Posts Tagged ‘metrosexual’

metroboy

This week in America (where else?) a 13 year old boy has been suspended from school for wearing a handbag.

The boy, Skyler Davis said: ‘It expresses myself. Everyone else can wear it, so I can wear it as well’

Well quite. It astounds me sometimes that even in the uber-metro 21st century, whilst girls can wear anything from doc martens to tutus, boys are treated as gender non-conforming and therefore suspect, if they go ‘too far’ from a so-called ‘masculine’ norm.

The bag, from designer Vera Bradley, is quite ‘tasteful’ and, going over the shoulder, practical.  It’s difficult to see how it could be seen to violate school rules.

Metro-anxiety is not limited to the States though. In the summer, footballer Gareth Bale made the headlines in the middle of transfer season, not for signing for Arsenal or Man U, but for daring to wear pink!

garethbpink

But metrosexuality is not for turning. Any disapproval or attempts to ‘ban’ young men’s flamboyant self love will ultimately get washed away in the tide. Boys can be beautiful too. The gender police are fighting a losing battle.

 

I think this video speaks for itself. In ten years this man has got more muscly, more orange, and more coiffeured than his 20 year old self could ever have imagined.

My one question is: what will he look like when he’s 40??

—————

/via The Daily Edge: http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/man-interpretive-dance-with-himself-921651-May2013/?utm_source=twitter_self

robbierogersmodel

Hello Campers! I’m continuing to develop my thoughts on that thorny topic of  sporno, anti-homophobia and metrosexual-machismo. While I do so I thought I’d show you an apt illustration of the theme.

Last week a professional  footballer came out as gay! Oh. Em. Gee. But before anyone could get the babycham out it was also revealed that he was giving up professional football. According to the Graun,

‘The former Columbus Crew and USA winger Robbie Rogers has announced that he is gay, and that he has decided to “step away” from his career as a professional footballer.’

So, although on  twitter Robbie said he was touched by how supportive everyone was to this ‘news’, and ‘gay academic’ Mark McCormack fitted this event into his thesis about ‘declining homophobia’ especially in sport, I was not so jubilant. It seems a shame to me that a young man coming out does so just as he is leaving the career for which he is well known. He’s not exactly becoming an ‘ambassador’ for gay and bisexual players by putting his boots on the shelf. I’m not blaming him. I believe that football, by its very sweaty, physical, passionate, sexy nature is already ‘well gay’. And until the ‘beautiful game’ ‘fesses up to that fact, out gay or bi players will be few and far between. But before I get down and dirty and grapple with this complex subject, I want to point out something else about Rogers’ announcement that I think is worth a mention.

Apparently,  ‘Rogers is starting a new position with Men’s Health Magazine  in the UK and he is also part of the ownership group for the clothing company Halsey.’ So the side of himself that he is finally openly celebrating is not necessarily his gayness, but rather his metrosexuality!  From what I can see, football is as conflicted about this contemporary tarty display that its stars like to indulge in as it is about sex itself.  Taking your kit off with your  mates and posing for Gay Times is all very well, but if you are actually… you know….gay or bi, it makes the whole exercise a little bit more threatening and destabilises the ‘macho’, ‘heterosexual’, camaraderie of most sports teams.

I am glad Rogers is now free to be himself. But that self, and the culture he inhabits, is a little bit more nuanced than most people will have us believe.

ClassA_GT_Large

 

gayiconbc

 

Ben Cohen, Calendar Pin Up, anti-homophobia activist and Rugger Bugger, posted this delectable photo on twitter, just before Christmas. He added that he is a ‘gay icon and proud’. This was quite a clever, if a little catty move. And was in response to an interview in the press with Louis Smith, Charleston dancing, hair coiffeuring, boxing winner of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. The issue at hand is Louis’ disavowal of the ‘gay’ bit of his status as new gay icon on the block. Like many ‘straight’ metrosexual men, especially models, pop stars and sportsmen, Louis is happy to receive attention and adulation from wherever he can get it. But he is less delighted by some of the sexual undertones of this attention. The Telegraph reports:

‘After admitting that he has become a “gay icon”, he adds: “As long as gay people can see the line, and that I fancy women, that’s fine. I don’t want to be put in a difficult, uncomfortable situation.”’

