Women are secretly taking pictures of a specific type of man on public transport
For centuries, women and men alike have deliberated over what exactly it is that makes the perfect man. Over the years, many elaborate theories have sprung up. Perhaps it's a male whose rock-hard arms are muscley enough to pick you up in a Ryan Gosling Notebook-esque sort of way, but who isn't going to bat an eyelid if you skipped out on the gym for the seventh consecutive month. Maybe it's someone who accepts that your dog is always going to be the number one love of your life, but who is content enough to take second place. Or it's completely possible it's simply someone who will give you that last biscuit in the packet with no complaints.
However, a recent study tells us that, when it comes to first impressions, there is still a certain type of man who gets our engines raring - and ultimately it's a man with lots of muscles and lots of money. When academics at Coventry and Aberystwyth University studied a website called Tube Crush, their results suggested that females and homosexual men have not moved on in what they find attractive and still yearn for "money and strength" in a good-looking stranger.
If you haven't heard of Tube Crush, it's a controversial website where women and gay men secretly snap photos of London's most attractive men on the underground. Their findings make up an online gallery of "hot male commuters" who allegedly make up the capital's finest looking men, and who are rated by fans of the website. The results of the research showed that the men chosen by those travelling on public transport are typically white, muscular and tended to focus on and celebrate symbols of wealth, such as high-priced phones and lavish suits.
So, are their results really that much of a surprise? Although you may reply with an adamant "no", critics have pointed out the fact that, although this type of pin-up was popular in the past, women and gay men are these days said to fancy the "new man" - a slightly less cool type of guy who is characterised by being a little skinnier, perhaps as a tad nerdier, but the type of man who would treat you well, you could take home to introduce to mum and dad and who would make a fabulous dad some day. That's who we're supposed to fancy, anyway - but, like the research says, all of us are pretty much stuck on those suited and booted muscley meatheads.
Although we may shrug and smile and say something akin to "old habits die hard", according to academics the research tells us much more than the fact that we like a man in a suit. Lead author Adrienne Evans, senior lecturer at Coventry University claimed that the findings were "a problem" as they demonstrate a social regression in terms of how we perceive masculinity.
She said: "From smart-suited City workers to toned gym-goers flashing their flesh, the men featured in the photographs on TubeCrush show that as a culture we still celebrate masculinity in the form of money and muscle. They are marking the middle-class, wealthy, mobile and sexually powerful male body, not as a political one as feminists intend it to be, but one that should be actively desired."
So, ladies and gay gentlemen out there, is it true? Do we honestly ignore the slightly skinnier chap in the casual attire to the left to ogle the wealthy young man in the Abercrombie and Fitch ensemble on the right? And, if so, does that say something bad about us?
It certainly isn't the first time Tube Crush has been the source of controversy. Set up in 2011, the site has proved itself exceedingly popular ever since, racking up 11,000 likes on Facebook and nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter. However, as well-liked as it is, when it started, the "guy candy" site was denounced as sexist by angry men who claimed that there would be uproar in society if a similar site was created with images of women on public transport.
Despite the site insisting that it exists only to praise and compliment the men who appear on it, it has come under fire multiple times for its blatant sexual objectification of men who just want to get where they're going in peace. There's no denying that the site, which reportedly has around 3,000 visitors per day, could easily come across as sexist, with comments such as "When your butt is so peachy that it eats the handrail on the tube! Time to work on those squats boys!!" and "Screw it let's do them both!" regularly popping up on their Twitter feed next to pictures of unsuspecting passengers.
Founder, Steve Motion has stated that only 20 men have asked for their photos to be removed via the "photo removal request" form in the six years it has existed, saying "If someone wants their photo removed we will 100 per cent take it down." However, it's not just the innate sexist nature of the site which has critics up in arms. In addition, those opposed to it have cited privacy concerns, insisting that the idea of a complete stranger taking a photo of you without your knowledge is unacceptable.
In spite of the intrusive nature of the website, there have been debatable arguments that men actually thrive on being snapped and don't view it as objectification at all. In fact, the founder of the site somewhat offensively suggested back in 2014 that any problem was with women. He told the Telegraph: "As it stands, men that have commented and been featured on the site have said they feel very proud, with the bravado they have of saying someone thought I was hot enough. They haven’t felt objectified. People say I’m really flattered but my girlfriend’s quite jealous,” he says. “Can you take it down? They say you can’t be ogled by other girls; that’s not acceptable."
So, what do you think? Is Tube Crush a harmless creation set up to celebrate muscley and wealthy men? Or is the concept invasive, sexist and honestly downright disturbing? Call it what you want but, at the end of the day, you have to admit it is a little creepy... After all, it's always nice to know that a complete stranger finds us attractive, but do they really have to upload a picture of us and implore thousands of other strangers to rate us? It's already enough stress just trying to get to work on time.