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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The New Sex Appeal?

"Chubby, hairy, and poor."

MEN. A pair of items in Drudge today are supposed to give new hope to ordinary guys. First, there's this from the NY Daily News:

Playgirl's hunks? The hairy, chubby & poor!
by Rivka Bukowsky

Forget waxed chests and rock-hard abs. A new survey finds ladies like their men scruffy, a wee bit chubby - and definitely not a metrosexual.

Playgirl asked 2,000 of its readers what they find sexy in a man and the answers were surprising: 42% said they thought love handles were kind of sexy and 47% approved of chest hair.

The mag, which often features toned, hairless males in its beefcake photo spreads, is now searching for a man who meets readers' standards.

Average Joes everywhere can send photos to models@playgirlmag.com to compete for a shot at a pictorial in a future issue.

Rich playboys need not apply - only 4% of women said the size of a man's wallet mattered. Metrosexuals are also out: 73% want a guy who is "rough around the edges."

"This survey shows that the guy who's most attractive to our readers is not your average Hollywood hunk," said Playgirl editrix Jill Sieracki. "It's the average Joe who came up on top. Women are practical about their choices, and they're smart."

New York matchmaker Janis Spindel, a self-described specialist at setting up "highly successful, well-educated, attractive professionals," confirmed the survey's findings. "It's scary, but women don't care [about looks]," she said. "Men are very superficial and very shallow."

But Spindel disputed the claim that women don't care about finding a rich man: "Women want a man who makes more money than they do," she said. "They want to be able to live a comfortable lifestyle." [emphasis added]

Before moving on, though, I'll draw your attention to the highlighted text. Why is it "scary" to Ms. Spindel that women don't care about looks? Particularly in view of her statement that men are "very superfcial and very shallow" presumably because they do care about looks. Does this mean it would be less scary if women were as shallow as men? And are women really less shallow and superficial if they want "a man who makes more money than they do"? This makes it sound as if it's the men who want romance and the women who want a plush bank account. Which is not news.

So -- somewhat less hopeful -- we turn to the other Drudge item, another NY Daily News article:

Geek chic
By Jacob Osterhaut

Good news, losers: It's cool to be uncool. With the upcoming releases of two new movies, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "The Baxter," and the recent success of "Napoleon Dynamite," Hollywood has gleefully embraced dorkdom.

Hear that, matinee idols? This might be the time for you to trade in your Uzi and Aston Martin for a pocket protector and a sweater vest.

What's all the excitement about? A couple of new movies, including one called the "40 Year old Virgin." Here's what Mr. Osterhaut has to say:

Hope we don't give anything away, but the title character of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" has never had sex.

Excuse me, Mr. Osterhaut, but when the title of a movie is "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" I would be extremely surprised if it weren't about a person who has never had sex. Or does the word "virgin" have a different meaning in New York City than it does everywhere else?

Andy (Steve Carell) collects action figures, plays video games and, on weekends, blows his baritone horn. "This is a character who has missed out on some opportunities in his life," says Carell. "He was probably in the marching band when he was in high school."

But the affable guy finds love by the end of the film. "Andy is attractive because he is nice and sweet," points out Carell. "He's not a bad boy. He's not dangerous. He is not threatening. He is unique."

Unique? Because he's not bad, dangerous or threatening? Or because he's a virgin? I suspect the country is full of men who aren't bad, dangerous, or threatening; these have always been the nice guys who "finish last." If I had to guess, though, few of them remain virgins till the age of 40. Mostly, they find women who turn to them at last after getting burned one too many times by the bad boys.

Still no news here, it would seem. But wait -- buried in the article is this striking paragraph:

"Women find sex appeal in male geek movie characters," notes Gitesh Pandya, editor of www.boxofficeguru.com. "Geeks have charm in their awkwardness. The personality of a geek makes him sexy, partially because he can be pitied and partially because they [sic] are good-natured people."

