The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?

What’s wrong with men’s bodies? Too often we’re taught that men are revolting and women are flawless.

Like countless American children, I grew up hearing the nursery rhyme that claimed that little boys were made of “snips and snails and puppy-dog tails” while girls were “sugar and spice and everything nice.” Attached as I was as a small boy to our pet dachshund, I thought puppy-dog tails were a fine thing indeed, but the point of the rhyme wasn’t lost on me. Boys were dirty, girls were clean and pure.

We’re raised in a culture that both celebrates and pathologizes male “dirtiness.” On the one hand, boys were and are given license to be louder, rowdier, and aggressive. We’re expected to get our hands dirty, to rip our pants and get covered in stains. We enjoy a freedom to be dirty that even now, our sisters often do not. No mistake, that’s male privilege.

But growing up with the right to be dirty goes hand-in-hand with the realization that many people find the male body repulsive. In sixth grade, the same year that puberty hit me with irrevocable force, I had an art teacher, Mr. Blake. (This dates me: few public middle schools have art teachers anymore.) I’ll never forget his solemn declaration that great artists all acknowledged that the female form was more beautiful than the male. He made a passing crack that “no one wants to see naked men, anyway”—and the whole class laughed. “Ewwww,” a girl sitting next to me said, evidently disgusted at the thought of a naked boy.

In time, I discovered that Mr. Blake was wrong about this so-called artistic consensus. But it took me a lot longer to unlearn the damage done by remarks like his and by the conventional wisdom of my childhood. I came into puberty convinced both that my male body was repulsive and that the girls for whom I longed were flawless. (I still remember how floored I was at 16, when the lovely classmate on whom I had a crush farted while I was sitting next to her in German class. I had sincerely believed until that moment that women didn’t pass gas.)

♦◊♦

A year later, in my first sexual relationship, I was convinced that my girlfriend found my body physically repellent. I could accept that girls liked and wanted sex, but I figured that what my girlfriend liked was how I made her feel in spite of how my body must have appeared to her. Though I trusted that she loved me, the idea that she—or any other woman—could want this sweaty, smelly, fumbling flesh was still unthinkable.

Not long after that first relationship broke up, I had a series of fleeting sexual encounters with both men and women. I knew I wasn’t gay, but I was bi-curious. I was never as sexually attracted to my male partners as I was to women—but I was powerfully attracted to their attraction to me.

I remember one night when I was still in high school that I had sex with a much older man. He was maybe 40, and I couldn’t get enough of the way he looked at me. I felt a rush of elation and relief so great it made me cry. The sex I had with him was not based on my desire for him; rather, I wanted to make him feel good out of my own colossal gratitude for how he had made me feel with his words and his gaze. As we lay on a motel bed, this man ran his fingers across every inch of my body, murmuring flattery of the kind I had never heard from a woman’s lips.

“You’re so hot, you make me want to come.”

I was floored. How different those words were from my ex-girlfriend’s “Hugo, you make me feel so good.” While she had praised my technique, this stranger praised my body’s desirability. And I realized how hungry I was for exactly that kind of affirmation. I needed something to counter that old certainty that my male body was disgusting.

♦◊♦

I don’t want to suggest that straight women don’t lust, and that only gay or bi men are vocal about their strong sexual craving for male bodies. In time, I’d meet women who were more confident about expressing desire, and discover that it wasn’t only from men that I could get that kind of validation. I came to see that our cultural myths about desire hurt everyone. We shame women for wanting, and we shame men for wanting to be wanted. We still have too many Mr. Blakes out there, giving that same destructive message that no one wants (or should want) the dirty, disgusting male body.

Though our culture often teaches women that their bodies are also dirty (particularly because of menstruation), we also make it clear that men “naturally” crave and desire them. That creates a huge problem for women who have to navigate their way through a world that teaches them that their bodies have great power over men. By teaching women to focus on managing male desire, women are taught to ignore or suppress their own desires. That’s a loss for women, and it’s a loss for men.

So many straight men have no experience of being wanted. So many straight men have no experience of sensing a gaze of outright longing. Even many men who are wise in the world and in relationships, who know that their wives or girlfriends love them, do not know what it is to be admired for their bodies and their looks. They may know what it is to be relied upon, they may know what it is to bring another to ecstasy with their touch, but they don’t know what it is to be found not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but worthy of longing.

The very real hurt and rage that men often feel as a result of having no sense of their own attractiveness has very real and destructive consequences. It’s not women’s problem to solve; it’s not as if it’s women’s job to start stroking yet another aspect of the male ego.

The answer lies in creating a new vocabulary for desire, in empowering women as well as men to gaze, and in expanding our own sense of what is good and beautiful, aesthetically and erotically pleasing. That’s hard stuff, but it’s worth the effort. I know what it is to believe myself repulsive, and what it was to hear that not only was I wanted, but that I was desirable for how I appeared as well as how I acted. That was precious indeed, and far too few men have known it.

—Photo by Jurvetson/Flickr

About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website

Comments

  1. I don’t have much to say, but I did want to express my thanks for writing this article. It’s something I needed to hear.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I’ve always refrained from offering up too many compliments to a man on his body because I’ve always (obviously incorrectly) thought that they’d rather be complimented on their mind or admired for their success, etc. I just didn’t think it was important – but I will be changing my ways for sure! I’ve ALWAYS enjoyed looking at men’s bodies in all shapes and sizes! I think men are extremely sensual. I am a straight woman, but oddly enough, I’ve even been criticized by both men and women for not feeling attracted to women. I’ve been told that I just haven’t “met the right women yet” and been questioned about my attraction to men’s bodies when “women are so much more beautiful”. I just don’t see it that way. I now I will be a lot less restrained in my compliments to men… Thank you.

  3. Interesting says:

    I often tell guys I’ve had feelings for (and some I haven’t) if I find them attractive just how hot they are. I didn’t know not all women did this, but obviously everyone is different – it just comes naturally to me. If I didn’t find men attractive I’d be a lesbian, and I’d tell women how hot they are (as it is I’m bi so both can be hot to me!). I actually sometimes have had the opposite where some men haven’t told me, or haven’t told me enough, and it makes me feel very ugly and unwanted. So I know how important it is for men AND women to feel desired/sexy.

  4. Common clichés have it that women are just too busy running away from men’s sexual demands to have any of their own.

    We are surrounded by mass and social media who delights in sharing sordid stories of rape and exploitation. Is it possible to have any desire for something you’re grown to be afraid of?

    Another thing: while it is considered homophobic to insinuate that male homosexuality is the result of a bad influence with women, it is perfectly accepted and widespread, even in respected, progressive circles, to believe that lesbianism can come from a bad or violent experience with men (I heard that from a sexologist, by the way). The idea that heterosexual sex is something that men live for but women fear is alive and well.

  5. In humans, the female is clearly better looking than the male. NOT just in a sexual way, but in an aesthetic way too. In most bird species with visually obvious sexual dimorphism, it is the male who is the prettier sex. Male birds show off how pretty they are to impress the female bird, who chooses the best looking male for mating. With people, women show off their beauty to attract the men and then take their pick among male suitors. If a man is highly desirable, women will approach him and try to be prettier and sexier than each other and he will choose the woman he thinks is the best looking. I am a man who doesn’t enjoy seeing other men naked because men’s bodies just aren’t nearly as aesthetically pleasing as women’s bodies. That’s one of the biggest reasons why the female body is depicted in art from around the world as beautiful rather than the male body. And before you try to cite ancient Greek art as a counterexample, those statues of naked men are more about exhibiting male power rather than beauty. And many of the Greek artists who carved those statues were gay.

    • Big A–You have absolutely no right to body shame men. Your belief is based on personal bias and some strange comparison with birds.

      Body shaming is not acceptable! Bigot!

      And your belief about women parading around for men is shameful! It is hugely slut shaming and misogynistic.

      • The fact that straight women can find other women attractive and men don’t find other men attractive (and I know this as a straight male, as I don’t view other men as beautiful or attractive and as an artist, I paint women instead) speaks volumes.

        The Big A is right and rather than speaking against his points, you accuse him of being a bigot. A bigot against what? His own gender?

        “And your belief about women parading around for men is shameful!”

        But true. Or have you been hiding under a rock in western society for the past fifty years? We’re not in the post-WWII era anymore lady.

        • “And many of the Greek artists who carved those statues were gay.”

          The only thing I disagree on with with The Big A.

          Most of the statues we see today of Greek figures are actually from the Renaissance era, sculptured mainly by Italian and French artists and there were reasons for this, on religious grounds, Nudity of the male was okay but nudity of the female wasn’t as accepted at the time.

          The Greek artists (who made the art on pottery and vases that have survived to this day) were probably most likely straight (at least most of them) simply due to the statistics of homosexuality.

          • You’re making a dumb mistake assuming your culture warped and specific male mind represents all in this. Same mistake as the women who feel no lust make when saying men aren’t attractive. I find men’s bodies to be way more aesthetically beautiful, an artful carving. Girls flabbiness makes me laugh a bit, but in the end I’m straight so I’m sexually attracted to women. Whether theyre more beautiful our not. People like you so blinded by your instinct are funny, but stop hurting the world with your ignorance, please.

          • MeghanWhat says:

            You are stupid. Women do NOT find other women’s body attractive. You know nothing of what women want. You’re going off what you think. Some straight men do find other men’s body attractive. Sexuality is on a scale so those women who like other women’s body aren’t fully straight.

        • Well, I’m a straight man and I find I can appreciate the beauty of good looking men, so there goes your theory. Most guys are told they’re gay by girls and their guy friends if they admit such things.

        • Supra deluca says:

          Ha! 😛 Straight males in my Country aren’t afraid at all to say how much other men are sexy and how their bodies are attractive. Okay, we are also not conditioned to think and see things the same way the boy of the comment do, so that explains a lot.
          I think the male body is the most gorgeous thing on Earth. Their skin and muscles are what I think about the most around the day, haha. Of course, my sexual orientation is totally playing a big role here. But at least that is my opinion and I do not throw it around as a fact.

    • In humans, I think the male is clearly better looking than the female. NOT just in a sexual way, but in an aesthetic way too.
      I am a woman who doesn’t enjoy seeing other women naked because women’s bodies just aren’t nearly as aesthetically pleasing as men’s bodies. And the biggest reason why the female body is depicted in art from around the world as beautiful rather than the male body is because straight men have always dominated the world. Still today, even straight or gay men can be conditioned enough to believe women are more appealing, go figure.

      “And before you try to cite ancient Greek art as a counterexample, those statues of naked men are more about exhibiting male power rather than beauty. And many of the Greek artists who carved those statues were gay.”
      Wrong. It was about power AND beauty. Even the literature is filled with how men are the beautiful sex. Yes, and gay men find the male body appealing, I guess? Do they prefer the male body or still believe women are a lot more beautiful (I am talking about default beauty here, not about how much effort women and men out on their looks)? If gay men do think men are more attractive, why so many straight males still belive estraight women are not the same as gay men? Ridiculous.

  6. I totally agree with this post… on my way trying to paint male beauty I realized there are so few women photographing or painting men… a picture taken by a guy of male body is far from what a girl wants to see… there are so few female artists in the world working on this topic.. (or maybe I didn`t do a good search) And then, a question poped up in my mind? why on earth we, girls were not teached about this male beauty? why on earth we were told that we must be aware of those men gazing our bodies? what if I would have been told that I had the same rights to see the male beauty? Isn`t it possible that women harrasment and objectification seems to us so big just because we were not allowed to do the same thing? would this harrasment be lowered or even taken to more playful grounds if we , women were more playful with them? Personally I don`t feel offended when I see lingerie ads with a half naked woman. yes, women’s body is beautiful .. let’s celebrate that! why not with lingerie! I agree!! but… I would like to have a big panel with male underwear as well!! It’s just a matter of fairness!! 😀

    • Harassment can never not be taken seriously. I hope females, or males, never harrass each other.
      Objectification is relative – thinking someone is beautiful and admiring them is not the same as treating them with no respect – that is objectification, thinking people are only their bodies, that their bodies were made for you and that it needs to fit the norms. Acknowledging human beauty is not the same as treating humans as only a body, and a body that is meant to satisfy the other people’s narcissistic expectations.

      But all in all, yes, when the male body finally reach the point where it is as much seen and displayed as the female body, we will have a total different perspective. Male body issues will become a lot more common, women will get more and more picky. Males will finally be happy as women will gaze a lot more, but will also get even more frustrated because they will believe women only want the top beauty, that will be the only type of guys being displayed, the same thing that happens with females right now.
      Now about “objectifying” males as well…. Sometimes I think that is the only way out. Talking about women’s issues here, maybe only then humans will finally understand how dangerous it is. Female issues are, sometimes and unfortunately, only taken seriously when males can also see it. And in that case, they will also feel it.
      (and I think you meant women’s bodies are beautiful… after a lot of care, because that is what 99% of the media displays. the media does not celebrate our bodies, they celebrate our stupidity while waiting for the money they want to get from us.)

      Men,
      Should we destroy males’ sense of tranquility by using their bodies the same way we use the female body to bring equality? Equality not only of acknowledgement of human beauty, what is wonderful, but also of problems, frustrations and sadness? I am sure most females would not mind AT ALL having gorgeous men being displayed all around, they will be finally feel free to desire and another layer of sexual oppression will go away, the same goes for males wanting to be desired. But males, do you want it? Remember, the good never comes without the bad and ugly.

  7. Sharissa13 says:

    I completely agree with this article. My fiance has a lot of body image issues and it seemed like no matter what I’ve told him, how I’ve looked at him, or behaved towards him, he couldn’t accept that I found his body to be attractive and desirable. He’s by no means over his issues, but I’m chipping away at it and eventually I hope that he will believe me.

  8. I really hope mothers don’t tell their sons that male body is ugly. My mother told me this and its really hurt my self esteem back then and it carves in my brain that my bodies are ugly, to anyone . If a woman find men bodies ugly and disgusting, then be it, its her taste and choice, but at least don’t tell their sons about it.

    • I grew up with a step mom who always said boys were gross and disgusting. Even when my step sister was frumpy or left plates of food rotting in her bedroom, she was pretty and clean and I was gross and disgusting. I, to this day, have major body image issues. I have gone through eating disorders, diets since I was 9 years old. I cannot even be naked when I am alone. With my wife the 30 seconds after getting naked and before something sexual occurs are the most terrifying 30 seconds of my life. We have been married ten years. I tell both my daughter and my son they are beautiful and will until the day I die.

  9. Madeira

    The difference is that the only men you women can sexualize, objectify and lust after are the ones who have the face of Adonis and the bodies of a Greek god.

    The threshold of physical attractiveness required by women is so high that most men fall below it.

    The difference is that although the female body is attractive, appealing, irresistible, tempting and delicious to men BY DEFAULT; an appealing male body deemed desirable by women, is an EXCEPTION rather than a rule.

    Meanwhile, we men find the looks and bodies of the average women appealing and arousing as well. Women’s bodies, their breasts, butts, genitalia are just appealing and sexy to us by default. They don’t have to be anything special.

