Archive for the ‘androgyny’ Category


With the recent horrendous female supremacist bluster about who are the  ‘real women‘ of this world, I was delighted to be shown this video today.

Because, old hags I mean hacks like Burchill and Moore are not only nasty they are also waaaaay behind the zeitgeist. Metrosexual masculinity, with a little help from its friends, is refashioning gender into something more fluid, more fun, and more flamboyant than those two dames can even imagine.

Hurrah for Donatella Versace and her beautiful beaus in black lace panties. And hurrah for all those men who went before them – often in secret but sometimes out in the open- who cross dressed before it was trendy. And hurrah for the  women who won’t let themselves be erased by a middle aged London media set’s narrow minded view of ‘authentic’ womanhood. These are our interesting times.


h/t @themichaelmoran

Brad Pitt is the new ‘face’ of Chanel – a signature women’s perfume brand. The ad itself is nothing to write home about, and has a definite whiff of a ‘wanabee’ cool. It looks to me like it is emulating  that famous Guinness one, also in Black and White with a man’s voice speaking. But the words, the words in the Guinness ad are a lot more memorable than this vague mumbling from Chanel.

Joanna Schroeder at the Good Men Project has identified why even though it is stylistically dull, this advert is worth commenting on.

She writes:

‘I think, as Pitt explains with an emo gaze into nothingness, the world does turn, and we do turn with it. Which perhaps means that life as we know it is changing.

Is this Chanel’s way of saying that the idea of what is “masculine” is blurring with what is “feminine”? That a man may wish to wear a soft, thoughtful, delicate fragrance as opposed to Axe Body Spray, and that’s just fine? Or are they just using a hunk to hock expensive stuff to fangirls?

Either way, I think it’s an interesting choice to cast a man to sell ladies’ fragrances, and am very interested in how the market will react and in what (if any) way the costumer base of Chanel No. 5 may shift.’

Exactly. Now men are pin ups, and men use products as much as women, having a man advertise women’s perfume seems natural.

Though of course the macho metro-denying  ‘male grooming’ industry may disagree. Grooming bloggers such as Lee ‘Grooming Guru’ Kynaston are still desperately clinging onto gender difference and the important distinction between men’s ‘fragrance’ and women’s ‘perfume’, ‘male grooming’ and ‘women’s beauty’.

It’s all Greek to me. I don’t wear perfume, or fragrance. But I know metrosexuality when I see it. And for the sake of that blurring of gender lines that Schroeder mentions, I like Brad’s ad.

Oscar Pistorious is a paraolympian runner. I am not an athletics expert, but I have heard of him, because he is also a metrotastic model.

Currently Oscar is the face and body of Thierry Mugler A*Men Perfume‘s  Pure Shot range. Pure Shot is known in the trade as a ‘sports fragrance’ which, if I have picked up the ‘notes’ correctly, is supposedly more manly and butch than regular perfumes.

According to this reviewer:

‘Pistorius is the 25-year-old South African 400-metre runner who has been called “the fastest man on no legs.”* Pistorius was born without a fibula in either leg; his lower legs were amputated when he was a baby and he’s been using prostheses since he was 13 months old. Pistorius’ J-shaped carbon-fiber prostheses look “dramatic” and futuristic, and they play a big part in the A*Men advertising campaign (especially the video).’

There are a number of things worth noting about Oscar’s advertising campaigns, which also include ads for BT, one of the Olympics sponsors.

One is obvious: that Pistorius is a man with disabilities, but is being ‘objectified’ and treated as a ‘sex object’ just like fit, able-bodied metrosexy sportsmen are. In a culture where physical perfection is fetishised, it seems anomalous that someone with NO LEGS of his own is a model.

But another aspect of the ads featuring the athlete gives us a clue as to the reasons for this unusual occurrence. That is, they seem to be playing on the ‘futuristic’ aspect of prostheses, and the technology that enables Oscar’s incredible achievements. As The Sun newspaper, who named Oscar amongst their Top Ten Hot Shots of metrosexy men olympic athletes, say:

‘The South African double amputee has earned the name ‘Blade Runner’ for his incredible pace on prosthetic legs.

After winning gold in the last two Paralympics, the 25-year-old qualified to run for his country in the able-bodied races, becoming the first double amputee to run at the Olympic Games.

And the hunky runner will compete in the 400 m and the 400m relay’.

