Archive for November, 2011

‘According to a new study by researchers at Ohio State University, the oft-cited statistic that men think about sex, on average, about once every seven seconds can safely be put to bed—in a college-age population of 163 mixed-gender respondents, the median frequency of sexual thoughts for men was just 19. Women, meanwhile, weren’t far behind at a median of 10 naughty thoughts per day.

The lead author on the study, Dr. Terri Fisher, explained in a press release that the impetus for the research was partly to dispense with the notion that men are slaves to their more carnal instincts, as well as to show that women aren’t so innocent, either.

“It’s amazing the way people will spout off these fake statistics that men think about sex nearly constantly and so much more often than women do,” she said. “When a man hears a statement like that, he might think there’s something wrong with him because he’s not spending that much time thinking about sexuality, and when women hear about this, if they spend significant time thinking about sex they might think there’s something wrong with them.”’

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/11/28/do_men_really_think_about_sex_more_often_than_women_.html

This news confirms what I have thought all along – that men and women are not so different when it comes to our approaches to sex.

Whilst I have some scepticism about all research that aims to ‘measure’ people’s sexual interests and responses, I welcome the findings. I also hope there may be a study soon that shows men are not massively ‘more visual’ than women when it comes to sexual stimulation.

As I have said before, people do not fit the gender binary imposed upon them. And when we try and mould our attitudes to sex(uality) around that binary we fail. This is borne out by the closure of Filament Magazine, which aimed to cater for the ‘female gaze’ on men by women.

http://www.filamentmagazine.com/2011/11/all-good-things-must-come-to-an-end/

I think even the great anti-gender-essentialism thinker, Mark Simpson, sometimes slips into this men v women binary. Here, in trying to show how gay men are not actually that different from straight men in their sexualities (I agree), he ends up creating a mother/other out of women. He says:

‘The real problem with gay men, even the campest variety, is that they’re men. Men without wombs in their lives to take responsibility for or slow them down – or give life a point. But instead, lots of testosterone and spunk and spare time. It’s this that makes them homo. Why do so many gay men have so much sex and take so many drugs, often – and this is something Fanshawe utterly failed to acknowledge – even when they are in a relationship?

Because they can’.

I have had plenty of casual sex in my life, and my womb has not got in the way at all. Simpson forgot for a moment the wise words of his friend Steve Zeeland:

Behavior is an unreliable basis for sexual categories. Desire is immeasurable. Sexual identity is a joke.

Amen.

‘Straight boys love each other. Don’t ever think they don’t.’

http://str8boysfanclub.com/

According to the supergay website, towleroad, a new app is due to be launched soon, called ‘bromance’ for straight dudes to hook up. Like blendr, the ‘hetero’ equivalent of ‘grindr’ it seems to be taking a while to develop, as I  heard about it a while ago now.

http://www.bromance.me/

Towleroad quote the bromance website:

‘Meet Bromance. The iPhone App that connects you to other guys nearby with the same likes/interests as you. Find yourself a workout buddy and get in shape. Organize some Ultimate Frisbee action with other guys around you. Want to meet up and play a game of hoops? Bored on a Friday night and want to grab a beer? Perhaps you want to organize a lan party with like-minded gamers?! Bromance. The location-based network for dudes that do. Coming soon to the iPhone.’

And then add a rather snippy line at the end:

‘Is anything in the universe sadder than a lonely bro?’

I can’t help but get the impression that Towleroad, and many gay men, are a bit put out by the way young straight men are increasingly encroaching on their ‘turf’.

There is a contradiction here. On one hand the gay internetz is full of ‘appreciations’ by gay men of young, fit, apparently straight men, like the website featuring the photo above – str8boyfanclub.com. But when straight men take it upon themselves to ‘appreciate’ each other and themselves, the gays seem a little bit lost and left out.

‘It seems generally younger people are becoming more and more open minded with each generation.’

