Sexual icon. A male or female sexual trait as depicted in a drawing, photograph, or sculpted figurine.
Usage: Easily aroused by visual cues, men enjoy erotic pictures, images, and videos more than women do. Playboy (a magazine that pictures idealized features of the female form), e.g., outsells Playgirl (which features the male anatomy)--and both are read predominantly by men.
Prehistory I. The earliest sexual illustrations were realistic and abstract renderings of female and male sex organs, painted on Upper Paleolithic cave walls in western Europe between 34,000 and 12,000 years ago. (N.B.: The most common themes depicted on Paleolithic cave walls were food and sex, in that order.)
Prehistory II. Dating to ca. 25,000 years ago, female Venus figurines with exaggerated breasts, buttocks, and tummies have been found across Europe from Spain to Russia. The figurines had less to do with beauty than with fertility.
Media I. In U.S. college bookstores of the 1990s, the number one, two and three best-selling magazines, respectively, were Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Vogue, read by young women seeking to enhance their sex appeal and love signals.
Media II. From 13 years of Playboy emerges a composite centerfold who likes a man to a. pick her up in his car, b. accompanied by his dog, c. with his stereo turned on, and d. offer her flowers before e. driving her to the beach where f. they watch the sunset and g. dance in the rain. (N.B.: From 1959 to 1995, the average weight of playmate centerfolds ranged from 82%-to-91% of the average weights of American women of the same height and age. [Below 85% is considered medically too thin.])
Media III. Americans view an average of 9,230 sexually suggestive scenes a year on TV.
RESEARCH REPORT: A study in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing found that "[U.S.] Women think men prefer bigger-bosomed women than men said they preferred. Similarly, men are convinced that women want chestier guys than women said they liked" (Morin 1995:C5).
See also BARBIE DOLL.
Copyright 1998 - 2013 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)