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The Men’s Zone: Where Guys Can Feel Pretty

There are now so many ‘grooming’ – i.e. male beauty – products on the market in the US they’ve begun to introduce entire aisles in supermarkets devoted to men’s tartiness. Even in Texas.

Shoppers will find “more than 530 grooming products, including razors that sculpt beards, two shelves stocked with rinses to color gray hair, at least 15 body washes with names such as Swagger and Komodo, lotions that promise to smooth wrinkles, sprays to mask body odors, and eye roller gel to lighten dark circles.”

Called ‘Men’s Zone’ (which sounds, I can’t help but point out, like a gay leather bar) and apparently sponsored by cosmetics giant Procter and Gamble, the concept seems to be separating men’s ‘grooming products’ from women’s beauty products — so that men feel less anxious, and more manly, about their metrosexuality.

And buy even more beauty products.

Tip: DAKrolak

31 thoughts on “The Men’s Zone: Where Guys Can Feel Pretty”

  1. All performance comes from some template that has been copied a billion times. Look at the people around you; 99.99% of them will be of some type that has millions of other members. Do you think they chose their personas with exacting forethought? There’s no insight here, only the somewhat interesting question of why this guy wants to single out gay masculinity as being especially problematic.

  2. Strangely, I’ve found that there are a lot of masculine gay men after the advent of Gay liberation.

    There is a very peculiar belief that some guys push asserting that effeminacy=gayness. I’ve met guys who are much more effeminate than I and are heterosexual. In my life my sexual choices determined my sexuality. I had no feminine role models growing up so regardless of my sexual choices I couldn’t be effeminate. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

    As far as working out goes, anyone’s body looks better if it is exercised and healthy.

  3. If everything is a performance, why is he so fucking concerned with masculine gay men living a lie. I though we were all lying.

  4. Mark S: the fact about everything in the U.S. is that everything actual is on the ‘down low”. I’ve found that that Al Jezzerra
    is more truthful about it’s reportage about most things. Hilary Clinton suggested that they were more accurate than any U.S. media; and she was right.

    Americans are so generally delusional about much of anything now that it’s hard to read or see any actual being reported.

  5. Yes, sorry about the ‘eccentric’ comment order, but this seems to be a bug with WordPress that hasn’t been fixed and may never be. Apparently it makes things worse if I ‘reply’ to a comment, instead of just adding another comment (there’s a ‘reply’ button for me as Admin – which shouldn’t really be there as WordPress can’t cope with it).

  6. Sorry if my comments are out of sequence but this site keeps dropping out on me, any one else with this problem?

  7. Mark S. So I guess dandies are more akin to the Trendies of the 80s than Metrosexuals. Is it a coincidence that your child has the same initials as you?

  8. With respect to ms. Brown’s claim, that is partially true, however, I don’t think that women are as visually turned on as men. They will discover what is most pleasing in other respects though, from their experiences and other senses.Sexually sophisticated women seem to develope a sense for men who can please them. That is why younger women don’t really know what they are up to.

  9. Graham Perrett
    That day is here. I believe, despite Mark S’s possible starting point for his notion of Metrosexuality being a run over from Homosexual culture, the source with the majority of men has been the realization that independant women can and do pick and choose their sex partners for need of pleasure, not monitary support. It was once that women choose men who were powerful in the world. Now they don’t need that. I am very much aware that women look for physical attractiveness. Consider, in the U.S men are the most devastated by unemployment, not women. Men have to please women to have sex with them. I don’t know what it is like in other areas, but a big part, although not all of men’s concern for their appear derives from the awareness that women exert decision making re; men’s appearance.
    And QRG their ability to pleasured them. Notice in movies now, how often in sex scenes women assume the top posture_ that is because it is possible to stimulate themselves on the males organ e.g find the elusive G spot, which men can’t find from the top. They can locate the clitoris
    from the top but that is oral.(how’s that!)

  10. Thanks for the elaboration Mark S. The desire to be desired is a much better way of putting it than my convoluted statement.