    That is the difference this article was perhaps implying. We already know you women find the bodies Channing Tatum and Brad Pitt visually and sexually appealing.

    • I don’t agree.

      What guys need is hygiene and more attention to their looks.

      Obviously, if you have a beer belly or have tons of dirt under your long finger nails, girls may not find you beutiful.

      What guys need to do more, is to look out for their hygiene and looks. Not many care, beyond the absolute necessity. Most women, on the other hand, put a lot of their time into taking care of their looks and hygiene.

      Beyond than, a girl’s ideal man is a subject of preference. Some like skinny, pale guys, and some love to cuddle with a “teddy-bear” type. Girls also find them beautiful in their individual physiques.

      My boyfriend is far from what Channing Tatum looks like, but I still find him attractive, and compliment him on his beauty.

    • Madeira says:

      Exactly, my husband is a skinny, effeminate fella with razor blade cheekbones. Some chicks dig chubby dudes, some like em muscular, personally I like my men like I like my lattes, skinny and extremely effeminate The idea that there’s a monolithic program for attraction in humans is down right silly, most people marry and reproduce because well, we do find each other attractive, there’s a lid for every pot and personally, channing tatum turns me off profoundly.

    • Nah that’s very wrong. I know guys that are way more hygienic then some girls. This dumb generalizing has to stop. Men and women are equally beautiful and ugly depending on who is looking, and women’s brains on average don’t give them near the visual sexual kick that men’s minds do, beauty aside. That’s it, the end

      • Supra deluca says:

        That is true, a lot of guys are really hygienic, some girl are not that much. But still, a lot of guys do only the extreme basic, while most girls go a longer way – and most shave their bodies, apply lotion, diet, wear more attractive and revealing clothes (have you seen lace lingerie for men?), etc. That all counts a lot. I know that is cultural, though. Men need to free themselves of these boundaries, and if women could help, even better.
        And that is also true, what is beautiful is always relative, even thought there might be some things most will find appealing, and some people most will agree are beautiful. Now for ours brains, that is also relative. In America men are a lot of bombarded with images of almost naked women than most women are bombarded with images of almost naked men. With women’s sexual castration a lot of them also decide not to go after their lust (I also heard a lot of women in America do not even masturbate in a regular there in America!), so that is understandable that this part could be a little bit hardened, or that they will even fake not wanting, not desiring. But saying that “women’s brains” don’t give us NEAR the visual sexual kick is way off. I would not even say it is on average, I do not know, I have seen studies showing the contrary about American women. And not all men have great visual sexual kicks as well.
        I understand what happens in America, but my reality is different. I don’t know a women my age in my Country that does not consume images of naked men in a regular basis. And for me, I just have to look at my boyfriend’s NECK and I’m wet. But no, that is not me, that is him… he is delicious.

    • Sorry, but I would never believe most men find the default female body that attractive. The default female body is hairy and chubby – the reality is that women’s healthy bodies were designed to be like that. Most don’t have that much of a pretty face without makeup. Most have messy eyebrows and mustaches. Some have really small breasts, funny butts and a prominent stomach. That is definitely not the beauty standard we see men enjoying and asking for. Sorry, but it’s not. If men like the “default” female body is because women work too hard for their bodies to be attractive, but then it is not “default” anymore.
      I could say most women enjoy men who shave, but also most would never turn a guy with hairy armpits, legs and chest down. Not a interesting sense of style, not that much hair on your head, no makeup, messy eyebrows or beard? That is all okay with most. That is not because women don’t care about looks, but because they are a lot more understanding about human diversity, because guys can be so hot the way they are. And then, we hear about men breaking up with their women only because they cut their hair short.

      I like taller and shorter men. Skinny, toned, ripped, buff or a little bit chubby. Long or short hair or bald. Shaven or hairy. Their arms, shoulders, back, butts, genitalia, legs, hands, torso, that is all irresistible to me, too. Now let’s count how many men are that open-minded about female diversity and baldness, hairiness…

  10. Madeira says:

    As a woman, yes THIS. I’ve noticed how it floors men to be told they’re beautiful, to have poetry written about them/for them, to have me want to photograph them, draw them (I do all of these things). Men’s bodies are SO beautiful, I’m bisexual, but aesthetically for me? Men win hands down, show me a pretty rocker boy with long hair, eyeliner and skin tight jeans and I melt. I remember how strange it felt to have a heavy metal guy look at me with pure gratitude when I told him he was beautiful, told him his glossy mane of waist length black hair was like silk, and my husband saying “I’ve always wanted someone to think I’m beautiful” (now he answers my endless praise for his stunning good looks with a smirk and an “I know” as he tosses his bleach blonde hair… a sign tha I’ve made my point).

    I love the way men smell, how they’re angular and not rounded like me (skinny ropey bodies, like young Iggy Pop, oh sweet lord have mercy on me).

  11. I also very much enjoy looking at a naked man.

    I wonder if this is linked to the “Adonis syndrome” or if negative male body image is shifting to the other extreme. (Adonis — I don’t know if that is the real term — syndrome is a body dis-morphia linked to the pursuit of Adonis like physique)

    ( women don’t necessarily have the better deal though, having society think you are supposed to be perfect, what happens when they find out, whoops, you’re actually human. That girl in German would have been crucified in the company of some)

  12. Hugo, it means what you are not willing to understand.
    That women are much more selective and shallow and find very few men physically desirable at all.

    It mean that us men are much more forgiving to women on their looks and bodies.
    Hope that realization dawns upon you someday.

    • That is a very misogynist thing to say. If you have been rejected by women in the past (which I am guessing is the reason why you are so aggressive) maybe it’s because they sense your hate for them.

      Also, are you really that jaded? It is hard to take someone with such aggressive points of view seriously

      There are definitely women who are shallow, there are also men who are shallow — moral of the story?
      Some people are shallow, some. They are not mostly women, they are not mostly men. Most of the women, very beautiful women, I know have been criticized over there physical looks by men.

      It is a type of person who treats someone like that, and they are usually (whether male of female) insecure themselves.

      What I hope ‘dawns on you one day’ is that people pick up on your negativity which is probably why they don’t like you, any “study” that shows a subjective perception as listing “80%” feel the same way is questionable.

      Honestly, don’t you read? Don’t you know how ridiculously unbalanced your opinion is?

    • Lolabunny says:

      Nope, that means the truth: most straight dues do not take care of themselves. Most are hairy, flabby and won’t even mind trimming their eyebrows for god’s sake! Don’t know how to dress, have boring haircuts/styles that don’t match their faces. Don’t take care of their nails and skin. Even their hygiene is worse.
      Now most women shave their bodies and their mustaches, trim and pluck their eyebrows, style their hair, wear cute clothes, diet, apply make-up, follow a skin care routine, etc. And men take that for granted.

  13. Women only find the bodies of very hot perfect looking men, desirable and pleasing to look at.

    Men can easily appreciate the AVERAGE LOOKING womans body and find it sexually appealing.

    The bodies of AVERAGE LOOKING MEN do nothing for women.

    Surveys reveal that women find more than 80% of men totally unattractive. Wow. Talk about high standards and shallowness.

    • I have this hypothesis that women are biologically attracted to body of fit males ( that show strength and fertility ) but nowadays fit males are very rare in society, because we men are not behave like we used to do in the past. Imagine like this, thousand years ago, its men job to go hunt, running everywhere chasing animals, and protect their families. Its like we were all athletes and i assumed 80% of men in that era have fit bodies, with sculpted muscles with six pack abs and no beer bellies. At that time, maybe women found average looking men sexually appealing. But now with most of males only sit in desk all day and do not do sport regularly, with unattractive beer bellies and fat everywhere, or very skinny with no muscles at all, its no wonder women don’t find average looking men attractive, while biologically they attracted to fit males bodies, which are rare today.

      While with women , i guess women bodies thousand years ago were not really different compare to average women bodies now, except for those obese or very skinny women, who most men agree its not sexually appealing.

  14. Well, as always, I assume there are all kinds of people.

    I guess there are (het) women who are attracted and aroused by hot good-looking men in general.
    There are women who are aroused and attracted specifically by their partner’s body.
    There are women who are attracted by their partner’s body, but not especially aroused by the look of it.
    And there are women who are neither aroused nor attracted to it.

    And in my 40+ years of experience, women as a group tend to skew towards the lower part of that description, more than men as a group does.

    PS. Also, if you consider it a “job” or a burden to express attraction to your partner, maybe you have no business being in that specific relationship at all?

    • Random_Stranger says:

      “And in my 40+ years of experience, women as a group tend to skew towards the lower part of that description, more than men as a group does.”

      …and lord! is this fact the bane of our collective existence. What I wouldn’t give to live in a world where straight women were more like gay men!

      • Lolabunny says:

        That would be a world with no more slut shaming, madonna/whore complexes and attacking women only because they are desiring someone! Women would love that world as well!

  15. Yah… There is a tiny bit of truth to this post, in respect to the way that the male body is presented as comical. However, I think that the author has insufficient experience with women. Women do not crave beauty in a man. Beauty is their domain and it isn’t a turn on. What a women craves is manliness. Men cannot understand the concept of manliness and so they project the idea that men are not beautiful without understand a woman’s attraction to manly features and manly ways. Looking like and being a man is sexy to a woman. She is not interested in the same characteristics. She doesn’t want an art piece, she wants something with strong lines, imbued with strength, and a character that is powerful to reinforce her perceptions. Unfortunately the modern man tries to present himself to his mate as “beautiful” rather than “handsome” and this confuses the hell out of both the man and the women. The best thing to do is to not worry about that and assume that the women will be attracted to your manliness if you exert the right attitude.

    • And since when did you become the advocate for women? Lol, as far as I know my tastes aren’t manly men as you say. Women, just like men, have their own prefences. There isn’t set rules for what women should like.

    • Men cannot understand the concept of manliness

      But women can…?

      IME, The bottom line of “manliness” as attraction in a woman’s eye transforms to a man displaying the independency that he won’t take no shit from noone.
      Then, he turns into an arrogant bastard when she discovers he won’t do as she says either…

    • Madeira says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHHA, have you even met women? Dude, Brett Michaels was a heart throb, Bowie was a heart throb, Justin BIeber is a heart throb. Russell Brand makes countless women ruin countless pairs of panties, of course if you only see “beauty” as a female thing, if you believe masculinity is never art, you’re utterly mistaken.

      • Yes, what Madeira said.
        Here in Korea, it is Jaejoong… he is manly, beautiful, masculine, androgynous, sexy, a piece of art… all of that. Or not, if you don’t consider him being any of this, everyone has different tastes. But he is considered the most handsome/beautiful/sexy man in Korea, and most girls and women would agree. Oh, most men will agree as well. You see, beauty standards chance from decade to decade, Country to Country…

  16. i’m a guy….. the idea that if i’m married my wife dont find my body sexually attractive and imagine another women bodies really makes me sad…… i thought that all women are like that, they find women bodies more attractive, they just like men personality wise………its really make me sad that sometimes i want to have sex with gay men……i’m not gay, i just want to feel desired physically, and i thought that only possible with gay men……….this articles and the comments make by women really put the weight off my shoulders…….because i like women, i desired them, physically and emotionally, and i want my women desired me also………

  17. One fact worth considering: men are very visual when it comes to their sexual needs, while women are “in their heads”, so to speak. Having said that, men are sadly mistaken if they think women don’t look at them. We’re just more subtle. 😉

    • Visuality is in our heads. So yes, that is the same. How the genders express it can be different, though.
      Unless you are talking about the places where women and menexpress it the same, as in many countries, or societies where the bodies of both males and females are not considered sensual, as in so many places in Africa and so on… but in a lot of the western society, it is expressed diferently, yes. also men are free to be more picky or even rude about female looks, while females feel ashamed of even being desiring someone.

  18. Interesting. Interesting because I don’t think I’ve ever read a single story where mens bodies are portrayed as flawed and womens as flawless. Well, until this story as it goes.

    I’ve got news for you. We’re all flawed…….

  19. I wonder if it really IS the same for this younger generation (sorry to bring up your/our age again!) I agree with you wholeheartedly and i think that because our generation really had none of the physical male role models that the youth have today may go a long way as to why we feel this way. The young straight guys in my gym work hard on their bodies and all get appreciation by their peers (male and female) and they are also surrounded by images that objectify both men and women ( I’m not saying this is a good thing but our generation really only objectified women as beautiful and therefore this stuck in our psyche as what WAS beautiful whereas they have both now – god I’m really rambling so I hope you get my point).

  20. PursuitAce says:

    I’ll take everyone’s word on the issue of male attractiveness. For me personally, it’s a green light, red light issue. Women green, men red…so I hope I don’t add to male insecurity with my own likes or dislikes.

  21. Beautiful goddammit, beautiful all the way. And sexy. I get so tired of people either implying or flat out telling me that men can’t be beautiful or anything lust-worthy. How very wrong they are.

  22. I think most societal conventions and attitudes (and especially these regarding sexuality) developed out of thousands of years of a PATRIARCHAL culture. I assume most straight men would be more interested in the female body than the male body.

    That said, I think it’s sad to brainwash generations into believing that the male body is ugly, while the female body is put on a pedestal. This makes men insecure, and insecure in an area where they biologically have a higher drive than women; and it diminishes women to their outer appearance. Ironically, one might posit that it would be of greater importance for a man to be thought of as sexually desirable than it would be for a woman, since men are more interested in sex than women are.

    I think putting a greater emphasis on the beauty of the male body would help A LOT in terms of gender equality and sexual politics. The notion that men don’t have to take care of their looks to get laid would start to fade, and old, fat, paunchy dudes wouldn’t be as apt run after hot young women, fully expecting sex. Women would feel more comfortable listening to their OWN desires and going after them, so dating, relationships, and sex would be more equal. The transaction of youth and beauty in women for status and money in men would start to diminish because equality in looks, personality, and status would start to become more balanced.

    • Agree, the funny thing is i always hate from my younger days when hearing women saying they dont care about appearance of men, they only care about personality ( and its always confidence and humour ). Its not because i have no confidence and i have no sense of humour, but its because seems to me the transaction of love between men and women is not equal. I care about women looks, just as much i care about women personality. I love how my woman looks, her bodies, just as much as i love her personality. And it is exactly i want my woman wants me, i want her to like my personality as well as my body . I dont want she only want my personality but not attracted to me physically on sexual way. I always feel weird thinking like this, because society seems to celebrate relationship between beauty and the beast, very beautiful women who love men because of his personality but hes ugly. Call me weird and shallow, but thats me. I love seeing two beautiful couples, because i find their love is equal. There are no givers and takers. I always think only me have this kind of idea between relationship of men and women. And no, its not about getting laid like you said, its about relationship.

      • Lolabunny says:

        Women do care about their man’s personality the most. You should feel happy about it – humans are much more their personality than their bodies, and women see men as full humans.

  23. Gratified Commenter says:

    I literally felt a weight of anger be lifted free and out of my stomach as I read this. I’ve been longing to hear this opinion for so long! I was so afraid I was only being silly by thinking this and would be laughed at if I tried to be vocal about it!

