The Selling Of Masculinity

The topic of masculinity is one I come back to over and over again because it’s a long-running question for many men. The search for an identity and finding one’s own definition of what it means to be a man is an important part of maturity for young men, one that has been with us through most of recorded history. The question of the role and meaning of masculinity is especially strong in younger men – men in their late teens and early twenties – as they strike out to find their own place in the world. It’s only natural to look to the world around us for gender cues and role-models to guide us through the thorny questions of gender identity1 and the role to take in the world.

With the ubiquity of mass-communication – whether it be magazines, newspapers, movies, television or the Internet – it’s not surprising that many men look to popular culture for sources of information what male behavior is supposed to be and how we’re supposed to display it.

Admittedly, one could do worse than to look to The Doctor.

Admittedly, one could do worse than to look to The Doctor.

Unfortunately, mass media doesn’t send the greatest of messages about how to be a man. In fact, we are regularly bombarded with messages selling2 the idea that masculinity is violent, physically aggressive and sexually domineering and that anger and stoic toughness are the only appropriate emotions for men to display. Male-oriented advertising is targeting young and impressionable men looking for guidance… so it’s time to take a look at just what they’re selling.

Manhood For Sale

Amanda Hess’ article in Slate Magazine alerted me to a study examining just how masculinity is pitched to young men. In the most recent issue of the journal Sex Roles, psychologists from the University of Manitoba examined the prevalence of  hypermasculinity – the ideology of exaggerated male traits as the epitome of masculine identity – in advertisements in popular men’s magazines including Maxim, Playboy, Game Informer, Fortune, Esquire and Wired. Hypermasculinity portrays violence and physical aggression as manly ideals; it promotes a world where  all of male life is a struggle of dominance of others, where sex is a matter of power and female submission rather than one of intimacy and mutual pleasure and that any “feminine” emotions are to be repressed.

Seriously, Freud is having a field-day here.

Seriously, Freud would be having a field-day here.

The researchers kept track of ads that fit into the definition of hypermasculine – ads that showed men as violent, physically aggressive, hypersexual or participating in “dangerous” activities for the thrill of it all – and cross-referenced them with the demographics that the magazines targeted. For those of you who like to crunch the math, the methodology can be found in the report – it’s a tad involved but the end results were interesting. Over half of ads in men’s magazines presented over-the-top imagery from hypermasculine ideology – upwards of 90% in some magazines like Game Informer. Moreover, hypermasculine imagery was predominantly aimed at two audiences:  younger men (adolescents and men in their early 20s)  and older working-class men without college educations.

These two groups were, in many ways, the most easily influenced. Neither have much in the way of disposable income; in fact, a higher income level of the magazine’s target audience correlated with fewer ads depicting exaggerated male behavior. Younger men are more often the ones seeking out their identity. They are more likely to look to others for ideas of gender presentation, and thus they are the ones whose behavior is more likely to be influenced by media and reinforced by their peer group. Meanwhile, the blue-collar workers tend to be ones who feel disempowered and disenfranchised by society; they are more likely to lack popular indicators of social value such as financial success or social influence. As a result, they are more likely to look for alternative means of gaining respect and influence from one’s peers – physical toughness, macho behavior, violence and aggression.

In both cases – the youth and the working-class men – are looking to fill a void. The younger men are trying to find their place in the world and are seeking guidance as they work towards how to be men.  Meanwhile the older men are often feel as though they have been cheated and that others are benefiting from something that’s being denied to them, thus they want to re-establish their manhood. Advertisers are well aware of this and craft their message with supposed ideals of masculine identity; “Feeling insufficiently manly?” they ask. “This product will make you the man you’ve always known you could be.”

And also "Everybody get ready for the rape train!"

They also say “Everybody get ready for the rape train!”

Marketing and the Gender Police

Genderads - where I’ve found most of the examples I’ve used in this article - is a reponsitory of hypermasculine imagery in advertising… and it’s genuinely disturbing to visit. It drives home just how often we’re sold on the idealization of these masculine stereotypes. When the imagery becomes as prevalent as it has, it almost becomes subliminal; we know it’s there and what it’s saying but we don’t consciously perceive it. It has become the background noise of our day to day lives that we absorb it passively, without thinking about the context or what messages it sends.

Hypermasculine ideology reinforces a culture that permits a very narrow expression of male identity. The message carried by the imagery is that men are defined by conflict and violence. Every interaction between men is one of a struggle for dominance. There are no equals, only the dominant and the submissive.

Women, on the other hand, are things. They are to be desired, yes, but not as partners or equal participants in life; they are trophies, proof of one’s superior masculinity. The men in these ads don’t value the women for their personality, their minds, their ability to make them laugh… they are at best ornamental. At worst, they are playthings – pets even – to be used however a man cares to, regardless of their wishes.

 

Someone else is going to have to explain an ad that screams  "Is Daddy going to have to choke a bitch" is relevant to selling sunglasses.

Someone else is going to have to explain how “Is Daddy going to have to choke a bitch?” is relevant to selling sunglasses.

Moreover, it’s important that women are implied to be for men’s sexual use at any time. Men, you see, are hypersexual. To be a man is to be a satyr, rampantly virile and voracious in appetite. A man is defined by his steely hard-on as much – if not more – than by his muscles or his toughness. A man is ready to fuck in a bare instant. If you aren’t able to have an erection so hard that you could fuck concrete in the blink of an eye… well shit son, you’re just not a man.

SUBTLETY!

SUBTLETY!

Mind you, these are very strict heterosexual standards. The story of manhood in these messages is one of a very narrowly defined form of heteronormativity; to deviate even slightly from this model of manhood is to be feminine, which is a fate worse than anything short of emasculation.

The constant underlying subtext is that if you don’t meet the implied definition of manliness, you’re a fag; you have given up your identity as a (dominant) male to take on the subservient, female role. In this ideology, being gay is almost worse than being a woman, since it’s a man choosing to be penetrated – and thus, dominated – rather than the one in charge. To not be in absolute control is to be lesser. Anything with a whiff of femininity – including the expression of any emotions (besides anger or stony indifference that is), caring about one’s appearance or even drinking the wrong beverages - is to be violently repressed.

"This ain't no soda for no queers!"

“This ain’t no soda for no queers!”

 

"Your dad had oily skin and large pores and by gum HE LIKED IT THAT WAY."

“Your dad had oily skin and large pores and by gum HE LIKED IT THAT WAY.”

In addition, the life of a man is a physical one, with minimal investment or worth given to any life path that doesn’t involve hunting, ranching or building. There is, in fact, a distinct anti-intellectual thread to the ideology of hypermasculinity; men live lives of action and thrilling danger. Those thinkers with their “refined” tastes and “office” jobs are the betas to the rough-and-tumble alphas.

You know what else it was never followed by? “GET YOUR DAMN HORSE OUT OF MY SALOON!”

The point of the intellectual or the “suit” is to give way to the real men, the ones who do the real work.

NoSuitsUnderlying all of these messages is an implied threat: be a man…or else. Anything less than the pinacle of the manly ideal is seen as grounds for punishment – being exiled from the company of men, denied the fruits of masculinity, or even violent reprisal.

The Consequences of the Cult of Manliness

It is tempting to write all of this off as someone trying to create a problem where there is none. These are, after all, just advertisements; nobody looks at an ad for Diesel jeans or sunglasses and suddenly decides to go out and smack around some bitches, right bro?

Seriously, what the fuck is this even supposed to be selling?

What the fuck is this even supposed to be selling?

Ads by their very definition are designed to influence you; the whole point of advertisements is to sell products and services – in this case, by equating said products or services with over the top stereotypes of the “ideal” of masculine identity. They serve as a socializing agent, spreading those ideals through continuous exposure. The constant stream of imagery may not directly establish the social norms for masculinity but they do reinforce the belief, just as pop culture continually portraying African-American males as thugs, thieves, drug dealers, and murderers reinforces already extant racist stereotypes. The continuous social reinforcement of the hyper-masculine ideal in marketing helps internalize the belief that this is how men should be.

And yet, those very same beliefs have profoundly negative effects on men and in society. Studies have found that hypermasculinity is correlated with physicaly abusive relationships and sexual aggression against women. Prisoners convicted of violent crimes were also found to have a high hypermasculinity index. The perpetuation and reinforcement of men as sexually dominant and women as passive, impersonal receptacles contributes to the rape culture that insists that men are unable to control their own sexuality and thus it is the duty of women to not be raped.

When Zerlina Maxwell went on the Sean Hannity show on Fox News, she proposed the radical3 idea that rather than arming women, the appropriate way to help end rape and sexual assault was to end a culture where men are taught that they have no responsibility. The result was immediate and – sadly – somewhat predictable. Maxwell was insulted, belittled and subject to continual harassment because “rapists just aren’t going to listen.” But that presumes that all rapists are strangers, assaulting women from the bushes. Most rapists aren’t strangers; they are men who grow up to believe that – as in the Stubenville rape case – “not saying no” is equal to a de-facto “yes”.

Just add video phones.

On a basketball court: fashion marketing. In Uncle Touchy’s basement: People’s Exhibit A.

Consider that Game Informer is a magazine aimed at a young audience. The price of gender non-compliance amongst young men can be harsh and often violent – thus they are already incentivized to believe that they too need to be suitably “tough”and “manly” or risk being ostracized, bullied or even assaulted. The barrage of messages helps confirm and reinforce the hypermasculine ideal that men are to be dominant and aggressive, that sex is something that is available to you by default and that take not “no” for an answer is a good thing. It fortifies a culture where boys think that it’s ok to take a girl who is intoxicated to the point of near unconsciousness, carry her limp body around, penetrate her, try to force her to perform oral sex and then urinate and ejaculate on her… and then express regret only that pictures were taken and shared with others. Even worse, the culture teaches bystanders not to interfere – because boys will be boys after all – and for other men to actively enable their crime by placing the blame on the victim.

Don’t get me wrong: nobody is suggesting that Game Informer or Playboy are responsible for men becoming rapists. But they are influences on the social ideals of masculinity and the development of these attitudes and we need to be aware of the messages they market to us.

The Insult To Men

There will no doubt be the wags – mighty armchair warriors, they – who will insist that these are the complaints of a “beta” who is whining about the macho assholes who stole his girlfriend. More power to them if they choose to believe this.

I, on the other hand would like to know why they don’t find any of this insulting.

The vision of manhood perpetuated by the hyper-masculine ideology is one where men are little better than chimps. The world of hyper-masculinity is one where life is brutish, stupid and short. All male interactions are a forms of aggression and dominance display; “toughness” masquerades as discipline and male friendships cannot exist because emotional intimacy are frowned upon for fear of being too feminine. Men in this ideology are disconnected from their emotions – love does not exist except in the desire for material goods (a man’s love for his truck) or one’s pet (a man’s love for his dog). Women are not equals; they are measuring sticks for one’s worth – except for when they become dominant over men, at which point they become threats to masculinity.

A man in this ideology has next to no control over his impulses. He is ruled by his genitals and his need to gain the respect of others through violence and the pursuit of danger. He is utterly at the mercy of his base instincts: the need to fuck, the need to eat, the need to accumulate goods. He is powerless to resist them and logic, restraint, and rational thought all fall by the wayside. If these are the values that you think define what it means to be a man… well, you are sad, strange little beings and you have my pity.

Moreover, the ads conflating these ideals are telling you that manhood is virtually worthless! By tying masculine power, respect and manhood to commerce, you strip the value from it. What prize is there to manhood when it no longer has to be earned or built from the ground up? What value is there to be had when manhood can be purchased, rather than earned through sweat, fear, perseverance, determination, growth, courage and experience? Who is truly a man when manhood is no longer won but sold?

Personally, I value being a man too much to let it be insulted, marginalized and commodified like this.

And so should you.

  1. by which I mean the definitions of masculinity and femininity, not whether a person identifies with the gender of their birth []
  2. literally []
  3. he said, sarcastically []

Comments

  1. I always appreciate these discussions about gender roles and masculinity. After taking some marketing courses back in college, I can confirm that this is PRECISELY what advertisers do to sell their products.

    Video game companies are especially guilty of this when it comes to violence, the worst perpetrator being Electronic Arts (EA). Just looking up their marketing campaigns for Dead Space 2, Dante's Inferno, and Bulletstorm shows what you describe as completely insulting levels of pandering to adolescent minds. The worse part? These games are all rated M for "Mature" (video game use that rating title EXTREMELY loosely), which is the equivalent of an R-rating to folks who don't play games as often.

    I know shooters are extremely popular right now, but they're popular because it's fun to round around blasting stuff in a harmless, virtual world. Not because we're looking to fill a void of masculinity created by the "sinister" forces of feminism, homosexuality, and metrosexuality. Sadly, I'm seeing more and advertisements promoting shooters this terrible way

    • And for those of you looking for a game that completely toys with the concept of hypermaculinity and points out how utterly meaningless, stupid, and flat-out dangerous it is, I HIGHLY recommend playing Spec Ops: The Line. It came out last year, it is one of the most important video games ever made, and I do not say that lightly. The game starts off like any generic Call of Duty rip off, complete with over-macho one-liners but then quickly descends into a maelstrom of madness that points out the pathetic pursuit of that hypermasculine ideal.

      One line from the game has haunted me ever since I played it. The character who said it was talking to your player character, but really, he was speaking to you, the player: "You wanted to be something you're not. A hero."

      • Anonyleast says:

        I remember Dragon Age having the same kind of thing going on. For those who don't know, Dragon Age is a hack and slash where you run around and basically slaughter thousands of enemies. From about halfway through the game (I think) there is a priest who will speak to you during missions and rather constantly criticizes your violence asking, "Are you even human any more?"

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Doesn't this come up once per Silent Hill game? "You thought you were killing MONSTERS? You must be hallucinating, those were people." It always works on me because the game establishes a pretty firm line of never making you fight anything human.

        • Anonyleast says:

          I meant Drakengard.

          • They did something like that in Metal Gear Solid 4 where if you're just killing people left and right, you hear Liquid's voice saying something along the lines of Snake (the player, really) enjoying all the killing. This makes Snake puke, as if out of guilt.

  2. SomeoneCalledSW says:

    To avoid a straw-man popping up, I'd replace "Game Informer is a magazine aimed at a young audience" with "Game Informer is a magazine that reaches young audience as well as…(yada yada yadda adult gamers)", just to avoid anyone discrediting this on the basis that "gameinformer is not for children" and somehow contriving that there being adult gamers means that these advertisments don't reach teenagers.

    • Ainuvande says:

      Actually, the website's pdf for advertisers lists a larger section of the youth demographic as a reason to advertise with them over other game news websites.

  3. Great work. As usual. Doctor, you desperately need to invest more time into proof reading, but very good. I particularly enjoyed the last section, The Insult to Men. It’s very important that people understand that this isn’t just some “feminist bullshit.” This is an issue relating to male gender representation, which is something, I feel, that does not get nearly enough attention.

  4. It's a knife that cuts both ways: hypermasculinity dirties anything that is traditionally considered manly by its ridiculous exaggerations. Guns? Any hobbyist will hate the stupidity of the Cawadooty generation, who don't even know the term trigger discipline. Booze is not about the quality of the drink anymore, but the quantity. Exercising(especially lifting) has sunk from healthy habit with a side-order of endorphins to bragging online about how many reps one can do. Any traditional boys' time-and-money-sink hobby is valued by how likely it will impress the ladies.

    Worst of all, the desperate disassociation from such stereotypes will only make the person in question sound like 'I'm honestly not like all those other insecure phonies' to the average onlooker. Which in turn will lead to some dudes in an identity crisis buy into the exaggerated stereotype precisely because it feels like a form of rebellion to them, as a grotesque parody of New Sincerity.

    Without a strong backbone, it becomes a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'(never mind trying to pick 'n mix the false masculine-metro binary).

  5. Christine says:

    "the definition of hypermasculine … participating in “dangerous” activities for the thrill of it all " Wait–what? So does skydiving and flying helicopters trump the blonde/blue/boobs trifecta? Am I masculine? feminine? So confusing.

    • You're blue? That's kind of awesome! :)

    • anonymouse says:

      Oddly enough, the only helicopter pilot I know also has blonde hair and blue eyes. So as far as I know, that's just what helicopter pilots look like, and flying helicopters is a feminine activity. Incidentally, aviation is one of those fields that has had to learn the hard way that the macho air force guy does not make the best airline pilot, and that the key to safe flying is methodical following of procedures and good communication. There's no place for Alpha Males in the cockpit anymore, because that sort of thing leads to crashes.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "There's no place for Alpha Males in the cockpit anymore, because that sort of thing leads to crashes."

        There's no place for the overly aggressive, borderline dangerous, my way or the highway alpha male.

        But there's plenty of place for the competent, able-to-take-charge-in-a-dangerous-situation alpha male – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12320524050278689

        Pilot Lands Jet on Hudson, Saving All Aboard
        "The water landing of a large passenger aircraft without fatalities is a feat rarely seen in 50 years of commercial jet travel, according to air-safety experts…The captain of the plane was Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, a US Airways pilot since 1980 with 19,000 hours of experience. He had served as a U.S. Air Force F-4 pilot for seven years."

  6. One my favorite commercials on TV is for a laundry detergent (Tide perhaps?) where a dad talks about washing his daughter's princess dress. It's just such a wonderful image of a man just being a dad, taking care of his kid, and just enjoying himself. I bet a lot of guys connect to that ad. It's definitely a refreshing change from the "let's advertise all domestic products to women and all electronics to men" way of advertising.

    • Is that the one where the dad and daughter are folding laundry together, and she asks him if they can play ponies, and he replies, "sure, right after we do foldies."? I love that one…

      • Caroline says:

        I’d love to hear and see more examples of good guys in advertising. As I read the article, I imagined a print ad for Dockers showing a guy running around with kids. “A Good Man’s Not Hard to Find.” I see more good male images geared toward dads than younger guys or single guys. Any ideas about what positive masculine images would look like in that demographic? Not sure if anyone is doing this, but it would be pretty cool if an advertising agency was build around positive gender images in a similar way that some builders are green builders.

        • I thought the Budweiser commercial with the guy who raised the Clydesdale colt was a good one. Here was a guy who was "manly" in that he was a farmer, but he clearly had an emotional connection to the horse that was tender and well-expressed.

  7. The Dolce & Gabbana ad was one of the most disturbing ads I saw in my life. It came this short of basically advocating that real men gang rape woman. The fact that the sole woman in the has a look between apprehension and desire makes it much worse because the message suggests that even though she might say no, she really does want to. No, just no. Any sort of apprehension on the behalf of any participant in sex is a giant stop sign. The ad is the perfect representation of rape culture.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I would have agreed with you right up until I saw the Valentino "you're mine now, bitch" ad.

    • A lot of people felt the same way–the ad actually ended up banned in at least some countries because of the rape culture element.

  8. The best remedy to the hypermasculinity are the Doctor or Spider-Man. Both the Doctor and Spider-Man are handsome, dorks with strong ethical and gentle streaks. Unlike Batman, both are cheerful and gentle by nature and it takes a lot to get the really angry. They are also very intelligent and one of the things that really gets to me about hyper-masculinity is the idea that "real" men are are stupid and uncultured. I think that any remedy for hyper-masculinity must include the message that being intelligent, witty, and cultured does not mean that you are unmanly. We need more Cary Grants and David Nivens (my taste in cinema tends to be for older movies).

  9. Paul Rivers says:

    The problem with the examples in this article is – I DON'T think most of them are actually marketed to men.

    The 4th one is 4 oiled up, in-shape guys and **1** woman. Now seriously, ask yourself – which gender's fantasy is having multiple guys with body oil wearing high fashion and 1 woman in a semi-sexual context? *cough* Twilight, *cough* female-targeted romance novels…

    I don't know if I've *ever* known a straight guy to feel like "you know what's a turn on? Me, 3 other guys, and 1 chick". This looks like an ad marketed at women…

    #3 is less straightforward, but again – how many guys do you see in real life who choose to have the slicked back hair and sunglasses that this guy does? It's somewhere near 0 for me. I think I was *1* guy, like, a year ago, who looked like that. But how many women do you see dressed like that girl? – quite a few.

    In the 3rd one with a vodka bottle – is that a women behind the bottle, or a man? It's toned and oiled, but there's a hint of possible leg hair and chest hair, and the well defined abs don't seem particularly feminine…that kind of looks like it's a guy in the ad…I think it's left deliberately ambigous as to the gender.

    The one with the girl with the sunglasses and a finger in her mouth? That's odd, but where do we see brooding intensity with no smiling from the woman? Oh, right, women's fashion magazines…and…twilight… http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/32500000/B

    After that we have, again, an image of 3 half-naked guys and 1 girl. Again…**not** the imagery or gender ratio that's aimed at straight men.

    Half of these ads that are supposed to demonstrate "how masculinity (hypermasculinity) is pitched to young men" – aren't even aimed at (straight) men. They're aimed at women.

    • …. Are you actually claiming it's the average woman's fantasy to be held down by multiple men??? I mean, Twilight is awful in many, many ways, but one of the huge markers of the series is that it's all about NOT having sex. If any fantasy can be pooled from that book series, it's that (young) women love the idea of two guys fighting over her, but in a safe, less-than-sexually-charged environment. You cannot honestly try to pull the idea that girls love guys fighting over them (literally), or enjoy being held down while guys do the sexy thing! WHAT.

      As to your claim that no straight guy loves the idea of 3 guys and 1 chick…. then please explain the vast, vast collection of gang rape videos at my local sex store.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "Are you actually claiming it's the average woman's fantasy to be held down by multiple men???"

        Are you actually claiming it's the average straight guy's fantasy to be with a bunch of other half-naked guys in a semi-sexual context? Because of the two genders, this is definitely more of a women's theme than a straight guys.

        Female fantasy involving more than one guy, all looking aggressive and dominant, physically encouraging or blocking her from moving?
        http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v143/pittv/NewM
        http://www.google.com/imgres?um=1&hl=en&s

        Now – I'm not saying "all women" want this, any more than "all men" want guns and react favorably to a gun ad. But at the same time, no one would argue that the gun ad was mainly targetted at women.

        "I mean, Twilight is awful in many, many ways, but one of the huge markers of the series is that it's all about NOT having sex. "

        It's clearly about the guys "being sexy". The fact that Aladdin is a animated kids movie and Jasmin never "has sex" with Aladdin doesn't change that the way Jasmin is drawn represents on visual that's considered sexy and attractive to guys.

        "If any fantasy can be pooled from that book series, it's that (young) women love the idea of two guys fighting over her, but in a safe, less-than-sexually-charged environment."

        I'm not sure how much of a discussion we can have if you don't think the twilight series is a "less than sexually charged" environment. My facebook feed didn't have girls on it saying how sexy the characters were and how they wished they were living it because it was like watching teletubbies. The entire movie is a buildup of sexual tension to the sex at the end of the movie.

        But again, that's not to that that *all* women like it, just that there's a significant group of women that do. I also know women who don't find it sexually charged – but that's because they think it's *stupid*.

        "You cannot honestly try to pull the idea that girls love guys fighting over them (literally), or enjoy being held down while guys do the sexy thing! WHAT. "

        Yes, *some* women definitely do. And a large enough number of them that they make *hugely* profitable movies (twilight) and books (50 shades of gray) about it.

        For the 3rd time, this doesn't mean that "all" women like it. But the demographic who it's marketed towards and who buy it is clearly far more women than men.

        • eselle28 says:

          Twilight isn't a very good comparison. The difference isn't just the level of sexuality involved. Jacob and Edward weren't agreeing to share. That's important. Being fought over can make you either the powerful person or the disempowered prize, but it lacks the potential for finding out that the experience was primarily about male bonding rather and that the guys are going to high five each other and walk off after everyone is finished, or that they'll decide it's mutually amusing to go far beyond the agreed-upon limits.

          Women absolutely have submissive sexual fantasies as well, but again, the example you chose isn't the best one. 50 Shades of Gray largely doesn't even have much of a love triangle, since it largely cuts out the Jacob character from the plot and concentrates on the Edward proxy dominating the Bella proxy. There are also absolutely women who fantasize about being dominated and about that domination being by more than one man at once. However, I think you'll find it's a somewhat less common fantasy than domination by one man or being fought over by two men who aren't willing to share. I would say it's rare enough that I think the ad was either targeted at the sort of man who enjoys gangbang scenarios, or was aimed very badly at a female audience (given the product in question, the former seems more likely).

          • Paul Rivers says:

            But whether they're "agreeing to share" is a little beside the point – my point was "I don't know if I've *ever* known a straight guy to feel like "you know what's a turn on? Me, 3 other guys, and 1 chick". This looks like an ad marketed at women… "

            Maybe I was wrong and it's targeted at gay guys instead – but either way, it's a similar thing – it's not an ad that's *actually* targeted at the vast majority of men who are interested in women. Sure, maybe they're going to be crossing boundaries and high fiving each other at the end – but in very…gay sense…

            Of the two choices I had in mind – straight men, or women, it DEFINITELY is NOT an ad targeted at straight men. On further reflection I think you're right about the "one guy vs several guys" thing – but I would say that there are "more" women (even if it's a much smaller number, and even those it might a theoretical fantasy they would never actually go through with) who would find the idea sexy and interesting than there are straight guys.

            I think you're right with "aimed very badly" or the other poster was right about it just plain being gay. Either way it's not an ad targetted at straight guys though. (Which does matter when you start talking about it being "rapey" and "submissive women" – it's a whole different dynamic if the sexuality if different).

          • It could just be a poorly thought out and implemented idea by an overly artsy advertiser. It really looks like something that never got focus tested, or ignored focus testing and stats completely.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            I'll say – that's definitely a very strong possibility.

          • eselle28 says:

            I have. It just wasn't phrased like that. It was phrased as, "Remember when that slore [HERNAME] got wasted and we all took turns at her in the basement?" "Ha, man, that was awesome."* I won't pretend to know what impulse that experience appeals to. Maybe it's sex. Maybe it's power. Maybe it's some sort of group bonding experience. But it happens, and it's not something that straight men are necessarily disgusted by.

            But I think that we can agree that this is just a poor ad overall, and doesn't manage to appeal to many people while coming off as offensive or at least bizarre to many others.

            *These guys were neither nerds nor obvious bros. They were professional guys in their early 40s who I wouldn't have associated with any particular lifestyle beforehand. Afterwards, I didn't have much chance to assess, because I made like the Nope Nope Nope octopus and found some other people to talk to.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Thanks for the response.

            "But it happens, and it's not something that straight men are necessarily disgusted by."

            In another comment I'm going to make a correlation to "mature porn" in that there's someone out there who finds it attractive, but it doesn't change that there's lots and lots who find it repulsive…

            "But I think that we can agree that this is just a poor ad overall, and doesn't manage to appeal to many people while coming off as offensive or at least bizarre to many others."

            Agree 100%.

