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What Studies Show on Masculinity

Palaeontologists have developed an index of masculinity (and therefore attractiveness to women) based on face shape. That allowed them to be able to discover the ten most masculine celebrities in the world. Although I’m a bit skeptical, I know of no other hypothesis that can account for the appeal of Justin Timberlake. (In the cases of Will Smith, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt, I’m open to the possibility that they’re actually excellent actors.) The scientists do acknowledge that further studies may be needed. [Thanks to Ivan the K.]

Discussions - 13 Comments

One of the defects of an insistence on gender neutrality, as Mansfield puts it, is that it fails to adequately account for the facts of erotic attraction. Even science has to concede that women find manliness alluring and that largely men do not, at least not in the same way.

Then someone will need to explain the allure of Leo DiCaprio, no?

Good points both.

It wasn't too long ago that another theory was offered: symmetry of facial features. Most people are mildly asymmetrical.

Using that measure, Denzel Washington was given as an example of near perfect symmetry.

Note: it must not hold for women, otherwise someone needs to explain Ellen Barkin. Her face is strikingly asymmetrical. But many hold her to be attractive. Perhaps, in an quirky sort of way.

Color me skeptical about the dimension of the face between the lip and the brow. It may be a factor, but I suspect it is not the factor.

There is no explaining Justin Timberlake. It's a complete mystery.

I'm no expert on DiCaprio and even if I were I wouldn't admit it. However, he has made a concerted (if not successful) effort to add some testosterone to his image, especially with the last two movies he made with Scorcese. This might have something to do with appealing to an older set of women who prefer manliness over harmless effiminacy.

Ivan wrote: "This might have something to do with appealing to an older set of women who prefer manliness over harmless effiminacy."

You're right ... DiCaprio has been trying to bolster his image. Successfully, I might add. He is positioning himself quite well to play the more mature roles as he himself ages. He's slightly hampered by his features, which are more delicate than, say, George Clooney.

I've always been fascinated with observing how female actors manage this. It is, I think, much more difficult for them than it is for male actors. There comes a point when a female must transition from sexy love interest to a motherly role. For women, that transition must start somewhere in the mid- or late-30's and be completed by 45 at the latest. Male actors are capable of carrying off the manly love interest role well into their 50's.

An example of a woman who pulled this off very well is Susan Sarandon. She is now easily accepted as 60 year old. One who is having a very difficult time of this is Meg Ryan. The jury is still out in my mind on Julia Roberts. Ditto Sandra Bullock.

All this has absolutely nothing to do with the article posted by Peter. :-)

Is it an index of masculinity or an index of attractiveness to women? In my opinion steel mill workers, farmers, mechanics...those sorts of people who do outdoor manual labor are most masculine. Lots of times they aren't the pertiest lot in the face... and there teeths might be stained a little from the terbacka...but about as masculine as they come Palentologists be dammed to boot. What the hell does a masculine man know about Palentologists in the first place...and if masculine men don't know Palentologists then how do Palentologists know Masculine men?

You see I recon they don't...unless Mark Twain was a Palentologist...which in roundabout way he was...and what he comes to say about them probably earned him a broken nose or two.

That is an index of male allure to women, which is presumed to be the same thing as masculinity. What in the male draws the female? I thought I read elsewhere of another study in the last few years that women currently were drawn to men who had somewhat softer, more feminine faces. I do not see that this study is repudiating that, but that this new definition of the masculine face indicates a withdrawal from the appeal of the manly. The truly masculine, as John Lewis may be putting it up there, or even as put in the article (big canine teeth are threatening), is not represented on that list, as far as I know. I confess, I don't know who half the men are on that list. My daughter (14 years old) adores Johnny Depp, and I can't see the cause of that at all. As a result of her adoration, I know his face all too well.


But I was at a wedding last week, where I saw a young couple who have been married just a couple of years. I last saw them before they were married. The young man is/was a fire-fighter and was as indifferent to his appearance and manly as he could be. I mean, he was bulky and tough-looking. She must have seen her diamond in the rough. Now he has slimmed down, was dressed in a comparatively androgynous manner and has longish hair, artfully worn and moussed or hair-sprayed into place. He looked sort of pretty. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen," I thought when I saw him. I preferred him rough-cut.

What I mean to suggest is that there is something unmasculine about having this discussion in the first place.

But if there was someone who could talk about this sort of thing in a Masculine way it would be Mark Twain, and the book would be life on the Missippi...and also portions from Letters from the Earth.

But in any case I think I agree with Kate. I am more ready to accept the leadership and instruction of someone who has either the look of wisdom or hard work, preferably both. The look supposedly popular with women...is the look of a young conformist know it all...except that he probably can't even change his own oil.