This is a quote from Eric Anderson of Bath university, in relation to his research showing young men students to be much more affectionate with each other these days.

Eric Anderson is a gay man and I wonder if he is playing down the ‘sexual’ element of men’s metrosmooching because he is not ready for straight men’s identities to blur and merge with those carefully guarded gay ones.

As has been documented:

‘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.

The bromance app looks like another example of the ‘decline of the stigma’ of homosexuality for straight men. But let’s not forget that fast on the heels of that decline in stigma, comes the destruction of sexual identity altogether.

In other words, metrosexuality marks ‘the end of sexuality as we’ve known it.’

Bromance, if, and I grudginly admit it’s a big if, it leads to actual ‘hook-ups’ between ‘straight’ men, could put the old-fashioned ‘straight chasers’ out of business! And, regardless of the fate of Bromance.com, I am sure  websites like ‘str8boyfanclub.com’ will soon seem incredibly nostalgic and passe.

Vive la revolution!

 

Update:

Gawker’s take on Bromance.com is particularly anti-metro:

Consider the state of the pitiful American Man: beset on all sides by Spanx and fancy shampoo, tricked into doing crunches andgrooming eyebrows, bereft of any healthy masculine role models. Gone is the American Man; in his place, the American Bro. And he is desperate to commune with his own kind. Meet Bromance.

http://gawker.com/5863027/the-unstoppable-rise-of-the-american-bro

But at least it recognises metrosexuality when it sees it. Bros.


yeah sure, I’ll be in unless I’m out
don’t knock if the lights are out
or you hear voices or then
I might be reading Proust
if someone slips Proust under my door
or one of his bones for my stew,
and I can’t loan money or
the phone
or what’s left of my car
thought you can have yesterday’s newspaper
an old shirt or a bologna sandwich
or sleep on the couch
if you don’t scream at night
and you can talk about yourself
that’s only normal;
hard times are upon us all
only I am not trying to raise a family
to send through Harvard
or buy hunting land,
I am not aiming high
I am only trying to keep myself alive
just a little longer,
so if you sometimes knock
and I don’t answer
and there isn’t a woman in here
maybe I have broken my jaw
and am looking for wire
or I am chasing the butterflies in
my wallpaper,
I mean if I don’t answer
I don’t answer, and the reason is
that I am not yet ready to kill you
or love you, or even accept you,
it means I don’t want to talk
I am busy, I am mad, I am glad
or maybe I’m stringing up a rope;
so even if the lights are on
and you hear sound
like breathing or praying or singing
a radio or the roll of dice
or typing -
go away, it is not the day
the night, the hour;
it is not the ignorance of impoliteness,
I wish to hurt nothing, not even a bug
but sometimes I gather evidence of a kind
that takes some sorting,
and your blue eyes, be they blue
and your hair, if you have some
or your mind – they cannot enter
until the rope is cut or knotted
or until I have shaven into
new mirrors, until the world is
stopped or opened
forever.

BY Charles Bukowski

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/25/dangerous-masculinty-everyone-risk?commentpage=4#start-of-comments

When I search the Guardian website using the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ separately, invariably all that comes up for ‘men’ is stories about sport, violence, and crime.

The main message of the Guardian about men has been summed up by Suzanne Moore: ‘men do horrible, horrible things’.

So I was not surprised when today, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, two established feminist academics decided to tell us about the ‘cost of masculinity culture’.

Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley wrote:

‘The fact that men are mainly responsible for violent and health-harming behaviours, not only against women and children but also against each other, is so taken for granted that it slips beneath the radar of commentators and policymakers.’

Take the riots of August this year. ..92% of the first 466 defendants were male. Something yet more significant went unremarked: of the 124 individuals charged with offences involving violence, all were male.’

As our trusty tweeter @How_Upsetting remarked, this kind of categorising of people who cause violence and crime can only really be tolerated by the liberal intelligentsia when the ‘culprits’ are seen to be men:

@HowUpsetting: @Notorious_QRG  I’d like to see them dare write a similar article about ‘black culture’ causing crime. They’d be crucified.

