Excerpted from "Sex in the Romance: A Review of Romantic Encounters of the Close Kind".

(copyright John L. Ferri 1994, jlferri@epix.net)

The Male Physique

It is surprising to me that romance novels, with predominately female authors writing to predominately female readers, have such brief descriptions of the male. Could it be that women just aren't that interested in our bodies?

What is it that women look for in men? Is it a great body, a handsome face, tight buttocks, money, security, power, or all the above? How about men? What do they look for in women? Good looks, great body, intelligence, money? The characteristics that one looks for in a mate depend somewhat on personal taste, but the dominating factor is purely biological.

Biologically, the female invests orders of magnitude more energy in producing offspring than the male. She has a fixed number of eggs and produces no more over her lifetime. Approximately every 28 days, one egg (typically) matures and is positioned for possible fertilization. This reoccurs over a span of approximately thirty years beginning at puberty. Once impregnated, she must devote nine months to gestation, plus many more years to deliver the child even to the very beginnings of self dependency. Because of the huge investment required, the female should only reproduce when there is a high probability of long term success. Her strategy is quality.

The male produces sperm by the millions every day of his life. For each offspring, his minimum investment consists of moderate activity for maybe half an hour (on a good day). He has only to find a receptive female and mate with her. His strategy should be quantity. Yet casual observations show that the male also invests heavily in his offspring. Why is it then that the female's strategy seems to win out over the male's?

One factor that works in favor of the female is the ratio of women to men. It is nearly one to one. A male may try his "quantity" strategy, but will be unsuccessful because of significant competition. To be successful, he must concentrate on a limited number of females who are likely to produce healthy offspring. One female trait that indicates this would be a physically healthy body-wide hips, a narrow waist, and large, firm, succulent, voluptuous breasts.

The female's goal is to select a male with traits that indicate his ability to increase the long term probability of healthy offspring. This not only requires a healthy body, but also the tendency to help rear any offspring and provide long term protection and support to the family. This requires intelligence and dedication in addition to the proper physical attributes.

Over millions of years, humans have evolved a very complex strategy for the selection of mates that increase the probability of remaining in the gene pool. Mary Batten, in her book Sexual Strategies, writes that men become aroused at the "mere sight of pretty, young woman", while women are "more interested in a man's status than in his physical appearance."

It's ironic that, biologically, men want women for their bodies while women want men for their brains. It's not our fault. Blame Mother Nature.

The authors, when describing the male, used "muscles" or "muscled" 39% of the time, and "hard" 21% of the time. The "hard" was referring to muscles.

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