Why Women Are So Hot for Highlanders Right Now


There is a lot to discuss re: the upcoming Outlander adaptation, and there is a very good chance that soon you will not be able to get me to shut up about it. First things first, though: Why do so many women love Scottish highlanders so goddamn much?

Outlander is likely going to be big. Real big. They’re not on the pop-cultural radar like Game of Thrones, but the books are HUGE. Diana Gabaldon sells books like Miley Cyrus outrages Christian parents. Battlestar Galactica rebooter Ron Moore is directing executive producing. Plus Tumblr is going to lose its mind over star Sam Heughan, who is perfectly Cumberbatch/Hiddles weird-hot. I mean, damn, y’all:

I don’t even understand what is happening to my own body right now. Somebody get my smelling salts.

But then, Scottish highlanders occupy a weirdly prominent place in the pantheon of sexy stereotypes. The English-speaking world’s fascination goes way back, to the 19th century mania for the romantic and pre-industrial. But American women really love them. Look what it took for Mel Gibson to finally squander the goodwill Braveheart earned him among an entire generation of American women. (That William Wallace just loved his wife so much!!!!) Then there’s Highlander, which took the dudeliest movie property of all time and revamped it so it starred a handsome man with a ponytail having sex with a parade of chill-seeming ladies, in various historical costumes.

Also, do you know how many “Men in Kilts” boards exist on Pinterest? SO MANY! (Save this link for the next person who suggests that visuals don’t arouse women.)

They’re really a perennial favorite among romance readers, though:

If Outlander is your gateway, there’s shelves and shelves and shelves of Scottish romances to pick from next. There are 406 recommendations on this randomly selected Goodreads list. Julie Garwood’s are particularly famous; Linda Howard’s Son of the Morning (starring an ex-Templar, a time-traveling modern woman, and the ex-Templar’s improbably sized phallus). Then there’s Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series, which involve a bunch of time-traveling and evil Druid wizards and mostly muscles. Muscles for miles! A sampling:

She took deep, slow breaths to ease the sudden tightness in her chest. Leaning cautiously forward, she peered at a face that was savagely beautiful. His was the type of dominant male virility women dreamed about in dark, erotic fantasies but knew didn’t really exist. Black lashes swept his golden skin, beneath arched brows and a silky fall of long black hair. His jaw was dusted with a blue-black shadow beard; his lips were pink and firm and sensually full.

#NotAllWomen, but also: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Why are so many women so obsessed with this fundamentally quite random group of white dudes? Why not Visigoths, or Vikings? Sexually repressed but secretly twisted Victorians? (They LOVED spanking.) It’s surely not the setting—Scotland is a land of wild, untamed beauty, and I presume my ancestors left because they were sick to damn death of cold, wet feet and the reek of damp sheep. Some theories:

  • The kilts. If your particular fixation is hair-dusted, sinewy manly legs, then a kilt is hard to beat. The Highland Games are basically thighlights city. Also tartans look like they’d be a lovely thing to wrap around your naked body on a cold night.
  • Everybody lumps all Scottish men ever into the category of “highlander,” and people love those accents. See also: the career of Sean Connery.
  • Highlanders are the L.L. Bean boyfriend for women who don’t care about Vermont.

I suspect, though, that half the appeal is distance, physical and temporal. It’s a way to fantasize about old-fashioned, protective, comically manly men—without the annoying reality of actual baby-I’m-the-man-lemme-handle-it dudes intruding to kill your lady-boner.

Alternative theories welcomed in the comments below!

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