Are looks the whole of male-female attraction?
Amanda Platell below says that looks are the whole of it but I think that what she says applies to some couples only, maybe most of them but certainly not all. There are a lot of people of average looks who get married. Where do they fit in?
I am in a way a living refutation of her thesis. I have never been good looking but I have had lots of relationships with fine women -- including 4 marriages. So something other than looks has been at work for me
I have certainly noticed how some women turn aside after one glance at me but I think they are the shallow ones. Other women give me a chance to spark their interest. And I sometimes do.
At age 80 I have in fact recently acquired a new girlfriend aged 33. So looks are impossible there as a cause of the attraction. I won't attempt to say how that relationship happened as, regardless of what I might say, readers will almost universally conclude that she must be a gold digger. I will say, however, that it was an instant attraction for both of us. My point is simply that there are other sources of attraction than looks and most of us can be pretty glad of that
The truth is that what most men are attracted to is the way a woman looks. Her radiant face, her curvy body, her bosom . . . that is a simple fact, an inalienable truth. Having brains is a bonus which you may, or may not, discover after a few days or weeks in bed.
If you're looking for equality, perhaps find it in the fact that women are just as guilty of judging men on their physical attributes. It has nothing to do with feminism or being enlightened or enthralled by a clever mind.
Allow me to educate Baddiel on something he has clearly never thought about: the existence of the female gaze.
Men of a sensitive disposition should not read on because — sorry — this will be brutal.
For when a woman first meets a man, she is not interested in his mental muscle but purely in his physical brawn. We are as callous as men and judge potential paramours only on their appearance.
We first look to see if he is fit, with nice muscly arms to embrace us and firm thighs to entangle us. Does he have a man-belly overhanging his trousers? Are his fingernails tatty? Is he one of those men who never go to the dentist?
And, yes, the clothes — are they well-cut or shabby? If he's in jeans, does he, um, fill them out nicely? Yes, women are as susceptible to such carnal considerations, too.
Does he have, heaven forbid, tattoos? If he's an older man, does he need to hold onto the restaurant table before getting up for the loo? Again.
In fact, when it comes to assessing a potential partner, women are like the Terminator. We can coldly and cruelly decipher a male human form in minute detail in seconds, deciding whether to accept or reject him purely on his body.
Too short, too fat, too thin, too sweaty. Shabby shoes, greasy hair, the shadow of a wedding ring, a shoddy suit he's been wearing for decades — we give them five minutes before moving on, and that's when we're feeling generous.
Men mistakenly believe their wit and banter will win us over, that these are the 'most important things', but don't believe it. They're not. We women will size you up in the blink of an eye.
Like most of my female friends, I have never, ever, dated a man I didn't find physically attractive at the very first meeting. If there is no physical chemistry, then there is nothing.
With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who wrote How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43), when I count the ways I have loved men in my past, it is always based on physical looks — at least at first. Names are changed to protect the innocent.
First love, Mark: smitten at first sight by a fit young man singing A Hard Day's Night on a late shift while typing out the weather report for our local newspaper. Blond, burly, scruffy hair, cheekbones you could cut Cheddar on.
Our first date was to the ballet Swan Lake; he turned out to be highly intelligent, but that was not what mattered. It was pure lust.
Second: a languidly beautiful man I met at a bar in Sydney which was frequented by journalists. I don't recall at any stage considering how clever he was. Call me shallow, but I was bedazzled by his beauty. I think he felt the same about me — I was young then — but either way there was an instant chemistry and we married.
Third: a bloke I thought at first was a brickie on a building site but who turned out to be a wealthy property developer. He thought I was a secretary when I was in fact deputy editor of a national British newspaper. Our eyes met across a dusty suburban street. Not once during our six years together did anything matter but the sheer physical longing between us.
To conclude, what I and any woman of any age is looking for in a man is someone fit, sexy, gorgeous, gregarious, confident and supportive, with a glint in his eye. We make no apologies for it because that's what men look for in us.
If, in the end, he has a brain, that's a bonus. We can read Crime And Punishment to each other in bed.
But be warned, the female gaze is deadlier than the male.