    Mark W: You spoke about the demand of feminism to be sexually satisfied by men. Well last night i was watching a doco on the sexxxual revolution, and there was an interview with Helen Gurley Brown (Gurley how ironic for a feminist). She said “I see a day when women will be able to look at a naked male body and be attracted to it”. That strikes me as a very odd statement even for a feminist (but not a lesbian), but maybe that was really the case. Maybe QRG can tell us?
    There was some really great footage of Stonewall and Castro St as well.. stuff I’ve never seen before.
    They also had lots of footage on Harvey Milk which puts the film to shame, from what I’ve heard. He was a total tart.

    I think your on to something there QRG. There is a beat toilet in the city that i used to walk past on my way to work. The arousal i would feel as i walked past was some of the strongest i have felt. Only to be equaled though by the guilt or shame i would feel if i ever dared to venture in.

  11. There are all sorts of permutations on a prototype. I find that with women at least there is a psychological advantage to be had in making sure that you give your partner pleasure. The statistics on the senario you described or it’s similar selfish variation are that women were nonorgasmic approx %50 of the time. A male who wants his partner to be really satisfied and is skillful can assure nearly %100. Women who think they can fake that are silly-it’s pretty obvious.
    What’s the point in having a partner if you’re not involved in a joint venture. Just get a vibrator.

  12. Addendum: I hope that was clear. If we to take your veiw strictly all men who take care of their bodies & appearance would be homosexuals acting like heterosexuals. i don’t thin that that is the case all the time with metrosexuality.

  13. Mark S.
    The reason I regard your concept of metrosexuality as being culturally profound as the Myth of Adm and Eve is that very shift in not only as much in the role of men but in that of women more basically is that women, with women’s liberation demanded to be satisfied sexually by their cojugal partners.
    While there was a coincidental shift related to homosexuality, that is not basic.
    While men were bore the burden of taking care of women, they were not expected to satisfy them; only after women’s lib did statistics appear about the very low rate of satisfaction women experienced with sex: Heterosexual men were rarely expected to do more than what was required to bear children.All of a sudden women could take care of themselves ad say “no’ to sex with men who were stinky,were “pounders” or didn’t know how to turn on and please women with their appearance and odor. So the burden fell on men to appeal to women.

    As you can see, from this stand point, which is more encompassing than that of someone who gets off more on themselves voyeuristically having sex with someone(who may as well be a pumpkin) it is insignificant that they have a sexual object.
    I know gay men who do get off in that way, rather than on their partner. Their are probably “heterosexuals” who actually are attracted to watching themselves more than their partners.In either case they are not really having sexual relations with another object, but they themselves would be the object.
    But I wonder if that kind of a person would be a voyeur/narcissist, not engaged in a “real” sex act with someone else who is the object.
    Just a thought.

  14. Graham: The dandy question is one that gets asked a lot. Here’s how I answered it in 2003:

    http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/feature/2004/01/05/metrosexual_ii/index2.html

    ‘Are metrosexuals really such a modern phenomenon? What about dandies?’

    MS: A metrosexual wouldn’t be caught dead in a powdered wig — though he might be tempted by the stockings and buckled shoes. Sorry to be pedantic, but dandies were an 18th century phenomenon. Metrosexuals belong to the 21st century. Dandyism was the pursuit of an elite, mostly aristocratic, or wannabe aristo group of men and was largely a way of advertising their wealth, idleness and refined taste. Metrosexuality is a mainstream, mass-consumer phenomenon involving the complete commodification of the male body. It takes Hollywood, ads, sports and glossy magazines as its inspirational gallery, rather than high classicism. The metrosexual desires to be desired. The dandy aimed to be admired. Or at least bitched about.

    That said, there are continuities. Oscar Wilde, probably the most famous and most populist dandy of the last century, would have understood metrosexuality and might even have approved of it — he did once declare: “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” Even if he could never have lived up to its exacting, athletic standards himself. It was Wilde’s trial and imprisonment for “gross indecency” at the end of the 19th century that popularized the Homosexual: The word was coined in 1860 — and, like “metrosexual,” is a forbidden and unfortunate conjugation of Greek with Latin. It also symbolized the triumph of the Industrial Age notion that male sensuality, aestheticism and narcissism were pathological, perverted and criminal. At least when you did them right. It was the decidedly middle-class concept of “sexuality” that killed the dandy. Now, fittingly enough, the metrosexual is killing sexuality.’

