Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Men and attractiveness

The theme of the day seems to be the idea that heterosexual women, despite the label, aren't actually attracted to men.

Samhita at Feministing and Jill at Feministe take on this post from Craigslist. It's nothing new, just another in the long line of misogynist screeds about how women don't care about attractiveness, but just want guys with money and power.

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon and Kyso Kisaen at PunkAssBlog take on Joel Stein's piece on Halloween saying that "neither gender wants men to try to be sexy." (As PunkAssCommenter junk science points out, "Of course they do. They just don't want them to fail at it.")

I've never thought of myself as particularly attractive on a purely physical level; never have been, probably never will be, though the reaction varies quite a bit depending on whose gaze we're talking about. (On the other hand, in a society that frowns on women being open about who they're attracted to, how the hell am I supposed to know?

I think this is one of the places this idea comes from (besides good old wishful thinking): there seems to be much less of a socially forced standard of attractiveness with respect to men's appearances. Women are able to honestly disagree among themselves about who they find attractive without catching too much shit for it; men are supposed to agree that the hottie du jour is highly attractive, and any debate is merely over ranking.

This idea also a pernicious way of taking agency away from women: if women aren't attracted to men, then their choices with regard to relationships and sex are presumably based on other factors. Since we as a society have decided that attraction is a primary component of love (and vice versa), a relationship not based on attraction is presumptively less valid, and so their decision that they're not interested can be disregarded.

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