The Female Erotic Object: Checking Out the Evidence

     Chantilly lace and a pretty face
     And a ponytail hanging down
     A wiggle in the walk and a giggle in the talk
     Make the world go round

     There ain’t nothing in the world like a big-eyed girl
     To make me act so funny, make me spend my money
     Make me feel real loose like a long-neck goose
     Like a girl—Oh baby that’s what I like!
          The Big Bopper

     She’s so fine there’s no telling where the money went…
          —Robert Palmer

     In the previous post I concluded by pointing out that, in general, men naturally are attracted to youth and beauty in women, whereas women tend to be more attracted to power and social status in men. Homosexuality, diversity of psychological traits among individuals, and some rather unnatural cultural conditioning in recent decades have rendered these natural tendencies less obvious, but natural tendencies of the human animal they remain.

     This makes perfect sense from a biological point of view. When playing by Mother Nature’s rules, reproducing one’s genes is the name of the game; and a young, good-looking woman is more likely to produce several strong, healthy babies than is an old, grotesque-looking one, especially considering that an unhealthy woman is less likely to look pretty. On the other hand, a young, good-looking man may not be the most powerful and best equipped to protect a family; the most powerful men tend to be older, and besides, a man can continue fathering children until he’s just too damn old to get it up anymore. Men don’t have the reproductive cutoff point of menopause to consider. This may all sound unacceptably “sexist,” or whatever, but it remains the natural state for humans for the past million years or more. Mother Nature is not a feminist, but rather a realist.

     This divergence of reproductive strategies between males and females has driven Darwinian sexual selection since prehuman times, and has contributed to sexual dimorphism in our species, as discussed last time. The differences in reproductive strategies have resulted in physical and psychological differences between the genders, which in turn condition further sexual selection in a kind of biological feedback loop. The result of all this has been that men are larger and more aggressive, partly because of fighting over females (although other factors have contributed, such as division of labor and men taking more responsibility for hunting and protection of the tribe), and women are more gracile or “dainty” and more esthetically attractive—“beautiful”—because of (mostly passive) competition amongst themselves in attracting the best, strongest men, the best “providers” of genes as well as of security.

     In sexually selected species of animal, it appears usually to be the males that are selected for beauty—for example Siamese fighting fish, guppies, anole lizards, chickens, birds of paradise, and even some species of baboon. In some species the female is drab and camouflaged because she must be inconspicuous during the vulnerable times of sitting on the nest and/or raising young. Some males, including some rascally human ones, offer no help in raising young other than impregnating the female, so they can better afford to be visually conspicuous. So human beings are unusual in this respect of females being more selected for beauty.

     With human females, beauty is more subtle than bright coloration, crests, wattles, antlers, or elongated feathers or fins (although in a state of “civilization” they tend to compensate for this natural poverty with colorful clothing, jewelry, etc.). A predator like a leopard or cave bear might not be able to tell the difference between a pretty cave woman and an ugly one; at any rate the pretty one wouldn’t necessarily be more conspicuous to a non-human. But even so, it is simply a politically incorrect fact that the body of a woman, an adult human female, has evolved to be sexually attractive, to be “pretty,” to be literally a sex object, the purpose of which is to entice at least one man into mating with her, preferably repeatedly and devotedly. Consequently, a young woman can be queen bitch of the universe, but if she looks red hot in a party dress she’ll have no difficulty in finding a mate, or possibly several.

     So then, what are these sexually selected animal traits which have evolved to attract a man sexually? One strange but informative method of determining this is to look at cartoon portrayals of pretty girls: pretty girls in comic strips, etc., display an exaggerated caricature of what men find attractive in a woman.

from a movie ad in the 1940s and Starchie comics in the 50s...

Some general features of the cartoon pretty girl are: long, thick, luxuriant hair; very big eyes, often of an unusual color; a tiny or even nonexistent nose; small ears; a small mouth yet with full, red, conspicuous lips (or if her mouth appears large it’s often showing a big smile of perfectly white, perfectly even teeth); a heart-shaped face with high cheekbones and a dainty little chin; small or even tiny hands and feet; long legs; and a voluptuously curvaceous body with high, gravity-defying pneumatic breasts and a wasp waist. 

...and some more recent contributions to the genre

and I can't (or won't) resist adding this one: Cowabunga!