The two feminists went on to justify their men-bashing using quotes from feminist history:

‘In 1959 the social scientist and policy activist Barbara Wootton looked at the crime statistics and remarked that “if men behaved like women, the courts would be idle and the prisons empty”. Half a century later theBritish Crime Survey and police crime figures bear her out.’

And this is where I lost it really. Because the fact is, in 2011, 50 years after that statement was made, men do behave more like women.

As you should all know by now, Mark Simpson has been telling us how metrosexual masculinity has blurred the lines of the  ’gender divide’ to the point of almost dissolution.

In the introduction to his latest book, Metrosexy, he wrote:

‘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 the end of the sexual division of bathroom and bedroom labour.  It’s the end of sexuality as we’ve known it.’  (Simpson, 2011: 8).

So the whole premise of this article, that there is a ‘culture of masculinity’ that is distinctly different from the ‘culture of femininity’ is wrong.

The writers go on, despite their use of the word ‘culture’ to produce a very biological determinist view of men’s situations in society:

‘Some of the costs of masculinity are paid individually. Boys are “permanently excluded” from school at a rate four times higher than for girls and attain fewer GCSE and A-levels than girls. But what of the overall costs to society?

Testosterone, the male hormone, the “metaphor of manhood”, is portrayed as driving men inexorably towards aggressive behaviour. Yet studies show that testosterone is related to status-seeking but not directly to aggression. Many other factors are influential. Testosterone levels are increased or diminished in both males and females by diet, activity and circumstance. The opportunity to interact with guns, for instance, appears to increase testosterone, while men’s testosterone levels fall when they are involved with the care of children.’

These women are very experienced feminist academics. So they know what they are doing when they are combining in a rather obfuscating manner, the discourses of ‘gender essentialism’ with those of ‘social constructionism’. They tell us that we should not reduce men and women to that nursery rhyme about boys being made of ‘snips and snails’ and girls of ‘sugar and spice’ but that is exactly what they are doing.

As I, and Mark Simpson have written about before, this is yet another example of female columnists posing as ‘a defender of [their sex]. Dressed in cliches’.

And they get away with it because misandry is ‘the acceptable prejudice’ and because the erasure of men is institutionalised in feminist gender studies. This is ironic as the two authors here claim to be suggesting we should all study men and masculinities more closely, when they, the feminist academics have been deliberately not doing that for years.

On a day when the Graun’s editorial joined in with the man-bashing, I think the Guardian has reached a point of no-return in its misandry and its victim feminism stance.

‘While the noble man lives in trust and openness with himself (gennaios‘of noble descent’ underlines the nuance ‘upright’ and probably also ‘naïve’), the man of ressentiment is neither upright nor naive nor honest and straightforward with himself. His soul squints; his spirit loves hiding places, secret paths and back doors, everything covert entices him as his world, hissecurity, his refreshment; he understands how to keep silent, how not to forget, how to wait, how to be provisionally self-deprecating and humble’.

http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/nietzsche/genealogy1.htm

Ressentiment (pronounced /rəsɑ̃tiˈmɑ̃/), in philosophy and psychology, is a particular form of resentment or hostility. It is the French word for “resentment” (fr. Latin intensive prefix ‘re’, and ‘sentir’ “to feel”). Ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one’s frustration, that is, an assignment of blame for one’s frustration. The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousyin the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one’s frustration. The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

‘Ressentiment is not to be considered interchangeable with the normal English word “resentment”, or even the French “ressentiment”. While the normal words both speak to a feeling of frustration directed at a perceived source, neither speaks to the special relationship between a sense of inferiority and the creation of morality’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressentiment

I am drawn to Nietzsche’s concept of ‘ressentiment’. I love how he has made a new meaning out of an existing word. The French word ‘ressentiment’ is taken by Nietzsche and twisted subtly, so it becomes edgier, harder, more meaningful.

