Mark Simpson's Metrosexual Reflections
By Mark Simpson
Metrosexuality and whatever comes after it, when all is said and done, isn't really about men becoming "gay" or "girly." Nor is it about visiting spas and wearing flip flops or carrying manbags. Rather, metrosexuality is about men becoming everything. To themselves. In much the same way that women have been for some time. It's about men finally realizing that if women can appropriate hitherto "male" behavior and practices for their own enjoyment and advancement, then why can't men do the same thing? And if women won't be women for men any more, why on Earth should men be men for women?' So, in the Noughties, James Bond in Casino Royale became his own Bond Girl, while straight lads became their own High Street Honeys: in 2010 Men's Health with its male tits and abs covers became the UK's best-selling men's magazine, "outstripping" so-called lad mags like FHM. Meanwhile, over in the U.S., the biggest TV hit is Jersey Shore, a reality TV show in which Mikey "The Situation" Sorrentino extols his self-sufficient, self-regarding metro mantra of Gym. Tan. Laundry. When he isn't flashing his pumped, shaved, highly tarty bod. Jersey Shore -- and the just-launched U.K. version, Geordie Shore -- in its "vulgar" vitality demonstrates that metrosexuality is not a strictly middle class phenomenon, and is instead possibly even more embraced by working class males who, after all, are used to only having their bodies to sell. And who now work on those bodies in the gym instead of sweating over someone else's property at the factory.
Yes, I agree, "metrosexual" is a terrible, ridiculous, annoying word. But then, so is "homosexual." Or "heterosexual." Though none of them are quite as awful as the creepy suits-you-sir! euphemism "male grooming." Too many men's magazines still seem to be terrified of putting the word "male" next to "beauty" in case someone thinks (or realizes) they're gay. Or, even more pathetically, afraid their readers will think the magazine thinks they're gay. Based on my own observations from the front-line of male aesthetics in rural England, I suspect most of their younger readers are already way ahead of these metropolitan sissies, and regard that kind of anxiety as, well,' gay.
Paradoxically "metrosexual" will probably only finally fall out of use altogether when masculinity and (compulsory) heterosexuality are no longer seen -- or pretended to be seen -- by most as exact synonyms. The rise of male behaviors and tastes that has been characterized as metrosexual has been made possible in large part by the decline in the stigma attached to male homosexuality. While this stigma made life rather difficult for homosexual men, it also had an instructive, not to say repressive, effect on all men. True, some looking around today at the evidence of untrammeled male self-regard, such as in the petulant, impossibly pretty, not to mention unforgivably, unapologetically talented, famous and wealthy form of a Cristiano Ronaldo, might say that male metrosexuality was an urge that really did need to be repressed.' But love him or loathe him, or call him by any other name, the metrosexual and the bronzed new masculine world of self-regard he represents, is here to stay. And look pretty. And, since he really, really wants us to, we should probably admire him.'
Even if he is such a tart.
Metrosexy is out now on Kindle -- available for your instant pleasure at MarkSimpson.com.
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