Women Like Good Looking, Naked Men Says Science

Ronnie Koenig reveals "What Being Editor in Chief of Playgirl Taught Me About Female Desire."


Ronnie Koenig reveals “What Being Editor in Chief of Playgirl Taught Me About Female Desire.”

“Who exactly reads Playgirl, anyway?”

It was a question I got all the time during my time at Playgirl, where I eventually became editor in chief. I knew what it implied—that no straight woman in her right mind would actually volunteer to look at naked male genitalia. But the magazine, which has been a cultural icon since its inception in 1973, is not just for gay men. Some women like their beefcake, and others (like me) prefer the skinny rockstar look.


recent study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis backs up my theory. Study leader Andrey Anokhin measured the brain activity of women while they were viewing erotic images. Anokhin expected the women’s response to be slower compared to men, which would align with previous research on the subject, but in fact it was just as fast. “Women have responses as strong as those seen in men,” he said.

Whether it’s Daniel Craig emerging from the ocean in a cock-revealing bathing suit, Brad Pitt in Fight Club or Adam from Girls with his shirt off (yes, please) women desire visual stimulation just as much as the next guy.

Women may not be turned on by a full-page picture of a penis the way men might like to look at close-ups of vaginas in porn, but what we’re discovering is that male and female sexual desire is more alike than different.


Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and a co-author of a study published in the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says that while the psychological differences between men and women have historically been neatly lumped into two distinct categories, statistical evidence does not support that. The study authors write:

Contrary to the assertions of pop psychology titles like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, it is untrue that men and women think about their relationships in qualitatively different ways… Even leading researchers in gender and stereotyping can fall into the same trap.


While a shlubby sitcom writer might try to convince us that hot girls do, in fact, want to marry fat, funny bald guys, most women want to be visually attracted to their partner.

I’m reminded of a bit from Marsha Warfield, the comic actress who played Roz on Night Court: “People tell me I out to go out with old guys because they can make love for a long, long time.  Well, who wants to make love with an old man for a long time?” I am, sadly, old enough to remember that joke.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, who wants to make love with an old man for a long time?” I am, sadly, old enough to remember that joke.

    Not only do I remember that, I have become what she was talking about.

  2. Andre Kenji says:

    here in Brazil there is a saying: “What women really loves is money, gay men are the ones that loves men”.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    I’m guessing that there is a parallel study that shows that “Men like good looking naked women”?

  4. James Joyner says:

    @al-Ameda: In fact, I’ve been working on such a study for more than three decades and will be writing up my findings soon.

    The premise of the essay, though, is that society rejects this: Men are visual creatures who choose a mate on the basis of looking sexy whereas women seek out mates who will be good providers for their children. These studies say . . . not so much.

  5. CSK says:

    I can say that, as a woman, I have a highly favorable view of good-looking naked men. I have a highly favorable view of good-looking clothed men.

    There is something to be said for judging a book by its cover. Given the choice between a good-looking man who’s well-dressed and well-groomed, with a pleasant demeanor, and a fat scowling guy with sixteen swastika tattoos and a nose half-rotted away from cocaine, the first choice would appear to be the inevitable one.

    And who’s to say what’s good-looking? Some men who don’t have movie star looks are intensely attractive because of some other quality they exude. I remember reading an article about the number of women who developed huge crushes on General Schwarzkopf, though he certainly wasn’t your typical matinee idol.

  6. Kari Q says:

    I think that women have a wider view of what they find physically desirable in a partner. Men’s tastes tend to be pretty uniform, and those who vary from it are rare. Women like many different kinds of men, from the muscular to the slender, the extremely masculine to the androgynous. That probably causes a lot the confusion right there.

  7. Tyrell says:

    Tell us something we don’t know.