There’s Something About Bookish Men I Can Step On

“There’s Something About” is a series where writers chat about the type of babes that make them all hot and bothered by showing you fictional Pop Culture hotties that fit the bill.


I am a sucker for a person with a pair of tortoise-shell glasses, wearing a sweater, and reading a book in case anyone was wondering. They love to read, are shy, are deeply invested in their area of study — AND TEND TO WEAR SWEATER VESTS! DEAR GOD!

Also, I love what it demonstrates when someone has the patience and skill set to be a teacher, especially when they can teach kids and mentor others. Opening doors for the next generation is hot! Pass it on!


Remus Lupin — Harry Potter Books & Films

Image shows Lupin holding a folded piece of paper. Wearing a cardigan, a thin black tie and a blue button up.

Professor Lupin has a neck that is begging for a boot or a high heel, depending on the day.

This bookish man is a sweet and salty snack. He’s good with the kids. Cute! His partner is played by Natalia Tena who I know nothing about besides the fact that she has killer brows and is hot! That’s great! He’s got secrets stashed so tight in his ribcage they’re a part of everything he is which is very Scorpio rising of him. Lupin’s the kind of bookish man whose layers you can peel back just like the layers of his outfits which often include a shirt AND a vest AND a jacket. Hot!

There’s also just something about Remus. That something is that he is queer. Whether it’s his close relationship with Sirius that the aggressively heterosexual Harry Potter is oblivious to or the fact that his queerness is embodied in his being a werewolf, transforming and changing — it’s all there if you want it to be there. Do your own close reading of the book or film and find all those little nuggets. I mean, he seems to have changed his name on coming into his werewolf hood? I don’t buy that the name “Lupin” came before the wolfening is what I’m saying. His queerness makes him even more attractive.

Chidi Anagonye — The Good Place

Image shows Chidi, A Black man with a short fade, reading a book. He is wearing Black thick glasses and a slight patterned gray button down
I think The Good Place is a boring show. I tried to watch it at the urging of friends who liked it, but I feel like I wasted my time. All I got was my partner telling me that my concept of time is “Jeremy Bearimy” and an attraction to the show’s resident bookish man, CHIDI. So, Chidi! He’s smart, he’s thoughtful, and honestly pretty generous with his time. That last bit is probably to a fault. Boundaries, Chidi! Boundaries!

I feel like his philosophy class is way less stressful than the philosophy class I had to take where we “debated abortion” (that wasn’t appropriate at the time and it hasn’t aged well has it professor-whose-name-I-don’t-remember?). I feel like Chidi could actually teach me about philosophy, and that’s hot. His apartment is filled with books and some houseplants, also hot. He’s not afraid of keeping a nice home and of paying attention to the little things. He knows what he’s talking about in his field and won’t settle for mediocrity to the point of obsession. Hot!

If we’re being real, of the three men presented here Chidi is the most anxious. The other two fictional folks come with their own anxieties, but Chidi! He has so much anxiety! He can’t decide on anything! I think exploring what it means to just be present could really work for him. It would help if he wasn’t in Hell, too, I guess.

Rupert Giles — Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Image shows Giles, A white man with light blonde hair, reading a book. he is wearing a blue and white pinstripe button down with a red patterned tie.
So far, we’ve talked about a werewolf and a guy living in literal Hell, but the least realistic of the bunch honestly has to be Rupert Giles — full living human and unshakably decent guy. That’s hard for me and where we really veer into the territory of this being a fictional type. Where does this man exist in real life? Nowhere I’ve seen personally. And that’s why he’s really just a kind of TV/film archetype. I’ve seen people like this in moments, glimpses of a kind of masculinity that is actually kind. In a professor trying to get me not to drop a class, in fellow queers lifting each other up with words of encouragement and sharing knowledge, in myself while I’m trying to keep a bunch of stressed-out people calm while we work together.

And that’s where things start to get tangled. When we arrive at Rupert Giles, I have to ask, do I actually think Giles himself is attractive? Do I want to fuck him on top of a pile of demonology books? Or do I want to be him?


