Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The bad-boy effect

Another kind reader made a suggestion, wondering if I'd explain:

"Why do hot looking women fall for jailbirds?"

First of all, I believe your sentence contains a tautology, or at least a redundancy. I refer, of course, to the phrase "hot looking" (which, even if proper English, should be written "hot-looking"). I also object to the implicit endorsement of the objectification of women.

That said, I have no bloody idea.

I'm guessing you should ask a female of the womanly persuasion that answer, rather than an English chap who wears a suit and tie to work every day.

That said, you must have been at one (or both) of my last trials.

Not knowing the answer, of course, won't stop me from giving one: I would assume it's the classic "bad-boy" effect. You know, tough dude on his motorbike tearing up the neighborhood with a ciggy hanging out of his mouth, soccer moms throwing their underwear at him as he roars past.

I expect some clever scientist/psychologist will posit a link between the charismatic charmer and the aggressive criminal, both perhaps fueled by an excess of testosterone or possessing a particularly large 'Y' chromosome. Of course, that hardly explains the popularity of Justin Bieber. . .

Any of my female readers care to chip in with their theories?!


  1. I asked my fiance this a few years ago. Her response: "The devil you do know is better than the devil you don't."
    Women have accepted that there is no such thing as the "perfect man," so a jailbird's problems are up front.
    And some women would rather deal with that than be with a successful banker who secretly is a child molester or something.

  2. There is a world of difference between a jailbird and a bad boy. Bad boys may have a bit of history, but are rule benders, not rule breakers.

    Bad boys are just attractive because it's risky. It's like driving fast, it's fun. And bad boys can be very sexy.

    Old ladies like bad boys, too.

  3. I think every female (or at least every female I know, myself included) has gone through a bad boy phase. For me it was the fact that I thought I could change him or fix him or make him a better person or something. And he did change for a little bit, but then once the relationship had lasted for more than 6 months his old habits started up again and he ended up getting arrested again and I realized there was no fixing him so we ended up breaking up. Most females do eventually see that the jailbird type isn't worth their energy, but you have to try it out before making that decision.

  4. I think you're right about the 'bad boy' effect. And some really slick guys are also very charming (think Ted Bundy.)

    A friend of mine who has studied psychology also noted that decisiveness is a desirable trait. The bad boy is often decisive (and impulsive, which I'm told is also appealing) but that decisiveness sometimes means that they ignore what other people think or feel-- makes it easier to decide when you only think for yourself.

  5. "even if proper English, should be written 'hot-looking'"

    FWIW, I was always taught that in "proper English" you don't use a hyphen with a gerund.

  6. Thanks for the input, folks.

    And Grits, you too. :) Although I believe I am using it as an adjective, and so hyphenation is correct.


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