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Talk:Sex symbol

Fresh startEdit

@Btljs:, @SNUGGUMS: - I don't think it is necessary to incubate this. We all are reasonably experienced wikipedians, and we can monitor the proper growth of this article in mainspace.

The following was suggested in the draft page:

  • History: Of the concept not the actual term itself. ie. what evidence is there of what we now understand as sex symbols in different periods.
  • Cultural differences: Round the world; 20th century teen culture;

Staszek Lem (talk) 18:40, 1 March 2016 (UTC)


Our definition is very vague. (I suspect it is unreferenced, too. The footnote is for the 2nd sentence .) It fits any hot celebrity, but not all hotties called "sex symbol". Not to say the moniker is greatly devaluated nowadays. Can we find something more restrictive? Otherwise we are in danger to be flooded with "sex symbols" again. Staszek Lem (talk) 18:07, 3 March 2016 (UTC)

There are two definitions in Merriam-Webster: "a usually famous person who is very sexually attractive" and "a usually renowned person (as an entertainer) noted and admired for conspicuous sex appeal".[1] These have the advantage that the individual has to be famous for something else in addition to their sexual attractiveness. However, since many people whose sole asset is their attractiveness will often take up associated professions that make them famous (such as modelling) this does not help much. The danger of this article being flooded with names is illustrated by a recent Rolling Stone article: "25 Hottest Sex Symbols of 2015".[2] If we merely gain 25 names a year the article will soon become unmanageable. Polly Tunnel (talk) 11:09, 4 March 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ "sex symbol". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Sam Abrahams; Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta; James Montgomery; Wallace Morgan; Matt Shuham (December 18, 2015). "25 Hottest Sex Symbols of 2015". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
The first definition is sloppy. The second definition IMO is better and I would suggest to include it into out article (with attribution ("According to...")). As for flooding with names, we have to look at precedents in wikipedia ("Pinup girl, Bombshell (sex symbol)", Femme fatale ("vamp"), angel investor, etc.). Apparently the term "sex symbol" lost its original "exceptional" meaning. Now it seems just to be synonymous to "hot celeb". Therefore we have to agree to include only names which contribute to the encyclopedicity of the article. Staszek Lem (talk) 19:19, 4 March 2016 (UTC)
To avoid the return of endless listings, I suggest including any names within paragraph form, probably with quotes on one's sex appeal. Snuggums (talk / edits) 19:25, 4 March 2016 (UTC)
It will make even worse. Let me repeat: this is encyclopedia, and this is an article about a particular subject; and if a particular sex bomb adds nothing new to the concept of "sex symbol", no need to add it here. This is a matter of WP:TRIVIA we better avoid. 00:29, 5 March 2016 (UTC)
Here is an example of bullshit I would strongly recommend: "25 Hottest Sex Symbols of 2015" : "Bernie Sanders: quoting "Thanks to his rumpled appeal and no-nonsense attitude, Sanders has rallied massive grassroots support and touched off a political revolution. And there's nothing sexier than telling the One Percent to shove it". O RLY?Staszek Lem (talk) 00:29, 5 March 2016 (UTC)
The whole reason I separated this page out from List of sex symbols was so that we could create a page which wasn't clogged up with irrelevant examples from the media. This page should look at the history of the concept, its use in different eras and different cultures and its role in fashion and sociological behaviour. These fame based pages like Celebrity, Pin-up model are usually very poor with current western bias and little depth of research beyond the mainstream press. Mata Hari illustrates the link between notoriety and sexiness, there have been historical figures who have gained sex symbol status in different eras to their own, e.g. Cleopatra. What about Rasputin, Marquis de Sade (who gave his name to a whole genre of sexuality), Boudica (template for the warrior queen), Lord Byron and many others who epitomise a particular aspect of sexual allure and existed before Hollywood came along and recreated history for the 20th Century lowest common denominator. It makes for a slightly more interesting discussion than which member of 1D or Little Mix are the sexiest. Btljs (talk) 08:19, 5 March 2016 (UTC)
This is one of those classic WP Catch-22s. I applaud the idea of moving the individual names out into the List of sex symbols article to give this article a chance of becoming encyclopaedic. However, the List of sex symbols article is currently being considered for deletion on the grounds of its subjectivity (quite true) and it looks like consensus will probably be to delete it. At which point people will start adding the names here, making it sensible to move them out into a new article called, say, List of sex symbols. This keeps going round and round. If we are to make this article work we will need grounds to remove most of the names that people will add here. It's not going to be WP:NOTE as the individuals are usually notable enough in their own fields to have biog articles already. It's not going to be WP:CITE as it's ridiculously easy to find sources calling almost anyone a sex symbol. It's more like WP:COAT, except that it's not the article that focusses on the wrong thing but rather the list. It's not quite WP:TRIVIA either, in the sense of being an unconnected miscellany. It's more like the situation described in WP:POPCULTURE, except that we would do best if we can eliminate nearly all the popular culture names. Any suggestions as to what our grounds could be? Polly Tunnel (talk) 11:51, 5 March 2016 (UTC)
My guideline would be: first of a kind, only one (or very few) of a kind or longest lasting. Once you've got, say, a movie sex symbol from the silent era, the golden era and modern Hollywood then no more Hollywood. Then you can have Bollywood etc. Maybe allow male and female in each category. So if Marilyn Monroe and James Dean are there, then nobody gets to add Diana Dors and so on. The examples should not be skewed towards modernity as lasting fame can only be judged from a distance. We should imagine this page being read in ten and fifty years time. Btljs (talk) 15:41, 5 March 2016 (UTC)
That's exactly my suggestion: something that non-trivially expands encyclopedic content on the subject. By the way, Diana Dors is addable for at least two reasons: the was described as "the only true" British sex symbol (of the era) and second, there are significant sources which discuss her influence as "sex symbol" in great detail. So is Italian Gina Lollobrigida BTW. Staszek Lem (talk) 23:56, 7 March 2016 (UTC)
P.S. which [James Dean (disambiguation)]] do you have in mind? (I am not American) And who describes him as "sex symbol"? Staszek Lem (talk) 00:06, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