The geek is sexy because he can be pitied? This is news. Women want men who are pitiable!? And this is supposed to be good news? That would pretty much wipe out the driving force behind the creation of advanced civilization -- the feats of leadership, heroism and genius men have forced themselves to accomplish for the purpose of making themselves attractive to women. Now we are to believe that it would be better to let it all go, put on a few more pounds, and practice acting awkward and helpless instead?

Oddly enough, Drudge also seems to have offered up some confirmation of this notion in yesterday's report. Consider this otherwise contextless item from the U.K.'s News Telegraph:

Michael Buerk, the veteran BBC newsreader, has launched a tirade against what he believes is the all-pervading influence of women in society, claiming that men have been reduced to little more than "sperm donors".

Buerk, the former presenter of The Nine O'Clock News whose report on Ethiopia inspired Live Aid, said that life was now lived "according to women's rules" and that traditional male traits had been marginalised.

In an interview with The Radio Times, he cited the decline of the manual workforce as an example of the trend as well as the number of women in top jobs at the BBC and other media outlets.

Buerk, who now presents BBC World and recently attacked some of his fellow news presenters for being overpaid "lame brains", complained that the "shift in the balance of power between the sexes" has gone too far and we needed to "admit the problem".

"Life is now being lived according to women's rules," he said. "The traits that have traditionally been associated with men - reticence, stoicism, single-mindedness - have been marginalised."

And now all that women need or want from the male sex is a shopworn teddy bear who makes a decent living as a nonthreatening drone? Interesting idea. But the next line of Michael Buerk's rant also seems relevant. He says:

"The result is that men are becoming more like women...."

This is certainly true. And it's intriguing that such a definite declaration comes from an employee of the BBC, a member in good standing of the ultra-liberal journalism establishment. Women may be in charge now at the BBC, but they're not in charge of all elite media. So why does the mass media coverage of the Bush Administration (for example) seem so stereotypically female in tone -- hysterical, histrionic, hyper-emotional, and irrational -- its argumentation entirely developed and arranged for the purpose of attacking one man -- at all costs -- rather than making any attempt to think through the situation without second-guessing every motive and digging up every old grievance.

The so-called progressive opposition to Bush is remarkably akin to that of a woman who has discovered her lover cheating on her. She's through with him. There's nothing he can say or do, ever again, to command her affection or respect. She will go to any length, no matter how self-destructive, to obtain her revenge. In furtherance of her purpose she will care about things she's never cared about, stand her own principles on their heads, and use every vicious trick she can think of to do more hurt to her target.

This extremely virulent side of the feminine mindset may be more firmly implanted in the mainstream media than it is elsewhere in the culture, but there is virtually no institution that does not increasingly manifest at least the milder versions of the female personality. Our corporate meeting rooms are geared to consensus and cooperation rather than breakthrough leadership (and its inevitable hurt feelings), our schools are drenched in feel good flummery rather than the demand for accomplishment, our politics are awash in policy-making by heart-tugging anecdote rather than sober cost-benefit analysis, and our tolerance for the very real human costs of defending the nation in a tough and violent world has disappeared into a swamp of tears and impotent tantrums.

What's more, I think there are a lot of women who detect that this is the case and suspect that it's not Utopia. Yes, they wanted to participate in the institutions and the decision-making, but in their heart of hearts, they didn't want men to become just like them. Now they see men who are as obsessed with appearance, clothes, and grooming as they are, famous athletes who whine and storm like teenage girls, leaders in a variety of fields who care more about what other people will say (and have said) than how to get the mission accomplished, whatever it is, and they know that something's wrong.

But do they even remember men? What does a man look like to a woman who was born after the feminist revolution? Perhaps he looks like he doesn't care how he looks, perhaps he has a driving interest in something other than money and status, perhaps he lacks the degree of narcissism to plunge himself into the beauty pageant relations between the sexes have become. Maybe she sees a geek and thinks maybe she's looking at a man.

If so, love handles and pitifulness might not be the answer. It might be that what men need to do is relearn the difficult and complex skill of thinking and acting like a man.







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