    I don’t want to repulse anyone, but I’ve been fascinated with boys all my life, sexually, psychologically, and artistically – they’re almost all I think about. My friends laugh at me for this – they think I’m trying to be funny whenever I talk about boys beyond their “cute face” or how sweet they gotta be. Sometimes they get upset – my mother, when she found me drawing pictures of naked men (not even pornography, just naked), gave me a long talk asking me in tears why I did this. I’ve always understood the social code as well as anybody, but it’s always puzzled me that the average person doesn’t expect a girl’s natural infatuation with boys to spring out in the scale it’s been known to for boys with girls. It also just plain angers me how the male body, even the conventional “hot male,” is constantly demonized as pumped-up, hair-caked, muscular devils as if that’s the default male form. Boys have their natural curves and shapes too – they have the definitive shoulders, the triangular torso that’s hard for girls to obtain, and the slopy, bell-shaped hips that curb out to bulging, round buttocks (pardon me, men lol). They don’t have to be effeminate to be beautiful, and they can be shapy without being effeminate. Just as importantly, women don’t have to be over-indulgent or “insecure about their own beauty” to appreciate them. It’s insulting that those notions are generally assumed to be false, and that most women haven’t even grasped the idea of “male curves.”

    I’m glad this article was written. Not only does it show that I’m not the only one, it also shows those feelings are echoed in men as well – that it is not just a feminist’s ranting, but reasonable feelings dwelled upon in men themselves. And despite what Mr. Schwyzer concludes, it IS women’s responsibility. It wasn’t women who immortalized the female body, it was men. Just as such, it is women’s turn to liberate the male body.

  24. Wow. I’m so glad I found this article. Both the article and the comments gave voice to a struggle I have been facing as a male for my entire life, and have only just recently been able to understand and articulate it. It’s not even so much that I want to be “lusted” after, although I do want to be desirable to women. It’s really that I don’t want to be seen as physically INFERIOR to the female body. I don’t want to be seen as “less than” for having a male physique. I’m discovering how beautiful my body is– I’m young, fit, and healthy. I could never see that until recently.

    I have grown up with so many messages like the ones that everyone else has talked about– my mother’s dislike for male bodies, cultural messages about women’s bodies being more beautiful, messages in pornography, messages in religion… all of them added up to me believing that I could never, ever be seen as “beautiful” as a woman. Now I know better, and I am so, so glad that others are creating awareness about this issue.

    I also didn’t realize how much of this had to do with women’s desire being repressed. Maybe if more women were raised being allowed to express their desire for male beauty, this would be less of a problem.

  25. The male body is in no way repulsive. I think it can be beautiful if he takes care of himself, but I mean in the same sense as a lovely painting which you have the desire to view and go “Ahh so pretty!” The male body does nothing for me sexually and neither does the female body. Maybe because I”m more of a face person. When I’m drawn to a person its usually something about their eyes, smile or personality that makes me want to know them. I also find overly muscled men to be a bit scary looking.

  26. I absolutely agree that society indocrimates people to view male bodies as inherently not worthy of lust, perhaps worthy of asthetic pleasure to some degree but not desire. Sites like play girl are viewed as having an audience made up of gay men. Young girls are brain washed into believing that female bodies are the ideal because the media depicts the female body as being desireable as opposed to male bodies. Girls hear the message, female bodies are more beautiful than male bodies. I disagree when I hear the statement that female bodies are more attractive; to me male bodies are more attractive. I think us woman, are taught to be the reciepents of desire, instead of the instigators because that would be taking the dominant position. I’ll admit, I love the thought of guy on guy action, male bodies, and as I’ve become more comfortable in my sexuality, have no problem expressing my desire for the male partners bodies’. Women simply need to realize that society and the media are in some sense brain washing them.

    • I’m so glad I found this article and this website. I have been an avid admirer of male beauty ever since childhood. I also find that ‘guy on guy’ action to be extremely hot and very, very erotic. It is good to hear from someone else who does too!
      I have seen men in my lifetime who were so beautiful until they literally made women stop in their tracks and just stare, but there are millions of average guys out there whose beauty I appreciate just as much. A man does not have to have a picture-perfect muscular build to be gorgeous, because men come in huge and delectable variety of types, and they are all to be savored.
      I think that men have not traditionally been seen as sex objects because some people find female lust to be a scary thing. Men are not used to being admired and lusted after, so they feel somewhat awkward when women tell them they are “hot”. Thank God that younger women today, for the most part, have no problem expressing their sexuality. We have nowhere to go but up from here!

    • Madeira says:

      Also HELL yes to man on man action

  27. Hugo,
    Wow. Thank you!
    I didn’t believe men like you existed and that’s the truth.
    I’m a Bi-curious [female-to-male] Transman and I can attest to everything you have said here. I didn’t fit the “flawless” image as a kid and later I started living as a man to feel normal and to escape the pressure of that image and the gaze of other men.
    Strange enough, I only became bi-curious for the exact same reason: The craving to be the object of desire where- in a relationship with a woman- I felt as though I was always affirming HER and HER desires, while secretly apologizing for my ‘ugly’ masculine frame that had undergone further masculization through Testosterone. I think it is beautiful to be hairy and muscular, but my only defense at the gawks I got from my lesbian girlfriends was to quote Elenore Roosevelt: “Love is just a strong form of forgiveness”.
    Your article has greatly helped me. I think I understand my sudden attraction [only after transition] to men now. Also, I’d always made myself wrong for feeling a need for being the object of desire [being that I was a butch girl, I never dated before transition @ 24], I never recognized it as normal to receive this kind of attention, so I’ve always given my female partner precisely what I’ve been craving myself while ignoring my own need to be affirmed. This has often made me feel as if I’m alone in a relationship, and confused when my partner makes it sound like our affection is something that fell outta heaven.
    Thanks a bunch,
    Moony

  28. I appreciate you sharing your personal stories which very well illustrate the point you are making. I’ve often felt it’s unfair that at as a female I was taught the male body is disgusting because I’d love to love it. It’s not that I completely do not but it is a bizarre struggle of something instilled in me when I was young.

    • natureartist says:

      It saddens me that you have to consider something as basic as seeing male anatomy as anything but beautiful, to be a struggle. When I was as young as 14 I use to argue about this very issue. My Dad was into photography, and I questioned him as to why only women were the subjects in his photography magazines. He claimed that women were beautiful and men were ugly. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo on that. He and I had many spirited arguments on the issue. I always claimed that men were just as beautiful, but it was to no avail when arguing with him. I just agreed to disagree. It is interesting to me that one would even want to see themselves as anything but desirable and attractive.

      I try to be as objective as I possibly can. When seeing a beautifully built naked male body, posed attractively, adjacent to a female body of the same standard, I can’t help but see the male body as more attractive and majestic. I am far more impressed by it, leaving all sexuality aside.

  29. What saddens me about this article is that the writer seems to feel the need to stroke the FEMINIST ego by reminding feminists, as if writing a disclaimer, that yes, we are not doubting your victim status, even though this article is bringing up a man’s needs and victimization. It seems that when anything is written about men’s needs, great PC care has to be taken so as not to offend feminists, who, of course, have to believe that they are victims and men are the perpetrators and problems. Feminists never acknowledge that women rape, sexually assault, beat and murder both males and females.

    This article could have done a great service to men if it could have focused on men’s vulnerability and pain exclusively. After all, feminist articles don’t make a practice of reminding women that men are victims, too. This article could have done a great service to men if it HAD pointed out that it IS the responsibility of women to express their desire for the male body! After all, feminists put all of the responsibility for most, if not all, of women’s problems on men. I recently heard on NPR a piece on women struggling with infertility because they choose put off child bearing (for careers) until their late 40’s. The piece ended by putting the responsibility partially on MEN for that! It never ceases to amaze me how feminists have monopolized control over our culture to the point that the statistics showing that there are equal male victims of sexual and domestic violence are being deliberately ignored so feminists can still claim female victimization.

    Men’s bodies ARE hot! They are gorgeous, beautiful and divine. The penis and the scrotum are beautiful parts of the male anatomy, as are the muscles, body contours, a man’s face and when a man has wispy long hair across his forehead or shoulders. It is tragic that feminists and men who have been shamed have done such trauma to males by vilifying and demonizing men and their beautiful bodies. To shame little boys in this manner is abusive and an egregious violation of their humanity. To mutilate their penis with circumcision is often how this hatred of the male body begins- right at birth. I have to wonder if some of the recent media cases of young boys who are becoming transgendered girls are really the victims of a severe psychic shame. I 100% support transgendered people, and children should be allowed to express themselves and their gender any way they wish. However, when I read in many of these recent media stories that the boys “hated their penis” and “wanted it gone”, I wondered if there is something deeper, a spiritual wound; shame, something more than simply a lack of androgens in utero causing some (not all), of these cases. M

    As the Mom of a beautiful son, my heart goes out to any boy who grows up believing he is anything other than beautiful, wonderful and precious to humanity. And my heart goes out to any man who has not felt desired by his partner.

    • wellput says:

      Well said – couldn’t have put it better myself about the unnecessary disclaimer; it is important to correct the feminist disinterest in acknowledging the losses that men face due to sexism. However I will try to see the acknowledgement of women’s victimization by sexism in an article like this as a positive gesture rather than something which should be eliminated. Quite the opposite, it is something which should be replicated by feminists.

    • I disagree. I see the disclaimer as a politeness and an invitation. It deflects an all too common tendency to infer blame from an issue that we should want to make better. We don’t want to just complain; we want resolution of the issue. I think it helps to reach people who might be a little too caught up in their own fight, in this case women who feel mistreated by society and men taking offense that they’re being blamed for not expressing lust–especially since they are clearly discouraged by society for doing so. So often on social justice sites, I’ve seen men challenge feminist arguments with “we’re not all like that” and “well, what about the opposite issue?” Then they get attacked for going off topic, of for minimizing the author’s point. And usually, I think these men have very important points to make, but the author could have averted some of the off-topic issue by just acknowledging that she has taken the time to see the issue from all sides. I think it helps people to understand that we’re all in this together, and we all benefit from resolution of the issue.

    • That said, (I’m reading this again after a year), I want to say how beautiful it is to hear such a stern defense of men and their bodies from a woman. True manhood lies in its humanity toward men AND women, just as true womanhood involves the appreciation of men: their bodies, minds, and spirits.

  30. I think that hetero women with a healthy sexuality lust after men just as men lust after women.

    We love mens bodies! Why do you think we watch men playing sport??

    I love my husbands body and I tell him everyday. I feel safe enough within a good relationship to do this.

    • jessybell says:

      I so agre with you. This article is hugely important. Women love watching hot men playing sport or on TV etc and we love our partners bodies. It is awful that we’re not meant to want to look. And this article makes it clear it damages men too.

      • I think it’s also important, along with another more recent article, to realize that lusting after a 6’4″, 270 pound athlete with chiseled muscles and 2% body fat doesn’t help “normal” guys who may be attractive, but would never have been sculpted by Michelangelo.

        My last relationship came to an end in part because I never really felt like my girlfriend thought I was attractive. After two years, I cannot name one time she just told me she thought I was cute/hot/attractive/whatever. It’s a little disheartening, honestly.

        • It’s great that you ended the relationship. Every person deserves to feel loved and desired by their partner and beautiful to their partner.

          • Everyone is different. I used to hate when my ex wife told me that she found me sexy because I didn’t and don’t think that sex is important. I’d rather hear that I’m smart or funny.

    • Actually hetero men dont lust after other men’s bodies as much as you would like to believe that. Most hetero men can appreciate a goodlooking man but the thought of sex with another man is bone chilling and scary. What i cant understand is why hetero women dont have the same aversion to the lesbian sex. They seem to love their own bodies more than they love men. They call each other beautiful and consider their bodies as prize where men have should have to work really to gain access to all-the-while rejecting all the advances made on them. The only reason why they enjoy being with men it seems is because they value status and children more than anything else. And the status quo says women are supposed to be men and they require sperm to have children so that is why they keep saying things like they fall in love with a man’s personality and how men make them feel. Where is the raw lust and desire for the opposite sex? Where is the longing stare and ogling? Again it seems women concentrate on their own bodies and feelings all the time which is why I think alot men take their women for granted after a while. They dont get that emotional adoration from women as most women seem to think that sex is all a man needs. Women I say this directly to you, if your man starts to neglect you maybe it is because you have neglected him for too long.

      • JCServant7 says:

        This may be why my straight friends desire me to be around them, because they know how beautiful I think their bodies are, and they don’t get this encouragement and flattery from women. I have always felt the opposite that I was taught.. that men’s bodies are a work of art and very beautiful, and that women are repulsive. Maybe it’s because I am gay. I don’t know. I remember my first real look at a naked man. It was a photo of the statue of David, by Michelangelo, in a set of encyclopedias my parents bought us. I was mesmerized at the absolute beauty of that man’s perfect body. And it really wasn’t all about his penis and scrotum. It was about his chest, his chiseled abs, his arms, his buttocks, every part of him. I’m not afraid to tell my friends how beautiful I think they are, inside and out. I’m glad I broke free of the programming I received growing up.

      • Eh, I guess you meant hetero women in your first phrase? Most straight men say sex with other men is all the horrible things because of your culture, I guess. In fact, you have to say how gross it is, because if you don’t you also enjoy men, so you are gay, and being gay is wrong… right? guess that is how it works in America. Not that I don’t believe some straight people (both m and f) think sex with the same gender is gross (I won’t ever have sex with a woman, thought I also do not think they are gross because of this), but when you say “scary” we can see a lot more of the depth of the issue there. I mean, most American men think that even affection towards other men is gross… it is about your own society.
        Women don’t love their bodies, on the contrary, most are frustrated or even hate their own bodies. It’s just that the culture, rules by the straight male power, makes them too fixated and obsessed about it. And no, most women don’t value status at all, and a lot don’t want to have children.
        Sorry, but Justin Bieber and One Direction, Twilight and Ian Somerhalder, All the K-POP (DBSK, 2PM, Super Junior…) male stars… they are not famous because their fans love their “work”. Some might love their work, but 99% love their bodies. And they get nasty when talking about it, just that it is in private. Women won’t stare at the guy on the street. A lot of women also won’t long for their own man, because they are too oppressed to do so. But that does not determine the real lust most women actually feel.

  31. I relate so much. I’ve felt this way nearly all my life. I’m really surprised that someone addressed this issue, and so succinctly. In the past, I’ve not been taken seriously when expressing these concerns; and at times, people have insinuated that I’m not straight (to put it nicely). However, I am straight. Remarkably, I can trace this anxiety to the same nursery rhyme, and also, a teacher’s insensitive comments. Thank you Hugo.