Barthes in A Lover’s Discourse refers to the powerlessness and resentment the amorous subject can feel towards ‘the loved object’ – perceiving him or her to be the cause of the lover’s suffering.

I’ve felt my own ‘ressentiment’ myself. I can relate to both Nietzsche and Barthes’ versions of it. And when you take away the symbolic ’cause’ of your suffering, what are you left with? Not an absence of suffering but a different way of perceiving it.

I like the picture at the top because it is not clear who is the ‘big meanie’. Is it the girl standing up screaming, or the person by her side, perceiving the shouting. Because when you feel ‘victimised’ or full of ‘ressentiment’ you can actually be quite aggressive.

This old classic pop song, You Oughta Know by Alanis Morrissette is a great embodiment of the feeling of ressentiment:

‘It’s not fair to deny me of the cross I bear that you gave to me’

could have been written by Nietzsche or Barthes. I used to play the song all the time when I was getting over my first Big Love. I know it off by heart. Literally.

I like ‘ressentiment’ – I think it is an integral aspect of the human psyche. But it is worth keeping in check, so we don’t all become Big Meanies ourselves.

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/ressentiment

http://www.nietzschecircle.com/RessentimentMaster.pdf

Has Shane Warne Ditched His Metrosexual Masculinity? The Mail thinks so:

‘just as you think SHANE WARNE has gone and cashed in every last one of his man points in his pursuit of the fragrant ELIZABETH HURLEY, he goes and emerges with this hulking chunk of macho posturing.

I’m no expert on Aussie-rules marriages but I find it interesting that Shane’s rebooted testosterone seems to have occurred around the same time as he slipped that sparkler on Elizabeth’s ring finger. If I were a conspiracy theorist I might suggest that his weight-loss, metrosexual dressing and baby’s-bottom facial appearance were mere smoke and mirrors, designed to lure Elizabeth into a quick trip down the aisle – and now that he has made his conquest, he’s about to morph back.

The turnaround looks remarkable, with Shane performing an arm-fold barrier and quasi-uninterested stare while his fiancée goes for a full-on bestowed kiss and neck clasp to gain his attention. This could signal the tipping point, where the power starts to turn in Shane’s favour, meaning we should look out for Elizabeth getting a ‘My little beer-belly and hair frizz’ kit as a gift from her groom.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-2062735/Body-talk-Be-Warne-d-Elizabeth–butch-back.html#ixzz1eEsGMATD

The Mail are being very contradictory here, because initially they said Hurley was responsible for Warne’s metrosexual transformation, suggesting men only prettify themselves under the influence of bossy women. Now they are hinting that he only went metro to woo Liz, and now she has agreed to marry him he has reverted to ‘macho’ type.

In doing so the Mail are deliberately ignoring the throbbing pink elephant in the room: men’s ‘desire to be desired’ on their own terms. As Mark Simpson has said recently, in relation to another metro man, DJ Phillgood, a rapper who wears bright lipstick and floral print tights:

‘What I do think links this to metrosexuality is the way that DPhill (like Andej Pejic) is keen to assert that he is going to wear what he damn well wants to wear and to hell with what’s ‘appropriate’ to his sex. Or genre.’

 

And as  Simpson has also pointed out on a number of occasions, the mainstream British press is in general, quite ‘metrophobic’, even though it fills its papers with Metrosexy images of pretty young male celebrities. So the negative reactions to Warne’s metrosexual ‘makeover’ have been quite predictable.

 

But also as Simpson has pointed out, the media is obsessed with comparing ‘feminine’ ‘faggy’ ‘metrosexuals’ with red-blooded, uber-masculine, authentic Real Men – ‘retrosexuals’. As Simpson has said, this is a false dichotomy, because ‘retrosexual’ images of masculinity, e.g. the trimmed beard and loafers look, are just as primped, just as commodified, just as metrosexual as any other. Look at the photo- see Shane’s designer trousers, accessorised with a fashionable belt. See his trendy shades and pumped triceps. And I am sure he didn’t forget to moisturise that day.