            "*These guys were neither nerds nor obvious bros. They were professional guys in their early 40s who I wouldn't have associated with any particular lifestyle beforehand. Afterwards, I didn't have much chance to assess, because I made like the Nope Nope Nope octopus and found some other people to talk to."

            Lol, I've never heard of the "nope nope" octopus before…google image search says it's out there, where's it from?

          • Are you totally unaware of the Steubenville rape case that just happened? http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/17/justice/ohio-steube… Two teenage boys took turns carrying around and sexually fingering one passed-out drunk teenage girl. Obviously they didn't have any problem "sharing", nor did any of the guys watching find it so problematic they made any real effort to get these guys to stop. Not only that, but society is so accepting of this being a "normal" thing for two boys to want to do, there's been an outcry about how horrible it is for these boys to be punished.

            Obviously there are plenty of guys who do think it makes sense for more than one guy to be turned on by sharing a girl, especially when she's not consenting. I've never read or seen a single piece of fiction aimed at women that depicted a girl or woman being both forced into sex and shared between more than one guy in a positive way. So I have no idea where you are getting the idea that there are "more" women who'd be interested in the sort of scene portrayed in the ads than there are hetero men.

          • "I've never read or seen a single piece of fiction aimed at women that depicted a girl or woman being both forced into sex and shared between more than one guy in a positive way."

            Woman here. It certainly exists. It's usually at some point in the story spun into consensual or at least enjoyable for the woman, but the set-up is by no means incredibly uncommon. It's mostly fanfiction or other written erotica, I can't think of any visual (but I'm not saying none exists, I'm not really into fanart or porn. As most of professional porn is aimed at men, I'd say chances are very little woman-oriented gang-rape porn is around).

            I'm not contesting anything else you say, and I certainly agree that the majority of porn and even other erotica depicting gangrape is aimed at men. The idea that men couldn't be turned on by gang-rape is, frankly, ludicrous.

          • Oh, I know that kind of stuff comes up in fanfiction and so on; my comment was more in response to the idea that this sort of scenario is a common fantasy in mainstream romance novels and the like (I've seen forced sex portrayed as okay in published romance novels, and consensual sex with multiple guys portrayed as okay–more rarely–but never both together, so it's obviously not anywhere near common). And even when it comes up in fanfiction, I'm not sure I'd say it's portrayed as positive–anyone who doesn't label that sort of story with warnings that it contains troubling content generally gets some backlash. So even the women who do get off on that scenario recognize that it's a niche thing that most women would be uncomfortable with, and that really wouldn't be okay in real life.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Woman here. It certainly exists. It's usually at some point in the story spun into consensual or at least enjoyable for the woman, but the set-up is by no means incredibly uncommon. It's mostly fanfiction or other written erotica, I can't think of any visual (but I'm not saying none exists, I'm not really into fanart or porn. As most of professional porn is aimed at men, I'd say chances are very little woman-oriented gang-rape porn is around)."

            Thank you for commenting.

            "The idea that men couldn't be turned on by gang-rape is, frankly, ludicrous."

            I agree that that *would* be rediculous if that was my argument. It's not my argument at all though.

            Imagine if we were having a discussion in 1950 (before it became socially acceptable for girls to like both guys and girls), and there was an ad depicting one guy with multiple women, who there caressing each other and also looking like they wanted the guy. Then someone claimed that the ad wasn't targetted at men – it was targetted at women! You'd laugh. It obviously was targetted at guys. Even though there's were *some* women that were into that scenario, there was a lot, lot more who would find the idea repulsive.

            It's a similar thing with the opposite genders here – this ad is being portrayed as an example of what's being marketed to "men" – meaning most men, or a large group of (straight) men. And I'm saying it's not – the vast majority of straight guys find the idea of other guys being around while they're sleeping with a girl a turnoff. They *especially* find the idea that another guy is touching them while they're making out with the girl to be repulsive.

            My point is that I don't find either of the ads with 4 guys looking dominating around a girl to be representation AT ALL of what men are commonly marketed. *Those* two ads are not representative at all of how masculinity is being sold to straight men.

          • No. No they freaking don't. Please, PLEASE, give sources of your continued assertion that most men find the idea of multiple men with one woman repulsive. They may *claim* they do…. but porn, marketing, and surveys show it is actually not that uncommon. We have cited our sources…. where are yours?

            You seem to be really committed to this idea that men just cannot get hard if there's another penis in the room. Why?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Where are the sources you've cited? A single article on the internet? – http://menexplained.com/2009/01/26/top-10-male-fa

            That article also makes the dubious assertion that "Both the thought of pleasuring a woman as well as stimulating senses like taste and scent make this fantasy incredibly arousing for many men." – something that most men *and* women say they're generally not particularly fond of, taste and scent being willing to put up with, not something they're actually looking forward to.

            I'm sure I could find an article on the internet that says that all women are pretty much 2 drinks away from wanting to make out with all their attractive friends. Does that make it true? Or would you say – being a woman – that you feel very strongly that that's *not* actually the case.

            My first source is that I'm a straight guy, and that's my own feelings and experience.

            My second source in conversations that I've had – with other straight guys.

            My third source is popular culture, like here's a clip that PERFECTLY illustrates what I'm talking about – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGEA9WpZ_Fg

            Raj (talking to the other 2 guys): Ok, show of hands – who's up for this?
            Howard is the only guy to raise his hand
            Leonard: We'll all be naked in front of each other.
            Howard: I'm out.

            When pop culture mentions a threesome involving 2 guys, it's referred to as a "devil's threesome". A ton of jokes are made about "You had a threesome? That's awesome? Oh wait, it was 2 dudes and a girl? That's…different…". It's pretty much always accompanied by a certain amount of discomfort from the guys if they're straight characters.

            My fourth is other cultural stereotypes. Just a month ago I was at a dance exchange, and yet again the topic came up of how most girls didn't have a huge problem sharing a bed (with assumably other straight girls), but guys wouldn't do it. Or the similar topic of how girls don't have a problem snuggling with each other but guys usually won't do it. Or massages…how often do you see a bunch of girls giving each other a back massage? A fair amount (in the dance scene at least). How often do you see line of guys giving each other messages? I've NEVER seen it happen. Occassionally a guy will give another guy a message, usually the kind of thing where he offered a girl a message first or something, but not a whole line of guys. Ditto with dancing – if there's an abundance of follows, you'll almost always see girls dancing with other girls. Girls often don't have a problem coming and dancing with other girls. If there's an abundance of leads – you don't really see that happen. Sometimes, experienced leads will dance with other experienced leads. It happens, but not nearly to the same extent that girls have no issues dancing with other girls.

            "They may *claim* they do…. but porn, marketing, and surveys show it is actually not that uncommon."

            That is exactly what I disagree with.

            I await these sources that you are refering to. And "not that uncommon" is still not that the same as "common enough to use as a marketing tool".

            "You seem to be really committed to this idea that men just cannot get hard if there's another penis in the room. Why?"

            You seem really committed to the idea that men are just waiting to go gangbang on the same woman. Why is that?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            I don't want to get into Stueubenville because it's another topic, an emotional topic, and let's just say that I definitely agree that the guys involved should go to jail and agree that anything implying that they were the "real" victims or some bullshit like that is bullshit.

            "Obviously there are plenty of guys who do think it makes sense for more than one guy to be turned on by sharing a girl, especially when she's not consenting."

            That's exactly where I disagree with you. There's nothing "obvious" about that, and we'll just end up arguing over what "plenty" of guys means. If we can accept that for some people cutting them is a major sexy turnon, then we can accept that for "some" group of people pretty much anything else is a turnon. That doesn't mean the majority find it either repulsive, or undesirable.

            "I've never read or seen a single piece of fiction aimed at women that depicted a girl or woman being both forced into sex and shared between more than one guy in a positive way. So I have no idea where you are getting the idea that there are "more" women who'd be interested in the sort of scene portrayed in the ads than there are hetero men."

            You're jumping into an assumption about being "forced", and the ad does not show a woman "fighting off" someone who's trying to sleep with her – it shows multiple guys and dominance, but again – if bdsm is accepted among some people, there's no doubt that this scenario is a turnon to *some* people.

            I'll concede that based on the comments from people, that perhaps the fact that there's *multiple* men in the picture makes it a difference scenario than things like twilight or 50 shades of gray, and maybe I overreached in my statement that it targetted women. My thought process was that between straight men and women, there's more women that would find it to be attractive – but that might be like 1% vs 2%.

            But it's an ad who's idea the vast majority of straight guys find repulsive. Not just "not interested", but actively disliking.

          • Karinna Nülliot says:

            Yes, the woman-sharing guys fantasize is about her totally submitted to their ways, or worse, being raped. That scenario of these pieces of fiction is mostly aimed at men.
            Searching through loads of fiction (and fan-fiction) pieces I can see that most rape pieces aimed at (and written by) women are male-male rape.

            "Shared between more than one guy in a consenting way" is a fantasy LOTS of women have, and one that lots of women would have in real life if they felt secure about it and so on; they would be active in it and wanting it. Now being forced into sex, by one or many guys is a very, very small group that fantasizes about – and then, probably 99,9% would never want it to come true because, well, you cannot control RAPE. The same goes for both sexes here – so many guys say, stupidly, how they would "love to be raped by a (some) hot girl(s)" but would they really? I guess not.

            The problem is: in standard media, female sexuality is always portrays in a passive, submissive, with total lack of power and control over herself and sometimes even humiliating way. I guess how many straight men are the ones coming up with this ideas… they are the ones that still control the symbols, right?
            If they wanted to make an advertising with an orgy with 1 female and many guys aimed at women, they would (or SHOULD) make it in a smart way. She must be enjoying it, she must be active. That is what will satisfy (or at least not infuriate) the vast majority women. And orgy (gang-bang) scene, not a rape (gang-rape) scene. And well, selling things with rape isn't the most graceful thing to do, now is it?
            And for the ones saying that we can't be sure if these images are REALLY about rape: what I said above. The females don't look like they are enjoying it; they are powerless; the last looks somewhat disgusted. Again, that is rape glamorization.

            I don't believe advertising rape (always of females here, but it goes for both gender) is the way to go. But I see how the hyper-masculinity ideal gets even more strong with this, and that is why it happens.

            (Sorry, English is my second language)

        • "Are you actually claiming it's the average straight guy's fantasy to be with a bunch of other half-naked guys in a semi-sexual context? Because of the two genders, this is definitely more of a women's theme than a straight guys."

          Then please explain all of the gang rape porn I see. I wouldn't say it's the "average" male fantasy, but when comparing porn geared towards men and porn geared towards women (and I've seen a pretty sizable portion of both), multiple men on one woman is a LOT more common in male-oriented porn by a wide margin.

          You misunderstand sexy and sexual. The sexuality of Twilight is… under-played isn't the right word. I will let Celolinda do it for me, since hers is the best explanation I have ever seen:

          "Edward is everything that is confusing about the opposite sex writ large; I find it particularly telling that his first encounter with Bella makes her think that he hates her. The entire buildup to their first kiss is this love/hate push-pull of trying to figure out what he's thinking, and it turns out the whole time he was trying to figure out what she was thinking. So, having established that all along they were both crazy about each other the whole time (and wouldn't it be nice if that was really the key to the mystery of the sexes?), Edward and Bella then settle down to wrestle with their various "hungers." But Edward struggles manfully with both his hungers and hers–he's always the one to pull away when either he or Bella goes too far. Consider, also, that young girls tend to gravitate towards "safe," often semi-androgynous celebrities at this age (cough*Hanson*cough) because they're less threatening to a girl's developing sexuality. Sex is possible, and a forbidden thrill to contemplate, but it's not a danger: you're safe with Edward, because he loves you just that much, and he's never going to pressure you because he wants to protect you from himself."
          -http://cleolinda.livejournal.com/602881.html

          That is a very far cry from "being held down and penetrated by multiple men sexy" that the ads are portraying.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Then please explain all of the gang rape porn I see."

            Where do you see this??

            All I can say is ancedotal, but like any guy nowadays, I watch porn on the internet. And it's rare for me to run across a clip of multiple guys with 1 girl – almost non-existent to run across "gang rape" stuff. I'm not saying you can't find it – but it's fairly fringe, it's not mainstream, like people with certain fetishes.

            That's an interesting interpretation of twilight. I can see how it *could* be read that way. I don't think it's the only interpretation of it – I think building and building sexual tension is another valid one, along with the "they're actually having sex but we're pretending they're not" interpretation. I mean the whole theme of how he wants to "tear her apart" and such doesn't make a whole of sense if you actually take it literally – who actually says "You know what's sexy? I guy who want to physically rip me apart! Woooo! That's what I want in a boyfriend!" (I mean sure there's a niche of people out there like that, but we're talking about mainstream stuff). But if it's analogy for his nearly-uncontrollable lust – that makes a lot more sense.

            In other posts, I agreed with another poster that while it's not targeted at straight guys, it's probably likely targeted (or mistargeted) at gay men. But even if it was targeted at women, a picture of a woman surrounded by hot men with strong sexual tones is not necessarily meant literally – just like guys watching action movies aren't *actually* jumping off skyscrapers. Exaggerated fantasy that's beyond what one would actually be comfortable with in real life is still pretty common.

          • When I google gangbang porn, I get 164 *million* results. Even with quotation marks ("gangbang porn") it gets more than 3 million. When I search just for "porn", the first two sites that come up both have a gangbag category. This isn't some "almost non-existent", "fringe" thing. It's obviously quite popular.

            Have you actually read Twilight? Because you're not really in a position to "read it" any way if you haven't read it at all. Funny thing, I *have* read Twilight, and I can tell you that throughout the entire book, Bella wants more from Edward, wants to go further with Edward, than he's willing to go. It's not a fantasy of being forced or having someone overpower you–it's a fantasy about having a boyfriend who *could* but loves you so much he'd rather deny himself than take any risk of hurting you. This is nothing at all like the dynamic portrayed in those ads, and I don't know why you keep trying to justify it as if it is. Sure, guys in action movies aren't really jumping off skyscrapers, because we know no one actually can do that–but there are men in real life who do hold down women and rape them. The scenes in those ads aren't exaggerating anything except how attractive the guys doing it are.

          • Cleolinda reference again: "She wants to hit that like the fist of an angry Norse god."

          • Paul Rivers says:

            And when you search for "porn" – you get about 10 TIMES that amount.

            But rather than get into that, let's take an example from what you're saying – when I search for "porn", I also see a category for "mature", meaning older women.

            Does that mean it's "obviously quite popular"? If you saw an ad with multiple older women crooning over a younger-in shape guy, does that mean that it's an ad targetted at your average straight guy?

            I'm pretty much no one wouldn say "Well clearly this ad with 4 women old enough to be grandmothers and 1 sexy guy in his 20's, is a good example of how popular culture promotes to straight men that to be masculine they need to be attractiing a lot of older women."

            And that's how I see this ad – it is not at all representative of how straight men are targetted by advertising. Pictures of buff guys (be masculine like this guy!), sexy women, multiple sexy women, ads implying he's tough, ads saying all women want him – yes, all these are targetted at straight guys. But not an ad with 4 guys standing around 1 girl – I could see the argument that it's not targetted at women either, but it's not representative of common advertising towards straight guys.

          • You keep insisting that this fantasy is "not at all representative" but you site absolutely no sources. YOU are not turned on by this. Fine. But where is your evidence to show that the "average" straight man isn't? You keep insisting that's the case, without ever showing any proof. Mel has shown it's an incredibly common plot in porn….. I have shown that in surveys, it pops up in lots of forms. Other people have testified they see it pretty often. Aside from you own experience, why do you keep insisting it's not something the average male likes?

            And exactly why does this get under your skin so much? By the amount you've spent arguing that there is absolutely no way this is a straight male fantasy, there's got to be *something* that gets to you about this ad. Doth the lady protest too much?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "You keep insisting that this fantasy is "not at all representative" but you site absolutely no sources. YOU are not turned on by this. Fine. But where is your evidence to show that the "average" straight man isn't?"

            In the interest of not copying and pasting and having multiple threads on the same topic, see my previous reply further up.

            "Mel has shown it's an incredibly common plot in porn"

            No, like I said, she's shown there's a *segment* or porn that has it, like there's a segment of "mature" porn with women who could be grandmothers.

            "I have shown that in surveys, it pops up in lots of forms."

            I've love to see these surveys, but honestly, I'd believe them about as much as I believe the survey's in playboy or something that say that all your female friends are just waiting to make out with each other.

            "Other people have testified they see it pretty often."

            Where are these other people? The only other comment I see is a mention of gangbang porn being out there, which as I mentioned earlier – there's a big difference between "there's always been a segment of guys into seeing gangbangs/older women in porn" and saying "most guys are into gangangs and attracted to the elderly". A HUGE difference.

            There's always been gay guys and gay women – that's not at all the same as saying that because they've existed, the majority of people are into that.

            "Aside from you own experience, why do you keep insisting it's not something the average male likes? And exactly why does this get under your skin so much? By the amount you've spent arguing that there is absolutely no way this is a straight male fantasy, there's got to be *something* that gets to you about this ad. Doth the lady protest too much?"

            Because it's not true. I always argue things I think are just not true.

            The same question applies to you – why are you so invested in the idea that men are just waiting to be part of something like that?

          • Paul, you're conflating two separate arguments. The question of whether the ad promotes hypermasculinity is not the same as the question of whether the ad is aimed at men. The hypermasculine image presented in those ads is of guys restraining and dominating women, and looking distant and unemotional about it. You were arguing that this wasn't aimed at men because there are multiple men in the image. A bunch of us then pointed out that the idea of multiple men having one woman, especially through force, is actually somewhat mainstream, as demonstrated by such examples as there being a category devoted to gangbanging on mainstream porn sites, guys freeing talking about not just fantasizing about doing this but literally having done it with friends without apparent fear of their friends being repulsed, mainstream media (CNN) responding to rape cases like this treating it as if it's a normal thing for young men to do, etc.

            The multiple men in the images isn't the part that is hypermasculine. Most guys find sleeping with any attractive woman a turn on; that doesn't mean every ad that shows a man engaged in sex with a woman would be hypermasculine. Just like, as you say, showing other things that some men consider a turn on (like MILFs) wouldn't make an ad hypermasculine. These are two separate elements in the ad. No one's saying it's promoting hypermasculinity *by* showing multiple men.

            (And frankly, if you think showing an older woman interested in a younger man isn't something marketed to men, I wonder who characters like Mrs. Robinson and Stifler's mom are supposed to appeal to exactly? The idea of an experienced older woman taking a young guy to bed is pretty established in pop culture as a male fantasy.)

            As I pointed out, most women and most gay men would find the dynamic in this ad a turn off too. I guess you could argue that it's aimed at bisexual men, but I find it hard to believe that major companies would make an ad targeted at such a small audience, which they couldn't exactly reach without turning off a whole bunch of one of the other groups. (Most magazines targeted at bisexual folks are also for the LGBT audience in general.). And ultimately, whoever these ads were intended to be aimed at, and regardless of whether they succeed in that appeal or not, they still contain a portrayal of hypermasculinity via aggressively dominating women.

            And that's all I have left to say in this particular thread.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Paul, you're conflating two separate arguments. The question of whether the ad promotes hypermasculinity is not the same as the question of whether the ad is aimed at men."

            In the context of the article, I think it is. The article says –
            "Amanda Hess’ article in Slate Magazine alerted me to a study examining just how masculinity is pitched to young men."

            If the ad isn't pitched to "young men", then it isn't relevant to this article – or the idea that those ads are an example of how most men are taught to view masculinity.

            The more I think of it, the more I would forget who it's marketed to – those ads are just plain not representative at all of how men are marketed to. You mentioned that ad was banned in some countries, another poster said ads like those would usually not be run by most anyone.

            If you wonder why it bothers me, imagine the opposite – imagine someone was putting up an ad showing a woman looking at a rich guy and suddenly finding him attractive, and an article dedicated to talking about how women can't help it, they're taught to be gold diggers? You'd be like – wtf, that's not even true.

            "The hypermasculine image presented in those ads is of guys restraining and dominating women, and looking distant and unemotional about it."

            Yeah, and that's exactly part of my problem with it – this is NOT at all typical of how men are ACTUALLY marketed with. Tough guy? Yes – but with images like in the other ad of the open country, or some sort of mma fighter, or pictures of your father – like the other ads. There is no common theme of ads towards that I've seen where they're dominating and subjegating women.

            Pictures with women? Yes – sexy women by themselves, sexy women looking up adoringly at him, sexy women looking at him like he's so attractive, they just can't control themselves and they want to throw themselves at him.

            Sexy women looking dominated and a little afraid – especially with multiple men looming over her? That's incredibly, incredibly, incredibly uncommon in advertising.

            "You were arguing…"

            There's not much more to say on this than in my other comments. A few cheryy picked examples (I've *never* been part of or on the fringe of a conversation about multiple guys in a gang bang, that happening one time is not an indication of it being popular). Bdsm and "mature" porn is equally mainstream – but neither suggests that men are being marketed older women, or that most women want to make you cry and beg as part of sex.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "The multiple men in the images isn't the part that is hypermasculine."

            I'm just saying – if that kind of ad *was* popular, I would actually agree that it was about domination, some sort of "edge of aggression" kind of thing. It definitely shows a ton of domination. My disagreement is whether it's relevant to a discussion about what men are actually being targetted in advertising, as I don't think it is.

            "(And frankly, if you think showing an older woman interested in a younger man isn't something marketed to men, I wonder who characters like Mrs. Robinson and Stifler's mom are supposed to appeal to exactly? The idea of an experienced older woman taking a young guy to bed is pretty established in pop culture as a male fantasy.)"

            Right, but like I said there's a difference between something a certain segment is into and making claims about what "men" as a whole are into / being marketed to.

            "As I pointed out, most women and most gay men would find the dynamic in this ad a turn off too. I guess you could argue that it's aimed at bisexual men, but I find it hard to believe that major companies would make an ad targeted at such a small audience, which they couldn't exactly reach without turning off a whole bunch of one of the other groups. (Most magazines targeted at bisexual folks are also for the LGBT audience in general.). And ultimately, whoever these ads were intended to be aimed at, and regardless of whether they succeed in that appeal or not, they still contain a portrayal of hypermasculinity via aggressively dominating women."

            From your tone, it sounds like you might be suprised that I don't really disagree with you there. My motivation was saying I strongly don't think it's marketed towards straight men, but maybe it was to far to say it's marketed towards women (which I also mentioned in other comments). But also like I said, I'm doing the opposite of defending the ad – I'm saying it's an ad that I think doesn't appeal to straight guys. The problem I have with calling it hypermasculine is the masculine part – even the article mentions that hypermasculine is "The constant underlying subtext is that if you don’t meet the implied definition of manliness, you’re a fag" – and I don't anything with the strong gay undertones in that ad can fall under that definition (if you're not more gay you're more gay? waaaaaait). Dominating? Subjigating? Sure, those are definitely elements of the ad. I definitely wasn't defending the ad as a great ad.

            "And that's all I have left to say in this particular thread."

            Oh, I was responding as I went down, didn't see this until the end. That's fine, sometimes there's it's not worth the time to discuss it any more, or there's nothing more to say.

          • Gangbang and GangRAPE are not exactly the same thing, let's clarify this.
            If the images were about a gangbang a happy and active female is having and enjoying, we could talk about something else. I still believe it is a gangRAPE scenario there and that was, at least, a bad and stupid move.
            Well, the fashion world always comes with such bizarre pieces from time to time…

          • At my local sex store, as stated. It is in no way fringe. Cuckholding and sharing has a very strong prescience in the kink community.

            Here, I even brought resources!: http://menexplained.com/2009/01/26/top-10-male-fa
            Notice how both sharing and watching a woman with another man/being watched feature on the list.

            You… haven't read Twilight, have you? That really isn't surprising or a bad thing, but criticizing something that you have at best second hand knowledge about is really not recommended, because you are getting a lot of the subtext really off. If you're going to use Twilight to criticize women's fantasies, at least get the actual mechanics of the fantasy right.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            I appreciate the link. However, there's a huge difference between "this is how something is marketed in the 'fringe' community" and "this is how something is marketed to guys at large".

            There's no doubt that *some* things in bdsm are turnons for people with those attractions, but HUGE turnoffs for your average guy or girl. I notice that #10 avoids saying "another guy" in it's description…

            "You… haven't read Twilight, have you?"

            No, I *have* read the entire 1st twilight book. Not the 2nd and 3rd, because I only kept going through the 1st because I was bored and I figured I had alreay payed for the book. I haven't read more than excerpts from 50 shades of gray (some of the exerpts were just paging through the book when someone else had it with them).

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            MMF (male, male, female), double penetration, triple penetration, DVDA (Google it) and gang-bangs are all very prominent and popular genres of porn.Three seconds on any torrent site or a Brazzers affiliate would tell you this.You have a very hard time understanding that just because YOU are or aren't into something that others might be.You would do well to realize that your personal experiences and tastes are not universally applicable.

          • Robjection says:

            Also just because you don't find something naturally in your hunt for something else, doesn't mean the thing you don't find isn't mainstream. It's like saying that, in my search for a good FPS, I never found any Mario games therefore Mario isn't mainstream.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            So let me see if I have this straight.

            There are categories for "mature" porn, showing women old enough to be grandmothers (and who look like grandmothers) with much younger men.

            So you're saying that an ad showing this would be demonstrating how masculinity is commonly sold to men? Is that what you're saying? Because that's basically the argument here.

    • I don't know, I think a better indicator of who the ad is aimed at is the product it's selling. In the two multiple guy-one-woman ads, the product is the clothes–the clothes the guys are wearing. (Particularly obvious in the Calvin Klein Jeans ad, where the guys are all wearing jeans, and the woman, as far as I can tell, is not clothed from the waist down.) Why would an ad be advertising men's jeans to women? (And, er, since when are jeans and casual button down shirts "high fashion"?)

      Not to mention, there may be a female fantasy of having more than one guy be romantically interested in you, but it's not generally "three guys all waiting to take turns to have sex with you" or "three guys watching while another guy pins you down to have his way with you" which is clearly the impression these ads are giving. There's nothing romantic about them, it's all sexual. Where else do you see imagery of multiple guys handing off the same woman? Porn, aimed at men. If no straight guys get off on that idea, then why is there a whole segment of porn based on things like double and triple penetration?

      With the others, I think you're reaching even more. I've never seen a woman wearing a weird white fishnet-like shirt like the one in the sunglasses ad, and I've only seen that hairstyle in fashion magazines, so she seems just as not-real-life as the guy to me. And the vokda bottle–of course it's a man behind the bottle. That's the point! It's a guy with his bottle hard-on being gripped by a woman. Drink this alcohol and women will give you hand jobs!

