This blog post is dedicated to a couple of phenomena that I’ve heard about from some of the female commentators around these parts, and from some of my female readers who reach me via e-mail. The first has been explained to me as a scenario where a man finds a woman objectively attractive, but feels no sense of passion for her, i.e. he doesn’t “burn for her.” As for the second scenario, that involves a situation where a woman receives or picks up Indicators of Interest from certain men, but the men giving them otherwise ignore her and instead direct their efforts towards other women. To quote one commenter, oft times the women receiving male attention are those with a “slut aura.” In this post I will give some thoughts about why these situations might happen, supplying some of my theories on the matter as well of those of a few people I’ve talked with. I’m going to address them in reverse order, starting with the second scenario.
Low Hanging Fruit
There is a very simple explanation why most men will focus on women who exude a “slut aura.” They are making a simple, rational decision, although not a moral one, that they shouldn’t pay full price when they can “have the milk for free.” I explained this more fully in my post “Why Does My Boyfriend Pressure Me for Sex?“, but it essentially comes down to men taking the least costly path that leads towards sex. Most men, if they perceive a woman as not being “easy”, will ignore her because the perceived cost of sex from here will be great. On the other hand, a woman with a “slut aura” is perceived as “easy” and a low cost means of getting what they want more than anything.
Another thing that might be hurting women who don’t have a “slut aura” is the fact that their own aura might be pushing men away. Whether you want to call it an “Ice Queen” aura or something else, women can send off vibes that will keep men away. Approaching a woman can be a difficult experience for many men, and if given a reason not to do it, such as cold, rigid body language and behavior on the part of the woman, many men avoid it all together. Women with a “slut aura”, on the other hand, give off the impression of being easily approachable. My suspicion is that many women who don’t adopt that aura will go too far the other way- in their desire to appear modest they actually create an impression of being unapproachable. Much of the problem arises because women aren’t taught the kind of feminine attitudes and behaviors that they were in the past. Part of that included advice on how to both seem modest and yet approachable at the same time. That knowledge is largely forgotten these days, and so women must learn to fend for themselves. For a Christian woman who doesn’t want to give off a “slut aura” or some other brash set of behaviors, it is probably easy to fall unwittingly into the trap of cold modesty. That cold modesty can go beyond behavior, too. Poor dress, short/bad hair and bad makeup skills can also be included here.
There is another explanation, one that is somewhat cruel to say but needs to be acknowledged. It is always possible that women who think they are being passed over because they lack a “slut aura” are misjudging their own attractiveness. They might be misinterpreting men, thinking that they are picking up IOIs, when instead men are merely being friendly. I’ve written a post or two which discussed the trouble women have evaluating their own attractiveness (and whether they should get help for it), and that problem might be manifesting itself here. As cruel as it sounds, a woman who isn’t attractive will be passed up by a lot of men. Of course, she can mitigate this somewhat through healthy diets and exercise, in order to maximize her “physical assets.” But she will need to understand that the pool of men interested in her will necessarily be smaller, and that she will have to adjust her expectations accordingly. That does it for the second scenario, for the moment at least. Turning now towards the first one again.
Cost/Benefit or Risk Analysis
[This isn’t exactly an explanation for the behavior in scenario one, but is something that I should point out, as it goes along well with the overall purpose of the post. ] Something else that can be at play is that a man might be running a cost/benefit analysis in his head and deciding that a woman just doesn’t rate high enough in looks. That seems kind of callous to say, but it is important to acknowledge the reality right now that marriage is a risky proposition for a man. He is completely exposed during marriage, with essentially no protection any longer. Society and the courts will not only not protect him, but will actively encourage the worst of behavior by women. The church even is of little help at best, and in some instances is as much of a problem as any divorce attorney. With this kind of hostile environment, men will be hesitant to marry. They will want the perceived benefits to be worth the potential costs. And yes, this applies to even Christian men. Perhaps especially Christian men, as Jesus reminded us of the importance of counting costs. As I indicated in my previous post, a woman’s beauty/looks/attractiveness is something that matters a lot to men. Of course, men can easily take this too far. Marriage shouldn’t be a selfish thing, otherwise it just becomes another idol. And beauty alone is a foolish measure of whether a woman is marriageable. But the truth remains that in the present age women who are less attractive might get passed over because a man isn’t sure the reward is worth the risk.
