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Women (don't) like jerks

I remember when I first saw Iron Man 1 in theaters. I found Tony to be incredibly hot, and this annoyed me, because he was a jerk, and I didn’t like the idea that such jerkiness wouldn’t kill my attraction to him. Every time I see Jon Hamm, the guy who plays Don Draper, out of character, I’m always struck— “He’s so attractive! Why do I never notice this?” I watch a ton of Mad Men, he’s super-handsome, and he looks fabulous in the period drag. But it’s because his character, while admittedly interesting, is such a jerk that I find him completely repellent when he’s portraying the man. This pleases me, because as above, I don’t want to be attracted to jerks.

There’s a tired old stereotype that women are attracted to jerks. It’s the only explanation some can manage to come upon for why certain awful men have no trouble finding women, when men without their obvious downsides get ignored. It irritates me a lot, as it gets used as a justification for men to treat women badly. So I get annoyed when it seems I verify the stereotype by wanting to jump Iron Man’s bones, and smug with myself when I blow it by being immune to the charms of a Don Draper.

But the truth is, women AREN’T attracted to jerks. Women are attracted to the qualities that enable men to be jerks in such obvious ways without experiencing the immediate social pushback that stops average people from being jerks. When Tony says something rakish and nasty, he’s displaying his wit. When Don solves a problem by saying something aggressive rather than apologizing, he demonstrates guts. Tony may have a huge ego, but it shows a wellspring of self-confidence. And everybody likes good-looking people; beauty can allow people to get away with murder. All of these things— beauty, wit, confidence, courage, power —make people attractive to others. While the use they put these qualities to may be undesirable, or even off-putting, the fact remains that they still require the possession of these qualities in order to perpetrate them. And that is what is sexy.

I think that’s an important thing to remember. It’s a shame that kindness and gentleness aren’t so paramount on that list of attractive qualities that the absence of them can cancel out the approval, but I think this explains what’s going on there. At least, a hell of a lot better than the theory that people actually like badness and being mistreated.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2015 01:35 pm (UTC)
Just passing through, saw this from the LJ homepage, and wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading it. I think you hit the nail on the head.

This also made me laugh a little to myself, because this reminded me that my first exposure to Jon Hamm was in Bridesmaids and I was like, "Wait, aren't people always talking about how hot this guy is? Gross." But then I saw him outside of the movie later and was struck by how good-looking he really is.
May. 21st, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
This, all of this. I always want to scream, it's not the jerkiness that women are attracted to, it's the confidence, and in fiction that sometimes gets wrapped up in jerkiness. I read people writing things like "if I were a jerk like him, I'd attract women" and it's like... no, if you were /confident/ you would, and if you were nice, they'd stick around.
May. 21st, 2015 08:50 pm (UTC)
Agree, while I would love to date one of the Avengers or a hot TV character...

If I met someone that since the beginning acts like a jerk I would most likely reject any contact later on..
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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