So the aesthetic that seems to be enabling Pistorius to be a model alongside Beckham, Ronaldo and Nadal is a posthuman  one. I am reminded of Donna Haraway’s Cyborgs, and the discussions of apocalyptic landscapes and cyberpunk style adverts at Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey ‘s Cyborgology project.

However I think it is worth noting that inspite of or rather because of his lack of leg muscles, Oscar has a very well developed upper body. This makes him quite ‘conventionally attractive’ in metrosexual terms. The torso is (almost) everything for metrosexy modelling. Also, his torso shows how the lines between an ideal ‘human’ and ‘posthuman’ body are blurred. In Transexy times, ‘pneumatic’ tits and abs show how even without prosthetics, the metrosexual body is ‘hyperreal’ and augmented.

I haven’t seen any disability activists celebrating Pistorius’ modelling career. I wonder if like feminists are, they are conflicted about metrosexuality. Because metrosexuality puts into question some of the assumptions around  objectification and victimhood  that disability and feminist campaigns rely on. I mean if Oscar Pistorius enjoys being objectified, and profits from it, maybe objectification is a bit more complex than we have been led to believe?

MetroAuntie is not conflicted. I think Pistorius’ status as ‘sex object’ is great. But I am intrigued, and maybe a tiny bit disturbed by the shift in visual culture to cyborg and posthuman imagery. I doubt it is going away though. So we may as well explore this brave new metrosexual world.

Someone on twitter this week was talking about how she tried to explain to her Dad the ‘homoerotic subtexts’ in the 1980s Hollywood film, The Lost Boys. But he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see it, and thought it was just a movie about vampires.


But can the Dads of this world deal with the homoerotics of things they have relied on as being ‘manly’, ‘macho’, ‘safe’? Things like body building, hardcore violent war movies, and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Even the young, gay, ‘masculinity expert’ Mark Mccormack finds the idea that Arnie might be homoerotic hard to er, swallow. He says:

‘Born in the 1980s, I grew up during a period where the most macho masculinities were esteemed. From Rambo to Rocky, Die Hard to Lethal Weapon, men were portrayed as all-action heroes whom neither bullets nor armies could vanquish. Professional wrestlers appeared almost understated in their gendered performances compared to the display of masculine bravado found in movies and revered in the wider culture.’



In a recent (UK) Times article, Robert Crampton wheeled out some metro-phobia, transphobia and general sexism that needed commenting on.

Crampton’s cranky piece questioned the decision by a UK couple to raise their child in a ‘gender neutral’ way. He wrote:

‘I’m struggling to work out quite what Beck Laxton and her partner Kieran Cooper are trying to achieve by bringing their child Sasha up as gender neutral. This kid is now 5 and going to school, so his parents have come clean that he’s a boy. Up until now while they’ve told him and a few close relatives that he’s a he, they’ve kept it secret from everyone else, reffering to Sasha simply as ‘the infant’.

Miss Laxton was a little surprised when she discovered other members of her mother and baby group in Sawston, Cambridgeshire, referred to her as ‘that loony woman who doesn’t know whether her baby is a boy or a girl’.

‘I could never persuade anyone in the group to come round for coffee’ she reveals. ‘They just thought I was mental’. Funny that.

Miss Laxton says she is concerned about stereotyping and Sasha being able to fulfil his potential in his own way. Fair enough. But if ever there was a case of coming up with a potentially catastrophic cure for a problem that doesn’t really exist, this is it. Miss Laxton says she thinks it’s great Sasha likes flowers, for example. And it is. But then so do millions of men who weren’t brought up wearing tutus. Hasn’t miss Laxton noticed that nowadays the man who thinks flowers are cissy is the odd one out?

It’s one thing to take a relaxed attitude when your five year old son raids the dressing up box for a fairy dress and tiara. An Englishman’s home is his castle and so forth; we’re a tolerant nation in these matters. Such dressing up is a phase many parents will recognise, and none with any sense will order the boy back in his cowboy outfit.

But neither will any with any sense plaster the image all over their annual Christmas card and youtube. Or the national press, come to that. Talk about embarrassing parents; young Sasha is going to be absolutely slaughtered for that picture throughout his childhood.’

I find it kind of insulting how the journalist dresses up his prejudice in the language of ‘tolerance’, suggesting generously that it is ok to allow your sons to go through a ‘phase’ of liking fairy outfits but if they don’t grow out of it then you’re a bad parent.

