Do Men Really Care About “Down There”?

Joanna Schroeder believes men are being harmed when the beauty industry tells women they aren’t good enough… “down there.”

Men—or ladies, of course, depending upon your interests—do you really care about “down there” as much as everyone says you do?

I realize this is a lady-type question, but this is a men’s magazine, and I need to know what you all think. Because according to Cosmopolitan and all of its brethren, all you men think about is the ways in which we women horrify you.

And as a sex columnist, I can attest to the fact that out of the approximately 500 anonymous questions Eli and I have gotten on She Said He Said, exactly one was about a woman’s stinky crotch. Every other guy would rather talk about how to please a woman sexually or whether or not he should call his ex girlfriend.

Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan summed up the ways in which women think that men think about us, in a piece called How to Make Your Vagina Taste Awesome:

Ever since I’ve been old enough to sneak copies of Teen Magazine at the middle school library, I’ve known that vaginas (sorry, “down theres”) are mysterious, confusing places that need to be waxed, washed, wiped, and maintained lest all men run screaming away from you and you end up spending your life attachment parenting a series of rescue cats.

And so Ms. Ryan set out to discover what science could teach her about how to… shall we say… “maximize the appeal” of the female nethers. Of course (because I know you’re all wondering) there was no science to it, aside from keeping clean and going to the doctor if something seems troubling. But the “anecdata” she collected included eating a whole bunch of fruit and drinking water:

During my informal snooping and asking around, I found pineapple mentioned frequently as vaginal taste aid. Apparently, it’s high in sugars, and when you eat it, some internal mechanism sends tiny Magic School Buses to your stomach to cart away the sweet pineapple molecules straight to your vagina.

But what I really wonder here, and what I’ve wondered before, is whether or not you guys feel like pawns in some messed-up beauty industry bullshit.

Think about it, the beauty industry has told us that you won’t love us unless we’re “perfect”, which basically means that you won’t love us if we look the way that nature intended us to. Now, I know that everyone has their own preferences for hairstyle and the whatnot—men and women, straight and gay—and we should all be able to discuss what we (as individuals) prefer, but I think men are being manipulated by this campaign against women’s bodies.

I mean, it’s in your name, as Ms. Ryan so eloquently points out, that we’re told we’re just not okay the way we are. And that makes us resentful. And it makes you look like shallow a-holes.

And I, for one, am not buying it. I’m not buying that you guys are willing to dismiss a woman you really like because she doesn’t taste like a fruit salad.

But I’m willing to hear arguments either way.

What do you think? Are you guys being sold up the river by the beauty industry?

How do the multitudes of articles in major women’s magazines telling women they aren’t good enough damage men?

 

Image of fruit salad with mint leaf courtesy of Shutterstock

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About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is the type of working mom who opens her car door and junk spills out all over the ground. She serves as Executive Editor of The Good Men Project and is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on sites like xoJane, hlntv.com, and The Huffington Post. Joanna loves playing with her sons, skateboarding with her husband, and hanging out with friends. Her dream is to someday finish her almost-done novel and get some sleep. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I did not read that article on Jezebel, because I don’t have to click every thing that, as Noah Brand describes it elsewhere, while it gets my attention, I don’t want to hear.

    I know that I and probably every single person I’ve ever had oral sex with has worried about this, even though I’ve had only a few conversations with lovers about it. Some girlfriends won’t let me near them, either when they’re feeling unattractive or at that time of the month, and others let me be the judge. One guy swore by a fruit juice fast before orgies. He tasted fine, but so have my partners who were drinking beer that night, or water. Basic hygiene will take care of flavor. Take a shower. Eat decently. Wear breathable fabric. Pay attention to your own junk, and the rest will take care of itself.

  2. The Wet One says:

    I figure as long as there are no teeth “down there” it’s all good. Odor has never particularly been an issue in my experience…

    The things that women’s mags can make women worry about is truly astonishing. Truly astonishing!

    The Wet One
    (a strong believer in the mantra of “I don’t give a f**k what you think”)

  3. I bet there are quite a few men (or boys-to-men) who are quite apprehensive about going down there…

    A classmate of mine in HS grew up to write a memoir about the gender war and relates a weird, gross joke that the older boys tell the younger ones about a a guy who goes to a prostitute and eats her out, but then finds a meatball (!!)…This super gross-out joke’s punch line is basically the guy pukes because the previous customer puked first….[ICKY, right? ]

    Gross-out scenes aside…it seems that this represents the fear and “disgusto” (as he put it in his book) that teens have about the female anatomy [or at least what young boys-to-men say to one another in private]…this is their form of sex education: teen boy to teen boy…

  4. What do you think? Are you guys being sold up the river by the beauty industry?
    Yes we are being sold up the river. Instead of hearing out what find attractive and are into they are instead feeding women lines of bull about what we are supposedly thinking. Its one part of two messages about male sexuality.