      Anyway, even if you disagree and still think some of these images are aimed at women… All that argues is that possibly DNL didn't pick the best examples to make his point, not that his point isn't correct. (I mean, there are tons of other relevant ads at the site he got those from that are very clearly aimed at men.) I mean, do you actually disagree that many companies use problematic images of hypermasculinity when targeting male audiences, or are you just being nitpicking for the sake of it?

      • Said much better than me! All applause to Mel!

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "Why would an ad be advertising men's jeans to women?"

        That's a good point, and is probably best explained by the other comments that it's a fairly gay and strangely targeted ad. But I REALLY don't think it's – at all – targeted at almost any straight guys. It's like if you saw an ad depicting a guy having a threesome with 2 sisters – you just don't think to yourself "this is targeted at women!". Clearly they're not the target. If there were two or more girls looking at the guy, other guys but they're in the background with an expression of being impressed that the guy got the girl, etc etc, all of those I could see. But many guys and 1 girl? That's just not targeted at straight guys.

        "There's nothing romantic about them, it's all sexual."

        That's not nearly the indication of whether it's female or male fantasy that it used to be.

        "Where else do you see imagery of multiple guys handing off the same woman? Porn, aimed at men."

        I disagree that there is any sort of mainstreamed-ness at that kind of porn. If there was you'd see it on mainstream porn sites all the time, and like I said in another comment I almost never see it.

        There's also porn with midgets, latex balloons – there's all kinds of fetishes out there. But their existance does not make it common fantasy.

        "If no straight guys get off on that idea, then why is there a whole segment of porn based on things like double and triple penetration?"

        I didn't say "no men", I said I didn't know any. But lets us say that theoretically, 1/10 guys was into that. It's still not targeted at straight men, because the other 9 men don't find it neutral – it's a huge negative. It's just bad marketing.

        "With the others, I think you're reaching even more. I've never seen a woman wearing a weird white fishnet-like shirt like the one in the sunglasses ad, and I've only seen that hairstyle in fashion magazines, so she seems just as not-real-life as the guy to me"

        I hadn't noticed the hair – have to admit I would agree with you about the hair. But I've seen a number of real life girls wearing similar shirts or sunglasses.

        "And the vokda bottle–of course it's a man behind the bottle. That's the point! It's a guy with his bottle hard-on being gripped by a woman. Drink this alcohol and women will give you hand jobs! "

        You know – you're right. I completely missed that.

        I do think it's selling sex – not "dominance" or "submissiveness", it's just straight up sex.

        "Anyway, even if you disagree and still think some of these images are aimed at women… All that argues is that possibly DNL didn't pick the best examples to make his point, not that his point isn't correct."

        And my original comment was directed at the ads, saying very little about the article. But –

        • Paul Rivers says:

          "(I mean, there are tons of other relevant ads at the site he got those from that are very clearly aimed at men.) I mean, do you actually disagree that many companies use problematic images of hypermasculinity when targeting male audiences, or are you just being nitpicking for the sake of it?"

          But let's see some of those then.

          I only see two ads that get close to hypermasculine – the Dr Pepper ad is, and maybe the Jim Bean one.

          People I know from conservative culture might call the gun ad masculine, but it wouldn't be hypermasculine. The ad with the guys over the girl for dolce and gabbana is kind of gay – not something that says "do this or you're a fag" (I'm quoting the article above). I don't know what's with the Valentino one, it just seems ridiculous, not hypermasculine. The sky vodka add is just purely about sex – sex selling is not the domain just men, or just women. The "your dad was not a metrosexual" ad doesn't say hypermasculine to me – it says "you don't have to dress up pretty to be a guy". If the gender was reversed, and the ad said "Your mother didn't spend 2 hour on her hair every morning, and she was a wonderful woman" you wouldn't say that was hyperfeminine or hypermasculine. "this country was not built by men in suits" is also maybe masculine, but it's not hypermasculine – it's not saying you're not a man if you wear a suit, it's just saying you're still a man if you don't. I don't know what's up with the sunglasses one – but can't see how a woman biting a guys finger is hypermasculine. The Calvin Klein ad is more gay than anything, not all falling into "be this way or you're a fag" – if it's message is anything, it's the opposite.

          I'd just like to see some of the examples that *actually* highlight hypermasculinity.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            See below in another reply to you.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Thanks, these get a bit scattered with the multiple comments.

          • I already addressed your claims about porn with multiple men and one woman being not at all mainstream and just a fetish elsewhere.

            "I'd just like to see some of the examples that *actually* highlight hypermasculinity."

            I see Gentlemen Johnny has pointed out some for you. And I do think those ads are portraying being a tough guy as not just as good as but superior to being a metrosexual, someone who wears a suit, or someone who drinks wine, but if you don't, well, we can agree to disagree.

            I'd also like to point out, just in case this is what you were trying to get at, that regardless of whether you agree with the examples in the article, that doesn't mean the study didn't actually find ads that did focus on hypermasculinity. Note that DNL isn't taking the ads he shows in the article from the study; I'm not sure if the study specifies exactly what ads were among those they included, only that they were "ads that showed men as violent, physically aggressive, hypersexual or participating in “dangerous” activities for the thrill of it all".

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "I already addressed your claims about porn with multiple men and one woman being not at all mainstream and just a fetish elsewhere."

            Cool.

            "I see Gentlemen Johnny has pointed out some for you. And I do think those ads are portraying being a tough guy as not just as good as but superior to being a metrosexual, someone who wears a suit, or someone who drinks wine, but if you don't, well, we can agree to disagree."

            That *is* a different topic. Here I was just saying that I don't think the specific ads with 4 guys and 1 girl are anywhere near typical of how masculinity is marketed towards men.

            "I'd also like to point out, just in case this is what you were trying to get at, that regardless of whether you agree with the examples in the article, that doesn't mean the study didn't actually find ads that did focus on hypermasculinity."

            These thread comments get a little long, but I believe in my original comment above I was *just* saying that I don't find the "4 guys and 1 girl" ads to be typical at all. Wasn't saying anything about the other ads – in that comment.

        • And by the way, your eagerness to jump on the idea that the ads must be aimed at gay men as a way to deflect the idea that more than a tiny number of straight men wouldn't be turned off by it is ridiculous if you bother to apply your own standards to it. How much gay porn do you imagine includes a bunch of guys focused in a woman? Given that gay men are not attracted to women at all, and I see no reason to assume they get off on sadism any more than the general population, do you not think an even larger majority of gay men would be turned off by depictions of a woman forced down by a man than straight men? If we're judging the target audience of the ads by who is most likely to be turned on by them, I'm pretty sure straight men are still the largest group.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "If we're judging the target audience of the ads by who is most likely to be turned on by them, I'm pretty sure straight men are still the largest group."

            Maybe it's not really targetted towards anyone – I've said in other comments that I may have overreached in saying that it was targetted towards women. Multiple dominating looking guys on a cover or movie poster is typical, but it's also true that it being overtly "I'm going to do this girl right now" is not typical.

            At this point, I think it's probably most likely that what another poster said is true, that's it's just plain a mistargetted ad. But I don't think it's representative of how companies try to sell masculinity or hypermasculinity at all. The other ads without multiple guys in them? They're clearly targetted at straight guys.

    • This is a complicated fantasy. The Twilight set up is two men fighting over one woman, not sharing her. In the YA version, there's no sex or only sex with one man. In the adult, standard romantic novel version, the woman might have sex with each of the men, but not at the same time.

      Admittedly, there's been a lot more interest in MMF threesomes in recent years, and they show up relatively often in things like fan fiction. However, the staging is often very different, and often involves the male characters showing interest in each other as well as in the woman. There are of course plenty of women who read multiple guys and one woman as a sexy scene (I've seen the ad in question before and always interpreted it as a fivesome rather than a sexual assault), but it doesn't have the same dynamics as seeing a man surrounded by four attractive women. Notice the difference in the poses, for example. A harem picture will often show the women being subservient and looking up to the man. The models here are in power poses, and are looking down at the woman. The power dynamics aren't the same, and if it's a fantasy, it's a different sort of one. The woman isn't necessarily the person in the dominant position.

      I don't really know if this image was meant to be aimed at men or at women. If it was meant to be aimed at women, I suspect it may have been photographed by a man and missed its mark.

      • I always wanted to do a more in-depth anthropological study of Yaoi subculture; specifically, women who ADORE the idea of romantic love between two guys. Female fantasies are fascinating in all of their range and motion, and the rise of fanfiction has really opened up lots of exciting potential for observation and reflection. And one of the more fascinating reflections is how striking the mediums of written-porn-for women differs from visual-porn-for-men.

        • You know, we talk a lot about written-porn-for-women vs visual-porn-for-men, but yaoi and slash fanworks are very much not only written word – there is a ton of manga and fanart out there, often very explicit.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            And so many cases of Did Not Do The Research. Some friends of mine hold panels at anime cons that explain the mechanics of how gay men have sex. Some of the misconceptions that otherwise well meaning authors have are… painful.(“No, blood is NOT a substitute for lube!”)

          • …. It's wrong that I desperately want to hear more about the misconceptions, isn't it?

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Depends on how you feel about the inappropriate use of corn and phrases like “anal fissure”, really.

          • I wonder if you can make heterosexual porn for women by using the tropes used in romance novels. Basically romance movies with hardcore sex scenes. This might beyond the acting skills of most porn actors. The fact that most porn actors do not look like romance heroes and heroines is also a problem.

          • eselle28 says:

            They already do that. It's often labeled woman-friendly or couples porn. It has a fanbase, but lot of women dislike it – not because it's porn but because they're not fond of either the romance parts or the execution of the romance parts.

            Honestly, I think that people underestimate the extent to which women are or could be interested in fairly straightforward sex scenes. When I'm in the mood for romance novel tropes, I'll watch a soapy TV show. When I'm watching porn, I want to watch porn. I'd just like it if the people who made it considered that I might be checking out the man and identifying with the woman, rather than vice versa, and did a better job of showing real (or more real-looking) female orgasms and the kinds of sex that are most likely to bring those orgasms about.

          • Two words: The Tudors. More words: incredibly uncomfortable discovery that my parents love watching it together.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Haven't seen it. More or less porn-y than Spartacus?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "I'd just like it if the people who made it considered that I might be checking out the man and identifying with the woman, rather than vice versa, and did a better job of showing real (or more real-looking) female orgasms and the kinds of sex that are most likely to bring those orgasms about."

            That's seriously my #1 complaint about porn as a guy as well – so much porn is like watching people who are bored at their jobs. It's just…not sexy. It's way more interesting when both people seem to actually be into it. I sometimes keep clips with other stuff in it that I *don't* like, just for the parts where the people in it actually seem like they're having a good time.

        • I'd be very interested in the results of something like that. I know at least one researcher attempted something similar in the past, but unfortunately didn't do a very good job of engaging the community and ended up putting off many writers with obtuse questions.

          It's certainly an interesting counterpoint to the idea that all women have rape fantasies, or that women aren't turned on by [fill in almost anything except flowers and chocolate here]. I've certainly seen stories that are basically free, amateur retellings of old school historical romances, but there's a lot of variation I wouldn't have expected, and a lot of pairings and characters who get focused on aren't what popular theories would suggest and that don't line up very well with what makes it through the publishing process.

      • The Dolce & Gabbana add is clearly aimed at men but I’d argue that the photographer took some cues from romance novel covers. Its aimed at men because like Mel pointed out, the product advertised is for men. Its pretty safe to say that an ad is usually directed at the audience who would use the product advertised. Ads for car insurance are aimed at car owners rather than people who use public transit. Another key that the ad is aimed at men is like you and I and DNL pointed out, its the man dominating the woman. Some women do fantasize about one or more hot men fighting over them but they usually aren’t that submissive in these fantasies. The woman in this advertisement is clearly in a submissive position.

        The confusion about the audience for this ad is that the while the woman looks apprehensive, she doesn’t look afraid. The apprehension is more or a look of whether or not she can handle all these men combined with some uncertainty. Its a look that vaguely reminiscent from the covers of romance novels where the heroine is experiencing both ecstasy and hesitation at being ravished by the hero. The similarity between the ad and a romance novel cover might cause confusion.

        • I don't think even the idea of the woman being apprehensive but ultimately willing is a specifically female fantasy. Isn't that basically the entire premise of PUA philosophy: that women will resist you but if you can convince them you're worthy enough they secretly want you?

          • Point.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "I don't think even the idea of the woman being apprehensive but ultimately willing is a specifically female fantasy. Isn't that basically the entire premise of PUA philosophy: that women will resist you but if you can convince them you're worthy enough they secretly want you?"

            There is an entire PUA philosophy on that, but it's not "fantasy" – it's almost always described in terms of "you wouldn't think things work this way, but they do, and you just have to accept it and deal with it as much as it sucks" or more neutrally as "this is the way it is, you just gotta realize this is what this means".

            My friend who picked up game said this happened to him several times – he'd invite a girl back to his place to continue the evening, and she'd say something like "ok, but we're NOT having sex". He'd agree. They'd go back to his place…she wanted to have sex. One time, just to mix things up, he it got to that point where "game" told him she wanted him to try to sleep with her, and instead he smiled and said something that was positive, but basically that it was the end of the night and he was tired. After that she stopped coming out and hanging out with him – he feels that not "pushing past" her resistance got him a worse result than when he would make a move and get rejected. Now that's not to say that all girls are like this, but he went through many that were.

            But anyways – point is, I've never heard of it being touted as a "positive" or "fantasy" in PUA stuff. I've read lots of other fantasy about how you're going to score with lots of chicks and it's always going to be awesome (when sometimes it made those people more "successful" with women but miserable), or how you're going to have amazing sex (when people often but not always lackluster), or you'll be able to come alive and really live your life, etc etc etc.

            But I never heard it being described as "fantasy" or perhaps I should say never read it being described as "positive fantasy" – the woman being apprehensive or downright saying nothing was going to happen was seemed to be described as somewhere between a big negative you just have to deal with, or a more neutral "this is the way things are" kind of thing.

          • Okay, do any Pick Up Artists give any credence at all to, ya know…. stuff just changes sometimes?

            A few hours ago, I didn't really want wings for dinner. Eh, I had wings a few days ago, maybe I should shake it up. But right now, holy cow, do I want wings. I could devour an entire bucket of wings.

            So… did chicken somehow "push past" my earlier resistance? No. Sometimes I just *change my mind*, and it happens randomly and without any clear outside trigger (nobody carried a bucket of wings past me, I saw no chicken-themed advertisement, I just really want some darn chicken.)

            Wouldn't it just burn if these guys discovered it was absolutely NOTHING they did that influenced the girl either way, she just up and changed her mind randomly? Does random chance and independent thoughts have no place in PUA philosophy? Is it literally the male equivalent of the trite female dating advice that "Everything happens for a reason"?

          • Shhhh Marty, you don't sell books by saying there are things out of your control! People prefer pretty lies to the ugly truth, because they believe being miserable is less of a failure than being wrong.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            The "my feelings never change" mentality comes largely from feminist and women decrying men as evil because they didn't pay absolute attention to a women's opinion the first time – not from PUA culture.

            PUA culture doesn't really care whether the guy "skillfully talked you into" something, or whether he just ignored what you said earlier and waited for your mood to change.

            I'm not trying to be offensive, but – your description of what happens is exactly what PUA culture means when they say stuff about not listening to closely to what a woman says. She says she doesn't want to sleep with you? Maybe she'll just change her mind later through the random luck. Maybe she just says that because she's not "supposed" to like the chicken, but deep down she wants it and over time she'll admit that she does. Maybe she's just not turned on enough (hungry enough) right now, but later she'll get horny (hungry) and the situation will change. "push past" her resistance sometimes means talking her into things, other times it means to go away until her mood changes.

          • Or maybe you should listen to her because she might NOT change her mind. Assuming that if you just stick around and expect she will is just as damaging as assuming you did something to effect the change, because it's *not actually listening to the woman.* If I told my friend I really didn't feel like chicken for dinner, yet he insisted he go get chicken, I'd think he was a jerk for not listening, even if later I *did* change my mind and wanted chicken.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Well, there's a big differences there –

            1. There's a difference between the guy "insisting" on getting chicken anyways, and him simply asking an hour later if your tastes have changed. There's a difference between "I want chicken, we're going to get chicken" and "Hey, I know you didn't feel like getting chicken earlier, wondering if you feel like it now".

            2. You (probably) don't have a huge internal conflict going on about how you want the chicken, but you're not "supposed' to want the chicken, and what are your friends going to think if they found out you ate the chicken, etc etc. You don't feel like you have to turn down eating the chicken x times, or else someone might think you're "to eager" to have chicken…really you want to eat chicken right now, but you don't want to be "that kind of girl"…

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            No, but Marty, sometimes women are all like "I don't really want sex because I'm tired, you're not that attractive and I just came over to hang out" but if you stay on them enough and use your *game* they'll be all like "I still don't want to have sex but I will to shut you up." See, they're overcoming resistance.

            Yes, its a strawman argument. No, I'm not a woman, so I don't really know. I'm just making shit up. So, ladies, which is more true? That you refuse sex because you're not "supposed" to like it or that you get talked into sex because it finally becomes less of a pain in the ass (and/or dangerous) than continuing to refuse?

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            A lot of the techniques designed for overcoming “buyer's remorse” and “anti-slut defenses” (both common PUA jargon) are REALLY, distressingly coercive.Clarisse Thorn has a very good chapter about this in her book Confessions of a PUA Chaser.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Bad link again, Doc.

          • I didn't say that PUAs viewed it as a fantasy. But I think it is a fantasy to believe that you can "crack" any woman you want if you just learn how to push the right buttons in the interaction, which is I think the idea that many aspiring PUA artists buy into and that the community encourages. You rarely see a PUA saying, "Hey, this doesn't actually work on many women, but on the women it does work on, it works really well!" They usually present their tips as if all or at least the vast majority women respond this way, if you are good enough at your "game."

            And I do think a lot of the guys who buy into those hypermasculine ideals we're talking about (and there's a lot of overlap with PUA culture) do *like* the idea of wearing down a woman's resistance, of catching a woman who didn't originally think she wanted to go home with a guy that night. Otherwise they wouldn't be so dismissive of "sluts" or women who offer sex easily, or take such joy in talking about being able to score with some other guy's girlfriend or wife. It's a power trip, feeling that you've broken down someone's defenses and made them want something they were resisting. So to me the fact that the women in the ads look like they're apprehensive hardly disqualifies it from being a male fantasy.

            (It's also worth mentioning that, in fact, in most current romance novels, the women are quite enthusiastic about sex–the whole forced seduction thing went out of vogue many years ago.)

          • I think there IS a current subset of romance novels in which there's a "forced" seduction. The idea seem to be not that the woman resists, resists, and then succumbs. The idea is the woman resists, thus triggering "change" in the male's behavior, and THEN she succumbs. It is only when the power of her love has wrought this miraculous personality switch, that the woman responds with sex.

            I see this subtext in lots of places, but romance novels (and chick flicks) especially. There seems to be something incredibly sexy about the idea of we The Heroine being so irresistible and steadfast and "hmph" that we bring a player to his knees and turn him into a devoted, monogamous husband. Or the prickly Mr. Darcy into a kind-hearted wit, or Rochester into a burning romantic, or Edward who resists his *very nature* out of his love for adorklutz BellaYou.*

            *Credit again to Cleolinda for the examples.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            It would be interesting to discuss how female fantasy books/movies/etc generally go and the different general patterns they take. How it does and doesn't overlap with what guy fantasy is like (guys share a fantasy of destroying the villian to get the girl, but generally don't like competing with another worthwhile guy for the girl, whereas female fantasy seems to like both). And how it does and does *not* translate to how people act and respond in real life.

            But man…this comment thread would go on FOREVER then, lol…

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "But I think it is a fantasy to believe that you can "crack" any woman you want if you just learn how to push the right buttons in the interaction, which is I think the idea that many aspiring PUA artists buy into and that the community encourages."

            Well…yes, I've seen that, but there's an equal amount of "your never going to reach a point where you can *always* get laid, let alone always get laid with the girl you want, even when you're an expert". I've also heard repetitions of guys bragging about getting some guys girlfriend – but often it's accompanied by a later disclaimer saying something about how if the girl was really in love with with the boyfriend it wouldn't have worked.

            I think the biggest complaint I know, honestly, is guys who steal a certain number of other people's girlfriends right from under their nose – then get *super* depressed about it, feeling like no girl is going to be a trustworthy girlfriend, their illusions that only men cheat and women are all trustworthy shattered.

            I see guys bragging about being able to get someone's girlfriend, but it sounds to me like the same kind of talk a woman who suddenly put a lot of time into her looks does when she can suddenly turn the heads of even happily married guys when their wives are right there when she walks by.

            I mean to be fair – I almost certainly have a COMPLETELY biased perspective. I don't read "that" much pua stuff, and what I do read is what suits my tastes – stuff that tries to make sense of social dynamics with attempts at figuring out why what works works, stuff that caters to a perhaps overly idealistic background…

            I can't say that there *isn't* joy somewhere over overcoming their resistance, as if there's a segment of pua culture that's like that I likely just don't read it. But I know that at least a large segment of it see these things are annoying chores you have to do to get what you want – not joy in overcoming their resistance or something.

        • I'll say it once before, and I'll say it again. Old Skool romance novel cover design was designed by men for men. The majority of marketing people in the industry and the majority of cover artists were men at the height of the "swooning heroine" covers. They were creating covers to appeal not to readers, but to book buyers who made the choices of what to put on the shelves. Those buyers were also mostly male at the time.

          Those covers were designed to say, "Hey book buyers, here are more of those sexy books you can put back on your furthest darkest shelf in the corner and then ignore."

          When actual reader preferences were taken into account, romance covers began "buttoning up" and you saw less of the flowing hair and man-titty.

          Now the most erotic titles have innocuous objects on them, like a shoe, or fruit, or a silver tie. We still see the strong manly men, but they dominate Paranormal Romance that is supposed to convey a dark and powerful "edge". The women we see on modern romances tend to be historical ladies in pretty dresses with coy or flirtatious looks on their faces, or Urban Fantasy heroine badasses in strangely contorted stances.

          If you look at common female sexual fantasy archetypes, the only common one that involves lots of men is the "Queen" fantasy where a woman is in power and has a line of men who must "please her" and if they don't, they must suffer her wrath.

          • I'm unconvinced. Considering the time period, I doubt that any man would willingly buy a romance novel even if it was really for his wife or girlfriend. Every man would be too afraid for one reason or another that the seller would think the book is for him. Also the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog reveals that there are a lot of modern "old school" romance novel covers. Plus, very few men would fantasize about looking like a man on a romance cover novel. The height and musculature is right but the hair is too long and their isn't enough body or facial hair on the men. The clothing is a bit too elaborate to but not in away that a fashion consious men would dress, whether that man be straight, gay, or bi. I'd say its closer to men drawing based on what they think heterosexual women like and getting a C+ or B- as a result.

          • It wasn't for men to buy for themselves, the artists were appealing to the book buyers whose JOB it was to decide what books got stocked on the shelves of bookstores. The artists needed a quick way to catch the attention of the men who were making those decisions and say "This is one of those sex-filled fluffy books that belongs in the romance section of your bookstore."

            If you read the book Sarah Wendall wrote, "Beyond Heaving Bosoms," they explain this phenomenon at length.

            Unfortunately, because of those early romance cover decisions, the whole of the industry has been "coded" with the sexy cover so that you need elements of those old covers to convince readers "This really is a romance novel," otherwise they won't buy it, not because they really are attracted to the cover, but because they really want to be sure they are spending their money on an actual romance novel. So some of it lingers, though most of the old style covers have changed with the times or they bear the risk of looking too old-fashioned.

          • This is actually a convincing explanation.

          • I really fail to see how this deserves a negative remark.

          • Robjection says:

            "Just let it go. You gotta pick your battles."

            - Angel Strong Bad, The Baloneyman

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Well technically, it's that Jess did state that it was guys buying stock for a bookstore, not for themselves, in her first post –

            "They were creating covers to appeal not to readers, but to book buyers who made the choices of what to put on the shelves. Those buyers were also mostly male at the time…Those covers were designed to say, "Hey book buyers, here are more of those sexy books you can put back on your furthest darkest shelf in the corner and then ignore.""

            But mostly it's just that people downrank anything they don't like and there's not more to it.

          • Indubitably.

          • Indeed, romance novels are porn for women. It makes you wonder if this site is run by anti-sexual monks and nuns (or just feminists)?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Troll harder, brah.

          • Oooooo I always wondered about that! I have a soft spot for good (ie, well-written, engaging smut) romance novels, but always cringed at the covers. I mean, who wants to be seen reading THAT? Just-ick. The "YA cover" phenomenon has made BUYING romance novels much more attractive, not only because the covers are more appealing to my oh-so-feminine sensibilities, but because I wouldn't be humiliated going through the check out line with them.

            PS: That Queen role does sound kinda fun….

          • eselle28 says:

            YA cover trends and ebooks make reading romance so much easier to do in public.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          Lee, I'm thinking the idea in these multiple male ads is that the male reader doesn't go "I'm that guy and there's these other guys". He goes "if I buy all these pants, I'm ALL these guys". At least that's what the advertisers are going for. Just my $0.02

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "This is a complicated fantasy. The Twilight set up is two men fighting over one woman, not sharing her. In the YA version, there's no sex or only sex with one man. In the adult, standard romantic novel version, the woman might have sex with each of the men, but not at the same time."

        That's definitely fair, but –

        "Admittedly, there's been a lot more interest in MMF threesomes in recent years, and they show up relatively often in things like fan fiction."

        This is what I was thinking of.

        "However, the staging is often very different, and often involves the male characters showing interest in each other as well as in the woman."

        I can see that, don't want to repeat myself from other comments, the other person explanation that it's neither really targetted at straight guys or women is probably the best explanation.

        "If it was meant to be aimed at women, I suspect it may have been photographed by a man and missed its mark."

        That could be. I hear you about it not being mainstream for women – though I think there's a *lot* more women who would be into that now than there used to be – but it's definitely not targetted at straight guys.

        • Anonymous says:

          You…do realize that gang rape happens in real life, right. Right? By straight men?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Attacks on children and getting busy with animals happpens in real life. That is entirely different than saying that ads depicting those things in some sort of positive light are typical. My entire point is that the majority of straight guys do NOT like the "multiple oiled up guys looking aggressively at 1 woman" kind of ad).

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            That's true, as long as the news media isn't portraying pedophelia as something that guys just do and going on about how prosecuting it ruins promising lives FOREVER.

            The thing about the initial topic – prepackaged hypermasculinity – is that its not about just ads. Its about how the whole thing is packaged, commoditized and stuffed down men's throats from so many directions that being a stoic, manly man who dominates women is the accepted definition of adulthood.

            When guys who know they don't live up to this are told its why they don't get girls, PUA's are happy to teach them, for a fee, how to fake it. They wouldn't make so much money if guys thought the hypermasculine image was something to avoid.

