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

Sponsored Content

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

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 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.

        • But remember that not even your straight friends will want to have sex with you as you are a male(though a cissy one). Between a cissy male and a girl, they’d prefer a girl anyday.

      • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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).

  13. 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…….

  14. 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.

  15. 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………

  16. 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…

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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)

  21. 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).

  22. 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…

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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!! :D

    • 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.

  26. 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.

        • 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! :P 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 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” [...]

  2. [...] The male body: repulsive or beautiful? [...]

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

  4. [...] 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 [...]

Speak Your Mind

*