    On one hand we are supposed to be slaves to our lust and want to bang every woman we can (even to the point of violating said woman).

    On the other we are supposedly so picky about our sexual tastes that we shame women and commit all kinds of -isms (ex: racism over skin color or ethnic steretyping, disablism by thinking a woman with a disability disqualifies her from being attractive, etc…).

    Yeah we’re being told that we simultaneously want all women and only the select cream of the crop of women.

    That’s damage if I ever saw it.

    How do the multitudes of articles in major women’s magazines telling women they aren’t good enough damage men?
    It poisons women’s perceptions of what men are interested in and what real men are all about. You know how people like to go on about how porn waps men’s perceptions of women? That’s what’s happening here (I’m trying to say they are the same in impact or that one is worse than the other, just that the mechanisms work in similar ways).

    A guy that thinks he has to perform like a porn star to please a woman in bed? A guy being influenced by porn.

    A woman that think she has to maintain hardwood floors that smell like candy or fruit salad under her skirt? A woman being influenced by those articles.

    • Terence Manuel says:

      Agree. The real issue is not men. The problem is women under the influence of the beauty industry.

      I do not get this obsession by women with shaved/bare vulvas. I really believe it is the impact of porn on men and society. This in turn has impacted women as they try to be more sexually appealing. There is just so much garbage going on with people today.

      Bleaching of rears, whitening of the “down there” areas, fake rears, fake boobs, and on and on. Enough to make you vomit.

      Personally, while I always loved to give oral to a woman, today I am very picky. Some 25% of women have genital herpes. Same with men probably, but I am hetero so……Also, I DO have a hangup about performing oral on women who have lots of sexual partners.

      Before some of you jump on me….I am big on intercourse. So, I really don’t care about the bj.

      • Nick, mostly says:

        I do not get this obsession by women with shaved/bare vulvas. I really believe it is the impact of porn on men and society. This in turn has impacted women as they try to be more sexually appealing. There is just so much garbage going on with people today.

        Blame Sex & The City. Or maybe Jennifer Love Hewitt. I dunno.

        I will say that sex feels different when you’re both completely bare. I found it to be a fairly positive experience.
        I will also say sex feels different when you’ve got four day old stubble and ingrown hairs. I didn’t find that so positive an experience.
        Personally, while I always loved to give oral to a woman, today I am very picky. Some 25% of women have genital herpes. Same with men probably, but I am hetero so……
        Meh, it’s the HPV you have to worry about. That’s the one that gives you throat cancer.

        • Nick, mostly says:

          darned misspelled tags…

          Personally, while I always loved to give oral to a woman, today I am very picky. Some 25% of women have genital herpes. Same with men probably, but I am hetero so……

          Meh, it’s the HPV you have to worry about. That’s the one that gives you throat cancer.

        • Terence Manuel says:

          @Nick,

          Wow! Never knew about HPV & throat cancer. Thanks for informing me of this hazard.

          On the matter of shaved vs bare, it really is a matter of preference I suppose. The first time I was with a bare woman, I went limp. She was young, around 27 at the time. I had this psychological block and thoughts of having sex with a kid…..

          My preference is for trimmed. Not into the bare thingy.

  5. Guys get influenced by porn and pop culture about penis size by about 1,000 – 1 compared to women’s genital insecurity, most of which is based on the fear that it smells, because honestly it does have an odor, one that is not offensive or repulsive in any way to the vast majority of men. So yes, we are being sold down the river on that one.

  6. Also, women seem to have a much higher threshold to convince them that they are attractive to men because a man can compliment his wife or girlfriend a million ways a million times and be genuine, honest and loving in every sentiment. But one time if you make a joke or don’t like something or make 1 snide comment in an argument she develops a complex that completely invalidates all the years of loving compliments. So I’m less worried about reassuring a woman that her vagina is acceptable because it takes such an effort to reassure her that her hair, face, neck, arms, back, butt, hips, thighs, boobs, knees, ankles and feet are beautiful. And that I’m not just saying that so she will have sex.

