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As promised, today’s topic is “skanks.” Yesterday I brought the latest copy of Rolling Stone into work for a coworker who recently admitted to me that he found Mariah Carey to be incredibly sexy.


“Oh,” he said, “to be a bead of sweat . . .” This prompted a discussion among our group on the topic of skanks and why men find them sexy. The three women of the group all expressed nothing but contempt for the vacuous tart (though I admit I find the movie Glitter to be outrageously entertaining).

Two males of the group agreed on a few key points. One, that Mariah is, in fact, hot. Two, that her seemingly complete lack of intelligence or sanity increases her desirability. Three, that the first two facts should never, ever be repeated in front of a girlfriend or wife. You see, Mariah is a skank. There’s something appealing (so says my male coworkers) about a skank.

I peppered my coworker with more questions. If he had the chance to fulfill his Mimi desire and his wife gave the okay, would he? Yes. Even, I asked, with the idiocy, and the craziness? He replied, “I said I’d do her, not have tea with her.”

“What if your wife didn’t know,” I asked. No. “What if you weren’t married, would you want to date Mariah?” No. “What if Mariah weren’t crazy, would you still want to sleep with her?” No.

He told me that if Mariah was a nice, smart librarian, he’d have no interest at all. He said that objectively speaking, she really isn’t that fantastically hot — it’s her lowered intelligence and weirdness that really makes him want to hop in bed with her. To prove his point, he turned to another guy and said, “Come on, which is hotter: Angelina Jolie now, or Angelina Jolie seven years ago when she was making out with her brother and carrying around vials of blood?” Before he could respond, the office erupted into a fiery debate over whether or not Angelina Jolie is hot (three women and a man said no, one woman and two men said yes).

Finally the discussion turned to male skanks, and whether or not women were equally as drawn in. I climbed atop my high horse and stated that I was most attracted to men of wit and intelligence, and would never be interested in a skank. The other women nodded their heads.

“Come on,” my friend said, “there must be one.” We shook our heads and sat for a moment in silence.

“Okay,” said one female coworker. “The guy from Aerosmith.”

I was horrified. Steven Tyler? “No,” she said in disgust, “The other one, Joe Perry.”

She went home at lunch and brought back this photo, which she hung in her cube.

Another skank.

Mariah Carey? Joe Perry? Couldn’t they at least pick people with talent? But it was explained to me again that the entire point is that they’re completely vacant. They are objects to be observed, studied, and fucked. That is it.

I went back to my desk, convinced that I would just never understand.

And then it hit me.

“Who’s the Irish guy, with the dark eyes? The one who trashes hotel rooms and has never starred in a movie I’ve actually seen?”

“Oh, yeah,” said a female coworker, nodding her head. “Colin Farrell. Good one.”

Huh. Okay, maybe. Maybe.

My skank.

Please note the use of pictures in this post. See? I read your comments and emails and I take action! Customer service at its best.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. You know, part of it may be the question. There are a lot of folks I might be willing to have sex with if it entailed no obligations and no risks. An ongoing relationship, however, is a different, more complicated animal. It’s a little like asking yourself: if I could eat a juicy steak whenever I wanted without any risk of heart disease, weight gain, or environmental degradation, would I? I’m betting most folks would say, “Hell yes!”

    For what it’s worth, though, I definitely would not do Mariah Carey.

  2. Skanks and trashy women. Bad boys and assholes.

    These are sliding scales.

    Everyone wants a skank or a bad boy.

    Yeah, there are some men who want June Cleaver, and there are some women who want Ward Cleaver. June and Ward simply fall on one point of the Skank Scale. Joe Perry and Mariah Carey fall on another point. And Richard Dawkins and Eugenie Scott on another.

    Skankiness is in the eye of the beholder.

    The interesting question is why a person wants a skank. Is it for keeps, or is it to experience something outside of an already tiresome existence?

  3. My coworker made it VERY clear that he would not be interested in actually dating Mariah. He said (and I paraphrase), “I went through that crap in college. Now I’m happily married to a woman who I don’t have to worry about leaving alone with my friends. A crazy skank might be hot, but you get up to get a drink at the bar and by the time you come back she’s in a hair pulling fight or she’s said something to make you lose your best friend of 15 years. I wouldn’t date Mariah because I’d be scared to introduce her to other people.”

    The question remains, though — why? No one could give me a straight answer. It’s definitely not for keeps, Sam, and our respective existences are pretty happy and not at all tiresome. It’s something about the lack of brains that does it, but I can’t figure out why.

    Maybe because a skank doesn’t spend all his/her time trying to figure out things like this.

  4. These people are marketed to us as special people, and for many of them that specialness is directly linked with fuckability. They are marketed as fuckable and want to (or their agents want them to) be percieved as sexy. And it works. We want what they're selling.

    It gives us a little thrill to think about being bad, and meaningless one-night-stand sex is generally considered quite naughty. It gives us an even greater thrill to think about being naughty with someone whose sole purpose seems to be fuckabillity. It is primal and simple and a wonderful little fantasy. There isn't even any doubt as to whether the sex would be good…I mean, they always *look* sexy and beautiful, and surely they have had plenty of experience, and they're part of hollywood, so they're obviously uninhibited…right? right.

    If we thought they had brains, or at least knew their brains had some valuable contents, they would become more real. The fantasy would take an unwanted turn toward reality. Thinking of them as playthings is much easier without that unwanted third dimension.