I think that it all comes back to Giles, in a lot of ways, because (Joss Whedon’s hatred of women aside) the way Giles was written represented a kind of masculinity that was good, that was divorced from so much of the toxicity that normally comes with masculinity, but doesn’t have to. His brand was all about caring and learning and tea, where strength was in doing the right thing, where you didn’t need to prove yourself. It was just a way to be. It’s taken me a long time — a lot of starts and stops and returns to this kind of masculinity — to want to embrace it more and more for myself. This character represents a homecoming in a lot of ways.

mashup of Nicole & Giles faces where they are in a library in a suit leaning against all the books

We are definitely seeing more points in favor of the “wanting to be him” argument. Points deducted for my uncanny valley Photoshop homunculus.

And also, I totally think Giles would want me to step on him. AND I WOULD OBLIGE.


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Nicole Hall

Nicole Hall is Autostraddle's A+ and Fundraising Director, and has been fundraising and working in the arts and nonprofit sector for over a decade. They write nonfiction as well as aggressively gay and sometimes spooky fiction. They live in Pittsburgh with their partner, Sadie. They are also a gardener, project queer, witchy/wizardly human and BFF to a lovely senior rescue dog. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram as @nknhall.

Nicole has written 71 articles for us.

66 Comments

  1. From the glimpses we got into Giles’s dating life, he is ABSOLUTELY into bossy people who would step on him. You’re telling me that he and Ethan Rayne didn’t engage in some light bondage back in the day? And Jenny Calendar, who screams “high femme top”?

        • I don’t agree. Lesbian spaces are already eroded by straight men (dating apps push straight men onto the radar for lesbians all the time, and many cis males try to erode our safe spaces).

          I totally agree. This is a website that caters to mostly lesbian women. This article about stepping on and lusting over straight men is pretty out of place here.

          • ok. but also “Autostraddle is a digital publication and real life community for multiple generations of LGBTQIA+ humans (and their friends).” https://www.autostraddle.com/about/

            AS is pretty explicitly welcoming/affirming, and bi/pan-oriented folks prolly like the representation.

            hope you find other posts you do really like.

        • Yeah I agree with Jess. It’s a queer website, how is a page entirely dedicated to cis men queer content? You said “don’t click on it if it says men in the title” – but AS being a queer website I expected some butches or some other represention of masculinity! I wasn’t expecting to have to watch out for male content on AS. As Jess said – there’s a lot of erosion of queers more or less everywhere, especially queer women. If someone is only or predominantly attracted to cis men, that’s nice for them – but should they really be posting about it here? There are a lot of websites out there for that. There aren’t many that centre women and queers

          • Yeah, I clicked on it because I thought it would be bi/pan and was interested to read from the perspective of a different identity to me, not because I believe everything should be catered to a monolith. But the post is 100 per cent straight cis men, which is not bi or pan or queer, and it just feels like another tiny step in the erosion of queer spaces. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to write any article they want, but we are also allowed to critique and express our opinion on anything that we read.

        • the author seems pretty queer to me, and this post is them expressing their identity. they also are integral in making this space happen, so could be considered an expert in what content aligns with the community’s values.

          i come here for mostly for the w/w content, and skip the content that doesn’t appeal. and i understand that this is not lesbian space – that it includes folks who do enjoy dating & sex with cis men. i don’t have to identify with that to support those in the community whose identity includes it. it doesn’t take anything away from me, in the same way that my existence doesn’t actually take anything away from religious bigots who don’t think i have a right to be here or anywhere because i can’t love men. those folks don’t want to have to see us and we suffer for it, which understandably creates a desire for exclusive spaces that cater to our desires – but those contain multitudes.

          just hoping some folks will consider that while change happens, i don’t think we have to worry about autostraddle changing course and suddenly catering to cis straight men, even if some of the content includes them for the benefit of community members who can appreciate it.

          but if the objection is to content for women-identified or trans men whose identities intersect with an interest straight men, then i think that erases part of our community who have a right to be here.

  2. I misread the byline on the home page as Shelli Nicole and thought, “This does not compute” until I got here and saw the author pic.

    I related pretty strongly to the Lupin description, aside from the man part. Although I’m often mistaken for a teenage (fine pre-teen) boy.

    LOVE the photo shop! Honestly, that seems the most comfortable way to wear a button up, vest, and jacket. I want that look but with the feel of sweatpants and a tank top with no bra.

  3. Am I missing something? Aren’t these… All men? Am I still on Autostraddle? I’m all for bi content but this is just straight content!