  7. Mark Radcliffe says:

    Well, it’s not entirely a surprise, as the beauty industry makes its money by exploiting women’s insecurities and filling them with the paranoia that unless they take drastic measures to beautify themselves, they’ll spend their lives alone and unloved. How else is Maybelline going to get $500/ year out of them (or more) unless they’re convinced their romantic futures depend upon it? (The same goes for the plastic surgery industry.) But while, yes, we men are often picky about certain things, and do have our visual preferences, ultimately what we’re most attracted to is a woman’s energy, her mind, whether or not she seems to love the life she’s created. Take care of that and anything else we’re pretty flexible on. ;)

    • It’s hard to sell that idea that men love women for who we are. It doesn’t keep women insecure and buying products. I’m vulnerable to it too – I know what they do to the images, how they craft the advertisements, all the marketing… I’m still affected by it. I don’t even read magazines or watch much tv. It still gets to me. The messages they send out constantly are like PUAs, each one negs us into believing we’re not good enough. Women resent imaginary men for being so unrealistically picky, and then they take it out on the men who do love them for who they are. It’s so hard to hear and believe the few real voices telling us that they think we’re beautiful the way we are when we have thousands of fake ones screaming at us that we aren’t.

      • John Anderson says:

        ” It’s so hard to hear and believe the few real voices telling us that they think we’re beautiful the way we are when we have thousands of fake ones screaming at us that we aren’t.”

        Many guys from the younger generation actually like heavier women. These women are considered “thick”. I know it’s hard to give up the images we grew up with. I’m 44 and still think that someday I’ll get married and have kids even though I know that won’t happen unless I seriously start looking at mail order brides, but it’s what I’ve been taught the goal was.

        “Women resent imaginary men for being so unrealistically picky, and then they take it out on the men who do love them for who they are.”

        But you recognize this and when you recognize something, you can do something about it. I don’t mean that your insecurities will eventually fade, but you can make amends for bad behavior and discuss your insecurities with those who love you. Don’t take it too hard if your boyfriend thinks it’s silly as you’re probably the most beautiful woman in the world in his eyes.

        A friend once told me that when you get to know someone, they look different because you see them differently. I’ve come to realize that it is true.

      • ” It still gets to me. The messages they send out constantly are like PUAs, each one negs us into believing we’re not good enough. Women resent imaginary men for being so unrealistically picky, and then they take it out on the men who do love them for who they are.”

        WOW. This is MY light bulb moment. Thank you for saying this and allowing me to recognize it in myself. It really isn’t the men in my life who make me feel insecure when I do, it’s a mixture of the negs I get from guys trying to sleep with me or get back at me, people on the internet who get off on making women feel bad about themselves, and everything that the media tries to sell. When men ‘neg’ me, I start to lose interest in them sexually, but the insecurity stays. Intellectually, I know it’s ridiculous, but I often can’t help but to beat myself up over it and to not believe a man when he compliments me. I see how this is frustrating for men.

        • If a guy is giving you a neg, doesn’t that mean he thinks you are so beautiful that he worries you are conceited? There is a compliment right there you can take from the negs. It’s not that these guys are trying to insult you, but they probably think you are a gorgeous woman who KNOWS she is gorgeous, so the neg is meant to cut down that self-esteem a bit whilst also showing that he isn’t going to just pepper you with compliments…apparently the lesser-men will just compliment a beautiful woman over n over which gets boring, or shows he is too into her. It’s kinda silly…but I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually works. That’s my theory on it all though, I could be wrong as I don’t follow the PUA life, I just hear about it.

          All the game playing is fucking stupid though, people need to value honesty and we should be able to say Hey, I like you, wanna do this and that should be the MOST successful tactic…I hope it is the most successful because it’d suck to have to play a silly game to get a date!

  8. CajunMick says:

    Recently, I was told about cosmetic surgery that women were having to reduce the size of their labia minora. I couldn’t believe it!
    You’ve got to wonder where they got the idea in the first place, and the weasal surgeons that are performing the surgery.
    Cop to ladies: “Please step away from the plastic surgeon’s office and put down the magazines.”
    Yes, I do have a preference (don’t most folks?) for ‘down there.’ I may prefer a certain way her gentialia may look, smell or taste, but it would never be a deal-breaker. Vive la différence!
    .