            Edit: Or even that there were viable alternative ways to feel like they've passed that fuzzy line between boy and man.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "That's true, as long as the news media isn't portraying pedophelia as something that guys just do and going on about how prosecuting it ruins promising lives FOREVER. "

            CNN absolutely deserves to get a TON of flack over that.

            That being said, I watched the ad and it seemed like they were going through the motions, and there was supposed to be "this whole situation was horrible" at the end, and they did a really, really bad job at it. I mean it started off sounding more like a "warning to others what will happen to you if you do what the football players did" before descending into appearing to sympathesize with the perps. The most logical theory I've heard is that they're banned by from actually idenifying the rape victim in their story, so they couldn't really talk about her – and she was their initial "this horrible tragedy" topic.

            Every news station out there ran a story on it, pretty much. If we would assume that the CNN coverage was deliberate, saying "one station out of hundreds was really offensive" is not the same thing as saying "everyone who covered it expressed sympathy with the perps".

            "The thing about the initial topic – prepackaged hypermasculinity – is that its not about just ads. Its about how the whole thing is packaged, commoditized and stuffed down men's throats from so many directions that being a stoic, manly man who dominates women is the accepted definition of adulthood."

            I think one can have a discussion on that, I just don't think that a somewhat homoerotic ad with 4 guys and 1 girl is actually part of that discussion. The ad is somewhere between "uncomfortable" and "seriously disturbing" – I'm not saying the ad shouldn't be critisized (I'm not saying that at all), I'm saying it's like using a bike ad to try to talk about what you don't like about car ads. It's just not actually any sort of common ad that you see targetted towards straight men.

            "When guys who know they don't live up to this are told its why they don't get girls, PUA's are happy to teach them, for a fee, how to fake it. They wouldn't make so much money if guys thought the hypermasculine image was something to avoid."

            But none of those ads were PUA ads or PUA material. Not sure how there's the connection there.

            "Edit: Or even that there were viable alternative ways to feel like they've passed that fuzzy line between boy and man."

            My comment was limited to whether those two ads were representative of anything guys are targetted with for marketing, which I do not think they are.

            That's a topic, but a different topic…

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yes, every station ran basically the same article. That's my point. We're not talking about one story, one ad. We're talking about how those contribute to a culture that holds up the hypermasculine man as the only "real man", one who can have any woman whether she likes it or not and the real tragedy is that his life is RUINED if he gets caught. You can argue until you're blue in the face about this one ad but at the end of the day, it was an ad in a men's magazine, targeted at men to sell men a product that glamorizes the same type of behavior that ruined those football players' lives.

            The connection to PUA is that PUA is, in some incarnations, how to fake hypermasculinity in order to get sex. It exists in that form precisely because this hypermasculine image is held up as the only kind of guy who gets whatever woman he wants. Its marketed at the same insecurities that all of these ads are.

            You can deconstruct each of those grains of sand all you want. Point out how they have different color, different contours, how one is rock and another is a bit of seashell. What you're ignoring is that they're all part of the same beach.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Yes, every station ran basically the same article. That's my point. We're not talking about one story, one ad. We're talking about how those contribute to a culture that holds up the hypermasculine man as the only "real man", one who can have any woman whether she likes it or not and the real tragedy is that his life is RUINED if he gets caught. "

            I'm not seeing that. Like here's one of the first articles that popped up, on yahoo – http://sports.yahoo.com/news/highschool–steubenv

            Would you have examples of other media that also seemed to be expressing more sympathy for the perpetrators than the victim?

            CNN should ABSOLUTELY be getting all the flack they're getting, but I'm not sure it's as much that they were actually *trying* to express sympathy for the attackers as much as they were trying to fulfill the other important function of media to point out to people that the result of the guys (incredibly immoral) actions is that their lives are now ruined. They did a terrible job of it, and they absolutely deserve all the flack they got for that, but for the kind of "I can just do whatever I want" mentality that those kind of people has, it IS important to point out to those people examples of other people who felt the same way, did something immoral, and now their life is ruined.

            When Bernie Madoff was convicted, there were a lot of similar stories. Or, local to me, Denny Hecker. He was ruined, his family was crying, heck, I think I saw a story recently about how he was moved from one prison to the other. The point of the story is to say "When people do immoral things like this, let me explain all the tragedy that happens to them as a direct result of their actions – they're totally ruined, like you will be if you do something like this".

            Like I said, CNN deserves all the flack it's getting, and they did a terrible job at it, but I'm not sure their *intended* message was supposed to be sympathy for the perptrators. One of the other complaints was that it didn't focus on the victim, but there's also previously been a lot of talk about how this just further victimizes the victim, like following her around with a sign and yelling "this girl was raped!" for months on end until the trial is finally over – that long stories about the victim are also something the media should *not* be doing.

            "You can argue until you're blue in the face about this one ad but at the end of the day, it was an ad in a men's magazine, targeted at men to sell men a product that glamorizes the same type of behavior that ruined those football players' lives."

            You're incorrect. The dnl article states –
            "Genderads – where I’ve found most of the examples I’ve used in this article – is a reponsitory of hypermasculine imagery in advertising… and it’s genuinely disturbing to visit."

            We don't know where these ads from above came from. They could have come from a women's fashion magazine – the above article doesn't say. With the "high glossy fashion" look to them, it's a definite possibility.

            And my whole point was that I don't think they ARE targetted at men. Images of hypermasculinity aren't that – well, to be blunt – gay. You don't put that kind of imagery on ad trying to say "buy our products or you're a fag" (again, to quote the article). The images (you?) posted with 1 guy elsewhere are more debatable as to who they're trying to target, but my whole argument was exactly that glossy semi-gay looking guys was targetting "hypermasculinity" or even "masculinity" seems absolutely absurd.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "The connection to PUA is that PUA is, in some incarnations, how to fake hypermasculinity in order to get sex. It exists in that form precisely because this hypermasculine image is held up as the only kind of guy who gets whatever woman he wants. Its marketed at the same insecurities that all of these ads are."

            Ok, but that makes a great example – one of the main origins of PUA culture was a guy who wore a fuzzy hat, outrageous clothes, and did magic tricks. We're not talking about someone who was worried about coming across as "to girly" here, or being seen as effiminate.

            The motivation behind PUA culture is doing whatever makes women want to (or at least willing to) sleep with you.

            If PUA culture promotes hypermasculinity, it is because it's what women find attractive. Actually – that might be to far – it's because it's what a noticeably large group of women who are interested in and available to sleeping with guys find attractive. It's entire root is "what do women find attractive?" – if it's promoting hypermasculinity, it's precisely because it's believed that's what women find attractive.

            "You can deconstruct each of those grains of sand all you want. Point out how they have different color, different contours, how one is rock and another is a bit of seashell. What you're ignoring is that they're all part of the same beach."

            What you're saying is like saying because lots of Americans own housecats, it's pretty much the same thing as them owning lions that roam around the house.

            The title of the article is "The Selling of Masculinity". Being sold "our product will cause you to be irristible to women and will get you laid" isn't the same "beach" as "let's get a bunch of guys together, oil each other up and get naked, and force some girl to have sex with us all of us at once" and it's not the "women are obligated to sleep with you no matter if they want to or not" either. The "we know you want women to desire you and here's how to do it" is pretty much the opposite "beach" as "it doesn't matter if they want to or not".

            Men just are not marketed to with images of multiple men dominating one woman. The fact that something happened like that is not proof of how marketing is done any more than a child because abducted by a man is proof that marketers tell men to buy windowles vans and kidnap children (which they don't).

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "This is a complicated fantasy. The Twilight set up is two men fighting over one woman, not sharing her. In the YA version, there's no sex or only sex with one man. In the adult, standard romantic novel version, the woman might have sex with each of the men, but not at the same time."

        That's fair, and frankly – you're right. That's the typical situation you see in those kind of books/ads/market/etc, not several guys at the same time.

        "Admittedly, there's been a lot more interest in MMF threesomes in recent years, and they show up relatively often in things like fan fiction."

        Yeah, that's where I was coming from. But I see your point as well like in my comment above.

        "I don't really know if this image was meant to be aimed at men or at women. If it was meant to be aimed at women, I suspect it may have been photographed by a man and missed its mark."

        Thinking about it further, I agree – that's probably the best explanation, that it's just plain not marketed well to anyone.

        But I still think it's definitely NOT representative of how masculinity or hypermasculinity is marketed towards straight men.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          P.S. Sorry about responding twice, didn't realize that I had responded before. I think it's the same basic comment – before I was saying "you could be right", now I'm saying "I think you're right".

    • Anonyleast says:

      To be more direct than Marty…

      Are you suggesting bukkake videos are produced with a female audience in mind?

      • Paul Rivers says:

        From wikipedia – "Bukkake videos are a relatively prevalent niche in contemporary pornographic films."

        • Anonymous says:

          You're not answering his question. Who do you think the target audiance for that "relatively prevalent niche" porn is? *Hint* It's not women or lol gay men.

    • Robjection says:

      Implying that the only fantasies there can ever be are sexual ones.

      EDIT: OK, seriously, has this guy not heard of power fantasies?

      • Paul Rivers says:

        You mean like power fantasies where you have the power to attract multiple members of the opposite (or perhaps more fairly "desired") sex because you're so incredibly attractive? Those kind?

        • Robjection says:

          No, power as in the ability to do whatever you want and nobody can stop you (and looking like you could just beat anyone who objects to what you do to a bloody pulp is seemingly enough to count). Never mind it sometimes takes teaming up with a bunch of other guys to get that power, or that some of the things you can and supposedly want to do are just plain wrong.

          If you're only trying to connect "fantasy" to things involving sex and sexual attractiveness, you're doing it wrong.

        • Anonymous says:

          Fail.

    • Thereal McCoy says:

      "Half of these ads that are supposed to demonstrate 'how masculinity (hypermasculinity) is pitched to young men' – aren't even aimed at (straight) men. They're aimed at women."

      I'm not going to argue about whether these particular ads are aimed at straight men, gay men (which is often the claim) or straight women. It's beside the point who they are aimed at. Hypermasculinity and hyperfemininity are both sold to both men and women. The audience of a particular ad (or other media) which portrays a type of gender role does not change the fact that the ad is promoting a gender role. Every person who looks at that ad will see the message it portrays and many people of any gender will be influenced by it.

  10. With the many-dudes one girl fairly rapetastic ads there, is anyone else getting the vibe that the sexual dominance of the girl is placed in the ad to serve the purpose of "Look, it's high fashion, but these waxed and slightly fem models TOTALLY aren't gay at all. See, they want to sexually dominate a woman. That makes them straight amirite?"

    • I'm more concerned that DNL seems to think that any depiction of a woman in a sexual situation with multiple men is showing rape or molestation. Awfully paternalistic, no? Would he be saying the same thing if the genders were reversed?

      • Dr_NerdLove says:

        Well that depends. Are we talking about a world where there is a long dedicated trend of advocating dominating and sexually abusing men regardless of their wishes? Then yeah, probably. But seeing as most ads featuring multiple women in a sexualized context with men have women taking a submissive role – offering themselves to the male with downcast eyes and stripping themselves for him – then no, I most likely wouldn't.But then again, I'm not the one concern trolling.But hey, it ain't always ladies getting raped. Sometimes it's dudes.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          You know your "it's dudes" doesn't seem to work, it just links back to this article…

          • Dr_NerdLove says:
          • Robjection says:

            From experience, direct links to image files don't work here. Thanks for a copypasteable URL.

          • deadliftman says:

            For what it's worth, this second ad does not depict any rape. It's just a naked man about to be willingly taken by some dudes. Why? Because he is touching is own body – throwing his head back and does not seem to be resisting in any manner. Nothing rapey about that. I think both these ads are about dominance and power play – associating the D&G clothes with the power to dominate. Due to the physical nature of the sexual act, women and gay men who act as bottom can be thought of as submissive if sex were to be looked at as some kind of power play (nothing wrong about that as long as its consensual.)

            In my opinion, D&G fucked up in the first ad by making it dangerously rape-like. In the second ad, the scenario depicted seems more consensual.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Yeah, same thing…

          • I actually agree with you here. Minor changes in body language/positioning can say a LOT.

            Hope this isn't TMI: I've watched a lot of porn in my day, and have an affinity for gay porn. I barely ever watch straight porn anymore because the difference in the way a woman and a sub/bottom man is treated is night and day! Man on man is rarely EVER as outright degrading and abusive as man on woman. The bottom is rarely ever called disgusting names, and his pleasure is seen to.

            The differences can be small, but powerful. Like I said above, simple little changes to that one picture could make it look 1000x more consensual, but they didn't bother doing it. I wonder why?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Um…you know, rereading that my quick sentence sounds unintentionally accusatory. Sorry if it reads that way – just meant to point out that the link didn't seem to work. Cheers.

        • An Engineer says:

          Just loosing the holding-down-angle would make the ad a lot less horrifying. I think you could make images with all of the submission and none of the rape vibes.

        • The power roles you talk about are depicted that way because they are (generally speaking) the fantasies of the respective sexes.

          In neither instance does it, absent any other elements, imply rape or molestation. Why would you jump to that conclusion upon seeing a woman engaged in a sexually-charged situation with multiple men? As I said, that seems pretty white-knighty.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Fantisies of some members of the respective sexes, which you could argue are their fantasies because that's what they're being sold. I would say the conclusion in the case of both of these ads comes from the one woman being held down by the central man.

          • "Fantisies of some members of the respective sexes, which you could argue are their fantasies because that's what they're being sold."

            I'd say the majority of both sexes.

            Question: Do gays and lesbians fantasize about members of the same sex because of "what they're being sold"?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You can say whatever you want, not that either of us is going to change anyone's mind on that. I'm not amused enough by this difference of opinion to look up proof one way or another.

          • And you do know that lots of women get off on being held down/restrained, etcc., right? Like… LOTS.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Yeah, that must be why all those ads have "safe, sane, consensual" at the bottom.

          • You do notice there are other elements in the ads, right? I highly suspect that in situations where a woman is pinned down during sex, looking away from the guy with an unhappy expression, surrounded by other guys who are either helping or watching, in some uncomfortable location outside, a much greater amount of the time it's during a non-consensual sex act than a consensual one. If they were all in a bedroom and she was lying on a bed, and she was smiling, suddenly it's not rape-y anymore, despite still having multiple men and restraint.

      • Vic, are you not capable of actually examining the ad in question?

    • Actually, yes. And I think it's also really interesting to what (semi-nonsensical, sometimes offensive) degrees adverts and marketing people will go to try and avoid a "gay" vibe in their product. Note that "gay" in this connotation can mean anything from men liking men to men showing emotions or being in a position of vulnerability to men looking well groomed and well dressed.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        "And I think it's also really interesting to what (semi-nonsensical, sometimes offensive) degrees adverts and marketing people will go to try and avoid a "gay" vibe in their product."

        Check this out:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIS4CII1yCY&fe

        The nonchalant shrug at about 11 seconds makes me want to buy a beer for this ad's entire creative team.

        • That commercial is hysterical!!!!! I love the shrug too, and the DMV. If the DMV were like that, I'd pay extra to renew my license.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      "With the many-dudes one girl fairly rapetastic ads there, is anyone else getting the vibe that the sexual dominance of the girl is placed in the ad to serve the purpose of "Look, it's high fashion, but these waxed and slightly fem models TOTALLY aren't gay at all. See, they want to sexually dominate a woman. That makes them straight amirite?"

      I argued that it was not targetted to men, but to women, but reading your comment I think yours might be more accurate than mine – it *does* really seem like it's a gay male ad that they inserted a woman in to for some reason. The one guy is leaning in towards the woman – but the other guy is like, carressing his shoulder. And while the guy is technically leaning in towards the women's face – if you look you'll notice he's leaning in to the other guys crotch.

      It sounds like this ad could be from anywhere – if it was from a magazine titled "Bisexual Man Weekly" it would make a whole lot more sense…

      • Yeah, I see what you're saying. As a woman, I don't get what they are selling to me, so I don't understand how it could be marketed to women, but I had an acquaintance who was in really high levels of high fashion male modeling, and a lot of the photographers, welllllllll, yeah.

        They would prefer a certain feminine "look" to the models and as a male model you had to play along even if you were straight or it negatively affected your career. The model I knew was having trouble with this because he ran afoul of a high powered photographer because he refused to be sexually harassed by the guy. He lost a really lucrative contract because of it.

        It really looks to me like the woman is put in there as an object to nullify the "really well groomed gay guy" vibe.

        It's strange.

        But I really don't think it was intended for the female gaze. Now the Becks underwear Superbowl ad, that was clearly intended for the female gaze.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          Yeah, I think you're right. That last calvin klein ad – it's far more gay than it is marketed to women *or* men. "more" women would like it then straight guys, but it's probably not really targeted at either.

          But whether it's targeted at women, or targeted at gay men, it's still not an audience looking for a message of "hypermasculinity" via subjugating women, etc etc. That's not even the right audience.

          • I disagree. The woman is very much the visual focal point of the image.

            But regardless, I think fixating on the images illustrating this article is really missing the forest for the trees – the study discussed in the article analyses ads that were run in magazines targeted at men. Whether or not the images Harris used for his article were accurate choices or not, the fact is that the study in question was looking at images that most definitely were targeting a (generally straight) male audience.

          • My point wasn't that the ad was intended for gay men so much as the culture of the High Fashion industry has a tendency to emphasize things that in general culture are coded "gay." Hence the wax, tan, young, image-conscious, slightly feminine males all wearing clothes that the company would like to feature as "sexy."

            If they know that the gay men are going to think it is sexy no matter what, the only way to broaden the audience of the image so that it has a potential to catch the attention of the readership of magazines like say, Playboy is to put something in the image that severely "codes" the image as NOT gay.

            The quickest and frankly laziest way to do that is to show one of the models sexually dominant over a female that doesn't really matter that much in the grand scheme of selling clothes other than to say, "Look guys! There's a half-naked girl! This is totally NOT gay at all. *cough*"

            Is it rapey or not? That's fair to debate. There's little argument that the men are portrayed as dominant to both the women.

            And so this does carry the point of the article. If men are so afraid of touching anything that might be seen as "gay" that ad guys feel they have to throw in gratuitous sexual dominance of a woman just to reach out to a broader audience, that's pretty messed up.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "But regardless, I think fixating on the images illustrating this article is really missing the forest for the trees – the study discussed in the article analyses ads that were run in magazines targeted at men."

            That's fair, but then we have to ask – what ads exactly did this study deem as "hypermasculine"?

            The article describes this – violent, calloused, tough, dangerous, and sexually aggressive—what the researchers call “hyper-masculine”.

            If you've read a lot political articles or studies, you know that one way the political battle is fought is by redefining words, then arguing that the new definition is bad – or good.

            The only link I saw to pics in the article was this – http://genderads.com/page6/slideshow-44/

            If those are the images, then they're being ridiculous. It includes both half-naked men and half-naked women as hypermasculine. A normal looking guy with a tie as "hypermasculine" because there's a joke about what's in his pants. Basically it seems to take anything that's sexual, and define it as "hypermasculine", in stereotypical trope of "men want sex, sex is bad, thus everything about sex is about men and it's bad".

            Now I'm not sure I'm looking at the right page, the text at the top mentions soldiers but I don't see any pics of soldiers. But "sex sells" and "hypermasculine" are not even close to the same thing – even if the ads *are* aimed at men.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Also, it implying "rape" takes on a whole different…actually, non-sensical meaning if it's a bunch of gay guys. That's probably why it's an actual ad – a really "rapey" ad would never make it. Despite what the article says, if you're actually running an ad depicting rape you're going to get a lot of negative backlash (which you should). But a really gay ad depicting the situation doesn't cause that same reaction.

          • As I've mentioned below, this ad *did* get a bunch of backlash and was banned in at least some countries. Google dolce and gabbana rape ad and you'll see tons of articles about it.

            But I'm not sure why you're so fixated on "proving" this particular ad isn't aimed at heterosexual men. Is it so offensive to you that a couple of the photos in the ad might not have been chosen well? What does that have to do with the content of the article?

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Like I said – I've never argued that the ads are good, I've argued closer to the opposite. I've argued that they aren't even remotely mainstream ads targetting straight guys. Somewhere out there there's a ku klux klan ad – but claiming that's typical of how "society" is telling people to act is simply not true.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            http://www.genderads.com/page9/slideshow-50/fileshttp://www.genderads.com/page9/slideshow-50/fileshttp://www.genderads.com/page9/slideshow-50/fileshttp://www.genderads.com/page9/slideshow-50/files

            Yeah, you could argue that one or the other ad might not be rape-y. Taken alone I would argue that some of them might not be. That's four here and two above without much effort, though. Do you really say that all six together are universally targeted at women with fantasies of being dominated? Or is it more likely they're targeted at men with fantasies of overpowering resistant women with the power of their cologne, jeans and checked sportscoats?

          • That last one is truly vile.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Perhaps this is my glass-half-full-ness overriding my efforts to be aware of rape culture, but I actually find the last one to be the least objectionable. Nothing in her facial expression or body language is telling me "non-consensual," nor do I see anything particularly degrading. (Note the position of her right hand; she actually seems to be holding him close.) It just looks like two people getting it on in an elevator to me. Sure, the guy's clearly taking the more assertive role, and I can see the argument for how in the context of other ads that's perpetuating a problem, but taken outside of that context? It's actually kind of hot. What am I missing here?

          • I don't think you're necessarily missing anything (or if you are, I'm missing it too), I also thought the last one looked less non-consensual than the others – her expression might be unclear whether it's meant to look aroused or unconscious, but the positions of her hands give a bit more of a sense of alertness and participation. I'd say this one's down to interpretation.

            Still, I feel pretty disturbed that to have had to describe something as "less non-consensual." I'm beginning to think this thread needs some pictures of nice, happy, clearly consenting people making out, to get these other ones out of our brains.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "Still, I feel pretty disturbed that to have had to describe something as "less non-consensual.""

            How about "Nothing about that picture says non-consensual to me at all"? Which is a much less disturbing thing to say. And is indeed what I'm saying. Given the position of her hands, I absolutely get the impression she's participating.

            I'm really hoping Jess will chime in on this thread. By describing the picture as "truly vile," she's clearly focusing on something that I'm either interpreting very differently or overlooking entirely, and I'd like to know what it is. But if the point of contention is that the guy is the one taking the more aggressive role in the picture, then I have to push back against that — very strongly, actually. As long as the lines of consent are clear, there is nothing at all wrong with adults playing around with power dynamics — and nothing about this picture makes me think consent is the least bit murky. (Are there signs of violence or coercion I'm missing? Am I misinterpreting her body language when I think it's open and inviting her partner?)

            Now, this picture being a problem as part of a larger trend of advertisers selling the notion that you're not a Real Man unless you're the dominant partner in each and every sex act? I'm not sure I agree, but I'll at least entertain the argument. But taken outside that context, on its own terms? I do not see what this issue is with this picture, at all. And given the strength of Jess's negative reaction to it, I'd like to at least be aware of what she's reacting to.

          • The way I read her expression, I couldn't tell if it was meant to suggest unconscious or just aroused, which is why I thought it had a 'maybe non-consensual' vibe in spite of the hands.

            But I can't speak to what Jess's stronger reaction was based on.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm actually with you that the last one could have just been a hot moment in the garage on its own. In a magazine that features lots of ads like the ones shown, though, it starts to take on a different context.

          • It's the least objectionable to me too, but not without problems. First off, her hand holding him is barely visible. Her face, other hand and knee are all turned AWAY from him. Her right leg is held ramrod straight out against his crotch, indicating a protective stance in my eyes. Even if you were to just move her left knee up against his right leg and turn her face so that her cheek was touching him, it would make it look much more consensual.

            Plus, I can't help notice how the man's "blackness" has been exaggerated against her "whiteness" (also exaggerated). To me, this cashes in on the Rapacious Dangerous Black Man trope and therefore has a racist undercurrent along with the rapeyness.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "(Note the position of her right hand; she actually seems to be holding him close.)"

            That's how I was seeing it to, then I noticed that the hand that appears to be her right is is black – so I think it's a double image of his right hand, not hers…

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Do you really say that all six together are universally targeted at women with fantasies of being dominated? Or is it more likely they're targeted at men with fantasies of overpowering resistant women with the power of their cologne, jeans and checked sportscoats?"

            I'm not really sure *who* those are targetting, but I'm arguing that a bunch of dominating guys with no shorts and oiled down bodies is not describing anything like how masculinity is typically targetted towards straight men.

            I think that there are *some* women who find those ads sexy. I'm sure there are plenty of women who find those ads kind of disturbing, really disturbing. Frankly, I find them a little distrubing myself. But the ads you posted don't have the strong homo-erotic overtones to them that you see in fanfiction that is produced and read by women, or gay and by men.

            Like I said in other comments – I've said that I'm probably wrong that the ads I mentioned were specifically targetted at women. They're probably either targeted at a group that's not straight men or women – or they're just plain weird ads that aren't effectively targetted at anyone (or a rather niche group).

            The pics of the cop and the women in the red dress is disturbing, but it's one of those weird fashion industry things that I just don't know what it thinks that it's saying. It's not sexy (imo), and even it's aggressiveness and brutality is unrealistic – when do you ever see cops in a repeated stereotype assaulting well dressed fashion models?

            The second one – I don't know if that depicts domination or not. Does it depict voyerism? It's looks mostly like one of those gossip magazine photos where the women is accidentally more revealing than she meant to be.

            On the 3rd one with the Antonio Banderas lookalike, that's the only one that I feel like more likely targets men with fantasies of overpowering women with the power of the cologne, jeans, etc. But it still has that weird "high fashion" look to it that isn't typical of mainstream advertising.

            Wait, maybe the last one is to. I really just don't know what to make of it – the woman's body language neither makes it clearly rapey, or clearly concensual.

            But like I said – my main point wasn't that the ads WEREN'T rapey (I don't disagree that they have those overtones) – it was that with 4 shirtless oiled up guys in it it wasn't demonstrating how ads are displaying masculinity or hypermasculinity to straight men.

            If this article was "These kind of ads shouldn't be shown!" and just had those 2 ads with guys slicked up guys in them? You'd NEVER see me arguing that they're perfectly fine and absolutely no chance of them being interpreted as "rapey".

            Let's take this to a further extreme – if I showed a picture of a women tied up, crying, and begging her aggressor to stop, am I posting –
            1. A picture of the horrors of goverment sponsored torture?
            2. A picture from a serial rapist who we all agree should be either put in prison for life or killed in an electric chair?
            3. A really hot scene from a bdsm porn?

