The Social Nature of Attractiveness: How to Shift Attraction from the Dominant Traditional to Alternative Masculinities

Marcos Castro, Liviu Catalin Mara


This article explores the paradox that while muchemphasis has been put into educating boys in the alternative masculinities, the boys who hold these values are not the ones who are considered attractive in the social imaginary of a large part of the population. Attractiveness to different masculinity models is the result of the process of socialization. The authors argue that there is a mainstream process of socialization - which is not the only one - that promotes the attraction to the dominant traditional model of masculinities, while the opposite process is found with alternatives ones. Drawing from previous studies in the area of preventive socialization of gender-based violence and men’s studies, different aspects are highlighted showing how transformation is built in regards to provide new alternative models of masculinity.


attractiveness; new alternative masculinities; hegemonic masculinity; dominant traditional masculinities; violence

Full Text:



Allen L (2007) “Sensitive and real macho all at the same time”: Young heterosexual men and romance. Men and Masculinities, 10: 137-152.

Aubert A, Melgar P and Valls R (2011) Communicative Daily Life Stories and Focus Groups: Proposals for Overcoming Gender Violence among Teenagers. Qualitative Inquiry, 17 (3):295-303.

Beck U and Beck-Gernsheim E (1995) The normal chaos of love. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Brown JA (2002) The Tortures of Mel Gibson: Masochism and the Sexy Male Body. Men and Masculinities 5 (2): 123-143.

Bukowski WM, Sippola LK and Newcomb AF (2000) Variations in paterns of attraction o same and other sex peers during ealry adolescence. Developmental Psychology 36 (2): 147-154.

Cavender G (1999). Detecting masculinity. In: Ferrell J and Websdale N (eds) Making trouble: Cultural constuctions of crime, deviance and control. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, pp.157-177.

Connell, R. (1987). Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Crows Nests: Allen & Unwin.

Connell R and Messerschmidt JM (2005) Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept. Gender & Society 19: 829-859.

Connell R (2012) Masculinity Research and Global Change. Masculinities and Social Change 1 (1): 4-18.

Dasgupta R (2000) Performing masculinties? The “salarayman” at work and play. Japanese Studies 20(2): 189-200.

Duque E (2006) Aprendiendo para el amor o para la violència. Las relaciones en las discotecas. [Learning for love or for violence: Relationships in nightclubs]. Barcelona: Hipatia Editorial.

Elster J (1989) Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Elster J (1998) Strong Feelings: Emotion, Addiction, and Human Behavior. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Elster J (1999) Alchemies of the Mind. Rationality and the emotions. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ferguson H (2001) Men and masculinities in late-modern Ireland. In: Pease B and Pringle K (eds) A man’s world? Changing men’s practices in a globalized world. London: Zed Books, 118-134.

Fisher HE (1998) Lust, Attraction, and Attachment in Mammalian Reproduction. Human Nature 9(1): 23-52.

Flecha, R., Puigvert, L. & Ríos, O. (2013). The New Alternative Masculinities and the Overcoming of Gender Violence. International and Multidisciplinar Journal of Social Sciences, 2 (1), 88-113,

Flood M. (1995) “Three principles for men.” XY:men, sex, politics. Available at: (accessed 14 November 2012).

Fouz-Hernández S (2005) Phallic Matters?: Ewan McGregor and the Represenation of the Male Body in Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book (1996). Men and Masculinities 8(2): 133-147.

Frederick DA, Buchanan GM, Sadehgi-Azar L, Peplau LA, Haselton MG, Berezovskaya A and Lipinski RE (2007) Desiring the muscular ideal: Men's body satisfaction in the United States, Ukraine, and Ghana. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 8(2): 103-117.

Frosh S, Phoenix A and Pattman R (2002) Young masculinities. New York: Palgrave.

Giddens A (1992) The transformation of intimacy. Sexuality, love, and eroticism in modern societies. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Gilmartin SK (2007) Crafting heterosexual masculine identities on campus: College men talk about romantic Love. Men and Masculinities, 9: 530-539.