    • John Anderson says:

      Supposedly there are some health benefits to that, but I’ve also heard that some women want designer vaginas. It drives me crazy that infant FGC is illegal although there are health benefits to labiaplasty, but infant MGC is legal. The health benefits of either (assuming they exist at all and are not solely derived from people failing to keep their genitals clean) seem to be found later in life and if FGC is so harmful, why let adult women elect to do it?

      • Adults should be allowed to do whatever crazy shit they want to to their bodies. Infants should be protected and allowed to grow up and achieve the age of consent, at which point if they want to have scalloped labia or pharaonic circumcision, it’s up to them.

  9. CajunMick: You might be interested watching the following documentary called “The Perfect Vagina”., http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/perfect-vagina/. I don’t know if female genital plastic surgery is a new trend, but, it is very disturbing. You might be interested in watching the documentary “My penis and everyone else’s” as well.

    in summary, both documentaries deal with male and female perception regarding how “imperfect” their genitalia is.

  10. I’ve found that many women, although initially intrigued by the concept of cunnilingus, don’t really enjoy the reality of it that much. Some are very uncomfortable with it. When it comes to oral sex, they seem more interested in giving than receiving. Of course, that might be due to the insecurity issues which you mention in your article.

    Your mention that women’s magazines send messages to a reader that she’s not good enough reminded me of an observation that I’ve made over the years. It seems like women are much more influenced by the opinions of other women than they are by men. In other words, let’s say I’m with woman #1 who was feeling insecure, for instance, about her choice of clothing and I explained to her that she looked great to me. Odds are that if woman #2 were present and indicated that the clothing choice was flawed, woman #1 would be much more influenced by the opinion of the other woman than she would be by the male (me) whom she’s allegedly trying to favorably impress. As Star Trek’s Mr. Spock would point out, it’s illogical. Then again,….

    • While I won’t say drinking pineapple juice magically fixes all… I will not in my experiences of down there in men and women that those who are eating diets full of nothing good, heavy smokers, etc. do taste different and not always good to me. I was with a guy who, when eating ok, tasted great for example. But when he decided to binge on greasy foods for a week… I couldn’t stand the taste of him. Or people who eat a lot of foods such as asparagus, brussel sprouts, garlic. As a person who likes the stinky foods like that I tend to think harder about when I eat them if I’m anticipating a “down there” experience.

      I’ve also had at least 2 men in my formidable sexual years who were very particular on when they would go down there. To the point that I was a paranoid for awhile after them about engaging in that activity. Thoughts of showers, shaving and the fact that mine didn’t look some one elses… Never did I explore women’s vaginas more in my life than that time (only to find they all look different and that’s ok). All it takes is one or two people questioning intimate parts in intimate moments to lead to a complex. I’m sure many men have experienced the same. I have since moved past that into that realm that as an activity cunnilingus doesn’t do a whole lot for me but if it adds to the satisfaction of my partner I’ll engage in it. I’m just not going to begging for it like I can’t live without it.

  11. As a guy who likes to go “down there” I have a mixed opinion on this. First, some of the women have been self-conscious about it because of either hair or the fact that they were worried about the way they smelled of tasted — but none of these women have ever had anything to actually worry about. It was perfectly fine — the way it’s supposed to be! I mean, no guy can whole-heartedly believe that it’s going to smell/taste like a fruit salad.

    But there is the general idea that men like things to be neat and clean, just like girls like things neat and clean. There’s no need to shave it all or style it or whatever, but every now and then a trim is a good idea (as is regular washing). Hair holds onto body sweat and smells, and, of course, the longer the hair is, the more likely something might come off in someone’s mouth. But that goes both ways!

    You are the way you are because that’s the way that nature (and years of evolution) intended you to be. There’s no need to change anything just to please the person you’re with. If they can’t accept you for who you are, then you shouldn’t be with them to begin with.

    Just my opinion.

    • Nick, mostly says:

      Personally, I refuse to go down on any woman who hasn’t had labiaplasty and a recent vajazzling.

    • Don Draper says:

      I’m in agreement with Tim. I very much enjoy going “down there.” But I’ve had long-term relationships (10+ years) with women who said they enjoyed it, but seemed to have a moment of panic when they realized I was headed south. As one of the commenters experienced, I qas in love with a woman who was very good with GIVING oral pleasure but would rarely do it, because some jerk/kid 25 years prior had told her she was no good at it. We have the capacity to damage psyches very easily in matters sexually.