These comments, also discussed in the gay press, received a lot of angry responses from (mainly white middle class) gay men. They seem to feel upset that lovely Louis is ‘playing’ with their affections, but unlike Cohen, refusing to play ball. Not only is Louis NOT an anti-homophobia activist like cuddly Cohen, he also has the audacity to throw a bit of a spanner in the works of gay men’s wet dreams about him. This ‘gay icon’ is doing it wrong!

But I have quite a lot of sympathy for Louis, and all men who identify as straight in our tarty, self-loving metro culture. Life is confusing enough, as it slowly dawns on them that they are as narcissistic – if not more so – as their gay brethren, that hair gel and moisturiser matters to them too, without being told they are also expected to be ‘up for it’ with homos as well!

Yes, metrosexuality is ‘well gay’. But more importantly it marks the ‘end of sexuality as we’ve known it’. And so gay men have no right to put the new generation of men pin ups in a ‘gay’ box. These boys won’t be fenced in and don’t have to be! So maybe the older gay generation are just jealous.

As for Cohen, I think he gets away with being an out and proud ‘gay icon’ because he looks more ‘butch’ than Louis. He seems to be maintaining his ‘straight’ status more successfully than pretty Smith, despite the oiled up calendar shoots and naked exhibitionism the rugby player displays. The irony is of course, that another reason the gays go easy on Cohen is he looks just like a gay bear with his gay beard and big muscles! He’s one of them!

But I vote for Louis in this stand off. We will be seeing a LOT more of him in the  future. He may be a gay icon, but mainly he is his own metrosexual man.

WeekendX390

The most metrotastic moment of the Olympics Opening Ceremony last night wasn’t Becks in his boat, or Daniel Craig and his Bond routine, it was the entrance at the end of the athletes’ parade of Team GB.

The 500+ strong team, with cyclist Chris Hoy bearing the flag at the front, entered the stadium in a sea of white and gold. Their tracksuits were retro-metro stylie, like something Ali G might rock up in!

 

With the TV camera often lingering on Tom Daley, the young high diver with a perfect tan and winning smile, metrosexuality finally seemed to be taking centre stage as it should. Actually, Danny Boyle’s extravaganza seemed a bit more dowdy and old school in comparison to these sporno heroes. Paul Mccartney and Kenneth Branagh are not exactly pin-up hotties these days.

But there were two nice links between the contemporary metro imagery of Team GB and the music, film and pyrotechnics. One was that the tracksuits the athletes were wearing (with men and women all wearing trousers unlike some of the other countries and their ‘traditional’ gendered fashions) reminded me distinctly of rap culture, which WAS featured in Danny Boyle’s show.

 

Kanye may not have been there to outdress and outbling the British sports stars, but Dizzee Rascal’s performance of Bonkers was great, and showcased urban rap, youth and pop culture brilliantly. Also the song Bonkers could be seen as a bit of a ‘metrosexy anthem’. Because he is singing about being a young man doing what the hell he wants, regardless of how ‘society’ and other people see him.
Some people think I’m bonkers

But I just think I’m free

Man, I’m just livin’ my life

There’s nothin’ crazy about me

The second link between the metrosexual styles of the British team, and the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony is the technological and ‘social media’ phenomenon they both display. All through the parade, athletes were taking photos and videos of themselves(!) and the stadium. The video at the top is TV footage taken on someone’s phone from the comfort of their living room, and uploaded onto youtube within hours of the ceremony finishing. And in Boyle’s set there was a tableau featuring young people and their relationships being played out on facebook and mobile phone technology. Not to mention the fact that Tim Berners Lee, the ‘inventor of the world wide web’ also had a cameo role in proceedings.

