Friday, May 23, 2008

Metrosexuals Versus Manly Men: Obama vs. McCain?

[Is Obama more feminine than Clinton?]

An interesting article over the Moderate Voice raises the issue of whether or not Obama is too metrosexual (read: girlie) to be Commander in Chief.

Metrosexuals versus manly men: a reason voters will prefer McCain to Obama?

May 23rd, 2008 by JILL MILLER ZIMON

Types like she laughs: I never thought about it this way before, but John Ettorre just left a very interesting and unique (because I’d yet to see the argument made nor had it ever occurred to me before now) comment on this thread with Ellen Bravo’s ten reasons why women should vote for Obama if he is the candidate.

Writes John:

And reason #11: he’s a metrosexual, with all the effeminate qualities that entails. They’re off-putting to many males (me included), and I predict it will be among the leading reasons for sinking his chances in the general election. [emphasis added]

This kind of idea is very far afield to me because I really don’t view people in those terms, or at least, I don’t think about metrosexuals at all.

I can’t remember seeing a microtargeting category of metrosexuals but here’s what you can find on Google if you put in “metrosexual Obama.” Results in the “news” search are here. I don’t have time to go through many of them, so let me just link to a couple:

This letter to the editor, in Maine, goes right to the military comparison and is not complimentary to Obama.

But this article in U.S. News & World Report takes the position that Obama is more of a woman than Clinton and that that implies that women will not lose if Obama is the nominee (fun note: that article was written on 2/13/08 and says that the race was Obama’s to lose, then).

This just gets too wrapped up in genderizing the qualities that go with being a leader and again, being short on time, I’ll leave the comments as a place for people to explore whether we are evolved enough to realize that we should be selecting our leaders based on those qualities, and not by saying things like “he’s more a woman than Clinton” or “McCain is more of a manly man.” What is that supposed to do for us? Some people identify women’s qualities as not being ones akin to leadership, others go the opposite direction. And manly men in the way people refer to someone like McCain totally turn me off. Feh.

Anyway - manly men or metrosexuals? What do people think?

Let's just assume for the sake of argument that Obama is a metrosexual, meaning ....
a neologism generally applied to heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance, or whose lifestyles display attributes stereotypically seen among gay men. The metro- (city) prefix indicates this man's purely urban lifestyle, while the -sexual suffix comes from "heterosexual," meaning that this man, although he is usually straight, embodies the heightened aesthetic sense often associated with certain types of gay men.
Doesn't that describe all politicians to some degree? Isn't that why these men (and women) have stylists, to make them look good?

Putting aside the issue of appearance and grooming, which is only a surface issue anyway, there is something else at work here.

By metrosexual, many people mean effeminate. In Obama's case, there might be some psychological truth to that assertion. He was raised without a strong and present father figure, a situation that often leaves men more "feminine" than those raised with fathers who could guide them into some form of mature masculinity.

This is of special interest to me and I'll be blogging more about it over time. I navigated my teen years without a father, which left me struggling for years to develop a mature masculinity that is both sensitive and strong. I suspect Obama did the same thing.

Is Obama a metrosexual? I don't know. But I do suspect that he is more balanced in his psychology than is McCain (the archetypal masculine image, ala John Wayne). Is it a bad thing that Obama has more access to his feminine subpersonality? I don't think so -- to me it seems a positive trait that can make him a more effective leader (this may account for his skills at coalition building in the Senate).

I'm sure we will be hearing more about this in the coming months. I will also be blogging here more about "father loss" and "absent fathers" and how this impacts masculinity.

1 comment:

GA said...

My wife just pointed me to this blog so this is the first post I read, and I believe I will have a lot more reading to do ;-)

Regarding the issue here, I have written that the true feminine revolution is that us men reconnect with our feminine virtues: communication, intuition, emotions, dialog, cooperation, etc.

I see in Obama a very well balanced person, with both male and female virtues (ying-yang). And I believe we need leaders with this type of balance, which could be the case for having more women in high political positions, the presidency, so there would be a different tone, approach, counter-balance all the man-style of running business, governments, etc.

So, under this perspective, Obama does bring more feminine virtues than Hillary, as I perceive her too adapted to the male-role model, its what she needed to open her way through, but along the way lost some of the most valuable things a woman could bring to the table.

Best regards!