There are two separate and distinct aspects to "the look." But, they are inter-twined and inter-related: reproduction and status. Cast in terms of the silly old nature/nurture debate: sex is about reproduction and nature in its purest form, while mating and marriage are about nurture and status.
To understand men, you must understand maleness in its purest and simplest form. Every man alive shares the attribute of maleness with half of the life on this planet, as every woman shares the attribute of femaleness with the other half.
The time for the fern to unfurl itself is when IT is ready - there is no social calendar that concerns it. The time for the bees to pollinate the blooms that will turn into fruit is WHEN they are in bloom and ready to receive, not when some arbitrary social decision says the time is right. You can understand everything about men by looking at one corn plant in bloom. The silks and the ear are the female parts of the plant, the tassels and pollen are the male part. The male part must be ready WHEN the female part is ready, not before and most certainly not after. One grain of pollen must fall on each strand of silk in order for one new kernal of corn to start. In order for the female part of the corn to be as abundant as it has the potential to be, the male part must produce MILLIONS of times the sperm (pollen) that the female produces silks and potential seeds AND distribute those sperm widely and freely. Thus, the primary and over-riding characteristic of male sexuality is urgency: all of maleness is about being ready NOW so that when the female signals that the time is right, the male is ready to do his part.
If you look at the female genitals, you see that they are flowers. Nature constantly re-uses her forms over and over. And when the female petals open themselves in bloom, THEN is the time to fertilize, not later. Women's minds are at war with their bodies these days. They themselves try to deny the message of their bodies when their very cells cry out that the time is right. Women have been brainwashed into wanting to DECIDE when the time is "right" and have nature conform to their wishes rather than placing themselves in tune with nature. It will not work.
Sadly for men, we do "think with their penises" far more than we wish was the case. Survival is so basic that "thinking" really has nothing at all to do with it. Desire does not happen because of a thought process or because we get social sanction: it is primal and the only thing we can do with our social minds is to inhibit it. While we men certainly sometimes appear to "think with our dicks" it is impossible for us to "dick with our thinks." We desire what we desire, and no amount of social conditioning can ever really change that.
Since reproduction is survival of the species at its most basic level, those drives are buried in the part of our bodies that we share with every other animal that reproduces sexually: our brainstem - our vertebra. All sex happens in what is called the "old" brain or the "reptile" brain - the brainstem and spinal cord. You can actually take a cat and vacuum out its cerebral cortex and all mating behaviors remain intact. Social behaviors are destroyed, but the cat can still eat and mate. That is how primal and basic the behaviors we are talking about really are.
Our reactions are SO BASIC, so immune to conscious and voluntary control, that they are akin to a species of fish whose females' bellies turn red when they are gravid. Males of this species can be fooled into mating behavior by a block of wood with the underside painted the same red as a gravid female placed into the tank.
Like these fish, signals of female readiness and receptivity provoke a completely unconscious and involuntary reaction in us. We can't stop ourselves from reacting, all we can do is stop ourselves from acting on our reaction. What makes men so angry at women is how well women have learned our involuntary reactions and learned how to use them against us by faking receptivity and using our sense of urgency to extort from us what they want.
Makeup, low-cut dresses, even high heels, all mimic signals that a woman gives off when she is "ready." Men are constantly having their involuntary reflexes beaten on to respond to a woman who signals that she is "ready" when, in fact, she is not. Just about all the terrible miscommunications between men and women would go away if men would go back to sniffing women's butts.
The other half of "the look" is status. These are the ways that social messages have affected us. A man's status is enhanced in the presence of an attractive woman, just as a woman's status is enhanced by the presence of a successful man. This is the strictly "nurture" part of things. What we consider "beauty" at any given time is a matter of social consensus. In Africa, big butts on women are considered VERY attractive because they are a whole lot closer to the edge of survival and a skinny woman will likely not survive childbirth. There is no reason to "mate" with them. Even as recently as the 1960s, the hourglass figure, curviness, was a standard of female beauty.
What comes next is pretty subtle, so hang with me. The "look" now popular in westernized culture, which advertising defines, is the "look" of an infertile woman. Pregnancy takes a huge amount of calories and very thin women ususally cannot accomplish it. Here is where we have nature and nurture at war with each other. The drive to have sex and continue the species is as strong in all of is as it has ever been, but children are so expensive to have and raise to adulthood these days that men unconsciously are drawn to women who show signs of receptivity at the same time they show signs of infertility. Some "free" sex or "free love".
Women have complained for years about men who want to sleep with one kind of woman, but marry a different kind. That is because the urgency of responding to a woman's signals of readiness, RIGHT NOW, has absolutely no relationship to what it would be like spending the rest of his life with that woman. For women's benefit, our cultural values have demanded that men make their mating decisions on something other than sex. Under the old structure of marriage, a man wouldn't even find out what his wife was like sexually until AFTER they were joined for life. That is how little emphasis that culture placed on sex compared to how much it placed on mutual support and keeping commitments.
Just as women still expect to marry a man who makes more than they do, despite the fact that the economy has changed to make that impossible, men make their choice of lifelong mates based on how much status being mated to that woman will bring them. Having a woman with "the look" (whatever the fad of the moment is) will bring them status in the eyes of both men and women. Love conquering all is a compelling and attractive fantasy, but it is a fiction. Success in life often depends on resources and status, so the choice of a lifelong mate must take these into account.
Television and movies have turned us into a completely visual culture. Everything now has some variation of "the look." Clothes have an "in look", cars have it, even athletic shoes have it. We all are being constantly harassed by TV to want "the look."
Women are just as susceptible to "the look" of men as men are to "the look" of women. And it has nothing to do with how good a mate that person would be. It is a primal biological reaction to "good genes", to a set of characteristics that would give our offspring a better chance of survival than if they did not have them.
As we grow up, however, we learn to look beyond "the look", and learn to see. Men learn over time how to tell when a woman is faking it and to avoid such women. The more games a woman plays regarding her looks and attractiveness, the more men have learned to distrust her.
The quiet beauty of an untouched bloom, however, will always render a man mute in the awesome power of woman to create new life from her own body.
Related: Zenpriest #27 - Ignoring Women
Back to “Gender War, Sexuality, and Love”