  5. Stacie, while I agree with you, I also believe (or maybe it's just that I want to believe) that most rational, thinking people want to have sex with someone who is at least as rational as they are. Okay, that probably sounds way too naive, but at least for me, having meaningful sex means more than just physical attractiveness – there needs to be a connection at an emotional and mental level. There needs to be the acceptance that the other person is willing to give pleasure, as well as willing to receive pleasure, and that they are able to understand the exchange of values that is taking place. While I admit that there are certainly many people who would relish a mindless sexual encounter, and I understand the visceral reaction to a physically attractive person, when it comes down to it, the need to have a partner who is able to operate on the same intellectual level is more important to me than physical attributes. And I have to believe (or again, maybe it's just that I choose to believe) that just because someone is outwardly sexy, it doesn't mean that they would make a great lover.

  6. Here’s my two cents: People want something they can’t have. They can’t have a supermodel, so they want one. They can’t have a bimbo, so they want one. They can’t have a third slice of cake, so they want one. See the trend? I guess I’m lucky in that reguards. I’ve known some physicaly attractive people who compleatly lacked brains (and, from rumors I’ve heard, SOME inteligence is necissary for the more creative sexual positions…). I’m over it. Once you see just what a person like that is like, it becomes old hat. I’ve had that, so let’s move on.
    Then again, you also have biology to consider. Humans are organisms, and are therefor hardwired to procreate. Why do you think sex is pleasurable? It’s an evolutionary advantage to enjoy procreation. So that could be part of it–they fit the ideal depository of genetic information. Since there’s no attachment (as the officemate made clear) there’s minimal cost. There’s potential costs in reguards to diseases and to offspring care, but it’d be much cheaper to get a superstar to sleep with you in a fantasy then to get a real person to sleep with you anywhere else, and evolution drives organisms towards actions that require the least energy.

  7. My husband comPLETEly falls into the the “skank factor” guy thing. And Colin? DEFinite doability factor. Great Blog. I’ll be back. ;) C.

  8. Assuming I wasn't married I wouldn's do Ms. Carey.(and no I wouldn't do her since I am) Is she beautiful? Yes, of course. Is it real? No. I'd much rather have someone who is a very willing partner and has some brains. Willing partners are very attractive with the lights out.

    I don't want some empty headed bimbo. They might be nice to look at, but to actually do, no way.

  9. I hate that this is my first comment on this blog…and yet I can't restrain myself.

    Why Mariah? There are so many more worthy subjects. How did we overlook Britney Spears, for goodness sake? Why not Jessica Simpson? Madonna? Let's look at the facts:

    Mariah wrote all of her own songs on every album. She's also more involved in mixing and production than most other pop artists. Yes, most of her singles have been crap, but that's because the deeper stuff she's written doesn't sell in the pop market. Anyone who's bought and listened to her albums know that every song is quality (there are no filler songs), the singles are the least of the lot, she has a respectable vocabulary compared to other pop lyricists, and she's somewhat of a wordsmith. Not to mention her vocal capabilities. Mariah gets a bad rap…and is unfairly put in the same categories with talentless skanks like Britney Spears who are metiocre singers (I'm being kind), don't write their own songs, and don't know the first thing about mixing or production. Mariah does not lack intelligence or talent. Yes, she had a meltdown a few years ago. She put out an album per year for 10 years…cut her a little slack. Who knows how any of us would handle the life/success that she's had? I have a theory about celebrities that have achieved great success at a young age and Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson are potential evidence. Celebrities quit developing normally at the age when they achieve success. Mariah Carey still acts like she's 20 years old (she's in her mid-30s) because she never had to go through any of the things that most 20 and 30-somethings have to go through. How could she have matured past age 20? Michael Jackson achieved success at age 5. He has an amusement park on his property and prefers the companionship of young boys. But this is off topic, except that it presents a possible explanation for Mariah's "wierdness". **

    My point is…Britney is truly an unintelligent, talentless skank…please….pick on her, not Mariah.

    ** I'm expecting comments full of child stars that matured normally (i.e. Jodi Foster) and I concede. Not only are people individually complex enough to have a wide variety of responses to the same level of success, but there are also many other factors that influence a person's development besides their success. It's certainly not consistently predictable and therefore will never be "proven".

  10. Nice intellectual discussion here, but I have trouble believing you folks are really numb below the waist. Are there *no* male stars who just get you hot under the skirts? :-) Seriously: Both Mariah Carey et al, and less-talented starlets, excite male lust because they are making a concerted effort to do so, backed by both natural charms and, usually, a staff of beauticians and other attendants. Let me tell you a "little secret": Most singers and actresses, heck, even porn stars, look almost anonymous in street clothes. Usually still fairly attractive, sometimes charismatic, but not half so glossy as their photo spreads or videos.

    The idea that celebrity arrests someone's emotional development is interesting. It occurs to me that in this and other respects, celebrity is similar to addictive drug. Of course, some "users" manage to avoid addiction, or emerge from it "strong at the broken places" (qv Drew Barrymore).

  11. Wow. I never thought about it before. I, like you, was always convinced that I was only interested in smart, witty men. Hmm. Colin Farrell. I see now.

    So, mostly I am attracted to smart, witty men, and occasionally I want to sleep with Colin Farrell. I think I'll blame the latter on some weird biological impulse. Right? Then it's not my fault.

    Keep up the good work.

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