  32. PS: Yes, straight women lust in ways you cannot imagine….

  33. Sometimes I swear these articles are written to fish out the compliments, but I do think this one is sincere…I’m a uber-hetero woman, and I don’t like the looks of women’s bodies at all, but men?!! How do you guys not know how hot you are? Ask anyone who knows me, I’m very vocal about the hotness of men. You men distract the hell out of me and always have. Of course, I love your eyes, mouth… nape of your neck (which is only made better by a teasing lock of hair falling against it), your earlobes, your shoulders…your shoulders…your shoulders… your chest… I love pecs! I want to lay my cheek against them, and just feel the manliness of… YOU. I want to hear your heart beat, that strong, powerful beat that it does when you’re all worked up…., which of course, just makes me more worked up… I love the lines from your lats down to your waist (no, they don’t have to be all muscle), your glutes… aka your butt… oh, man! I do love a man with a beautiful butt… back to the pecs for a minute.. the line from them on down to and including your penis and balls… I think the package is beautiful! So much so, that I sometimes dream of beautiful, sleek penises…your thighs are like a source of strength and power, and I love to caress them, and a man’s calves on MANY occasions has dangerously distracted my driving… not to mention… oh god, do I need to go on?

    I had a long-term boyfriend who hated his feet. His toes were pulled back just a bit from perhaps shorter tendons, giving them a very sexy curve. He also had a nice arch .. he felt they looked like werewolf feet (yes, without the hair!), and I just thought they were the sexiest feet I’ve ever seen…

    Let’s not forget a man’s jawline, which could honestly sometimes just finish me off just gazing at it… and a man’s arms… another dangerous distractor if viewed whilst operating a motor vehicle… and I lve a man’s hands. While a “courtesy manicure” is nice, I love all kinds of man hands…

    I spent a shamefully long time just looking at the lines of a sleeping man’s face just last night. He looked like an angel to me… his profile was so hot… though closed, he had the most beautiful eyes, and the curve of his nose, down to his unbelievable mouth… let’s just say it made me nuts. I felt a little like a perv for watching him, and yet I couldn’t stop. (OK, I was at a party, and he had passed out, but to be less creepy, before he passed out he at least wasn’t opposed to me appreciating how he looked, so I think he would have forgiven me.) I knew how it felt for men to be in the same position… because every bit of you wishes that person were awake and in your arms…

    So, let’s end any silly insecurities about men’s bodies. I only worry now that men will use this knowledge against us women, teasing us all the more.

  34. I think now I’m going to go tell my buddy just ho gorgeous he is now!

  35. That art teacher was such a dumbass. Anyone could tell you that the Ancient Greeks profoundly favored the beauty of the male body to what they saw as the simplicity and floppiness of the female body.

    Obviously, they are no better in attitude than the “icky male” mentality of modern western civilization, but the point is that throughout art history, especially classical Europe, male bodies were prized for their bodies. What an ignorant art teacher!

  36. Dominick says:

    I’m gay — hot men’s bodies are awesome.
    That having been said, straight men are lucky that being sexually attractive on a visual level is not something that they have to concern themselves with (much). It’s hard work — and when genetics didn’t help you out, quite an unhappy lot.

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      I actually think the idea of “hotness” is a problem. It’s realatively new, and seems to affect both sexes. Based on artificiality, it uses thinness, make up, hair and other things to artificially make people more like media images. Good health and fitness would be better standards.

  37. Charlene Jaszewski says:

    ON a related note: A girl friend and a guy and I were talking about genitals last night, and the guy said he thought that all women thought penises were ugly. OH NO!!! My friend and I said In unison, and told him in our lives we’d both become acquainted with penises that were quite beautiful.

    Then the guy went on to say how he thought our vaginas were like flowers. And he was totally serious. and that was adorable. 🙂

  38. Ancient Greeks sculpted male nudes more than undraped females. They thought that the nude male body was, indeed, beautiful and praise-worthy. They thought that by sculpting a man nude that it showed not only his raw beauty, but also an aspect of heroism, which is why most of the male gods were depicted nude.

    I have always thought that male bodies are amazing. They are hard not to look at. Even though there are more men in the world than I can count, I would rather see my fiance naked in front of me any day. His body is superb. Sure, other men are more muscular, or have better skin tone, or etc, but honestly nothing could be more beautiful to me. I love his body’s imperfections, and I am able to see his body as what it is, a work of art.

    Great article!

    • Charlene Jaszewski says:

      I love the male body. And not the “traditionally” attractive one – the hairless, chiseled, six pack abs body. For one thing, I can’t imagine putting my head on that rock of a chest! Nope, I like it when men have a little bit of softness. My favorite place to snuggle is in a man’s nook, with my face on his hopefully hairy chest, where I can breathe in his musky scent trapped there.
      Sometimes with a new lover I just love to take him in visually, just gaze at all his lines, and valleys and flaws. A lover I have has recently started to get a patch of gray hair on his chest, and he’s sensitive about it, but I think it’s the sexiest fucking thing about him. That and his little belly,
      p.s. I love how Italian guy above thinks he can speak for women.

      • italian guy says:

        actually I don’t think I can speak for women, it’s just my experience. maybe you’re right but if I’m wrong the truth about this issue is so incredibly well hidden…. I think that you are a (wonderful) exception. Of course I’m talking about Italy maybe in the US things are different. p.s. do you want to marry me?

  39. italian guy says:

    sorry but it’s not true. In my experience (and everybody I know) straight women don’t like the male body. period. they like the eyes, the hands, the way you act, the way you dress etc. but they don’t really care about the whole body. sometimes they claim they do but it’s just for a sort of misunderstood sense of parity. they are bored by the male body if not slightly disgusted (the penis is funny in the best case). you became actractive for a girl only when there’s a feeling for you (for whatever reason), otherwise you are transparent in the women eyes. male body is actractive for gay or bi males and for a very little group of females, usually bisexual (why?).

    • Dear “Italian guy” 😀
      (I’m Italian myself, but I like to think of myself as a “citizen of the world”), maybe the women “indifference” you’re talking about comes out of the widespread Catholic influence (still very present in Italy, alas).
      Hence, women are taught to not be sexual, sensual and appreciative about bodies and sex; so they might ignore those kind of feelings, or just deny them in public.
      I know many women appreciative about the male body, since they trust me and they tell me what they really think.
      Still, I find women abroad (England, Europe in general) generally much more easy-going and open-minded about sexuality than Italian women.

    • Hard to tell if you’re a troll or not, but I’ll ignore that and reply anyway: I have very hard time relating to your “truth”. As a woman I’m attracted to male bodies as a whole and at the same time to it’s details. My bf’s body is something that marvels and fascinates me every time I see him, from his hair to his hairy feet and everything in between. The only situation where I could be bored or disgusted by a male body is when the man is boring or has a very unpleasant nature. In most cases, my attitude towards the male figure is something from neutral to fascinated.
      I admit that my bf became even more physically attractive when my feelings got deeper, but I see some damn fine men every day, without any feelings of lust or infatuation. Perhaps the women you have met just haven’t told you how they look at men and maybe you’ve met many of those, who are really not interested in bodies in general. They exist, just like the fascinated, visually oriented type exists.

  40. i think it mostly depends on how well one person takes care of there own body doesn’t matter what sex they are. thers still so much stupid sterotype and close minded people that have been fed crap.

  41. Both men and women are taught to feel insecure about our bodies so companies can sell their stuff. For us, is waxing, make up and tons of other products that guarantee you’ll be prettier and more desirable. I learnt to dismiss most of those messages and instead found my own way to feel sexier by being more natural and confident.
    But I’ve never thought the issue from the men’s perspective and it saddens me to realize the lack of compliments you receive and how society teaches us that men bodies are ugly in comparison to women’s.

    Maybe it’s related to the stereotype that men always want sex and have higher sex drive than women. Maybe women are afraid to let men know how desirable they are, thinking they’ll “lose their power over them”. I really dislike that notion, as well as the women who think that way.

    I always make sure my boyfriend knows how much I want him, by touching, staring and saying aloud how I love his muscular legs, his butt, the hair around his navel, etc. It’s refreshing to discover in every boyfriend and man I’ve been with how different we are, and even though I really like my body, is men’s who turns me on and therefore I cannot think of such bodies as anything else but beautiful.

  42. Wonderfully expressed. I hope that there will come a time when men come to appreciate the aesthetics of their own bodies as I do. 🙂

  43. without getting in to politics, i found this piece human and moving. it really gives me hope that people are speaking like this, and that other people are listening.

  44. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for posting this article! It’s so easy when reading online to forget that men are feminists, too. It’s nice to hear a man talking about gender and feminism and the problems that men face from the rigid gender system we have. This article reminds me of some issues I’ve noticed in regards to how we view nude models. At my college, men were more likely to apply to model than women, but the art department hired more women than men. I’ve also noticed a lot of art, especially classical, will blatantly and without shame or embarrassment show a man’s penis. In contrast, a woman’s vagina is nearly always covered, and often in a way that is completely unnatural or suggests that it is something to be ashamed of (hair falling at strange angles to cover it, unnatural and uncomfortable poses to twist the breasts into view and hide the vagina, conveniently placed props and hands, etc.) while the breasts are prominent. This has always bothered me–do you think that perhaps a view of men’s bodies as undesirable is a more modern thing? I recently looked at a resource book of nude photographs for artists with both a male and female model. The female was completely nude, and the male wore a garment that covered his penis while leaving the rest of him naked. This book was from the 1960s or 70s, much more recent that the art I mentioned. Interesting stuff to think about, definitely. At any rate, now I want to run around and ask all the guys I know if they think their bodies are gross…lol.

    • It’s so wonderful to hear a male feminist’s point of view! There seems to be a new movement perhaps of men coming forward and sharing their struggles of trying to be what society considers masculine versus feminine. An example of this I think is the book Guyland. It’s important to remember (and many people don’t) that feminism is about destroying the perception of a natural dichotomy between ‘male’ and ‘female’. Thanks so much for the article!

      Also, I would argue that traditionally only the bodies of somewhat muscular men were considered attractive – attractive enough to sculpt/draw/paint, at least. On the other hand, larger women were once featured as the ideal (with soft curves, of course, not any lumps or bulges). What is your opinion?

  45. I believe that male and female bodies are equally beautiful and at the same time display different types of beauty. Amazing article

  46. What a wonderful article, thank you! What your art teacher said is total bullcrap anyway. Michelangelo thought the male form was the most beautiful; he’s famous for making his female paintings and sculptures very muscular. 😉

    • It’s interesting that muscles are considered a male feature rather than a gender-neutral one… For example, very muscular women are considered unfeminine by our society’s standards.

  47. I’m an art student, and in my figure drawing classes we have yet to have a male model. I’d love to draw one – I’ve become incredibly adept at drawing many different kinds of female figures, from young woman to very old woman, but for the most part I’ve had to teach myself how to draw men. I’ve sat in public and drawn them, I’ve looked up reference photos, and one of my friends even suggested that I look to porn sites and erotic photo collections for varied male nudes.

    Through my nude male adventuring, I’ve come to realize that I think both the female and the male bodies have their beautiful and not-so-beautiful parts. I love the curve of a woman’s waist and hips. I love the muscles in a man’s back. I love the neck/collarbone/shoulders of both sexes. It makes me kind of sad to learn that some men think women don’t like their bodies, and it makes me sad that some women (or other men) may be reinforcing this notion. The human body is an odd, wonderful, complex, powerful thing. I’m glad we’re not all shaped the same, or my drawings wouldn’t be half as interesting to draw.

    I want to echo what people are saying about women not being visual – though some may not be, it isn’t universal. I’m a straight woman, and I still find the female form attractive. Maybe not attractive like a straight man would find it, but I like to watch bodies as they move, and I admire the beauty of the female form, just as I admire the men.

    You are hot. We are all sexy motherf*ckers.

    • The fact that you haven’t had a male model in your figure drawing classes yet is so sad to me. I’m currently taking a figure drawing class and the number of male and female models are fairly even. I won’t take that for granted anymore. 🙂

    • I met an art student once who had the same complaint about lacking male models. So I offered up myself 🙂 But she wasn’t THAT interested…

      Anyway, I’ve experienced this “men are not hot”-attitude first hand.
      In my last relationship, at bedtime i could just watch my GF undress just for the beauty of her body and the movements. I don’t think that she ever, once, during a full year, even lifted an eye from the magazine she was reading to actually see me do the same…

  48. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Only young men (teens, twenties, and thirties) are repulsive. We 50/60 year olds are hott!! 😉 Especially when we have “resources.”

    • I wouldn’t exactly say that’s totally true Henry.

      • Henry Vandenburgh says:

        Yeh, Erin. I was trying to be funny. (Someone did nominate me for “world’s hottest professors” once, and I did have to tell her that I’d just received my Medicare card in the mail.) Seriously though, one of my girlfriends told me she just thought older men looked better. To me, women in their thirties probably look best. Their bodies are ripe, and not aribrished or plastic looking. Their faces have developed some character. Forties the same way.

    • It is the contrary, old boy. We are talking about most women and their attraction to the male body, not some gold diggers and about their weird attraction to men’s resources. But if some stupid older men want to believe most younger females will want anything with them (the same goes for younger males attraction to older females – I am sorry, but they want your money, cougar), what can I do…

  49. Dude’s bodies are awesome—-athletic, skinny, manly and hairy, cute and chubby, or even androgynous. Most of the people I know who think men’s bodies are gross are either lesbians (understandable) or men (I’ve had so many arguments about why there isn’t more male nudity in movies—Dude: “Guys don’t want to see some dude’s junk!” Me: “You do realize that women watch movies too, right? And that we watch movies that have naked women in them all. The. Time?”)

    I have always hated when people—usually men—launch into a mansplaining monologue about how men are visual and women are not. I am bisexual, so I stare at hot girls as well as hot dudes. I definitely appreciate the male physique, in many forms, not just chiseled Adonis. I always make sure to tell my husband how sexy he is to me, physically, and what it is I love about his body, because I totally understand the need to be desired.

  50. Samantha says:

    Superb article!!

    There are a lot of layers here and I wish I could cover them all with my comment (it would be ridiculously long if I did though)! Thank you for sharing such personal story about your high school days, first off, and secondly, thanks for bringing this to a broader attention. I can see, now, how it is easy to get wrapped up in the stories that portray men as an unfeeling lot, the kind that just want a wham-bam-thank-you-mam kind of interaction. I love reading/hearing real stories about men, well and people in general.

    I also really wanted to say that I think men’s bodies are beautiful!

    Thanks for another great article, GMP!

  51. Sharon M. says:

    I love the male body. I am highly visual and yes, get turned on looking at men. (I thought I was going to die watching Lord of the Rings: all those manly men). Yay men! 🙂 Incidently, that tired old trope of women are emotional/men are visual needs to die.

  52. GirlGlad4theGMP says:

    So I’m late on this one, and I really don’t want to chime in about perceived attractiveness between tthe sexes, or the roots of it.
    That said, I find the paradox of male attactiveness as it relates to female attractiveness very interesting, bravo Hugo.

