We're all the same; we're all different. One man's boner is another man's lifelong aversion to high-heeled women. One woman's sigh is another woman's Gilbert Gottfried. But please, let us finally retire this idea that women just aren't as visual as men and don't care about looks as much, or somehow as a general rule don't need to want to fuck the person we are with. We are! We do! We do! We just haven't historically and culturally had the same freedom to be as shallow, so it's a more repressed urge.
What am I going on about? I'm going on about this Playboy essay by Gilbert Gottfried entitled "Women Say They Want a Guy With a Sense of Humor — They Don't" that appeared in the recent 60th anniversary issue, and can be found online here. The gist is thus:
It's like a Pavlovian thing with women. Ask them what they're looking for in a man, and more often than not they'll tell you, "Somebody who makes me laugh." But I'm here to tell you, as a man who has made his living in comedy for more than three decades, that women are full of shit.
He goes on to detail how being funny has never gotten him laid in his life. If these shit-filled women wanted funny, he writes, they'd trample over Depp to get Leno. They'd elbow Gosling to grope Larry the Cable Guy. While he could've just renamed his essay "Why Haven't I Gotten More Pussy and Am Mad About It" and gone on with his life, I want to address some of his points, because some of it's actually right on, if misguided (and it's all pretty funny anyway). But first I have to note that, ahem, Johnny Depp is good looking and funny. And Gosling, too. Both of them seem to have comedic charms-to-the-max on top of being symmetrically pleasing, which is why they are beyond famous with the ladies.
Gottfried isn't having it:
Guys are constantly being told that a good personality is the only thing that matters to women. "If you can make her smile, it doesn't matter what you look like." I know this girl who prides herself on being attracted to nerdy guys. But still she has slept only with a veritable who's who of handsome rock stars. She's a model (of course), and she worked for a day on some movie with George Clooney. She told me, "I wasn't impressed with his stardom, and I didn't think his looks were all that great. But he was genuinely funny." Horseshit! If he wasn't good-looking or famous, nobody would notice his sense of humor.
Holla! Good looks or the lack thereof make people ignore totally otherwise pertinent traits, huh? Sucks, huh? But yeah I don't know why guys are being told that their looks don't matter. Because that is some bullshit. I'm not sure why that's even a thing. Where did this myth of female indifference to looks come from? It seems like a weird byproduct of cultural myths and historical power imbalances. Prior to the concept of romantic love, marriages were business arrangements, and as such, looks were hardly given so much credence in matchmaking. But courtly love likely shifted the idea of romantic attraction to consider physical beauty, and with men as the active pursuers, it seems women could not hope for much but (passive) beauty with which to attract potential mates. Add in various and sundry notions that women are more spiritual and noble and more purely moral and other batshit lies, and sure, I guess it's easy and nice to think we don't give a shit about looks. I mean fuck, if my only choices were marrying a man with no discernible chin but eating and living under a roof vs. being drowned for being a spinster whore-witch, give me no-chin any day of the week. Otherwise, I'll take a chin.
But equality has a way of democratizing desire. Look around today, when women and men are more equal than ever, and it's easier to see evidence that men and women are both free to put a premium on looks as much or as little as they want. Yes, there will always be people, male and female, who need a looker on their arm above all else, but that's hardly evidence that most of us operate on this plane anymore, or that men or women have the monopoly on shallow mating.
Back to Gottfried:
It's like those women who claim they have crushes on Woody Allen or Larry David. If you're looking for a Larry David type, they're everywhere. You want a bald Jew with glasses and an acerbic sense of humor, I could fix you up no problem. But they're making $7.25 an hour bagging groceries at Whole Foods.
Haha. I laughed, but still: I always thought (young) Woody Allen was attractive, for realz. He has an iconic, offbeat face, and his talents and humor are inextricable from that perception. But that doesn't mean I want Woody Allen in real life. Besides, there are abstract wish-lists and there's reality, where you meet the people in your town or at your job and tend to be in the same socioeconomic backgrounds and everyone looks like a fucking Normie McRegular. The pool is much narrower in real life than when we sit around blue-skying the Clooneys versus the Louis CKs. To say nothing of the obvious fact: There's crushing on people, there's people you'd just hook up with, and people you want to actually hang out with in your actual life in broad daylight. Those are all chosen with very different criteria. I don't eat lunch with just anyone.
So let's just clear this up. LOOKS MATTER. TO WOMEN TOO. Everyone wants the same thing in a mate — someone to be with that you want to fuck but can also hang out with. Want to fuck means attracted to. Attracted to means likes how they look.
In order to be with someone longterm, I personally have to want to sleep with them and also be able to hang out together at the DMV. That's it. Built in to that statement are many assumptions about intelligence, humor, rapport, and YES, "attraction." In fact, "looks" is just code for attraction, anyway. The "looks" could resemble an anteater — it's not really about whether a panel of impartial judges would agree with you — beauty/eye of the beholder/yadda yadda. They just need to make YOU feel all tingly.
As usual, Chris Rock already said it best:
That's all relationships are, they ain't that complicated. It's fucking and eating. If you don't like fucking somebody and you don't like eating with them, y'all don't need to be together.
And a final word about that list of preferences thing Gottfried's all worked up about: When someone says "what do you look for in a mate" it's already assumed that mate is someone you are attracted to. To even put "attractive" alongside "sense of humor" and "says 'bless you' when I sneeze" is basically like taking up TWO SPOTS on the list.
In FACT, the only thing you need to mention regarding attractiveness on your list of preferences at all is if you DON'T actually care about looks or have some bizarre specifications (has to be exactly six inches taller than me, with blue eyes and a slight lisp). So if you're one of those people like my friend who happens to love rat-faced men, then sure, list "rat-faced," THEN "sense of humor," and let's call it a goddamn day. Everyone else: Go out there and laugh. (And fuck. And eat).
Image by Jim Cooke.