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The people demanded less opaque post titles, and the proprietors listened. Nestled in the abstract of a seemingly unrelated study about the genetics of sexual antagonism is a finding that men’s looks don’t contribute much to their overall attractiveness.

Genetic Factors That Increase Male Facial Masculinity Decrease Facial Attractiveness of Female Relatives

For women, choosing a facially masculine man as a mate is thought to confer genetic benefits to offspring. Crucial assumptions of this hypothesis have not been adequately tested. It has been assumed that variation in facial masculinity is due to genetic variation and that genetic factors that increase male facial masculinity do not increase facial masculinity in female relatives. We objectively quantified the facial masculinity in photos of identical (n = 411) and nonidentical (n = 782) twins and their siblings (n = 106). Using biometrical modeling, we found that much of the variation in male and female facial masculinity is genetic. However, we also found that masculinity of male faces is unrelated to their attractiveness and that facially masculine men tend to have facially masculine, less-attractive sisters. These findings challenge the idea that facially masculine men provide net genetic benefits to offspring and call into question this popular theoretical framework.

This is a surprise even to the viscounts of CH, who have stated many times that manly male looks play some role in attracting women, even if that role is diminished relative to the role that female looks plays in attracting men. This study, one that apparently contradicts the prevailing scientific wisdom, found that masculine male looks did not influence the attractiveness of those men.

The reasoning sounds solid; women who are attracted to masculine-looking men run the risk of having ugly, manjawed daughters by them, (cf. Amanjaw Marcuntte). Since women can’t legally pick and choose (yet) the sex of their babies, evolutionarily speaking it would be a huge risk to mate with a man of masculine appearance and bear masculine daughters who would be less reproductively fit than more feminine women, instead of bearing masculine sons who, putatively, would be more reproductively fit than less masculine men. Such a strategy, then, is a theoretical wash in genetic continuance terms.

CH is not prepared to call this study the final word on the subject of male looks and its apportioned influence in male mating success, but it is further confirmation of the CH principle that conventional male facial attractiveness is not nearly as crucial a variable in the romantic success of men as female facial attractiveness is to the romantic success of women. Women are, at a very primal level, attracted to a much larger (although still circumscribed) panoply of physical and character traits in the opposite sex than the relative paucity of female traits that exert a libidinous pull on men.

What this study helps explain is the odd phenomenon of soft, hipster cream puffs like Pajamaboy managing the task of getting girlfriends. (Not necessarily Pajamaboy specifically, but those chinless freaks like him who know how to twirl with pizazz.) A chipmunk-cheeked herbling with game and a cocky attitude can get laid, and this fact doubtless stokes the ire of chivalrous, white knighting manly men who swing axes instead of cocoa mugs.

The manly men can find romantic success, too… even better than the pajamaboys… but it helps their cause if they incorporate the precepts of game into their dealings with women. What is coming into focus is that women’s criteria for lovers is more context- and personality-dependent than men’s criteria, and the seed of that pasty herbling with the flair for flirting can produce some knockout daughters, if the chromosomal stars align.


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