Are Naked Male Bodies Sexually Exciting to Women?

11 Dec

Recently, MM and I got talking about the nature of male strip clubs–you know, clubs where men strip and dance for the pleasure of women.  We were having trouble envisioning exactly what happens there, since neither of us has ever been to such a club.  And MM suggested that the whole notion of a naked man dancing seems a little silly–like there was just a bit too much potential for slapsticky bodily humor in the notion of a penis swinging free while a man danced.  I commented in passing that I’ve heard a lot of women say they don’t really find male bodies, especially male genitalia, attractive in an abstract sense.  In fact, some of these women have used words like “ew” or “gross” or “icky” in describing naked male bodies, particularly penises.  MM scoffed at this, asserting that these women (if they’re heterosexual) are just talking, that they must really be attracted to male bodies or they wouldn’t really be interested in sex with men.  I’m not so sure I agree with him.  I’ve heard far too many women express some level of not only that they’re not especially attracted to male bodies, but that they find them a little (or more than a little) unattractive.  Now, this is something I just don’t really understand.  I find male bodies beautiful and sexy.  I’m turned on by male nudity.  And there’s little I find more erotic than the sight of my partner’s body, especially when he’s aroused.  So I’m curious what other women think.

Women, answer in the poll below, expound in the comments.

For our male readers, answer in the second poll based on your perceptions and expound in comments.

Women:

Men:

46 Responses to “Are Naked Male Bodies Sexually Exciting to Women?”

  1. Kevin Barney December 12, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    I think this is a mystery to many men. We perceive women’s bodies as so attractive that we have a hard time imagining just what it is women see in our bodies. Sure, Brad Pitt circa Fight Club is one thing, but it’s kind of hard for a guy to perceive the average man’s body as a seductive attraction, especially in contrast with the average woman’s body. And I suspect that a lot of hetero women share that perspective, that on average women’s bodies are just more beautiful than men’s bodies.

    It’s an interesting question; I look forward to the discussion.

  2. anna December 12, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    hmmm i think you’re asking a very complicated question. at root, yes, i do think heterosexual women find men’s bodies attractive. certainly. twilight, anyone? taylor lautner anyone?

    HOWEVER i think there are differences in the ways women perceive men’s bodies and the ways men perceive women’s bodies. i don’t think, like some, that those differences are biological (men are just more visual, etc.). rather i think they are a result of socialization. our culture freely encourages men to visually consume women left and right. in fact it encourages women to do this to themselves and others as well. the presentation of men in society is much more varied, and men are culturally valued for things outside of their looks much more often (women can be valued for contributions outside of their looks, but they have to look beautiful while doing it or it just doesn’t count). in short, beauty in women has a much higher premium and sales value in our culture than beauty in men, and both men and women pick up on this when they ascribe higher visual value to women’s bodies than to men’s.

    and while it is fading, i think there is still a ‘slutty’ or ‘boy crazy’ stigma put on the girl who openly admires men’s bodies (how do we feel about all those women screaming over taylor lautner, anyway? what does society say about them? they are silly/shallow/slutty, etc. do we throw these same labels at men ogling naked lindsay lohan in playboy? not so much, thats just what dudes DO, right?). i think many women either keep their admiration of men’s bodies to themselves, or repress it altogether to avoid this stigma. or some combination of the two resulting in giggles and ‘ew gross!’ when women are asked about men’s bodies.

    the one question i don’t have an answer to is the matter of the penis. it’s a known fact that women drool over shirtless men, but i’ve never yet met a woman (although i’m sure they exist) who finds the penis aesthetically pleasing. yes, it’s important to us that men HAVE one, and use it well, but why is it so hard to look at? i think this must be some sort of socialization too, it’s pretty taboo to be a girl who likes dick. but it’s so strong in this area, and i’m not sure why. and really, i think it’s sort of sad. if men in general were repulsed by vaginas, i think we ladies would feel pretty bad.

  3. Patty B. December 12, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Kevin, I think you’re right that both heterosexual men and heterosexual women tend to see female bodies, on average, as more sexually attractive and beautiful than male bodies. However, I’m not sure how much that is some kind of natural state of things vs. a state of things generated by a culture in which female bodies are sexualized and used to sell and promote just about everything. Of course, that’s not really an answerable question. I do think that men have become more subject to social/cultural pressure to be attractive in prescribed ways than they were in the past (though not anywhere close to the level of pressure women feel).

