A commentator on the Imperator Grabpussy at the State of the Union speech on 2/4/20:

he pumps his fist in the air, he peacocks

(Hard to believe that the man believes he is a resplendent, gorgeous creature, an object of aesthetic admiration and desirability to the females of his species — but then the power of self-deception would appear to be boundless.)

From NOAD:

noun peacock: [a] a male peafowl, which has very long tail feathers that have eyelike markings and that can be erected and expanded in display like a fan. [b] an ostentatious or vain person: these young men have always considered themselves the peacocks of Europe.

verb peacock: [no object] display oneself ostentatiously; strut like a peacock: he peacocks in front of the full-length mirror.

Note that the verb is about display, about appearance, not about anything deeper.

Peacocking as men’s sexual display. From the Men’s Health site “You’re Probably Peacocking Without Even Realising It. Here’s What It Means…And how to make it work for you” by Annie Hayes on 4/7/19:

It might sound like ye olde Victorian courting ritual, but take it from us – peacocking behaviour is very much a modern-day dating phenomenon. If you want a prime example of peacocking in action, look no further than the ‘grafters’ of Love Island.

(#1) A photo from this article (Sanneberg/Getty Images): [AZ:] a guy performing apparently to attract women, but doing this by providing an image that would impress other men, without much attention to what women actually find desirable; it’s mostly about crushing the competition

“The men tend to have a muscular appearance, with a six pack, a hairless physique, trim haircut and a Hollywood smile with very white teeth,” says Dennie Smith of online dating website Old Style Dating. “Pride is taken in a healthy, athletic body with tight clothes to show off the physique. As the show progresses, and viewers get used to those outward appearances, it’s their detailed behaviour which often attracts the most praise or criticism.”

Put simply, peacocking is “something men do in order to highlight their strong points in order to stand out from their competition,” says dating expert and coach, James Preece. “It’s usually done in order to attract women, much like peacocks show off their feathers to attract a mate. The goal is to get lots of attention which will then make you more memorable and interesting.”

(This is not to say that women are not moved by the desirability of hunky, very fit guys. Of course they are; they stir your loins. (Look: I’m a fag, I totally participate in this dynamic.) But women have other aims and needs as well, which are not particularly well served by guys in cool clothes in very hot cars.)

Peacocking: three examples. Of three different forms.

— Example 1: Chase Crawford’s moose-knuckle. From my 8/20/19 posting “News for penises: ocean edition”, featuring this remarkable image:

(#2) CC’s notable moose-knuckle, advertising his dick without actually showing it

… a presentation that clearly shifts CC in category [in his earlier appearances on-line] from cute guy (attractive to girls because male sexual danger is largely masked by friendly boyish playfulness) to sex hunk (where the attractions of adult sexual connection are up front and have to be balanced against the possibility of male aggression).

— Example 2: Freddy Mercry. Well, of course. From my 6/25/19 posting “Fashion notes for Pride 2019”, with this image of the man peacocking (when was he ever not?):


–Example 3: gay pornstar Matthew Bosch. From my 7/6/19 posting “4th of July displays”:

(#4) A p.r. photo with a restrained guy-guy body display, combined with projected friendliness (cute sexy-hot)

Actual peafowl. From Wikipedia:


Peafowl is a common name for three species of birds in the genera Pavo and Afropavo of the Phasianidae family, the pheasants and their allies. Male peafowl are referred to as peacocks, and female peafowl as peahens, though peafowl of either sex are often referred to colloquially as “peacocks.” The two Asiatic species are the blue or Indian peafowl originally of the Indian subcontinent, and the green peafowl of Southeast Asia; the one African species is the Congo peafowl, native only to the Congo Basin. Male peafowl are known for their piercing calls and their extravagant plumage. The latter is especially prominent in the Asiatic species, which have an eye-spotted “tail” or “train” of covert feathers, which they display as part of a courtship ritual.

The functions of the elaborate iridescent colouration and large “train” of peacocks have been the subject of extensive scientific debate. Charles Darwin suggested they served to attract females, and the showy features of the males had evolved by sexual selection. More recently, Amotz Zahavi proposed in his handicap theory that these features acted as honest signals of the males’ fitness, since less-fit males would be disadvantaged by the difficulty of surviving with such large and conspicuous structures.

That’s about the birds. As for people, peacocking is a social act: performed by a male actor, to an (intended) audience — usually understood as women, though  I would argue that it’s at least equally  composed of men; in specific contexts and for the purposes of sexual/romantic partner selection and closing out the competition (of course for gay men the audience is other gay men, as both partner candidates and competitors). The modes of peacocking are different for the birds and the people (people lack feathers; actual peacocks do not have sports cars or wear expensive shirts open to the waist, and so on), but the analogy is nevertheless on the mark.

2 Responses to “peacocking”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    actual peacocks do not have sports cars or wear expensive shirts open to the waist

    What a delicious image.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Thank you. When I read it after posting, it pleased me. Though now I think I shoud have written “drive sports cars” rather than “have sports cars”. (Writers, we’re always agonizing over editing.)

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