    I’d like to be part of the solution and I agree that because were not socially conditioned that way, men lose out on what could amount ot anything from a brighter day to resolution of body issues. BUT, before I begin my campaign to make men feel more desirable, I’d like to ask one thing of some of men out there (not all, not all).
    Please take it at face value when a woman compliments you. It’s not (necessarily) an invitation to more than just telling you how attractive you are. From past experience it’s often why we don’t say what we are thinking, it’s not worth what generally happens next, so we keep our mouths shut.
    Men ARE beautiful in many, many ways and they should be acknowledged as such. But often the consequences of such actions are more costly than the benefits.
    I think ice cream is great and I openly express that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m up for a sundae, does it?

  53. Erin where do you get such false history. the great european masters thought the male body was the most beautiful. That is the recurring theme found in ancient greece, rome and the european renaissance.

    It is the male body and face that is venerated and worshipped as the most perfect form

    • James, what false history did I express? Didn’t I acknowledged that there was much art dedicated to the male form? Didn’t I mention the Roman’s themselves and their view of sexuality and the ease they expressed beauty for the male form?

      Fact remains that the art world is dominiated by men. Hugo recanted his experience with his teacher Mr.Blake that said the female form was “more beautiful”. I didn’t say it, Mr.Blake did.

      If you can show proof by link or qoute that the Great European masters “all” thought the male body was the most beauitiful, then I encourage you to share it. Because that’s the only way I am going to believe it. To me, the male and female body are both beautiful for different reasons. And I am not content with this being a competition of male vs female for the perfect form when both men and women bring different things to the table. You oddly, seem to want it to be some kind of competition. Not of equality where men are recongnized for their beauty equally as women are. But where men are recgonized for being *more* then what women are.

      And maybe in Rome, the male body was venerated as the most perfect form. But perhaps that had nothing to do with beauty, so much as arrogance and a desire to dominant in all facets. We all know that Rome’s demise was it’s arrogance. Cultural beliefs change with time.

      Today it’s clear that the female form is upheld to beauty. Women are more often sexualized. There are also 10 fold the clubs dedicated to female strippers showing off their bodies then male strippers showing off theirs. Men today have of a more invested interest in watching preening females then women have an invested interest in watching preening men. At least in the context of body only.

      • erin you are welcome to continue to believe your feminist false history.
        im not going gently lead you through basic historical knowledge you should already possess. esp when you claim,
        ‘Perhaps great artists acknowledged that the female form was “more beautiful” because most great artists where heterosexual men?’

        ‘And maybe in Rome, the male body was venerated as the most perfect form. But perhaps that had nothing to do with beauty, so much as arrogance and a desire to dominant in all facets. We all know that Rome’s demise was it’s arrogance. Cultural beliefs change with time.’
        wow, just wow

        so i withdraw my comment feminist.
        you can hold fast to your false feminist history, i wont intrude on yr religious beliefs

        im more than happy for you to win.
        you need to win.
        ive lost, youve won

        • You’re not going to “gently lead” me “through basic historical knowledge” (something that sounds like you easily know about so it wouldn’t be hard to do) but you’re going to quote me with things you disagree with then stomp your feet and tell me “I won”, Offering no further knowledge, explanation or discussion, but making sure to make some kind of pointless point about who “wins” and dictating what I should already know. A) That makes no sense. B) It’s condescending C) You’ve offered no real information and C) You tried to use reverse phycology where you try to set yourself up as the more mature one by being the “bigger person” and letting me “win” (win what I don’t know) through what you perceive to be a contest instead of a discussion between adults that can disagree and still share ideas.

          Lets not forget the part where you call me a feminist and it’s clear by your commentary that that’s close to a four letter word for you.

          If you are going to accuse me of being incorrect on something, then discuss it with me. You said my history was wrong and I just asked which history was wrong. You said the great european masters thought the male body was the most beautiful, I just asked for some proof on that. I acknowledged that Roman culture and other artists depicted the male form. Before you did. But it’s not exactly uncommon knowledge or “feminist history” (who even knows what that is) that heterosexual men dominate the art world. That’s just pure fact.

          Also, Rome’s demise *was* its arrogance. My “perhaps” part is just a way to share ideas and discuss. You don’t have to take it as a personal affront. Clearly in Roman cultural, there was a worship of the physical form for men. That’s also reflected in their gladiator games where there was stress on brute male strength. Both for competition and to survive. My point in bringing this up is that cultural ideals shift. And there was a different mentality about the male form in Roman culture then there is today.

          • ancient greeks thought that women had the higher sex drive.
            ancient greeks thought a tiny penis beautiful.
            ancient romans thought the larger penis more beautiful.
            like today a minimium wage roman worker could only afford a single room.
            at some point in roman history having tanned skin was seen as desireable, it should you could afford not to work, while others toiled indoors

            maybe i can provide links for all this. or maybe i cant.
            So again I completely withdraw my comment. and i withdraw what i just wrote about ancient history.
            i havent back it up.

            anyway less typing from you. more reading of REAL history,history of western art, and philosophy

            • “i havent back it up.”

              That’s true. You haven’t. But I’ve invited you to do so several times now.

              If you could provide links or cited sources, why wouldn’t you?

              Instead you proceed with childish nonsense and nonsensical commands.

              It’s one thing to disagree with me. Please go ahead and we an talk about it . That’s what discussion and topics are for yes? I’m here to read and learn. I’m here to talk about my own ideas too. Just as you are.

              But it’s quite another to stomp your feet, pout, make comments then whine about how you withdraw them all the while telling someone else to type less and read more when you can’t offer anything knew other then to be offensive.

              You’re really rather silly aren’t you.

              • If my childishness, emotionality, silliness are like an acid on me or my comments.

                So be it.

                im free to behave as i wish.
                so are you…. arent you?

                • So you want this “discussion” to be about your ability to act any way you choose instead of focusing on the discussion at hand and our differing viewpoints.

                  Okie Dokie.

            • Lolabunny says:

              Menchildren…

  54. Hugo,

    Perhaps great artists acknowledged that the female form was “more beautiful” because most great artists where heterosexual men? The art world was dominated by men. Even today, men dominate the art world and a male artist is more likely to get a larger commission for a piece of work then a female artist.

    Add in the fact that some men still have fears of homosexuality that any expression that the male body was beautiful (even if they weren’t attracted to it) made them fearful of their own sexuality?

    Off the top of my head I can list a couple fantastic and world regarded works that display the male form. Michaelangelo’s David, Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker,” Alessandra Allori’s “Allegory of Human Life”… The Romans certainly thought the male form was beautiful. They were also more in touch with their own feelings of homosexuality.

    And perhaps a young girls comment of “ewww” when talking about a man’s naked body has more to do with a young girls, yet to bud, immature sexuality? Girls don’t stereotypically lust after a boy’s body like a boy might lust after a girl’s body. When I was younger, all I cared about was romance and sweet fairy-tale happy endings wrapped up in a pair of dreamy eyes. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized I really liked a man’s hands, his back, his shoulders, that awesome ridge where a man’s hip connect to his upper thigh. The more I matured, the more mature aspects, both physically through his body and emotionally, I looked for in a man.

    I do slightly disagree with you a little on your comment that seems to be a small reinforcement that at least men make it clear they they naturally desire or crave women. Men might naturally desire or crave women, but women are also sold a narrow set of ideals they must live up to to have a man’s “natural” desire in them. We are to shave, pluck, wax, implant, work-off..etc etc, just to live up to a perfect ideal of womanhood. Our natural bodies aren’t celebrated. What we mold our bodies into through self abuse is. And those standards are sometimes so unnatural, women aren’t always left feeling that the desire a man has for them has so much to do with them, as it does the narrow ideals she strives to live up to just to have his “natural” desire.

    But I do agree with you that we too often shame men for wanting to feel desired and women for desiring.
    And this paragraph really stuck me because I didn’t realize how personal it could be for men. I just always assumed men were more happy to lust after women then have strong feelings about knowing they are attractive too:

    “The very real hurt and rage that men often feel as a result of having no sense of their own attractiveness has very real and destructive consequences.”

  55. OMG, Hugo you took the words out of my mouth! I’m a woman and I’ve felt this way for the longest time. I live in Singapore, and this article describes the situation here somewhat accurately. I’m so sick and tired of seeing the women around me going to great lengths to doll themselves up while the men just kick back and accept that they are ugly. Yes, this state of affairs bothers me because I love a good-looking man, so men who don’t make an effort sicken me. Sometimes, I look around me and feel depressed when I see so many gorgeous ladies paired up with really blah looking guys. I feel sorry for the lady who doesn’t get to enjoy her partner’s body. I also feel sorry for the man who doesn’t get to experience being admired.

    (I know, I almost sound like I hate the male body, but really I don’t. I’m just fed up that so many men buy into the myth that women aren’t visual creatures, and therefore completely neglect their appearance. I also think that many men here actually WANT to believe that women don’t care about looks; maybe deep down they are afraid to compete in an arena where you have only limited control. )

  56. dsholland says:

    Very interesting article – and equally interesting stream of comments.

    I think there is a lot of truth in the various viewpoints offered. I hope there is some in mine.

    Desirability is a subjective determination that (in my mind at least) goes beyond mere form. I make a distinction between lust (self centered) and desire (a bit more complex). It is common knowledge that confidence is attractive (desirable?) and though it may seem like a bit of a chicken and egg problem it really isn’t. Our form may give us confidence, but it is the confidence that is attractive. Many of us have met or heard of the physical beauty with no confidence that was (as a result) unattractive. Only desirable as an object of lust.

    What gives us this confidence, the feelings of self worth tempered with humility is the subject of another post.

    I am not certain being the object of lust is what we aspire to as either male or female (except that there is a certain shallow power in that as well). What I believe we really want is to be worthy of desire. To be desirable. For whatever reason the traits that make men and women desirable (though they share many common attributes) are different. The characteristics of the nursery rhyme (defining standards from 1800?) echo these attributes as Hugo points out so well. In the context of that standard women are free to attend to their desirability in ways that men are not.

    We may argue the basis of these differences (female smell sensitivity? http://www.livescience.com/3457-women-smell-men.html), but they do exist. I say, “vive la difference”.

  57. Figleaf has a very interesting point – that the vast majority of intellectual thought has been driven by heterosexual men, and that the distaste towards male bodies emerges from that.

    I am not quite sure I agree though. I think times have changed quite considerably. Why is it women are comfortable acknowledging each other as beautiful, but not men?

    Very, very interesting post. Gave me a lot to think about.

  58. Our bodies are revered for what they can do… make, break, perform and kill. They are seldom idolized for their looks or being.

    The fact that more men are using plastic surgery to perfect their bodies might represent our evolution – but to what I don’t know.

    Worshiping a body for its looks is fine if we aren’t worshiping perfection. I don’t see adopting the feminine model, which I feel comes in many ways from our male ancestors that physical beauty is what we should have is desirable. There must be something that is more than looks and performance that both sexes can appreciate in themselves and the other.

    Our old models of beauty rarely serve the individual. They serve the corporations that want to market to us. Having women being appreciated for what they can do and men appreciated for their beauty is good – but there is more to being human than looks and doing.

  59. I really like this article. I have thought about similar things, particularly a while back when I was into drawing nudes. I couldn’t go to a life drawing class due to lack of money, so I looked for stock photos of non-sexualised nudes. I found far more women than men. Apparently, very few other people wanted to draw male bodies. When I found online a man who took many pictures of nude men for art purposes, many praised him for what he did. 🙂

  60. It is a sign of the importance of the issue dealt with in this article that it has elicited such a variety of self-revealing feedback.

    I’d like to deal with an issue raised by Sarah. And I’m surprised it took so long for someone to mention it.

    We are not our bodies. We are in our bodies. Our bodies are an important part of us. But when you look at my body you can’t see my feelings. You can’t see the responses I have made – brave or cowardly – to the challenges my life has presented. You cannot see the pain I may be carrying from the things that have been done to me. You may see clues to these things. The lines around my eyes may speak of tears or the erectness of my walk may speak of pride. But when you respond to my body you are not responding to the totality of who I am.

    When we long for affirmation, it is an affirmation of our value as a person. The fact that we may or may not be physically attractive doesn’t really come into it. But, if we can’t get what we really need, we may settle for what we can get. To be ignored might be worse than being appreciated for something irrelevant.

    But this doesn’t mean that viewing someone as a sex object is a form of oppression. It can be, but it needn’t be. Largely it depends on whether we view them as only a sex object. It is possible to appreciate a woman for her intelligence, her kindness, her sense of humour, and her massive juggs. These things are not mutually exclusive.

    My own experience as a heterosexual male is that beautiful male bodies exist and give me pleasure. I remember realising this when I was in high school. One of my Latin text books had a picture on the cover of a famous statue called Laocoon and His Sons. I was enraptured by Laocoon’s beauty. Later I had a similar reaction to the site of Joe Dallesandro’s nude body in the movie Flesh (1968). I have no desire to have sex with those bodies. But to see them, and presumably, to touch them, is something that can give joy. And I know that a man is sexy when I would like to look like him.

    As for being viewed as a sex object myself, I’d love it. I even like to delude myself that some women might see me that way. When I was with a woman I loved to be naked in front of her, but I think I probably enjoyed it more than she did. I want to be a sex object, but not enough to lose my flab or my facial hair or even comb the hair on my head most of the time. I want it, but not if I have to work for it.

    But one advantage that men have over women is that an ugly man can be viewed by women as sexy. Look at Humphrey Bogart. It seems that character and personality play a bigger role in sexual arousal for women than they do for men.

    So why do we find the body types sexy that we do? Leaving aside the exceptional tastes, such as desire for the very obese or those with missing limbs, etc., what we find pretty (and thus sexually arousing) in women tends to be a youthful appearance – the slimness of adolescence, the rosy cheeks of childhood, a lack of wrinkles and wide untroubled eyes, combined with those features which indicate a suitability for breeding – wide hips and large breasts. Sexual attraction of the male to the female is that of the genes seeking out a healthy non-neurotic mother for its offspring. In general the older we grow the more we collect the scars of emotional suffering and thus the more energy we have to put into nurturing ourselves and the less we have to nurture others. Thus physical signs of youthfulness, misleading as they sometimes are, are naturally associated with the ability to love a man and his children. (Sexual selection for youthful appearance is how we as a species lost our body hair.) What we see as attractive in a man is physical perfection, strength and a confident stance. These are the qualities we think will make him a good protector and a reliable long-living father figure.
    None of this would be a problem if it were not for the fact that every single member of the human race currently alive is intensely neurotic. Neurosis is a cumulative problem which is only cured by complete understanding. Most of the time we deal with our insecurities by burying them deeper and trying to carry on. We’ve been doing that for a couple of million years at least and the problem has been getting worse to the extent that we can barely function any more as a society. For most of us, male and female, our lives are ones of quiet desperation. For myself I have to say that gazing at the beauty of the female form and a pretty face have been a source of succour in the abyss.