Gómez J (2004). El amor en la Sociedad del riesgo. Una tentativa educativa. [Love in the risk society. An educational approach]. Barcelona: Hipatia editorial.

Grammer K and Thornhill R (1994) Human (homo-sapiens) facial attractiveness and sexual selection – the role of symmetry and averageness. Journal of Comparative Psychology 108(3): 233-242.

Grogan S and Richards H (2002) Body Image: Focus Groups with Boys and Men. Men and Masculinities 4(3): 219-232.

Gutmann MC (1996) The meanings of macho: Being a man in Mexico City. Berkeley: University of Califormina Press.

Habermas J (1984a) The theory of communicative action: Volume 1. Reasons and the rationalization of society. Boston: Beacon.

Habermas J (1984b) The theory of communicative action: Volume 2. Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason. Boston: Beacon.

Haiken E (2000) Virtual Virility, or, Does Medicine Make the Man? Men and Masculinities 2(4): 388-409.

Hargreaves DA and Tiggemann M (2009) Muscular ideal media images and men's body image: Social comparison processing and individual vulnerability. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 10(2): 109-119.

Higate P (2003) Military masculinitiees: Identitite and the State London: Praeger.

Hobza CL and Rochlen AB (2009) Gender role conflict, drive for muscularity, and the impact of ideal media portrayals on men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 10(2): 120-130.

Hobza CL, Walker KE, Yakushko O and Peugh JL (2007) What about men? Social comparison and the effects of media images on body and self-esteem. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 8(3): 161-172.

hooks B (2000) Feminism is for everybody. Cambridge, MA: South End.

Ishii-Kuntz M (2003) Balancing fatherhood and work: Emergence of diverse masculinities in contemporary Japan. In: Roberson JE and Suzuki N (eds) Men and masculinities in contemporary Japan. London: Routledge Courzon, 198-216.

Jackson S (1993) Even Sociologists Fall in Love: An Exploration in the Sociology of Emotions. Sociology 27(2): 201-220.

Johnston VS, Hagel R, Franklin M, Fink B and Grammer K (2001) Male facial attractiveness- Evidence for hormone-mediated adaptive design. Evolution and Human Behavior 22(4) 251-267.

Kimmel M. (1997). Integrating Men into the Curriculum. Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy 4: 181-195.

Kimmel, M., Hearn, J., Connell, R. (2005). Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.

Langford W (1996) Romantic love and power. In: Cosslett T, Easton A and Summerfield P (eds) Women, power and resistance: An introduction to women’s studies. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press, 23-34.

Law R, Campbell H and Dolan J (1999) Masculinities in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Palmerston North. New Zealand: Dunmore Press.

Luhmann N (1986) Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Martín N and Tellado I (2012) Violencia de Género y Resolución Comunitaria de Conflictos en los Centros Educativos. [Gender Violence and Community Resolution of

Conflicts in the Educational Centres] Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies 1(3): 300-319.

McArdle KA and Hill MS (2009) Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Gay and Heterosexual Men: The Roles of Self-Esteem, Media and Peer Influence. Men and Masculinities 11(5): 511-532.

McDaniel AK (2005) Young Women's Dating Behavior: Why/Why Not Date a Nice Guy? Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 53(5-6): 347-359.

McDonald KA (1998) Defining the nature of attraction. The Chronicle of Higher Education 44(2): 14-15.

Mead GH (1934) Mind, Self, and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Meuser M (2003) Modernized masculinities? Continuities, challenges and changes in men’s lives. In: Ervo S and Johansson T (eds) Among men: Moulding masculinities. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate,127-148.

Morrell R (1998) Of boys and men: Masculinity and gender in Southern African studies. Journal of Southern African Studies 24(4): 605-630.

Morris C and Evans N (2001) “Cheese makers are always women”: Gendered representations of farm life in the agricultural press. Gender, Place and Culture 8(4): 375-390.

Morrison TG, Morrison MA, Hopkins C and Rowan ET (2004) Muscle Mania: Development of a New Scale Examining the Drive for Muscularity in Canadian Males. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 5(1): 30-39.

