Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Woman's View - The Feminization of the American Male

Someone who calls herself Crunchy Chicken wrote a very interesting post on The feminization of the American male. For the most part, I tend to agree with her. The post has a lot of comments in reply, with the sense that most of the women prefer men who look like men rather than teenage boys.

More after the post.
The feminization of the American male

Where's Pussy Galore?At what point did the standard for male sexuality switch from muscular, hairy men to androgynous, hairless ones? What am I talking about and what does this have to do with the environment? Well, bear with me and I'll 'splain.

Think back to the 1970s and before (I know, that far?) and, using the all important media as our meter of society, take a gander at the men who were considered sex symbols. The standard was tall, dark and hairy. Facial hair, hairy chests, the whole shebang.

Think of Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Sean Connery, Tom Selleck or even (yikes!) Burt Reynolds. Sure there was the occasional boyish heartthrob thrown in to titillate the younger crowds, but for the most part the male sex symbols were men. Manly men.

The Dude abidesStarting in the 1980s, the male sex symbol started being neuterified. Yes, I made that word up. Can we blame Miami Vice and Don Johnson's hairless chest and preoccupation with looking good? That perpetual 5 o'clock shadow that screams "Yes! I'm a man, but not enough to have real facial hair"?

Fast forward to today and the list of sex symbols is more of a mix. Now, I'm not discounting the likes of Gerard Butler, Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman and the rest, but there's been a serious trend towards celebrities with elfin magic such as Jude Law, Justin Timberlake, Orlando Bloom and Leonardo DiCaprio (the early years).

Wait a minute, can we go back and think about Gerard Butler, Clive Owen and Hugh Jackman again. Ok. Anyway, I've been masturbating, I mean masticating over this for a few weeks now. Good lord, where was I going with this?

Damn, the research on this is excruciating!

Elfin magicNow, before you think I'm some Bonobo getting all hot and bothered over the hairy Pan paniscus in the crowd, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of body hair. But, I do like my men to look like men and not little boys.

So, what's the deal with the recent pressure on adult men to be metrosexual? There's nothing wrong with a little manscaping here and there, but men are being subjected to the same beauty pressures that women have had to endure for the last several hundred years and longer.

Aside from the personal pressure to live up to some standard of beauty and the self-doubt and criticism that follows, the impact of trying to achieve an unnatural state is no light matter. It's bad enough that half the population is condemned to rely on beauty products, haircare (coloring and hair products), body hair maintenance and the rest. Now men are feeling like they have to do the same. That means more waste in a number of ways.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking BarrelsI'm not suggesting that men don't take care of their appearances. Keeping the eyebrows, nose and ear hair under control is one thing. Plucking, waxing and altogether altering one's appearance to maintain a boyish look is another.

Not too surprising, even Brad Paisley is commenting on the trend in one of his latest songs, I'm Still a Guy:

These days there’s dudes gettin' facials
Manicured, waxed, and botoxed
But with deep spray on tans and creamy lotioney hands
You cain’t grip a tackle box
Yeah, with all of these men linin' up to get neutered
It’s hip now to be feminized
But, I don’t highlight my hair
I’ve still got a pair
Yeah, honey I’m still a guy

Oh, my eyebrows ain’t plucked
Theres a gun in my truck
Oh Thank God, I’m still a guy

What is the real opinion on the metrosexual trend. I want to hear from both men and women on how they feel about the pressure for men to focus so much on their appearance.

Men: Do you feel a pressure to get all "prettified" to meet a new standard?

Women: Do you prefer a more natural looking guy or one that's well manicured?
This post ties in with the video I posted a little while ago. Men are now facing the same "beauty" issues that women have been dealing with forever.

I wonder though. Is there any correlation between the physical feminization of men and the emotional feminization of men? Is the absence of a mature masculinity the source of men becoming obsessed with their appearance?

I work out to look good naked (the only real reason most guys [or girls] work out). I do a bit of grooming. I use moisturizers to limit wrinkling. I shave my face, as much as I'd rather not. I keep unsightly hair trimmed. But I have never had a facial, a manicure, or any of those other metrosexual delights.

And as much as I have worked to have clear and clean access to my heart, my emotions, I doubt that anyone who knows me would describe me as feminine in any way.

It IS possible to be emotionally intelligent as a man and not be feminine. The masculine heart is deep and tender, but it is different than the feminine heart. The hard thing for most of us is that we lack good examples of tender masculinity -- there are no cultutral images for this type of man, though he surely exists.

I think that, at least in part, the feminization of men in the physical realm represents the feminization of men in their interiors. Until we have a more integrated view of masculinity, I don't see this changing much.

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