% of the population, and they got only 4% of all the messages. The Vanessas on OK Cupid are not sending a lot of inquiries to guys who look like George Clooney.

      Men are more generous in their estimates of beauty than are women. But they also ignore the Vanessas of the world (or at least the world of OK Cupid) and flock after the more attractive women. Only 15% of the women were rated as a 4, but they received about 26% of the messages. Women rated 5 received messages triple their proportion in the population.

      The charts they refer to are here:

      http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2014/06/10/louis-c-k-on-assortative-mating/

  18. You answering my question made me feel a great amount of joy, must be how women feel when they get hollered at. I think calling someone sexy, beautiful, or paying attention to them in ways like that makes them feel special, but to much of that can get annoying..for women at least id love to feel special everyday.

    Thanks for making me feel special 🙂

    • You’re welcome. And thanks for writing such a thoughtful question. It resonated with a lot of people and provided me with a lot of material – blog posts in response. I love it when my readers become my muse.

  19. Naked or half naked men being sexy or not is all about personal opinion. Also, culture should be considered as the main fact that affects opinions. I totally agree with this article, to me and to the most women, the male doesn’t need to be naked to be sexy. I can appreciate a man by the way he looks at me. When I mean sexy, I’m not talking about just the way a man looks; smart men can also awaken sensuality. We definitely should see men through the women’s eyes, without any intervention, just seeing them the way they really are.

    • It’s actually not all about personal opinion.

      We are all a mix of these things: our personality that we’re born with + the social interactions we’ve had (Do your friends say that half naked guys are hot? If they do you’re more likely see them that way) + culture. And on that last point, our culture doesn’t sexualized men in the same way as women. I’ve never heard of a man look at a half-naked woman and go, “gee, I can’t find that sexy because she seems kind of gay.” but I’ve heard a lot of girls — and experienced this myself — looking in half naked guys and thinking, “that looks more gay then sexy.”

      And that’s because in our culture we are so used to sex objects being meant for the male gaze that when a man is objectified Women often see him through the eyes of men, Instead of through the eyes of themselves!

      So both culture and individual differences play a role. Is not purely individual: There are also strong cultural patterns. Did you see these posts?

      I wish women saw me as sexy https://broadblogs.com/2015/05/04/i-wish-women-saw-me-as-a-sex-object/
      Do women find sexy men sexy? https://broadblogs.com/2015/05/06/do-women-see-sexy-men-as-sexy-2/
      Men, Women React to Male/Female Nudity
      https://broadblogs.com/2011/10/12/gendered-reactions-to-male-and-female-nudity/

  20. I really love what was written here and I feel that it is very important for men to be able to be sexy and not be mocked about it. If a man feel sexy wearing his collar up, I hope that he would not get scrutinized or joked about by other men or women. Some goes for how women is when they feel sexy and acts on it.

    For me, I love the personality, character and person of the guy that I am dating right now. He does not need to fit in the gym stereotypical scene nor the bad boy vibe that books and movies always talk about. I feel that he is sexy when he is confident and assuring, he is admirable when he does his thing in his own way and charming whenever he talks to me.

    In Indonesia, people are not really open to PDA and couples are not very “showy” with their thoughts especially romantic ones to their friends or acquaintances. For me, I always talk about how cute my boyfriend is and generally complimenting him. Vice verse for him too. But my girlfriends, who have boyfriends, are not as open as I am towards their opinion of their boyfriend. I think it’s because there is a social culture to never praise oneself and when I am praising my boyfriend, people may think of me as overly-confident/attached to him. But I think it is important to be explicit about our positive feelings so our significant others (especially our male counterparts) knows that they are indeed, charming and sexy as they are.

  21. I agree 100%! Yes, the guys in magazines look good, but I don’t find them as attractive as my husband when he’s shirtless around the house eating cereal in the morning. The unplanned sexiness is the sexiest kind of sexy!

  22. This article was awesome! My friends and I have always noticed good looking men and notice how its not in an objectifying way! Sometimes women need to realize that it is ok to be in charge and go up to a man, even if its just for a conversation. Not all men look like the ones in the magazines just like all women don’t look like the girls in the magazines. Women can walk down the street and appreciate a man just like a man can appreciate a woman, but guys need to learn that not everything is about sex.

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