With so many buzzwords making their way onto, across, and off the scene before you can say "supercalafragilisticexpi" -- okay, before you can say "boo" -- you've probably already noticed that you need help keeping up with today's hippest terms. One of the latest to confuse alert readers is metrosexual .
Joe says to Tyrone, "So this... guy , at work today, he calls me a metrosexual at lunch in front of a bunch of people at the coffee machine. I didn't know what to do!"
"Whatever did you do ?" implored Tyrone, with mock interest in Joe's latest miniature social crisis.
"Well," said Joe, taking the cue, "I wasn't quite sure what he meant. So I says to him, 'What did you mean?' But before he can say anything... I'm just filled with this rage, you know?" says Joe.
"So what did you do?" implored Tyrone, this time with genuine interest in his friend's violent tendencies.
"I don't wanna tell ya. First, ya gotta tell me what the hell this metrosexual business is about, so's I'll know if I done the right thing or not. So spill, brainiac."
Tyrone considered his response carefully, finally coming up with "Uhh...?"
If a situation like this one has befallen you or someone you know, don't worry friend, you're not alone. The term in question is so close to something you firmly identify with, but as with "murse" (or "manbag," i.e. a man's purse), that first letter changes everything. So before you go punching some guy in the mouth that you shouldn't have -- or worse, go missin' out on poppin' some guy ya shooda (which would probably indicate that you're not a metrosexual) -- how about a little edification, for the road.
what is a metrosexual?The newly popular media and marketing buzzword seems to mean different things to different people, but in general, a metrosexual :
- his appreciation for literature, cinema, or other arts
- his flair for cooking
- his savoir faire in choosing the perfect wine and music
- his eye for interior design
who coined the term?Mark Simpson, a British and outspokenly gay social "commentarist," first published the term in a 1994 article called "Here Come The Mirror Men," which ran in Britain's Independent . The concept was developed thanks to Simpson's book on masculine identity in a media-driven world, called Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity .
Find out if metrosexuals are gay...
simpson's strategyAt the time, Simpson was simply chronicling a new male prototype he saw emerging in society. The term has been co-opted in the past few years by fashion companies, though, as a marketing ploy: Give people an identity to strive for, an attractive pigeonhole to squeeze into, and, like sheep, they'll buy anything associated with it.
In a Salon.com article entitled "Meet The Metrosexual" (July 2003), Simpson said, "old-fashioned (re)productive, repressed, unmoisturized masculinity was being given the pink slip by consumer capitalism. The stoic, self-denying, modest straight male didn't shop enough -- his role was to earn money for his wife to spend -- so he had to be replaced by a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image... A man, in other words, who is an advertiser's walking wet dream."
In a recent interview, Simpson goes on: "Commercially... it makes perfect sense to maintain that metrosexuals are all straight -- after all, advertising is trying to persuade as many men as possible to relax their sphincter muscles, cooing in their ear that there's nothing gay about being f***ed by corporate consumerism. Which, ironically, is true."
what's sexuality got to do with it?If Mark Simpson is gay, does that mean metrosexuals are too? Most current references seem to peg metros as hetero, but in Simpson's original definition, orientation was unimportant. Simpson clarified this point in an interview with Russia's OM Magazine , explaining, "Metrosexuality is in fact the end of 'sexuality'." He goes on to say that when it comes to metros, sexuality "is utterly immaterial because the metrosexual has taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual aim. Desire in the metrosexual has been uncoupled, or at least irretrievably loosened, from reproduction and gender -- and reattached to commercial signs. Adverts. Images. Icons. Brands."
In general parlance, to be called metrosexual is not to be called gay, but rather sensitive, chic and cultured.
what are we talking about?Some of the most commonly labeled metrosexual prototypes include English soccer star David Beckham and screen icons Brad Pitt, Hugh Jackman and Tom Cruise. All these men are as much models as they are sports stars or actors, welcoming the not-so-furtive female gazes like the walking billboards they've become.
So, are you metro, or something else entirely? Find out...
Signs that metrosexuality has gone mainstream include the alarming popularity of labels like Abercrombie & Fitch, a middlebrow metrosexual fashion option, among straight, beer-drinking frat boys.
By the way, thanks to Mel Gibson's hip and sensitive character in What Women Want , the movie could answer its titular query with "Metrosexuals, that's what!" Meanwhile, Fight Club is about an ostensibly testosterone-imbued movement -- bare-knuckle fighting turning to hooliganism in the name of social protest -- that ironically uses Brad "six-pack" Pitt as its "gorgeous" leader in a narrative that more closely resembles a feature-length glossy men's magazine fashion shoot than a movie.
so what are you?In case you're counting, this ain't the first label referring to guys who fall short of the beer-drinking, fart-lighting prototype. To clarify, a few others you may have heard include:
SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy): A guy that women like to talk to like one of their own, and find attractive because they can. Refers more to sensitivity, without the narcissism and preening associated with metrosexuality.
Renaissance Man: An older term referring to the early modern era, when ancient scientific and artistic knowledge was revisited in a flurry of creation. Refers to a well-rounded, sophisticated, worldly individual with interests in many areas and expertise in several. Think of artist-engineer Leonardo da Vinci.
As any donut shop drive-thru clerk, bowling pin monkey, or anyone else occupying a highly technical field knows, you should leave the tough, dangerous work to the professionals. That is where I, your trained, vigilant lexicographer comes in, fellow struggler, to guide you through the maze that is 21st century English.
metrosexual is quite a capacious term. Others you may not have heard seem to zero in on one or a few aspects of the male persona. Here are a few other terms you might want to add to your growing lexicon:
Primp: A very well groomed guy who always has women around, but never seems to go for any one in particular. Behind his back, people speculate about his sexuality. More of a "straight gay guy" than a "gay straight guy," to use Sex and the City terminology.
Martha Studly: The guy who has a set of variously sized throw pillows that not only match each other, complement the living room upholstery and decor concept (that's right, concept !), but accent the next room's assemblage as well. Hey, if it impresses the ladies, then "that's a good thing."
Skexual: A male or female whose sexuality -- and sometimes even sex -- is so impossible to determine that s/he just seems sketchy from the get-go. Think "Pat" from Saturday Night Live .
metro thisIn the end, if you've read this article to this point, then you're probably curious enough about the phenomenon to qualify as a metrosexual. Now, is that worth poppin' some guy in the mouth for?
Labels: Trend and Style