Women’s Looks

A writer whom I respect recently wrote, “Then there’s the fact that men are as a whole pretty visual”. I have heard this propaganda for as long as I can remember and I call bullshit.

In my experience its most vociferous proponents are religious fundamentalists. Said writer considers herself a feminist, yet that stupid myth is part and parcel of the “good women are virgins” thinking she decries. Given the importance of land ownership and the patrilineal inheritance thereof, it is not surprising that Western European societies tried to control reproduction. But the “men are turned on by looks and women are turned on by emotions” silliness marginalizes both genders and flies in the face of reason.

Biology dictates the preservation of the species above all else. That includes reproduction which, for humans, means males and females having sex with each other. Preserving, and improving, the fitness of the species requires some criteria for partner selection beyond random chance. For creatures with good vision, visual appearance is an easy way to make a preliminary determination of suitability for mating. Given how much of the human brain is devoted to visual processing, visual appearance must be an initial criteria for mate selection.

Women have as much at stake as men in picking an appropriate mate, if not more given that they carry the child to term. Why would women neglect some data about prospective mates just because of the sense used to gather it? In other species the females respond to visual cues for mate selection. Why would human females be any different?

Visual appearance, while not sufficient as a sole criterion, is valid for mate selection, especially preliminary to the initial interaction. One of the most important assessments via visual appearance is overall health. A healthy person provides a substantial biologic advantage over an unhealthy person from the perspective of the preservation of the species. The ability to produce, protect, and provide for offspring is as important, at an animal level, to humans as it is to any other species.

The idea that women do not respond to visual appearances fails the Hutcherson laugh-out-loud test. If women aren’t visual, why do the better-looking males get more dates with women? Trust me: funny doesn’t get you as far as tall and athletic. If women aren’t visual, why do they purchase magazines, posters, etc. with photos of good-looking celebrities? His devotion to the grizzly isn’t the main reason women drool over Brad Pitt. If women aren’t visual, who do Hollywood actors juice when they want to be a leading man? Kevin James didn’t get the lead in Hitch.

Women have just as good aesthetic sense as men. They also have every right to exercise it upon whomever they choose. Let women have their looks, too.

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