      It may not be this simple for all men, but I seem to simply enjoy a woman as she is…take a shower every day, trim up just before your first swim suit appearance each spring/summer and otherwise, love what God gave you and let us love you the way you are. You are WONDERFUL, just as you are…and if a guy tells you different, he’s probably trying to make himself feel better by making you feel insecure. Show him the door. If you ladies buy in to the “I’ve got to change myself down there to please him” pitch, you need to find another “buyer.” I think labiaplasty (unless you’re in pain), waxing and anal bleaching (I actually couldn’t believe that wasn’t a joke when I first heard of it) is the height of the unnecessary, as it relates to making you “more” apealing below your waistline. Women are GREAT just the way they are!

  12. John Anderson says:

    I remember when I was young a friend told me to put a Lifesaver there. He swore by it, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to fish it out and so never did, never actually needed it anyway. I’m sure you could use whipped cream or other things, but I was just glad when I got the opportunity. Older women don’t seem to have as much of a problem with that as younger women, but some of them would still rather blow you (at times) than engage in sex. I think it’s a way to take care of their boyfriends when they’re not in the mood more than being embarrassed.

  13. Taste/smell/etc. varies from individual to individual. I was married for many years, and my wife had a fairly strong odor “down there” that was mildly unpleasant. She practiced good hygiene, and had an average diet, so I’m not sure what the issue was. It never prevented me from going down on her; it was just noticeable. And rest assured I NEVER, EVER mentioned it to her (knowing how insecure women can be over their bodies).

    My current girlfriend has a delightful aroma & taste. No, it doesn’t smell/taste like fruit salad (thank God). It tastes like woman, and most, if not all, of us men LOVE that smell/taste.

    Damage? Sure, though I think it’s more damaging to women, IE their self- esteem/image/worth/consciousness/etc., which, in turn, can make them hold back from us. I had gastric bypass surgery. During a followup visit to the Dr. we had a group therapy session, me & 6 women, with a psychologist. We were supposed to discuss any “body image issues.” All of the women expressed different issues. When it was my turn, I stated, “Body image issues? I’m a man. Even when I was 388lbs, I could look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m dead sexy!'” We truly are wired differently.

  14. Women’s magazines and the beauty industry I think are extremely destructive to female self-esteem. Seriously ladies, burn them. The bullshit like photoshopping images, picture perfect looks everytime, etc cause unrealistic expectations of beauty and for what? To drive sales of beauty products. A bit of makeup can look nice but you’ll still find a partner without it, some of the hottest women I’ve seen have been makeup free when working out, swimming, etc. Pay attention to what your partner likes, not what the beauty industry likes.

    Although recently my female friends have been telling me that the people that judge women the most over their looks, makeup etc…are other women, is this true? Are women now pushing each other into a standard of beauty that is causing a lot of issues with self-esteem?

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Hi Archy — I’ve heard that too “women are more apt to judge other women in turns of their looks than men are” — and I have to say, that statement completely baffles me. That has never once been my experience. I have honestly been trying to think back on every conversation I’ve ever had with every woman in my life — and I’ve simply never felt judged by other women. And even if I was — quite frankly I wouldn’t care. I simply would not care what other women would think — I would only care what other men thought. Because, being a heterosexual — that’s the only thing that matters (in regards to looks). That is, if a woman doesn’t find me attractive, hell, I’m not going to have sex with her anyway so why would that matter? But with men — it very often seems to make a difference whether you are attractive or not — whether it’s dating or friendship or in the workplace — again — I’m just telling it like I see it. If you are not attractive you become invisible. That is just what I have found.

      I’d be interested to know what other people’s experiences are. Maybe it’s just me.

      • Well the friends that told me are about 20ish, maybe it’s new, maybe it’s just this country or location, maybe just them in particular. They judged each other on their hair, makeup, looks, bodyweight etc to a level I feel is more than I’d ever hear a guy judge a girl on.

        Thanks for talking of your own experience, it’s nice to know that experiences vary around the world, life would be awful boring if it were all the same.

      • Nick, mostly says:

        Lisa, I don’t know if women are more judging of other women than men are, but I would suggest that they are part and parcel of the problem. I was just recommending a friend read The Female Thing by Laura Kipnis. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the follow-up polemic to her book Against Love and teasingly examines how women relate to each other in our culture and are complicit in this feeling of being judged.

