Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Extra Medium

There's no accounting for which straight males other straight males think are attractive. Historically, whenever a guy I know tells me a friend of his is really good-looking, I meet them and think, Meh. What's up with that? I have a couple of theories:

  • Men think women are looking for Mr. Normal, so they assign high points to basic stuff like symmetry, a decent build, not being bald, etc. Being slightly above average height, but not too tall, seems to go some way with straight men too.
  • Men don't really think these guys are especially good-looking, but they promote them in order to appear friendly and generous, or out of some vague hope of reciprocity/karma. 
  • Men delude themselves into believing these guys are the most attractive specimens around so they don't have to confront the fact of the really attractive dudes.

Alternatively, maybe I'm the outlier. Maybe everyone thinks these guys are attractive but me?

Anyway. I went to a carnival. It was fun! I have proof:


Me and J. Michael Martinez on The Scrambler. (Photo credit goes to Joshua Ware.)

34 comments:

  1. ha! that picture made me giggle.

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  2. Yeah, I first picked up on this when I was a teenager and the TV kept telling me that Dan Quayle was attractive. And years later the TV tried telling me that John Edwards was a pretty boy. They both look like Pat Sajak. Is Pat Sajak attractive?

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    1. Pat Sajak kind of looks like a Cabbage Patch Doll.

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    2. Are Cabbage Patch Dolls attractive?

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    3. To each other, maybe? Hard to imagine.

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    4. Then why did my mother spend several days salary to buy one as a X-mas present for my sister from the trunk of some guy's car?

      The world is perplexing.

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    5. I never even considered having sex with my little sister's cabbage patch doll. What's wrong with me?

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  3. I'm pretty mystified by the types of men women (or other men!) consider attractive. But I tend to equate "attractiveness" with "striking features not obviously due to stab wounds" and I have heard that this is nonstandard.

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  4. come on you can't be serious with your #2 and #3. #1 might be true to some extent, but i think most people are on board with symmetry, a decent build, not being bald, etc.

    assuming we buy the premise (which i'm not sure i do), i think it's the simplest thing, heterosexual men are not attracted to men, so they are bad at discerning male attractiveness, or maybe more precisely male sexiness. me personally, i end up relying on things like how much i like the guy, how funny he is, etc. hence alec baldwin. however, i do think mr. clooney/pitt/depp/et al are damn attractive.

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    1. Straight women are much better at discerning the attractiveness of other straight women, so lack of attraction alone isn't enough to explain it.

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    2. "Straight women are much better at discerning the attractiveness of other straight women"

      hahahaha... oh is that so?

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    3. Women know when to be afraid! (i.e. jealous)

      But like I said above, maybe men know too, they just don't reveal that they know.

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    4. So wait, by "discerning the attractiveness," do you mean discerning how attractive they're seen as? As opposed to simply "judging attractiveness [as if there were an objective scale for doing so]"? The latter idea was what I was haha-ing, but now I see you may have meant the former...

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    5. I meant the former, but really they're the same. Look, everyone individually is going to have different ideas of who is attractive, but if you look at large-scale averages of how attractive a person is perceived as being, that's about as objective as things get. I explained this in the Brief Interview series from a while back -- ask 1000 people to rate someone on a scale of 1 to 10. The person who gets an average score of 4 is "less attractive" by general standards (of that time/society/etc.) than the person who gets an average score of 8, though of course some number of people in the larger group will think the 4 is more attractive than the 8. I'm saying it seems like women are betting at picking out the 8's. Maybe because on the whole women are forced to be hyperaware of standards of beauty for their own gender, whereas men aren't objectified as much. MALE GAZE IN EFFECT, Y'ALL!

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    6. Oh, I'm not concerned with other people's opinions. I recognize their right to exist, but when it comes to tastes, I think of mine as the correct ones, as we all do. (I still think she's pretty mouth-watering... ;)

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    7. As John would say, she looks like she'd be "up for anything."