  15. Mark W: That’s certainly a kind of purist definition of narcissism, and it’s there in the myth of Narcissus. But narcissism has also been associated with the desire to be desired. Which of course has been portrayed as a ‘quintessentially feminine’ quality, certainly since at least the 19th Century. Likewise the narcissism of metrosexuals is not self-sufficient: they need to be noticed and wanted. This is why I’ve often described metrosexuality as the male desire to be desired.

  16. Hi Mark W. If its the opposite extreme of something then its part of the same thing, but what would the opposite of narcissism be called?

  17. “just knowing that someone you want, wants you, enough to satisfy”, is anything but narcisism- it’s contrary in fact. Narcisism is wanting to get off on yourself whether or not there is someone else or who they are.

  18. What would the disorder of “just knowing that someone you want, wants you, enough to satisfy”, be called.

  19. Thats what makes me think the psychology is what would be the common thread, but i guess, narcissism will always be narcissism.

  20. Mark S once referred to our age as the Dorian gray age. Which started me wondering what would have inspired Oscar Wilde to write such a story. Which then led me to the question are Metrosexuals modern day Dandies or is the psychology very different?

  21. Mark S. : Still breathing-barely.
    Not long ago, Hillary Clinton remarked that more and more Americans are reading Al Jazeera, because at least they reported accurately, regardless of what you thought of their positions: a feature sadly lacking in(any major) American media.
    Remember that the Christan American family alliance likes advertising to posture as though we still adhered to 50’s standards; in keeping with the process reporting virtually anything inaccurately.

    I know that we wouldn’t see all of the shelves full of men’s products if they weren’t being sold hand over fist.

  22. Mark: Nice to have you back! What’s interesting in the US is the way that metrosexuality has continued to advance rapidly in the US in its consumerist form since the much-trumpeted mid-noughties ‘menaissance’ and ‘retrosexual’ backlash against metrosexuality. But at the same time the US media seems to pretend not to notice and assert instead that men’s behaviour hasn’t changed. That men remain MEN. Whatever that means. Or if behaviour has, it’s just another form of MANLINESS. As in ‘mandates’ or ‘manbags’. Or ‘Man Zone’.

    Essentially metrosexuality in the US has continued in the last few years by stealth, discreetly deniable – so as not to cause any more national nervous breakdowns. Metrosexuality is kind of on the Down Low. But in plain view. Everyone can see it, but it’s not polite to talk about it.

  23. Ann: I’ve dated a few Komodo’s in my time.

    I think the line between male ‘cosmetics’ and ‘make-up’ is rapidly being smudged. Though probably Procter and Gamble wouldn’t want their products to be associated with eyeliner as this is too ‘niche’.

  24. The odd fact is that heterosexuals use those things at least as much s gays in the U.S., if it was just for gays it would hardly be worth all the marketing and shelf space.

    My guess is that, quite the contrary to your jest, gay men probably have and still do use women’s cosmetics. Straight men per capita do as much body maintenance as gay guys. That includes all of the surgery and body building.

    The Men’s health magazines most certainly seem to sell to straight men.

    Some people still like to maintain a myth that straight men are smelly and gross like earlier lesbians, and that only gays wanted to attract partners.

    That could be different elswhere because the U.S does in fact have a lot more well employed women who don’t care to marry a man who will take car of them but someone they want to fuck.

  25. The Komodo name is unfortunate. Komodo dragons are giant lizards with supremely toxic saliva.

    But I do think any man looks better with eyeliner. Or do these product lines dare cross over into (gasp!) makeup?

  26. Mary, the skinhead/suedehead thing, while clearly and unambiguously conveying a ‘no-nonsense’ “statement”, is in fact one of the most pain in the ass grooming rituals to which a girl can elect to commit herself. Maintenance thereof testifies persuasively as to the vigorous health of the ‘fag’ within!

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