December 7, 2001 - Can a man be rendered incapable of perceiving female beauty?

Rhian Sugden in The Veil

Does Beauty Blindness Exist?

By Dwayne Bell

Modern science has finally discovered female beauty. Almost every week now we hear about new experiments being performed by leading research institutions, experiments meant to shed light on this mysterious, persistent and uniquely human phenomenon.

The rest of us, however, have always known that objective female beauty exists (except perhaps Naomi Wolf!), but we have always been fascinated by how it plays with our perceptions. Fairy tales hide it in trees or in a witch's soul, allowing it out only by the artful bidding of an errant wind or a gallant prince's undying love. Even the recently released movie Shallow Hal plays on the idea of manipulating a man's perceptions, rendering him incapable of perceiving objective female beauty.

But the only quasi-scientific treatment of this particular idea in our culture is in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece A Clockwork Orange. This film attempts to answer this question by subjecting its main character, an iredeemable r4pist, to brutal mind therapies meant to make him immune to the beauty of women. The climax of the film involves a test. The r4pist is placed in a chair in a theatre and a voluptuous, statuesque blond takes the spotlight onstage and proceeds to systematically parade herself in front of him, tempting him. (I won't tell you how the movie ends but the blond in this movie alone makes it worth watching. And the applause from the scientists she recieves after the test is a touch out for my own heart.)

Ultimately, however, the answer the movie gives is unconvincing. And the details of the therapy given to the r4pist are vague at best. To be fair the movie is meant only to entertain, not to break new scientific ground.

I believe only my theory of objective female beauty can answer this kind of question: Can a man be rendered incapable of perceiving female beauty?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my theory I will give a brief synopsis, beginning with a defintion.

Female beauty is the representation of values in a woman. This means that if a man holds values then any woman who appears to posses these values, or otherwise represents or symbolizes them, will appear beautiful to him. For example, if a man values courage, then he will find any woman who appears to be courageous more beautiful than her identical twin who is not courageous at all. If he values sex, he will find more beautiful any woman who appears to be sexual. Etc. The beauty a man perceives in a woman is always the result of her representing to him a sum total of a mixture of all of his values at once, not just one or two. This is why courage or sex appeal alone is usually not enough to make a man find a woman beautiful. Usually, she will have to appear to be courageous, sexual, healthy, happy, and intelligent, etc - all of the things that a man admires in a person.

Let me stress this: A man's estimate of a woman's beauty is always the cumulative result of all of his values. Therefore, my theory predicts that in order for a man to be completely incapable of perceiving female beauty, he will have to hold no values at all.

I'd never hoped to be able to find an example of such a man, simply because I could not conceive of any man alive being so depraved as to hold no values at all. You'd have to be dead to value nothing. Skeletons see no beauty to be sure. Yet if a man lives, he must be living for something, that is, unless death is all he wants.

The fact is, Sept.11 brought just such a man to light. In fact, there are whole societies full of them - fundamentalist Islamic societies, that is.

Islam, in its most fundamental form, is not about objective — meaning earthly — values. It is about pursuing life after death, not on this earth but in heaven; indeed, it is about sacrificing all earthly pleasures and values; it is not about serving one's own values, but about serving those of an imaginary being named Allah.

If you doubt it consider the recent comment by the Osama bin Laden's spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith: "There are thousands of the Islamic nation's youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are eager to live," he says. Or consider this quote from Taliban official, Mohammed Hussein Mostassed: "The Americans are fighting so they can live and enjoy the material things in life," he says, "But we are fighting so we can die in the cause of God."

It turns out then that all of the most radical funadamentalists of Islam — or any other non-objective anti-value religion or philosophy — are incapable of perceiving objective female beauty. They are rendered that way by their total lack of real, objective, earthly values.

Perhaps this is why they can so easily force all women to cover themselves from head to toe, not caring if they ever again see a woman's long hair blowing in a fair breeze or the winsome curves of her body undulating as she walks. Or perhaps they cover their women because they can see female beauty just fine, yet it reminds them of — and represents to them — the earthly objective values they are forbidden to hold.

Perhaps we owe Ms. Wolf a debt of gratitude after all. In writing her famous book The Beauty Myth, and in it declaring that female beauty is a myth, she inadvertently challenged science to prove the objective reality of female beauty.

Unfortunately, one thing modern science has yet to discover is that human beings have volition - the ability to choose our values. When and if science ever discovers this, one result will be the knowledge that when and if men choose no earthly values, they will then be rendered incapable of perceiving female beauty, either because they will be mentally unable, or because they will not be allowed.

© 2001 by Dwayne Bell

Feedback: dbell@bodyinmind.com