So, my verdict is that the Opening Ceremony WAS a showcase of metrosexual talent. But it was the fashion-conscious and self-loving athletes who really made the metrosexy grade. Team Italia were indeed decked out in Armani, but the sheer bling and bravado of Team GB means MetroAuntie awards them GOLD.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/tearful-andrew-sullivan-praises-obama-father-figure-saying-im-fully-a-part-of-this-family/

You can’t have failed to have heard the news. Obama, who originally took a firm stance against gay marriage, preferring the traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman, has done a U-turn. His recent statement in favour of equal marriage has sent teh gayz into spasms of emotion similar to a reanactment of Torch Song Trilogy.

Andrew Sullivan, who has also done some U-turns in his life, as he used to be a Republican but now is all over poor Barack, said, choking back the tears:

‘I do not know how orchestrated this was; and I do not know how calculated it is. What I know is that, absorbing the news, I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for a while, didn’t know what to write, and,… there are tears in my eyes.

So let me simply say: I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side. I think of Maurice Sendak, who just died, whose decades-long relationship was never given the respect it deserved. I think of the centuries and decades in which gay people found it impossible to believe that marriage and inclusion in their own families was possible for them, so crushed were they by the weight of social and religious pressure. I think of all those in the plague years shut out of hospital rooms, thrown out of apartments, written out of wills, treated like human garbage because they loved another human being. I think of Frank Kameny. I think of the gay parents who now feel their president is behind their sacrifices and their love for their children.’

I think the ‘gay lobby’ and their media supporters have been very clever here. It looks to me as if Obama didn’t have much choice. The tide of opinion was growing in favour of gay marriage. To continue to oppose it would have lost him votes. But his basic political manoeuvre has been adopted and appropriated and turned into a huge victory for the gay rights lobby.

Not only that, they have transformed Obama from a quite cautious, traditional family man into ‘THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT’! The photo of him on the Newsweek cover with a rainbow halo is nothing if not striking, and… gay. The conflict with Obama has been buried in a pile of rainbow dust and everyone is happy…and gay.

But I notice a few problems with this gay rhetoric. One of course is that speeches such as Andrew Sullivan’s above privilege ‘gay’ people and the ‘gay’ identity over all other minority gender and sexuality identities. If you are bisexual, or trans, where do you fit in to this big gay festival? Trans people’s rights are not prioritised in America. Murders and violence against trans people happen at a far higher rate than the ‘gays’ would care to mention. And some gay people are as transphobic – and biphobic – as any straight ‘homophobe’.

The second thing I notice is Sullivan, and Newsweek, are tying the knot with Obama in a quite sickly way. It is as if ‘gay’ politics are the only politics in the world. What about Obama’s healthcare policies? What about foreign policy? That is all swept aside for the Big Issue – gay marriage. The way Sullivan suddenly decides he is part of Obama’s ‘family’ is comical. As if now things such as ethnicity and racism play no part in American society (or indeed in gay politics which can be racist). They are all one big happy family, bro!

Indeed racial analogies have been used by gays in their campaigns for gay marriage a lot. The ‘back seat on the bus’ metaphor has been doing the rounds for a while, as has the references to ‘apartheid’. (click on image to enlarge)

http://www.queerty.com/newsweek-obama-americas-first-gay-president-20120513/

I think it’s pretty grim to be honest. And Obama may well be feeling a bit pressured by this group of white, middle class liberals (the gays and their allies), to perform to their tune. When he also has to woo black voters, republican voters, and… yes, homophobic voters! As I have said before the right have caricatured Obama as the metrosexual president and this latest move will have only made matters worse from their point of view. I would not want to be in Obama’s rainbow coloured shoes just now.

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One person who is keeping rather quiet about this turn of events is [redacted]. He has been vocal against gay marriage, though he seems to have softened a bit recently (not to the extent of Obama though). Back in 2008 [redacted] suggested that the gay marriage campaigns in America were ‘on the rocks’ so it could be that he just doesn’t want to admit that he has been proven wrong. Or at least that times have changed. Also there are some ‘gay politics’ going on in the UK that even I don’t understand. Maybe [redacted] has some juggling to do as well as Obama.

