The Johnny Depp Factor or Do Women Like Feminine Men?

johnny-depp 

I missed the “Johnny Depp” boat. I never understood why women swooned over Johnny Depp. I could see he had great bone structure, a modest personality, good acting skills. But was that it? Apparently not — according to some, Johnny has a perfect blend of many feminine features with some masculine features. In other words, he is the type of man many women dream of.

The theory that women like feminine men is a fairly new one. Men and women alike presume that women like the rugged, athletic, and muscle-bound men. But the idea that women like feminine men has been supported by a variety of unrelated studies.

In one popular internet study done in the United Kingdom, men with traditionally feminine features were rated as being better for long-term relationships. Judging digitally altered photos, participants chose the most feminine-looking men as warmer and more committed. Men with more masculine features were seen as better for the short-term.

The theory that women are more inclined to feminine men is used to support another theory. Amongst those researching the idea that homosexuality is partly hereditary, a prominent theory is that genes which predispose to homosexuality are actually several feminizing genes. These genes survive in the population because they are beneficial to those who only get a few of them. These feminized men have greater success with women and a better chance at reproducing. 

A large study involving self-identified gay and straight men and their siblings found evidence which supported both hypotheses. Brothers of gay men scored more “feminine” on a self-assessment than brothers of straight men, and these feminized men also had more female sexual partners on average. The most feminine men had better success with women. The study and similar ones are discussed by Simon LeVay in the detailed popular science piece Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why.

If feminine men are more attractive overall, but masculine men are better for the short-term, then Johnny Depp’s mix of feminine and masculine creates the ideal man. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: I still don’t find Johnny Depp that attractive. But at least I have some idea why he is so alluring to others.

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34 thoughts on “The Johnny Depp Factor or Do Women Like Feminine Men?

  1. Interesting. I’ve never found Johnny Depp attractive either. He’s just so….regular-looking to me. (I see him as a combination of Kevin from the Backstreet Boys and Orlando Bloom.) Which features are supposed to be the feminine ones?

  2. Jasmin,

    “(I see him as a combination of Kevin from the Backstreet Boys and Orlando Bloom.)”

    He and Kevin do have similar bone structure and coloring.

    Lol at Orlando Bloom. He’s supposed to be another feminine-looking hottie. 🙂

    “Which features are supposed to be the feminine ones?”

    Well-shaped, curvy eyebrows, full (ha!), round lips, and larger eyes. And supposedly he has “girly” hands too… so much so that they had to look for a hand double for his role in Pirates of the Caribbean.

  3. Ok, as a self-proclaimed fan, I must defend his honor! lol

    Whether you find him attractive or not is irrelevant here… But I must admit I don’t see any “feminine” features on him. Seriously.

    As for his hands, they are not feminine. I have no idea about the hand double, but I’ve seen them and they don’t look feminine to me.

    I guess what I, personally, find him attractive is that he’s not ordinary looking – at least not to me. You could say he’s one of those “white, but not quite” guys I’m attracted to. Then again, I developed a crush when I was about 11, so what do I know.

    But no, I don’t think he has any feminine features. Sure, he’s not a hairy, bearded masculine guy… But it doesn’t mean he has feminine features.

    A better example of a guy with feminine features (to the point of being androgynous looking) is Cillian Murphy.

    And yes, women do find him attractive.

  4. Mira,

    “Whether you find him attractive or not is irrelevant here…”

    Well, not exactly. It is because that’s the only reason I found out why he was supposed to be attractive to other women. And I am a woman too, so I also count towards this theory. 🙂

    “You could say he’s one of those “white, but not quite” guys I’m attracted to.”

    Hmmm, he looks white. Like Kevin Richardson. I don’t see why he doesn’t: just because he has dark hair?

    Cillian is a good example; I find him attractive.

  5. There’s definitely a straight feminine men factor that’s new. Kinda off topic, but I read that women taking the pill cause them to not sexually favor buff hairy men, but more medium and feminine looking men.

    But also, the sexual preferences that we see in the media are large that of white tween girls. And when girls first start become more aware of themselves, they like the more feminine guys (Jonas Brothers, Bieber etc.) and that is also shown in movie actors.

