“It’s Just What I Find Attractive, Okay?”

It’s true that we can’t necessarily control what we find attractive–this goes back to my bit about fantasies and how we all have ’em. However, some people have unreasonable standards about what they find to be attractive. Where they draw the line on what they’ll admire.

What I’m talking about is the idea of “leagues,” as Holly covered at Pervocracy this weekend. (She also covers the issue of not being too touchy-feely, something I suffer from regularly. To put it bluntly, I’m a bit of an abrasive asshole, and I’ve never been big on being overly sensitive. I think being a bit MORE sensitive is something I could benefit from, but I’m never going to be the poster-child for the bleeding heart. I’m just not. So I rather enjoyed what she had to say. Anyways, tangent over.)

So, yeah, it’s not your fault that there’s certain physical things that do it for you. It’s okay to prefer certain physical attributes. However, it’s important to get a grasp on reality–is it that you genuinely just prefer 20 year old blondes with double-D chests, or are you wrapped up in all the social stuff that comes with that?

Last summer, I almost cried tears of joy when one of my guy friends confessed to me that he had realized that he was attracted to a certain kind of girl not because that’s necessarily what he found to be most attractive, but because his ego enjoyed the respect and value he was given by people because he could “catch” that kind of girl–that he must have some great social standing, inherent value, etc, if he could “own” that girl. It wasn’t that he wanted her as a girlfriend, it’s that he wanted the status that came with having her as a girlfriend.

See also: “trophy wife.”

This is feeding into the idea that women are prizes or achievements. That you have to date a “catch,” or it’s not worth it. Women as status symbols, not unlike watches or cars.

My underthings rebel and try to throw themselves at boys with tattoos and glasses and dark wash jeans. That will even override the specific physical type that I find most attractive. It’s partially an aesthetics thing, but there’s also other forces at work–I associate glasses with the nerdy, bookish type, and tattoos with a bit of the rocker/tough side, and visible tattoos with a bit of willingness to go against social norms. These are attributes I find attractive. I am actively disinterested in the bro-dude look (popped collars, “frosted” hair, faux tan, khakis, etc) because I am not attracted to the social associations that go with that.

What I’m trying to say is that what we’re attracted to isn’t just our physical programming; it’s actually rather often a socialized construct. When guys say that a girl is out of their league, they are very rarely referring to her personality. Even when women say that a guy is out of their league, they’re often referring to a discrepancy in looks (as measured by social norms) than anything else.

So I have a problem with this justification of the narrow, generic social determination of beauty because it turns women (and, in some cases, men) into trophies or prizes, where we put people on a hierarchy based on superficial characteristics that, when you get right down to it, often don’t even have to do with what we genuinely find attractive. When you really get into it with people, and you really start talking about what gets their motor running, it often turns out that what they find attractive is very different than the “normal” standards. What gets everyone’s heart going thump-thump is, like all aspects of our sexualities, a huge spectrum with enormous diversity.

So yeah, I tend to question people when they have a restricted view of what can be attractive (never mind how loaded it is when it’s a fat, lonely 50 year old dude who only wants waify 18 year olds–what, you genitals couldn’t mature past high school or something?) especially when there is no mention whatsoever of anything being very surface attributes. There’s nothing wrong with liking to look at people that have a certain appearance. That’s normal, that’s human, that’s fine. Just don’t turn dating into shopping for an action figure, or trying to win a prize. We’re people, not big game that you can mount on the wall and point out to all your buddies.

Oh, and memo: Nice Guys(TM), please remember that just because you’re nice, the world doesn’t owe you a hot girlfriend as a reward for your good behavior.


04/12/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.

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