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          Well, all day now I’ve been trying to think of an example of women being judgmental, but I can’t. The one interesting example that came to mind was from my daughter — several girls on her hockey team and her are fiercely competitive, often judgmental. And yet, when Shannon went to the prom, this one girl from her hockey team did her hair for her. It looked beautiful. And all of the girls were SO supportive of each others looks (I was there at the pictures). Beauty was actually a way they could get our of their judgmentalism.

          And *that* reminded me of a time I was working in advertising. It was this huge new business pitch, worth many millions of dollars, and I was part of the lead team. They had flown up another woman from NYC to work with me. A woman who was incredibly creative, and by all accounts a true competitor of mine. And the project was a disaster — the strategy was bad, we were expected to work all hours of the day and night, we were getting no help, the people in charge of the project didn’t like anything we did. So this woman and I did the only thing we could think of doing — we took our scratch pads where we were doodling ideas and we went out to a beauty salon to get double mani-pedis. We literally sat in a beauty salon with our feet in these whirlpool baths, shouting advertising ideas back and forth to each other.

          The thing these stories have in common is that in my experience, beauty is a shared ritual, a bonding experience between women. It is — to me — the same exact thing as guys going into a room and watching sports together. I’ve never gone for a mani-pedi with a guy, it’s totally a girl thing.

          But that’s why the “judging” thing doesn’t make sense to me, from my perspective. Do guys see it that way because *they* tend to be more competitive? I will check the book out — I would like to understand how women are “complicit in this feeling of being judged.” I also hope more women will respond to in the comments.

          • I just hear from friends who’ve seen vicious bitchy fights, judging, bullying going on. I have no doubt there are good experiences for women such as you and your daughters experience but sadly it doesn’t seem universal. I basically asked one friend why she felt she had to wear makeup in public and the jist of it was to be accepted by other women. I see on my facebook women judging other women harshly over their fashion, it’s all pretty silly! Guys tend to judge more on our cars, or just straight up be assholes to each other I find. This isn’t for all women though, just a few cases here n there that I see and have had told to me.

            • I’ve had good and bad experiences with other women. Some women CAN be very judgey in my experience, although it may relate to different things depending on the social group and their stage of life. In HS and college there were definitely some “mean girls” who were very catty. I remeber a girl in college telling me that her sorority would rank potential pledges based on the brand of makeup they used — if they used an expensive brand like Clinique, they got bonus points, if they used a cheap drug store brand,, it was an automatic rejection! In older age ranges, those same girls can also become competitive with each over things like home decor and child rearing. However, I tended to avoid women like that and my female friends are the types that don’t care much about other women’s clothes, makeup, or living room furniture.

            • John Anderson says:

              I’ve had my appearance critiqued by women so they don’t limit it to just women especially when it comes to fashion, but even facial hair, hair style, etc. For women who’ve known me well, some of the criticism isn’t even that the style is bad, but that it hasn’t changed after many years or I have too many things of the same color. For some reason, you can’t own two pairs of black pants. How many guys have been given a piece of clothing from a woman as a gift in their adult life?

              I don’t think men are as judgmental. For myself, the women who I’m friends with, I’m friends with for reasons other than looks so that was never important. For women where looks would matter, I don’t bother judging women who I’m not physically attracted to. What would be the point? I’m not going to date them. Women I’m physically attracted to don’t get critiqued because overall they’re exceptional. I don’t particularly care if my female friends are getting laid (I’m a little sexist there, sure) so
              I’m a little more apt to give a male friend advice, but that’s never concerned looks.

              I’m not denying that I have preferences in appearance when it comes to women. The key is I look for these things already and decide whether overall she’s what I’m looking for. I don’t try to change the person to fit what I’m looking for. I prefer shaved vaginas and theoretically I might consider negotiating for that as I generally don’t know whether it’s shaved prior to making initial contact, but I’ve never done that because most of the time I’m just happy to have access to one.

              I think too many women try and change a man instead of looking for the man they want, they grab a man and try to make him what they want. I think this attitude of changing people to fit their perception of what they should be leads women to judge other women.

          • I can see the logic in your assertion that as a heterosexual woman, you’re dressing to attract men and what other women think doesn’t matter and doesn’t factor into your decisions.

            But I do think there’s a strong element of same-sex acceptance/rejection in how women and men dress. We’re aware of the social cues and what’s acceptable and what’s not, and I think these tend to matter more inside our gender-spheres than to the opposite sex. As a woman I’m definitely more aware of what other women are wearing than I am of the men (and that partially goes into the whole thing of, men’s clothing is generally boring, women’s has more variety and is therefore more interesting). And when I decide to wear my hair a different way or put together a new outfit, I’m expecting (hoping) to get compliments or comments from women moreso than from men.

