Here Comes the Groom

TABATHA LEGGETT charts the meteoric rise of the Metrosexual man.

Desperate Housewives fake tan fingernails GQ grooming metrosexual queer Sex Superdrug Wisteria Lane

It was a Monday afternoon. I’d just got back from my lecture, and was about to start tackling the reading for my latest essay. I sat down, put the kettle on and opened my book. As always, when one intends to get on with some work, a distraction presented itself. This distraction came in the form of a knock on my door. I answered, only to find my friend looking very excited and clutching a packet of chocolate biscuits.

“Is it time to watch ‘Desperate Housewives’?”

“Yes, Dave,” I replied, “it is.”

That’s right. Dave, my heterosexual, male friend (who incidentally has a girlfriend) came over to watch ‘Desperate Housewives’ with me. What’s more; he does this every Monday without fail. Now, I’m certainly not complaining. I love catching up on Wisteria Lane’s latest dramas, although I must admit, the show just hasn’t been the same since Evie died. I just never thought I’d share this guilty pleasure with someone like Dave.

As the program was loading on my laptop, Dave turned to me and asked: “Which ‘Desperate Housewives’ character am I most like?”

“Umm,” I replied, “maybe Orson?” As soon as I’d answered his ridiculous question, Dave looked genuinely upset.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, reconsidering my answer and contemplating whether perhaps he was more of a Mike.

“I was actually wondering which female character I’m most like.”

Oh dear. I could cope with enjoying trashy television with Dave. I could cope with his inability to fix my punctured bike tyre. I could even cope with him borrowing my moisturiser last week, but this question really did take me by surprise. And then I realised: blokey blokes and lads just don’t exist anymore, and especially not in Cambridge.

A recent survey for ‘Superdrug’ revealed that men spend, on average, 83 minutes per day on personal grooming, whereas women spend just 79 minutes. Furthermore, men spend 19 pence more on grooming products per month than their female counterparts, and shower for a minute longer each day. It’s official: men spend more time looking after their appearances than women do.

Just twenty years ago, male fashion and men’s skin care products were identified with homosexual men. Nowadays, this just simply isn’t the case. British newspapers have even named the new age, softer man: the ‘metrosexual’.

So, what constitutes a metrosexual man? The metrosexual embraces his softer side. He spends less time in pubs, and more time in bars. He visits the hairdresser instead of the barber and reads magazines like ‘GQ’ and ‘Men’s Health’. The metrosexual man watches car adverts, and instead of looking at the car’s features, he looks at how the driver feels. He makes sure his skin is smooth and his fingernails manicured. He exfoliates and sometimes fake tans. The metrosexual man cuddles after sex, and, on occasion, talks about his feelings.

Apparently, the rise in metrosexual men was prompted by television programs like ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’ and celebrity style icons like David Beckham. With the media constantly telling men to look after their appearances, the lads of yesterday have become the suave men of today. Mel Gibson has been replaced by Jude Law.

Our society encourages metrosexual men. The number of single guys is on the rise, thus men constantly have to make an effort with their appearance in order to attract partners. Or so the theory goes. Furthermore, the society that we now operate within is noticeably more feminised than societies of previous generations. Men are more likely to have female bosses, and men and women socialise together more. It seems that metrosexuality is inevitable.

But, where have all the real men gone?

I’m not sure they really have gone at all. Sure: the men of today look a bit prettier and smell a bit nicer than their predecessors. They spend longer trying to look good, and sometimes they even cry. But, when push comes to shove, when it really matters, men are still men. They still like boobs, they still enjoy banter and they still drink beer.

So, maybe Dave is more of a Lynette than an Orson. But, the other day he saved a girl on my corridor from a spider. I reckon that was pretty manly.