Another idea that I have bounced around in my head centers around “floors”- attraction and arousal floors, specifically. I discussed them at length in my post Romantic Architecture, and recommend to those reading this that they review that post before continuing on. Using that post as a baseline, I have basically argued before that normally the male “arousal floor” is lower than the male “attraction floor.” Referencing back to Romantic Architecture, a man’s arousal floor (the point below which women cannot arouse a man) is found at the threshold between “Unattractive” and “Not Unattractive.” Meanwhile, the attraction floor is the boundary between “Attractive” and “Not Unattractive.” The theory I’ve been thinking about revolves around the idea that a man’s arousal threshold might not be fixed. Instead, depending on environmental factors, it might move up or down the “Scale”. In terms of explaining what caused scenario 1, I speculate that a number of different environmental factors might have pushed a man’s arousal floor above his attraction floor. The result of this would be that a man could find a woman objectively attractive, and yet not be immediately/easily aroused by her. What could cause this?
Well, one possibility might be that old Churchian bane, pornography. A man who views sufficient amounts of it might rewire his brain such that he can only be aroused by a high level of sexual conduct by women. Mere sight and normal interaction with a woman who is attractive but not greatly so just might not arouse him like it used to. The same impact can possibly be had outside of pornography, with women that a man encounters in everyday life. If a man has a lot of experience (not necessarily sexual experience, just time spent around) with women who dress and act provocatively, then that might adjust his “baseline” for what to expect from women. If the women are very attractive then this resetting of the baseline might be even more likely.
Under this framework, a woman who dresses and acts modestly may not trigger a man’s passion, even though he can objectively evaluate her as attractive. This meshes well with scenario 2, actually, as men, after sufficient exposure to women with a “slut aura”, might not be able to get easily excited by a woman without. Just like how women can assign a guy to the “friendzone”, and no longer see him as sexually exciting, perhaps men can also lose their ability to view certain women in the same light.
Typing Without a Keyboard
Another possibility, one that was brought to my attention by one of my more astute readers who I communicate with via e-mail, has to do with types. You see, men have certain “types” of women that they prefer. In some of my past post I have referred to archetypes, but this is somewhat different. By “type” I mean that each man has a set of features that he looks for and prefers in women. Some are universal (symmetry, for example), while others vary from man to man. Some features are rated higher or lower, and others a man might not care about at all. As applied to scenario 1, a man might be able to objectively rate a woman as attractive, but if she isn’t his type than he might not feel that immediate passion that he would for a woman who was his type. This is because it is those features he rates highest in his “type” which arouse him. Even though her overall physical appearance might be attractive, if it is sufficiently far from his type it just won’t get his juices flowing. At least, that is the theory.
Another component to this is psychological. A man might not want to commit to a woman who isn’t his type, perhaps because “type” is genetic, or maybe something that he developed as a result of environmental conditions. Either way, because he is so strongly compelled towards his type, he will have trouble committing to a woman who doesn’t fit that. And this mental block might lead a physical block as well.
The present marriage market exacerbates the problem that the male preference for a certain type already adds. For a devout Christian woman, finding a devout Christian man who would make a good husband isn’t enough by itself. You have to be his type as well, or at least attractive enough so that you can overcome that. Likewise for men, the problem is that even if you find a devout Christian woman, who meets most or all of your non-physical criteria, if she isn’t your type then you might have trouble committing to her. In the past this wouldn’t have been as much of a problem, because there were enough marriageable men and women out there that you were likely to find someone who was your type (or whose type you were) while also meeting the other criteria. With so few good candidates these days this may not be the case.
Of course, women have “types” as well, and that might complicate matters from the other end. Then you have personality types and compatibility issues there as well, which makes things even worse on both ends. All of which adds up to the whole situation being a terrible mess right now.
So, that pretty much sums up my explanations/ideas/theories for the time being. I invite my readers to offer their own thoughts and commentary. Feel free to rip them to shreds, goodness knows that I’m in need of an ego check on a regular basis. Oh, and for those who have been participating in my password protected Lenten posts, I will be writing a short one that will act as a counter-part to this post in the next day or so. If you haven’t been participating but would like to, feel free to shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment requesting access.