            Maybe you have no memories of it because often these judgements stay inside our own minds. The only time I say something to a person about their “look” is when it’s positive – Great haircut, love your shoes, etc. I certainly don’t tell every woman who’s dressed poorly how much of a disaster her outfit is, but I do notice it, and I may gossip about it with other women if it comes up.

      • Clumsy Girl says:

        “I simply would not care what other women would think — I would only care what other men thought. Because, being a heterosexual — that’s the only thing that matters (in regards to looks). That is, if a woman doesn’t find me attractive, hell, I’m not going to have sex with her anyway so why would that matter? ”

        Oh my God, your comment was totally a “lightbulb” moment for me! I have always been one of those women to easily become insecure with myself just because of something negative that another woman has said. I have always had low self esteem, and my best friend from high school didn’t help matters. She was constantly belittling me or saying hurtful things, just to make herself feel better, because looking back, I was far more attractive a person, both mentally and physically than she was. For years I have been too embarrassed to sing or dance in public, or even at home around my husband of 6 years, because she constantly talked about how I sounded like a deaf person when I sang, and I looked stupid when I danced.
        Thank you for your comment, that, more than anything anyone has ever said to me, has made me realize that she was just a bitch, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about!

        • Lisa Hickey says:

          I’m so happy for your light bulb moment! Interestingly, it was a story on here that gave me a very similar lightbulb moment. A guy was writing about his own insecurities, and about how he was in a relationship, and sometimes he said things to his girlfriend he didn’t really mean to say. And he wrote “What I really want to tell you is that sometimes when I hurt, I want you to hurt too.” And that was such an “aha” to me! Not only an aha, but the something that could actually impact my actions moving forward (my favorite kind of insight. That is — when someone says something hurtful about *me*, it’s often because *they* hurt. It was this great lesson in empathy. And so — in the old days — when someone said something hurtful to me, my knee-jerk reaction was to hurt them back, to try to make them *hurt even more*. And I did it under the guise of “standing up for myself.” But of course, that doesn’t do anything to move things ahead in a positive fashion. And now — when someone says something hurtful to me, I think “I wonder why *they* are hurting so much?” I don’t have to solve their problems for them, of course, and feeling depressed, or sad, or victimized is no excuse for hurtful behavior to others. But it does help me to understand the why’s behind what they are saying, and to not compound the problem by having conversations spiral down into meanness.

          • I think the issue with women judging women is that it’s not out there and as open as other forms of judgement are. You get a pack of women that always hang out and gossip at a job for example. Someone wanders by and over hears them talking about someone’s shoes, make up, hair, breasts, body shape and on down the line. Even being part of that peer group at a job can cause pressure on another women as in not wanting to be the target of the nasty comments. I’ve seen casual friend groups do that as well. And then they do the ever popular woman trick of ostracizing those that don’t fit with the clique.

            In my experience women tend to pick women apart readily. I may not care if they judge me or alienate me from their groups but there are many people out there that care deeply about belonging and having friends and otherwise getting along with people. They go home look in the mirror after hearing about gorgeous women from other women or ugly women and try to gauge where they fit on the continuum.

            • Don Draper says:

              This is my observation, and untested…I would like feedback. It seems to me that many women try to develop relationships with women that they perceive to be less attractive than themselves. When they go out, perhaps in groups of 3+, they want to be viewed as the definitive “alpha-female” by the male suitors. It’s as if they need less attractive (same-sex) companions to make them feel better about their self-image. I’ve seen alot of that. I rarely see adult ladies trying to attach themselves to the “smoking hot” woman of their circle of co-workers or acquaintances.

              Then there’s that woman who has a need to feel she is desired by EVERY man, in EVERY social situation. She’s the type that will never be satisfied by the undying devotion of ONE good man, and will always ensure that she has a man in her life, like a drunk will hide a bottle, “just in case.” She’s unfaithful at a “soul” level. She has NO female friends, because ALL females are viewed as competition. I’ve met couple…got taken in by one. I think this type is pathologically incapable of honesty and is incurable. These two types are “cousins” but the latter, MUCH more dangerous and deranged, if often, highly functional.