    I don’t think what is found attractive about male bodies is all that different from what is found attractive about female bodies–lines, shapes, curves, health. The line of the back moving from shoulder down to waist. The shape of the butt. I imagine that these things apply differently to men than to women, but I think there are common traits. And while I see the ideal of male beauty represented in Brad Pitt circa Fight Club, I find plenty that is beautiful in the more average bodies of the men I’ve dated. There’s also a lot of potential for sexiness in clothing and presentation, just as there is for women. And hair. And eyes. And smile.

    Ladies? Other thoughts about what is attractive about male bodies?

  4. Patty B. December 12, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Excellent comment, Anna. I’ll respond more in depth in a bit when I have more time (need to get moving on my morning work), but I wanted to say that you have now met (if only virtually) a woman who finds the penis aesthetically pleasing. Obviously there’s huge variation amongst penises and how they look, and there are certainly some I don’t find all that appealing, but generally speaking I find them sexy and beautiful (even if it sounds a little odd to use that language).

  5. youngfox December 12, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    My wife says mine is pretty, and I don’t have a problem with that! Just a few months ago, she was in the “ew” category, but when we started reading this blog, she started exploring my manhood more and that helped a lot. Then someone posted the documentary about the male penis and that helped more, but she finally totally changed her opinion when we took a look at the penis museum website(www.thepenismuseum.com). After strolling through this site with here she came to appreciate my penis and the beauty of it. Hence she now says it’s pretty.

  6. KaralynZ December 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    I have been informed by my friends who frequent strip clubs that almost all male strip joints are aimed a homosexual men and not heterosexual women. I mean they won’t turn us away but we’re not where the money is.

  7. handle with care December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Love the look of the male body,love the feel,love my lover’s body. Find the penis in other men unattractive unless erect,after that,any penis is a thjng of wonder and beauty .But I’m not sure I felt that way about a man’s active sexuality before I was married-I think perhaps it was something against which I found it necessary to protect myself,on reflection I think I was intimidated.

    Not sure I would have gone as far as ‘ew’ though,that does sound a little dysfunctional to me.

    Also,I’m not sure my lover is all that visual-I would say I’m perhaps more visual than him.I think you are right in saying that socialisation plays a large part in this.

    I love Bjork’s song ‘Venus as a Boy’ as an expression of a woman finding her passion for the male body.Yay for gorgeous,virile manhood.

    It’s such a privelege to see my son growing into his manhood,it’s really helped me to see how fragile and beautiful it is. Like my husband said recently ‘we want the same things’,both as men and women we want to be adored for exactly what we are.

  8. Zero December 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    My wife would be quite happy never to see me naked. I’m not grossly fat or anything (5’9″, 170#), she just doesn’t want to see the icky parts.

  9. Whitney December 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Has anyone ever been to a midnight showing of any of the Twilight movies? Note the girls’ reactions when Jacob takes off his shirt.

  10. Whitney December 12, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Anna, awesome comment. IMO, you nailed it.
    Handle with care, I love your last line and agree 100%. Regardless of gender, we all want to be loved and appreciated for who we are.

  11. KaralynZ December 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    I found the video I was thinking of earlier. Some people wanted to see where women look so they took a traditionally “cute” guy, hooked up four hidden cameras and sent him out to ask young women for directions in a non-threatening fashion. The cameras catch whether the ladies looked his eyes, biceps, butt or groin. I’m a bicep girl myself,

    Personally I also notice that I’m more visually… lustful, as it were during certain times of the month, so some of it is just hormones.

  12. Lola December 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    I feel very socialized to sexualize the female body. I consider myself heterosexual, but frequently fantasize about women’s bodies. However, in reality, I can’t even imagine myself in a relationship with another woman. I know that men’s body’s are sexualized as well, but I don’t think it’s nearly to the same extent or scope as the female body and this frustrates me in a way.

    I love my husband’s body, his shoulders, his waist, his penis included, but I am working on finding the inherent sexiness that seems to be so much easier to find in the female body.

    I think on a whole though that I am much less visual than my husband because he became a lot more attractive to me as I got to know him. The idea of going to a strip club, of any kind, is utterly unappealing to me.

