Column: Red means go

(Photo by Lukasz Dunikowski/Flickr.)

Men are aroused by everything. Our libido responds to the naked human form, explicit photographs, explicit videos, audio, randy gramophone recordings, the act of waking up in the morning, silk boxers, slight breezes and two of anything round that are near each other. This includes pineapples, croquet balls and naval mines.
Now you can add a chromatic color to the never-ending list of things that embiggen the male libido.
Researchers have published a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that concludes that the color red leads men to view women as more attractive and sexually desirable. According to a Los Angeles Times blog:

“Researchers at the University of Rochester conducted five psychological experiments to assess how color can affect how men view a woman’s attractiveness. In one study, the men were shown photographs of women framed by a border of either red or white. The men tended to find the women more attractive when they appeared in the red frame. In another study, the men were shown pictures of women wearing red followed by pictures of the same women wearing another color. When wearing red, the women were more likely to score an invitation to the prom and to be treated to a more expensive date.”

This is one of those studies where you read it and go, “Hey, interesting stuff, but I think we already knew that.” True, but I do not think we know how well we already knew that. This is knowledge that was already there, but you did not know, you just suspected. It is like when you buy fries from Burger King. You know that sometimes an onion ring might fall in the fry box accidentally. This study is like peering into the fry box and seeing that the bonus onion ring is not hypothetical. The onion ring is real.

We all know the color red, as it pertains to what the researchers like to call “the mating game,” is useful. But did you realize how often the color red appears in the mating game? Off the top of my head – and please feel free to add more – I can think of red roses, red lipstick, red nail polish, red wine, red boxes of chocolates, red wrapped gifts, red bra, red panties, red teddy and to a lesser extent, steak, (the most sexual of all red meats), lobster, (the most sexual of all red crustaceans), and Red Roof Inn, (the most sexual of all freeway-adjacent hotels). You can add to this list red-light districts, red hearts on Valentine’s Day and lit cigarettes.

If you accept this research as true, it opens up a world of interpretations.

– Bull fighting is the perfect metaphor for sex.

– President Clinton was so attracted to Monica Lewinsky not even her blue dress could deter him.

– There is a reason our government is hell-bent on going to Mars. Our little blue-and-green planet is hot for some red-planet action.

(Above: Mars. What planet can say no to that? Photo by Gonzopowers/Flickr.)

Why are men attracted to the color red?

The researchers concluded, “Our findings confirm what many women have long suspected and claimed – that men act like animals in the sexual realm. As much as men might like to think that they respond to women in a thoughtful, sophisticated manner, it appears that at least to some degree, their preferences and predilections are, in a word, primitive.”

Considering how quickly male legs thump when we see two naval mines next to each other, it is hard to argue with that theory. I will add these two thoughts.

1. Many of the best parts of women – and you know what they are – tend to be red/pink. A red dress reminds men of the rest of the redness and pinkness underneath.

2. My second thought, which I will add to my Caveman Theory, is that red is the color of fire, blood and the heart. All three of these things are warm, pulsating and life-giving. They are good. On a subconscious level, when a man sees a woman in red he sees a good thing wrapped inside a good thing, like a fry lodged inside a bonus onion ring.


Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles
  • “This study is like peering into the fry box and seeing that the bonus onion ring is not hypothetical. The onion ring is real.”

    LOL LOL LOL!!! No it’s not! Worst, yet funniest, analogy ever!

  • Joe Donatelli

    Ha. I’m not going to lie. I may have forced that one in there because I liked it too much.

  • Dan

    Red is also the color of the tunic Link must wear if he wants to survive the burning hot canyons of Hyrule, let’s not forget.

  • Joe Donatelli

    Dan, that makes me laugh for reasons it will take me weeks to comprehend.

  • silver

    “I may have forced that one in there because I liked it too much.”

    See, I would have guessed you had forced the fry-lodged-in-onion-ring joke.

    (Because you make light of food rape.)

  • Megan

    PERFECT explanation of why my BF from college left me for a Miami girl…damn REDskins.

  • Dan

    Red is also on the far end of the visible spectrum and contains the largest wavelength of any color. As we all know, big wavelengths = big humps.

    So maybe on some sub- or hyper-conscious level, red triggers thoughts in our brain that remind us of the wonderful bouncy bouncy.

  • Dan

    Hell, I have a lot to say about this, I guess, because I also just remembered that the reason red lipstick is so sexy and successful is that when women are “in heat” their lips literally turn a darker shade of pink/red.


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