  6. AJ,

    “Kinda off topic, but I read that women taking the pill cause them to not sexually favor buff hairy men, but more medium and feminine looking men.”

    Uhhh, I’m going to need a little more research on that before I believe it. Anecdotal evidence contradicts that.

    “But also, the sexual preferences that we see in the media are large that of white tween girls.”

    I agree that it is largely white, but not (only) tween. Many of the women that are fans of Johnny Depp and the like are around his age (e.g. Mira).

    And when girls first start become more aware of themselves, they like the more feminine guys (Jonas Brothers, Bieber etc.) and that is also shown in movie actors.”

    Where’s your proof? 🙂

    I don’t think Justin Bieber is feminine, just young.

  7. AJ,

    Yes, I’ve read about the pill and its effects, and while there might be some truth to it, I am not convinced it’s the main reason. Not all women use pill. I think it might have something to do with female emancipation. If you don’t need a strong, muscular, “manly” man to protect you anymore, you might look for different things when choosing a partner.

    Alee,

    Hmmm, he looks white. Like Kevin Richardson. I don’t see why he doesn’t: just because he has dark hair?

    No, not because of the dark hair. Remember, I live among “ethnic whites” (I cringe at the term, but let’s use it for the convenience sake), and most of the guys I know are dark haired. (Though as not as dark as Spanish, Italians or Greeks). I can’t explain, but there’s just something about Johnny that’s different. I’ve always believed he was part Native American. I am aware that might be stereotype or not even true, but he just looked that way to me.

    On the other hand, there are “white, but not quite” guys that I thought were 100% white (Wentworth Miller, for example), but some people claim it was “clear” to them he wasn’t. But I couldn’t see it.

    I agree that it is largely white, but not (only) tween. Many of the women that are fans of Johnny Depp and the like are around his age (e.g. Mira).

    Hey! I am not “around his age”, I’m 29 (and he’s 47, I believe).

  8. Mira,

    “I’ve always believed he was part Native American. I am aware that might be stereotype or not even true, but he just looked that way to me.”

    His bone structure? I just thought he wasn’t Anglo. My sister dated an Italian guy with similar bone structure and coloring.

    “Hey! I am not “around his age”, I’m 29 (and he’s 47, I believe).”

    Oh, is he 47 already? He looks young… Wow, he’s old. 🙂

    I thought he was early 30s, so that’s why I used that example. Sorry!

  9. I think it’s his bone structure. Particularly the cheekbones. No white guys I know have that sort of cheekbones, including those who have very high and prominent cheekbones. <- But all of this is, obviously, anecdotal evidence.

    Guessing someone's race/ethnicity based on physical appearance is never a good thing, and it's often harmful. But I am not sure if people can completely avoid to do it.

    As for the "white, but not quite" issue, I can't explain it. Maybe because I know more about European men than I know about the non-European men. Not sure. But all I can say it's not about the phenotype alone. So for example, Javier Bardem seems completely white to me, but not Eric McCormack (or Anthony Kiedis for that matter, who is of Lithuanian descent). And there's no logical way for me to explain it.

    Oh, is he 47 already? He looks young… Wow, he’s old.

    He was born in 1963. So yes, he’s almost 50!

  10. LOL, Johnny Depp is old enough to be my dad! 😛

    Uhhh, I’m going to need a little more research on that before I believe it. Anecdotal evidence contradicts that.

    Without providing TMI, I’ll agree. 😉

    I think of Justin Bieber as feminine because he has no facial hair, and I like my men a bit hairy. But if I were going to think Johnny Depp were anything other than White (based on this one photo), I’d probably say Hispanic (which isn’t a race, but people treat it like one, so you kwim).

    So for example, Javier Bardem seems completely white to me

    Wow, not ¡mi Javier! He looks very Spanish to me; in fact, he resembles one of the professors I had when I studied in Spain. But Spaniards are some of the most interesting looking “Whites” I’ve ever seen. There were quite a few people I thought were old White American tourists when I was there, and then they opened their mouths and I realized they were native Spaniards. 😛

  11. Without providing TMI, I’ll agree. 😉

    It’s not just the anecdotal evidence problem. Another thing we must determine is what “feminine men” really means. What I find feminine/androgynous might not be the same for other people. So there has to be something about the genes, or hormones. But this task is doomed to fail, I think, because these things are not simple. There are many manly, hairy, muscular guys with high, squeaky voices- so what about them? (Are they “feminine” or not?)