  13. Rob December 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    “i don’t think, like some, that those differences are biological (men are just more visual, etc.). rather i think they are a result of socialization. our culture freely encourages men to visually consume women left and right. ”

    It’s not because men are more visual. It’s because eons of time trained men to look for women that could give birth to his children (via sexuality) and women looked for men with the strength and skill to protect her and her children (i.e. not sex per se).

    There’s a good description of the concept here: http://theprivateman.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/women-and-the-saber-tooth-tiger/

    If you think about how things go between the sexes, it explains quite a bit. So, on the whole, men’s sexuality isn’t valued as much as women’s sexuality is. I used to think it was cultural, too, but I now understand that’s confusing cause with effect.

    I’ll also add that I suspect there’s a lot of variation in how men see the aesthetics of the vagina, too, even if they’re a big fan of sex.

  14. Fanny A December 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    I cannot in any way relate to women who think the penis or male body is “icky” and frankly wonder if that reaction is more about their own body issues than it is about a male body. I do know of and have heard many women make disparaging comments about the appearances of male genitalia- and I just don’t understand.

    I find the body of my partner to be erotic and incredibly exciting. I love the way he responds to my touch, and I thoroughly enjoy exploring him. There is nothing- absolutely nothing- that I don’t enjoy about the mingling of these bodies. It’s beautiful.

  15. anna December 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    ick, rob. evo psych is nasty stuff, dressing up fables and just-so stories in an effort to preserve the status quo. here is a better link to a more reputable site, and an article called “Is Evolutionary Psychology Total Utter and Dangerous Bullshit”

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/201012/is-evolutionary-psychology-total-utter-and-dangerous-bullshit

    it’s written by a man, too. based on the site you linked to i thought it might be important to you to know that.

  16. anna December 13, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    and thanks, everyone, by the by for your comments on my comment :) sorry i haven’t responded much, i’ve got hands full of baby. but man, evo psych? someone brings that ish near me i gotta respond. good luck!

  17. Patty B. December 13, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Have to say I’m with Anna on the notion that what we find sexually attractive is some kind of manifestation of pure biological roots dating back millennia. That’s more often that not nothing more than a justification for sexist attitudes. I don’t deny that biology may have something to do with it, but there’s plenty of credible evidence to show that social and cultural forces mediate how biology translates into decisions and behaviors, even decisions and behaviors that seem subconscious and natural rather than conscious and learned. And there’s a lot of additional evidence to show that “science” has historically been used to sustain and reinforce the (usually sexist) status quo–a simple manifestation of confirmation bias in which the scientists already know how things are so the evidence seems to support it. Happens all the time, especially when science is brought to bear on questions of social and cultural behavior.

    Further, if what we find sexually attractive had to do exclusively with the fitness of our partner in terms of reproducing, then there’s a hell of a lot to explain about cultural stereotypes of beauty. Why, for instance, would men in certain periods of Chinese history, have found it sexy and beautiful for a woman to have bound feet? That trait would actually hinder her ability to reproduce, since it wouldn’t allow her to adequately care for her children. Why would men in the 20th and 21st centuries idealized waifish thinness that leaves a woman looking (and often being) unhealthy? Why would women continue favoring large muscles and honed abs when in our day and age, at least in a first world country, the traits that would signify a man’s ability to care for her and their offspring would be superior intellect and a physique developed sitting at a desk? If biology is such a powerful force, then it would dictate that she go for brainiac weaklings with a paunch, rather than Brad Pitt circa Fight Club. Because, after all, evolution continues to work and our biological drives to find a mate capable of providing for us would select for this kind of male physique, as opposed to the more muscular one that might have been necessary in pre-historical times.

    Sorry. I just don’t believe the idea that evolutionary biological or psychological forces are The Explanation. Do they play some role? Maybe. But culture and society play every bit as much of a role.

  18. Rob December 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Anna – that’s simply a polemic against evolutionary psychology in general. There’s nothing to address the actual claims dealing with sexual behavior, although it’s mentioned (and misrepresented). I can point to the same site and find a refutation: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/darwin-eternity/201112/why-evolutionary-psychology-is-unlikely-be-wrong

    I’m certainly not denying that culture plays a role. It might be true that it’s been used to justify bad behavior but, frankly, that’s irrelevant to whether it’s accurate. The brand of “evo psych” that I pointed to actually helped make many things *finally* fall into place for me and make sense. But, frankly, I’d rather the world not operate the way that it describes because I’m not the type that benefits from it. But it fits the data better than any explanation I’ve heard. I see those influences in behaviors all thet ime.

