Do Men Mostly Prefer Breasts—or Buns?
It's a hotly debated topic whether men are more turned on by breasts or buns.
Posted Sep 30, 2014
When Playboy—the magazine, not the website—was in its heyday, women’s breasts reigned supreme (and rather large ones at that). But over the past several decades it appears that the media generally has been paying increasingly greater attention to the lower region of women’s two dominant anatomical protrusions. So might it be possible that more men actually prefer to ogle a woman’s buns than her bust? (At least they’re much less likely to be caught in the act!)
The limited quantitative research undertaken on the subject hardly permits a definitive answer. But without question, the female derriere has captured men’s lascivious attention since the time of the Greeks and ancient Chinese dynasties. And if female buttocks rank behind men’s similarly erotic interest in breasts, they’re certainly not a distant second either.
In A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire (2011), neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam—systematically examining what people do on the Internet, particularly on porn sites—conclude that “breasts, no matter what size, are the most popular body part in sexual searches in every country we looked at, including the United States, Russia, India, Germany, Japan, and Saudi Arabia” (p. 35). Still, these authors add, “Butts are almost as popular as breasts in sexual searches, and there are almost as many porn sites dedicated to butts as breasts, hinting that men may also have an innate sensitivity to buttocks cues” (p. 37).
An article recently published in the New York Times, called “For Posteriors’ Sake” (by Marisa Meltzer, 09/17/14), argues the case for butts even more strongly: “The rear is fast becoming the erogenous zone of choice in America, vying for eminence with breasts, abs, [and] legs. . . . Captivating back-end views of amply endowed personalities have stirred the popular imagination, prompting many women . . . to chase after gawk-worthy curves of their own.”
Moreover, a scholarly piece, "Eye Fixations Indicate Men's Preference for Female Breasts or Buttocks," published in 2012 by B. Dagnino & others (and probably the only academic study on the subject), concluded—though provisionally—that female butts may actually be more enticing to males than breasts. Focusing specifically on the sexual preferences of Argentinean men, this investigation appeared in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (41: 929-37). Examining the results of 184 males, the authors found that 59 percent of them revealed greater attraction to female buttocks, whereas only 38.5 percent showed more of a preference for their breasts. Although Latino men seem to reveal this bias more than males of other ethnicities and more research—cross-culturally—is needed to determine how much these findings might possibly describe men’s preferences in general, still the results of this well-controlled study are suggestive.
Other sources, too, intimate that a woman’s derriere, if not the anatomical region that men are most drawn to, at least drives their libidinal interests almost as much as female breasts. As mentioned in Wikipedia, popular culture expert Ray B. Browne (notably, back in 1982) observed that a woman’s buttocks as a sexual signal for men was receiving increased emphasis, which at the time he attributed primarily to the huge popularity of tight-fitting jeans. In Browne’s own words:
“Emphasis on the upper female torso has recently given way to the lower area of the body, specifically the buttocks. Such a change happened quite recently [but now over 30 years ago!] when denim jeans became fashionable. In order to emphasize fit, jeans manufacturers accentuated hips. And after brand name jeans became so popular with the designer's name on the hip pocket, even more accentuation was given to the posterior. The more jeans sales increased, the more ads were used which emphasized the derriere, to such an extent, in fact, that this particular area may eventually surpass breasts as the number one sexual image of the female body” (from Browne’s Objects of Special Devotion: Fetishes and Fetishism in Popular Culture).
Wikipedia also notes that female buttocks (along with breasts) are linked to sexual arousal “across cultures”; and further, that “while female buttocks are often eroticized in heterosexual erotica, men’s buttocks [my emphasis] are considered erogenous by many women, and are also eroticized in gay male circles” [hardly a surprise since so much of gay sexuality centers on anal intercourse].
One intriguing study cited by Wikipedia focuses on four key ethnic groups as regards the relative erotic appeal of different sizes of female buttocks. The conclusion? Asians show a preference for butts that are “small to moderate, but shapely”; Caucasians for “full, but not large” butts; Hispanics for buns that are “very full”; and African Americans for buns that are “as full as possible” (2006). As regards the final group here, consider the frequency with which rappers pay worshipful tribute to, well, truly enormous female behinds (!).
Viewed by Wikipedia in evolutionary biology terms, female buttocks have always been at the center of a man’s attention (if not downright obsession). Referring to the pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey, this comprehensive Internet resource quotes his observation that “the buttocks is the primary sexual presentation site in primates.” Additionally, “some anthropologists and sociobiologists believe that breast fetishism derives from the breasts’ similarity [in their rounded shapeliness] to buttocks [and their] provid[ing] sexual attraction from the front of the body.” Which is to say, the female bust “mimics” the buttocks. And despite breasts not being anywhere as close to the region of sexual intercourse, this resemblance is conjectured to define their powerful attractiveness to men.