This issue of boys being accepted and encouraged to be ‘gender non-conforming’ reminds me of the brilliant blog about a Pink Boy. Sarah Hoffman’s son loves all things pink, and whilst she is happy to indulge his tastes and forms of self-expression, she realised that many people are not. So she began to write about her experiences of parenting a ‘pink boy’.

Sarah is clear that her child is happy being a boy who happens to like ‘girly’ things. But she is open to anything that may happen in the future regarding his feelings about his gender identity. Maybe he is just going through a ‘phase’ but maybe he isn’t. Crampton’s judgemental article is actually transphobic in my view, because it does not allow for children who grow up to occupy a different gender identity from the one imposed on them as infants.

One of the problems with our culture, that Crampton’s snippy article illustrates, is the double standard that operates for boys and girls, men and women, when it comes to gender expression.

The Times journo writes:

‘Sasha sometimes goes to school in a ruche-sleeved, scallop-collared blouse from the girls’ uniform list. That isn’t the best way for him to fulfil his potential. Rather, it sounds like it’s more about advancing the parents’ not-very-thought-through political agenda than it is about the welfare of the child. He’ll probably be ok for a year or two, with luck. After that things might not go smoothly. What happens the first time he decides to wander into the girls’ loo?’

As a five year old girl I think I would have been horrified if I’d have been expected to wear ‘ruche-sleeved scallop-collared’ blouses! But girls are much more able than boys to be ‘gender non-conforming’ and I turned up at school in cords and sweatshirts without anyone commenting at all (until secondary school where I tried, and failed, to get girls to be allowed to wear trousers. But most schools allow it now).

In contrast, when a UK boy wore a skirt to school recently, in protest at not being allowed to wear shorts in the summer, he made national headlines!

The fact is, times are changing, and fast. The phenomenon of metrosexuality means that boys and men are more free to dress and behave in previously considered ‘feminine’ ways. Pioneering ‘gender non-conforming’ men such as Andrej Pejic and the XY Movement are making it more acceptable for all boys and men to do as they please.

There is bound to be a ‘retro’ backlash. And Robert Crampton’s article is part of that. But I am sure the Pink Boys will prevail.





Toward the end of last year, I read an article in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, entitled ‘The Culture of Masculinity Costs All Too Much To Ignore’. But the url left clues as to a draft title which was even more damning: ‘Dangerous Masculinity Everyone Risk’. In the piece, two senior feminist academics basically blamed men and boys for all the trouble in the world. They wrote:

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 the British Crime Survey and police crime figures bear her out. In 2009-10, men were perpetrators in 91% of all violent incidents in England and Wales. The figures vary by type of incident: 81% for domestic violence, 86% for assault, 94% for wounding, 96% for mugging, 98% for robbery. MoJ figures for 2009 show men to be responsible for 98%, 92% and 89% of sexual offences, drug offences and criminal damage respectively. Of child sex offenders, 99% are male. The highest percentages of female offences concern fraud and forgery (30%), and theft and handling stolen goods (21% female).

I was horrified by this misandry, being presented as ‘sensible’ social analysis in a national paper. But I was not exactly surprised. As I have written about here at GMP before, feminist-dominated gender studies demonises men, when it is not completely ignoring them:

Feminism has done three things, particularly in relation to masculinity, which relate to how gender studies has come to ignore and belittle men’s experiences and perspectives:any academic treatment of gender has been focused on the disadvantages faced by women and how women have been “omitted” from research, arts, literature, history, etc. Heterosexual masculinity, in particular, has been “pathologized” by some feminist gender academics, and taking an active interest in men and masculinity has been presented as “gay” in itself.

However, I prefer to look on the positive side of gender, and of men. This site is called the ‘good men’ project after all. What, in spite of the bad rep men get across the board, is good about masculinity?

The first word that jumps to my mind to describe what’s good, no great, about masculinity, is ‘change’. Men—and what is expected of them—are changing so quickly that possibilities keep opening up all the time.

One of the key areas of change for men in contemporary culture is style and self-expression. Gone are the days where men were limited to wearing grey suits or boring jeans. Men’s fashions have expanded and diversified so that boys can develop their sense of personal style and feel good about the way they look, just as women do. This is illustrated by things like the fact that in June 2012, London will host the first evermen’s week in the fashion show calendar. And by the fact that metrosexual sports stars such as David Bekcham and Rafael Nadal are known just as much for their menswear modelling as their sporting achievements.  Also, it is now possible to buy male beauty products and cosmetics, including make up, false eyelashes and fake tan.  Vanity, whether you think it is ‘good’ or not, is here to stay, and it is accepted now as a preserve of men as well as women.