            It could be any of the 3. What I WOULDN'T argue is that this shows the usual message that advertisers send to men about how to be a man though.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, except we're not talking about going out at random and going "oh look, a picture with connotations of rape". We're discussing a huge number of ads in magazines targeted specifically at young man and older, less successful ones. The "usual message' thing isn't based on one ad. Its based on hundreds. If every third ad in Sports illustrated, Maxim, Playboy, Golf Pro etc showed a woman tied up, being tortured, then yes I would argue its been shown to be an expected social norm.

            You're arguing that we should consider single drops of water rather than looking at the behavior of the ocean they comprise.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "The "usual message' thing isn't based on one ad. Its based on hundreds. If every third ad in Sports illustrated, Maxim, Playboy, Golf Pro etc showed a woman tied up, being tortured, then yes I would argue its been shown to be an expected social norm."

            Sure, but I'm not 100% sure which one you're commenting on…

            On the one with multiple guys, I don't see it as being common AT ALL to see ads like that. Mel said she thought it was banned in some places. And else someone below said that it's something that –

            Krzysztof M –

            I'm in advertising, and wanted to voice an opinion. Unfortunately this does exist, but this isn't really the full story. It's sad that this does exist because it really gives a "dark side" to it all.

            But some things I noticed that weren't really paid attention to, that I thought needed to be mentioned to get the "full picture".

            "The "advertising" done for companies for things like Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, etc,etc are done not by respectable agencies, or most of the time not even by agencies at all. Sometimes the designers just take it into their own hands, and mess the scene up. These kind of ads are NOT accepted by the advertising community. No creative would dare put one of these ads in their portfolio because it's an embarrassment."

            On the ones you posted, they sound like they're the ads for the same product. I just don't see that kind of "men dominating women" in every third ad, or hundreds of ads. The *closest* theme I see with any commonality at all is something like "if you're dominating at (something that's not directly women), women will want you". Even then, that's not nearly as common as buy x or y and women will want you.

            There's a huge difference between the two kinds of ads – the kind of ads that say "do x and women will want you!" are not nearly the same as "do x and you'll dominate women and take who you please!". It's an ENTIRELY different theme. The first I see pretty frequently. The second – almost never. (please see my above comments about whether the ads posted are common, or whether they're fringe and hard to find anywhere).

  11. 'I, on the other hand would like to know why they don’t find any of this insulting.'

    Because grownups, unlike children and feminists, are not insulted by the truth.

    • So the truth of men is that they have no higher brain functions, cannot control their sexual urges, don't have close bonds with their friends, and experience no emotions whatsoever except angry or arousal? This is the truth that is not insulting to you? This is the truth you want to live in…. where for the sake of civilization and the safety of humankind, men are kept in cages like other wild things?

    • An Engineer says:

      What the shit? Is this even the truth for most people?

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I got nothing. Must be because, as a manly man, I'm too concerned with sex, beer and power tools to form a coherent counter-opinion.

    • Really? I mean you want to live in a world where you can't have friendships with other guys because that's unmanly? Where you mother, sister, daughter, are viewed as nothing more than objects to given away? Where one's value is in how cold and cruel they are and how much pain they can cause?

      Because that's really sad.

  12. Ah, yes. Well at least women are kind of expected to complain about their position by now. Men are just suppose to grin and bend over for society, and preferably claim to be having a hell of a time. A big salute to every guy with the balls to let go of the fantasy and face the truth. Because that's what separates real men form the… em… okay, the Greek alphabet would need to have 4 more letters appended before I could come up with an accurate description.

  13. As a european looking at the US society from the outside (internet, TV, movies, music), I wonder about this topic.

    It is sometimes used to distance oneself from european culture?
    - "the men rode into the saloon" is never followed by: "and ordered merlot" –
    I don't think a french man has insecurities about ordering "merlot"?

    Why is the F150 the best selling vehicle in the us?

    Is the root of this conservatism?

    • eselle28 says:

      There's definitely something there. I'm not sure if it's a reaction to European culture, or if differences between European culture and American culture get accidentally mixed up in ideas about what a real (American) man is and what a girly (American) man is.

      I would say that the wine thing probably is accidental. The American wine industry was never as developed as the European one, and what we had was pretty much wiped out by Prohibition and didn't get its feet under it again the same way the beer and hard liquor industries did after it was repealed. There are a couple of generations where wine-drinking isn't particularly common among either gender, and the kinds of wine that women stereotypically like (white zinfandel) are generally considered to be of poor quality. I think that certain aspects of how people choose their clothing or what's considered an acceptable interest might be partly formed in reaction, though.

      It kind of plays into the idea of whether this is something women have anything to do with or whether it's mostly a male-driven phenomenon – I'd note that American women generally have positive stereotypes about European men.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Absolutely, European culture is seen as Ivory Tower Liberalism and Elitist, maybe even socialism by arch-conservatives. I've actually heard a poke player in the 2008 election season ask a group of Germans at the same table "you're socialists. What do you think of Obama?" Before I could cringe, one of them politely explained that he really was a socialist and that Obama was very much not. Any sign of preferences more expensive than beer and burgers tends to become a talking point that conservatives will use in campaign season.

        And in fairness, liberals will use the hyporcicy of anyone running for president claiming to be a dumb ultramasculine bubba against them.

  14. BritterSweet says:

    Thank you so much for focusing on this destructive image of masculinity, DNL. It has always bothered me that this is what men are being taught about being a man, and that this is what guys are "supposed" to be aspiring to.

    Paradoxically, the toxic view of manliness is both complained about and defended, sometimes by the same people. When I bring up how the "manly man" image is not a very healthy one, I get responses like "So you want men to be women?!" or something like that.

  15. Gentleman Johnny says:

    Two heavily downvoted thread starts. I sense another commentnaught coming on.

    You want to know who truly exemplifies to me what it means to be a man: Fred Rogers.

    • eselle28 says:

      Well, that's a Wikipedia entry I'm glad I read. I'll admit I never thought about him as being a person beyond his TV show, or that there was so much purpose behind it.

    • I think that’s an excellent example. Quiet confidence and a strong sense of self, I’ll assert, are the most attractive traits a person can possess.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        Yeah, that too. This is the guy who beat the MPAA (actually Universal but they were playing the role that the MPAA does today) in front of Supreme Court, saved PBS from a 50% budget cut before it had ever aired a show by taking on the Senate and made the entire entertainment industry drop their shallow facades (if only for a minute) and he did it without a single unkind word, without ever raising his voice.

        "I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important."
        - Fred Rogers, Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.

  16. While we are working on selling alternatives for men, can we please get more short heroes. Men are supposed to be tall but some of us really want it. It would be nice to see a short and possibly slight male hero just once. It can't be that the hero is played by a short actor, I want it to explicit in story that the hero is short, like around 5'4" to 5'6" in height. The lack of short heroes is one of my pet peeves. What I'd really like to see is a romance where the male romantic lead is explicitly short. He good be a good boy, a bad boy, masculine or metro. He could be anything as long as he is short. Like the manga Lovely Complex but with adult characters. Thats all.

    • BritterSweet says:

      American films seem to have a long-time aversion to the men being not-tall, especially compared to women. I remember going to Universal Studios and seeing props like door frames of different sizes to give the illusion of the actors being taller or shorter than they actually were.

      • Gentleman Johnny says:

        That's not entirely true. Its more that average height guys have an entire cast built around them to be shorter. http://funnypicturesplus.com/wp-content/uploads/2

        • A lot of famous actors are average, which is about 5'9", or short. Thats mainly because its easier to use movie magic to make the short or average man appear tall than the opposite. That being said a lot of actors like Hugh Jackman* are on the tall side and height does seem to be very attractive to women. According to TvTropes, it was very hard to find an actress to play Jennifer in Back to the Future because many of the women involved in the production insisted that the actress playing Jennifer must be shorter than Michael J. Fox in real life. This apparently wasn't that easy.

          *Thanks to Hugh, most people don't realize that Wolverine is supposed to be diminutive. Canonical Wolverine was only 5'3". Now a lot of people see him as being easily over 6' tall. Its kind of cool that the short in real life Daniel Radcliffe played the canonically, at least at first, short Harry Potter.

          • Other tall in real life actors include lots of actors from the Golden Age like Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, etc. Humphrey Bogart was considered to be non-leading man material at one-point because he was only 5'9". I think Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are also very tall in real life actors.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            I can tell you from personal experience that Jared Padeleki – who plays Sam on Supernatural – is a fucking GIANT. Well over 6'7″. His wife, on the other hand is quite wee.

          • Sasha Baron Cohen is another very tall actor with a very small partner. It seems to be a common pairing, tall or giant man with a tiny woman.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Michael J Fox is the only actor I can think of who was portrayed as short instead of having whole movies cast around him. Of course, as actors to stand up for the "little guy" go, you could do a lot worse.

          • I was surprised that Emilio Estevez was only 5'4". I knew he wasn't a giant but I thought he was a bit taller. I think they stopped casting movies around Michael J. Fox because he doesn't have the ego to feel insulted and because it probably got really difficult to do so anyway.

          • CxeBerlin says:

            For a book with a short intelligent hero ( well, romantic lead really ) try Emma Bull’s “War for the Oaks”. It’s one of the first urban fantasies, and very dear to many of its readers.

    • I can't see Danny Devito being a popular superhero.

  17. I wonder if that is part of this, "Thou shalt not ever be seen as "less" than a female in any way" ridiculousness.

  18. So one thing that came to mind while I was reading this was that women are also growing up with this hypermasculinity advertising, and in a way, that seems like it’s just pointing them in a direction they’re primally going anyways (majority, not monolith!). Guy with huge muscles is going to ping something primal among women. Same with being a dominant guy. Same with the macho guy, even. I see it as using things that pass the eye test anyways to sell their products to the guy who wants what those other guys are already getting, a lot of attention from women.

    I’d especially be cool with the idea that manliness isn’t based on your arm size (I’ve got lanky shot-blocker arms, I’ll and drive you out of your shit with poke checks in hockey and shot-blocks in basketball, but otherwise, they’re visually weak, unimpressive etc) or how many women you carry back to the cave (and which gay men watch you do it, if those ads are any indication) but that’s an incredibly difficult (but manly) battle to win, especially when you’re dealing with a culture who want it quick and now.

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      Do guys with huge muscles attract more women in real life (remember: Ads, TV and Hollywood are not Reality)? Are big muscles the deciding factor in mate selection, all other things being equal? are there traits which women select for over musculature? What, if anything, do huge muscles "ping primarily" in women? How extensive is your polling of women on what they find desirable in a man? I think you might need to stop assuming you know what women want and actually go find out what they want.

      It seems to me that men are far more worried about pleasing other men than they are about pleasing women (otherwise chores around the house would get done and done with a good deal less grumbling and begrudgement).

      • If we want to get into the Hollywood thing, Daniel Craig made his name on a throwback scene in Casino Royale where he emerged out of the water with his large (beefier than his later Bond outings) muscles. Women went just as nuts over it as guys wanted to emulate it.

        I do want to reiterate too: majority, not monolith. Outside of polling every woman while injected with truth serum, I can't actually back that up. However, there is an eye-test to it. You can always find pictures of these guys posing with beautiful women, or having women hang off of them, and things of that nature. Go to a beach in the summer, see who's getting eyed-up the most.

        Primally, I think it's just that "they can beat up threats" protection thing that I think very much resonates with women still. All other things being equal, I think the guy with the muscles is getting more "try-outs" than a guy like me because of that.

        [continued]

      • [My post got cut off, I dunno if it's gonna continue or not]

        I'm also gonna make the argument that women are looking for a lot more in a partner than muscles, but the muscle guy is still gonna be more likely as one-night-stand material until she's ready to find someone to settle down with. Kind of a woman version of madonna/whore (missing a few dynamics, but similar). "This guy's for attraction, this guy's for mating."

        • Dammit, it did get cut off.

          Okay, the basic ideas were that Daniel Craig made his name off of that one scene in Casino Royale that showed off his body (women went just as crazy over it), and that women aren't a monolith, but there's an eye test that they will be more attracted to muscles because of the primal protection factor. All things being equal, muscle-guy's getting more attention than I am from the ladies because of it.

          • I don't think Daniel Craig made his name off that one scene. Most women I know like him as Bond because he captured the personality elements that make the character sexy — the understated confidence, how capable he is at this job, his passion for protecting the side he feels is right — and added a little vulnerability particularly in his relationship with the romantic interest (which was clearly not just physical). Were there women who talked about how buff he looked in that one scene? Sure. But it was hardly the main draw. The media just likes to make a big deal of it when women express physical desire because it's so much less "acceptable" for women to do so openly than for men.

            Keep in mind that in most scenarios when women are meeting guys for the first time, they can't even tell how muscular the guy is. Most of the time when we meet guys, they have their shirts on! Surely you don't believe sexual desire doesn't kick in until a woman has a look at a guy's chest, or has felt him up? :P

          • Yeah, and I seem to remember a lot of disparaging talk from old-school Bond fans around the time Craig's Bond debuted, due to him being all blond, metro-looking and not manly enough to be Bond!

            So again we have the clash between what men THINK women should like (or assume they do like), and what women ACTUALLY like. Not to say those two never intersect, of course. I'm talking in generalities here.

          • "So again we have the clash between what men THINK women should like (or assume they do like), and what women ACTUALLY like."

            Yes! The media has a field day with the idea of women swooning over Craig's naked torso, but where's the coverage of the thousands of fangirls drooling over James McAvoy and Johnny Depp? As enail rightly noted, the media tends to make fun of girls and women for going wild for guys who greatly deviate the macho standard (oh those silly girl folk, they must just be confused), like Justin Bieber, or, for a more adult example, Benedict Cumberbach, instead of acknowledging that hey, lots of women clearly find those types sexy too.

            It's like the arbiters of popular culture are so bothered by the idea that the ideals they present might not be accurate, they feel the need to exalt every bit of evidence that they're right and downplay all the evidence that attraction is a lot more varied and complicated than that.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Or for that matter, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Deen, David Tennant and Matt Smith (the latter of which I really don't get.)

            And if you ever want to see women getting the screaming thigh-sweats over a weedy dude, try looking at the Loki or Tom Hiddleston tags on Tumblr.

          • Those are some pretty attractive dudes in the face area (I don't know who Matt Smith is) to make up for it.

            And a crazy talented Trickster God.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Yes, and they all look like they could be blown over by a particularly hard sneeze.If it was just muscles then David Baptista would be a sex god. So would Brock Lesnar.I don't see Twitter going apeshit over them.The more exceptions you have to make – “oh, he's a celeb, oh, he's got a pretty face, oh he's bla bla bla”, the more you should realize that maybe your initial hypothesis is just *wrong*.

          • I'm cool with being wrong, but a lot of the counterexamples are exceptional people. You can't deny that fame and/or money makes a guy more attractive than if he didn't have them. And since I'm not batting in that league, it doesn't seem as cut-and-dry that things'll be okay without having muscles or some asshole macho attitude.

          • eselle28 says:

            But can't we get some basis for comparison by holding up those exceptional people against other exceptional people?

            I understand it's hard to compare celebrities to people in real life, but it's also hard for us to all talk about ourselves and the people we know in our real lives without being brushed off. I mean, I could say that I personally find regular-looking guys with David Tennant's build more attractive than otherwise similar guys with Chris Evans' build, but then Vic will just come along and say whatever Vic is going to say.

          • Well, of course the counterexamples are exceptional people – if my examples were that guy I saw walking down the street with his arm wrapped around a girl's waist, or some married dude I know, you wouldn't know them, so it'd be meaningless!

            It doesn't mean that these things aren't also true for ordinary people (more so, I'd say), just that one usually tries to pick examples that everyone in the conversation will know.

          • Now you're just being pedantic. All of the examples we've been using have been famous people because those are examples we're all familiar with and can so compare. As Eselle pointed out, we're comparing exceptional people to other exceptional people. If you were right, wouldn't men who have fame + money + muscles be adored far more than those without big muscles? And yet that's not what we're seeing; we're seeing that many of the most adored famous men are not muscular or macho.

          • I see it more as the difference between pre-House Hugh Laurie and post-House Hugh Laurie. Pre, he's famous-ish on a certain side of the pond, but in a different way, not really getting a lot of "sexiest [ ]" attention. Fast-forward to House, he was cast as an exceptional asshole, IRL he's got an exceptional amount of money and fame from it, and he was considered a sexy guy and getting voted for "sexiest curmudgeon or doctor on TV" or whatever it was.

            I get why using famous people is easier but at the same time… a lot of those same women are not swooning over them if they weren't rich, famous, or playing that specific character that got them where they are, whereas muscular guys would get girls swooning over them, fame and riches or not.

          • Pre-House, he hadn't been cast in anything as high-profile as House, so it's not really a useful comparison.

            I really don't think the muscle situation is any different for ordinary people than it is for famous people. As I say, I'd be happy to give you examples of some dude I know – there are plenty of them.

          • I wouldn't mind an example or two.

          • Okay, guy A: very ordinary-looking, slightly thin but with a bit of a paunch. Into science, sci fi movies, enjoys discussing popular non-fiction on subjects like sociology. Smart, gentle, with a wry sense of humour, not that good at reading people – has a habit of getting really into a subject and failing to notice that everyone else is bored, genuinely encouraging of other peoples' skills and interests. Very happily married.

            Guy B: Short and skinny. Fairly shy, clever, sarcastic but not in a mean way, self-depreciating, in large groups tends to sit at the sidelines fidgeting with a coin or a watch (turns out he's a magician, though he never did a magic trick in my sight). Last I saw, he was in a fairly serious relationship. I believe he dates a fair bit.

            Guy C: Thin, rather nerdy style of dressing. Asian, in case Meyer Gaines is reading this. Has a bit of a class-clown vibe, friendly and jokey but a bit awkward, easily flustered, goes out of his way to be helpful and kind to everyone. Married (don't know him well enough to know if it's happy, but he seems like he likes his life generally).

            These are the first three youngish straight guys I thought of that are involved with someone. I could keep listing for ages. I actually have to think a fair bit harder to find one that's more macho or muscular.

          • I should add, Guy A apparently gets hit on quite a lot and I know several people who were disappointed to learn Guy C was married.

            My extended circle doesn't do a lot of casual dating/casual sex, so my examples are guys with longer-term relationships.

          • eselle28 says:

            Guy D: Average height, average looking, very thin, introverted but not shy, sarcastic, haughty intellectual personality type, has a good job but is notably cheap. Has banged his way through the female members at least two groups of friends, leaving enough hard feelings behind that no one I know actually talks to him any more. (This one isn't being offered up as a role model, but he is undeniably attractive to women).

            Guy E: Skinny, shorter than average, fairly attractive face, reasonably talkative, lots of classically nerdy interests. Doesn't do well picking up women at bars, but always has a girlfriend or the occasional friend with benefits.

            Guy F: Skinny, average height, introverted to the point that I haven't had that many personal conversations with him despite seeing him on a regular basis. I mean, this guy is really, really quiet. Seemingly happily married to a woman who in my opinion is pretty attractive.

          • Like enail said, that isn't a very good example because you have no way of knowing that Laurie got more famous *because* he was playing an asshole vs. because it was the first major US TV program he'd been on. I'd point out that Robert Sean Leonard (who plays Wilson), who had pretty much completely dropped off people's radar since the early '90s, suddenly also had lots of women calling him one of the most attractive guys on TV, and he played a sensitive, kindly, not at all macho guy. Increased exposure automatically = increased fame, regardless of what sort of character you're playing.

            To use another UK actor, look at James McAvoy. Not super-buff or macho. First major US movie appearance: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. In which he played a meek and polite faun. And women went crazy for him!

            You're cherry-picking your examples to find ones that "prove" your point even though there are just as many if not more than disprove it. Which should tell you that the world obviously works in a much wider variety of ways than you're trying to insist.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'd be happy to use non-famous examples but like I said in the last article, you wouldn't know who they were so they would kind of suck as examples.

          • Look at Gentleman Johnny:

            He's not beefy nor a celeb, but he sure is a fox!

          • I want to know who down-voted that! Show yourself!

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Awwww, thank you.

          • The point is that there are lots of guys swooned over by masses of women who don't have huge muscles or a macho persona, which is what you were claiming the majority of women prefer. No one has suggested that the majority of women don't like an attractive face (though obviously *what* facial features are considered attractive varies a lot–Benedict Cumberbatch, David Tennant, and Justin Bieber have very little in common looks-wise), but having a generally attractive face isn't a traditional symbol of masculinity. Most of the guys mentioned don't have the facial features that are commonly associated with masculinity either: wide face, square jaw, heavy brow.

          • Uh oh, don't look but Bieber has been starting to buff himself up.

          • But he was popular before he started doing that. Seems to point to his popularity stemming from other traits.

          • And he's probably doing it as a result of all the homophobic backlash the poor kid gets.

          • It really seems like he's heading for a meltdown :/

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well, considering he was plucked off of Youtube at age 16 into a life where he can't walk down the street without being mobbed by screaming fangirls and can't go on a date without media outlets covering it, who can blame him?

          • I saw a headline that indicated that some of his family thought he was also getting caught up in the "posse" game, where the people around him are invested in keeping him in the state he's in so they can continue getting whatever they are getting out of him. It's pretty sad.

          • eselle28 says:

            Sure, they're all handsome men. But Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth all have handsome faces, and they have more muscular builds. If women really do have a strong, universal preference for very muscular men, why does there seem to be a good fanbase for both sorts of actor?

          • eselle28 says:

            I find Smith quite handsome in a very unusual-looking way, but I think he also benefits from women finding the character he plays attractive, and that bleeds over a bit into the perception of the actor's physical appearance. Which kind of plays back into that looks versus personality discussion going on in Leveling Up article.

          • Social proof works.

          • Is that social proof? Isn't social proof when people find someone attractive because OTHER people find that person attractive?

            I think this is where people interpret his physical appearance as more attractive because they find his personality attractive.

          • eselle28 says:

            But someone had to find Smith's version of Dr. Who to be attractive in the first place. I'm talking about people confusing the character with the actor, not fans racing after each other to crush on the same star.

          • OMG James Deen

            I know he's a porn star but *swoon*

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Craig made his name in the British gangster film Layer Cake that got him the role. The scene in Casino Royale that mirrored Ursula Andress' famous entrance wasn't what made him. In fact, it was entirely accidental; Craig walked over a sandbar that nobody realized was there and ended up farther up out of the water than the director intended.

            What that scene DID do was acknowledge that women like to look at men just as much as guys like to look at women and provided equal opportunity eye candy for women for the first time in… well damn near ever in a mainstream movie.

        • This really depends on the woman. There are certain subcultures of women who absolutely veer toward really muscled guys. There are several others that favor fairly skinny guys. A lot of relatively ordinary women in between are flexible and find a few body types attractive.

          • I agree in that there's subcultures for it, just as there is for most female body types among males, but I think it's a slim majority of women who would choose the skinny guy over the muscular guy with all things being equal, or even all things not being equal. Muscles breed confidence from that attraction, whereas lack of muscles doesn't (combined with lack of money in this demographic, and I'm gonna say lack of Doc-esque ability to sell postives and overwrite negatives/have that hugely valuable social circle, since that's rare as well). Especially with so many guys becoming gym rats and even taking steroids, there's an element of falling behind the competition.

          • Look at the guys who get picked as the romantic leads in romantic comedies and chick flicks–movies that care about the female audience being catered to. I don't watch them much any more, but the classics from the 80s and 90s star people like Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, John Cusack… Much more the slim cute guy than the bulky macho guy. Guys who beef up at the gym are trying to meet male standards of how they're supposed to look, to prove something to themselves and other men, or to appeal to the select set of women who are into muscles. I know very few women who care particularly about muscles (many prefer a guy who's at least a healthy level of fit as opposed to flabby or scrawny, but that's a far cry from preferring major muscle mass. Lots of skinny people are fit).

          • Mmmm, but aren't most of those movies about some girl finding a true love/awesome guy to date? Those seem more like they're trying to hit female mate-fantasy than portraying who women would want when it comes to just… animal attraction.

          • I guess, but I'm pretty sure a large percentage of Titanic's fans would happily have jumped into bed with Leo Dicaprio for a ONS given the chance (Jack and Rose didn't exactly have a long-term romance. :P ), and he was pretty much the opposite of big and beefy. I don't actually think that most women have two different ideas of attractive: casual sex vs. settling down. Or that most women wouldn't want to settle down with someone they find sexually attractive. Sure, we probably require *more* than good looks before deciding to commit to a guy, but that doesn't mean our idea of what good looks are suddenly changes in that moment.

            Think of it this way. It's kind of like how most guys will say they don't only find women who are model-thin attractive, that most guys are equally happy with less-thin women. Women are the same way re: muscles. But it's easy to get the impression that nothing less is okay if you just look at popular media. Popular media does not actually = the average person's tastes.

          • A million yeses to this.

            I think worrying about body type is pretty pointless, really – it's only one possible factor in attraction, not the sole deciding one, so why not spend your energy focusing on the things you can control instead of obsessing about one you can't?

          • I guess, but I'm pretty sure a large percentage of Titanic's fans would happily have jumped into bed with Leo Dicaprio for a ONS given the chance (Jack and Rose didn't exactly have a long-term romance. :P ), and he was pretty much the opposite of big and beefy. I don't actually think that most women have two different ideas of attractive: casual sex vs. settling down. Or that most women wouldn't want to settle down with someone they find sexually attractive. Sure, we probably require *more* than good looks before deciding to commit to a guy, but that doesn't mean our idea of what good looks are suddenly changes in that moment.

          • Most mainstream media intended to appeal to womens' sexual interest do it with a true love/dating storyline; I don't think that changes the point that they try to cast men who women would find sexually attractive, just that they write the personality as dateable as well.

        • Actually if you're going to make assumptions, you should be making the opposite one. Women would probably pull more towards the good-looking-but-not-threatening kind of man for a One-Night-Stand. Hell, he probably doesn't have to be ridiculously handsome, he just has to show you that he's not going to crush you with his arms and will most certainly make it a fun time for you (I'd say caring, but it's a particular kind of care-taking, ifyouknowwhatimean).

          My point being that a bulky, muscular man may be interesting to look at (though, really, I'm personally more attracted to slender, not-muscular people), but for a one night stand you're going to be a hell of a lot more cautious and probably turn towards the innocent teddy-bear looking dude.

          Looks are only a part of it though. The behaviour that comes with it is the deciding factor in all of this. And it has to be said that attraction and mating are not polar opposites.

          • I have a hard time agreeing with this. There's no way the "innocent looking" guys would get more action ONS action than the opposite (unless they're rich or heavy-duty players). Especially if there's drinking going on that lowers inhibitions (which is where you get most of that stuff anyways). I think women wouldn't be consciously thinking about it in those kinds of situations, they'd be going with what they feel, and that bulky guy would hit something primal.

          • I agree with the other women posting that in this case, you are making incorrect assumptions. And also, I'm not sure how a man being rich would have anything to do with whether or not someone would have a one-night-stand with him. I can see how it might be an advantage in a dating relationship, where he would presumably be taking his girlfriend on dates or buying her birthday presents and such. But if you're just having a one-time thing, I doubt even the most mercenary of women would take that into consideration.

