A new study suggests that even in an epicenter of diversity like London, tastes in men are curiously conforming.
The paper — authored by researchers Adrienne Evans and Sarah Riley at the University of Coverntry in the Feminist Media Studies journal — analyzed submissions to TubeCrush.net, a website where straight women and gay men upload covert snaps of men they found attractive on the London Underground.
The analysis showed trends in the submissions that received the highest ratings and engagement from visitors. In terms of clothing, the most remarked-upon men wore either markers of wealth, like a suit or an expensive watch, or gym gear. They also tended to be in peak physical fitness, with muscled arms or legs. They also tended to be white.
"We suggest that in TubeCrush, value is directed onto the bodies of particular men, creating a visual economy of post-feminist masculinity of whiteness, physical strength, and economic wealth," the study noted in its abstract. "This celebration of masculine capital is achieved through humor and the knowing wink, but the outcome is a reaffirmation of urban hegemonic masculinity."
TubeCrush was founded in 2011 by accountant Steve Motion, who sought to "pay 'Homage to the Hommes' on our infamous transportation infrastructure." It has built a large social media following, with around 11,000 fans on Facebook and 10,000 on Twitter.
The captions also focused on masculine physical features and high-end apparel.
No Carbs Before Marbs - Hey sexy workout man - protein powder is working well for you! When there are no other places to lay your head after a long hard workout you have to use your as a pillow! Now there is some kind of pillow talk we wouldn't mind having! #Tubecrush #menofthemetro #centralline #london #marblearch #nocarbsbeforemarbs
In an interview with Business Insider, Evans called the behavior of commenters "ahistorical," because it shifts the role of the objectified party from women to men.
"It's transformative, but also at the same time it shows we're still very much fitting into the same boxes and conventions when it comes to beauty and attraction," Evans said.