COVENTRY, England — Macho men, particularly ones in suits, still reign supreme on the totem pole of sexual attraction, a new study finds.
Researchers at Coventry and Aberystwyth universities in the United Kingdom looked at three years of data from TubeCrush, a British hot-or-not-type site where users upload photos of male London Underground passengers, to evaluate the male archetypes straight women and gay men found most attractive.
One striking initial observation by the researchers was that most men uploaded were white, despite London being a fairly diverse city. Popular images also often made sure to focus on a man’s biceps, pectorals, and chest, particularly if he was muscular in those areas.
Many accompanying comments also emphasized a man’s physique and supposed sexual prowess, the researchers note.
Another frequent theme in popular images was displays of wealth, whether it was through jewelry, fancy attire, or expensive technology.
Meanwhile, men who demonstrated less dominant or aggressive behavior, such as fathers, or males who seemed more sensitive or awkward, fared worse on TubeCrush.
The researchers believe that their findings uncover a reversal in traditional gender roles, in which women have begun to objectify unsuspecting men, instead of vice versa. The findings “suggest that white, male privilege is still an attractive quality in men for many straight women and gay men,” according to a university news release.
“From smart-suited City workers to toned gym-goers flashing their flesh, the men featured in the photographs on TubeCrush show that as a culture we still celebrate masculinity in the form of money and muscle,” says lead researcher Adrienne Evans. “They are marking the middle-class, wealthy, mobile and sexually powerful male body, not as a political one as feminists intend it to be, but one that should be actively desired.”
Although some positive attention can certainly help a guy’s self-esteem, Evans argues that women are still looking in the wrong direction.
“It’s a problem because although it appears as though we have moved forward, our desires are still mostly about money and strength,” she concludes.
The researchers’ findings were published in the journal Feminist Media Studies.