This photo of Beckham was labelled ‘retrosexual look’ so really it is just another ‘metrosexual look':

The main point being, that metrosexuality for me, represents the culture we live in, it is not merely a ‘style’ or characteristic of masculinity (that many, including masculinity ‘experts’ in academia think it is). You can’t ‘reject’ metrosexuality and choose an alternative mode of being a man. There is no ‘opposite’ of metrosexual. Metrosexuality breaks down the gender binary itself, which is why I am so fascinated by it.

 

However, I think I differ a little from Simpson in that I take ‘retrosexual’ media claims quite seriously. I do not declare the retrosexual ‘dead’ as he does. Because I think the discourse of retrosexual masculinity is very important, and as the above article in the Mail shows, alive and well in Metrosexy 2011. As I have written previously:

‘ I am not prepared to just laugh off this retrosexual resurgence in media discourse. I think it is a sign that whilst ‘the retrosexual’ as a character who actually rejects metrosexuality and all the grooming that goes with it, is dead in the water, the *idea* of the retrosexual is still very attractive to many people.

And in mediated masculinities, *ideas* of masculinity are just as important if not more so, than the actual buffed, big titted specimens walking our streets.

It could be argued that ‘retrosexual’ just means ‘metrosexual denial’ and you can’t have one without the other. If you could, we’d all be totally liberated! The fact that Simpson came up with the term ‘retrosexual’ himself, in his exploration of metrosexuality, really does suggest that the two concepts go hand in hand.’

As Simpson said about Warne, even though he has embraced his metrosexuality with panache, there remains a tiny bit of denial even in him, as he said, despite his appearance, ‘I am still a man’.

But being a man in the 21st century is much more flexible than it used to be, and articles such as this one are just holding onto an outdated myth of ‘macho’ masculinity. Unfortunately it is a myth that is taken seriously by many. Hopefully we will see Shane soon back in peacock mode and the Mail will have to eat their words.

ttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/16/benetton-unhate-campaign-_n_1097329.html?ref=uk#liveblog

Benetton, known for their ‘risque’ adverts, have taken the Metrosexual Bull by its horns with their latest social justice campaign. These posters of world leaders kissing  are quite striking. Maybe not for the homoerotics so much as the shock of seeing people often at war, in such intimate poses. And indeed, the message of the ads, apart from ‘buy our jumpers’! is UNHATE.

Mark Simpson has alerted us to the fact that men’s ‘desire to be desired’ these days often extends to each other, so in one sense the pictures are just depicting social change. It is not just university students who are ‘metrosmooching’.

 

I found the image of the Pope and an Egyptian leader the most arresting, partly due to the apparent passion of their embrace, with the Egyptian’s hand holding the Pope by his neck. But also because their religions both remain resolutely against ‘homosexuality’ on paper, at least.

Whereas seeing metrosexual Obama in a clinch with another man just seems normal. Simpson has of course told us clearly how the ‘Obama Model’ is the template for contemporary metrosexual politicians.

 

There is one woman in the mix – Angela Merkel. But she is awkwardly kissing Sarkozy in a photo that could actually be  a real record of a political tryst, and so is less interesting than the others.

There is a video that goes with the ‘UnHate’ campaign, but I found that a little boring. Maybe I have just seen it all before. If companies want to really shock in these uber metrosexy times, they might have to try a bit harder than this.

Update: Thanks to Heseriarch for pointing out the influence of the b and w Brezhnev/Honneker photo I have now included. I don’t know the circumstances of that particular pre-metro smooch I am going to read up on it!

Oh, Here he is with a post of his own: http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2011/11/world-leader-porn.html