Not me personally. But there are women who love them, prefer them. I’ve heard them say so. “They’re sooo sexy,” they’ll sigh. For me it’s men’s hands and forearms. Watching a guy play guitar and squeezing the strings on the frets is sensual. Go figure. I could probably try to come up with an explanation, but would it be correct? What is a turn on to us, and why, is mostly subliminal. We see the physical package, the smile; hear the voice—whatever—and our bodies react.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why we are culturally obsessed with luxurious, healthy hair, and breast size? No, it isn’t because we’ve been brain washed by advertising. Rather, advertising scarily taps into our most basic desires and fears. It’s been a cliché for decades that sex sells—use the scantily clad woman to sell the car—buy this product, and you will be thinner, smarter, healthier, more desirable. Desirable to whom and for what? Each other of course. A whole industry, world-wide exploits what we are at the mercy of, our need to attract and be attractive to potential sexual partners.
As much as we like to believe that we are in control and fully conscious of our mating choices, the truth is we’re not. We’re genetically programmed to be drawn to certain male or female characteristics that connote good baby making material. But, within that program we’re free to move around and make individual, specific choices, like preferring brunettes to blondes. (Aha, I knew free will would figure in here somewhere).
Whatever it is that mates want in a partner—brains, outrageous plumage, huge testicles, red rumps (I’m no longer limiting this conversation to humans)—are what succeeds in the mating game. Such characteristics signal the health, strength and smarts of the contender for sexual favors. (Holy cow! Look at the gazungas on that one!) Sex is the common denominator for this diversity.
The other determining factor is the competition for mates. Silverbacks, for example, are the largest gorillas, but have unusually small penises (an adult gorilla's erect penis is about 1.5 inches in length) and can satisfy harems of up to 30 female gorillas. Because they’re so big and scary, they haven’t got a lot of male competition. A 400-pound gorilla can afford to have a relatively small penis and testes because the only sperm racing for the female’s ovum will be his own. If they were competing ferociously for the babes they’d have huge members' (relative to body size). So penis and testes size is influenced by the degree of male competition—lots of it, big ones—not so much, smaller ones. (Of all the primates, human males have the largest erect penises—on average 6 inches. Just sayin’).
When I was seventeen I started seeing a guy who I didn’t much like, and I couldn’t figure out why I was dating him. He was rather full of himself. He thought he was suave. He was cool in a 1950’s way. I saw him as a kind of a throw back to a time I considered vulgar and limited. Kind of like him. One afternoon I was over at his parent’s house and we were sitting in the kitchen. He was eating a bowl of cereal and I really was enjoying watching him chew. I liked the way the milk pooled on his lips in the corners before he swallowed. Then, it suddenly hit me. The way he ate cereal, reminded me of my brother—I loved my brother—my brother was family. I had been watching my brother eat cereal all my life. What followed was both the “aha!” factor and the “ewww!” factor. I broke up with him, but the revelation stayed with me: something that was unconscious was influencing me without my realizing it. I wasn’t in control. How many other things in my life worked that way? My dawning adolescent consciousness began a lifetime interest in what makes humans tick.
By Sally Schloss for WebVet