     On a real live woman the attractive features are similar, although not nearly so exaggerated. In general, a woman considered pretty will be smaller than the average man, or at least smaller than the man admiring her. She will be neither emaciated nor obese, with soft, rounded contours due to less developed musculature and more subcutaneous fat. She will have shorter arms and narrower shoulders (since she is less likely to have to fight or throw weapons, and must hold a baby to her breast if she nurses offspring). She will have a relatively narrow waist, a primary purpose of which being to accentuate her broad, “breeder’s” hips. Also, she will have a higher, more musical voice than a man. Some features associated with feminine attractiveness are merely indicative of health, such as bodily symmetry, glossy hair, unmottled skin, even, white teeth, etc. These are just general tendencies, however, and are not necessarily or entirely results of Darwinian sexual selection. More specific results of sexual selection are listed below, with a convenient illustration. Most of these features are shared with men, although most of the shared ones are more sexually selected for beauty in women than in men.

thank you, oh thank you to the woman who posed for this picture

1. Head Hair—The original purpose of head hair was presumably insulation: preventing the brain from overheating while a stone-age hunter runs for hours in pursuit of a wounded antelope on the plains of tropical Africa, or reducing heat loss in winter. This does not explain, however, why our hair can grow down to the ground if we don’t cut it. It grows so long that it gets in the way, and even stone-age hunter gatherers cut their hair. From insulation head hair has evolved into a sexual ornament; and this ornament is more important for females of the species than for males—a bald man can still be attractive, although a bald woman, unless shaving the head is in fashion, certainly is not. Furthermore, studies have shown that men are more attracted to long-haired women than to short-haired ones. This has been hypothesized to reflect instinctive attraction to healthy-looking women; and a head of thick, glossy, long hair is indicative of health. The ornamental quality of hair is obvious, and people, especially female ones, resort to a wide variety of gimmicks for accentuating it.

2. Eyebrows—The original purpose of eyebrows is debatable. It has been said that they provide some protection for the eyes; and I have also read the theory, and can accept it to some degree, that they evolved for the purpose of keeping sweat from dripping into our eyes. But a few years ago I happened to see in Burma some gibbons that were coal black over their entire body except for one place: their eyebrows, which were snow white. They couldn’t possibly provide greater protection from blows or dripping sweat by being a different color from the surrounding fur; and so it seems to me now that the original purpose of eyebrows was to be an aid in communication through facial expressions. We primates rely heavily on facial expressions as a means of non-verbal communication. Nevertheless, as with other body parts originally evolved for a different purpose, so eyebrows also have become sexual ornaments, a beauty-enhancing feature. In men they are not so important in this respect, and even a guy with a unibrow can pass for good-looking; but in women a finely arched eyebrow is attractive, and women, some women at least, tweeze and shape them to make them look more attractive. Fortunately, though, the eyebrow pencil has fallen into relative obsolescence.

3. Eyelashes—Experience in tropical Asia has demonstrated to me repeatedly that the primary purpose of eyelashes is to keep pesky moisture-seeking gnats off our eyeballs. Nevertheless, women have longer, more “fluttery” eyelashes than men do. It is a little ironic that a fringe of hairs lining the edge of a skin flap has evolved into an object of beauty in our species, but the wattles of a turkey have evolved similarly. I remember seeing a photo of two shaven-headed Asian Buddhist monastics taken almost from the back, and the only reason I could be sure that they were nuns and not monks, before reading the caption to the picture, was the fact their long eyelashes were clearly visible. Women, instinctively desiring to accentuate their assets, enhance their captivating “flutteriness” with the aid of mascara.

     I may as well point out at this point that, as with cartoon girls, big eyes are considered more attractive in a woman than are small ones. Also, as with cartoon girls, unusual eye colors may be seen as attractive; which may help to account for the variety of eye colors to be found naturally in the European races especially, but now artificially cultivated in females of other races also.

4. Hairless Face—In some races of humanity both males and females have relatively hairless faces; bearded men appears to be especially a Caucasian thing. People have had difficulty in the past in accounting for the male beard. Schopenhauer came up with the strange hypothesis that a hairy face on a man conceals his expressions from enemies, although that strikes me as pushing it. I consider it more likely to be simply a matter of Darwinian sexual selection: for reasons of their own, many women have preferred a man with a bearded face. Maybe it implies virility, which some women like. A bearded face on just about any woman, however, is a virtual guarantee that she will remain single. A hairy face on a woman would conceal much of her other facial features anyway, including the blush, a feminine phenomenon which can inspire raptures in some men.