            It really does sound like you have this script in your head–that all women very much prefer wealthy, muscletastic extroverts and only grudgingly settle for anything else–and you are unable or unwilling to believe otherwise, even when told otherwise by numerous women assuring you this is not the case.

          • On wealthy guys, they'll have the nicest clothes and other things to peacock with.

            I believe in the script because it's the one that gets the most play.

          • eselle28 says:

            Do even pickup artists still believe in peacocking? Besides, you can buy one set of flashy-looking clothes on even a very limited budget. That one just seems like an excuse.

          • Robjection says:

            What the crap does "most play" even mean?

          • I took it to mean the script that he hears touted most often as the key to success with women.

          • Yea… not at all.

            As a woman who has had quite a few one night stands, I tend to go for men who I can tell will provide a fun time, rather than just be good to look at. Usually a guy who demonstrates a sense of play, or treats sex as something fun not just something to get from me. Physically, I agree with every other woman here in that slender dudes >> muscles. I don't even talk to muscular men. I just assume if a man spends 2 hours in a gym every day, that is 2 hours that he isn't reading or learning an interesting hobby.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I'm going to take "peacocking" in its very loosest sense, meaning pretty much anything you can wear that draws enough attention to start a conversation. In that sense, my day to day outfit has a few of those, so let's use them as examples.

            A leather wristband type thing with brass fittings – I got mine free but you can find something similar in used clothing stores for $5

            A stainless steel, featureless torque bracelet. The kind that's a flat rectangle without any fittings on the end. I constantly get comments on how nice it is and its pretty unisex. The metal vs leather thing provides an interesting balance that I like to think is symbolic or says smething about me or something. Again, $5 at a thrift store although mine was a gift.

            Military style black cap with Hunger Games pin – less than $20 total, fresh from Tar-jay.

            My current favorite T-shirt is red with a pre-faded SHIELD logo. $10, I think. It was on sale.

            Classic canvas satchel. Much cooler than a backpack or a briefcase and kinda steampunk. $20-30

            I don't wear this as often but my "big brass balls". They're actually a pair of those little metal pulls for ceiling fans with a cord strung between them. Drape them over your belt and slide over to the pocket until the belt loop stops them. They're like the ones in. . .that movie. . .whose name I forget. Less than $5 to make yourself.

            A 3D printed logo for the Enlightened faction of Ingress. $5 for glue and magnets to affix it. If you were to pay a place to print the design from Thingeeverse it'd probably be less than $5.

            Unless you're trying to "peacock' to someone who's a fashion label whore instead of a geek, any one of those alone gives you something to talk about. Anyone can buy clothes but they can't buy style.

            Edit: To be fair, of all of that the Hunger Games pin and the bracelet are the only ones women have approached me cold about. The rest do come up once we're already talking, though.

      • Artimaeus says:

        I don't think it's too far out of line to say that womens' preferences are also influenced by the glorification of hypermasculinity in the media, especially in certain subcultures. After all, males are generally conditioned to like size-zero hourglasses. That's not to say that atypical body type are doomed to be lonely, but it's way harder for them to find people who find them attractive, especially in casual settings.

        • x_Sanguine_8 says:

          Are women influenced? Certainly. But in what way? How much of an influence does hypersexualization of men in media have on women (after all, men are the targets, not women)? Does hypersexualization create a positive or a negative response in women? Stop trying to justify your assumptions about women and actually go ask the questions that need to be asked.

          • It may target men, but that doesn't mean girls don't see it. It influences what they think is a man just as much.

          • I don't disagree that women are influenced by the media's construction of masculinity – we're all influenced by all of this crap – but I do think that the kind of masculinity specifically marketed to women as attractive is quite different, and more varied, from that marketed to men. (I'd say the femininity sold aspiriationally to women and the femininity sold to men as attractive are much more similar)

            I'm not very up on these things, but looking up those magazine lists of hottest men, I'm finding everything from this guy (http://topiat.com/18630/ryan-gosling-shirtless) to this one (http://www.newnownext.com/harry-styles-shirtless-one-direction/11/2012/). It's pretty varied. And personality-wise, currently popular romantic leads include controlling and stalkeriffic but refined vampire Edward; loyal and romantic baker Peeta; and the perennial favorite, aloof and totally awkward Mr. Darcy.

          • [cont.] Women aren't told to hold out for a boyfriend who's wrestling bears and downing scotch the same way men are told that they should be doing those things to win the girl. In fact, macho guy culture often seems to encourage denigrating the men that women, especially younger women, show a lot of actual attraction to – look at the reaction to Justin Bieber. This has been going on since at least the Beatles.

          • YES!

            Funny enough, I saw the character of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast to be a direct skewering of the mentality you described. Even my 12 year old self could get it. ;)

          • I think that's another facet for where nice-guyishness comes from. "I do all this work to be this manly, and they're climbing all over themselves to get at a gay boy who sings love songs." Celeb-jealousy too, he gets away with whatever and will still have girls going crazy over him because he's rich and famous.

          • You do realize that Justin Bieber was noticed because of his persona and that's why he got rich and famous, not the other way around, right? People found him attractive when he was just some guy performing on YouTube.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I've been listening to Henry Rollins's live spoken word stuff lately. So here's a big guy who goes to the gym a lot, has lots of money, made some albums, got some movie credits and has ridiculous status among a certain scene and he still has trouble with women.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            He's also an introvert, too.

          • As well?

          • That'd explain it, then.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Is that the take-away you got, Moose? That you can be rich, famous and in shape but if you're an introvert BOOM! No dating life for you!

          • Moose, what exactly are *you* basing your ideas of what the majority of women find attractive on? Why are you so sure that most women prefer muscular macho (and now extroverted) guys? I'm asking honestly, because you seem to be dismissing every argument anyone makes to the contrary, so it would help to know what sort of proof you have of the opposite.

          • Google John Cena and Randy Orton if you don't know who they are. Cena, especially, has been with a ton of women and part of why he was chosen to the #1 guy in the WWE is because women love him. He's a high energy guy. Orton had to go a different route, he's not very exciting with a microphone in his hand, but his looks and his muscles kept him in a specific top spot because women were attracted to him (I'm certain the fact he made his name as an explosive bad guy didn't hurt). Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Ryan Gosling as himself (I remember seeing him Breaker High, jesus he turned that around), even the Jersey Shore guys. It sends a message in a way that you better have something else reallllly going for you (or just get crazy lucky) or you're left out in the rain for the most part.

          • But the thing is, the fact that some muscular, macho, extroverted guys are popular with women doesn't in any way mean that there aren't good numbers of non-muscular, non-macho, non-extroverted guys who are popular with women. That's like saying that because you can list some women with small breasts who are considered sexy, you can conclude that women with large breasts are rarely considered sexy.

            Also, I'm surprised that women are a big enough demographic in wrestling that their preference has that much influence. Granted, I know nothing about wrestling.

          • It feels like you have to have something exceptional going for you if you don't have that kind of size or physical prescence. Introversion and being a quiet person isn't exceptional, being short on money isn't exceptional, liking nerdshit isn't exceptional, not pushing other people around or otherwise not being an asshole isn't exceptional. You get way farther ahead by being the opposite of those things instead.

            As for wrestling, the drive to PG means a lot more moms in the audience, and there's a lot of girls who grew up with wrestling as well who still like it. It's big enough that it makes a difference.

          • Well, no, none of those things are exceptional – you're listing neutrals (eg. introversion) and things that are just a lack of a negative quality (eg. not being an asshole).

            But those aren't the only kinds of qualities available to non-macho, non-extroverted non-assholes. There are of women who like skinny nerdy, quiet guys who have qualities like, say, intellectual curiosity, kindness, a quirky sense of humour, imagination, loyalty, etc (there are also plenty of attractive physical qualities people can have other than muscles).

            The way you're looking at things is very simplistic, and is missing an awful lot of how attraction and relationshippery works in the real world.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, so time for an "all else being equal" comparison. Given rich, famous even muscular, which of the following is probably true?

            Every woman Henry Rollins approaches turns him down? (Introversion=no dates)
            Henry Rollins doesn't sleep with groupies and/or wants a deeper relationship and John Cena does the opposite?

            Similarly, correcting for differences in brand recognition and bank account, who has a harder time with women if they all had the same standards: John Cema, Johnny Depp or David Tennant?

          • So your proof that an average guy needs to be reallllly exceptional to be successful with women is that a bunch of famous guys are exceptional and also get attention from women? I don't suppose it occurred to you that the guys are famous *because* they're incredibly exceptional, which allows a whole lot of women to notice them, and for you to notice that women are noticing them. Why would someone be famous for being totally ordinary? And how would you know about a guy being super-successful with women if he wasn't famous? You're created a circular argument where any guy we present as an example, either you don't know him so you can say there must be something we're not saying to make him "exceptional" or just "crazy lucky", or you do know him because he's famous so you can say it's just because he's famous.

            But the vast majority of women don't expect to hook up with someone famous. They might admire those guys from afar, but that doesn't mean they're not happy with any of the less exceptional and famous guys around them.

            Seriously, no one's saying that you or any other average guy is going to be able to command as much attention as some dude in the WWE or a famous actor. Of course you're not. But to say you need that level of success with women to be considered at all successful is like saying you'll "be left out in the rain" and never get an even halfway decent job unless you graduate at the very top of your class in university, despite the fact that all sorts of people with averages from C and up are able to find jobs they're happy with.

            Do you also think that most guys are only interested in a woman if she looks like Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie? Because that would be the female equivalent of this argument.

            You're a smart guy, Moose. Surely you can see that the media presents reality in a very warped fashion. If media representations were accurate, then you'd have to believe that women make up much fewer than half of the world's population, New York City is mainly populated by white folks, Asian people pretty much don't exist in North America, most overweight people are excellent comedians, most Americans wear designer clothes and live in huge apartments/houses, etc. etc. etc. If popular culture can get all that so very wrong, it makes no sense at all to believe that it's a totally accurate representation of what women want. If you want to believe in an idea that's presented to you from sources that regularly get things totally wrong, despite all sorts of evidence and experiences given to the contrary, I guess that's your right. But I don't know why you'd want to insist on not just holding onto such faulty ideas, but trying to convince everyone else of them as well.

          • Just googled John Cena…

            Literally the expression on his face made me recoil with disgust.

          • adambluth says:

            In case this gets posted further down the read, I am replying to Moose. Hopefully this isn't too tangential…

            Using professional wrestling, WWE especially, as a measuring stick for what even a majority of women find desirable in men is misleading, because it is just as cosmetic an industry as film or television.

            Even in the halcyon days of the 70s and 80s–where a guy like Arn Anderson could be a huge star even though he was thick through the middle with a rapidly thinning head of hair–classically handsome guys would always be groomed as a company's next top star over those who were merely skilled in the ring. WWE personifies this almost exclusively.

            For years now, WWE has sought out and pushed guys who have The Look: a classically handsome face, an impressive physique, and a full head of (typically long, flowing) hair. And rather than finding guys to put on TV who are already experienced, skilled wrestlers, they recruit models, body builders, and football players, and then train them to wrestle. The same can be said for women, too. Sara Del Rey, who is an immensely talented wrestler–and spent the last couple of years wrestling men before being hired by WWE–is currently training print models and aspiring actresses how to wrestle, when she should be on TV plying her trade.

            Before he became a wrestler, John Cena was an All-American football player and body builder. Someone saw him working out in a gym and encouraged him to become a wrestler. He never had a gorgeous head of hair, but he is genetically gifted, works hard on his body, and has that particular type of charisma that is perfectly suited for wrestling. Even though he (arguably) only became a good wrestler in the past 5 or 6 years, he was always going to be their guy, no matter what. Randy Orton's success was a forgone conclusion as well, in so much that he had The Look and is a legacy, with his father and grandfather before him wrestling for WWE. He was going to be pushed to the moon, regardless of how immature he was and how he treated women (which is another story for another time).

            And just like in film or television, there are counter examples in wrestling. Jeff Hardy is a huge star, even though he never had a muscular frame or classic good looks (IMO). And yet in his matches, after a flurry of offense, he'd take off his shirt and right on cue nearly every woman in attendance would lose. their. shit.

            A more current example would be Daniel Bryan, who is far from what WWE would normally consider a star. He is a bonafide nerd. He doesn't watch television. He reads. He listens to obscure indie rock music. He stands at 5'10". He is physically fit, but doesn't have comically huge glamour muscles. He currently has a huge beard and his hair is a messy mop top. If he wasn't one of the most purely talented wrestlers in the entire world, he wouldn't be on TV.

            And yet who is he currently dating? Brie Bella, a WWE Diva who is as conventionally attractive as they come. And who is her *twin* sister Nikki, also a WWE Diva, currently dating? John Cena. So you have a pair of conventionally attractive, twin sisters respectively dating two blatantly different men, one more conventionally attractive than the other.

            How could this be? Is it possible that these two women, who look exactly the same, have even somewhat different personalities and find opposing qualities attractive in men?

          • Oh, and also? Your proof that supposedly the majority of women like big muscles and macho guys more than guys who don't have big muscles and a macho attitude is all examples of famous people. How do you know that women aren't into those guys because they're famous, not because of the big muscles and macho attitude? Why would you assume that Chris Hemsworth or Ryan Gosling are popular with women because of their big muscles, but when some less muscular guy is, it's because of some other quality not to do with his body? You can't say that the hundreds of examples of men women swoon over who aren't muscular and macho don't count because they're famous, when your only proof that women mainly swoon over muscular macho guys is also men who are famous! If we don't count famous people, then you're not allowed to count your famous people examples either. :P

          • Well played.

          • I'd just like to point out that you've acknowledged that your proof isn't any better than our proof that's contrary to your beliefs, that you've ignored people giving examples of several ordinary guys in their lives who are successful with women (despite the fact that you asked for those examples), and you've admitted both that you tend to be interested in a certain type of women who are into a totally different personality type than you have and that you haven't actually tried to approach many women in the first place to see how they'd respond to you, and yet you continue to cling to your "belief" that most women are this set way.

            You seem to think it's awful to allow yourself the "delusion" that women could find you attractive. Consider that your "belief" that the majority of women all have the same specific tastes is actually a delusion itself. You are insisting on deluding yourself into continuing to think this way despite huge amounts of evidence to the contrary. If you actually care about facing reality so much, why are you so stubbornly clinging to a clearly misguided idea? What would be so awful about admitting that, okay, there obviously are plenty of women who are interested in guys who aren't macho extroverts?

          • Because then I'd be even more of a failure because I missed on them too.

          • Robjection says:

            For the third time now, you have not exhausted your entire dating pool yet!

          • The amount of time it would take me to catch up to where my age group currently is, they're gonna be exhausted by then :p

          • … You do realize there are women in your dating pool who are probably just an introverted and have past difficulties with dating too, right? And what in the world do you mean "catch up"? Go on a dating site, start looking for women who have similar hobbies to you…. send them messages. Ta-da! You are now pretty caught up to the rest of us.

          • I'm not sure if it's a case of "you don't have any bait (yet)" versus "but the good fish are gone and the rest are junk fish".

          • Robjection says:

            What do you mean by "junk fish"? If it's "people you're not attracted to", surely in the process of determining your dating pool, you're cutting out all the "junk fish"? If it's "people society deems unattractive", do I really have to point out that just because society considers them unattractive doesn't mean you have to?

          • What's wrong with saying a decent car costs money whereas there are some cheap crap cars that can't be given away? I'm sure both men and women both have (and rightly so) minimum standards before someone is "dateable".

          • I think the problem is in suggesting there's ever a time when "all the good fish are gone and the rest are junk fish." I highly doubt there is ever a moment when all the people who meet the minimum reasonable standards of "dateable" are taken, unless you live in a very small community and are unwilling to look outside it, or if your standards are not actually reasonable and you're dismissing a whole lot of perfectly deserving human beings as "junk".

          • In fact I would say a guy who has no standards with women is pathetic loser.

          • So you'd rather insult women as an entire gender than admit you might have made mistakes as an individual? Take a look at your priorities, please.

            You haven't "missed" those women–they still exist! Many of them are still single! You only miss them if you continue to assume they don't exist for the rest of your life rather than looking around and noticing them, if you actually *want* them in your life. (I'm not sure you do. If you really want a party girl, that's fine. But whether you want them or not, it's not fair to deny they exist.) It seems to me you fail more at life if you refuse to correct a mistaken belief despite evidence to the contrary, than if you realize you were wrong in the past and adjust that belief.

          • I know I've made mistakes as an individual, it's part of the fundamental problem.

          • Well, you're making mistakes right now by making these misguided assumptions about women as a group. The fundamental problem is that you're *not listening* when people are providing evidence that this is a mistake. You can make fewer mistakes in future if you're willing to listen to people when they say, "Hey, I think you've taken a wrong turn there" instead of bullheadedly insisting, "No, this is the right way! I refuse to believe anything else!"

            It's really unfair of you to take out your frustrations with your life on half of the population of the planet. If it bothers you when you screw up, then *stop doing it* when you're given the opportunity to.

          • I'm going to say it again. It sounds like you're coming from a really depressed place right now. You're obviously not happy with yourself, but you're too tangled up to listen to anyone else. So stop. Walk away from this discussion. Come back when your head is clearer.

          • This is more or less normal. :/

          • I don't know. I remember the first time you started commenting here, and there was a big huge discussion kind of similar to this in that you were insisting on generalizations (I don't remember what) that everyone else disagreed with, to the point that a few of us speculated that you might be a troll. And then after a little while you apologized for having come across that way and admitted that you'd gotten carried away. So I know you're capable of recognizing when you're being unreasonable. It just sometimes takes a little while.

            You don't have to listen to me. I freely admit that I don't know you well at all! I could be totally wrong and you really are totally bullheaded and unreasonable all the time. :P I just get the impression that you're probably going to look back on some of the things here and feel bad about them, and use that as another reason to beat up on yourself, and that's not a good thing. There'll be less to look back on and feel bad about if you take a break and give yourself time for what we've been saying to sink in without the kneejerk arguing response.

          • Moodgym tells me it's warped thinking but… it feels right (which may just be because, as a booksmart person, I've been mostly "right" about things most of my life). Bullheaded, yeah, but I've seen a lot that backs it up so much that it feels otherwise hopeless (someone had posted a 10 scientific reasons why women love 007 thing that more or less backs up a lot of what I tend towards believing).

            Not sure how to contribute to the site otherwise.

          • Robjection says:

            That bit in parentheses is the problem. You're not willing to accept that maybe, just maybe, you and everything you thought you knew about the opposite sex are wrong.

          • I'm going to skip around some stuff that seems like it's mostly been covered, but I wanted to mention that 007 is a classic example of a male archetype that appeals more to men than to women.

            Granted, there are plenty of women who are into Bond, especially as played by particular actors, but those movies have historically had a very male-oriented fanbase, and if you run into a daydream that involves James Bond, it's more likely to be a man wishing he could be like him than a woman wishing she could be a Bond Girl.

          • It was less about Bond himself and the fact that his specific traits in real life men tend to mean way more success with women.

          • It's true, I have a total man-crush on Daniel Craig. (And Robert Downey Jr. as well.)

          • Confirmation bias, you has it.

            It feels right because it fits in with your current worldview, whereas the things that challenge your worldview feel wrong. I think you need to start applying your critical thinking skills to your worldview, instead of only using them to confirm it.

          • Booksmarts might allow you to be right about a lot of academic type topics, but they don't give you any authority on social interactions.  Given that you admit to doing relatively little social interacting, and even the real life interacting you've done has all been in a small community that's hardly going to be representative of the rest of the world, you have very little real life data to base your assumptions about human nature on.  So recognize that you're coming to this with incredibly limited data and be open to learning more rather than sticking to your guns.

            As to the Bond article, many of the points it brings up are not exceptionalities but traits any normal person can have, like confidence, calmness, being wise with his trust, and humor.  Many of the more superficial qualities are specifically mentioned to go over better with not *all* women or even most, but specifically "the most beautiful women" and "women who are interested in flings" or those open to ONS.  Which are a relatively small portion of the general population of women, so you shouldn't talk as if those people are the majority when they're clearly not.

            Another point your booksmarts should have picked up on–the studies linked to in that article are about averages.  If on average tall men have more success with women, for example, all we know is they have just enough more for it to be statistically significant.  In this particular case, the article linked to has a handy graph, which shows the tallest men have a whopping 1.3 relationships to every 1 relationship the shortest men have.  Men with average height have almost exactly the same number of relationships as somewhat taller men.  So this isn't tall men being hugely more successful, just slightly more successful. ( http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2011/08/is-being-tall-s… )

            You might also note the study on muscular men shows that, contrary to your earlier claims, women find men with "moderate muscularity", not huge muscles, the most attractive ( http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2011/09/do-muscular-men… ).  And the article about it doesn't give the actual numbers, but it does give rs values, which for all of the number of sex partner factors are less than .30–which is considered a "weak to low" correlation between the two factors ( http://bold-ed.com/corrsp.htm ). So "more one night stands" could mean nothing more than that the more muscular men have 1.3 ONS for every 1 a less muscular guy has.  If a less muscular guy can have three ONS for every four a more muscular guy has, would that really seem like such an immense disadvantage?

            If you want to be right, you need to actually read the science these articles refer to.  Women being slightly more likely to find certain qualities more attractive or sexy is incredibly different from most women preferring those qualities or most women requiring that guys be exceptional in those areas to want to date/have sex with them.  I just showed you that even science says the latter two ideas aren't true.

            How else can you contribute to the site?  Well, you could enter discussions saying, "this is what I've seen, and what it seems to indicate, what do the rest of you think?" Instead of "this is the way things are, I will accept nothing else".  And then incorporate the new information you get into your beliefs and opinions.  That's usually the most productive way to have conversations.

            Finally, you've talked elsewhere about not wanting to give up your negative beliefs about women because you're afraid of how bad it will feel if you let yourself think we might be right, and then you don't find what you want and you're disappointed.  I understand that fear.  But you don't have to go out and be trying to hook up with women and risking being disappointed in order to stop making sweeping statements about what women inherently prefer and so on when certain "facts" you're offering have been disproven.  If you want to believe that you personally have anything to offer women, I think that's sad, but that's up to you.  It's also an opinion about *you*.  So make it about you rather than letting yourself take out your frustration on half of the human race.  Or at very least, stop presenting these beliefs about women that are clearly wrong to other people as if they're fact, which is contributing to things being more difficult for everyone, not just yourself.  Do you really want to hurt other people's chances just because you aren't happy with what you see as being yours?

          • Ah, so the truth of it actually is, all the guys complaining about not being able to get laid/girlfriends are actually just referring to a small percentage of young, hot women. That does clear things up. It's good to know that so many guys are willing to go their entire lives without sex because less-than-absolute-hot-women-who-love-muscles just won't go for them.

          • I think he's rich and famous because girls go crazy over him, not the other way round.

            But the point is that doing all this work to be manly is actually not the most effective way to be attractive to girls.

            I very much hope the people complaining about girls liking Justin Bieber even though he's not that macho are not the same people complaining that they're not macho enough for girls to like them…

          • That'd be interesting to find out.

          • Which part?

          • "I very much hope the people complaining about girls liking Justin Bieber even though he's not that macho are not the same people complaining that they're not macho enough for girls to like them… "

      • There have to be some women that go for big muscles but most women seem turned off be the body-builder type. The favorite build seems to be well-defined, toned but not to muscular. The massively muscular do not seem to be desired.

        • Yes, that's my impression as well. From what I see, muscled-but-slim is the most popular type, and that other fairly popular types are a thin build, a moderately beefy build and a teddy-bear build. Seriously muscular seems to be more of a niche appeal – men seem to aspire to it more than women seek it out. I definitely wouldn't say it's a case of 'the more the better.'

        • You can have big muscles without being an Ahnold body builder.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Oh the irony. "I take steroids to build muscles to get girls. That's why i can't get it up for the girls I get."

          • Somehow I doubt many men take steroids for the sake of attracting women.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Really? Because that was where this thread came from. Chicks dig muscles, you don't get really big muscles without steroids ergo steroids attract women.

            Is that something I personally think happens a lot? No, not really. I think competitive bodybuilding is an enjoyable activity for those who find enjoyment in it and that it suffers from performance enhancing drug issues as much as any other competitive physical activity. Outside of those circles, I would think that steroid using bodybuilders DO expect that it'll get more women but that's not necessarily their primary motive. Some other, deeper insecurity is.

          • I would agree with the notion that an ordinary muscular physique is good for attracting women but over-sized muscles that comes from steroids and the such-like don't.

  19. Odious Repeater says:

    Great post!

    I actually wrote something a while back that might shed some added light on this whole thing. It's written from a gamer nerd's perspective, but these days I think that perspective isn't really that rare or strange:
    http://odiousrepeater.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/to

    Excerpt:

    "…seeing as women are indeed also objectified, reduced to “things”, I thought that acknowledging these tendencies was just as important from a women’s perspective – because that’s what makes up the other half of the “rape culture” equation. Consent is optional. A real man doesn’t ask, after all. He takes."

    I'd appreciate more people to read and comment the article; there's no such thing as "necroing" on my blog. :)

  20. Isn't the culture and ideals of men decided by the behaviors of the majority of men? Because I read somewhere that 4% of men are estimated to be rapists, which doesn't seem to say much about the way that the majority of men think and behave. If anything, it's on par with their representation in other types of crimes.

    I also don't consider machismo or hypermasculinity to be pervasive parts of society outside of advertising and entertainment, and I don't really see how it would affect men more than any other questionable form of message or form of entertainment. Because they are in dire need of a new gender ideal? Well, who says they need one in the first place?

    I think that men are good people and will be quite happy looking and acting according to the culture and values of time period they happen to be in, and that doesn't necessarily mean that men today are desperately looking for something that they don't already have in the people around them.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Well somehow 4% of men manage to rape something along the lines of 20% of women. That has a pretty massive effect on society because every women is aware that there's a 1 in 5 chance that the guy she meets in the bar, on the bus etc. has a 1 in 5 chance of not taking no for an answer.

      Yes, I agree that many, probably most men are decent people. The problem is that the more movies and advertising blur the line, the more the news reports on how rapists are having their promising football careers ruined and how sad that is, the more encouragement you give to edge cases to think this sort of behavior is ok.

      Rape isn't (generally) some guy who jumps out of a bush and attacks a stranger. Its the boyfriend who takes no as an invitation to try harder, the football players who think an unconscious girl is fair game. As long as no one at the party speaks up to stop those football players, the message that's being sent about what's acceptable matters.