    In this situation it makes little sense to continue to cling to the concept of romantic love. I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to fuck women I don’t even like. So how is sexual attraction the basis for an ongoing relationship, let alone a reliable foundation for the raising of children. Of course that doesn’t mean that it is not possible to find someone whose neurosis is compatible with ours and that that person cannot be someone with whom we enjoy sexual relations. But if we want stable families we have to decouple the concept of sexual attraction from that of life partnership. Fuck whoever you want, but if you are going to try to form an ongoing community or family, do it with someone with whom you can have an emotional relationship which is therapeutic to you both and to any children you might produce. We often acknowledge the damage done by people’s unrestrained behaviour, but less so the intense trauma we inflict on ourselves and our children by allowing our unfulfilled desires to make us bitter and hateful.

    • “(…)combined with those features which indicate a suitability for breeding – wide hips and large breasts”.
      Wrong. From where did you get this, any pseuso-biology book? Large breasts have nothing to do with suitability for breeding. This fization over breasts is your social extructure. Back in time, very small breasts were considered the most beautiful. In a lot of places in the world breasts are still not sexualized – they see really nothing as sexual in breasts, and definitely do not take their size as any indication to a good wife/mother. Developed breasts and hips are signs of a female that hit puberty, but I can’t see, as a biologist, how the actual size will infruence in anything (or how larger, the better). But still, the BEST way to see when a woman (or man) hit puberty is by their bodily hair, mostly.

      “What we see as attractive in a man is physical perfection, strength and a confident stance.”
      It can be, it can be not. You just failed to mention “youthfulness” as well. How we can mensure capacity to breed + youth in humans, I do not know – probably anyone with body hair that is still not getting white? Maybe. The only thing we know is that young men are the only good sperm donators we can have – after their 30’s, the sperm starts getting a lower quality each day.

      Still, boxing sexual attraction like you did is way off. People will enjoy anything.

  61. Anonymous says:

    There definitely are double standards in popular entertainment and advertising. There may be more pressure on women than men to look a certain way, certainly more attention to the way that women look. But, in my experience, it is way more common in our culture to see men’s bodies directly portrayed as disgusting – sweaty, hairy, smelly, poorly washed, etc. There is still a lot of misogyny on TV and in movies, but it’s really uncommon to see a sympathetic male character disgusted by a woman’s body. In popular culture, usually the men turned off by women’s bodies are men who are themselves immature, disgusting, and superficial, while the women disgusted by men’s bodies are simply patient, long-suffering, civilized adults justifiably grossed out by men.

    Maybe as a hairy married guy who sweats quite easily I’m overly sensitive about this, but I get a clear sense of a double standard out there: if a woman finds a man’s body disgusting, he needs to change; if he finds a woman’s body disgusting, he needs to change.

    On the subject of male beauty, what I see on the magazine racks is possibly LESS diversity about male beauty than about female beauty, even more of a narrow range. I swear all those men’s fitness and men’s health magazines have exactly the same guy on every cover: short wavy hair, perfectly defined six-pack, not a hint of body hair anywhere. I see more variety on _America’s Next Top Model_.

    You would never know from American media that a) many men have chest hair and b) many women like it or at least don’t mind it. I was really happy to see that Diet Coke ad with women lusting after a shirtless construction worker who had some chest hair. Whatever happened to messages like that???

    I’m not saying men have it worse than women in terms of body image issues, just that men don’t get only positive messages about their bodies.

  62. Hi,

    I’ve never posted on here before; I hope I am not rude out of ignorance. Here goes.

    I am a cisgender woman, a Women’s Studies major, and I LOVE this website. Brilliant, all of it.

    This particular post I love. I wanted to point out, the thing you seem to be longing for is what I have often identified in my life and in gender politics as “the male gaze”. Now, it really should be called “the objectifying gaze”, because that’s what it means; it means to be brought down to a level where you are just a *thing*, not a *person*.

    That doesn’t mean that what you’re talking about isn’t important or something to be wanted and longed for. I think – I hope – there’s a way to have a gaze of *desire* without coupling it with *objectification*. Of anyone. But it kind of weirds me out that you would so badly want something that makes so many (femme) women want to cover up and run away and hide to feel like a person again.

    Just wondering about your thoughts on that bit. But again – I really appreciate what you’ve said, particularly about art. I think the male form is beautiful.

    ~Sarah


    • But it kind of weirds me out that you would so badly want something that makes so many (femme) women want to cover up and run away and hide to feel like a person again.

      Sarah
      im glad you used the the term ‘femme’, as that is the cause.
      Of course you are weirded out.
      It is masculinity that displays itself. Masculinity that is very often the beauty of the species where one can differentiate visually between the genders eg. The peacock with his majestic brighter tail , male songbirds with brighter beakers

      ’A study of why the beaks of male songbirds are so vibrant shows that the brighter the colour, the stronger his ability to fend off infectious diseases. Female birds are most attracted to males with the brightest beaks but that is not just an aesthetic preference; it is a hard-edged choice that could confer a genetic advantage on their offspring, the scientists say today in the journal Science…
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-reveal-why-the-male-songbirds-beak-is-so-attractive-593327.html

      With our species, the face of the male is adorned with hair, the face of the female quite hairless (usually).
      History suggests that like other species, the human male is the beauty.
      Though history in most times, most places. It was the male whose body was more uncovered than the female, until 200yrs ago. When the puritan commercial caste usurped the warrior caste, and gave to themselves power that they neither deserve nor can handle.

      Femininity is the judge.
      Masculinity parades before feminity for selection.
      This is love of being gazed at, is not bizarre to the average holders of masculinity – whether in male or female bodies ie. masculine straight, bi or gay men, butch lesbians (ive spoken with), maybe even str8 tomboys (I haven’t spoken with them about this).

      Im one of the few men that women will gaze at, and when a woman looks approvingly at me it usually triggers sexual arousal in me. Im more facially attractive than most women. And yet on 80% of women in the UK under 70, I estimate Id find a part of the body that sexually arouses me.
      I like the majority of str8 men and from speaking with a butch lesbian, a fair number of lesbians, I am sexually attracted to the general form of woman.
      The hit of euphoria I feel when a woman gazes at me. Why don’t you feel that hit?
      What percentage of men sexually arouse you, just from looking at their bodies?

      For those who will explode at the gender essentialism – i don’t deny the plasticity of the brain, the effects of culture in contorting notions of masculinity and feminity etc.
      However the tabula rasa-ists are just like the religious. They both take great emotional offense at the idea humans are just animals – nothing more.
      The subconscious which is the true governor of human behaviour, is fully animal in behaviour and practise.

      This will only fully change with the advances of bioscience, when we are able to rewire the brain, genetically enhance our bodies eg. when women, and I wonder how may will – a fair number I bet- will genetically enhance their upper body strength so that it matches mens.

      To deny the effects of this machinery on our behaviour, is as odd as denying evolution

      • I shamefully forgot about transmen when writing about masculinity whether it is found in a male or female body

  63. Lezgeek says:

    Great Article! As a lesbian I often remind my gay boyfriend that while I am attracted to women, I am not blind to the beauty of men. I had never thought of how men must feel about their bodies, but it’s really not so different from how girls feel about theirs. I find the male figure attractive and striking, even though the dangly bits make me laugh 😉

    • God bless you. That was just sweet.

      Though I have to admit that almost everything about the human form makes me laugh if I forget to look at it just a certain way – hair in all the wrong places, that waddling upright stance, and remember, women have their dangly bits too, two of them.

      • I completely agree. Objectively we are a plain species, as attractive as elephants.
        Dolphins and certain breeds of dogs eg the lassie dog, hgold more beauty than our species

  64. Natasha says:

    I think this goes to the larger issue of how society perceives men viewing their own bodies as well. By and large, we RARELY think of men as being insecure over their weight, their skin, the way their asses look in those jeans….these are all body image issues we attribute almost exclusively to women. Men are told to make sure they tell their dates they look nice/smell nice/have nice eyes, but as women, we are rarely told to compliment men in the same way.
    I’m almost sure that men have the same worries about their bodies as women do….are/is my boobs/cock big enough? do I smell ok? do those extra 5/10/15 pounds show? will s/he notice that blemish? But, if men express these anxieties, they’re called metro sexual or feminine or queer or insecure or beta. So it’s really not surprising to me that many men remain silent about these particular wants and needs. How many men of been met with incredulity and disdain when they’ve expressed issues with body image?
    I wonder how many women routinely tell their lovers how attractive they are? That they have great hair, perfect skin, and an ass that looks amazing in those jeans….hopefully some of us will.

  65. I met once a man like your teacher – he was teaching photography.Once he said thet many researches show that the femail body is more beautiful to both genders. I absolutely disagreed-I love the man body,especially the swimmer type.The male and female bodies are beautiful in different ways, they shouldn’t even be compared with each other.

  66. I had never thought about it in such clear terms, but I think this is actually a very overlooked problem. I was recently in a relationship with a man eighteen years older than me whom I found incredibly desirable, and I made absolutely sure that he knew how much I felt that. He said on several occasions that it was strange to feel so desired and that he’d never really had that before. This is a man who has been in two long term relationships – one of them a marriage.

    I can’t imagine being with a lover and not telling him how much I want him. It just seems so natural to me. But clearly this is a problem. If a man can be forty and never have heard the words “I want you” or “I desire you” or “You’re so gorgeous” or any other variations on appearance and desire, that is definitely a problem.

    I just hope there are more girls like me out there.

  67. Thanks so much for bringing this issue to light…not nearly enough is being discussed about it. This is just one more aspect of the human experience in which there is an inequality that should not exist. Hopefully, (and very soon), there will be a collective mindshift away from this faulty perception of reality.

  68. I am amazed and happy that a man talks so openly and honest about this theme and can only hope this will inspire other men to feel more aware and proud of their physical attractiveness. Men have beautiful, fascinating bodies, just as aesthetic, erotic and lustful as a female body! And: women love looking at them! Thanks to ages and ages of being programmed that male nudity is dirty, ugly, pornographiy, gay, whatever, we might not say or show it so easily. But then nakedmenhappywomen.com is working on it 🙂

    Two thumbs up!

    • I’m a woman, and I watch gay porn. Why? Because THERE ARE TWO HOT GUYS in it.

      Yes, so much is misunderstood about human sexuality.

    • Great article, truly refreshing to see such open, honest accounts of an area of sensuality which isn’t much remarked upon (and thanks gabigirl for directing me here).

      It should be so easy – you fancy somebody enough to sleep with them, you should feel confident enough to tell them how physically beautiful they are to you. It’s not always that easy for so many though.

      I’ll def say it to Mr P when I get home tonight!

  69. Maeghann Alder says:

    I don’t have a whole lot to say on the subject that hasn’t been said already, but I wanted to say: thank you for bringing this into public discourse! I am primarily attracted to men, and I have a potent visual fascination with the male form. The slovenly look that most men keep, on the assumption that they could never be “sexy,” is a HUGE turn-off for me, and makes me so sad! There are so, so many good-looking guys out there in the world, and they go around hiding it and deprecating it and depreciating it. I *want* to be able to objectify menfolk a bit more– in a fun, yummy, consensual way of course– and I want men to feel more free to set themselves up for said objectification by dressing in a flattering way, smelling good, and owning their own beauty.

    I make a huge point to praise my male partners for their looks, and how much their bodies turn me on, and how much I like looking at them, touching them, tasting them, and smelling them. I’ve gotten universally sheepish but positive reception, and the reward of seeing their self-confidence blossom. I’ve also gotten more requests to be sexually aggressive with them, be the “initiator”, and I think that’s great too– I love making my partners feel desired! I know it makes *me* feel great, and I am pleased to occasionally turn it around for them.

    I’m not a “feminist,” I’m a “humanist–” I want people of all gender expressions to feel fulfilled, sexy, and happy with themselves. Creating more parity in expressions of desire is a great step down that road 😉

  70. We enjoy a freedom to be dirty that even now, our sisters often do not. No mistake, that’s male privilege.
    Does that mean that having the freedom to put “too much” stock in physical apperance is female privilege? (And I’m really not trying to force an equivalence here just commenting on what I observe. It seems that what you say here is really only a privilege if said men actually want the freedom to be dirty.)

    figleaf:
    I’d just add that the same goes for the insane opinions of men’s expendability: it’s an opinion that doesn’t seem to be shared, at all, by the vast majority of women.
    Even though (in my experience at least) women are just as quick to police a man’s actions when does something that a supposed “real man” wouldn’t do?

    But contrary to MRA fulminations, it’s heterosexual men’s not heterosexual women’s judgment that has rendered them so.
    Even when the words of judgement come from heterosexual women?

    I know you’re trying to defend women and all that but this almost comes across as trying to say that male disposability, policing of men, and the misandry that follows is figment of men’s imaginations and women have absolutely nothing to do with them.

    • “Does that mean that having the freedom to put “too much” stock in physical apperance is female privilege?”
      I’d argue it’s more of an obligation or a social expectation than a freedom. It is still more *acceptable* for men to put an effort to look good than for women to *be dirty*.

      BTW have you read “The Beauty Myth” maybe?

      • I’d argue it’s more of an obligation or a social expectation than a freedom.
        Which is what I’m getting at. How is it that the expectation/obligation that men be dirty and grungy a privilege while the expecation/obligation that women be clean and kept just an expectation/obligation?

        It seems to me that the line here seems be that if its about men its privilege and if its about women its not.

        • Jesus, you are obtuse.

          There is no expectation that men be dirty. Mostly, we like men to be clean. But if they are dirty and grungy or fat or whatever… they don’t get hammered as hard as women who do the same. Hence… the privilege. One can walk around looking like Zach Galifinakis… chubby, overgrown beard, clothes that look like they were stolen from the homeless, and yet be revered. A woman could not get away with that. Not in this lifetime.

    • Hugo is a feminist who is complicit in demonizing the sexuality and identity of men.. he shouldn’t ask the question if he’s part of the problem.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plkeKMTDM9g

  71. Wade McClusky says:

    If you walk around any high school or college campus, you will see young men who are clearly concerned about their looks. Guys have toned muscles even if they never go near a football or a skateboard. Fake tans. Styled hair, sculpted and kept in place with product. Flattering clothes. You get the idea. Whether they are being noticed by women, men, or themselves, or all three, they’re getting appreciation. Actually, I’m kind of surprised nobody has mentioned the whole male beauty industry. Hasn’t anyone ever seen a guy check himself out in the mirror? It’s okay. At the end of the day, I say different strokes. Guys can be dandies, cowboy/soldier macho dudes, “bears” (gay or straight equivalent), utterly hairless, cut, uncut, and sooner or later somebody will jump their bones.

    • Yes, throughout periods of history and among different cultures there is different expressions of male beauty.

  72. How times have changed where misandry has become a part of popular culture.

    “What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”

    -William Shakespeare

    • He wasn’t taking about men.. he was talking about ‘human beings.’ “man” was the archaic term for all people.

      • Sure he was, but he was also a patriarch and women were considered to be a lesser part of man in those times (Adam’s rib)

        • I’ve studied Shakespeare in depth, the man was not a Puritan. He had ideas that were way ahead of his time…. there are also sonnets written to young men that would suggest he was gay or at least bisexual.

  73. It’s weird, because the male form used to be considered beautiful, particularly during the renaissance where male nude males were the norm. It was nude females that were frowned upon and considered dirty. I wonder what changed?

