KinkInExile has this to say about beauty. It's not clear that she's talking about gendered beauty but it's clear she's talking about her beauty.
For all the time and money I spend on beauty, fashion and the like, this morning caught me by surprise. This morning, for reasons that are far too convoluted to go into right now, I ended up breaking down tents, dragging around easy ups, packing trucks, loading and unloading food, and generally scrambling to pull things out of the Occupy Oakland encampment ahead of an advancing police line in the mud while also smiling at and trying to be friendly and engaging toward the police. After what felt like a sprint of activity both in its intensity and its briefness, as I disrobed next to the washing machine in my apartment and stood in a hallway, sweaty, sore, and naked except for the bandana I had used to tie my unwashed hair out of my face, I realized I hadn’t felt that beautiful in ages.
Source: Kink In Exile
I raise that mostly to contrast with an anonymous correspondent to Em & Lo implicitly offered a substantially gendered view of beauty in general and hers in particular.
Why do guys cheat down? Meaning, picking a woman less attractive. My husband cheated on me with a woman twice my size. He said he found her unattractive but couldn’t help himself. Another friend of mine (she is a model) had her husband cheat on her. It was while he was out of town and all the women were less attractive. Of course these are just two examples. I was always under the impression that if you are going to cheat, at least make it worth it.
So the first question should always be who's idea of beauty are we talking about? Society's? The correspondents? Her partners? My guess is that there's a difference in her experience of society's philosophy of men's relationship beauty and her partner's actual experience of it. (Which is in collision with his experience of society's expectation of him.)
Second question: What makes so many people think that conventional/consensus beauty is the only reliable metric for male attraction? Especially when it so often isn't a very good metric?
Third question: What makes her think beauty for men is an apex rather than a threshold, such that no matter how beautiful one woman is men will inevitably prefer someone even more beautiful?
Fourth question: When woman A is less beautiful but still preferred to woman B, why is the assumption that woman A must "give better head?")
Fifth question: Where do so many people get the idea that beauty is like some kind of points system such that if you’ve got more you automatically win? Or else that it’s an entitlement such that if you’ve got more you should automatically win?
Next question: Would the correspondent feel somehow better if he instead cheated “up?” (If so… if one really would feel better… then stop right there and think about that! Because really?)
Final question: I’m… pretty sure the correspondent would feel insulted if someone suggested that she, like "all women," was attracted to men based only on the gendered masculine quality of income or worth. So why think that men, including her partner, are attracted only on the gendered feminine quality of “beauty?”
As long as we're on the subject of gendered notions of attraction, try running the numbers again for men, substituting worthiness for beauty. For question four, replace "must give good head" with "must have a big dick."
A lot of years ago a now-dark blogger named Sam Sugar, trying to make a claim about men's nature, said something like "given two women with similarly attractive personalities men will choose the more beautiful one every time." It's actually even true... but not particularly telling. First because what at least ought to be an obvious corollary: "given two women with similar beauty, men will choose the one with the more attractive personality. Second the same true but empty observation could be made about women's attraction to men.
I think the fallacy, which Sam Sugar was perpetuating and which I think a lot of people fall for, is the idea that men simply aren't aware of any qualities other than beauty in women such that they express deep surprise when men actually do enjoy and often prefer other qualities more.
Similarly, of course, it seems to perpetually surprise people when women fail to ignore beauty in men.
If you look at beauty in KinkInExile's terms I think it's a lot harder to have disconnects between social expectations and our actual experiences.
Disclaimer: I know I sound like I'm all about heteronormativity all the time. Instead just think there's a lot more unconscious assumptions to question about heteronormativity, and that it takes a lot more effort to become conscious of them.