The author of the book “Homo Aggressivus” addresses the issue of attracting women to tough men. It comes with references to research and cases that explain this phenomenon. Find out in the excerpt below why women prefer warrior men, how the lightning success of the novel “Fifty Shades of Gray” can be explained, and why some women do not leave their violent husbands.
An old phrase is known that the escort girl loves the one who conquers her (and it is not far from reality). Research shows that women, in fact, often show a higher degree of sexual attraction than men with a reputation as warriors, as well as leaders and the military. In some societies, military men in uniform are perceived as having a higher sex appeal than those in ordinary attire.
The sex appeal of the military uniform
From the point of view of evolutionary psychology, we understand that women’s preference for “warrior” men and the sex appeal of military uniforms are reminiscent of escort girl’s, working with our Escort Service, ancestral choices for men of high social status (resource holders); from the days when the hierarchical position was directly dependent on the skills of a warrior and was associated with aggressive behavior. Since then, the emblem of “warrior man”, who has control and has a combative and imposing behavior, has been part of a strategy that benefits men in their relations with the opposite sex.
A study of evolutionary psychology published in 2015 in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior showed that women primarily prefer those men who have manifested themselves heroically on the battlefield, while any other kind of heroism (in emergency interventions, sports, or business) is not so appreciated. It was also found that the veterans of World War II who had been decorated for courage had an average of 3.18 children, more than ordinary veterans, whose average number of descendants is 2.72.
Heroism in battle is an indication of high physical quality, and the bravest fighters later benefited from sexual favors. Other curious aspects of admiration for male strength mark the psychology of sexual relations in our time.
Bold men are more attractive to women than shy men
It is known that young men who behave modestly, seem pleasant, selfish, and fearful are in some respects disadvantaged in sexual relations. On the contrary, the manipulative, arrogant, cunning, self-confident, who play hyper-masculine roles, have more sexual experiences and more partners.
These effects are due to the stupidity with which these men act and the fact that women prefer this kind of men, with a more imposing behavior. Various studies have shown that men perceived as having a dominant status and a strong character are more attractive to women than those who are submissive and shy.
At the same time, men gain more prestige and are more attractive to women when they show dominance and hostility toward rivals (for example, toward members of a foreign sports team), not toward peers or those around them.
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In the perspective of a long-term romantic relationship, in the view of marriage, the unleashed interpersonal aggression of a man could diminish women’s interest (for fear of not being aggressively dominated by themselves).
So, assertive dominance and masculinity are advantageous for short-term conquests and courtship strategies, but prestige (usually associated with social status wealth, but which may include prosocial behavior, empathy, intelligence, and generosity) will impact long-term.
Other studies have shown that women’s view of male aggression increases the attractiveness of male faces and voices. Still, male-female aggression reduces the beauty of masculine features (women feel threatened by overly dominant men).
Four dimensions of women’s preferences for men
Evolutionary psychologists David Buss and Todd Shackelford identified four dimensions of women’s male preferences:
- Have good genes (masculine men, physically attractive, with sex appeal);
- To be able to make investments (rich men, with high financial income, educated, with career);
- Be good parents (men who are dedicated to family, children, are emotionally stable);
- To be lovers (sentimental men, attached, tender).
The more physically attractive a woman perceives herself, the greater the demands; she will try to find a partner who meets as many of these qualities as possible, or even all of them. In general, depending on the circumstances, women may adopt a mixed strategy, engaging in long-term relationships with one partner and possibly short-term relationships with other partners who have other attractive traits, such as sex appeal.
Women prefer parental types for long-term relationships and tough guys for short-term relationships
Another study, conducted on 1,365 women in 11 countries between the ages of 14 and 68, showed the same behavioral pattern: women prefer parental types for long-term relationships and hard guys, “bastards,” for short-term relationships.
Preferences also vary with age: the younger the women, the higher the availability for a short-term relationship. This effect of age is perfectly explicable if we consider that young women are more fertile and are unconsciously more prone to a relationship with an attractive man with good eyelashes. For older women, the priority is safety and the degree of supply of resources for themselves and their children.
These strategies have evolved over hundreds of thousands and millions of years, still in our hominid predecessors. And women today are born with a brain that maintains archaic behavioral patterns.
Overall, throughout human evolution, dominant individuals have been favored in reproductive competition, and today there are broad categories of women who prefer “alpha males” with an assertive and sexist approach. In general, numerous studies in recent decades have revealed women’s penchant for short-term relationships.
Women’s sexual preferences are primarily geared towards dominant men, and even if they have a stable partner, they can venture into fleeting relationships. The desire for short-term relationships is more pronounced in the days of maximum menstrual cycle fertility (ovulatory shift hypothesis). Men with traits that indicate a high genetic quality are favored. Women who consider themselves more attractive prefer men with a lower, more masculine, dominant voice.