  74. If you’re able to get the video (it was unbearably slow for me) here’s something from New Zealand TV about a nude rugby match at a college there. If one is willing to be open minded, it’s a lovely sight to watch all those guys running and jumping and throwing. It makes me think of the the ancient Greek attitude toward beauty. But as someone said above, if we’re willing to accept the idea of male beauty at all, we seem to want the man to be active, whereas if it’s a woman, she just needs to lie around and simper. What’s up with that?

    By the way, the performance the New Zealanders go through at the start is a Maori dance called a haka, which is a trademark of NZ rugby teams. The Welsh guys did their own little show in response.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Nude-rugby-a-hard-match-in-Dunedin-contains-nudity/tabid/309/articleID/161713/Default.aspx

    • @John, i love that video – absolutely hilarious(the leek throwing)!! The Haka is one of my favourite things in rugby – its so powerful and masculine. Always gets me going. I would have been pretty nervous playing rugby in the buff though… too many things to get pinched or fallen on!! ouch!!

      I don’t get this idea that men don’t like to be gazed on or are used to it. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but men’s bodies have been admired and looked at as idols of beauty since the greeks (probably before to be fair). I think the whole slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails (not sure what snips are?), thing was a puritanical christian invention. They’ve got a lot to answer for. The greeks even warned people that women were far more carnally agressive and insatiable than men (something I’d have to agree with in my personal experience).

      I’ve been out wiht guys who love being told they are gorgeous and I have no qualms about telling them I love their bodies (AND their minds however), i love mens bodies. It might be becuase I am an artist and appreciate the human form in all its variety. Who knows. But wow, men’s bodies are just exquisite. Yes, some are hideous and revolting – but there are just as many hideous and revolting women’s bodies!!
      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that…

      John your video reminds me of this absolutely brilliant website… internetshouldbeillegal.com/ – and shows something that often gets bandied about, and that is that ‘naked men are funny’ – and well, these guys are. But most of the time, i’d say that naked men are just hot!

  75. Question says:

    Has there actually been a study of how many men care about being under a female or male gaze? How many state they long to be desired as a sexual object? How many want to know from their partners that its their looks that stimulate, not just the promise of some service being delivered?

    I have a sneaking suspicion while there are some guys out there who crave it, others could care less or would be made really uncomfortable being under the same sort of gaze they bestow on women.

  76. The key, it seems to me, lies in who exactly proclaimed that men’s bodies are undesirable: a male art teacher. Who, since it’s safe to say he was straight, was generalizing from personal experience. Which in turn is a general phenomenon: since the vast majority of men are heterosexual they don’t find men’s bodies erotically appealing. And since the vast majority of intellectual, legal, and artistic esthetics is attributable to heterosexual men, men are defined as not erotically appealing.

    But contrary to MRA fulminations, it’s heterosexual men’s not heterosexual women’s judgment that has rendered them so. (Furthermore, since the vast majority of feminists are heterosexual, it sure as heck isn’t feminist women who propagate the idea of men’s undesirability. A notion that predates feminism by centuries anyway.) I’d just add that the same goes for the insane opinions of men’s expendability: it’s an opinion that doesn’t seem to be shared, at all, by the vast majority of women. Sure, mothers, sisters, and daughters love their sons, brothers, and fathers. But wives and lovers don’t see men as expendable in the least.

    It’s taken me a while to find them but it turns out there’s a whole genre of Tumblr-based photo blogs by women that contain sometimes thousands of erotic images of mostly heterosexual men. (When there are paired men the captions and comments are similar in nature to men’s comments on “lesbian” erotica — appreciative of options to insert themselves in the mix, not of homophilia per se.)

    That it took nearly a year to find the first is indicative of how marginalized the paired notions are that a) men’s physicality is erotically attractive b) to heterosexual women. That these Tumblr sites, with their frequent promise of anonymity and thus buffering from shaming and “correction,” are increasing in number the way women’s text-based sex blogs began to grow roughly seven years ago, suggests that despite the insistence of (mostly) male opinion leaders, erotic interest in heterosexual men has only been suppressed. What’s being discovered is an outlet for expressing that interest, not the interest itself.

    Cool post, Hugo.

    figleaf

    • The key, it seems to me, lies in who exactly proclaimed that men’s bodies are undesirable: a male art teacher.

      Actually, the shift seems to coincide in part with cultural changes, particularly those of the 19th Century. The art community certainly has not helped by declaring the female form the most beautiful, but that declaration may have resulted from the changes in what society deemed desirable and beautiful.

      Which in turn is a general phenomenon: since the vast majority of men are heterosexual they don’t find men’s bodies erotically appealing.

      That has little to do with finding the male body beautiful. There are plenty of things people find beautiful that they are not sexually attracted to. It is doubtful that people who find deer beautiful find them erotically appealing. The focus on the eroticism ignored the broader impact of our culture’s views about the male body.

      Furthermore, since the vast majority of feminists are heterosexual, it sure as heck isn’t feminist women who propagate the idea of men’s undesirability. A notion that predates feminism by centuries anyway.

      The notion may predate feminism, however, feminists do not treat males in general as desirable nor do they challenge the notion that the male body is revolting. When one typically sees feminist discuss male desirability and the male body, it is either consists of parody or another narrow mold for men to fit into.

      I’d just add that the same goes for the insane opinions of men’s expendability: it’s an opinion that doesn’t seem to be shared, at all, by the vast majority of women.

      That would depend on how one defines “men’s expendability.” Will people treat their immediate family and friends as expendable? Probably not. Will people treat strangers as expendable? Probably so. In many cases what one sees are people treating the males they know as exceptions to the rule. The males they know are not expendable, but males in general are.

      • “That would depend on how one defines “men’s expendability.” Will people treat their immediate family and friends as expendable? Probably not. Will people treat strangers as expendable? Probably so.”

        So the question is, how do men and woemn treat the expedablilty of strangers. iI think the answer is in the lack of a term referring to females that correpsonds to “white knight”.

  77. I never considered myself an “attractive” man and a broken nose and other scars attributed to athletics, industry, and urban violence didn’t help me in that aspect. In fact, as a male, I have always felt that I couldn’t bring “attractiveness” or “beauty” to the table in a relationship; the only thing that I had going for me as a male was rugged looks and character. Men could be “handsome,” or have “rugged looks” as I mentioned. The aforementioned scars and broken nose added “character” to my looks.

    But oddly enough, I have a wife who finds me quite attractive and desirable. However and admittedly, I have never asked her what was it about me that elicited those descriptions. I just (after some self-adjustment on my part) took her at her word and moved on with it.

    As an unwritten rule, men could be “cute,” and we could be “sexy,” but never “beautiful.” And those men who were the exception to that rule, were for whatever unfathomable (to me) reason considered un-masculine. As I began to question the traditional ideas regarding male roles, I also started asking questions about what it meant to be a “desirable male” in the eyes of women. I’ve always wondered about the intangibility of what made a man attractive to a woman as opposed to the very tangible concept of feminine beauty.

    As men, we look at all the same things in the women we find attractive (not all men look at the exact same things, but all men look at the broad group of similar physical attributes in women). Nearly every guy I know has looked at a woman and commented “foine” or a similar remark on a woman’s physical attractiveness. Many of us have also made similar commentary on a given part of a woman’s anatomy (i.e. “Dat ass!”). I also know women who make comments like that on parts of male anatomy. But nevertheless, the idea of “male beauty” in the eyes of a woman has always seemed to be a nebulous concept at best from my experience.

    So where do we start if we want to see this changed? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then should we try to change how women see us? Or, should we “become the change we want to see in the world” and change ourselves?

  78. I cannot miss the irony of this article. This sort of thing has been mentioned to Hugo many times before, yet he always sets it aside as just another example of “male entitlement.”

    Setting that aside, Hugo kind of misses the mark. It is not the male body per se that is viewed as disgusting. It is the average, not particularly fit male body and specifically the male genitalia that gets viewed as disgusting. Every boy (sans Hugo, apparently) grows up knowing that if they are in shape, girls will stare. It is if they are not in shape or not attractive that they are disgusting. That is the different. The female form in general is considered beautiful (although certain shapes and sizes are not), whereas only one time of male form — the ridiculously fit — is consider beautiful.

    In that sense, it seems unlikely that “empowering” women to gaze at (i.e. objectify) men’s bodies would change much because they may not find the average male body attractive. What needs to happen is a shift in treating the average male body as something only for utility. There also needs to be an end to the constant reinforcement that the male body is disgusting.

    • Wrong Wrong Wrong says:

      Women who do not fit into the conventionally attractive mold are treated as sub-human or invisible.

      There is no one ‘female form.’ And actually what is considered attractive is very narrow. Thin, shapely, hip to waist ratio, young. Deviate from that and get society’s scorn.

      • Depends upon which society you look at.

        In our own country (US), it differs from local culture to local culture. You see this especially in the differences between the tastes of European American men and African American men. White females who many white males consider “fat,” often find that Black men cherish and praise their “Rubenesque” builds. Did everyone forget Sir Mix-A-Lot’s famous anthem to booty; “Baby Got Back?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4he79krseU)

        • Ms. Anthropist says:

          He was praising the kind of hip to waist ratio most Europeans would still like…”fat” just means bigger ass, the women are still expected to be unnaturally tiny in most other areas.

    • Toysoldier, your position come off as somewhat inconsistent: you start off by saying that it is not the male body per se that’s viewed as unattractive, but the average’s. Then you end by saying “needs to be an end to the constant reinforcement that the male body is disgusting” speaking generally as you were reproaching Hugo of “missing the mark”.

      Yours also come off as a position of privilege-fail. Men’ social expectation on this is not in ANY way, shape or form comparable the pressure of women to be beautiful at ‘any’ time, ‘all’ the time and ‘every’ time. Entitlement issues are exactly that when you expect that, because you’re a dude, women “owe” you to be attracted to you. Well, we’re not. Women should be free to be attracted or repulsed by the men they are (and should be able to verbalize such emotions too). I know personally many women, most can and do notice good looking gorgeous or beautiful men. I’m tired of the mansplainers telling how “women don’t notice or care about look” hmmm, not true. The fact that you were triggered does not grant you the right to a woman’s desires.

      I think ultimately everyone, including the men you describe above, can find someone compatible regardless of their own self-perceived shortcomings, provided they expend their own mental expectations of what a woman “should” look like.

  79. bathorie says:

    This may be the first time I’ve ever agreed even slightly with a comment of yours, but I think you’ve hit upon something here. Men’s bodies are valued for what they do; women’s are valued for what they look like. Even the male body we do value for beauty has an obvious potential to do– it’s extremely muscular and strong-looking.

    I also like your point about sacrifice, although I think the image is more the sacrifice of a young man’s body, than of men in general. Especially in regards to the rise in modernism, all the beautiful images of men I can think of are depictions of men at war, or men at work. (ie: Lewis Hine’s Power house mechanic, or the many battlefield paintings of the Napoleonic era.)

    • Ms. Anthropist says:

      Because women are less likely to be in the military. That sounds like they are an afterthought. Your statement just proves bathorie’s point; men are described by what they do, women are just valued for their reproductive potential.

      • bathorie says:

        I’ve actually never really looked at it like that before- I don’t think of it in the same way as Ms. Anthro, but I’ve not really picked up on the odd “grouping” of dead men. I used the example of the Napoleonic era because I’ve never lived through a large, multi-nation war, and it seems like that’s the only time when dead men are glorified, and inevitably beautified in art.

  80. Stephanie says:

    I’m gradually becoming more confident in in telling a (male) lover how attractive I find him and his body — to see, to touch, to smell… I think they don’t always know what to make of it and how to react, which is probably related to the notion that to be on the receiving end of such expressions of desire makes one passive and that position is categorised as feminine. Or it could be that this interesting post I read a while back is onto something: http://www.realadultsex.com/archives/2009/01/shorter-no-sex-class-paradigm

    I certainly hope my lovers do not experience the sort of disgust for their own body that you write about Hugo (although I suspect that’s at least partly what’s going on with the man I’m intimate with at the moment), but I do hope that it does make him happy. That’s not why I say these things though. If I say it, it’s because I feel it and it has to come out somehow!

    Regarding artistic representations of men, I think that, because there is this notion in the culture that to celebrate male beauty puts the male body in a “feminine” position, and because of ambient homophobia, such representations make viewers uncomfortable — including me sometimes, even though I have no objections to such material, so long as it’s done respectfully.

    That’s one of the reasons why I liked Tom Ford’s movie A Single Man. I remember a dream sequence in water where he has found a visual language to make the male body seem attractive without making it seem feminized: it is beautiful and attractive *as* male.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1315981/

  81. I’m just going to point out one caveat in a mostly awesome article. Women are fed the line that their bodies are desired and they must manage men’s desires only when they are the ‘right kind’ of bodies, Bodies which veer away from the ideal are also portrayed as disgusting and the women who posses them are also often under the impression that their partners find the ‘physically repellent’. I would bet that considering the stats on western women’s dissatisfaction with their own bodies, a great majority of women rarely feel like they have to manage men’s desires. But, I understand this is kind of a tangent and the author is dealing with a very visible cultural phenomenon which is quite frustrating. The upside is i think many women can probably empathize with those men who’ve felt their bodies aren’t worthy of desire.

    • “a great majority of women rarely feel like they have to manage men’s desires.”

      I think you are misunderstanding what that means. yes, many women do not feel they are worthy of love or affection or desire because they do not fit the unreachable ideal, but they still feel pressure to dress and act in a manner to gain the attention they are told is their worth or to deter unwanted attention. How you look and act in relation to men is constantly on women’s minds no matter how much they may self hate.

  82. You get new magazines like Filament (NSFW) that celebrate male beauty in a respectful context that, unlike Playgirl, is totally aimed at women. But Filament is always getting ripped to shreds in the media and everyone is told its readers must be gay men, because women aren’t allowed to enjoy male beauty, that’s just not on.

  83. Fascinating article as always, Hugo. I’ve always felt that the “disgust” of male bodies was very much about gender binary and homophobia. Media is portrayed through the lens of the male gaze so women are objectified and men are tools of that objectification. As a straight woman, I look for male bodies that I desire as beautiful and lustful in my entertainment, but instead I am given the “every day” hero who wins the gorgeous female love interest or the hyper masculine male fantasy. It’s no wonder that men feel as always the desirer and never the desiree.

    • J.G. te Molder says:

      It’s the other way around. It’s the disgust of male bodies that is complicit, if not outright generates homophobia.

  84. There is the flip-side to this too; I really try to express to my partner how much I love his body. I love that he is strong and muscular, but also kind of doughy (kind of like Darrel on the Office), but he is extremely uncomfortable with me expressing desire and physical attraction to him—he acts like it is degrading. For me, obviously, I want him to feel wanted, but for him, I think it makes him self-conscious to be admired that way—“like a woman.” I have had both male and female partners, and so far three out of the five men I have dated have felt obviously uncomfortable with this sort of expression.

