The biggest aha moment regarding the Wall Street Journal’s recent piece on girly men seems to have thus far focused on a portion of Arthur Sulzberger’s ear and whether that snippet of ear was intended as a personal attack by Rupert Murdoch upon Sulzberger, as discussed by Michael Wolff in Vanity Fair and, later, by us on this very blog. But conversations of ears aside, the original article is fascinating! Before I lose you… It seems that women from healthier nations are inherently harboring the hots for men who look, well, girly.
The basics, for non-science geeks: A recent experiment by Faceresearch.org–the online psychology lab of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, which is blessed with a truly creepy and enthralling website (Make an average face? Oh will I!)–analyzed nearly 4,800 women, mostly in their early- to mid-twenties, all white, to see what male visages most tickled their fancy-bones.
The ladies were given pairs of doctored photos of dudes, one masculinized, one femmed-up via the miracles of PhotoShop (apparently it’s all in the deerlike expression) and asked to select the hottest out of each “eerily alike and yet subtly different” twosome.
What blew the face researchers’ minds was this: If a woman hailed from a place where she had a greater chance of catching a communicable disease and/or dying young, she went for a honey as caveman-like as possible. Yet the ladies from so-called healthy nations preferred their fellas–oh, shall we say–“metrosexually inclined”?
Why? Seems it’s all about testosterone. The more testosterone-fueled the guy, the more likely he is to dominate, fertilize, and protect/survive. But in healthy nations, ladies perhaps don’t need (or want) those things as much, and the negatives of dating scary monster men–sudden testosta-rages, for instance–can make manliness a scotche less appealing.
For example, from the WSJ piece: In a study of 2,100 Air Force veterans, “men with testosterone levels one standard deviation above the mean were 43% more likely to get divorced than men with normal levels, 31% more likely to leave home because of marital problems, 38% more likely to cheat on their wives, and 13% more likely to admit that they hit or hurled things at them.”
As for the masculine/feminine–unhealthy/healthy matrix, Belgium takes home the healthy/girly-man gold, followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria (birthplace of Hans and Franz), Romania, Greece, and New Zealand.
Notice that the U.S. isn’t on that list? That’s because we rank 20th out of the 30 countries surveyed (that’s not even 50th percentile!) for health, and correspondingly, we like our dudes ‘roided-up, as do women in Mexico, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Argentina. (No mention of how Obama’s health care plan will impact our preferences.)
All of this simply leads to further questions about American lady-infatuation for pretty faces like vampire lovah R. Patz, babyface Justin Bieber, and the “structurally beautiful” Jude Law–to say nothing of how Michael Wolff feels about Arthur Sulzberger, or why women in healthy nations aren’t just dating other women.
But that’s fodder for another day.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 31, 2010