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Men Prefer Great Hair Over Big Breasts?

Sixty percent of men would rather date a woman with great hair than big breasts. Fabulous hair also topped low-cut blouses when it came to alluring men in bars. So says a recent survey reported in Glamour.

Do keep in mind that 40% chose breasts over hair. So if you’re well-endowed, not to worry.

Is this true? Some wonder. After all, Pantene commissioned the study.

The research has been picked up and widely reported. Here are a few comments from men on the topic.

  • On my list of attributes I wanted, “hair longer than mine” ranked well above “a chest larger than mine.”
  • The face/hair falls #1 on the thing my friends and I notice first about attractive ladies. It’s not that we ignore the other blessings bestowed upon a beautiful woman, but what’s above the neckline determines approachability and friendliness and gives a much better sense of the person than cleavage. I have no friends who discriminate based on cup size, and bras today can make Betty White’s breasts appear firm. (NOTE: Admittedly, I’m almost 40. So maybe we older dudes judge by different standards.)
  • We would notice your curves first, ass, chest, legs and the way you stand. But your head will become our primary focus after that. Your face, your hair, your smile is what charm us. We really notice your hairstyle, especially if it’s a nice cut. It’s also a mirror of your personality, of how you can take care of yourself, it’s feminine and sexy.

The survey results make some sense. Keira Knightley and Paris Hilton have both landed on FHM’s “sexiest women” list. They both have great hair, but little cleavage. A past roommate of mine had gorgeous hair and face but very little “up top,” as they say, yet men went nuts for her.

Related research shows that men usually rank face over body in some circumstances too. Surprising? Given a choice between seeing a woman’s face or body, 75% of men preferred to see face for long-term relationships, compared with 51% who wanted to see body for a short fling.

Overall, I would call this good news. First, maintaining beautiful hair is not dangerous, unlike going under a knife for implants.

And, I appreciate the sense that face and hair reveal personality and give a sense of who the woman is, while cleavage does not. Men caring more about women as people than objects. Who knew?

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Women Learn the Breast Fetish, Too

Meredith Chivers, a highly regarded psychologist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, showed men and women, both straight and gay, short film clips of heterosexual sex, gay and lesbian sex, a man masturbating, a woman masturbating, a nude well-toned man walking, a fit woman doing nude calisthenics, and bonobos (an ape species) having sex.

Chivers then asked the men and women to rate how aroused they felt. But she also used probes to gauge penile swelling and vaginal blood flow.

Men’s responses were as expected.

But women’s genitals and minds seemed to belong to entirely different people. For instance, hetero women’s bodies were more aroused by the exercising woman than by the strolling man – though they claimed otherwise.

In other research, she asked men and women to wear goggles that track eye movement, and had them look at pictures of heterosexual couples in foreplay. The men gazed mostly at the women – their faces and bodies. But the women spent equal time looking at both sexes, with their eyes focused on the men’s faces and the women’s bodies.

In these two pieces of research we find hetero women more aroused by nude pictures of women than men, and spending more time looking at nude women’s bodies than men’s.

Odd huh?

Chivers isn’t entirely sure what to make of it all. Since women’s blood flow rose in every sexual situation they viewed, including the bonobos – and because lubrication (and blood flow) also increase among rape victims when sex is unwanted – she speculates that women’s bodies may lubricate whenever a sexual signal arises in order to reduce discomfort, and the possibility of injury, during penetration. With this need, women’s bodies may simply be much more sensitive to any sexual signal than men’s, whether or not they feel sexually aroused.

Okay, but why were women more aroused by looking at the nude woman than the nude man? “Possibly,” she said, “the exposure and tilt of the woman’s vulva during her calisthenics was proc­essed as a sexual signal while the man’s unerect penis registered in the opposite way.”

The notion that the women were less turned on because they couldn’t see an erection seems odd given that Playgirl, until recently, has had a long history of hiding the penis. Many women are ambivalent, at best, about the penis as a visual turn-on.

Perhaps Chivers is referring to some primal response that women aren’t consciously aware of, responding to a sexual stimulus requiring need for lubrication. Yet a nude exercising woman is no more likely to penetrate than a flaccid man.