    • I don't know where you got that 4% number from, but the problem of rape culture and encouraging men to see aggression and dominance over women as manly is much more widespread than that. Consider this, for example:

      "43% of college men admit using coercive behavior to have sex, including ignoring a woman’s protest; using physical aggression; and forcing intercourse; 15% acknowledged they had committed acquaintance rape; 11% acknowledged using physical restraint to force a woman to have sex."

      And yet… "One in twelve college-age men admit having fulfilled the prevailing definition of rape or attempted rape, yet virtually none of these men identify themselves as rapists."

      So nearly half of these guys have used coercion to get sex, most of those who did don't even admit that this is rape, and even those who admit they've done something that would be considered rape don't consider themselves "rapists". Sounds like a pretty big issue with how we define normal male behavior to me!
      http://www.crisisconnectioninc.org/sexualassault/

      • "I don't know where you got that 4% number from"

        Probably the number is slightly misremembered from Meet The Predators. ( http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/m… ) The sources for that article are studies by Lisak & Miller and by McWhorter et al.

        Using two different populations, they arrive at numbers around either 6 % or 12 %; in each case one third of the perpetrators are single-time offenders, while the remaining 4 or 8 % are committing 95 % of the rapes.

        These numbers are for cases involving physical force, threat of physical force, or (a subset of) intoxication.

        • Yep, I've seen that before. And as I suggested to rondy, it focuses on physical force. Even the question about intoxication requires that the perpetrator *knew* the victim didn't want to have sex, which would eliminate all the guys who think a woman flirting with them before she got too drunk to say yes or no = consent, for example. So it doesn't cover the broader problems of rape culture that perhaps aren't as severe, but are much more pervasive because they're more accepted and less obviously portrayed as "wrong".

          And interestingly, if you look at the recommendations for stopping even these repeat predators, what do they suggest? Changing the culture so that rapists no longer feel they can count on women feeling ashamed and fellow men justifying their actions. Encouraging men to see coerced sex as wrong in all contexts and to stand up to guys who talk about it in socially "acceptable" ways. And eliminating these images of domination of women as manly, and the overall push toward hypermasculinity, would probably help changing those attitudes, just as was suggested in the article above.

    • I don't necessarily think that the issue is as black as white as assuming that rapists are either normal men who are encouraged to dominate women, or strangers jumping out of a bush.

      I've read articles and studies suggesting that a small percentage of men are responsible for a staggeringly large number of attempted and completed rapes, and that they employ predator tactics in order to befriend and exploit women. They've also suggested that the more violent the assailant is in nature, the greater the odds that they're overrepresented compared to the other rapists.

      This seems to suggest that instead of our culture being rape-enabling, the problem lies with men who are closer in nature to sociopathic criminals, and the implication of this would be that if the problem is dealt with from the perspective that rape is a cultural problem, the problem with sociopathic predators would still go unaddressed.

      • Please link to these studies. I gave a source for my stats.

        I would guess that an article that presents those numbers is using a very restricted definition of rape–e.g., sex through physical force. Getting someone drunk to break down their resistance, having sex with someone who's passed out, ignoring the other person's "no" until they give in, and coercing sex through threats of leaving or cheating–all of those times are part of rape culture too, and as you can see from the stats I gave, tons of regular guys admit to using such tactics. Do you really think they're lying and saying they've done these things when really they didn't?

        And it's not like the problem of sociopathic predators is "going unaddressed" while we're talking about this. Law enforcement and criminologists have been working on ways to identify and catch these people for ages, and continue to do so.

        • What's wrong with suggesting an alternate theory to the one you're proposing?

          • I didn't say there was something wrong with you suggesting an alternate theory. I said I'd like to see sources for that information.

            My theory–that a large percentage of regular guys use coercive tactics to have sex, presumably because society presents men using such tactics as normal–is backed up by data from the perpetrators themselves in a wide variety of studies by reputable sources (if you follow the link I gave, you'll see the stats come from professional scientific journals and organizations). So far, your theory is backed up by nothing more than your claimed memory of sources you haven't provided for us to examine. If you expect your alternate theories to be taken seriously, you should provide some evidence to support them. How else can we evaluate their validity?

            I'd also point out that you haven't actually suggested an alternate theory that explains the data I presented. What is your theory for why 43% of college guys report using coercive tactics to have sex, if not that 43% of college guys do in fact do so? Or are you suggesting that the therefore millions of men in college every year who will use these tactics are not really a problem? I'd imagine the millions of women affected would disagree with you.

          • I personally think it would be interesting to see other theories and how they stand against he current model, but I'm not at all interested in defending my theory as it would force me to discredit your statistics while proving mine, and I don't think that's constructive for the overall cause.

          • How can you tell how a theory "stands against the current model" if you don't provide any evidence for that theory to stand on? The way we judge which theories make the most sense is by how well they're backed up by data. That's how the scientific process works. I didn't even ask you to disprove my stats or prove yours, simply to *provide* your supporting data in the first place.

            Frankly I think it's the opposite of constructive for people to throw around random theories without bothering to offer any basis for them, because then nothing is getting done. It's far more constructive to figure out as best as possible (using the data available) what the issues are and then get to work on possible solutions, not to sit around arguing about whatever ideas happen to pop into people's heads. If you can't even be bothered to check what exactly these studies you recall said and addressed, to make sure your statements make sense, then you obviously care more about arguing than doing anything constructive. I'll leave you to that, then.

          • The easiest way for me to refute your accusations would be to return the favor, and I'm nicely trying to say that I don't want to go down that rabbit hole. I'm not my theory and I have no wish to refute yours either. We're not at war here, but that's what it's starting to feel like.

          • My "accusations"? Wow, okay. You suggested that our culture is not actually rape-enabling, and that addressing the larger cultural issues around rape isn't actually useful, and all I did was ask you to back that up, while explaining calmly and factually why I disagreed. If you didn't wish to "refute" the theory that rape-culture exists and is a major problem, then why on earth did you post arguing with DNL's article in the first place?

            I did you the courtesy of being open to your suggestions as long as you provided some evidence. It would have been "nicer" for you to respond by talking about your ideas in more detail rather than getting defensive and acting as if I'm attacking you by not accepting everything you say out of hand. This isn't war, it's just normal debate. If you can't handle people asking you to actually provide sources when you make sweeping statements that contradict the entire article (plus tons of other research and discourse on the subject), then you probably shouldn't be sharing your "theories" in a public forum.

            If I sounded a little frustrated in my last comment, it's only because I think rape culture is a huge problem, and for someone to dismiss it and then act as though there's something wrong with anyone who challenges that dismissal is, well, pretty frustrating. Take a step back and think about the issues *you* care about. Think about whether you'd be okay with just letting someone make a claim suggesting those issues are unimportant without anything backing them up. These aren't just ideas; they're aspects of society that affect tons of people. What you say has an impact. Own it.

          • "Rape culture?" Pray tell what is that? "12% of men are rapists and the other 88% are liars?" If I were using that term then I would use to mean that rape is either considered good or not a big deal at all. South Africa and D.R. of Congo would qualify for that definition not the U.S.A.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics

          • Gil, we're already had this conversation. I even gave you a link defining "rape culture" that you decided to ignore. It doesn't matter how *you* would choose to define the term. "Rape culture" is already a term used in sociological discussions with an agreed-upon meaning. North American society fits that definition. No amount of you saying it should mean something else is going to change that.

          • Nope you're projecting more than you think. The definition from your link:

            "A rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm.

            In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable as death or taxes. This violence, however, is neither biologically nor divinely ordained. Much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change."

            I'm not sure where you think the West falls into that. Rape is treated as a serious crime in the West. I don't know what you watch but I don't see anywhere where "rape is good" and "women secretly want to be raped" in the mainstream. (Then again I don't watch a huge deal of TV or movies.) Sadly there are always pocket of subcultures who think men ought to dominate women at all times but what can you do because of the 1st Amendment?

          • There is obviously some debate, but North America is generally seen as fitting that description because while rape is treated in theory as a serious crime, when a woman actually reports it she is often shamed and criticized far more than the perpetrator (which encourages the idea that men can't help themselves and it's up to women to protect themselves)–see the Stuebenville rape case for a recent example; jokes about getting a woman drunk to make her more willing to have sex are still common in mainstream movies and TV; politicians can make claims about how some rape is "legitimate" and others not and make absurd suggestions like that a woman can't get pregnant from rape if she doesn't really want it, and he stays in office; violence is often treated as sexy in the media (if it's being done by the hero) and even consensual sex scenes are often aggressive; women do live being aware that they may be threatened at any time and that most of those threats (sexually harassing remarks on the street, guys pursuing them and not leaving them alone when asked, groping, etc.) will only be met by blame (well, you shouldn't have been wearing that skirt) or dismissal (that's just what some guys do, ignore it) if they speak up about it. And so on.

            To me, I live in a rape culture because if I go out to a bar, I would never leave my drink unattended or unmatched because the idea that someone might slip something into is totally real and possible. I tense up when walking on a quiet city street at night alone even in nice parts of town. I have laughed off the pushy advances of guys who made me feel uncomfortable because trying to get away from them didn't work and getting aggressive myself might escalate the situation or at least would be seen as overreacting. I am careful when I talk about rape because I've learned through experience that in any even small group of women, there will be someone who's experienced it or barely escaped it firsthand. And so on.

            Is it as bad as it could be, as it is in some other countries? Of course not. But there is definitely an attitude still quite prevalent here (and rather often expressed even in the comments of this blog!) that women are in control of sexuality because men always want it, so it's up to women to make sure men don't have sex with them that they don't want. In a culture that really was completely against rape, we'd be able to say, "stop rape by teaching men coercing people into sex is wrong and they should get an enthusiastic yes before proceeding" without being met by a volley of dismissive snark and complaining about how unrealistic this is.

            You are able to imagine that we live in a world where rape is totally condemned because as a guy you don't face those threats, and those messages about "appropriate" behavior aren't aimed at you. But if you went to prison, you'd find it was true even for you. Rape culture also affects men, in ways like allowing prison rape to be a joke rather than a serious concern.

            If you think all that isn't so bad, well, hurray for you. But lots of other people live in this world and don't like it, and we have no obligation to sit quiet and pretend everything's okay so that you can ignore it more easily.

          • Robjection says:

            So … you're basically trying to half-ass a debate. I might have let that slide if your initial comment had something along the lines of "But hey, I could be wrong, this is just me thinking out loud". But if you're prepared to start off with a caveat-free argument, then you gotta go the whole hog or else retract your argument. In other words, either provide evidence to support your argument like Mel has done for hers, or openly admit that you are wrong.

          • There are many ways in which I could accurately discredit the arguments you use to support your ideas by providing examples of how what you're saying is unreliable both in nature and by referencing past events where similar information has been used and later proven to be inaccurate.

            The reason why I'm not doing so is in part because I don't disagree with other theories, and in part because I don't think it's constructive or helpful to the overall cause when people undertake ambassador roles of whatever mutually exclusive opinions they happen to have and measure the accuracy of their beliefs by who's best at duking it out on the internet. What's that going to lead to anyway? Assurance that they're good at finding logical holes in each others' claims?

            I've already done the internet debate thing, and all it does in the end is promote intellectual dishonesty by confirming one's own bias while providing a reason for trying to shut down those who oppose it. I made my initial comment a generic one for a reason, which is that if anyone was interested in exploring the topic from an unbiased perspective they wouldn't have used the lack of sources as a tool to try to shut me down.

            What I'm trying to say in the end is that if I would've argued back, the discussion would've turned even worse than it already did.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, so what's your endgame?

          • That's not for me to decide, which is my point.

          • Robjection says:

            That's not always how internet debates go you know. Sometimes one or both sides will see that, actually, the other side has a point, or, failing that, they will at least know where the other side is coming from and be able to agree to disagree. The only way the discussion would have turned worse than it already did is if you and/or Mel are incapable of doing these things (and from my experience with the comments section of this blog, Mel is quite capable of doing those things).

            As it stands, you've made a claim and given us no reason to believe it's anything other than bullshit. If you stand by your claim without giving us any reason to support it too, then it's not internet debating that's the problem, it's your "debating".

          • I'm sorry if you got the impression that I was trying to shut you down. I honestly wanted to know your sources for the claims you were making so I could look at them and decide whether they changed my opinion, not just so that I could pick them apart. It's unfortunate that your experiences with online discussions have led you to believe that people are incapable of having an honest exchange of ideas and learning from each other. I've learned a lot from people here. But pretty regularly people comment on this blog putting forward statistics and research claims that it turns out are just their opinion, so I hope you can understand why I'm in the habit of asking for sources when such claims are made, and becoming skeptical when they're not provided.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Competing theory – demonic possession. I'm not willing to look anything up either, but its equally valid as a hypothesis. See how silly casting a wide net for alternate theories is?

  21. Krzysztof M says:

    I'm in advertising, and wanted to voice an opinion. Unfortunately this does exist, but this isn't really the full story. It's sad that this does exist because it really gives a "dark side" to it all.

    But some things I noticed that weren't really paid attention to, that I thought needed to be mentioned to get the "full picture".

    1) The "advertising" done for companies for things like Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, etc,etc are done not by respectable agencies, or most of the time not even by agencies at all. Sometimes the designers just take it into their own hands, and mess the scene up. These kind of ads are NOT accepted by the advertising community. No creative would dare put one of these ads in their portfolio because it's an embarrassment.

    2) They need to keep in mind that at the end of the day, advertising really is just a reflection of what "society" wants. Advertising has never been the one to form history, but rather just follow it (by far the most important point I wanted to make about the article). But besides everything, the fact that a lot of men today are growing up without a male figure in their lives, are being susceptible to things like advertising, (bad advertising) and that's a very dangerous thing. In a way I do feel that this is sort of pointing a finger at a specific group (lets face it, advertising is easy to hate on. It comes, and goes faster than anything else on t.v.). But believe me when I say, that is not the intention that campaigns try to focus around. Advertisings goal is to point out something in popular culture, provoke some kind of emotion out of you, and make you go "omg that's so true", resulting in a sale. It's like the old spice campaign, not only did it bring in a boatload of sales, it saved the company! They researched the kinda things their target market was up to (which was obviously heavy on internet, memes, blogs, etc) and centred their campaign around it.

    So overall I think that before blaming advertising for "emphasizing" the problem, I think people should look to the actual root.

    • Your mention of designers doing these things themselves reminds me of the "Manifest Destiny" T-shirt fiasco a while back. Another example of why creative arts should not be done in a vacuum.

      The Old Spice ads were great, but beacuse they were tongue-in-cheek in playing up a whole set of masculine advertising stereotypes in 30 second packages. (I assume it's that particular campaign you meant?) Those commercials wouldn't have been so effective without the humor/parody aspect. Done in a serious tone, I doubt they would have been as popular.

  22. An excellent, thorough, and thoughtful treatment of the cultural messages and norms passed along to men and boys as universal truths. In reality, these concepts only constrain men from the deeper parts of themselves which can be loving, nurturing and kind. Relationships of respect and mutual caring can be most fulfilling but don't match the images of strength projected by ad campaigns to sell the latest doodad. Thank you for this article. Well done! We try to carry a similar messge for we understand the limitations you point out perpetuate a culture of dominance and a warped sense of strength. We want to counteract this with more positive ideals of masculinity, for where violence ends, HopeBegins!

  23. Gentleman Johnny says:

    Unfortunately, "its what society wants" becomes a chicken and age thing. Do bikini girls sell beer because its what I want or do I want scantily clad women selling me stuff because its a concept as old as selling stuff? I'm not saying advertising is the only place you see this. Pre-packaged blockbusters and TV news are made ont he same circular logic.

    I do think you have some very good points, though. I'm glad to know there's not some agency out there going "we'll give you ads that walk the line between edgy and outright smut".

    • They're in it to make money just like anybody else, and to make money they have to make money for someone else's product. If something works, it's because our current human condition allows it to. Majority rules.

      • Companies always have choices. There's a huuuuge variety of advertising tactics that can be effective; when they use a particular tactic, it's not because it's the only one possible to sell the product. Whether their choices are based on copying the latest trend in their competitor's ads, trying to go with the edgiest thing possible, something funny they hope will go viral, something that shakes up expectations to stand out from the crowd, there's never one clear way that they know will be more successful than others. That doesn't mean that the most socially responsible choice is always the best option for the ad firm; but it also doesn't mean it ISN'T.

    • If there was no point in using attractive women to sell things then it would've been long abandoned. However it the concept is quite old therefore it's time-tested.

  24. Small minority of women, if even that, I'd say.

    I do have some of those other things, it doesn't really get you anywhere.

    • It can't be that small – of guys I've met who are in relationships with women and the guys I see in passing with someone who seems to be a girlfriend, I'd say the percentage of skinny, nerdy, quiet guys is about the same as I see in the general population.

      Dude, none of these qualities cause adoring women to fall from the sky! Most of the time, neither do muscles or being outgoing. You still have to interact with women and let them see your positive traits, maybe even ask them out! It's like a car, it doesn't get you anywhere unless you drive it!

      • Dr_NerdLove says:

        t's like a car, it doesn't get you anywhere unless you drive it!

        enail, I feel obligated to inform you that I will be stealing this phrase for future use.

      • I just need a key to get into a car. :p

        • I think self-esteem would be the key you're looking for.

          • Mabye something from the dark triad instead.

          • *headdesk*

          • I don't get why you're so determined to believe that the only way a woman could ever be attracted to you is if you act like a total asshole.

          • Okay, don't headdesk over me, I'll leave you guys alone.

          • Self-esteem, man! You've got to believe you're worth headdesking over! :P

            But seriously. If you don't want to go around asking girls out or whatever, you don't have to – but maybe stop telling yourself it's impossible?

          • Also, if you're actually open to being convinced at all, if anything we're saying is getting through to you and you're not just dismissing everything as irrelevant or untrue because it doesn't match your set beliefs, we can keep going ad nauseum – discussion, examples, pep talks, whatever. Say the word.

          • It makes me feel worse that you guys are getting frustrated over my beliefs and hangups. :p

          • Well do you think it makes us feel *good* to hear a guy making huge negative generalizations about women? That's why we're getting frustrated. If you don't want people to respond negatively to you, then maybe you shouldn't say negative things about other people.

          • Seems more like "the way things are" than negative generalizations to me. Very hard time ignoring them.

          • Moose, you know how sometimes you say things and then you look back and realize you kind of wish you hadn't because you didn't really want to insult people that way? I highly suspect this is one of those times. I recommend stepping away, taking a breather, and coming back when you're in a better place.

            There is no possible way you can think that saying women are superficial and picky (which is what you're saying when you're claiming that women value muscles and macho behavior over things like kindness and intelligence and so on) isn't negative–since when are superficiality and pickiness positive or even neutral traits? And they're clearly a generalization because you're applying them to all women based on a very few people you know. I'm not sure why you have such a hard time ignoring them when you seem to find it quite easy to ignore all the evidence to the contrary.

          • I suspect we'll survive somehow :P

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            OK, now that I've ranted, I'm going to say pretty much the same thing I said to Marty a while back. I wish you the best of success in life. I'll be happy to help you.

            I don't want to make things harder on you. I'm also not going to bend over backwards to accommodate you. As long as you're not willing to budge one iota on your stance, there's nothing I can do to help. Under those conditions I will simply avoid engaging you on these subjects.

          • I don't see how budging helps. It seems like opening oneself up to crippling disappointment if you get proven right. The thing I might hate the most is when I'm right.

          • Robjection says:

            As long as you don't budge, you are implying that you want to be right more than anything else. If you're genuinely open to being proven wrong, then accept it when people prove you wrong (as they already have done).

          • Awright. I'm wrong.

          • Okay, look. I get where you're coming from; I do. I am a labeled Ugly Girl. I posted my picture to Reddit once, and immediately had at least 50 men telling me to lose weight and stop expecting guys to be monogamous. I've been mooed at. In high school, I got shoved inside a locker because my classmates decreed me too ugly to look at.

            So trust me, I am *highly empathetic* with the idea that there are certain key parts of attraction to the opposite sex that I can never have.

            But ya know what? In the end, even if the entire male population of the planet has held a council meeting and declared me the least screwable female on the planet…. it doesn't matter nearly as much as what I think about myself.

            You have two scenarios in front of you: both these scenarios mean accepting the idea that the opposite sex finds you unattractive. But one scenario is YOU continuing to think you are unattractive. Basing your worth off of other people's opinions and objective standards. So long as you let them control what you think, you will always hate yourself, because you think they hate you.

            The other scenario is saying… so what if they think I'm ugly. If I'm screwed anyway, then let me find a way to be happy in myself. Let me decide my own value. Let me forget about the world, and focus on looking in the mirror and saying," Yeah. I'd f*** me."

            IF you are right, that you are indeed unattractive because you lack A, B, and C… you still have the choice to be happy.

            Yeah, you may be single forever. You may not get sex. Is that the only way to be happy? Is sex the only thing that matters in your life? Are you going to let the lack of sex define the rest of your time on this planet?

            I'm not. To the best of my ability, I am going to try to go out there and carve out something for myself. Even if the rest of the world wouldn't touch me with a 10 foot pole, *I* am going to like me. I am going to give me the very best I can get. I'm gonna give me a fan-freaking-tastic sex life. The world can keep on thinking I'm ugly…. I'm gonna be here, proving to them that there is at least one person on this planet who can rock this body….. me!

            ….. Ooooorrrr, you could just accept the idea that women might actually like things besides muscles, money, and an extrovert personality, and that somewhere out there, maybe even right in your city, there's a chick who digs what you've got going on.

            Whichever is easier, really.

          • I love everything about this post, Marty.

          • That was completely hot. Plus infinity.

          • eselle28 says:

            Also a huge fan of this post.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            I posted my picture to Reddit once

            “Well THERE'S your problem!” [/AdamSavage]Seriously, the general reaction on Reddit is NOT something to base your self-esteem on. Assholes gonna ass.I agree with what you have to say, but c'mon. It's Reddit. It's like going to Mos Eisley and ordering milk.

          • So, what you're saying is… I should try HotorNot.com instead?

          • Mostly anonymous places on the internet are horrible for this kind of thing.

          • Well, in my defense, I can back it up with real-life insults as well.

            The point is, so what if I'm ugly? Let the world think I am. If I can be happy while ugly, what does it matter? And if it turns out I'm NOT ugly and a guy, somewhere, is attracted to me… then bonus! Sure sounds like a win-win for me!

            If you are so invested in the idea of being unattractive, you might as well find a way to make the best of it.

          • For the record, Marty, having reviewed your FB photos, as a certified red-blooded (mostly) straight dude, I can attest that you are not ugly. In fact, I think you're rather attractive. This may be my bias for saucey pirate wenches (the corsets *always* kill me), but now you have at least one testimonial.

    • Moose, your attitude here reminds me of the "breast argument" I used to harp on as an insecure teen. I have A cups, barely anything there. And I'm not slender, either. I used to lament, til I shed tears, about how no men would ever find me attractive because I was "fat" with no breasts. After all, my thinking went, EVERYONE who had a boyfriend around me had more breasts and media women always have breasts and I am doomed! My poor mother sat in on many a neverending session of young Tosca's body issues.

      I found someone who loves me. He is *really* into my body. He happens to be a skinny, nerdy quiet guy himself. To me, he is hot too.

      You don't have to be one of the elite to find love. If I'm ever single again, I'm sure my body type would cut out a *lot* of men. My personality might cut out even more.

      But now I think: GOOD. I don't want to date someone with barely concealed contempt for my body or even someone who is just "meh" about me. Like some guy who'll have distracted sex with me, but make comments and openly lust after women with large breasts. Why would you want a girl for whom muscles and being a cocky bro is important? That isn't you, and D cups aren't me *and they never will be*.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I couldn't think of where exactly to put this, Moose, because its not 100% germane to any particular part of your argument.

      Ok, here's the deal: maybe women think like you think they do. Maybe women think like other people think they do. Regardless of which one is true, I guarantee you will get better (not necessarily amazing or even good, but better) results if you act as if the latter is true. If you are completely convinced that most women aren't attracted to you, they won't be.

      There are things you can't change that might help you with dating but there are things you can change that will help you. Whether you want to do that or continue to blame the things you can't change is up to you.

      • Doesn't that end up just being delusional if you act as if women are attracted to you without any evidence to support it?

        • eselle28 says:

          Well, SHOULD women be attracted to you? If there's a good reason for them to be, act like it and they'll have more of an incentive to find out what you're so confident about. If you go around acting like women shouldn't fuck you, they'll probably be inclined to take your word for it.

          • No, I don't think they should, cuz I got nothin exceptional :p

          • eselle28 says:

            Well, then your choices are to either cultivate some good qualities or to resign yourself to the fact that women aren't likely to talk you out of your pessimistic views. But complaining about rich guys and guys with muscles doesn't do much to further either of those two choices.

          • You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

            Way more than half of the male population in North America is currently in a relationship, or at least casually dating. If the majority of men have qualities that make them datable, then those qualities cannot be considered "exceptional", but rather, normal.

          • Robjection says:

            Have you got anything that's good but not what you'd call exceptional? Or even anything neutral? Or are you 100% steaming pile of bad?

        • I don't think he's suggesting that you act as if women are all going barely restraining themselves from throwing themselves at your feet so much as that you act as if it's totally normal and reasonable that a woman might be attracted to you, that you are within the category of people that women are attracted to.

          • Buuut it's not normal for them to be.

          • It COULD be, if you acted like it was.

          • Is this one of those Catch-22s where you have to have it to get it but to have it you have to get it.

            Did I even use Catch-22 right?

          • You did, but it isn't.

            You don't have to have it to get it, you just have to believe that it's possible.

          • Robjection says:

            No. Why is acting like it's totally normal and reasonable that a woman might be attracted to you dependent on you seeing a woman attracted to you?

          • Evidence that it's not a delusion.

          • Come on, Moose, in other threads you yourself have mentioned times when women have shown attraction to you!

            It's not evidence you need, it's to stop looking for evidence that it IS a delusion.

          • Back in high school. :p

          • Robjection says:

            That still counts.

          • Has your appearance changed dramatically since high school, then?

          • Robjection says:

            Have you checked with literally every woman in your dating pool and have they all told you that they personally are not attracted to you? If not, then for all you know, at least one of those women is attracted to you.

          • Perhaps, if I managed to hide a lot of things about myself.

          • Robjection says:

            For all you know, it still applies even if you don't hide any of those things you're thinking of hiding. Don't be so hasty to rule out possibilities because of your own speculation and/or extrapolation.

          • There's a laundry list of things that make me more or less undateable. I actually feel pretty confident about this. :p

          • Robjection says:

            All right, let's see this list then.

          • I'll shoot you one on the forum sometime tomorrow.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          I wasn't saying act as if they are but as if it is possible that they could be.

    • How would you know those qualities don't really get you anywhere? How many women have you tried to flirt with or ask out?

      • I stopped trying when it became pretty obvious that it was the equivalent of splattering spaghetti all over them.