     I may as well mention here that studies have demonstrated that men have a greater appreciation for (are more aroused by) stereotypically feminine facial features on a woman when their (the men’s) levels of testosterone are higher; which indicates the instinctive, hormone-conditioned nature of male/female physical attraction. Also, I have read that men will consider a woman more attractive if he has just accomplished some dangerous task, like walking over a narrow beam, tightrope-style, presumably because of the rush of adrenaline and other stimulants in the blood.

5. Earlobes—I have read that the only purpose of the human earlobe is to serve as an erogenous zone. Not only are they minor sexual ornaments, but they swell and become more sensitive to pleasurable stimulation when a person is sexually excited. And again, although they are found in both sexes, they tend to be accentuated with jewelry more by females; and I would guess that women get their earlobes sucked more than men do during the mating behavior known as “making out.”

6. Protruding Nose—It may be noticed that few animals, including primates, have a fleshy nose that protrudes beyond the mouth the way ours does. Even chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest living relatives, pretty much just have two nostrils stuck onto the front of a relatively flat face. The only reason I have ever seen to account for this (other than Dr. Pangloss’s theory that the purpose of noses is to hold up spectacles, or that we have a nose in order to have downward-directed nostrils which keeps rain from falling into them) is a rather wild one proposed by Desmond Morris in his classic book The Naked Ape: it seems that the human nose is not only a sexual ornament, but it is in fact an imitation sexual organ! According to Dr. Morris, we humans are so fixated on sex that we gradually evolved, as an attraction, an object resembling a male glans penis smack in the middle of our face! It seems wild, but it is the only plausible explanation I’ve encountered. It would also explain why a small nose is considered more attractive than a big one in women: it has instinctive, subliminal connotations of masculinity. And as I’ve already mentioned, cartoon pretty girls may have no nose at all. The sexual nature of the nose is indicated by the fact that the nose, too, expands and becomes more sensitive when a person is sexually aroused—flaring nostrils and all that.

7. Everted Lips—Another way in which we humans differ from our ape relatives is that we have the lining of our mouth essentially turned inside out around the edges of that orifice in the form of lips. This is actually detrimental from the perspective of mere individual survival: the mucous membrane of the lips is much more vulnerable to injury and sunburn than is ordinary skin. But, like the peacock’s tail, the sexual attractiveness of lips makes them more valuable than a mouth without them. If you found Desmond Morris’s theory for protruding noses to be outrageous, be outraged again, as he claims that lips also are not only a sexual ornament, but are actually imitation labia minora! That’s right, we humans are so sex-obsessed that we have chosen, over the course of a million years or more, to walk around with symbols of male and female genitalia right on our face, in plain view to everyone. That the lips are sexual in nature is illustrated by the fact that they too swell and become more sensitive, and more red, when a person is sexually excited. And their use in sexual activity is well known. Furthermore, unlike the more masculine nose, full, opulent lips on a woman are considered sexy, as indicated by cartoon honeys of the past and present. That they are more important as an ornament to women than to men is indicated by the plain fact that women make them redder and more conspicuous with cosmetics. Also, I may as well mention the theory of Morris that black people have larger lips in order to compensate for their reduced conspicuousness due to reduced color contrast. It all may sound absurd, but if that’s the case try coming up with more plausible explanations.

8. Armpit Hair—The hair under our arms could hardly be called ornamental, despite some feminists allegedly dying theirs blue. It could be called a visual sexual ornament mainly, I suppose, because it is an indication of sexual maturity. It certainly is an enhancer to a person’s sexual attractiveness, however, in another sense: the primary purpose of armpit hair, possibly its only purpose, is to serve as an alluring scent trap. Underarm sweat has a different chemical composition from most other sweat on our body, containing higher amounts of pheromones, or sexual attractants. The odor of healthy female armpit sweat is enough to stimulate sexual arousal in many males, or at least to facilitate it. Male armpit sweat also is laden with erotogenic pheromones, although the chemical formula is not exactly the same. Male sweat is more attractive to females, and female sweat is vice versa. Remember that for most of the existence of our species soap had not been invented, and we are intended by Nature to be rather more aromatic than most of us actually are nowadays. If soap did not exist, then the postmodern claims that there is no instinctive human nature and that it’s all a social construct would be significantly less credible.