Another way that men, and gender roles are changing is in terms of what is considered ‘man’s work’ and ‘women’s work’. These days it is much more acceptable for men to do jobs previously thought of as ‘feminine’ (or gay), such as nursing, childcare and performing arts. And in the home, men are more likely to look after the children and do the shopping and cooking. This marks the approaching end of the division of labour between men and women that was traditionally a key aspect of gendered inequalities.

Perhaps one of the most important changes for men has been in the realm of physicality. Recent research has shown that far from being cold, unfeeling, and restrained, men are becoming more affectionate with everyone, and in particular, with each other. Kisses on the cheek have replaced handshakes in greetings, and young men even ‘snog’ their male friends  as they might a girl friend. Nowadays, text messages and emails between men often end in an “x” (a kiss), and the phrase ‘I love you man’ is becoming more and more common. I think these shifts are great in and of themselves, but they also relate to social justice issues such as homophobia and LGBT rights. Gay marriage is becoming legal in many places, and likely to spread, and rights of recognition for trans identities are coming into being. This is all happening in a context where men are increasing their flexibility and opening up to new ways of being men.

Something that is sometimes overlooked by everyone, is that ‘masculinity’ does not just relate to men. One of the changes I have noticed lately that I celebrate, is how masculinity is being explored by a range of people of various gender identities, and is becoming more fluid as an aspect of gender. Drag kings have had a resurgence, as documented by writers such as Rachel White, and women in general are free to dress and act in ‘masculine ways’ in contemporary culture. Many of us women don’t think twice about wearing jeans or drinking pints of beer, but this has not always been acceptable behavior for ‘a lady’. Trans people are leading the way in blurring the divide between ‘man’ and woman’, ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’. Some trans people make a point of expressing themselves in a ‘non-conforming’ way, and some actually call themselves ‘gender queer’ instead of trans. So if you have a stereotype image in your mind of an uber-femme trans woman in high heels and a tight dress, it is probably wrong.  Beyond trans identities, men such as Andrej Pejic and DJ Spanglish are rejecting the traditional expectations of masculinity altogether, and just being themselves.

I sometimes get accused of being a man myself, largely due to my anti-feminist stance in gender politics. But, far from the insult it is intended to be, I take it as a huge compliment. Partly because I love men and masculinity, but also because it shows how gender expression is transforming and, especially online, it is not always possible to tell who is a man and who is a woman. I’d like to live in a world where that distinction is meaningless, and from what I can see, we are on the way to that world being a reality.

Originally at GMP:

Stuart Warwick has today released the video for his latest song: Man With A Pussy. Featuring the amazing David Hoyle it is a rare work of art amidst all the Christmas tat. The song, about a man, with transexual undertones, reminds me of a piece I featured on the Fauxmos blog ages ago: Today I Am by Monmouth. He wrote: ‘A Y-chromosome is no excuse for not having a pussy. Yes, I know, the mirror doesn’t lie. Nevertheless, it’s a feeble, literal-minded gesture to unzip and with trembling fingers point to a full-grown cock nesting comfortably on a bed of balls and pubes. Hello! There you are, my snake, my drill, my hammer… The vocabulary of insecure boys is brimful of power drills and lethal weapons lurking beneath every bulging crotch. What is pussy-like about this lovely, smooth-skinned cock, this beast that has so often sparked up at the mere fragrance of its female counterpart? Let’s unzip and take a look. Growing erect, free of his denim prison he unfurls, hardens, rises to the stroking teasing of a finger. Hard and agonizingly sensitive, he’s a funny monster—ven in the passionate folds of a tightly clenching vagina he sometimes becomes overstimulated, the moist ecstasy tipping over into pain for a moment. Even there, while I stroke this hard boner, she’s in there. Right there under my skin curled around every cell in my body, the sturdy X embracing her spindly brother Y.’

News just in:

‘Liz Hurley has revealed that her boyfriend Shane Warne uses women’s beauty products.  In an interview with Easy Living magazine, Hurley said that the newly metrosexual Warne doesn’t just borrow her beauty products anymore – he has his own.

“He has his own set now. He uses the girls’ ones – they’re much better, as I’m sure you know.” She added: “Every guy I’ve ever known has used my beauty products and continued to do so.”‘

I think Shane Warne and Liz Hurley’s metrosexual love of men’s beauty is… beautiful.

