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Op-ed

Women have always liked masculine men, so why is it news?

A recent study found American women prefer masculine men, as if the 'what do women like in men' was a puzzle in need of solving


Zoran Zeremski / Getty Images

Men and women have co-existed for thousands of years, managing to stay together through centuries of nagging and refusing to ask for directions. Though much has changed, a few things have, and will, remain constant — despite the best efforts of social engineers who find the rules unfair. Specifically, the rules of attraction: What men like about women and what women like about men. Despite the rules never changing, it's somehow newsworthy when those rules are confirmed and re-confirmed.

I'm speaking of this story The Blaze reported on Wednesday about an Australian study that concluded American women prefer men with masculine faces, that a beard often accentuates. As a lady who was conceived a female, born a girl, and lives as a woman, my initial and highly academic reaction was "duh." Though I'm not a fan of he who trims rather than shaves, I am a fan of he with chiseled features, deep voice, and ambitious drive. Ladies often describe this type of man as "tall, dark, and handsome." I thought our unrestrained girlish squeals whenever presented with such a specimen kind of gave away the secret. Alas, studies are still being conducted into what kind of men the ladies like.

Which I find puzzling at best. I actually find it stupid, but let's go with puzzling for the sake of politeness.

Maybe it's my female privilege, maybe I'm just not paying the right kind of attention, but I just can't remember the last time I read about a study that found men like pretty women with narrow waist to hip ratio, perky bosoms, and a penchant to smile. I rather thought these truths were self-evident, that all straight men were created to like women with at least a few feminine traits.

Why, then, must we continue to study what women like about men?

This is a rhetorical question. In the last few years there's been much ballyhooing about masculinity, especially when paired with the word "toxic." Gillette ran its condescending ad about the best a man can be. Bonobos, a men's clothing store, sat a few men in front of the camera in attempts to "evolve" what masculinity means to them. Last year, singer Pharrell Williams appeared on the cover of GQ, wearing an outfit that can best be described as "What would happen if a sleeping bag and a banana slug made a baby." The title for that specific issue was "The New Masculinity."

Guys didn't see us, but women who had the misfortune of grimacing upon that cover nearly lost our eyes, such was the severity of the optical rolling.

Who is it that is trying to tear down and remake what "masculinity" is? Let me tell you who it's not: women. Sure, sure, feminists are loud, screechy, and have us all reaching for stiff drinks, but they hardly speak for the entire gender. Women are just as hard-wired to value masculinity as men are hard-wired to value femininity. Heck, even the feminists I know, the kind who'd happily attend a Women's March, still love their men and still love them manly.

So again I ask, who is it that's trying to remake masculinity? It's not women. It might be feminists ready to burst your ear drums. But in my opinion, it's non-masculine men in cahoots with fringe feminist loons. We've seen the same kind of thing over in the Beauty Wars. It's not men's rights activists trying to change what it means to be a beautiful woman. It's more the fat-pride feminists with BMIs similar to that of humpback whales. It's simple, really. If one doesn't fit into the general rubric of what's attractive, change the rubric. Tis the way of leftism.

Let me reassure you with my credentials as a woman who isn't a fringe feminist loon, nor a noodle-limbed mama's boy subsisting on vegan meals of mostly soy. Masculinity was, is, and forever shall be treasured by women. I'll even let you in on a secret I don't think is actually a secret: Women know most men don't embody masculine perfection as displayed by on-screen superhero hunks. Most of us chicas are happy with a man who has masculine qualities, not every single one of them. Just as men aren't focused on women who are human versions of Jessica Rabbit.

Women like men who are men. Who look like men. Talk like men. Act like men. We always have. We always will. No matter how much our social engineers, who are not or dislike that which masculinity is, may try.

And remember, it's not the beard that makes the man. It's the man who makes the beard.

One last thing…
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