9. Protruding Breasts—Most people no doubt assume that women’s breasts protrude because of the fact that they are designed as milk generators for babies. This assumption is incorrect. A woman’s breasts protrude all the time, not only when she is lactating, because of subcutaneous fat deposits, not because of milk-producing mammary glands. You may have noticed that most female mammals, including primates, are quite flat-chested except when pregnant or nursing babies. The truth is that women’s breasts poke out so alluringly all year round for sexual reasons—they are yet another sexual ornament, the purpose of which is to attract men sexually. Not surprisingly, Desmond Morris had an outrageous theory to account for this. According to him, when our ancestors climbed down out of the trees and started walking upright, they began preferring the missionary position for coitus instead of front-to-back like most mammals. Our male ancestors were instinctively attracted to paired smooth globes of flesh to ogle and grope while sexually aroused; and so over time this manifested, via face-to-face sex and Darwinian sexual selection, in a pair of imitation buttocks on a woman’s chest. Again, it seems outrageous or even absurd, but it is the most plausible theory I’ve come across. Add to this some neoteny in the form of childlike fascination for mama’s titty, and a fascination for breasts could easily become well developed, so to speak, in human males, including instinctive nipple-sucking during the more advanced stages of sexual foreplay. Also, like other erogenous body parts, a woman’s breasts swell, with nipples erect, and they become more sensitive to pleasurable stimuli when she is sexually aroused. At such times some women also display a bright pink blush on their face and breasts, the purpose of which, of course, is to drive the aroused male even crazier than he already is.

10. Areolae—The circular or oval patch of pigmented flesh surrounding the nipple is, as far as I can tell, completely unnecessary for the purpose of nursing babies. Most mammals, dogs being an obvious example, have no areolae to speak of. So it seems to me that the primary or only purpose of the female areola is, again, to serve as a sexual ornament. Men have them too, as well as non-functional nipples for that matter, but they are larger and more conspicuous in women, and serve as “releasers” to excite men sexually.

     Two points with regard to nipples (no pun intended—seriously) may be discussed here. First, the nipple of the human female is much smaller and shorter than that of, say, anthropoid apes and monkeys. In fact the smallness of women’s nipples, combined with the convex curvature of the breast, occasionally results in impaired efficiency in nursing: the baby can’t keep a grip on the little nipple with that buxom ta-ta pressing into its face. This implies, as further evidence, that a woman’s breast is modified away from its obvious original purpose of nursing babies into, well, a mimic buttock and sexual stimulant and plaything for men.

     Second, as has just been mentioned, even men have nipples, and areolae, even though they don’t nurse babies. These body parts have evolved into minor erogenous zones for men also, this apparently being their only function on guys; but that is not the reason why men have them in the first place. Sexual dimorphism has relatively stringent limitations in us humans for the simple fact that men and women are almost the same genetically. The only difference between us with regard to genes is one little chromosome. And most of the body parts modified for sexual beauty in a woman are coded by genes not on that one little chromosome (although they are modified by hormones that are on it). Nipples, and mammary glands, are allegedly evolved from sweat glands; and since both sexes have those, both sexes now have nipples. Similar arguments apply to other aspects of feminine sex appeal also evident on men such as green eyes, full lips, long head hair, etc. And although women are more evolved for beauty, nevertheless sexual selection for physical attractiveness has operated on men also; women have chosen good-looking men over rich ones countless times.

11. Navel—The obvious “original” reason why we have a navel is because that is where the umbilical cord was attached before we were born; it is essentially a scar. But there is no reason why that scar couldn’t heal to the point of nonexistence, or near to that point. The next time you have a dog lying on its back and you’re rubbing its belly, take a look at its belly button: you may find that dogs hardly even have one. If it could heal on a dog it could heal on us too. Consequently, it is very probable that our conspicuous navel is yet another ornament derived from sexual selection. (Back in the 1960s the outstandingly pretty actress Barbara Eden was required to wear a harem girl outfit that covered her navel throughout the first season of the TV show I Dream of Jeanie, because in those days a beautiful woman showing her belly button on TV was considered just too risqué. It’s sexy. Compare that with what’s on TV now. Seriously. Consider Game of Thrones. And some people claim that western culture in not in a state of moral decline.) Also, of course, women are much more likely to ornament their belly button with jewelry than men are.