    (I tried to post this but I don’t think it worked? So sorry if it went through twice)

  4. Had to double take. Autostraddle caters to mostly lesbian women…right? This is about lusting over straight men.

    Nicole, care to explain? 🤔 How could a website miss its audience mark that extensively?

  5. Thank you for this, Nicole!
    Although I neither know nor care about any of the characters you were writing about, and admit to being confused at first, I loved your thoughts on the difficult search for kind masculinity. So close to home it hurts. A gentle ache in my own lost little heart.

    And to everybody unhappy about this post, try rereading more closely, it’s gay as hell and queer as fuck!

    • I did read it and I still don’t think it belongs here. Gay/queer men have more than enough attention on their own sites, and if you want to talk about how canonically straight men are secretly queer there’s a whole WORLD out there. This website is one of the few places that centre all queer women (some of the other big ones are hugely TERF-y, for example) – you could even say the whole world is about men! AS is one of the few places that isn’t true – but a post SOLELY about cis straight men is definitely not the way to go.

      • In theory I agree with a lot if not all that you are saying. But in this case I see it differently.
        This isn’t about the men. It’s about the author and their struggles and desires. And those are about a queer as can be. And of interest and inspiration to me personally. Relentless misandrist as I am, still don’t mind some fictional and frankly impossible men as mirror or reference, tongue in cheek.
        Yay for a big old case of confusing do-be-do-be-do!

      • If you read the text, this post is talking about a kind of masculinity the writer is drawn to. Oversimplifying it into a “post about cis men” because you feel like yelling on the internet is tiring and boring.

    • Well said. And thank you. I’ve been wondering for the past few hours what I wanted to say on this post and you summed it better than anything I’ve come up with.

      The beauty of this particular series is how individual and quirky it is

    • probably because a lot of queer people, including female and nb queer people, contain cis men in the spectrum of people they’re attracted to, and not everything is about whatever very specific kind of queer you are, and if you want a space where literally no one is allowed to thirst over cis men, you could always go make it yourself… oh but that would probably require effort, wouldn’t it, and you don’t seem to care much for that, to judge by how you aren’t exerting any effort whatsoever to empathize or sympathize with people who aren’t you

      don’t know what your deal is gender-wise but the specificity of it just being “cis men” here is kind of sketch. like if you’re a cis anything it comes across as drawing an uncomfortable and potentially fetishistic line that doesn’t need to be here re: cis and trans people, and if you’re not cis then… like… it’s still a bad look, just a much weirder and more inexplicable one

      in short, like… get over yourself a little please? i generally don’t even like this website or community and i’m usually here to lurk and find things to complain about privately with queer friends (and my partner) whose takes and outlooks make more sense to me, so… i dunno, imagine what a jackass you have to be to make someone like me want to defend content on a website i’m practically using as a method of self-harm

      i don’t owe you or anyone this information but for the sake of cutting any nonsense off before it has a chance to begin, i’m not cis, male, or straight, and i’m dating someone who is literally impossible to pin down gender or orientation wise, so don’t bother trying to pull any categorical identity cards on me, none of them will be applicable

      if you’re just offended at the idea of bi/pan/whatever people existing, please stop being yourself and be literally anyone else instead, or if that’s too much to ask, then please at least discover the virtue of silence and the joy your silence brings other people in comparison to a non-silent you – the non-silent you, “annoyed”, whose chosen anonymous username here would’ve been a lot more accurate as “annoying” instead

      • This is such a weird comment? Someone saying “an article thirsting over cis men feels a bit like erosion of a space primarily focused on queer women and nb people” definitely does NOT mean “I wish bi/pan people didn’t exist” and that’s pretty much the worst faith reading you could draw from this and the other comments. Lots of us are just tired of thirsting over cis men – which is celebrated, socialised and reinforced pretty much everywhere on the internet – being placed front and centre in an article on a website focussed on queer people. I love bi and nb people and I love reading about bi and nb experiences, but this just reads like conversations I had with my straight friends growing up.

        I’m also a bit unsettled by attraction to non-toxic men being described as a specifically queer experience – feels a bit like reinforcing the gender binary to be like “oh but these are NICE MEN which means they don’t really count as men and are somehow a specific queer thing because they don’t behave like how NORMAL MEN do”.

        Also if anyone tries to argue that the “stepping on” thing is somehow a queer dynamic I will direct you to Ryan’s piece about how kink isn’t Inherently queer.