Shane has been ridiculed by the press for becoming a ‘girly man’ and starting to really care about his appearance. But even those defending him such as Bryony Gordon and Mark Simpson have felt the need to let us know they think he looks ‘weird’, and ‘his look is not really working for me’. You know, they support his coming out as metro, but they want us to know they don’t fancy him or actually find him attractive.

I said in a discussion of Andrej Pejic, who also gets slammed for wanting to be ‘beautiful’ that the problem is men cannot embrace ‘beauty’ as women can:
‘In my piece on this Pejic article, the thing I picked up on was how reluctant people are to use the word ‘beautiful’ in relation to him. They prefer ‘pretty’ which suggests as the New Yorker says, a ‘pretty boy’.

The journalist said if Pejic was a woman he’d be ‘the most beautiful woman’ she (I think it was a woman journo) had ever seen. She could not write: ‘He is the most BEAUTIFUL MAN I have ever seen’.

As Mark has written about, the utterly hysterical anxiety in the ‘male grooming’ industry around the concept of ‘male beauty’ is just crazy.

Sontag was right – all truly beautiful things are a combination of masculine and feminine. If men admit to seeking ‘beauty’ they admit to seeking the ‘feminine’. And what man would actually seek out the feminine? Except to contrast with his own masculinity?

So we are stuck with manly ‘male grooming’ and buff boys and ‘masculine men’. There is a whole industry behind the denial of men’s beauty. I don’t know how it is going to change.’

But I think Shane is beautiful. Because like Pejic, he is being himself regardless of what others think. And Liz is beautiful in her support of that.

We are beautiful, in every single way. Words won’t bring us down….

I don’t know what to make of this ‘changed man’ bikini. It actually does my head in.

I saw this ‘mangina’ swimsuit on Jezebel the feminist site but I am not linking to the article, as I hate Jezebel. One thing that did spring to mind is how this style of bikini imitates that prank young men sometimes play, where they put their dicks between their legs, creating a ‘mangina effect’. I expect boys have been doing that forever, it is called ‘tucking’, I now learn. But in this age where  increasing numbers of trans men and women are living openly and transitioning including via surgery, the ‘prank’ can take on nasty connotations (then again, maybe it always could).

Today Mark Simpson wrote about Andrej Pejic, the ‘androgynous’ fashion model that I have written about before, and placed him in a tradition of contemporary ‘gender bending’ pioneered by pop stars such as Marilyn from the 1980s.

As I had written previously about Pejic, referring to Simpson’s work:

‘For me, the notable thing about all the fuss around Pejic, is how the concept of ‘androgyny’ is really quite quaint and out moded in this postmodern, Metrosexy world. As Mark Simpson pointed out recently, if ‘macho’ figures such as Shane Warne are starting to become obsessed with being beautiful, and matching their glamorous girlfriends, wax for wax, pluck for pluck, accessory for accessory, shouldn’t we reconsider what our sense of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ mean?’

And Mark put it today more succinctly,  by describing

‘The way, in other words, that gender is undressing itself. Or at least, teasing us with an elbow-length glove or two and an unhooked bra-strap.’

But what is going on with this ‘tease’? When a man can buy a bikini that gives him the appearance of owning a vagina, and still be a man, but a man can’t wear long hair and colourful make up and still be a man? Or, when a man loses weight and primps himself up and needs to reassure us and himself that ‘I’m still a  man’. What are the rules and how do you know when you are breaking them and when you aren’t? And, how do women break the gender rules? That is a question Mr Simpson rarely concerns himself with. I know he thinks that in terms of gender expression, ‘it’s all right for women’, they are ‘free’ to dress and even act how they please (and to fuck who they please). As a woman who is constantly called into question in terms of her gender identity and her ‘pale imitation’ of being a woman I am not so sure. I actually think that examining gender bending without examining women, or, for example, trans men, is pretty ridiculous. But we are all ridiculous when it comes to gender so I don’t hold that against Mr Simpson or the validity of his thesis (well maybe a little bit).

As I said in the comments under Mark’s post, I think when it comes to gender we are all ‘pale imitators’ or ‘failed impersonators’. Though some people such as Pejic and Marilyn seem more comfortable with performing the ambiguities of gender than others. Like PJ for example. Who I would love to even begin to be able to palely imitate. Mansize.

‘Silence my lady head
Get girl out of my head
Douse hair with gasoline
Set it light and set it free ‘.