12. Smooth, Hairless Skin—I think most men would agree that lots of hair on a woman, except maybe in places that are supposed to have lots of hair, is unattractive. But although lack of hair may look good, the more important reason for relative hairlessness on a woman’s body is probably tactile—it causes her to feel better. The smooth, silky texture of a young woman’s skin (accentuated by the effects of estrogen) can cause electric thrills of pleasure in a man. Lots of hair would almost certainly reduce that pleasure. Whatever the exact evolutionary reasons for it, women compensate for relative lack of body hair by having extra subcutaneous fat, which, in addition to serving as insulation, supplies the bonus of softer, more rounded curves. This smoothness of skin, along with other “juvenile” characteristics such as a high voice, are conditioned by neoteny, the retention of juvenile characteristics in adults. But in such cases it has the counterintuitive function of making a woman more sexually attractive.

13. Pubic Hair—Probably the most common reason given for the existence of pubic hair is that it provides cushioning during copulation; but the current fashion of shaving the pubic hair, in both genders, has resulted in no great discomfort during sex, as far as I have heard. Also, it would seem to provide minimal protection from injuries otherwise, and its exploitation by parasites such as lice would seem to counteract such protection and make it, overall, more of a liability than an asset from the purely utilitarian perspective of survival. What is much more probable is that pubic hair serves essentially the same purpose as armpit hair—that is, it is a conspicuous mark of sexual maturity and a trap for the musky, intoxicating aroma of sex pheromones—especially before the invention of soap. It is, if I may offer an opinion here, more ornamental than armpit hair, and provides some esthetic contrast which many men find maddeningly attractive—a dark patch of animal hair amid the creamy smoothness of a young woman’s skin can have a stimulating effect which it would be futile to describe. I move on.

14. Vulva—This one of course is exclusively feminine. There would seem to be no strictly physical need for those little lips and folds; a simple hole would suffice. Although not particularly conspicuous, they also are sexual ornaments as well as THE primary erogenous zone for a woman. There would seem to be no purpose for them otherwise. Their function as sexual ornaments/stimulators of men becomes more blatant when a woman is sexually excited, as they swell and expand like a blooming flower and blush a much deeper shade of pink, or even scarlet. At such times they are also much more sensitized to pleasurable stimulation. Their purpose, quite simply, is to inflame men to the point of no return, and to inflame the woman also. Biologically speaking, a woman’s genitalia are the focal point of her sexual charms, with all the other sexually selected embellishments being just so many concentric rings around the bullseye. The miraculous beauty of female genitalia to an aroused man—the beauty of a moist, gooey pink hole surrounded by weird little folds, wrinkles, and fur—is itself a strong argument in favor of the existence of mindless animal instincts in the human animal. After orgasm he may be able to see it as it really is (a gooey pink orifice, etc.), but when his hormone levels go up again he once again sees mystical beauty. Then again, a male baboon sees mystical beauty when he sees the red, swollen, drippy back end of a female baboon in heat. Such is life.

     The result of millions of years of sexual selection is that men are essentially addicted to female sexual attractions (with the focal point of it all being, if you will pardon my French, pussy), and women instinctively exploit this in order to get what they want. As a result of sexual selection, there is not a square inch on a woman’s body, possibly excepting her knees and elbows, and maybe the soles of her feet, that is not modified for sexual attractiveness; her body is evolved to be a sex object for men; and men are more evolved than women to be visually stimulated. (Hence the predominantly male liking for pornography—it’s no more a cultural construct than a cat’s liking for chasing a ball of string.) To make this situation even more politically incorrect, we may recall the idea that physical differences condition and reflect psychological ones; you won’t have one without the other. A woman certainly has many other functions, very obviously, even within the context of the stone age; but her biological function as a sex object is no less real than her function as a mother, or food gatherer, or compassionate peacemaker, or anything else. It’s built right into the system, regardless of modern egalitarian ideologies.

     Meanwhile, “progressive” western women eagerly accentuate all of their body’s sexual ornaments, for example making their lips red and glossy to more closely resemble sexually excited genitalia, thickening their eyelashes, shaving off excess body hair, maybe even having their breasts artificially enlarged, and wearing revealing clothing to highlight legs, cleavage, etc., while at the same time yammering away against male objectification of women. And men, largely because of their instinctive addiction to female flesh, put up with this crap. The progressive western woman has become a caricature, and western civilization a darkly humorous parody. Ah, well, at least we men got a better deal than male praying mantises. Probably.

the great mysterious paradox: a sex object with an intelligent mind



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