            • Yes, I had a friend like that in my early 30’s. I was going through kind of a bad stage of my life. I was taking anti depressants and had gained a lot of weight. I felt like sh!t. She was a very attractive, blond, shapely woman. We met at work. She had just gotten divorced and was on the prowl for a new man. She kept pressuring me to go out with her to bars and nightclubs, where I felt very awkward and got zero attention from anyone. Mostly I kept her company while she flirted and had guys hit on her. It finally dawned on me that I was her “designated fat friend.” She didn’t want to hit the bars alone, but didn’t want to be with a woman who would compete with her. I stopped hanging out with her after that…

            • I will say this to your observation, Don Draper – while I wouldn’t say I make any friendship decisions based on conscious judgements of their attractivness, I am on some level aware of the difference in attractiveness between me and my girlfriends. Of course that’s all subjective, but still – I do perceive it when my friend is dressed “hotter” than me, or when she can pull off a look that I can’t because we have different body types. And then I get that all-too-familiar, beauty-industry-fueled burst of envy and insecurity – and then, as long as I don’t do anything stupid, it passes.

              That said, I do find most of my friends quite beautiful. Is this because I sought out beautiful friends? Is it because my geographical location is abundant with beauties? Is it because we’re all in the prime of our youth? *shrugs* Dunno, but for what it’s worth, there it is.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Lisa Hickey

            And he wrote “What I really want to tell you is that sometimes when I hurt, I want you to hurt too.”

            When I was younger there were these things you couldn’t do like listen to disco or dance music. Don’t have any pink things because if you did, you’d be gay and not a man. It took me a while, but then I realized that being a man meant listening to what I wanted. Wearing whatever color I wanted. I bought a pink Nintendo DS because it was cheap. No other guy would touch it. Just because other people are insecure doesn’t mean I had to be.

  15. Wirbelwind says:

    Magazines and beauty industry WILL NEVER TELL women that they are good enough, it would be like committing suicide; they must convince potential customers that they NEED another product or service only they can provide.

  16. Where are all the men who have developed body image issues because of magazines and television?

    Seriously, if you look in the magazine rack at the supermarket there are close to the same number of magazines featuring muscle-bound, square-jawed, tanned, hairless male models with perfect faces and hair as there are women of the same degree of physical perfection. I argue that the men in those magazines are vastly more physically attractive than the average man as opposed to the women on magazine covers not really being that much better looking than an average attractive woman.
    But why do women allow themselves to feel so influenced by that portrayal of ideal beauty when men seemingly face the same amount of “bombardment” of images without the same excuse for our body image issues? What would a woman say to a man with poor self-esteem when he tells her the reason for it is that magazine covers make him feel ugly? She would probably write him off as weak or tell him to “man-up”. Would it be similarly acceptable for a man to write off a woman who has image issues for the same reaosn? Tell her to “woman-up” ?

  17. Oh, man. Cosmo. Really – the kind of “advice” they give on sex and “what men want” is just, well, hilarious. It’s really a shame that so many have inhibitions and insecurities about this stuff, and it’s too bad that magazines like Cosmo are feeding it and feeding off it.

    Sure – basic hygiene is essental. Hair style? People have preferences all over the place, so if you have a longterm partner (or more) talk about it and find something that works for everyone. Other than that – it’s really not important.

  18. I think a lot of women feel self-conscious about their taste/odor because, hey, guess what, we can smell it too. And we can’t help wondering – is this how it’s supposed to smell? Does this smell turn him on, or off? Or right before or after my period, the scent is more iron-y – is that good? Bad? Healthy? Normal? A turn-on, a turn-off?

    Or when I kiss my husband after he’s gone “down there,” – I taste my own flavor and wonder, Does he like this? Or does he tolerate it as part of the act? Because it’s analogous to how I feel about blowjobs, there are parts of the experience that I don’t really *like* but will tolerate because they’re part of the act and they make my husband happy. It follows that I’d wonder if my flavor is the same for him.

    Plus, we’ve all heard the off-color jokes about how all p*ssy smells like fish. I don’t know about you but “fishy” is not something I really want to smell like, nor do I get the impression that it’s desirable for others, too. Men, if the common cultural perception was that your “down there” naturally smells like Limburger cheese, well…wouldn’t you be marginally interested in making it smell more pleasant?

    I think some of it just comes from the plain and simple thought of, “I’m asking him to put his face in my crotch, the least I could do is care about how it looks/smells/tastes for him.” Care = worry, for the more insecure among us – and the beauty industry definitely plays a part in encouraging and maintaining that insecurity.

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