Aug 25, 2016

Are Muscles Sexy or Dangerous?

Do you want to kiss this guy or beat him up?

Today I was on the treadmill at the gym, flipping through the channels, when I came across Mark Wahlberg with his shirt off -- always a reason to stop and gawk.  He was talking to a male-female couple, who tell him the various problems they've had on a night out.  Now they just want to go home, and they need his help.

I think the movie was Daddy's Home (2015), with Mark Wahlberg playing the ex-husband who moves in with Sarah (Linda Cardellini) and her new husband Brad (Will Ferrell).

Brad pleads with Mark.  "You're a decent human being," he says, "But your pecs make me want to kill you."


What is going on?  Pecs make you want to smile at him, kiss him, go down on him -- but kill him?

Is this the standard heterosexual man's response to muscles, a violent rage?

I've been around bodybuilders and gym rats for most of my life.  I worked for a bodybuilding magazine.  Muscles were, if not desired, then at least admired, regardlss of sexual orientation.

Of course, that was among fitness enthusiasts.  What about the straight man on the street?

Later I was talking to a former student online, a straight guy, and mentioned that I bench press 300 pounds.  He replied, "I can probably bench press about 150, but I generally go for the knees, groin, and face anyway."

It took me awhile to understand what he meant:

"I can't bench press as much as you, but I can still handle myself in a fight."

He completely misunderstood what I meant.  I mentioned my weight training statistics as an indicator of my ongoing physical attractiveness.  He thought I had mentioned them as an indicator of my fighting prowess.

To gay men, this guy is sexy.  To straight men, he is a threat.

I don't get it.  This guy can probably take care of himself, but he's not the least threatening.  He's smiling, happy, open.  He looks like a cuddler.  I can understand not wanting to kiss him, sort of, but wanting to punch him?

Such a huge gap in worldview is disheartening.

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