    Patty – read my first link to answer your question about why women are attracted to strong, more dominant males. In a nutshell, female instincts were honed over hundreds of thousands of years of living in the wild, and aren’t going to do an about-face in the few generations that we’ve been teaching men to be nice corporate types.

  19. KaralynZ December 14, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    Devil’s advocate here, but if we’re supposed to be a Mormon blog then is it really fair to support any argument that says humans have been on the earth for “hundreds of thousands of years.”

    ‘Cause if that’s the case then I’m going to just through this whole “law of chastity” crap out the window and go with what I read in “Sex At Dawn” (a fabulous evo psych book BTW) and get a harem of men to live in a hunter-gatherer culture.

    Can’t have it both ways, darlin’

  20. Rob December 14, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    Nonsense. They teach evolution and old earth at BYU. That needn’t affect testimonies or adherence to God’s laws. It’s just a bit messier than the cliff notes version you get in Sunday School.

    But even if you believe that we’ve literally been around for a little over 6,000 years, and I don’t think any of you do, even that doesn’t preclude man and women from picking up instinctive mating strategies that are unique to their genders and are worth taking into account. One of those is how they evaluate the bodies of members of the opposite gender. That hardly seems controversial to me.

  21. Patty B. December 14, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Oh, I read the original post you linked to, Rob. I also looked around the site enough to see that the blogger who wrote it is rather sexist, practices “game” (read manipulates and deceives women in order to get sex), sanctions rape apologetics, and thinks it’s amusing for a man to physically assault a woman. No matter how inappropriate it is for a woman (or anyone really–isn’t it nice how decent behavior is actually sexless?) to yell at anyone, let alone someone she allegedly loves, in public, it doesn’t justify physical assault. Even if it’s amusing to watch her get her “comeuppance.” So yeah. I’m going to go with the determination that the site you linked to is unreliable at best and downright questionable in terms of its objectivity and even its ethics at worst.

    Unless you can demonstrate an overwhelming scholarly consensus (overwhelming meaning there isn’t an equally well-respected and supported body of articles advancing contrary arguments) that evolutionary psychology establishes some absolute understanding of how biology combined with millennia of evolution has led to the kind of sexist status quo that the kind of post you linked to would like to remain the status quo, I’ll remain unconvinced. After all, there are those who use the same theories to debunk the very argument you’re advancing.

    The fact that this theory made things “click” for you doesn’t mean anything about it’s reliability. Nor does the fact that it “fits the data” make it correct, especially when the “data” is subject to being misrepresented and twisted by the perspective of observers and is almost always already subject to cultural stereotypes before it’s assessed. Theories more often “click” when they confirm one’s bias and status quo than when they don’t, so it’s no surprise that people subscribe to these ideas and consume dross like John Gray’s _Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus_. Real life is a hell of a lot more complex than such simplistic theories can possibly account for. And when those theories clearly sanction and support sexist, destructive practices and behaviors (that hurt both men and women, not just women), I think that’s a pretty damn good reason to examine whether they’re reliable. The evo psych theory you’re advocating does nothing more than justify male sexual philandering and continue to paint women as weak, ineffective, emotionally dependent, manipulative creatures who will do anything to hold onto a man. It also suggests that men are thoughtless, feelingless sex machines who don’t need the same kind of emotional security that women do. And that sells men short. It’s certainly not true of the men I know and have dated.

    Again. Not going to buy it. Especially when there are far more reliable sources out there that debunk such a simplistic approach to understanding gender and sex (take a look at _Delusions of Gender_, for instance; or _Sex at Dawn_).

    In my mind this is just another case of people trying to provide definitive, simple explanations for the world they see rather than accepting that they’re going to have to live with our indeterminate, messy, complicated reality. When it comes right down to it, there is no way to know what it is precisely that leads to sexual attraction. Can’t be done. But we have so much invested, that we scramble around reading stuff that is more often than not more damaging than helpful, trying to wrap our heads around how it works. We’d be a lot better off if we acknowledged the messiness and then found our own way through it, no matter how painful and difficult it is to do so, rather than subscribing to theories that support and strengthen attitudes and actions that hurt others even when they seem to work (it does damage to men to see them as at their essence unfaithful, unfeeling, etc., which these theories lead people to conclude; it does damage to women to see them as sexually passive and receptive, without their own strong sexual appetites, which these theories lead people to conclude; just two examples among many).