    I still think it has a lot to do with nurture, namely, the female emancipation movement.

    I think of Justin Bieber as feminine because he has no facial hair, and I like my men a bit hairy.

    I think Justin is “feminine” because he’s still a boy (he’s, what- 16?) So I’m not sure whether we can use the same criteria to judge someone who’s that young.

    While I’m not into hairy men (except the heir on their heads, :D), I’ve noticed I don’t mind (chest) hair as much as I did when I was a teenager. I believe there was a study that showed young females (teenagers) strongly dislike chest hair. That’s why all the guys in magazines (movies, etc.) targeted to teenage girls are either non-hairy by nature, waxed or have a shirt on.

    Some authors go as far as claiming that it has something to do with undeveloped female sexuality at that point int heir lives. (But I have no idea who these authors are- it sure sounds like something Freud would say). All in all, there do seem to be some women who detest hairy men (particularly when it comes to chest hair)- my mother is one of them, so I know they exist.
    Wow, not ¡mi Javier! He looks very Spanish to me; in fact, he resembles one of the professors I had when I studied in Spain.

    He does look Spanish, but Spanish are white to me (as well as those considered “Hispanic” in the US). So it’s not just about the phenotype.

    PS- I asked my husband whether Johnny Depp looks feminine to him, and he said: “yes, absolutely!”, so I guess there must be something about him (and femininity) you guys see and I can’t.

  12. Mira,

    “for example, Javier Bardem seems completely white to me, but not Eric McCormack (or Anthony Kiedis for that matter, who is of Lithuanian descent).”

    I agree with Jasmin that Javier Bardem looks like a Spaniard. And you know they are “white, but not quite” in the U.S.

    Eric McCormack sometimes looks like there is something mixed in there, but then other times he looks like any other white guy. Anthony Kiedis — white. 🙂

    “There are many manly, hairy, muscular guys with high, squeaky voices- so what about them? (Are they “feminine” or not?)”

    Mike Tyson comes to mind. His voice is just so off. I’m still not used to it.

    “I think Justin is “feminine” because he’s still a boy (he’s, what- 16?)”

    Yeah, he was born in 1994! I’m amazed by people who are that young and famous; it makes me feel old. Like Willow Smith, born in 2000. Crazy stuff.

    “All in all, there do seem to be some women who detest hairy men (particularly when it comes to chest hair)”

    I’m not a fan of hairy chests. I think it’s because I like to do… stuff with guys’ chests which isn’t easily accomplished when there’s a bunch of hair. 😉 A little hair isn’t bad though, especially “treasure trails”.

    I like some hair on legs and arms but it’s not mandatory.

    “PS- I asked my husband whether Johnny Depp looks feminine to him, and he said: “yes, absolutely!”

    LOL. I think lots of guys think he looks feminine.

  13. Jasmin,

    “But if I were going to think Johnny Depp were anything other than White (based on this one photo), I’d probably say Hispanic (which isn’t a race, but people treat it like one, so you kwim).”

    Hmm, yeah. Central or South American.

  14. Wow, I knew Justin Bieber was 16, but it didn’t really register until I saw “1994” up there. He’s the same age as my sisters, which is weird. I can’t imagine him growing up and turning 18 or 21.

    He looks very feminine on his Wikipedia page.

    I’m not a fan of hairy chests. I think it’s because I like to do… stuff with guys’ chests which isn’t easily accomplished when there’s a bunch of hair.

    Ooh… 😉

    I’ve never felt one way or another about hairy chests, though Z is the first guy I’ve dated who actually has one. He has typical Jewish man hair, but watching it grow is kind of interesting. It can be fun to play with. He won’t let me braid his leg hair though. 😛

  15. Jasmin,

    “[Justin Bieber] looks very feminine on his Wikipedia page.”