Also, straight women spent more time looking at the bodies of nude women than nude men during sexual foreplay. Why did women’s bodies draw greater interest?

Many will seek out biological explanations, but as a sociologist, I think culture may explain the oddity.

Society teaches us how to see the world: How to think about it, feel about it, and react to it.

The male body is pretty much ignored in our culture. Billboards aren’t splashed with sexy men. No men in Speedos. Nothing much but an occasional underwear ad.

Women’s bodies are focused upon, with breasts selectively hidden and revealed, creating a captivation, leaving us wondering about that which is hidden. The camera gazes, zeroes in on women’s bodies. We talk about women’s breasts as alluring. So they become a sexual signal to both men and women. We don’t treat any part of the male body in the same way.

Men learn the breast fetish, too. In cultures that don’t selectively hide and reveal the breast, they are no big deal. So tribal men, who see them all the time, aren’t especially interested. European men’s attraction waned when topless women suddenly appeared all over local beaches and billboards. And men can become numbed to titillation with overexposure to porn.

Hetero women likely experience all this a bit differently from men. For one thing, the fetish isn’t attached to their natural sexual interest, which may weaken the allure. Homophobia may also lead to repression. Women might also see other women’s breasts as competition, distracting from the erotic. Or, they may become angered by female objectification — another distraction. But research suggests that women often do experience the fetish, none-the-less.

I’m hetero, but ask me which image I find more erotic, a nude female or a nude male, and I’ll choose the girl. Many of my hetero female students nod in agreement.

I used to think that was odd, until I realized that the breast fetish is learned, and not based in biology.

To anyone who plans to inform me that I am bi, please see this post first (I’m tired of answering repetitive comments): Men Know My Sexuality Better Than Me

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Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Arousing

Men aren’t hard wired to find breasts arousing?


And how do we know this?

The same way we discover that many things aren’t biologically-based. By learning about other cultures. And the breast fetish does not exist in them all.

Men and women both resist the claim until they’re reminded of tribal societies. We’ve all seen pictures from National Geographic. And we all know that among tribal people women’s breasts are no big deal.

By the mid-1980s, topless beaches and overexposure to nudity in advertising had a similar effect in Europe. Topless women were plastered all over billboards, magazine and television advertisements because both men and women looked. But by the mid-eighties, no one paid much attention anymore. It was all so blasé. European men studying in the U.S. asked why American men were so obsessed with nudity. What’s the big deal, they wondered.

Even men who are overexposed to porn can lose interest, according to Pamela Paul, who has studied porn’s effect on male sexual arousal. As one man put it,

At first, I was happy just to see a naked woman. But as time has gone on I’ve grown more accustomed to such things.

Now he seeks more extreme stuff.

Meanwhile, studies show that even women learn the breast fetish, with images of a nude woman creating greater blood flow to the vaginal area than images of a nude man. More on that later.

How odd. Breasts turn on Western women, but not tribal men? And hetero women get more aroused by a nude woman than by a nude man?

Fetishes are created by selectively hiding and revealing — making that which is hidden enticing. Both men and women become intrigued. (Women do experience all this a bit differently from men, which I’ll discuss later.)

Meanwhile, a student of mine lived in Iran after the Islamic revolution when women strictly covered themselves except for the face. She told me that every now and again she would pull her veil back a little and watch the men go wild over her “hair cleavage.”

In America around the turn of the last century even seeing an ankle was sexy because they were always covered. In some old family photos one of my grandmothers is pulling her skirt up above her ankle to look scandalously sexy. I couldn’t even comprehend what she was doing until someone explained.

Covering is captivating. If you see the same thing all the time, it’s no big deal.

We always hear that “men are visual” (but that women are not). This isn’t based in biology. Men learn to become visual, while hetero women are left with nothing acceptable to look at. Culturally, we don’t sexualize the male body.

The fetish feels real enough, but then, much of what is learned feels biological.

As we shall see, all this can heighten bedroom excitement. Or it can have the opposite effect. More later…

If you would like to tell me why you disagree with this post, please read this first and comment over there: The Breast Fetish Is Natural? Afraid Not.

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