    He seems to prefer when I say I like what he does rather than what he is; frankly, I prefer the same (to be told that what I do is pleasing rather than how I look). I suppose maybe it was the Protestant ethic with which we were both imbued as children?

    • Finnegan says:

      This is important, I think. Our culture constructs masculinity as active and femininity as passive, and so just as many women have a hard time assuming the active role of sexual subject, so a lot of men have a hard time accepting the passive role of sexual object.

  85. Victoria says:

    To me, this article really seemed to highlight the differences between what is viewed to be a “masculine” compliment to give as opposed to a “feminine” one. With the socialization that female sexuality and lust is “dirty”, it seems to me that the women get around the guilt of lust by talking about how it makes us feel. Perhaps when female lust is no longer viewed as a shameful quality, we will feel more free to share those sultry gazes and carnal compliments with our male partners.

    • I agree. As Hugo pointed out, women are taught to focus on managing male desire and that we are responsible for it. At the same time we are told our worth is tied to our desirability. It’s very difficult to be in control of your own sexuality and feel confidence in it while trying to manage an appropriate amount of sexy for male consumption and acceptance.

    • Yeah, I do think that the stigma of female desire prevents the longing gaze. All it takes is being called a slut or a whore a few times to make you afraid to let somebody know that you find them attractive. I complimented a man’s body only to be called a whore by him.

  86. I am very surprised at the article you have written. There is a single word that is well placed, but in my opinion should be exploited much more. That word is “affirmation”. If this were a photographic filter imagine the effect of what would be seen if it was used more frequently at appropriate moments, in context. Against this single word, compare it’s significance against what is commonly offered to men and their disposability.

    So I get into bed with my partner and slide over to be close, her response….please, I’m too tired. Next night, I come home walk in the door looking forward to being with my partner. I walk up behind her put my arms around her, to which she responds, God you smell sweaty, and now you’ve got it all over me. After being repelled by these subtle comments daily, I begin to withdraw. The days become polite and quiet. I decide to tell my partner that I think we need to spend more time together, her response is to ask me why I am so emotionally needy. Time passes and one evening my partner stands in front of me asking if she looks fat in her outfit. I know what she is really asking. She’s noticed that there is no attention from me, and has decided to assign it to some deficiency she read about in some magazine. Totally oblivious to her repelling behavior. Or maybe she had a date. It’s not difficult to conclude that the relationship and it’s definition belongs to her and she has used me to accessorize it. Of course I could choose to just “man up” and ride the misery train to the last stop, but that train is full and they really don’t me.Besides if she chose to settle for me, I’d rather she didn’t, I would rather see her more enthusiastic about life, even if it doesn’t include me.

    I took a personal survey with the men that I knew and worked with. The question; have you ever gone home and walked in the door and your partner was all over you and just ravaged you?
    The answer sadly from the overwhelming majority. No, but I’d love it if she would.

    “It’s not women’s problem to solve; it’s not as if it’s women’s job to start stroking yet another aspect of the male ego”.

    Isn’t it a good thing that men only have one penis, so women don’t get confused by which one to stimulate.

    • Sounds to me like you both ned to break down and get girlfriends.

    • @Keith – Oh to find a man who would actually like to be leapt upon when he comes home after work. Not all men want this – i unfortunately managed to move in with someone who avoided it. OH the effort I put in. I hear this alot that men want sex allt eh time, but when its there, i’ve often found in past experiences.. that they don’t want it all the time at all!!
      Maybe i’m just a randy bugger. LOL

      I know what its like to be ignored and told to bugger off with regard to sex. It is awful when partners use sex for control and I would NEVER (Have never) done so. Its not only cruel it is also cutting off my nose to spite my face!

      All my female friends love men and their bodies too – i’ve not often met women who find them repulsive…

      • Thanks, I’m glad someone else said this before I needed to give in to the compulsion to say it.

        Whenever I hear that women are the sole arbiters of sex, it makes me feel horrible, since I’ve had the exact same experience with men not wanting sex. =( I’m quite used to feeling like it’s the man who controls when the sex is had, and the woman who has to wait impatiently on it.

    • Some men also do that. A lot. And sadly, I could say most men would actually dislike it if females were to jump their bones all the time (i don’t mean all the time literally here). That is giving to much freedom and aggression for women, and that turns a lot of males off.

      “Isn’t it a good thing that men only have one penis, so women don’t get confused by which one to stimulate.”
      That is perfect lol. Women would have to stimulate two penises all the time when having sex and that would mean even less stimulation/foreplay time left for the women. All the while still having only one clitoris that most men still get confused about and choose not to stimulate at all anyway. That would be too sad, indeed! 😛

  87. Male disposability is just an evolutionary fact. 20 men and one woman and you have a disaster. 20 women and 1 man and you have a species. Nasty, but true. I think these kinds of truths are what are missing from gender discourse. Babies need to be with the woman who have birth to them. No, you can’t go to your law practice and leave your infant with the hired help. No, Daddy can’t be at home full time. Well, you can do both those things. But don’t expect a great outcome.

    • The 1950’s are back that way. I think you might have made a wrong turn somewhere.

    • cosigned

    • “20 women and 1 man and you have a species”

      Just not his species. We are not infinitely malleable, we cannot just sit down and design whatever culture we want and expect it to work. That ratio is what you see in the underclasses, both white and black. They certainly manage to have lots of babies. The only problem is their failure to get those babies to grow into functioning adults at an acceptable ratio, 1:1, a failure they themselves often acknowledge in one way or another. Every baby deserves a full life, with a real adulthood.

    • “Babies need to be with the woman who have birth to them. ”

      Being born to a drug addict and alcoholic who actually lost me…as in couldn’t remember where she left me…that is the most ignorant thing I have ever read.

    • Jeanette says:

      That was highly sexist to both men and women.

    • SallyStrange says:

      21 people and you have a disaster, period, regardless of the numbers. Evo-psych is interesting, but our evolutionary past doesn’t have to dictate our present. The survival of the species is not in question (at least not immediately). This particular type of male expendability is not relevant to modern times and cannot be used to justify sending men to die in wars while women remain at home; it most certainly cannot be used to justify gender discrimination in the workplace.

    • ???? Aahahahaha, God. Please, stop. What that has to do with everything else, I don’t know.
      Yes, women get pregnant, men don’t. So… your point.. is…?

      “Babies need to be with the woman who have birth to them. No, you can’t go to your law practice and leave your infant with the hired help. No, Daddy can’t be at home full time. Well, you can do both those things. But don’t expect a great outcome.”
      What in the world, again. I was adopted, so I was not with the woman who gave birth to me. I was adopted by a single man, a wonderful, wise and loving soul and dad, and yes I was left with the hired help when young. I am happy like that, so please, could you stop throwing cap around? Thank you.

  88. jfpbookworm says:

    Hugo, you’re still coming at this from a position of looks privilege, which equates the potential to be desired with the actuality of being desired, and posits managing others’ desire as the primary problem, rather than the stress of trying to meet beauty standards or the difference in treatment that makes such efforts imperative.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by looks privilege, jeff. There’s no question that beauty standards are problematic — but as we know, the reality of desire is broader and richer than the narrow standards foisted on to us by the culture. One way to undermine the tyranny of that narrowness is to encourage a greater vocabulary for desire for all of us, particularly women. Not to soothe men’s egos, but to allow far more of us to feel what it is to be wanted.

      Can we create a situation where everyone is “entitled” to be wanted? Of course not. Aesthetics are partly shaped by biology and partly by culture, and no matter what we do, some people will be perceived as more desirable than others. What we do with that reality matters, however.

      • jfpbookworm says:

        Looks privilege is what lets you talk about being the object of others’ gaze in terms of managing unwanted attraction rather than unwanted judgment. It’s also what lets you handwave away complaints about judgment as “entitlement to be wanted.”

        I’m also not sure why you think that the tyranny of beauty standards lies in their narrowness, as if mistreating someone based on their appearance is wrong if they’re ordinary looking but okay if they’re really ugly.

        • jfpbookworm, I’m sorry that Hugo’s post has obviously triggered you but Hugo is definitely correct: society as a whole could definitely benefit from women expressing their own desires. I think moving away from the male-centrist vision that “men are visual, women are not” is a positive change.

          It seems you have a fairly negative view both of yourself and men’s looks in general but you’re definitely wrong on this (again, my goal is not to dismiss your own subjective personal experience which tells you otherwise but to tell you there is another perspective, another world out there other than your own limited experience): men can look absolutely gorgeous and the notion that men’s bodies are “icky” is indeed a problem in the current discourse. You cannot IMAGINE how HOT and GORGEOUS men can be. Those backs, those wide shoulders, that gorgeous defined jawline…yum! I could go on but ahem, the point is that men’s form can be as visually appealing then the traditionally women-centric view of sex.

          If we are to evolve as a society and reach greater gender equality, then it’s important to verbalize both what they find visually unappealing in a man, but more importantly what they do find appealing because ultimately women are just as visual as men are. I’ve seen a lot of attractiveness-challenged or differently-attractive men even expect traditionally (male-defined) attractive women to be interested in them. I think this: is a symptom of everything that is wrong with the current view of women/men relationships.

  89. What a lovely article. I am a woman who loves men’s bodies. I think they’re beautiful precisely because they are so unlike a woman’s body. I actually found my one and only girlfriend’s body to be a bit strange. So soft. She was gorgeous, and it gave me a sense of what men feel when they touch us, but I definitely prefer a man’s body. And I am a huge fan of body hair on men. I do not like the bare chested, plastic doll look at all. I love pressing my cheek against my husband’s hairy chest. It feels manly. And that’s a beautiful thing.

    • Hear hear!!

      I was well into my late 30’s before I could speak about how attractive I found men (especially chest hair! love it!) I told a gay friend how I felt as a teenager when, in the movie “Dune”, Sting stepped out of a steam bath with very little on. While Sting isn’t my type, it still made me break a sweat.

Trackbacks

  1. […] such as Hugo Schwyzer, have written about how straight men don’t feel sexually desired, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s […]

  2. […] such as Hugo Schwyzer, have written about how straight men don’t feel sexually desired, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. […]

  3. […] The male body: repulsive or beautiful? […]

  4. […] and women convincing themselves “it’s all fat”. Part of the issue, according the American feminist Hugo Schwyzer is that too often we’re taught that “men are revolting and women are flawless” […]

  5. […] and women convincing themselves “it’s all fat”. Part of the issue, according the American feminist Hugo Schwyzer is that too often we’re taught that “men are revolting and women are flawless” […]

  6. […] and women convincing themselves “it’s all fat”. Part of the issue, according the American feminist Hugo Schwyzer is that too often we’re taught that “men are revolting and women are flawless” […]

  7. […] and women convincing themselves “it’s all fat”. Part of the issue, according the American feminist Hugo Schwyzer is that too often we’re taught that “men are revolting and women are flawless” […]

  8. […] dynamic as loving, sexy and fun. Furthermore, I think that there is a common misconception that women are somehow too “pure” or “nice” to really want to dominate a man and to be aroused by it. The idea that a woman would actively […]

  9. […] This is a comment by Matt on the post ”The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?“ […]

  10. […] Just as Anthony Weiner was more interested in having women praise his naked body than in seeing their nudie pics, I cared as much about being told I was “hot” as I did about sex itself. (I wrote about this missing narrative of male desire for the Good Men Project in this post: “The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?“) […]

  11. […] Aside: I feel I am likely to get at least one comment from someone telling me that two women kissing is a beautiful thing, and that why am I angry about commodifying female sexuality–bonus points for noting that so many women consume boys’ love manga. Can you imagine these videos getting greenlighted for television if they were an all-male band having a sexy half-naked pillowfight in fancy underthings, or, conversely, a charming athletic romp with near kisses in a locker room? Jonny McGovern has us covered on that front, but that’s hardly mainstream and certainly isn’t marketed to women. Double bonus points if two women making out is hot but two guys making out is gross. On that front, it might be a better use of our time to discuss why men’s bodies are considered to be “gross” in mainstream culture. […]

  12. […] Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful? I came across this article yesterday – The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful? – and I found it to be very profound. To be honest, the issue it addresses (of males not being […]

  13. […] with some serious dedication to the task). As much as women have had their beauty over-emphasized, men haven’t heard enough about theirs. It’s something I try to remember: Jack craves a regular, honest evaluation of his incredible […]

  14. […] with some serious dedication to the task). As much as women have had their beauty over-emphasized, men haven’t heard enough about theirs. It’s something I try to remember: Jack craves a regular, honest evaluation of his incredible […]

  15. […] Princess Culture, and the Sexualization of Young Girls Spring is No Excuse for Sexual Harassment The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful? The Opposite of “Man” is “Boy,” Not “Woman” Short Skirts Magically Turn Women into […]

  16. Recommended Websites…

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  17. […] Do Not Matter from @EmilySuessEnough Already Good Men Project.com from Hugo SchwyzerThe Male Body – Repulsive Or Beautiful from @jackfrombklnBehind Every Scar There’s A Story OutsideTheBoat.com from […]

  18. […] us would find it hard to regard such a comment as sincere if they did. On this point, Hugo Schwyzer wrote recently: So many straight men have no experience of being wanted. So many straight men have no experience […]

  19. Blog says:

    […] Just as Anthony Weiner was more interested in having women praise his naked body than in seeing their nudie pics, I cared as much about being told I was “hot” as I did about sex itself. (I wrote about this missing narrative of male desire for the Good Men Project in this post: “The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?“) […]

  20. […] Just as Anthony Weiner was more interested in having women praise his naked body than in seeing their nudie pics, I cared as much about being told I was “hot” as I did about sex itself. (I wrote about this missing narrative of male desire for the Good Men Project in this post: “The Male Body: Repulsive or Beautiful?“) […]

  21. […] “Even many men who are wise in the world and in relationships, who know that their wives or girlfrien… […]

  22. […] a piece I wrote for the Good Men Project in March, I […]

  23. […] Is the male body “Repulsive or Beautiful?” […]

  24. […] On a lighter note – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbx9_hXNKOs&feature=player_embedded […]

  25. […] at Good Men Project, the divide between men and women was approached in a slightly different way. Why is it, they ask, […]

  26. […] I thought of it ’cause of that article you linked […]

  27. […] recently came across this open, honest and thought provoking article, discussing how the male body is perceived – by both men and […]

  28. […] close, I’d like to quote a recent article that appeared on GoodManProject.org by Hugo Schwyzer. Published only six days after […]

  29. […] male body–repulsive or beautiful? This entry was posted in Quickies. Bookmark the permalink. ← My Third Hand Ask Surly […]

  30. […] little piece by the always nuanced Hugo Schwyzer on male bodies and male desirability. Check it out here. Explore posts in the same categories: gender, […]

  31. […] This is the start of a very open and honest article by Hugy Schwyzer about how we in our society are taught to think that the male body is dirty compaired to the aesthetic and beautiful female body. I can only say this: please read this article! […]

  32. […] are dirty and disgusting, women are pure and flawless… Right? [The Good Men Project]. (since coming across that link, I got trapped in the website loveliness that is The Good Men […]

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