    …He does. Look at those cherry red lips and cheeks. 🙂

    Hmmm, I think his nose might be making him look feminine to some people. It’s rounded and upturned. But he may lose a lot of the baby fat on his face as he grows older and begin to look like a pretty boy, instead of a pretty girl.

    “It can be fun to play with. He won’t let me braid his leg hair though.”

    *chokes*

    LMAO.

  16. Never been with a hairy man, but friends claim it can be fun!

    I still insist Bieber is way too young to tell. Plus, it’s not just facial features, but the haircut and the overall image. That being said, I’m not convinced my teenage self would find him attractive.

  17. Mira,

    Justin Bieber totally looks like a girl here. I think I have that scarf! 🙂

    But you’re right about the haircut (it also doesn’t help that I’ve seen him wearing make-up in certain photos…). Contrast the former picture with this one. Completely different. He will be a cute guy when he grows up.

    “That being said, I’m not convinced my teenage self would find him attractive.”

    Teenage girls seem to like him. I know a 15 year old that is so crazy about him — she thinks he’s perfect. It might be the singing thing; male singers are usually popular with girls.

  18. OMG, it’s Christelyn the NWNW Superstar. *genuflects* 🙂

    “If loving Johnny is feminine, just call me Lesbo!”

    …or Christelyn the Lesbo.

    Yes, I have a blog; glad you like love it. And many, many thanks for linking.

  19. this is nothing new. pretty boys were popular in the 80s before the more rugged types became popular in the 90s. it will reverse back in another 10 years.

  20. Baldheaded Foo,

    Are you saying that the popularity of certain looks change every 10 years? Hmmm…but we’re in the 2011, so if “pretty boys” were popular in the 90s, shouldn’t things have changed back by now?

  21. I think she said pretty boys WEREN’T popular in the 90s?

    I have no idea, to be honest. I was a teenager in the 90s, and celebrities I used to find hot were singers (mostly grunge and other rock singers) or actors. Yes, Johnny Depp is one of them, but I don’t find him “feminine” at all.

    I never liked those “pretty” boys other teenagers seemed to like.

    That being said, if I have to be honest with myself, I think I do prefer men with somewhat gentle features to “macho” ones (not sure how to describe it). George Clooney is just not my type, at all.

    That being said, I think way too many celebrities are androgynous these days. Even seen Tokio Hotel? It’s not even being androgynous; those twins look like girls. Very feminine girls at that. And they have many female fans.

  22. Mira,

    “I think she said pretty boys WEREN’T popular in the 90s?”

    Yes, they did! I misread.

    Sorry about that BF. Multi-tasking is terrible for careful reading.

    “I think I do prefer men with somewhat gentle features to “macho” ones…George Clooney is just not my type, at all.”

    Now what’s so macho about George Clooney? In some pictures, especially when he was younger, he looks like a classic pretty boy. Like here.

    “Even seen Tokio Hotel?”

    I don’t know them, but I just Googled photos. Yes, the twins do indeed look very girly. I would think they were transgendered (they aren’t, right?).

  23. Now what’s so macho about George Clooney?
    Macho might not be an appropriate term. Not sure how to say it. He doesn’t look girly to me, not in a way Cillian Murphy does.

    He’s also quite hairy. 😀

    I don’t find him attractive because he seems like someone’s dad. Same goes for Denzel Washington.

    So I guess what I dislike is not being masculine, but looking older? (As in “old enough to be my dad”?) Which is a bit strange: I grew up without my father. One would think I’d be attracted to men who seem like fathering figures. But no.

    And then again there’s my fascination with Gary Oldman, who IS quite old. But he’s an exception to the rule, I think.

    (they aren’t, right?)

    I don’t think they are transgendered. I just think it’s the way they dress and… stuff. Could be wrong, but I assumed they weren’t transgendered, because girls wouldn’t be as crazy about them. I know Tokio Hotel fans consider them to be quite sexy and masculine, and they all get very angry when someone mentions something about them being girly.

  24. Mira,

    “Macho might not be an appropriate term. Not sure how to say it. [George Clooney] doesn’t look girly to me, not in a way Cillian Murphy does.”

