The Pros and Cons of Metrosexuality

A recent post on Return to Manliness came out strongly against metrosexuality. For me, I've always read metro as "how to be mistaken for a gay man." The classic example is one of the five hosts of "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy", who turned out to be, oddly, not gay.

I'll do my best to sum up Kevin's argument as follows. The trend of metrosexuality is one of men being asked to be like women and forsake what makes men different. Men accomodated it because they wanted a better understanding of what women are thinking and what they want. And also because they found they got more sex from women who were flattered by the imitation. Problems arose when men, in their efforts to identify with women, rejected the good aspects of manliness. The result was men who were easily intimidated, wouldn't take the initiative or speak plainly, shirked physical exertion and risk, etc. I hope I've done Kevin's line of reasoning justice.

Understanding the opposite sex is good, and being passive and conflict-avoidant and all those other things is bad. It's possible to have one without the other. I'm not sure how many of the men I deal with on a daily basis qualify as metrosexuals (a lot of them are slobs) but I do see a lot of these negative traits. Maybe there is some kind of societal trend where men are given an excuse not to man up, in the name of empathizing with women. If so, I doubt women got anything out of the deal.

I brought up the subject with my wife. She was a little surprised; for her, the archetypal metro is David Beckham. He's a guy who isn't afraid to use women's tools to make himself look better than other men, and nobody mistakes his sexual orientation. The way Alice sees it, a metrosexual man is one who tries to look better, but not necessarily less masculine. He tries to be more aware of his body, his physiology, so he's literally more "in touch" with his feelings. His gut reactions tell him his emotional state, making it possible for him to deal with people in a more up-front and honest way. (Note the importance of the word "possible". This takes effort.)

Preferably, men could be men--they could use their physical strength and be protective and competitive--and still understand women well enough. There are two sides to this: making yourself understood, and being receptive to what you're being told. This goes for both men and women. Men need to understand and communicate their feelings, and be willing to accept constructive criticism and hear a woman's complaints without belittling them or rationalizing them away. Women need to ditch the old mysteries of feminine mystique and intuition if they want both themselves and their men to be happy. That means explaining what they want in a way that a man can understand it, and not discouraging mens' disclosures by saying it hurts to hear them (which keys into his instinct to protect her - from himself).

It can be a better world. I'm not sure if the superficial aspects of metrosexuality are a problem, but if it's used as a cop-out, it's bad. Man up.