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.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Alice's comment has been added as a post, so we deleted it from the comment thread.

  3. The entire post is great, but the essence of my thoughts are captured here in the final paragraph. We all have things to learn from the movement, but if it is used as a cop-out, then it stinks.

    I love the thoughts, appreciate the comments, and like Alice's story as well. Keep up the good writing!!!

    Kevin at Return To Manliness

  4. Thanks Kevin, it seems like we came to the same conclusion from two different directions.

    Over the last couple months I've been seeing this nascent masculinity movement define itself--or maybe I'm just getting around to reading the definitions--from rejectign brute macho poses to embracing understanding women, all while maintaining a sense of personal responsibility. It's given me a lot to think about.

  5. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The only reason metrosexuals exist is because women reward the behavior by sleeping with them. This was a great post. I just found your blog when I was google searching "tim ferriss attention economy". Weird what shows up in a search query these days. I checked out a couple of your other posts and I have to say I like this one the best. Keep yourself off twitter.

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Andrew, and thanks for the great compliment. The search engine does work in mysterious ways, doesn't it?

  7. There is a terrific sociological book out there called "the Way We Never Were" which explains our concepts of the Nuclear Family, of masculinity and femininity are not really based on reality.

    On my father's side of the family, nearly every single woman was a deep-voiced, barrel-chested behemoth who ruled the roost with an iron fist, while the men were puny little wimps. The men worked because women weren't allowed to, but every week the men handed the money directly over to their wives. They were Ma & Pa Kettle. They were hardened farm women who had no need of cosmetics or frills.

    On my mother's side of the family the women were a bit more demure and actually liked wearing makeup and getting their hair done. However, they still did the family finances and made all the major decisions. My grandfather was sensitive and I even caught him crying over an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

    The bravado and machismo attributed to manly men, the men who kicked sand in wimps' faces, or the men who started bar fights over their team losing, is a thing of stereotypes. It's the blue shirt of a working, lower class male, the immigrant Irish or Italian worker. For some reason this fighting example has become something many men feel they've "lost".

    A metrosexual gets his name from the first part of the word. Metro, meaning city. He is upperclass, or at least above the lowly working class stiff who drinks beer and then beats his wife, or at least wears a wife-beater while drinking beer.

    The metrosexual isn't afraid to prune that unibrow or to iron a shirt. There's no loss of masculinity here. The goal of a masculine man should be to conquer his prey, the feminine woman on the flirt. If smelling less like sweat and beer is attractive to the opposite sex, why wouldn't a man adopt a cleaner, more attractive persona.

    Sure, Sex-and-the-city type women may say they want a man who can cry with them, hug them and feed them chocolate ice cream when they're on their periods, but remember that show was written and created by a gay man. Real women might like a gay man to do all those things with as a close friend, but when it comes to sex they typically look for a heterosexual man. And that label doesn't include foul body odor, drunkenness, broken teeth, black eyes, or beastly insensitivity!