Thursday, May 3, 2007

Statistics.

Wow, I think this is the most math I've done in one sitting since high school.

I'm writing this screenplay which is about sex and men, and, in particular, how men go about trying to get it and how that affects the way they see themselves and each other. I've had this opinion for a while that most men are very focused on body parts to the detriment of their ability to function sexually as whole people. I believe a common ailment for men is that we're unable to bring our whole selves into sex. Evidence of this is the way men will fetishize a body part to the extent that they fashion an identity around it ("ass man," "leg man," "cocksucker," etc.)

And I came to think that this phenomenon really stands out in online profiles on dating and sex hookup web sites, where men give limited, directed information about themselves and choose pictures of themselves with the object of attracting somebody for sex. So I decided to check my theory with a little scientific study. Well, maybe pseudo-scientific.

I looked at 150 profiles on Manhunt.net, one of the big gay hookup sites, and I compiled some information about the photos. I only looked at the main photo, the one that appears first to anyone browsing the site. There are often additional photos in a profile, including "private" photos that are only available when people "unlock" them for men they might be interested in. It seems to me that this main photo is where men put what they consider their best foot forward.

I've had the impression in browsing these types of sites over the years that a big percentage of the photos are of isolated body parts: an erect penis, a spread butt, leading to an I-am-my-cock syndrome (or my ass, or whatever.). So I wanted to see if the numbers match my impression.

I took the first 150 profiles of Austin men and divided the photos into 8 categories. Some were a little ambiguous, but most of them fell pretty neatly into one column or another. Here's what I found:

Face: 26%
Penis, naked: 10%
Penis, clothed: 3% (This might seem like a strange distinction, but there are quite a few photos of erect penises "hidden" by a wet shirt, or something else that clearly shows the attributes.)
Ass: 6% (I could break this down further, and I might if I decide to do a more detailed study. Some are just shots of a naked butt, but many of them could more accurately fall into a category of "asshole.")
Body, no face, clothed: 1%
Body, no face, naked: 26%
Body and face, naked: 12%
Body and face, clothed: 17%

I had expected much bigger numbers in the penis and ass categories. (Sometimes when I'm looking at profiles on these sites, it starts to feel like an endless parade of assholes and hard dicks, which just feels kind of heartbreaking sometimes, that that's what we're reduced to.) These numbers are probably lower in Austin than they would be in New York or San Francisco. People are more modest or conservative here.

It's heartwarming that over half of the men posted pictures of their faces, in one form or another. And I actually find it encouraging that 12% posted photos of their naked bodies with their faces showing. However, in probably half of these, their penises were hidden, and a large portion of the shots seemed clearly intended to show off a nice chest. Still more distinctions for further study.

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