Victoria Cotman

Hot Dudes Reading: The Idea of the Male Unicorn

After fielding a question from a friend about the Instagram account “Hot Dudes Reading,” Victoria Cotman explains the concept of the male unicorn.


Hot Dudes Reading is an Instagram account at which you can marvel right now. It may have only 139 posts, but what it lacks in content it makes up for in followers: 781,000 of them.

Why? Because it’s hot dudes, reading.

This concept seems fairly obvious to me, but I’m a heterosexual woman who believes not liking Shakespeare is a deal breaker. A male friend of mine, however, messaged me yesterday to voice his confusion.

“Victoria, you’re literary and ladyish,” he said. “Is the well-read, empathetic gent type still considered attractive in this day and age? What is considered hawt [sic]?”

Oh, friend. A well-read gentleman is always attractive. More to the point, these guys are hot to 781,000 people because they’re “unicorns.”

It is a widely-accepted social stereotype (started by someone with an inferiority complex) that God gives you good looks or brains, but not both; so when you see someone who is apparently good-looking AND brainy, they are a unicorn, a mythical beast, impossible to catch.

This theory works with good looks and any interest you may have. For example, hot girls playing video games. Please note, there are several sites dedicated to this … most are NSFW.

What is tricky, however, is that hotness is in the eye of the beholder. This hotness, once held in the world of individual subjectivity, is now being linked collectively through the power of social media. Women are making their desires known. (Can I get an Amen?!)

Where once it could be assumed women wanted the jock, the bad boy, or the suit, various forms of male-appreciation can now be found on Tumblrs as specific as Bearded Chris Evans and Man Buns Galore (because who doesn’t like a good man bun). Then there is the vast amount of women in the Geek section of Pinterest losing their minds over hot nerds, not to mention the 14,000-strong Twitter army of Harvey Specter fans. If you’re not tweeting your appreciation of Suits, I just don’t know what you are doing.

So what is a man to do with all this? What are you meant to be? A gentleman? A lumberjack? Should you brew craft beer or go running in a storm shirtless? Perhaps pick up a book and ride around on trains looking pensive? How can you be all things to all people?

Well, lads, here’s a tip from the gender that’s been doing this forever: you can’t.

As our first lady Amy Poehler explains in this video these are the “juxtapositions” we women deal with all day, every day. We have to be sweet, pretty, kind, nurturing, strong, silent, sexy, and a saint—all at once. It’s a game we start playing from an unbearably young age and it takes us years of confusion and misery to quit participating. Trying to guess which mix of ingredients at exactly what measurements will make you desirable is exhausting. In fact, it’s impossible. A woman can’t be a chaste seductress any more than a man can be an emotionally intelligent blunt instrument.

Women stop playing the game when we eventually realize pretending doesn’t make us any more lovable. Invariably, it is then—when we are honest—that we find someone who loves us.

Given that my Tumblr search for “hot guys” turned up every type of man you could imagine (because every man is handsome to someone) I am confident the same will happen for men.

If you don’t believe me, go see for yourself. Everybody is somebody’s unicorn.


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