The Opposite of Metrosexual

Posted: November 20, 2011 in Masculinities, metrosexuality
Tags: , , ,

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.’–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.

  1. marc2020 says:

    One of the interesting things about that article you quote is this bit

    “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.”

    So the article is saying old Shane did what allot of misogynists haven been clamming women do to men for years, pretend to be interested in the stuff they like in order to snare them into marriage. I find this funny as the script for heterosexual men in this day and age is that they will do anything to avoid marriage at all costs.’ So even while the article is praising Shane for being a real man it’s still sort of saying – albeit unconsciously – that he went about doing it in a very unmanly way so you could call it unintentionally misandrist.

    • totally! I think the article is basically backtracking on the Mail’s previous story about Shane and Liz, that she had him under her thumb. And that wasn’t very nice to him, either!

  2. elissa says:

    Well, he is on a golf course. Probably just blew a shot and is pouting his lack of game. She consoles him with a reassuring cheek kiss – “you’re still a man in my eyes!”

    Does not look like a testosterone reboot to me.

    Anyone recognize the belt logo?

    • that’s funny elissa because when I realised it was a golf course I thought a) yes he’d be in casual/sporty dress and b) he must’ve just played a shot and is looking at where the ball is. I thought optimistically maybe he’d just got one in a hole (nudge nudge) but where is his club in that case? 😀

  3. elissa says:

    Ah yes, good question – I’m thinking the club sits in Hurley’s trousers.

    And for that, I don’t think it will be long before Shane is found picking up transvestite cock in his SUV.

    • well I think you may be right. But there’s something about Liz that makes me think she could handle it. I think she knows what she is letting herself in for (and it’s not Hugh Grant, thankfully)

  4. Lawrence says:

    I sometimes think that these ‘retrosexuals’ are just older metrosexuals really. Or more specifically, how metrosexuality has changed the way we are meant to percieve older men. The Don Draperisation of the way we now want (and to an extent, expect) to see men in their late thirties and up. Real retrosexuals have bear guts, bitch tits and yellow teeth, see a barber once a month and don’t really know what a gym is or what all the young homosexuals do in it. Probably working class or lower middle class also, but maybe that is just my perception based upon the men I grew up around.

    • Lawrence says:

      I meant ‘beer guts’… #dyslexia

      • yeah I think you’re right Lawrence but I don’t know if there are any ‘real’ retrosexuals left now! I think they are just failed metrosexuals.

        But you’re right about the age thing – Mark S has said how marketing that aims at middle aged men tends to go for the ‘retrosexual’ style – eg Hugh Laurie

        • Lawrence says:

          I think they are still out there – but I think it is very dependant on age, class, distance from london (perhaps) and relationship with women(definitely).

          I take your point though – my dad (who is in his 60s) went through a period of dying his hair a few years back, and can be quite a tart (as can many of his friends).

          Would be quite good to talk to men who really do look like they don’t give a fuck and see if that really is the case and what they’re lives are like.

          • yes well it’d be good for someone to do some proper research on metrosexuality including interviewing men but the whole concept is not even accepted as part of masculinity so it is unlikely. I saw one guy doing a phd on metrosexuality and when I mentioned Simpson he never replied to me! Must have felt intimidated because he wasn’t using Simpson’s work coherently.

      • typhonblue says:

        bear guts works too

  5. john smith says:

    Is “retrosexuality” a social sign of being heterosexual?

    • Hi John, no I don’t think ‘retrosexuality’ is a sign of being heterosexual as I don’t think it exists as a type of masculinity. but people who promote the idea of the ‘retrosexual’ authentic Real Man, do so in a way to distinguish heterosexual Real Men from faggy (possibly homosexual) metrosexual men.

  6. Tim says:

    That beckham photo is a clear case of TRYING TOO HARD! 😀

  7. Great article, QRG!

    I’m working metrophobia into the last installment of my own series. I think I might be able to touch on it in the Chapter 3 installment too, since I tangent into discussing men. I’m dying to work more links in that aren’t wikipedia. 😀

    Marc’s comment about damned if you do and damned if you don’t really plays into it. If he stays an open avowed metrosexual, he’d just be her unmanly bottom. If he ever sheds the veneer, then he was a lying tart who should have been honest about what he really was, and he’s got the poor woman trapped in a relationship as his ‘tricked’ bottom. (Not to mention speculation about how he’s really for reals just gay, anyway, because metrosexuality is frequently slurred as men circling the drain into homosexuality. If you’re stuck in the closet, why not play dress-up?) It is misandry, top to bottom. Or I guess as they’re acussing him here, bottom to top. If Shane was a sub, bad! If he was a dom, good! But he lied about it, so bad!

    Mark Simpson talks about how men have to ‘play’ their roles. A lot of people talk about how boys and men seem to feel empty and confused about how to ‘play’ man. Maybe these retrosexuals are society attempting to create a form of dress up to tempt men away from the eerily ambiguous metrosexual. I can almost picture mom and dad wiggling a fishing pole and a football to try and lure their toddler away from the hair gel and the rhinestone studded sunglasses.

    • great Jay glad someone else apart from me and Mr Simpson are using the ‘m’ word…

      I don’t know if parents discourage their sons from being ‘narcissistic’. it’s an interesting questions.

  8. @typhon of course I think all the best people get banned from NSWATM! 😀

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