Oddly Enough, Women Attracted to Attractive Men

Melissa’s made a point of noting how Reuters has this weird policy that any news about women falls into the “oddly enough” category.  Well, today features an oddly enough that…well, just read:

Muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners than their less-chiseled peers, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles said on Monday.

Their study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggests muscles in men are akin to elaborate tail feathers in male peacocks: They attract females looking for a virile mate.

“Women are predisposed to prefer muscularity in men,” said study author David Frederick of UCLA.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: that’s not only not odd, that isn’t even news!  Golly gee, you mean that women are capable of being shallow and hooking up with some guy just because he’s good looking and well-built?  Have these people been to high school and/or college?

Now, we can argue all day about how much beauty standards for men are influenced by popular culture and all that, and that’s not the debate I’m looking to have.  What I find fascinating is that there’s anyone surprised by this.

Okay, there was one bit of news out of the article:

“Most research is focused on what men find physically attractive in women and the career traits women find attractive in men,” Frederick said by telephone. “Much less research is devoted to what women find attractive.”

He said prior studies concluded a man’s desirability was influenced more by his earning potential and commitment. His study found physical characteristics mattered more.

I know, I know, you’re as stunned as I am that women actually are attracted to attractive men whether or not those men are driving a substitute penis Porsche.  Somehow we’ll all have to make sense of this world where up is up, black is black, and right is right.

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30 Comments

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30 responses to “Oddly Enough, Women Attracted to Attractive Men

  1. I have to say that I’ve never been into the muscle-bound type. A little definition here and there is okay, but when a guy has a “six-pack,” I just think it looks weird. Go figure.

  2. And here I spent all those years going to the gym because I thought it was good for my physical health. Go figure. 😉

  3. When my current-wife asked if I had one I told her I don’t even drink beer.

  4. Truthfully, I’m working on a full keg.

  5. While I can appreciate a well formed male body, I also hate the overly-muscled look, and the men I’ve been most attracted to over the course of my life have generally been tall and thin. Loki was 6′ and only weighed 145 lbs when I met him, and I was instantly sexually attracted to him.

  6. Of course if a guy actually has a six-pack, especially if it’s Red Stripe, then I think it looks refreshing, not weird.

  7. “Women are predisposed to prefer muscularity in men,”

    We are? Really? Because, you know, this is total news to me, being lesbian and all …

  8. Erin M

    Delivery for Reuters: One cargo container full of “You don’t say?” Anyone around to sign for it?

  9. eastsidekate

    So did they collect any data for this study, or just write down what they knew, based loosely on a careful watching of General Hospital and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Commercials.”

    I mean, really, all women? Are the media suggesting that there’s a guy out there who’s man enough to change Sarah and my minds? And that women who don’t like body builders are just settling?

    More to the point– that’s not what the study found out. It was about the number of sexual partners. It’s damn offensive to relate that to female mate choice. I mean really?

    I suggest the following alternative headlines:
    “Gym rats are huge sluts”
    “Women find muscular men disappointing in bed”
    “Men who are overly concerned with their muscles too full of themselves to engage relationships”

    They’re all horrible caricatures, but no worse than the conclusion that Reuters (and the researchers) appear to reach.

    Puh-lease.

  10. In other news, the sky is blue and water is wet.

  11. I mean, really, all women? Are the media suggesting that there’s a guy out there who’s man enough to change Sarah and my minds? And that women who don’t like body builders are just settling?

    Nah, it’s far easier kate, we’re just not women … not REAL women that is.

  12. NameChanged

    Why are studies like this being funded? Not only is it semi-obvious, but it is completely pointless. Why do we care? We don’t, the researchers seem to be looking for innocuous ideas so that they can keep a job, since this planet is so anti-science that all we want is mundane “gee-guess-that’s-interesting-yet-useless” information to overload our brains with.

    Let’s do a study on how water is wet, dogs like meat, and farts smell unpleasant.

    😦

  13. So did they collect any data for this study, or just write down what they knew, based loosely on a careful watching of General Hospital and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Commercials.”

    *snort*

  14. holly

    I’ve always thought it was bizarre how studies focused so much on what men find physically attractive in women and then try to make crazy evo-psych claims about the results. I think they envision cave men who were all fastidious in their selection of sex partners, i.e. “Ooga’s nice and all but her waist hip ratio is a little out of whack, man, I wouldn’t tap that.”

  15. I’m quite certain that women’s tastes in men (or women) vary. Men’s tastes in women (or men) certainly do. Heck, what I find attractive varies from day to day and person to person. But what I find interesting about the study is its utter banality. We have set a masculine beauty standard as well-muscled. It’s as ridiculous and non-real as female beauty standards, it’s just we don’t beat men down with them like we do women.

    But based on that, it turns out that straight women find attractive men attractive! I mean, that’s the conclusion here — that women actually experience physical lust.

    Women aren’t supposed to lust. They’re supposed to look for protection. In a backhanded way, this is a positive study because it admits that hey, women are irrational and at times shallow too. As a human, I’m unsurprised.

  16. eastsidekate

    This is horrible, horrible research, based on crappy methodologies and entirely set up to confirm the cultural biases of the scientists. It shouldn’t have been published anywhere, although I suspect Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin is a pretty low-impact journal.

    They’re assuming that all men desire to have as many sexual partners as possible, and that the only thing influencing the number of sexual partners a male has is whether he can convince women to sleep with him. False and false.