For Mark Twain the height of Masculinity was the riverboat captain, I think he is right. I also think Dr. Schramm is right about the SF guys(he puts it quite poetically). Basically to put it in Western poker lingo, my Grift sense is triggered by conceptions of the Masculine that uplift the Metrosexual, Hollywood actor types. These guys are actors but at least they know it...and they are duplicated a thousand times over matrix style...

Think about it this way... if you work outside you will lose fat and gain muscle you will also get some sort of tan...now if you work in an office you have to achieve that appearance by going to the gym and the tanning salon(that is a sort of Aesthetic cheating). Basically those most worried about apperance are compensating for lack of substance, my grift sense picks up on this and is mildly ammused. Basically I think that the country music scene sums up masculinity pretty well...but of course my grift sense picks up a lot of fakes here as well. A few too many sheephearders posing as cowboys...and maybe even a president...but picking on Bush is about as lame as picking on Justin Timberlake.

Now I don't like Justin Timberlake per se...but I think he is masculine. I think he is authentic, I think it takes courage to actually sing, and the thing about Justin is that he actually can. And the man has some poise. I was at an AC/DC + Stones concert in Toronto where Justin is from and he came on stage and did some songs. Some masculine(?or is it mob mentality?) AC/DC fans had snuck a large Salmon head tail and all into the concert, and proceeded to chuck the thing at Justin's head...it hit him...and the mob errupted in jeering with some minor disapproval for the action. But Justin paused...reproached the drunks who were promptly removed, and then continued to perform four more songs covered with the stickiness of fish guts. Latter on he came on stage and did some songs with the Stones...and in my opinion did not detract but rather added to the performance level.

So while Justin has the appearance of being fake(boy band and all), I believe it is probably an unjust reputation...he is the real deal at what he does, and overtime that shows up and becomes apparent.

So basically if you are courageous enough you can retain your masculinity while being a choir boy...basically the key component is integrity.

By his own lights George Bush is a man of Integrity, and so is Justin Timberlake..these lights may or may not be universal...so masculinity may not be so easily objectified...but even if I can't always tell the real deal...I can by grift sense pick up on what isn't the real deal.

And really, this is a problem for politicians today...boy does my grift sense prickle around the baby kissers.

I tell you who I like for President: Among Republicans,I like Mike(the hell with ideology: vertical governance is good enough for me) plus he talks straight(in ultra machiavellian skeptic mode I see the deception in talking straight but that is another issue)

I also like the guy people are talking about for Vice President of the Libertarian party: Greg Raymer...the man talks straight and is one hell of a poker player(wrap your mind around that one)!

In any case this concludes my rant... until the Universal Spirit moves me to post in untold fashion again....

Let me tell y'all of something that will never happen. If you guys put Mike Huckabee(President) and Greg Raymer(Vice) on the Republican ticket you will win...or at least you will win the south the central and the southwest(but that might happen no matter who you put foward). Seriously if you put Mike and Greg together the amount of masculinity/integrity and charm that shone through...would be unbelievable... plus I think poker players are ready to be mobilized as a demographic.

Well, there is certainly a problem with the study's emphasis on appearance, especially that partof our appearance which is a given (excepting surgery). The manliness man isn't preocupied with a girlish fastidiousness regarding fashion but needn't be unkempt either...in fact the manly assertion of individual importance or even greatness might include some fashionable posturing of a kind...maybe there is a magnanimous fashion...think of the manliness of a Marine's dress uniform.

Without a doubt Ivan. In Life on the Mississippi Mark Twain talks about the uniform and prestige of the riverboat captain. We agree. But in this sense fashionable posturing properly understood isn't primarily undertaken to signify Individual importance(or is it?). Because as soon as it is Grift sense is triggered. People that work hard to become Marines or Drill Sergeants or go SF in order to aquire the apperance of being tougth, or Hoah(Army Strong whatever) as we say in the Army are often compensating. But I suppose they are compensating well. On the other hand to abuse the idea that manly men are unkept, opens the same sort of doors, and appeals a lot more to the lazy. I happen to know a few guys who in high school suffered from little man syndrome... a couple of them have remade themselves completly. In a sense the mask that is put on habitually becomes the face proper...but if you know some drill sergeants it is interesting and somewhat impressive to see how they can snap the switch so fluidly.

I am always telling girls they need to see a man with more than their eyes.


The firefighter to whom I was referring had not been scruffy. He had previously had an almost military neatness, which quality we all seem to admire here. It was his turn to a "girlish fastidiousness regarding fashion" that made him almost unrecognizable. The poor man was groomed like a poodle. But this nothing new and I am reminded of this...

When a guy wears tails with the front gleamin' white. Who the hell do you think he's ticklin' pink on Saturday night?

When a lazy slob takes a good steady job
And he smells from Vitalis and Barbasol.

Call it dumb, call it clever, ah, but you can give odds forever
That the guy's only doing it for some doll

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