        Another thing I’ll say here is that a few years back, a trans woman tried to submit articles to autostraddle about her experiences dating men as a trans woman and this was turned down because it wasn’t “queer content”. Several of the AS editors commented on this woman’s blog post about it arguing that articles about her experiences with cis men aren’t sufficiently queer for AS, despite how she IDs. I don’t know why they’d say that this article counts as queer content, but a trans woman who IDs as queer talking about men isn’t sufficiently queer.

  6. I am the editor of this series, and in several installments — including my own — there are cismen included.

    Our site didn’t miss the mark on this or any of the other installments as a few folks and writers at this little site are bi/pan etc. As an editor I refuse to ask them to erase some of their identity while writing for the sake of making certain folks more comfortable.

    You are in fact on Autostraddle, where bi erasure just aint our cuppa tea. Expressing your feelings about the post — whatever they may be — is what the comment section is for, HOWEVER, our comment policy clearly states what will and won’t be tolerated so please do keep that in mind during your discourse.

    Thanks Nicole for writing this piece and do know it is your fault that I am simultaneously rewatching Buffy and The Good Place and getting zero work done because of it.

  7. Gotta agree with the comments that are criticizing this piece for only containing straight cis guys. I would find it less annoying if there was more content about trans guys on AS, but there really isn’t, so this just sucks. Why would straight cis guys get more space than trans guys? And why do people who criticize including ONLY cis guys get called bi- or pan-phobic?

    • I don’t know. I don’t think this piece is about straight, cis guys, It’s about Nicole’s type as told through 3 of their crushes on fictional characters. It’s about a genderqueer author looking for portrayals of kind masculinity in fictional characters.

      • plus to what cleo said – this post is a very queer exploration of very queer identity questions. it doesn’t have to be – queer ppl’s crushes are queer content – but it’s a shame if readers are missing what nicole is sharing here cuz its very vulnerable and cool and special.

    • Trans guy here. Hard agree. AS is still so confused about whether or not to include trans guys or not (and in terms of language still often lumps all “men” together, including when it’s about criticizing “men”) that this content doesn’t feel great.

  8. I just want to chime in as another genderqueer person who appreciated the exploration of the “do I want to be them or fuck them?” conundrum as it applies to male characters. I experience it with both male and female characters (hell, with both male and female characters on Buffy), and with characters of other genders as they’ve (we’ve) become more represented, and I’m always glad for the chance to come to AS and read about other people’s perspectives.

  9. Just gonna take a moment to say the prompt was to write 750 words about a fictional type, not to write a treatise on who I’m attracted to IRL. I think you would think it was boring and kind of weird if I did that. I took the opportunity of the prompt to also write about gender feelings. Thank you to everyone who’s said that part spoke to them. I wrote this for you. 💗

  10. This is a very neat exploration. You’ve put into words what I search/am attracted to in fictional dudes, the nerdiness for sure, but the kindness ! That’s it ! It’s such a relief to have a character like that in a show. As opposed to… Xander for instance, who had me all kinds of jumpy and anxious.

    Here for the smart, kind, non-poisonous men who rock a good sweater-vest. I can relate because they’re part of my nature ; if the world didn’t run so much on our gonads, I would totally be them.

    And Nicole you make an exceptionally Hot Giles !

  11. also again Shelli Nicole with your brilliant editing!! your prompts and how you bring out these most special things writers have to share – that are validating for others of us & always expanding possibilities for who & how we can be! So amazing. in awe & gratitude to both of you!

  12. ok back back to be more specific since some ppl are having trouble computing this post being here. i am a lesbian. i have been a commenter & AS supporter here since i found autostraddle googling ‘long distance relationship lesbian’ in 2013 because i was in my first relationship and had no fucking clue what to do. this is one of the many ways i owe the current good parts of my life to autostraddle. i have also been calling myself agender because when i go looking inside myself for gender i have come up . . . completely empty – nothing at all. until chewing on this post today. this work has given me entirely fucking new access to pieces of my extremely and largely indescribable queer gender identity, that is part and parcel of my lesbian lesbian lesbian self. i don’t even know who any of these characters are, but nicole’s writing helped me know myself, in a way that is FUN and interesting and tender. thank you a third time nicole & shelli.

