Men, women, attraction, and power
Here’s a conversation I had with a friend. It shows the way my physics training gets me to think that I expect others will find interesting. Remember, physics to me means respecting and appreciating nature — not just something that happens in a laboratory, but how rainbows work, why the sky is blue, and why people are the way we are. My friend also said she found the result enlightening.
Normally I don’t write about men-women issues, but the way of thinking can apply elsewhere too. You’ll see I had to refine my first question and then re-ask it to give clear and unambiguous answers — like creating an experiment. Physicists like answers that you can measure.
Josh: Do you think overall men find women more attractive or that overall women find men more attractive?
Friend: Women are more attractive. Look at the covers of magazines.
Josh: I don’t mean just appearance. Overall attractiveness.
Friend: I don’t follow.
Josh: Okay, think of a guy you find attractive. On a scale of one to ten, give him a number, not just based on appearance but on everything — if he dresses well, has charisma, runs a company, and so on, that all counts, not just his appearance. Okay?
Josh: Now think of all the billions of men on the planet. You would have a number for each of them, right?
Josh: Okay, add up all the numbers you have for all the men and say that’s the total attractiveness of all the men on the planet for you.
Josh: Now every woman would have a similar number for all the men, right? Well, let’s talk about heterosexual adults for now.
Josh: Okay, add up all those numbers to yours and divide by the total population. That will give you the average attractiveness of all the men from all the women’s perspective.
Friend: Haha, I get it. Cool.
Josh: Now you don’t know what that number would be, and of course people’s perspectives change, we can’t actually get all those numbers at once, and so on, so it’s only imaginary, but you can imagine coming up with that number, right?
Josh: Okay, imagine we did it and imagine remembering that number. It’s a number between one and ten that is the average attractiveness of men for women.
Josh: Now each man has a number for each woman. Imagine adding all the numbers for all the women from the perspectives of all the men. You’d get a number between one and ten that represents the average attractiveness of women for men.
Josh: Here’s my question. You have two numbers. Which is bigger?
Friend: Okay, I get it. Well, still, I think the second number is bigger. Men find women more attractive overall.
At this point I knew we were both talking about the same thing. In her opinion men are overall more attracted to women. I wasn’t so sure the overall attraction differed that much, but I did agree men were probably more attracted to women’s physical appearance overall, and that that difference had big consequences.
Something most women don’t know about men
I pointed out to my friend a consequence most men probably feel that women might not sense.
To many people, “attractive” means “physically attractive,” especially among men. They are attracted to women’s appearance so they figure appearance means to everyone what it means to them. They sense no matter how much they improve their appearance, they can never attract women as much as women attract them.
This difference in attraction levels can make men who weight appearance too much feel powerless, or at a disadvantage, which can make them feel frustrated, even hopeless.
I don’t know if this insight is new or meaningful to anyone, but my friend found it new and interesting. She hadn’t considered that many men might feel weak in this regard. They might try to make up for it, but that wouldn’t stop that feeling from happening.
Of course, there are many facets to attraction besides appearance, which is why I think the numbers between men and women overall are likely close to equal, though that’s just a belief of mine. I think it’s a mistake to think of attraction only in terms of physical appearance, especially for guys like that. I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman, and every woman is unique, but I think women weight men’s behavior more relative to men’s appearance more than men do. In that case, men don’t realize how much they can attract women through behavior, which is what this blog is about.
I’ve written on how much charisma can help people get what physically attractive people do. Naturally, since charisma skills and leadership skills overlap so much, I think anyone can increase their charisma a lot.
Anyway, I’ve gone out on a limb from what I normally write about. I mostly wanted to share a physicist’s way of looking at an issue and how it leads to a perspective that was new and informative to at least one person. If I get comments on this page I’ll know whether to venture more or less into territory about men and women. I’d love to read your thoughts and reactions.
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