    Furthermore, they assume that 200 undergrads at UCLA, all of whom are presumably straight and under 25, are an accurate reflection of humanity. And who knows how those 200 were selected?

    Ask a stupid questions about young, middle-class heterosexuals and get a stupid answer about said group. Except here, they fail to do even that.

  17. eastsidekate

    Scratch that: it was 99 men.

  18. Pingback: University Update - UCLA - Oddly Enough, Women Attracted to Attractive Men

  19. “Gym rats are huge sluts”
    “Women find muscular men disappointing in bed”
    “Men who are overly concerned with their muscles too full of themselves to engage relationships”

    I think they are all truthier than the official findings.

    I don’t know any women who like Schwartzennegger type muscularity. Buff but not heavy is my ideal.

  20. Then why are so many Hollywood starlets are attracted to oil heir Brandon and Jason Davis?

    Brandon:

  21. “Then why are so many Hollywood starlets are attracted to oil heir Brandon and Jason Davis?”

    IMO it might be the “oil heir” factor.

  22. Aaron

    As a muscular gym rat overly concerned with my muscles, I’m offended.

    Heh. Just kidding.

  23. IMO it might be the “oil heir” factor.

    Ya think? 😉

  24. D.

    Muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners

    The assumption seems to be that these “sex partners” were all female. That doesn’t necessarily follow. (The researchers may have made and not questioned this assumption.) People have been known to fudge on surveys, after all.

  25. It doesn’t matter that it’s crappy research. (Of course it is.) I’m with Jeff in feeling thoroughly boggled that it’s news to these “researchers” that women have sexual desires and feel physical sexual attraction. It’s not the muscularity of the sex objects. It’s the fact that men can BE sex objects that’s news to them.

    That is just amazing. I swear, it’s going to be news to these people when one day they discover that women are actually … omigod … like, human beings.

    And they’ll probably get a big grant and several years’ worth of salary out of that genius insight.

  26. eastsidekate

    I have a huge ax to grind here, as a queer woman who works as a researcher in a university biology department. I mean, this article represents my biggest pet peeve, so do excuse the following rant:

    I think we’re mostly in agreement that this study is flawed (I especially liked the part in the paper where they asked men to rank how attractive women thought they were).

    They’re using an old evolutionary argument: males want to mate tons and tons. They have cool traits (in this case 6-pack abs), that also have costs (testosterone is bad for you in the long run). Females want a caring, nurturing male to make sure their offspring survive.

    Aside from their methods, here are my bones of contention:

    1) They claim that males choosing women is rarely studied, but that’s a huge straw man, bordering on an outright lie. Almost all studies of mate choice involve males choosing females.

    2) When applied to humans, this evolutionary vision of mate choice, in absence of any social context (or say, the fact that sex is fun, and sex often involves condoms, and thus, low chance of reproduction) frequently leads to bigoted conclusions from the media (and/or) scientists, such as:
    – Women don’t really like sex
    – Men love sex, and are programmed to rape women when given the chance
    – Men are strong, women are weak
    – Homosexuals are evolutionarily backward
    Joan Roughgarden goes on for about 100 pages about this in her book Evolution’s Rainbow, so I’ll try to cut myself short.

    It’s not that the authors of this study are saying any of these bigoted things, but by essentially repackaging articles from Men’s Health and Cosmo as science, they’re reinforcing ancient stereotypes. (Oh, and I was wrong, it was published in a highly-regarded journal). And, as others pointed out above in the thread, why are they doing it? What do we get if they are right?

    Applying evolutionary theory to human sexual behavior in the absence of any discussion of culture, pleasure, birth control, homosexuality or masturbation makes about as much sense as using evolution to understand poverty, and in my mind, it’s every bit as offensive.

  27. Jess

    It’s not obvious so much as it is tautological. Hey, straight women tend to find attractive the male body type that is promoted as attractive! Next you’ll be telling me that men are more likely to sleep with thin women! It’s so astonishing and totally scientifically valid and utterly unrelated to societally mandated ideas of aesthetic acceptability!

    Although I do agree that “Gym Rats Huge Sluts” would be a truthier headline. I’m actually not sure I’m ready to accept that men are subject to the tyranny of physical idealism to the same extent that women are.

  28. eastsidekate

    I left out a key bit– theory says women like the cool bits (say the abs), for one of two reasons:

    Usually it’s pre-programmed, and the women can’t help themselves (like the peacock’s feathers)– scientists have tied themselves in knots trying to make a convincing case of how this actually works.

    Other times, it’s argued that the trait shows how strong an individuals is (as in, having these long feathers makes me really easy for predators to spot, so you know I’m super fast and otherwise uber-healthy).

    As you can tell, I’m in the tiny minority who finds these arguments somewhat logically incomplete. I have no clue what they have to do with some dudes pecs.

  29. I don’t equate attractiveness in men with being “well-built” or muscular. In fact, I’m not attracted to muscularity at all. I have always been drawn to tall, skinny men, who have a scruffy or intellectual look to them. Like Hugh Laurie or Eric Clapton or Bruce Springsteen (okay, I know Bruce isn’t tall, but he’s skinny and scruffy-looking). I do not like the weight-lifter type AT ALL.

  30. Pingback: Blue Collar Heresy » Blog Archive » Stunnings News: Attractive people are attractive!

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