  22. Patty B. December 14, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Yeah. that site (the private man site linked to by Rob) still has me steaming. So I’m going to make one more suggestion: if you (read anyone interested in dating women) really are wanting to date women, I’d strongly recommend you not take seriously anything that man says. Yechh. Reading it has left me wanting to scrub my eyeballs with steel wool and wash my memory out with bleach so I don’t have to remember that there are such pricks in the world.

    It also makes me very, very appreciative of MM and the other men in my life who treat me like and respect me as a human being, rather than some lame stereotype of “woman.”

  23. Moriah Jovan December 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Oh, huh. Penises.

    I love looking at naked men. Really. Especially if man/men in question are involved in physical labor. No, not sports, but it’ll do in a pinch.

    Haven’t read Rob’s link because I know that *I* think penises are attractive (not pretty) and why. Shoot, I remember stealing crotch shots at two of my high school teachers.

    But also Lola’s comment:

    I feel very socialized to sexualize the female body. I consider myself heterosexual, but frequently fantasize about women’s bodies.

    I think this is far more common with women than we either realize or want to know. We are subjected to women portrayed in the male gaze our entire lives everywhere we look. I think we are conditioned to find women sexually attractive outside the bounds of orientation. IOW, I don’t believe our sexual orientation has anything to do with how women might find other women sexually attractive. *I* think it’s a programmed response.

    That said, we are not encouraged to look at penises. An R-rated movie can have bare boobs and butts, but put a penis in it for more than 0.5 seconds and it’s NC-17. Most of our male-based advertising focuses on the chest and sometimes the back, shoulders, and arms–and all of it immaculately sculpted and manscaped. Most erotic male art is homoerotic. Again, the male gaze. So there’s a penis there, but it’s not intended for women. The end result for me is….zzzzzz.

  24. Moriah Jovan December 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Oh, also, I went to a male strip club once. Hated it. It was like being stuck in an office with people who want to sell you something super expensive you don’t really want but you can’t afford anyway.

  25. KaralynZ December 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I would be more kindly dispositioned to those kind of discussions if I didn’t notice how often the “women are predispositioned to be attracted to strong, aggressive alpha males” argument is used by men as a “you should date me, not that wimpy guy who cares about you and treats you well.”

  26. Fanny A December 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Yes, Karalyn. And Anna, thank you for that link- I find EvoPsych to be utter bs most of the time anyway. Pseudo science of the highest, um…yeah.

  27. Rob December 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    First – an apology to KaralynZ. I wouldn’t talk to you like in person, so I shouldn’t do it here. My bad.

    Patty – I’m not defending any particular application of the knowledge that we come with gender-specific instincts. I believe that the Law of Chastity is the way to go, so it’s not like I’m promoting promiscuity. I do find statements like “women are predispositioned to be attracted to strong, aggressive alpha males” to be largely true, and often unconscious, and often quite suppressable. And I have a stake in that NOT being true, by the way. Again, how that knowledge is used is irrelevant to its truthfulness.

    I also don’t recall claiming that human motivations aren’t messy. I’m the one here challenging the idea that sexist culture is the sole driver of the differences we’re talking about here, remember? I’m to be given the task of digging up research to demonstrate that our instincts are a major factor but we’re to just accept that it’s all evil patriarchy on your say-so? Doesn’t make sense.

    What I’m really sensing here is an unwillingness to accept that there are any inherent psychological differences between men and women, which is just feminist dogma from past decades (and contrary to the teachings of our prophets!). There’s no reason to take that view seriously given current knowledge about – just for starters – hormones and how they affect us. It’s just that you can’t speak against the “equal in all things” dogma or you’ll be shamed into silence. It’s a bit like acknowledging that African Americans generally have physiological differences beyond skin color. People are so upset over how that knowledge has been used that it becomes an unspeakable truth. But it is true. Sorry ’bout that. It goes back to the world being a messy place. Instincts matter. You’d be foolish not to factor them in when commenting on how men and women interact.

  28. Moriah Jovan December 15, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    What I’m really sensing here is an unwillingness to accept that there are any inherent psychological differences between men and women…

    No. What you’re sensing is the reminder that there’s more to it than inherent psychological differences AND that psychological differences don’t always get their way in the mating process.

