The Spanish for Retrosexual

Posted: September 6, 2011 in Identity, Masculinities, metrosexuality, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

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

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!

  1. marc2020 says:

    “Retrosexuals: Elegant, not necessarily urban, clearly heterosexual, almost always middle aged. Examples: Hugh Laurie, Xavier Badem, Don Draper(John Hamm)”

    It should really set some alarm bells ringing when 2 of there examples of retosexuals aren’t even real people, I amuse when they put Hugh Laurie they’re thinking of his Dr House character also lets not forget Laurie just became the face of a cosmetics company for gods sake.

    Hey do you think the fact that they’re struggling to find actual examples is because in reality the retrosexual was never all that real to begin with?

    • Hi Marc yes the posts I linked to by me and Mark S say that Hugh Laurie is the face of L’oreal that well known ‘retrosexual’ brand! You are right – they are using fictional characters to reinforce a model of masculinity. But then people have been doing that forever.

      And you’re right – finding a ‘real retrosexual’ is like finding a needle in a haystack.

  2. Jasper Gregory says:

    I can show you an entire neighborhood populated by the retrosexual look, the castro in San Francisco. Retrosexual is just the ‘straight-seeming’ gay man. The short beard is the give away.

    • well Jasper , I don’t think there is a fixed accepted definition of the term ‘retrosexual’! I know what you mean as Mark Simpson has suggested the same. but I do not see ‘retrosexual’ as a ‘look’ rather as the act of denying the feminine aspects of metrosexuality. And that can be done in a number of ways. But a beard is an easy way to do it, for sure.

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