Criticism missingEdit

Another thing is missing: feminst criticsm of the concept as a manifestation of sexual objectification of women. Per Wikipedia:Summary style, this section should be specifically description how the concept of "sex symbol" was recognized as objectification, as directly discussed in sources used. Staszek Lem (talk) 00:06, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

Indeed that point of view is missing, as well as information on people unwantedly becoming a sex symbol, on people trying to impose being a sex symbol to gain maturity, and on who are sex symbols in the eyes of sexual minorities like homo-/bisexuals, transgenders and paedophiles, and in the eyes of non-whites and non-westerners. The article now is very very biased. (talk) 16:33, 6 December 2016 (UTC)

While I agree that the article needs globalization and diversification, one of your suggestion strikes me as odd. Sex symbols to "paedophiles". For the others, we could probably locate sources which do offer their perspective on the sex symbol-status of specific individuals. Is there actually a paedophile press or media industry than can be consulted for the views of this demographic? Dimadick (talk) 12:08, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Definition and disambiguationEdit

The "excessive sexuality" comment makes a good quote (or referenced source) but a poor definition. "Excessive" means "too much" of something, not "a lot of" or "highest amount of" something. In addition, "excessive sexuality" has connotations of prudish disapproval, whereas I suspect that the term for most people has either neutral or positive connotations. Suggest removing that from the WP:FIRSTSENTENCE and replacing with a definition that amalgamates reliable sources. A mashup of a few dictionary defs would be fine, imho.

  • Here's NOAD: "a person widely noted for their sexual attractiveness."[1]

Interestingly, my Websters 2nd Unabridged (1951) has 'sex appeal' and 'sex pervert' but not 'sex symbol'; I guess the term hadn't hit the lexicographic big-time yet, even though I believe that the term existed before that (t.b.d.) with that sense.

The article should also consider other, similar terms, such as "blonde bombshell" and the earlier "femme fatale" (ngrams).

If there's going to be an article about this, then we should not ignore the fact that the term 'sex symbol' existed with other meanings prior to its usage mid-century in the sense of 'sexual attractiveness' and we should say something about the other meanings. OTOH, this could cause the article to become unfocused, and it might be better to have a disambig page encompassing multiple meanings of the term.

In the wake of increasing awareness and popularity of Freud's theories, 'sex symbol' was used in such things as the analysis and interpretation of dreams in a psychoanalytic context in the early part of the century.[2] The earliest I found in a quick search was 1913, in Science: "The fire of Prometheus is a sex symbol."[3]

Prior to Freud, there seems to have been a subject of research in anthropology in the latter part of the 19th century dealing with the analysis of family relationships, where "sex symbol" referred to a type of notational shorthand used in diagrams as a representation of a female or male child, as in MacFarlane (1882);[4] there are many references for this usage.[5]

The psychoanalytic meaning of sex symbol has thousands of academic book and periodical references, and it may be that there should be a disambig page to separate out these definitions from the earlier scientific ones, and the later popular ones, perhaps as Sex symbol (psychoanalysis), Sex symbol (notation), Sex symbol (film) or some such, subject to issues of notability of course. (I suspect the notational shorthand meaning does not rate an article, but possibly an {{R to section}}-type entry in a disambig page). Mathglot (talk) 22:41, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Jewell, Elizabeth J; Abate, Frank (September 2001). New Oxford American Dictionary (First ed.). New York: OUP USA. p. 1562. ISBN 019-511227-X. OCLC 959495250. n. a person widely noted for their sexual attractiveness. 
  2. ^ Talmey, B. S. (May 1919), H. Edwin Lewis, ed., "The Psychology of the Unconscious and Modern Dream Interpretation", American Medicine, Burlington, Vermont: American-Medicine Publishing Company, 14 (New Series) (5), p. 268, retrieved 25 March 2017, The enumeration of the sex symbols will show that there can scarcely be any dream in existence without having some sex symbol in its content. 
  3. ^ Van Denburgh, John (December 26, 1913). "Scientific Books". Science. New Series. XXXVIII. New York: Science Press. p. 930. Retrieved 25 March 2017. The fire of Prometheus is a sex symbol. 
  4. ^ Macfarlane, M. A. (August 1882), "Analysis of Relationships of Consanguinity and Affinity", The Journal of the Anthropological institute, Longdon: Anthropological institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 12 (1), pp. 53–54, A general relationship is specialised as much as is possible with respect to sex, when it has a sex-symbol for either extreme, and for each of the intermediates. 
  5. ^ E.B. Elliot (1888). "Solved Questions". In W.J.C. Miller. Mathematical Questions and Solutions in Continuation of the Mathematical Columns of "the Educational Times". XLIX. London: F. Hodgson. pp. 114–. Retrieved 25 March 2017. Now, if the sex symbol before the third and fifth symbols of the relationship are the same, then the equation reduces to... 
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