A recent study at the University of British Columbia about the comparative sexual attractiveness of men and women will challenge absolutely nothing about your preconceived notions. According to their data, men like docile and sweet-seeming women while women respond best to brooding and swagger. Basically the study claims to prove the whole “chicks dig bad boys and guys like their wimmenfolk submissive and demure” thing. You know what? I’m calling bullshit. Not so much on the bad boy thing, that’s sort of true. But that “demure women” crap? I don’t think so.
Here’s the gist of their study:
In a series of studies, more than 1,000 adult participants rated the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of images of the opposite sex engaged in universal displays of happiness (broad smiles), pride (raised heads, puffed-up chests) and shame (lowered heads, averted eyes).
The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed. In contrast, male participants were most sexually attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to women who appeared proud and confident.
So let’s have a little experiment, shall we? Using this year’s Pajiba Ten as the data set, let’s see how your reactions compare to UBC’s. Ladies First.
Happiness: According to the study, this data set ought to be the most attractive to you. They remark: “Past research has associated smiling with a lack of dominance, which is consistent with traditional gender norms of the ‘submissive and vulnerable’ woman.” Well the ladies do look quite pretty.
Shame: This, they say, should be the second most attractive posture. Once again reinforcing submission.
Pride: And here, they say, is the least attractive posture for a woman. “Raised heads, puffed-up chests.” And this, my friends, is where the whole argument falls apart for me. You’re going to tell me someone who is attracted to ladies is not attracted to “puffed-up chests?” You’re going to tell me these ladies don’t look amazing in a power stance? Preposterous.
Let’s take a look at the lads, shall we?
Pride: I’m not loving this look. The study claims “the pride expression accentuates typically masculine physical features, such as upper body size and muscularity. Previous research has shown that these features are among the most attractive male physical characteristics, as judged by women.” As long as confidence doesn’t turn into arrogance, we’re okay. But it’s a thin line.
Shame: Yeah this is where we get into bad boy brooding territory, and I must admit I’m a fan.
Happiness: The interesting thing for me here is not that I find these goofy, affable looks unattractive, but that these images were very hard to come by. More often than not, the images available of these men were of the sexy, squinty, scowly variety. In fact, I’m beginning to think McAvoy is ashamed of his teeth.
But, well, I have to agree with science on this one. Chicks dig brooding. Don’t believe me? Let’s try it once more with squealing.
Shame: Side note. Do you know how hard it is to find a photo of Joel McHale looking like anything resembling “ashamed” “demure” or “brooding?” The man is made of solid bravado.
You can’t fight science. I want to mention (as did the study) that UBC’s test subjects were restricted to North American heterosexuals. They’re looking to broaden their scope in the future.
Joanna Robinson welcomes your smiles, your frowns and your puffed chests. She loves you all, just as you are.