WOMEN
06/26/2013 11:50 am ET

Studies Are Obsessed With 'Showing' the Secrets of Attractiveness

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It seems like every week there's a new study out exploring the manifold nuances of attraction and desire. Just when you begin to think the media is out of studies to run, something new claws its way out of the ether, bellowing "MEN IN ZIP-OFF CAPRI PANTS ARE MORE ATTRACTIVE TO WOMEN ON DAY TWO OF THEIR PERIOD, STUDY FINDS."

This sort of research can be interesting and enlightening sometimes, but it can also be confounding and frustrating. It's difficult to attempt to universalize such a specific interpersonal occurrence, and, furthermore, the findings are often framed in a way that tends to uphold and naturalize gender roles — aligning "feminine" with "beautiful" and "passive" and "lots of estrogen" and "masculine" with "attractive to women" and "dominant" and "literally so much testosterone" ("HOW COULD ANY MAN LOVE THIS TESTOSTERONE-WARPED VISAGE?" I should ask myself one day in my masculine growl, while clutching my strong jaw). This can occur even when the studies in question are investigating something incredibly culturally-specific.

So, without further ado, here's a list of the sexiest qualities in men and women, all of which allegedly cause the opposite gender to release all of the hormones.

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