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  5. i dunno, aren't women typically more bi-curious? *duck*

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  6. yeah exactly, plus here comes the reverse sexism again!

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    1. This is the reverse sexism blog, if you can't take the heat ....

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    2. See my comment at 7:59, above. If what I say is true, it's just regular sexism.

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  7. There was a guy in my dorm, short guy with a goatee. He had this very calm and casual manner (a little affected, but he pulled it off). Drove a motorcycle. I saw girls swoon when he left the room. I see alot of fat guys with good looking girls too. Some guys can pull it off, no matter what they look like.

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    1. But what would you say about that guy -- that he was "really good-looking" or that he "got a lot of chicks"? Confidence is attractive, but it doesn't make you "good-looking" -- that's my semantic quibble.

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  8. My mom is reading a book by Diane Keaton. Keaton says back in '68 she thought Woody Allen had a handsome face and a great body. Hmm. A man can judge symmetry and so on as well as anyone else, but he can't predict what women will desire.(& by the way I think it's a bit cynical to say "Men don't really think these guys are especially good-looking, but they promote them in order to appear friendly and generous." Straight men actually do find some men good-looking, and some straight men are capable of commending another man to you out of unfeigned friendliness and generosity.) Sometimes you mutter to yourself "Women like power, women like obnoxious arrogance, women like tall," and then some couple gives the lie to your theory, and you feel obtuse. It's like Middlemarch: Mr. Brooke and Celia think Dorothea should hook up with Chettam, who's Mr. Normal; but D. falls for a moribund scholar twice her age instead. Maybe women want something they don't have; maybe that's why they seem to want someone they think superior to them. Or the opposite of them.

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    1. I think it's a bit cynical to say "Men don't really think these guys are especially good-looking, but they promote them in order to appear friendly and generous."

      That was one of three theories, I wasn't advancing it as the winner. I don't know what's going on, I was looking for insight from readers. I think the first theory is most plausible, they just have no idea.

      Anyway, I never claimed that all women like the same thing. But by and large, on average, some men are considered more attractive than other men.

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  9. If you advanced the theory, you entertained it, and it's within my rights to deny it so that you'll adhere to a more plausible theory. And did I claim that you claimed that all women like the same thing?

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    1. The example with Diane Keaton and Woody Allen seemed to imply that tastes are wildly subjective on the individual level -- which of course they are.

      Deny, by all means. But I would propose equally cynical theories about women. People are competitive, it's not always conscious. Remember the post about long hair vs. short hair?

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  10. Intriguing topic and comment thread. This is a really interesting one because I am often puzzled by the men women say are attractive. Personally I am able to see that Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio, Jared Leto etc. are good looking human beings but once you move away from that think that baldness is the disadvantage people seem to think classic male model look I cannot for the life of me work out why women find certain men attractive.
    Maybe just to take one for the (bald) team I really don't it is. I think that it's how you manage baldness that matters far more. Of course if baldness undermines your confidence then you become less attractive for another reason :-)

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    1. Yeah, baldness doesn't bother me. I assume "thick hair" is kind of the equivalent of large breasts for men -- nice to have for most of them, not a dealbreaker and for some people actively a turnoff.

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    2. Yikes, my comment seemed to have got garbled but I think the gist was still there. I like your 'nice to have analogy', I sure would love to have the choice of having long hair or having it shaved off. Funnily enough though my wife thinks the photos from my long hair days look awful (it could have been the dodgy 80's hairstyles too though).
      It's definitely true though that some guys make a far bigger deal about being bald than they need to. Some things are in your control like your physique, your clothing, your teeth etc. If people make the beast of what they have they will normally find that at least some people find them attractive. It would be a boring world if everybody found everybody else attracive but I have to say that that link that Matt posted also sent my heart a-racing.

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    3. Ha, similarly, my boyfriend had long hair in the 80s and I think it looked like crap. I much prefer him with short hair and no beard, hair band fantasies aside.

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  11. The Scrambler is my favorite! Well, maybe it battles the Tilt a Whirl, but I really love it.

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