    Well, there aren’t too many people that look like Cillian. 🙂

    “He’s also quite hairy. :D”

    He is. LOL.

    “I guess what I dislike is not being masculine, but looking older?”

    Probably. Some people subconsciously see youth and femininity as the same, but I don’t.

    “I don’t think [the twins of Tokio Hotel] are transgendered. I just think it’s the way they dress and… stuff.”

    No, it’s the way they look. Lol. They look like women, or better yet, girls.

    “Tokio Hotel fans consider them to be quite sexy and masculine”

    What world are they living in? 🙂

  25. Well, there aren’t too many people that look like Cillian. 🙂

    True, true! I guess it’s one of the reasons I like the guy (besides his acting talent). He’s just so unique, and it’s attractive in a way (so attractive that I’m ok with his paleness and freckles, and those are not the things I’m usually attracted to).

    What world are they living in?

    I don’t know. In a world in which you’re ostracized for even implying they’re not masculine enough? 😉

    Seriously now, I think it has a lot to do with teenagers, their hormones and sexuality. I remember I read once that young women prefer men who don’t have much chest hair. Teen girls who like them are quite young, and (I assume) inexperienced, so maybe it has something to do with it?

    I don’t want to comment on Justin Bieber!

    No, wait… I will. He does look a bit more masculine, so I guess it’s all about his age (and haircut).

  26. Mira,

    Nothing wrong with pale skin or freckles. 🙂

    “He’s just so unique, and it’s attractive in a way”

    Yes. I like unique people. Uniqueness does make people more attractive. Which I wrote about in Jay-Z Is Not Ugly and the Power of Personality.

    “I remember I read once that young women prefer men who don’t have much chest hair.”

    I’m going to study up on this.

    It might be true that most young women prefer guys without chest hair. But the guys their age don’t really have chest hair so why would they prefer it?

  27. Nothing wrong with pale skin or freckles. 🙂

    Of course not. I have them both!

    But they are not something I usually find attractive on a guy.

    But for some reason I think Cillian’s freckles are attractive, and his pale skin suits him (to the point I didn’t like his slightly tanned appearance in Inception).

    Uniqueness does make people more attractive.

    Indeed. I think it works both in real life and when it comes to celebrities. I am not into generic cute guys, or generic macho guys, or even generic rock guys. And before you mention Johnny Depp- nobody knew about him back in the days I got a crush on him; his image wasn’t commercialized, so to speak.

    I’m going to study up on this.

    I’m not sure if you should bother. I think it was Mr Freud who came up with this. And we all know one must take his interpretations with a grain of salt (penis envy and women, anybody?)

  28. Mira,

    “[Freckles and pale skin] are not something I usually find attractive on a guy. “

    Hmmm. When I think about it, I’m not sure I’d find a guy with really pale skin and freckles all over, even though freckles and pale skin tend to go together. But a smattering of freckles and somewhat pale skin isn’t bad at all.

    “I think it was Mr Freud who came up with this. And we all know one must take his interpretations with a grain of salt (penis envy and women, anybody?)

    Lol. I know. But even a broken clock is right twice a day, right? 😀

  29. I personally think what makes Johnny so attractive to most women is his ‘mysterious presence’. I agree he’s a good looking man and has quite rare features, but it’s his quiet mysterious side that caught the attention of most women. He’s just naturally alluring, he’s got an accent, a very sexy-expressive eyes and a great facial bone structure and that’s enough to call him ‘sexy’. 😀 He’s not masculine but I bet many would pick him over Hugh Jackman, why? It’s because of his personality.

    I’m an avid fan of Johnny Depp and I believe he’s a versatile actor. He’s just GREAT. 🙂

  30. He still the most masculine i’ve ever seen although his feminine beauty!!! I don know how?!! This is just a miracle called johnny depp! He’s sexy as hell even when he’s fifty!!

  31. Also I think manhood exists mainly in spirit and personality more than physical look…and it doesnt mean that johnny’s look isnt masculine enough! I think i should tell u that only his voice is sexy enough to turn me on!! 😀

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