Are Women Today Threatened By Rugged Men?S

In today's NY Observer, Irina Aleksander asserts that the "new male beauty" is a trend toward finding less-than-manly-looking dudes attractive. She asks, "Is this what feminism has wrought?"

Aleksander describes the aesthetic thusly:

Let's call it the New Male Beauty: those wide-set eyes, the narrow nose that flares up at the tip just so, the childish puffy cheeks and the not-too-rugged jaw lines, topped with carefully placed strands of layered hair. It's a face that used to be found in Tiger Beat, fold-out pages to be tacked onto a petal-pink wall. Now it dominates the weekend box office.

Think of Chace Crawford, Ryan Reynolds and Zac Efron: Faces are symmetrical — no distinct, hooked noses or strong jaws, no prominent chins or heavy brows that scientists associated with high testosterone levels. Columbia University professor Leonard Lee tells Aleksander: "Large eyes are a 'neotenous' cue, one people associate with babies and that elicits female nurturance." Aleksander translates this as: "Women have literally become attracted to men who look like babies."

Casting agent Randi Hiller offers this theory: "If you go back to [old] iconic movies, everybody wasn't super-beautiful, but a lot of them were sexy. But there's also something about young women today being more comfortable with a boy-man; they're less threatening sexually than a man-man."

Is it because women today are more empowered — and not in need of a hulking, masculine fatherly/protector type? Do women who find Zac Efron attractive actually feel "threatened" by a more rugged type? And don't many women find both "masculine" types like Clive Owen and boyish or femme types like Chace Crawford hot? And! Aren't standards of beauty always changing, each era with its own "look"?

The New Male Beauty [New York Observer]