New C (2001) Oppressed and Oppressors? The systematic Mistreatment of Men Sociology 35:729-748.

Nikkelen SWC, Anschutz DJ, Thao H and Engels RC (2011) Influence of visual attention on male body dissatisfaction after idealized media exposure. Psychology of Men & Masculinity 13(3): 308-323.

Ortega y Gasset J (1999) Estudios sobre el amor. [Studies about love.] Barcelona: Óptima.

Padrós M (2007) Models d’atracció dels i les adolescents. Contribucions des de la socialització preventiva de la violència de gènere. [Attractiveness models of teenagers. Contributions from the preventive socialization of gender violence]. Study funded by the Catalan Institute of Women.

Padrós M (2012) Modelos de atractivo masculinos en la adolescencia. [Attractiveness male models in adolescence]. Masculinities and Social Change 1(2): 165-183.

Pearce Land Stacey J (1995) Romance revisited. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Pillsworth EG and Haselton MG (2006) Male sexual attractiveness predicts differential ovulatory shifts in female extra-pair attraction and male mate retention. Evolution and Human Behavior 27(4): 247-258.

Puigvert L and Muñoz B (2012) Estudios de género. Barreras y aportaciones al debate teórico internacional desde las voces de las otras mujeres. [Gender Studies. Barriers and Contributions to the Theoretical International Debate on the Voices of the Other Women]. Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies 1(1): 4-27.

Rebellon CJ and Manasse M (2004) Do “bad boys” really get the girls? Delinquency as a cause and consequence of dating behavior among adolescents. Justice Quarterly 21: 355-389.

Redman P (1996) Curtis loves Ranjit: Heterosexual masculinities, schooling and challenge of pupils’ sexual culture. Educational Review 48(2): 175-182.

Redman P (2001) The discipline of love: Negotiation and regulation in boy’s performance of a romance-based heterosexual masculinity. Men and Masculinities 2(4): 186-200.

Salecl R (1998) (Per)versions of love and hate. London: Verso.

Savulescu J and Sandberg A (2008) Neuroenhancement of Love and Marriage: The Chemicals Between Us. Neuroethics 1:31-44.

Serradell, O.; Santa Cruz. I.; & Mondéjar, E. (2014). Can the men’s movement attract young men? The Men in Dialogue Association. Journal of Gender Studies, Online first.

Speer SA (2005) Gender talk: Feminism, discourse, and conversation analysis. London: Routledge.

Sternberg RJ (1998) Love is a story. New York: Oxford University Press.

Taga F (2003) Rethinking male socialization: Life histories of Japanese male youth. In: Louie K and Low M (eds) Asian masculinities. London: Routledge Curzon, 137-154.

Talbot K and Quayle M (2010) The Perils of Being a Nice Guy: Contextual Variation in Five Young Women’s Constructions of Acceptable Hegemonic and Alternative Masculinities. Men and Masculinities 13(2): 255-278.

Valdés T and Olavarría J (1998) Ser hombre en Santiago de Chile: A pesar de todo, un mísero modelo. [Being a man in Santiago de Chile, in spite of it all, a poor model]. In: Valdés T and Olavarría J (eds) Masculinidades y equidad de género en América Latina. [Masculinities and gender equity in Latin America.] Santiago de Chile: FALCSO/UNFPA, 12-35.

Valls R, Puigvert L and Duque E (2008) Gender Violence amongst teenagers: socialization and prevention. Violence against Women 14 (7):759-785.

Warren S (1997) Who do these boys think they are? An investigation into the construction of masculinities in a primary classroom. International Journal of Inclusive Education 1(2): 207-222.

Whitchurch ER, Wilson TD and Gilbert DT (2011) “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not…”: Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction. Psychological Science 22(2): 172-175.

Worth H, Paris A and Allen L (2002) The life of Brian: Kiwi masculinities, sexualities and health. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.


Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

RIMCIS - International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences | ISSN: 2014-3680

Legal Deposit: B.34291-2012 | |