Why do gay men and straight women find Brad Pitt attractive?

I’ve often written about my support for the notion that the things we find attractive about a person — on the physical or other levels — are attributes evolution programmed us to find attractive. There’s plenty of reasonable sounding theories arguing that classic “good looks” (such as my features) signal genetic superiority (largely in the sense of not being retarded) to potential mates. People who are too thin or too fat seem unattractive because they couldn’t survive in the harsh environment where most of man’s evolution took place.

There is an obvious interesting rejoinder to this: what about homosexuals? Their nonreproductive behavior is intrinsically opposed to continuing their genetic material, so what would drive their notions of what’s attractive? (Notions which seem to correspond with what members of the opposite sex find attractive e.g. both straight women and gay men find Brad Pitt ravishing.)

Various answers can be considered. One is that homosexual behavior is fundamentally at odds with nature and all homosexuals should be rounded up and executed.

There is another, possibly less controversial, answer. Let’s remember that evolution and nature do not have “goals.” Mutations occur, and some of those mutations are rewarded by the environment. Homosexual behavior, when limited to a small segment of a species population, certainly wouldn’t threaten the species survival (indeed, I’ve heard theories that homosexual behavior sometimes increases in situations of overpopulation.) As a result, the homosexual “gene” is mostly neutral — it has a negligible effect on a species’ chance for survival. (It does deter the survival of the genetic material of the person possessing the gene (unless they ignore their programming and have awful, heterosexual sex).)

That might explain why homosexuality survives, but why would a homosexual man find attractive the same features a heterosexual woman finds attractive? The woman is seeking an ideal mate with whom to merge her genetic material and ensure its continuation. A gay man has no such interest. I’m guessing the answer lies somewhere in our notions of gender. A random mutation merged certain “male” traits with certain “female” traits (like finding Brad Pitt attractive even after he broke Jennifer Aniston’s heart) and since it’s a relatively harmless mutation, it continues to this day.

Update: I just stumbled across this, “…biologist John Maynard Smith’s “sneaky f*cker” evolutionary hypothesis for male homosexuality, which posits that gay men in the ancestral past had unique access to the reproductive niche because females let their guards down around them and other males didn’t view them as sexual competitors.”

Doesn’t quite add up for me, but worth considering.

2 Responses to “Why do gay men and straight women find Brad Pitt attractive?”

  1. John Saleeby

    Don’t ever try to get a job writing for “People”.

  2. CPR

    Interesting ponderings. Along a similar line, what’s up with gay men’s love of Madonna, Liza Minelli, and opera? And what’s with the lisping? And why do so many black people say “I axed him a question?”