  13. Longtime A-reader, rarely a commenter. I read the whole article with interest before realizing there was a comment war raging down below, and quite enjoyed it.

    As a bi cis lady on the hella gay end of the spectrum, who was deeply closeted to myself for the first 25 years of my life and living a life of compulsory heterosexuality laced with painfully latent homosexuality, I STRONGLY IDENTIFY with the vibe of this piece.

    Finding bookish soft sexy scholarly professorial characters extremely attractive because I’m not sure if I want to become them, bed them, or step on/dom them is such. A. Fucking. Queer Mood.

    Until I was 18 or 19, I wanted to bed them. After that, for a time, I wanted to step on them and make them beg for mercy. Age 25 on, I’ve been moving closer and closer to becoming the soft professor kind of queer I was always meant to be. In my case, going from high hard femme top to gentle-femme, the kind of femme who drives the femmes in heels all the way up to the door, then goes to park the car.

    Thank you for this piece. I’m a cis queer and this still got me right in the gender feels. Well done.

  14. Thank you Nicole for a really interesting & enjoyable article!
    And as for your Photoshop pic – I’m feeling the foppish energy!
    I think one of the most significant points made here is that all these guys are fictional characters anyway, so what I take away from it is that it’s more about a personality type being attractive.
    Also, how that “type” can be an inspiring template for folks who are working out their gender. Eg – how can a person “do” masculinity in a better way, & via that act, provide an alternative to the toxic brand that is unfortunately so prevalent?
    To me, the article is less about the gender of the characters concerned & more about the positive qualities they embody – bookish, scholarly, sensitive, nicely dressed, etc. These pleasing qualities can apply to all kinds of folks regardless of their gender.
    I write fiction for my own enjoyment & all my characters are queer masc folks who are all the softest of the soft! Kind, thoughtful, sensitive, cultured, intelligent, beautifully dressed…& this is what makes them totally hot!

    Numerous trans men that I’ve met have this similar kind of geeky professor energy – they love reading, have a very specialised knowledge of obscure topics, etc. All the kind of stuff that is basically reviled by the heteronormative hegemony, particularly if you’re a cis – het male person. As for cis – het girls & women – being bookish is not acceptable if you want to conform to what’s considered conventionally “attractive”.
    Being proudly bookish can be a form of queer resistance to the cis – het world.

    As a transmasculine person myself, this kind of soft masculinity represents my “gender feels” perfectly. When I was a kid I spent most of my time in the library, & even the librarians thought it was somewhat excessive, LOL. Didn’t figure out my queerness until later in life but now realise I’m a total cliche in retrospect:

    My house is full of books – check!
    Bookstores are like a paradise for me – check!
    I’ve previously worked as a teacher – check!
    I’m getting on in years, but I still love learning new things – check!
    I collect antiques & have an extensive if not geeky knowledge of my collecting area – check!
    My favourite outfit is a three piece suit – check!
    I’m a sensitive, foppish, faggy little petal – check!

    • Totally. IRL it’s queer and trans folks who inhabit this kind of masculinity far more often than cis/straight men do. And TV could certainly use to catch on to that! I would love to see it! Thank you so so much for reading and for this comment which was a delight to read 💕

  15. from the title all the way through this article, i (a queer person who had a crush on lupin from the age of 10 & is currently in the midst of applying to grad school) felt increasingly perceived LMAO
    but like, in a good way 😂 thank you for this!

  16. Thank you Nicole for this piece! I agree with everything re: what makes these men attractive. AND ALSO the bit about Giles’ brand of masculinity really resonated. You’ve given me some thinky thoughts about gender that i’m gonna be sitting with for a bit

    (also the idea that Giles is straight is hilarious. that man radiates bisexual energy)

  17. I’ve just managed to drag my eyeballs away from the Sirius Black/Remus Lupin fanfic that I’ve been reading non-stop just to find my boy on my very favourite website Autostraddle! As a bi woman I read this as a very queer take on some pretty queer characters, and isn’t that what we’re all about? Do I want to be them or have them? Both, and also both of them. It’s complicated

    • I loved this piece when I read it and have come back to re-read today while watching Atlantis: The Lost Empire – Milo Thatch has this exact same type of energy for me ⚡️

      I’ve started thinking of safe bookish masculinity as Cozy Masculinity ☕️ 📚 👓

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