Queer Eye | Issue 15

Queer Eye | Issue 15

Masculinity in crisis

Oh woe is us as we mourn the loss of the “real” men. The ones whose facial hair was allowed to grow free and wasn’t teased into hipster-perfect face art. The men whose sole occupation was rustling sheep, drinking beer and chasing tail. The men whose only exercise was a run around a rugby field, who didn’t feel the need to spend hours pumping bar bells in front of wall mirrors while guzzling protein shakes. These are the men who built our country and fought for our freedom … apparently.

I mean, seriously, do people still believe this shite? Well, according to the media and the super accurate reflection of society that is the Internet, there is a real anxiety out there that masculinity is in crisis. It seems that a lot of people are worried that our men are looking too nice, smelling too nice and wearing far too stylish clothing. I have even heard gay men worried about this trend as apparently it makes it harder for them to sort the gays from the straights!

So who is to blame? Is it those dandy Queer Eye for the Straight Guy men who taught us the correct way to use hair products? Is it those raving feminists who blame men for all the ills in the world and made us feel all guilty about our manliness? Is it the school system that clearly favours girls as they constantly score better than us? Or is it some food preservative which is increasing our oestrogen levels?!

It seems to me that if anything is to blame, it is capitalism. The market is always trying to increase demand for its products and therefore it is always trying to find new consumers. It is therefore no surprise that pharmaceutical companies have been trying to convince men that they need the same products that they traditionally sell to women. It wasn’t so long ago that men would laugh at the thought of using moisturiser, and now I believe it is in fairly common usage amongst menfolk. Indeed some men are exploring various forms of makeup and what Saturday night outfit would be complete without a spray of your favourite cologne?

Are we really all that worried about this so-called “erosion” of masculinity, though? For me it depends on the lens through which we look at it. Sure there is a problem if the market is saying that men are not “sexy” unless we smell like roses, have our eyebrows plucked, and each have a tanned, rippling six-pack. It is most certainly a problem if we are then spending all of our money and spare time trying to obtain this look. But it is not a problem if society is crafting men who are less violent, more refined and more in touch with our emotions. It is not a problem if we are producing men who treat women with respect and recognise both their own privileges and vulnerabilities.

For me the most exciting development in this evolution of masculinity, is that it is beginning to critique the gender binary. When we stop seeing gender in terms of exaggerated and archaic ideals, we begin to question what exactly it is to be a man and what it is to be a women. We begin to challenge our assumptions, prejudices and misconceptions. We might even stop using phrases like “man up” and “grow a pair.”

So all hail the metrosexual! All glory be to the hipster gentlemen!
This article first appeared in Issue 15, 2014.
Posted 6:52pm Sunday 13th July 2014 by Sir Lloyd Queerington.