  29. Moriah Jovan December 15, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    In other words, you’ve reduced women down to animal urges and we don’t particularly care to be patted on the head like bitches in heat without a stud to service us.

  30. Zero December 15, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Rob, you have to remember that this blog is written by women and modify your remarks accordingly.

    I know that this is going to get me flamed but I’ve got to say it…
    In my experience, women who ask us men what we really think and feel actually don’t want to know what we think and feel — they just want us to answer in a way that matches their notion of how we ought to think and feel! If our thoughts/feelings don’t match their ideas, they will either attack us (see the last couple of posts) or engage in a long “discussion” in an attempt to make us admit that our thoughts and feelings were wrong and we really ought to be more like women. And that discussion isn’t allowed to be over until we admit that they are right!

    Reminds me of the dialog from the movie A Few Good Men:
    “I want the truth!”
    “You can’t handle the truth!!”

    OK. Flame Away…

  31. Moriah Jovan December 15, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Yes. Dismiss us with “Oh, those silly wimminz.” Good argument.

  32. Lucy W. December 15, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    I’m not sure how a post talking about the beauty (or lack thereof) of a penis got into opinions on What Women Really Want.

    We could talk about What Men Really Want and I could say that, because of my experiences at BYU, that what Men Really Want is a supermodel primarily and Molly Mormon secondarily (but *crossing fingers* hawt in the sack. I can haz madonna/whore plz?) because I saw it too many times to doubt it. Less than perfect and *gasp* downright unattractive women need not apply no matter how intelligent, talented, and/or moral they are.

    Do you really want to get into a pissing match over who’s more shallow based on evolutionary psychology, anecdata, and beer commercials (that, coincidentally, reinforce evolutionary psychology theory)? Because we can do that if you want.

  33. Fanny A December 15, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    You don’t have to modify your remarks for the female audience- what you do have to do is not act like a condescending, dismissive, misogynist prick. Every one of us here is capable of reasonable and intelligent discourse.

    Your arguments are not arguments at all- they’re blanket statements about women that our sampling here rejects. I’m interested in WHY you think women don’t really want to hear your opinion, and can only handle sanitized maleness. I call BS on that, btw. I can handle unabashed maleness. What I don’t want to hear are regurgitated platitudes or boilerplate.

  34. Patty B. December 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    You know what’s fantastic? When a man comes along and tells women how they are in order to object to women telling men how they are. Yeah. So fun.

    As to research to support your argument: if you shoot your own credibility out of the sky by linking to such a terrible source in the first place, then yes–it’s up to you to rebuild your credibility.

    For the record, I believe in gender differences. I also believe in the limits of human knowledge. And the fact that there is no way in hell we can ever get to anything like a concrete, abstract knowledge of what those differences are. Not even prophets. Who are, at the end of the day, as flawed and subject to human limitations as the rest of us.

    My objection is not to the notion of difference, or to the idea that biology plays a role in attraction. It’s to asserting there is an Answer. Which you did do, Rob, in your initial comment. Rather than asserting that there is an Answer, I think everyone would be better served by keeping an open mind and assuming the best, rather than the worst, of others. Nasty sexist comments like Zero’s don’t do anyone any good. And I mean that as much about sexist comments by women directed towards men as vice versa. At the end of the day we aren’t served well by thinking we have the answers and just need to apply the knowledge properly. We’re better off allowing for indeterminacy and seeing life and relationships as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than trying to force them to conform to some preset understanding of things.

    And now I’m going to suggest we go back to the questions and ideas of the original post. I’m not really interested in ongoing discussion about evopsych. And I’m especially not interested in ongoing insults in the shape of men telling women how they really are.

  35. Rob December 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Moriah isn’t reading what I’m writing and is instead shouting down a different man in her head. I do not believe that gender-specific instinct trumps all. I’ve mentioned that it’s suppressible (I do it dozens of times a day), and there are things that do and should trump it, like the LoC. Culture quite obviously matters. I never said it was the one thing to consider, case closed. Those words have been put in my mouth over and over to the point of childishness, but with everyone pointing to my first post I think I finally understand a little better why.

    My first post on this thread was not “here’s my grand theory of everything” as it’s been painted. I was quoting and offering a common sense refutation to the statement “i don’t think, like some, that those differences are biological”. Context matters.