Me, I don’t welcome the news from the States. But I am not going to lose sleep over it either. I would celebrate with my ‘bros’ if Obama closed Guantanamo like he said he would. But I don’t think I have Andrew Sullivan or many liberal white gays on my side there.

In a recent interview for an Italian magazine, Mark Simpson mentioned some old friends of his – ‘hummersexuals’. He said:

‘Hummersexuals are guys who over-emphasise their masculinity with ‘manly’ accessories in a way that makes you wonder what they’re covering up. Retrosexuals are merely pre-metrosexual.’

This is consistent with what he wrote about Hummersexuals, back in 2006:

‘Despite his best efforts to convince you, the hummersexual is not retrosexual. Since when did “regular guys” need several tons of military hardware, or “new macho” lifestyle magazines such as Best Life, or books such as the bestselling Alphabet of Manliness and Men Don’t Apologise, to be “regular”? The hummersexual is clearly, hilariously, faux-retrosexual. He’s an off-the-peg, drag-king idea of “real” masculinity: stuffed crotch and joke beard included at no extra charge.’

And in a recent piece about some ‘macho’ fashion bloggers he reiterated his old idea that ‘retrosexual’ means ‘pre-metrosexual': ‘This kind of guff isn’t ‘post-metrosexual’ at all. It’s so pre-metrosexual it’s positively pre-Stonewall.’

Now I’d not paid much attention to these weird, ‘faux-retrosexual’ hummersexuals before. Partly because Mr Simpson has not written anything about them for years, and partly because, more importantly, neither has anyone else.

The thing about ‘neologisms’ is they are only really useful if they capture a concept that a large number of people can relate to and utilise in everyday life. Metrosexual and ‘retrosexual’ are both part of regular conversations. Simpson has come up with terms that are meaningful in the contemporary world.

But ‘hummersexual’ to me, is as pointless as a man driving a big petrol-guzzling truck just to prove he is a ‘real man’! To illustrate my point I’ll tell you that the picture at the top is the cover of a retrosexual manual from 2008. There are no ‘hummersexual manuals’ I can find. And last year, Mr Simpson did a reading at a club night with a ‘retrosexual’ (not ‘hummersexual’) theme.

At the ‘retrosexual’ club, Simpson read from the introduction to Metrosexy, where he  discusses the ongoing march of metrosexuality:

‘Not everyone is happy with this state of affairs. Some gays, understandably, don’t appreciate being upstaged. Or being confused. And of course quite a few traditionalist heteros also hate metrosexuality along with the sexual uncertainty that it represents, and wish it would just go away, or have a terrible accident on the sunbed. Or they want to pretend that it never happened, that it was all just a bad, over-plucked dream. Such nostalgic determination not to see what should be as plain as the bronzer on your face is, in its way, quite endearing. But when media types start cooing as they have done lately about ‘retrosexuals’ that are just metrosexuals with shaped chest hair, I can’t help but roll my eyes like the girlfriends of the lads flashing me their shaved balls.

You see, when I first used the word ‘retrosexual’ back in 2003, I just meant men who were not metrosexual. So-called ‘regular guys’. Remember those? But at the dawn of the second decade of the Twenty First Century, masculinity has been rendered so self-conscious in our mediated, mirrored world that even ‘regular guys’ are apparently just a fashion fad – this season’s accessory. We’re all like my post-op MTF friend Michelle (formerly known as the male stripper ‘Stud-U-Like’) complaining: ‘Where can you find a REAL man these days?? I’m so SICK of all these metrosexual PHONIES!’ Though probably with less self-irony.

What else could explain the squealing eagerness with which the media seized upon the confected character of Mad Men’s Don Draper as an example of the return of the ‘retrosexual’? An impossibly pretty and impeccably well-turned out Army deserter with identity issues – and a hidden, shameful secret – who works as an advertising creative and is the unwavering object of the camera’s voyeuristic gaze. We’re so metrosexualised now that this is what ‘old time masculinity’ looks like to us. Put another way, metrosexuality is masculinity mediated, aestheticised and (self) fetishised. Even if it looks fetching in a trilby.

