November 15, 2012

Gay, Straight, Metro? Where Do You Fit In?

Stereotypes are older than dirt, especially that of the stereotypical “Manly-man”. A stereotypical man works in a factory, comes home to his wife and 2.5 children in his mid-sized sedan, and washes the grunge of the day’s work off before he settles into his La-Z-Boy recliner to watch Monday Night Football on ESPN, right?


Stereotypical males seem to be a little more concerned with fashion and grooming than ever before, and some folks may even call them metrosexual. The term metrosexual may have just been a buzzword that’s recently dying out, but it’s dying for several reasons.

Aside from not working in factories, and not having 2.5 kids or a mid sized sedan, many men don’t necessarily fit the “Manly-man” mold. We’re not all the Brawny man.

I, for one, grow a mean uni-brow if I don’t maintain my eyebrows, so I pluck regularly. Now, I don’t wax, or get them threaded, or even fully pluck; I just clean up the part between my eyes, but I also take good care to maintain my goatee, keeping it clean, with sharp edges, and well trimmed. I also love to cook, know my fair share about gardening, and I’m capable of cleaning and sewing. That doesn’t make me a metrosexual does it?

Erynn Masi de Casanova, a UC assistant professor of sociology, probably has an answer for me.

She’ll be presenting her research about the label on Nov. 14, at the 111th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco.

She said, “I was really interested in finding out how individual men think about social categories, such as metrosexual,” says Casanova. “It’s a word that’s out there, but do men really think about it – does it mean anything to them?

I found out that people had contradictory opinions about what being metrosexual was. Sometimes one person would reveal both negative and positive connotations about the word,” says Casanova. She says the majority of the men referred to the aesthetic aspect of the stereotype – men who were well dressed and well groomed.

She assumes, “that it was likely a buzz-word that was fizzling out, or that now it has just become a label, as more men pay more attention to their appearance.”

I have to agree.

I recently had to do a project on typographic contrast, and Cosmopolitan Magazine is full of it, so I bought an issue. (Side note: I felt really awkward at the register when I bought it. I felt compelled to tell the cashier it was for a project, but since I’m relatively secure in my manhood, I reasoned to keep my explanation to myself.) In the issue there was a story about “The Rise of the Beta Male”.

The story went on to explain that with the rising popularity of fashion for men and the recent trend of “beta male” actors becoming sex symbols in the last few years, that it only makes sense for more men to follow suit. (I would link the article, but I can’t find it online; I suppose they publish articles separately from web than print to avoid redundancy-makes sense.)

Regarding the men that follow suit, that doesn’t make them any less masculine though. Gender roles and sexual roles are two completely different things that are often related, but don’t necessarily have to be.

Some folks may say I’m metro; I don’t think so, but that’s also because I’ve got a sort of negative connotation for the label. I think I’m just well rounded.

The stereotype of the average male is changing. Are you changing with it, or are you stuck in the past?

Image Credit: Photos.com

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