Defining Sexy

February 10, 2012


In the recent post Sexy at Rational Male, Rollo Tomassi characterizes the above statement by Emma Watson as a “diatribe…inane post-pubescent aphorisms.”

The interview the above quote is from took place three years ago, when Watson was just 18. Her comment was an expression of her frustration with the gulf between the way she wishes to appear, and the way that the media wishes to portray her. She is not saying that she doesn’t want to feel sexy, or be sexy in her personal life. She is expressing that she doesn’t want to have to “be sexy” for the public.

In fact, in the original interview in the Daily Mail, this immediately preceded the above quote:

I had a party in town and the pavements were just knee-deep with photographers trying to get a shot of me looking drunk, which wasn’t going to happen. I don’t have to drink to have a good time. The sickest part was when one photographer lay down on the floor to get a shot up my skirt.

She is an attractive, brainy, talented woman who wants to keep it classy. Unlike so many young actresses who are all too willing to be plucked, bleached, lasered, cut and carved, vacuumed, implanted and airbrushed, Watson says, “That’s not me. I feel uncomfortable.” She’s being true to herself, refusing to market fakery. Since her goal is not to be a sex symbol, but a serious actress, she refrains from displaying her most sexual self to the public. She’s a modest young woman.

I have no plans to do anything for the sake of it, or to shock people. I might be willing to take my clothes off for a Bernardo Bertolucci film, if it was a part that really made sense as part of my character. But I wouldn’t do it just to make a point, to move on from Hermione. I’d hate to be so tactical. I’m not just getting my kit off for anyone.

If only Emma Watson were this hot!

She’s aiming for Natalie Portman, but Tomassi would prefer she channel Kim Kardashian. He quips:

Sexy is not always slutty, but slutty is always sexy.

Tomassi extends his misunderstanding: “Considering Emma’s boyish pixie cut this should come as no surprise to anyone. What Emma doesn’t get is that sexy isn’t always slutty. She doesn’t understand how to be sexy, but few women do because it is Men who’ve classically defined what is sexy and feminine in women. What has historically worked as sexy, and what has been historically confirmed as feminine is defined by the response and effect that particular behavior set evokes from Men. What we consider today as sexy behaviors and appearance were characteristics ‘selected-for’ that endured to become gender indicative aspects of being feminine.”

Is sluttiness feminine? Male readers here have emphatically argued otherwise. In any case, sluttiness was not “selected for.” From David Buss’ The Evolution of Desire:

Why men marry poses a puzzle.  Casual sex without commitment would have sufficed if all he needed was to reproduce.  So there must have been powerful adaptive advantages to committing years of investment to a woman. Most men can obtain a much more desirable mate if they are willing to commit.  The reason is that women desire a lasting commitment, and the most desirable women are in the best position to get what they want.

Tomassi also fails to mention that “sexy,” even as defined by men, is malleable. A hundred years ago, a glimpse of a well-turned ankle could produce an instant erection, as a man imagined the discovery of soft skin, and all the intimate parts of a woman. Today, the typical slut can only arouse curiosity about three things:

  1. Does she have pubic hair? Is it the same color as up top?
  2. Are her nipples pink or brown? Small or large?
  3. Will she let me cum on her face?

How sexy is that?

Tomassi again: “It’s a pity that Emma doesn’t understand how to be sexy, but she’s in the majority; precious few women know what turns men on, and still fewer have any capacity to effectively be so.”

I don’t understand his logic here. If, as Tomassi claims, slutty is always sexy, and the bars and clubs are jammed with slutty women, then how could those women be accused of not understanding what turns men on? According to Tomassi, fewer than “precious few” know how to be sexy. Yet sluts are everywhere. 

By choice, Emma Watson will never be a sex symbol. Undoubtedly, she will also never lack male admirers. I’m sure she knows how to be sexy when she feels sexy, which is admirable, and honest, and healthy. 

My acting headshot, age 40

Personally, I think she’s lovely, and yes, sexy. But then, I’m just a woman who wore a pixie cut once upon a time, what do I know.