    Patty, I appreciate at least the latter part of your last post. We don’t know where one influence ends and another begins. I don’t claim to know those answers and don’t expect to. I feel confident, however, that there are strong inborn biological reasons why men dig breasts and women dig biceps. Again, that just doesn’t seem like a very controversial position to hold.

  36. Adrienne December 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    I usually agree with 90% of what the other women say on here, but in this thread Rob sounds like the only reasonable person engaged in this discussion. Obviously, both biology and culture plays a role. It’s foolish and naive to think otherwise, and I struggle to understand how saying that I, as a woman, may have some inherent, biological attraction to a strong, broad-shouldered male. Would you all have such strong emotional reactions if a woman stated that, generally speaking, men may have some biological attraction to healthy, fit, large-chested women? Or is that sexist?

  37. handle with care December 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Adrienne,I think your comment was culturally mediated. Small breasted and unfit women persist in attracting partners. Women in burkhas persist in attracting male attention. Your assertion has been mediated throughout history through the ideas of prevailing cultural norms around what is,and is not,beautiful. I’m fresh from looking at some very big hipped and small breasted women who feature heavily in 18th century art as objects of desire.No penises though.Damn.

  38. May December 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    In response to the original post…

    – Went to male strippers once for a hen night, and I remember thinking “this is the unsexiest thing ever”. Yes, like the one commenter said, I felt like someone was trying to pressure me into buying something I had no interest in.
    – When last year, at 30, I saw my first ‘live’ penis, I was quite nervous beforehand, but then found I liked the look of my boyfriend naked, and soon found myself describing his penis as ‘beautiful’, which I didn’t think would happen.

    In general, I’m not turned on by shirtless men, but the look and feel of a partner you’re into? Heck yes.

  39. Head of Shiz December 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Oh man I have absolutely nothing of worth to add to this discussion. So fascinating though. I will say that I am not really a feminist but will take issue with changing remarks for the audience (male or female). That approach is flawed and sexist from the get go. State your mind, if you’re a pig or a feminazi hopefully you’ll get called on it and learn a lesson.

    I have to say that I have always assumed that women found men’s bodies unattractive as I have heard nothing but disparaging remarks in regards to it. But if I need to convince a man-body hater of its beauty a quick show of Paul Pierre Prud’hons drawings, or Rodin’s sculpture usually does the trick (I’m an art geek). I defy you to look at those and then tell me there is no beauty in the male body. Our culture has commodified (I almost said idolized…hmmm) the female body and elevated it into idealized beauty. On the other hand, when it comes to the male counter part in modern times, with few exceptions we are given Homer Simpson, Larry the cable guy and or the King of Queens. The list could go on and on but the sad reality perpetuates the “icky” factor.

    Sorry if I just repeated previous points made, I haven’t had time to read them all yet!

    Cheers sister wives for another thought provoking post.

  40. Patty B. December 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Have been out of town and therefore ignoring the blog world. A couple of quick points:

    I’ve never denied that biology plays a role in what we find sexually attractive. That said, there is an enormous distance between “biology plays a role” and “eons of time trained men to look for women that could give birth to his children (via sexuality) and women looked for men with the strength and skill to protect her and her children (i.e. not sex per se).” The former is general enough to accommodate any number of biological factors (hormones, sex drives, the desire to procreate, etc.); the latter is extremely limiting and requires acceptance of some incredibly sexist (and demonstrably socially and culturally informed) ideas about gender, sex, sexual identity, morality, sexual behavior and any number of other things.

    May, I completely understand finding yourself calling your partner’s penis “beautiful.” I’ve been there.

    Head of Shiz, I’m with you on using Rodin (among other artists) to illustrate the beauty of the male body. And Rodin’s work is wonderfully, though a little understatedly, erotic. Love his stuff. And I’m equally disgusted by the popular portrayals of men.

  41. jen December 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    When my husband walks around naked wagging his penis it does NOT make me want to have sex with him. In fact it makes me want to go read a blog and ignore his presence all together. If I was walking around naked though, I wouldn’t be walking for very long. SO there is a HUGE difference in response. Now if my husband comes up to me and kisses my neck and places my hand on his erect penis (preferably clothed) then I’m all sorts of turned on and HE wont be standing there for very long. So IMO its all about the approach for women and not just in your face nakedness. Women are more emotionally stimulated and not so much on the visual. Not that visual does nothing for women, just usually not enough especially when its “bad naked”

  42. Patty B. December 29, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Well, I’ve seen some “bad naked,” though it’s been in movies or elsewhere and never with a partner. But I’d point out that the vast majority (75%) of the women who responded to the poll here said that they do find the *visual* of a naked male body (either in general [the biggest number of respondents] or of their specific partner [the second largest number of respondents]) sexually exciting. I imagine there is an emotional component in being generally neutral on the question but finding one’s partner’s naked body exciting, but I still don’t really buy the argument that women are by definition more excited by the emotional and not so much by the visual. I have no problem if that’s true for individuals, but I do have a problem with asserting it as some kind of universal truth.

