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“Physically strong” and “financially successful” may sound like characteristics that your grandpa’s generation would’ve used to judge a man’s attractiveness, but they’re still the traits that make men more desirable, according to new research published in the journal Feminist Media Studies.
Using data from TubeCrush, a site on which people share, rate, and comment on sneakily taken photos of men on the London subways, researchers at the University of Coventry looked for patterns in what straight women and gay men found to be sexy and masculine in their fellow commuters.
The authors of the study note that despite the fact that masculinity is defined by much more than just physical strength and financial success in this day and age, the site featured far fewer images showing other forms of masculinity, like men holding babies or more emotional-looking men. Instead, flashy watches, nice suits, and muscular physiques are the norm. In short, women love muscles and money.
Of course, the comments and photo titles are largely written tongue-in-cheek, and meant to be humorous as well as appreciative. Despite that, the study authors bring up the fact that if this site were to target female commuters, it would probably be considered creepy, no matter the users’ level of seriousness. And whether joking or not, the focus is clearly on men’s physiques and indicators of disposable income.
“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,” said lead researcher Adrienne Evans. She adds that it’s a problem in a society where we’ve supposedly moved on from traditional gender roles.
The TubeCrush site is a small, overly specific setting on which to base societal standards, but the findings are interesting and researchers hope this study will lead to more discussion on what constitutes masculinity.