This makes sense to me. I see  ‘metrosexual’ and ‘retrosexual’, not as two ‘types’ of man, but rather as the culture of masculinity we live in. And in that culture there are tensions, e.g. between men’s ‘feminine’ display and narcissism (metrosexual) and their need to still be ‘men’ (retrosexual).

There are very very few men, however metro, who do not have some denial in them. Gay,straight, whatever, men cling on to ‘masculinity’ like rats to a sinking ship.

And I think Metrodaddy is in a bit of denial about this. I don’t know why. Maybe he wants men all to be out and proud metrosexuals. Maybe he (rightly) senses in men’s denial of their metrosexuality some good old-fashioned homophobia.  Maybe he is just a man, who also has some denial of his own ‘femininity’. But surely it’s better to acknowledge it.

It’s easy for me. I never was and never will be a ‘man’. It is also easy for me as I am not the originator of this theory. I didn’t have to start from scratch, 20 years ago, with no words to describe this world we live in that now seems obvious.

I can see why Simpson both initially said that ‘retrosexual’ just meant ‘pre-metrosexual’ and that a ‘hummersexual’ was an exaggerated, in denial ‘faux-retrosexual’. What I don’t understand is why Simpson, in 2012, returned to his old ‘retro’ stance from way back when, and resurrected ‘hummersexuals’, making out that ‘retrosexual’ is just an old word to describe men before metrosexuality had really taken hold of our culture.

That seems to take ‘retrosexual denial’ a bit too far.

http://visualcultureblog.com/2012/01/staring-into-space/

This is an amazing photo of Ed Miliband (UK leader of the Labour Party) staring into space, at a visit to a school. The blog, Visual Culture have analysed it better than I could, so I recommend reading their post here.

It reminds me of Ed’s brother David, being attacked by confetti and caught on camera looking rather stupid:

I think Mark Simpson might be interested in these photos and the commentary that goes with them, because he is forever observing and analysing the ‘look’ of politicians, which, in these metrosexy times, is more important than their policies.

Someone else who may be interested is Michel Foucault. In an interview back in 1974 he said:

Power has an erotic charge. There’s an historical problem involved here. How is it that Nazism-which was represented by shabby, pathetic puritanical characters laughably Victorian old maids, or at best, smutty individuals-how has it now managed to become, in France, in Germany, in the United States, in all pornographic literature throughout the world, the ultimate symbol of eroticism? Every shoddy erotic fantasy is now attributed to Nazism. Which raises a fundamentally serious problem: how do you love power? Nobody loves power any more. This kind of affective, erotic attachment, this desire one has for power, for power that’s exercised over you, doesn’t exist any more. The monarchy and its rituals were created to stimulate this sort of erotic relationship towards power. The massive Stalinist apparatus, and even that of Hitler, were constructed for the same purpose. But it’s all collapsed in ruins and obviously you can’t be in love with Brezhnev, Pompidou or Nixon. In a pinch you might love de Gaulle, Kennedy or Churchill.

But what’s going on at the moment? Aren’t we witnessing beginnings of a re-eroticization of power, taken to a pathetic, ridiculous extreme by the porn-shops with Nazi insignia that you can find in the United States and (a much more acceptable but just as ridiculous version) in the behaviour of Giscard d’Estaing when he says, “I’m going to march down the streets in a lounge suit, shaking hands with ordinary people and kids on half-day holidays”? It’s a fact that Giscard has built part of his campaign not only on his fine physical bearing but also on a certain eroticizing of his character, his stylishness[i] – Michel Foucault.


[i] Michel Foucault (1996) ‘Film and Popular Memory’ in Foucault Live (Interviews, 1961-1984),New York: Semiotext(e), p. 127. French original 1974.