Women are sexually attached to those masculine faces that are both inspiring and fearful
In regions where the epidemic is more dangerous, where the population is more vulnerable to disease, men with masculine facial features are more attractive to women than women with effeminate faces because masculinity correlates with testosterone, with high resistance to infections. Also preferred are guys with more masculine faces, associated with greater physical strength, and therefore with better eyelashes. The more unstable and challenging living conditions are, the more accentuated these preferences are.
Research based on women’s brain scans has shown that they are sexually attracted to those male faces that inspire fear and danger. Interestingly, women are attracted to the masculine scent, the dominant behavior, and the imposing physical features, especially when they are in the period of maximum fertility of the menstrual cycle. It speaks to women’s unconscious, an instinctual preference for dominant and virile men.
In another study, 1212 women’s preferences for returning soldiers were assessed. It was found that those soldiers who had demonstrated a higher degree of aggression on the battlefield (appetitive aggression) were more preferred for scrutiny relationships and were attractive, especially for women in the fertile days of the menstrual cycle. So here is another proof that dominance and aggression are associated with individuals’ genetic quality.
Men who look shy are more attractive to women in the infertile period of the menstrual cycle
In the same category is the observation that men who look shy (display this non-verbally) are more attractive to women in the infertile period of the menstrual cycle and less attractive to women with a high chance of getting pregnant. This is what the results among North American women show. Women in India are even less attracted to shy men.
These observations suggest that shy men are perceived as being less genetically gifted on an unconscious level, but men’s preferences are partially socio-culturally influenced. However, the choice dictated by social norms and emotional and rational attachment may take precedence over instinctual impulses dictated by genetic advantage.
The social context matters a lot
The startling case discovered in a Baltimore prison in 2014, where four women guardsmen became pregnant by a detainee, an undercover leader named Tavo White, illustrates, albeit in an anecdotal form, the phenomenon of the attraction of dominant men. But let us remember that other criminals, some notorious assassins, also enjoyed women’s attention while behind bars, being assaulted with love letters and other signs of adoration.
That’s probably why we shouldn’t be surprised to find out that the dreaded No. 1 terrorist in the world, Osama bin Laden, was considered sexy, and not a few women confessed that they imagined him in their fantasies. He embodied a prehistoric person, brutal, brave, intuitive to some women. Others found his spiritual side appealing, the mystery surrounding him, the fact that he had a cause to fight for.
Osamafilia was noticed among women in the Middle East and women in Western countries, among Americans, for whom this terrorist was to be the number one enemy.
According to psychiatrist Justin Frank, a professor at George Washington Medical Center, it is quite possible that women who adore Osama bin Laden had a despotic, dominant father. They now long for a similar relationship to feel a dose of fear. Other experts point to the strange attraction of women to tough, misogynistic guys, especially if they are talked about on TV and are somehow popular.
The Dark Triad: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy
In psychology, the term Dark Triad is used to describe a category of men who tend to behave violently and dominantly. The Dark Triad includes three sub-clinical features: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.
These men are complacent, selfish and overconfident, unscrupulously manipulated and exploited, impulsive and empathetic, stupid and possessive in sexual relationships, and have sadistic inclinations. Paradoxically, many women love such men.
They are the conquering and profiting don Juan. By the way, the Spanish playwright who wrote the play about the legendary Don Juan illustrated the adventures of an Andalusian landowner who spent his time making plans to deflower women, taking care not to get caught and punished.
Don Juan was and is a symbol of the selfishness of the man who seeks to exploit women, conquer them sexually, then abandon them. However, despite their reputation, many women dream of an affair with a Don Juan.
How can the lightning success of the novel “Fifty Shades of Gray” be explained?
Some women have fantasies about brutal sex, including rape. The international success of the novel “Fifty Shades of Gray” by E.L. James is mainly because he explores the erotic fantasies of women eager for unconventional sex with sadistic elements.
By the way, it has been found that many young readers of this book remain influenced by the messages conveyed by the novel; they adopt an unhealthy lifestyle, some of them are more willing to consume alcohol, show promiscuous behavior (they are looking for more sexual adventures).
Studies show that some categories of women show an increased attraction to sex with elements of sadomasochism, which involves scenes of dominance and submission (BDSM), and this desire does not reflect any biological or neurological dysfunction.
Natural selection favored the formation of masculine warrior
In conclusion, we understand that natural selection favored the formation of masculine warrior traits that benefited the most combative in each generation because they could acquire more women. Still, it also selected women who preferred warrior men because they obtained access to more resources to raise their children. There has been a mutual reinforcement of these strategies at the genetic level, and they have become typical of human ethology.
Perhaps this instinctive preference for authoritarian, combative men keeps many women from abusing violent spouses and explains forced sex fantasies. There are testimonies of rape victims who claimed to have had an orgasm during sexual intercourse (various sources indicate a rate ranging from 5% -10% to 50% of women who confessed to orgasms).
A study of 611 hospitalized women in Toronto, Canada, found that nearly 43% had been physically and especially verbally abused at home in the past year. Still, more than half (54%) said they would remain next to the aggressor spouses. The reason is the feeling of security that these women experience with their husbands.