  43. jules godson February 19, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    Don’t underestimate homophobia in men. They have participated in the idea that penises in particular and male bodies generally are unattractive or worse. It is still difficult for me to acknowledge that a man is attractive, let alone arousing, because of ancient stigma. ( http://www.thepenismuseum.com/ is a refreshing change of pace. ) Women meanwhile check each other out rather regularly, not necessarily sexually but with a willingness to assess that men don’t have. And of course advertising is wildly skewed towards depicting women, even to women.

    A lot of what we think is attractive, male or female, is what we’re told. (As with the things we fear and lots else.) Americans for example are told to like skinny and improbably large-chested, but that’s a recent idea. Not that long ago, legs were a big deal (Betty Grable) or lean and small-breasted (the 20’s), or relatively full-figured (Marilyn Monroe—size 14?). In other countries, it’s butts (especially I think if anal sex is less taboo, as in Brazil). Arbitrary. If we think for ourselves, we may have very different ideas.

    … and I grudgingly think penises are OK now … It doesn’t make me gay! Not that there’s anything wrong with it, lol.

  44. Sarah March 5, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Oh Gosh, well to the original post. I am heavily attracted to my husband, and had no problems stripping naked (he did so too), on our wedding night.

    I believe that to make a blanket statement about either gender is to create a perpetual myth, that takes years to break. It is true some women are not sexually attracted to men by sight. It is also true that there are a lot of women out there who are. It is true that a lot of men are attracted to women by sight, and it is also conversely true, that there are some men who just are not.

    Sexual Attraction is so complex, and nuanced that we can’t pinpoint every cause of it.

    I thank you for this site. I found it from Daughters of Mormonism.

  45. jules godson March 5, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    @Sarah (or anyone): May I ask (with terrible lack of manners) was your wedding night the first time you’d seen a man naked? And aroused? Some people become aware of how men look gradually (through art? school? voyeurism? “anything but” experimentation?), others must get it mostly all at once. A politically liberal but orthodox jewish friend who I assume was virgin-til-married told me once she was surprised how narrow men’s hips are. I thought was an interesting random point to recall (I’m sure there were others, and I certainly didn’t ask about her husband’s penis).

    Kudos for lack of shame. That’s not easy for many people, some of whom strictly disrobe and “do it” in the dark or under covers. Others it seems could go shopping naked without thinking about it.

  46. Jenn Dunne-Bach April 7, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    I enjoy the (naked) male body without particularly becoming sexually aroused by it, if that makes sense. For me, I think it is not so much the shape of the penis, but the fact that I am getting to see something hidden about someone I love very much–an intimate act–and then just thinking he and his penis are awesome, visually, by touch, all ways, and enjoying that. But I just want to see and know my husband’s penis–not hundreds of others. Also I cannot be sexually aroused by simply looking at a man’s body–but if he were to turn around and look straight at me, and want me too, then I am aroused and certainly any “hot” body he had would add to the entire experience. However, while I certainly can enjoy the “taylor lautner” experience, I think men might be surprised at what makes them appealing to me, makes me long for them, with or without a heavy or overt sexual component. I remember one time in junior high there was an unfortunate young man who was bullied a lot including diss-es on the way he looked and I’m sure he thought he was ugly because of the sins of others towards him. One day I remember looking at his face at long time during band, and I noticed his eyelashes, and honestly I became aroused by those gorgeous eyelashes in terms of wanting to love him and have him love me back (even though I was too young to know what everything about sex was). I am not a “butt” person. When some ladies comment on men’s butts, I simply don’t get it. I don’t care, and it does nothing for me. But a quirky smile? A light in his eyes? Wah! On the other hand, I have a hard time being physically attracted to any man older than 25, so . . . hm, I don’t know. It sounds like everyone is just unique to who they are and how desire works for them.

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