Beyond this, Wikipedia (as have most writers who’ve delved into the subject) comments that “evolutionary psychologists suggest that rounded buttocks may have evolved to be a desirable trait because they provide a visual indication of the woman’s youth and fertility. They signal the presence of estrogen and . . . of sufficient fat stores for pregnancy and lactation.” Highly respected biological anthropologist Helen Fisher (at Rutgers University) is also quoted as remarking, suggestively, that “perhaps the fleshy, rounded buttocks attracted males during rear-entry intercourse” (from Fisher’s The Sex Contract: The Evolution of Human Behavior, 1982).
Historically speaking, the female buttocks have for millennia symbolized both fertility and beauty. In fact, in the artistic portrayal—and sometimes exaggeration—of a woman’s derriere the aesthetic and the erotic would seem to merge. And some of the earliest statues appear to celebrate this most “outstanding” feminine body part. Since then, many artists— to highlight their model’s erotic beauty—have deliberately “posed” them in ways that accentuated their curvaceous behind.
To briefly sum up Wikipedia’s fairly extensive coverage of this most provocative topic: “The buttocks have been considered an erogenous zone in Western thought for centuries, and the eroticization of the female buttocks was heteronormative and due to their association and closeness to the female reproductive organs [even though in another sense] the buttocks are often taboo due to their proximity to the anus and association with the excretory system.”
So for women (and some men, too!) wanting to do everything possible to make themselves more physically attractive to their partners—or potential partners—are there some final, cosmetic recommendations that might be made here?
In an article entitled “Breasts or Buttocks: What Do Men Really Prefer?” (published in medium.com), Justin Yovino, MD, FACS, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, enumerates two main options. Fortunately, for many women, he states, all that may be needed to make their butts more shapely, and enable them to achieve results analogous to wearing a push-up bra or halter top, is engaging in the right butt-strengthening exercises.
In Yovino’s words: “The best butt-building exercises, according to the American Council on Exercise, are squats. You don’t even need equipment to perform them, though you’ll get better results by holding hand weights as you work. Other effective moves include lunges and step-ups, which simply involve climbing stairs or stepping up and down from a box or bench.” Another plastic surgeon, New York-based Dr. Shirley Madhère, while agreeing with Yovino that the bottom is far more changeable through exercise than breasts, adds her own suggestions as to what physical activities can best enhance one’s bottom and help them attain more of an hourglass shape. To counter the buttocks’ dreaded flatness, she recommends “everything from leg lifts while on all fours to simply squeezing your booty at the bus stop.”
And if these various physical activities don’t go far enough in “sculpting and lifting your butt,” as Yovino puts it, there’s always plastic surgery. As he explains: “Your genes will determine the natural shape of your buttocks, as well as your ability to make them bigger and rounder. If you’ve hit a dead end with your workout routine and seek a more effective option, it may be time to consult a plastic surgeon.” His intriguing, exotic-sounding suggestion? A “Brazilian butt lift,” which promises an hourglass figure by taking unwanted fat from the abdomen and transferring it to the buttocks. And—ideally, at least—the result will be “a smaller waist and a fuller rear. [And] because [one’s] own fat is used, the results [should] look and feel more natural than silicone implants.”
One final option, not mentioned by either Yovino or Madhère, is buttock-enhancing shapewear— undergarments available to both men and women. Without having to enter a cosmetic surgeon’s office or commit to any arduous exercise regimen, they may provide you with the changed appearance you’ve been seeking. (Just be sure to give your admirer a heads-up before removing your clothes for them!)
Alas, there’s no denying the vanity of implementing any of these actions. But if other women (and possibly men!) have an unfair advantage over you in erotically attracting others simply because they were lucky enough to be “blessed” with a beautifully shaped posterior, it’s nice to know that you may have some non-genetic recourse. Besides, over time our buttocks (and again, I should add males’ quite as much as females’) sag, flatten, and droop. So when exercise alone really can’t rejuvenate your bottom as much as you might wish, it’s reassuring to know that certain aesthetic alterations can assist you in turning back the clock.
Note 1: If this post was of interest to you, I hope you’ll pass on its link to others. Additionally, I’ve written many other posts on related topics. Here are just a few (with their links):
Note 2: If you’d like to check out my writings for Psychology Today generally—on a broad variety of topics—click here.
© 2014 Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
---I invite readers to join me on Facebook, as well as to follow my sometimes unorthodox psychological and philosophical musings on Twitter.