Photo of D Miliband via http://enemiesofreason.co.uk/2010/09/29/pictures-of-david-miliband-looking-stupid/

I spend a lot of time looking for references to metrosexuality. Often the subject matter is covered but the ‘m’ word is hardly used. In the Guardian for example, there were only 35 references to ‘metrosexual’ in the whole of 2011, the lowest number since 2004.

One place that metrosexual masculinity is really grasped, though, is in sports journalism. Partly because it has been in sports and sports ‘branding’ that metro men have really come into their own.  Sporno has meant that top sports men have been such tarts in advertising and promotional work that the media have been unable to ignore the shift. And metrosexual icons such as Ronaldo , Henson and Becks have brought their fashion style and narcissism off the billboards and onto the pitch.

This extract from an otherwise incomprehensible piece (to me) is metro-tastic:

‘The multi-stranded revenue stream known as “David Beckham” may stay at the LA Galaxy after all despite assorted hoopla about a move to France. Beckham has decided he “does not want to uproot his wife Victoria”. The Mill would have thought it would have actually been quite easy. Simply take a firm grasp with both hands. Bend your knees a couple of times. Wrench slowly backwards and hurl triumphantly over your left shoulder.

Mick McCarthy wants to buy Nicky Maynard from Bristol City for £1m. City are holding out for £2.5m, 36 leftover supermarket mince pies and a long passionate video-aided discussion about tackling and the British game and why the familiar safe old world of men – real men, who roar and eat tree bark and don’t shave their chests – is under threat from EU tackling directives that threaten our very way of life.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/jan/03/football-transfer-rumours-mario-balotelli?INTCMP=SRCH

Have you ever wanted to know if you are metro or retro? Well thanks  to the Spanish publication LaVanguardia, you can find out! They produce this handy checklist to help you work out once and for all what kind of man you are.

Metrosexuals: Urban, heterosexual or homosexual, usually single. Examples: David Beckham, Rafael Nadal
1) Cares for skin, hair and nails
2) Uses creams, not just for shaving
3) Waxes body hair
4) Goes to the gym

Retrosexuals: Elegant, not necessarily urban, clearly heterosexual, almost always middle aged. Examples: Hugh Laurie, Xavier Badem, Don Draper(John Hamm)
1) Cares for his appearance in moderation
2) Uses cosmetics normally
3) Likes clothes that are not showy
4) Some opt for a short beard

http://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20110906/54211225656/de-metrosexual-a-retrosexual.html

But, whilst you are looking at your short beard in the mirror and congratulating yourself on how ‘clearly heterosexual’ you are. Let me tell you, fellas, that this is all bullshit. As bullshit as the idea that the matador, in his purple and gold sequinned skintight trousers, is a figure of archetypal ‘macho’ masculinity. Mark Simpson, who coined both the terms ‘metrosexual’ and ‘retrosexual’ was being interviewed by La Vanguardia, about the rumours recently that the metrosexual had finally gasped his last fragrant breath and given in to the brute force of the manly retro man. But despite his assertion that this was just the usual ‘lying’ of marketeers, that ironically is used to sell even more grooming product to metrosexual men, and that ‘retrosexual’ is just a concept to assure men that they are still manly even when they wax and moisturise, the Spanish rag decided that retrosexuals are alive and well. And rather ‘elegant’, ‘clearly heterosexual’ examples of traditional masculinity.

As I said when this ‘story’ broke last month, about the resurgence of the mythical ‘retrosexual’ man, the issue is not whether one form of masculinity is ‘winning’ over another. The issue is how we conceptualise masculinity and talk about it. And in Spain, it is clear to me that journalists and I am sure members of the public, feel the need to distinguish between ‘definitely heterosexual’ ‘traditional’ ‘normal’ men, and those slightly effeminate, image-obsessed, over-the-top, possibly homosexual metrosexuals.

If metrosexuality is  ‘undead’ as Simpson says, then so is good-old-fashioned common-or-garden machismo. Ole!

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/retrosexual-recession/

http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/the-retrosexual-lives/