        • So maybe you needed to change up your method a bit. It happens. Why jump to the conclusion that there's no way you could ever be desirable?

        • Maybe it's just gonna take some tries to find a woman who enjoys being covered in spaghetti. I promise, they are out there.

        • You didn't answer my question. How many times did you try? Because feeling it didn't work out with five women and then you gave up is very different from having tried with, say, a hundred women and then you gave up.

          • Probably not even ten. Didn't go well, wasn't fun, and I'm not in the kind of regular environment where I can ask a hundred.

          • Robjection says:

            So to answer the question I asked in another thread, you haven't checked with every woman in your dating pool (unless your dating pool is in the single digits, which as someone with a small dating pool myself I would find very hard to believe). Therefore, you do not know that all women in your dating pool are not attracted to you. So stop making that claim.

          • Well then you have no basis for determining that you have no qualities that could "get you anywhere". If you weren't having fun when you were talking to these women, and it wasn't an environment you felt comfortable in, you probably didn't even get a chance to show them more than your initial awkwardness. You can't assume women aren't interested in the various qualities mentioned because they didn't respond well to you, when your sample size consists of fewer than ten, and it sounds like they probably didn't even find out you *had* those qualities.

  25. I've heard a lot of stories from /fit/doyouevenlift bros and such that lead me to believe otherwise.

    And I do think our "innocents" are different. Yours is only "he doesn't treat me badly" whereas mine is "he treats everyone tha same way." Women will give a lot of latitude to a dickhole as long as he treats them "the right way" and they'll even make excuses for him because they're more valuable people to be with.

    • eselle28 says:

      I'm curious why the doyouevenlift bros are assigned more credibility.

      Personally, I think it's entirely possible that both groups are being truthful. The doyouevenlift bros are attracting the women who either personally like very muscular builds or who are in subcultures where that body type is highly prized. It' like the articles on here about dressing like a rocker, or a cool nerd, or some other archetype. They send a clear signal to certain women that they're their type. At the same time, there are other women who aren't as interested in that particular look and who are either ignoring those men or perhaps not even ending up in the same social spaces.

      Given your descriptions of your interest and your general distaste for extroverts, I'm puzzled why you put so much emphasis on qualities that are going to be particularly appealing to party girl, guidettes, women who usually date athletes, and so on. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those lifestyles or that there are absolutely no other women who are really into bodybuilders, but it seems like this is a trait that is going to skew toward attracting women who wouldn't be compatible with you anyway.

      • I'd chalk that up to both being attracted to those types, and not knowing any better either way.

        • Why are you attracted to women who are interested in things that you're not interested in at all? I mean, you do realize that there are also physically attractive women who are introverts and into more bookish or geeky things, right? Would you really find the exact same woman more attractive if she was into partying rather than into video gaming, even though you find socializing totally draining? That makes no sense to me at all.

          And you have no excuse for "not knowing better" after the gazillion times people here have shared other perspectives with you. It's kind of insulting that you assume our experiences are less valid or true than those of random guys you know who you don't even respect.

          And by the way, if you actually phrased your statements here as "the majority of party-type or athlete dating women find this type of guy more attractive" rather than "the majority of women find this type of guy more attractive", I think you'd find more of us would agree with you. The problem is that you're ascribing behavior that you're seeing from a certain segment of the population to the entire population, even though the rest of the population is clearly different in a lot of ways, which is totally unfair.

          I can understand if you're frustrated because it seems like a type of woman you're attracted to is unlikely to be attracted to you, but you have to recognize that the problem isn't all women having such high standards, it's you having a preference for a type of personality you're not really compatible with. A macho beefy party guy isn't going to have much success with introverted intellectual women either.

          • If you are mostly attracted to people who aren't interested in the same things you are, don't share your values, hang out in vastly different social circles, and/or don't consider you their "type," then you have a convenient excuse why they could never possibly like you–and your dating life or lack thereof is therefore totally out of your control, absolving you of any responsibility.

            Just one possibility; there are of course a number of others, and attraction does not always follow logical paths. And I may or may not have recognized shades of this thinking in myself several years back.

          • It's possible.

          • Haaaard time believing that, because those macho beefy party guy can sweep an introverted intellectual off her feet because he's so awesome. Smart girls have way high standards elsewhere too, so it actually feels like it'd be an even more difficult road.

            As for why I'm attracted… I'm a fan of the trashy look, those people seem to be having a ton more fun than I do and don't give a shit who they disturb to have it, and I think there's an element on not having to worry about their bullshit, because if I could figure out that shit, there'll always be "another one" around the corner.

          • eselle28 says:

            How often do you actually see a macho beefy party guy sweep an introverted intellectual off her feet? Those groups don't bump into each other very often, and when they do, members on each side tend to ignore each other.

            This last part seems to be more about you accepting being yourself than anything about the women involved.

          • All I can say to this is that you and I know very different sorts of introverted intellectuals.

          • Robjection says:

            At what point did we establish that "macho beefy party" = "awesome"?

          • You missed my point. To most introverted intellectuals, a macho party guy is *not* awesome. Awesome is an opinion word, a subjective judgement that varies from person to person, not an objective fact. Most introverted intellectuals prefer someone who isn't going to make socializing a draining experience, who can talk about things other than what they did at the gym and how much they drank last night, who'll want to engage in intellectual-type activities with them, etc.

          • Excitement, then.

            Even introverted girls love excitement.

          • Yes, we do. :) But our idea of what constitutes "excitement" is most likely going to be very different than that of a "macho beefy party guy."

          • Robjection says:

            At what point did we establish that "excitement" = "macho beefy party"?

          • Sure, but people don't necessarily find the same kinds of things exciting. The introverted intellectual girl may be excited by a challenging conversation, or a trip, or just by going out to a different kind of bar with a different group of friends (I'm not going to pretend that introverted intellectual girls don't like to go out and drink, because some do and some don't).

            She may very well find the macho party guy to not be very exciting. He might talk a lot and like to go out, but she might not like the music in his favorite clubs, or find his friends to be boring and not have much in common with her when they start talking, or not care for the fruit-flavored shots they're downing. There are few things more boring than being stuck in a club when you're not feeling the people, the music, or the atmosphere. She might much rather be at a concert, or a reading, or just sitting at home and talking with a different kind of guy, or be out at a bar with someone she feels she can really talk to.

            Women aren't a monolith. We keep saying that, but that's because it's true.

          • You know what makes me excited? Watching a movie or reading a book that really surprises me and gets me thinking (not the same old boring storylines). Visiting historical buildings and art galleries. Discussing stories with fellow creative types. I find parties boring. I find gyms boring. A macho party guy is not going to offer experiences that will make me excited.

            You seem to be assuming that just because you, as an introvert, find the idea of being with a "trashy" looking party girl exciting, that therefore all introverts must feel the same way. It's kind of ridiculous to assume that your individual tastes are universal. You don't even know for sure if *you* would really enjoy dating a party girl, since you've never done it, you just have a fantasy version of it in your head.

          • They're also easier to find. As an introvert, I'm sure you'd understand how hard it is to find fellows when we're inside by ourselves a lot.

          • That's why I met all the guys I dated online. I still managed to have three long-term relationships and several brief (1-3 dates) dating interactions with guys, despite apparently giving off such a standoffish vibe in person that no guy's ever asked me out except online.

            Yes, dating is harder for introverts, for exactly that reason. But it's far from impossible. And since the outgoing guys who do most of the asking out tend to chase the outgoing flirty type ladies much more than the quiet introverted ones, you also have less competition, so in some ways it ends up balancing out.

            Just to add: It's totally okay if you find extroverted women more attractive than fellow introverts! But you have to recognize that that's *you* making it harder to find a woman who'll be compatible with you, because it's not that most women don't like introverts, but that the specific type of woman you want to pursue is less likely to like an introvert. As I said before, if you framed it that way, people wouldn't be arguing with you.

          • Robjection says:

            "… the specific type of woman you want to pursue is less likely to like an introvert."

            Pay attention to that language choice Moose. "Is less likely to", not "definitely won't".

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Total aside: OMG! I get that "standoffish vibe" thing, too. I'm starting to think I'm that Henry Rollins breed of introvert.

        • Are you sure you're attracted to the super-"hot", extroverted "trashy" party girl who has *nothing* in common with you for the right reasons?

          Back in high school, I was a Nice Girl hypocrite who always pined after athletic, popular boys who would have probably laughed at all my interests. But it was only later that I realized it wasn't THEM I ever liked. It was the fantasy of one of them actually choosing me back, so then I could say to all my bullies and nay-sayers, "Look! I'm NOT a disgusting ugly loser! HE LIKES ME!" Or even just say it to myself.

          Treating people as trophies is not cool, and it made me miserable besides.

          There was also the element Joy described below. My crushes stayed in my fantasies and were always hopeless, because I was scared shitless of actual intimacy.

          And I must point out the irony of you, a self-described skinny nerd outside the mainstream who is only firmly attracted to extremely mainstream women, *lamenting* that "women" only go for the male equivalent.

          • This is such an important point. It can be kind of easy to mix up your own sexual desires with fantasies about gaining more social status or getting revenge against people who rejected you or compensating for past social failures. I think that leads a lot of geeks to either fixate too much on conventionally attractive partners (sometimes even moreso than people who aren't insecure about socializing do) or on the other hand, to reject any idea that attraction should be important and to fixate on "niceness." The middle ground involves really focusing on what you find attractive, which is surprisingly hard to do.

            And this is one of those ones where I think geek girls are as guilty as geek guys.

          • I remember doing that too.

            I'm confident in saying that what I find physically attractive is varied and doesn't always match up with the conventional.

            It's more that I feel like I'm bottom of the barrel, which means you get nothing. The higher the social status or whatever, the less that kind of thing matters.

          • Stop telling yourself this! You seem to spend an amazing amount of energy on convincing yourself you suck – isn't there something else you'd rather use that energy for?

            Social status, to the extent that it's a real thing at all, is not this rigid, single linear hierarchy that you're treating it as. Rather, it's branching, changeable, multifaceted. Different people have status in different settings, different people value different things. I'm sure there are plenty of settings and social circles where I'd be lowest of the low; I don't hang out in those circles.

          • "Stop telling yourself this! You seem to spend an amazing amount of energy on convincing yourself you suck – isn't there something else you'd rather use that energy for?"

            This! Excellent point! Moose, if you took all the time you spend trying to convince us of your beliefs about what women want and whether they'd want you, and instead put it towards something constructive like, I don't know, some creative pursuit or story analysis or working out or whatever else there is that you get at least some enjoyment… Surely you'd get more enjoyment out of doing those things than continually putting yourself down? I mean, you've talked about being hesitant to try accomplishing anything because failing will hurt, but you're failing to convince us of your arguments too. I find it hard to believe there isn't *something* else you could be doing that would be a more pleasant use of time even if it doesn't accomplish anything other than passing the time more pleasantly. Could you let yourself at least try that, without any pressure of hoping for it to amount to more at least for now?

            (Note: This is not me suggesting you should stop commenting completely. Just maybe less energetically in terms of certain topics, so that energy can be spent elsewhere more happily.)

          • I was thinking more of the internal side of things – it must be exhausting to be constantly reminding yourself of how terrible you (supposedly) are, like if you don't stop beating yourself up all the time, you might start thinking you're not totally terrible, and then… what? What bad thing are you preventing by making sure you think poorly of yourself at all times?

            But a huge yes to putting this energy into something pleasant, constructive and low-pressure!

          • Yes, that too! I just focused on the external behavior because I can see how much time he's spending on that, and, to be fair, I don't actually know what goes on in his head when he's not posting here.

          • You risk activating your Bottom Life.

            People with low self-esteem have a solid belief about themselves. Honestly, we all have beliefs about ourselves, people with low self-esteem just have marked negative ones.

            Their experiences have taught them that because they are A, it means they are B (B being the Bottom Line of the truth of who they are.) Being B makes them feel bad, so they built Rules for Life. These rules will supposedly protect them from activating the Bottom Life. So long as they follow these rules, they are safe from being B.

            Take me, for example. One of my Bottom Lines is that I have no worth as a woman because of my looks. My Rules for Life help me avoid having to confront this fact…. I always make sure to stare straight ahead when passing men (unless I know them well), I avoid looking in mirrors, I remind myself frequently that I am ugly.

            Let's say I stopped doing these things…. for one afternoon, I broke my Rules. There's this very cute developer in my company. We walk out to our cars at the same time every day after work. Just for a moment, I forgot my Bottom Life, and smiled at him.

            His response was to grimace at me nervously, and look away.

            Now my Bottom Line has been activated. This response triggered my belief that I am unworthy of love. He could have easily just grimaced at me because he's engaged, and has no idea how to smile at a girl without giving the impression that he's available. But I don't know that….. all I know is that if I now feel unworthy, which could have been avoided if I'd just followed my Rules and remembered I am ugly and shouldn't bother with guys.

            Rules are the safety blanket, the net, the thing preventing the Bottom Line. Once you reach the Bottom Line, there's nothing left but to spiral into depression and despair.

            The real insidious thing is, you can only break the Bottom Line by confronting it. Instead of letting it be triggered, you need to remove yourself from the Rules, and tackle the underlying assumption of your Bottom Line. (I am ugly, thus I am unworthy as a woman.) But it's an incredibly scary thing to do, because you can so easily wander into triggering territory.

            I'd highly suggest, for anyone interested in this topic, reading the book I'm into right now: "Overcoming Low Self-Esteem: A self-help guide using Cognitive Behavior techniques" by Melanie Fennell.

          • eselle28 says:

            Thanks for the book recommendation. I had to break up with my therapist because he apparently doesn't understand the concept of patient confidentiality, and I've been looking to check out some good reading material that might fill in some of the gaps.

          • Thanks, that was a very enlightening explanation!

          • Most times when I don't do it, something bad happens.

            As for things I find enjoyable or pleasant… hard to enjoy them when it's swimming around in the back of my head that it's part of the problem in the first place. Even Doc said you can't be an exciting person sitting in front of your [I think he said XBox, but let's say] video games. I think that goes for a lot of other solitary things.

          • Are these bad things actually caused by not feeling bad about yourself, though?

            I took Mel's suggestion as meaning doing something a little different, something that wouldn't feel like part of the problem (she suggested creative pursuits, story analysis, exercise…). Doesn't have to be something designed to make you an Exciting! Social! Person!, just something that feels constructive.

          • Did quite a bit yesterday to try and forget about the "latest bad thing that might be happening." It didn't help too much, really.

            And, technically no, I can't connect not feeling bad about myself to them but… the timing always coincides, and I never accept "That's life" as an excuse, because people only say that when bad shit happens.

          • But it's still life when it's good stuff that's happening, just no one feels the need to say much about that.

            You know logically that your not feeling bad about yourself is probably not the cause of bad things, right? I'd guess bad stuff happens sometimes even when you're feeling completely shitty, but you find another reason for it or just don't notice.

          • What's the "latest bad thing that might be happening"? It's pretty normal to have trouble distracting yourself if something unpleasant has come up or seems likely.

            I suspect you just notice the times when you feel bad more when you're not down on yourself, because when you're already down on yourself your mood is so low there's not much lower for it to go. I also suspect there's a confirmation bias at work and you remember the times when you felt bad after letting go of those thoughts much more strongly than the times when it didn't happen, which could be quite often. Why would you notice or remember if there's nothing to make those moments especially memorable? That's normal human psychology.

          • This might be one of those places where the Doc and I part ways. I get the impression he enjoys the night life and parties/crowds/people a good deal more than I do (might be residue from his PUA days, who knows.)

            Either way, many of the things I most enjoy are solitary (sewing, writing), and I think they make me a freaking AWESOME person. I'm making pirate pants! And a bolero sweatshirt! And two, count em TWO, cosplays outfits! I sit alone in my dining room, with my sewing machine revving and Channel Awesome in the back ground, and my most frequent thought is," Damn, I ROCK."

            (Okay, 2nd most frequent thought; 1st one is," Oh, hell, I sewed the sleeve on backwards again.")

          • Pirate pants!?! Cool!

            I'd venture to say that if making pirate pants doesn't qualify someone as awesome, then awesome is simply not worth being!

          • Striped SILK pirate pants, even. Oh yeah.

            Point is, having solitary interests doesn't automatically make you boring or unattractive. You should probably have SOME hobbies that get you out of the house, but solitary hobbies can MAKE you just as exciting as group hobbies would.

          • Yes! Round of applause!

          • Can you give an example of something bad that happened when you stop telling yourself you have no value? That would help me figure out what the difficulty might be there.

            As to the second part, enail's interpretation is right. Notice I suggested you do something *you* find at least a little enjoyable, for no purpose other than to pass the time somewhat pleasantly. I'm not talking about improving yourself or trying to be someone you're not. Those ideas obviously carry a lot of stress for you right now. Just explore what you enjoy for it's own sake. It's better to be a person who's alone but enjoying himself some of the time than a person who's alone and rarely enjoying himself, no?

            If you can let go of the idea that your problem is that you aren't meeting other people's wants, and focus on the problem of what *you* want to do with your time, what seems most enjoyable to you, without worrying about what other people would think of it, I think that'd be a good thing. That's the more pressing issue–*you* liking what you're doing. Because you don't seem to very much right now. And there's no point in worrying about what other people think if you're unhappy on your own too.

            Does that make sense? I'm never sure whether I'm over-explaining or not explaining enough.

          • Yeah, it makes sense.

            As for mood-killers, sometimes it's just something small like the people around me getting into a huge argument with eachother (I'm sure if I was around more people regularly, it'd include some fool or other trying to get into my face or have a laugh at my expense), to big personal favourites like my gramma having a stroke and being dead two weeks later, to learning a few days ago that my sister may be coming down with something manageable but incurable.

            Logically, I had nothing to do with any of this for the most part but… I don't know if it's karma or what, but the timing seemingly never fails. Some[i]thing[/b] is continually deciding that no, back to where you were before.

          • Sorry to hear about your sister. I hope the news turns out better than expected. I know that feeling like the gods are out to get you and the universe is trying to knock you down.

            And I know you know this logically, but I just want to say: it's not your fault. You're not responsible for other peoples' arguments, you're not responsible for your grandmother's stroke, you're not responsible for your sister's condition. Not. Your. Fault.

            (Of course, I'm not saying you're never responsible for anything in your life, you're responsible for your choices and actions and for your part in your relationships, but these aren't those things.)

          • By the way, your sister's situation reminded me of my sister being diagnosed with a non-life-threatening but somewhat serious disease a few years ago. I'm sure they're not the same, but I know it can be really stressful and hard on the whole family, wanting to support your sister and dealing with your own feelings about it at the same time.

            I don't know what help it would be, but if you ever want to talk about it to someone outside the family, feel free to PM me.

          • I might just. She may not be diagnosed for awhile yet, but my mom and her share the same doctor and he just let her know that it's starting to look like something specific.

          • Waiting is hard. Fingers crossed for better news.

          • Really sorry to hear about your sister–hopeful thoughts to her and you.

            Like I said in another comment, it's quite possibly just that you notice the times when something bad happens when you weren't already down on yourself more than the times when you were already down on yourself or when you weren't and nothing significant happened. So it looks like a pattern, but isn't really one. I mean, if you think back, there have been arguments and bigger difficulties when you were being down on yourself too, right? They probably happen from time to time regardless of what you're thinking or feeling, and so naturally sometimes they happen when you're having a relaxed moment, and it's harder to take them then.

            If I was going to make a suggestion, it'd be to see if you can try to desensitize yourself to that fear of bad things happening by working at it in small doses. E.g., Set a timer for five or ten minutes, and decide for those minutes you're going to do something you generally enjoy and not allow yourself to think anything negative about yourself. If you catch a negative thought in those minutes, you immediately remind yourself "Nope, not going there right now" and refocus on the activity. And then as soon as the minutes are up, think as negatively as you feel you have to until you're ready to try again.

            It's highly unlikely that something bad is going to happen in as short a time as five or ten minutes. And doing that could start to convince the illogical part of your mind that letting go of negative thoughts doesn't actually trigger unpleasantness. But you could still be keeping "safe" from that worry of karma or whathaveyou most of the time, until you started to feel less worried and more comfortable letting go for longer periods. If you need even more reassurance, you can also keep a log of the times when you do this so if something bad *does* happen during one of them, you can look back and see a record of all the times nothing bad happened.

            Totally up to you; just a thought! And, seriously, if you don't actually want us to be giving you advice, feel free to say so. I probably should have said that earlier.

          • Well, if he's anything like me, he's arguing this vehemently for a very specific purpose.

            If his thesis is true… that women only prefer the muscles, the moneyed, and the in-your-face bros…. then it gives him a realistic reason/excuse to give up on dating. If he cannot change it, then he must accept it, and accepting it means he no longer has to bother with dating or trying to attract women.

            If his thesis is NOT true…. then not only can he not give up on dating, but he must continue feeling as if he is failing without any recourse to fix it. This blog is great, I highly recommend it, but I go round and round and round and ROUND in my head, sometimes for hours (and usually at 3 am) thinking to myself," WHAT am I doing wrong? What?! How do I fix something I don't understand?!"

            Sometimes having an answer, even an incorrect one, is better than sitting alone in your bedroom in the dark of the night feeling not only like a failure, but like a fool. Not only are you failing at dating, but you are too stupid to realize why.

            I'm currently in the throes of despair over weight loss, for example. Supposedly it's *so easy*, and absolutely everyone has an answer and an opinion on it. But I have tried nearly everything (short of actually giving myself an eating disorder), and nothing has succeeded. The experience has left me so frustrated and drained and exhausted and ANGRY that at lunch I got in my car and screamed," I will just BE FAT. GOD. I GIVE UP, THE FATNESS WINS. I AM MEANT TO BE FAT."

            This is obviously not true; I have not been cursed with eternal fatness. There probably is *something* out there I haven't tried. But the overwhelming desire to just have a concrete answer, so I can frigging give up and just eat my damn Arby's potato cakes, is overwhelming.

            …. So I assume.

          • Oh, I totally understand that. It's just that Moose has talked often not just about not bothering with dating but not bothering with trying to find anything that might make him a little bit happy in life for fear of risk, and that saddens me, so I'll probably just keep trying to present different frames of thinking in case one works for him.

  26. eselle28 says:

    I suspect it's the usual: it's easier than changing anything.

    • I don't otherwise value a lot of the things necessary to change in to for these things to work.

      • If you recognize that there are qualities women like that aren't the ones you keep saying, and the real problem is that you aren't willing to put in the effort to develop those qualities, then please stop talking as if it's all about women having these unreasonable standards! You're just perpetuating a really harmful stereotype that makes men in general resentful of women and discourages them from thinking it's worth trying.

        • I don't really recognize them, no.

          • So everyone has been inventing their experiences and stories to the contrary?

          • So you figure the skinny, non-rich non-famous, non-macho guys we see with women all the time must have some biceps and a six-pack hidden somewhere?

          • Or they're being settled for because they're safe.

          • That's really not a kind interpretation to make of people's comments. After all, you're talking to several women who are claiming they're not fond of macho party guys. Are all the men we've ever been with guys we've settled for because they were safe?

            (The last bit is troublesome too. There are introverted quiet nerdy guys who are not safe partners.)

          • Do you have any idea how offensive that is?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            "Or they're being settled for because they're safe."

            OK, Moose, when you start talking about my relationship, I really have to draw the line. You've been around long enough to have heard the details, so I won't bore you with reiterating. Your preconceptions are bullshit.

            You don't value improving your ability to deal with women enough to do otherwise unpleasant things? Great. Man up, grow a pair and own that shit. Don't expect half the species to recognize what a special unique snowflake you are for being obstinately antisocial and come knocking on your door asking if you're available.

          • I wasn't referring to yours, for what it's worth.

            And no, I don't value doing things that I otherwise wouldn't, just on the off-chance women will like me better. That's just putting on a show for them, when they're not entertained anymore, they'll move on to some who is more entertaining. "Man up and do everything with them in mind." That sounds healthy.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            But Moose, I am skinny, non-rich non-famous, non-macho. So you pretty much said outright that my girlfriend must be settling for second best rather than going out with the person she really wants to.

          • yea, and his gf is hot too, I've seen pictures!

          • I very much hope that's not the case. Very much.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Well either it is the case or your law isn't universal. I'm inclined to the former and trying to get you to accept at least the possibility that from my own experience I know what I'm talking about.

          • I think I'll go with the preference that it's not a universal law.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            In which case, there are other avenues. In other words, if I can make it work, you can make it work.

          • Seriously, no.A friend of mine gave a go at settling once (I don't think she really realized that she was, it was just clear after a while that his unintellectualism made him pretty boring to her, if she thought about it.

            But other than that, I've never known anyone to settle – they'd rather be single.

            Of the 2 examples I gave where I knew the girlfriend/wife, they were very much not people who would have any reason to settle. The guys they were with were their TOP choices! Not everyone likes the same thing!

          • Well, guys have settled for me, so I *have* seen it happen (over and over and over again….) However, to throw out a really blanket statement, I think a lot less women settle than men, because women are a lot better at not needing a relationship/sex.

            Women are socially conditioned to not view sex as necessarily center to our self, and it's socially acceptable for us to seek emotional support through friends and family.

            Men, on the other hand, are socialized to seek these things ONLY through a romantic relationship. If they talk too much about their emotions or ask for help through other social means, they are shamed a lot more than women are.

            I often understand WHY guys seem so desperate for relationships-in our current society, it really is the easiest way for a man to have both his emotional and physical needs fulfilled.

            This (ironic to your point, Moose) means that guys are a lot more likely to settle (because they have no other way, in their viewpoint, to get their needs met) than women do, because women, once they get past the Single shaming, have other avenues with which to fulfill their needs.

          • I wasn't trying to say it never happens, just that it doesn't happen often enoug h that it makes sense to assume most women with non-"beefy party guy" guys are settling.

          • I've seen several people settle. I've given it a shot twice myself. But I don't think it's the norm or the way that people typically wind up their dating careers, before trudging off into some terrible marriage.

            To me it seems more like a relatively common learning experience – a mistake that people make when their dating lives are in a downswing, regret, and then vow not to make again once they realize that being alone is better than being in a miserable relationship.

            It's still not very relevant to the whole "beefy party guy" (I keep shuddering every time I write that, because that is so not someone who sounds appealing to me) argument.

  27. Thanks for this really excellent article, Dr. Nerdlove! It's depressing to see men buy into these kind images of masculinity, because they often end up with a lot of insecurity because they don't match the images. It's even more depressing when they expect that the women, who they're pursuing or with, buy into these images, too, and they ruin what could be a good relationship because they are trying to be something the woman wasn't looking for in the first place. Seen it happen. It's sad. But I guess the same thing happens with women & media images, too, and the relationship-wrecking power of insecurity over not fitting one or more supposedly desirable stereotypes.

  28. well said. wow.

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