Saturday, October 08, 2005

Boys will be Girls

The Metrosexual Age

We have dreamt of every woman there is, and dreamt too of the miracle that would bring us the pleasure of being a woman, for women have all the qualities - courage, passion, the capacity to love, cunning - whereas all our imagination can do is naively pile up the illusion of courage.
Jean Baudrillard

During the American Presidential primaries Howard Dean called himself a 'Metrosexual', so how much chest hair has he lost? Perhaps that's the reason for his infamous scream that went across the air waves.

Mascara men outdo girls at garba
[ FRIDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2005 10:43:56 PM ]

AHMEDABAD/SURAT/VADODARA: Last year, they were thronging accessory stores, buying bracelets, anklets, piercing their ears. Navratri 2005, they are queuing up outside beauty salons to streak their hair, doing a facial, pedicure, manicure and they are even waxing their chests and backs!

The metrosexual male has arrived. And he is flaunting his 'assets' acquired from frenzied work-outs at the neighbourhood gym.

Like 22-year-old garba-freak, Amit Thakkar, who went through all that pain only to woo girls. "It's all about fun. Girls like men without chest hair. We don't mind bearing a little pain to look good and feel good," says Thakkar, who waxed his chest specially for Navratri.

Urvish Shah, an MCom student who also waxed his chest, bares it all — "It's trendy and looks good under kurtis without buttons." To complete the picture, he coloured his hair and did a facial. Beauticians are beaming. "Business is brisk due to Navratri.

The profit in the men's section alone has soared 40 per cent" claims Sonal Shah of a popular beauty clinic. The demand for highlighting and colouring hair has also soared during the season, say beauticians. And, men are also wearing earrings and sporting the bicep-accessory, the 'kadu'.

Girls can't help but gush. "It looks attractive, especially if you have a physique to go with the clean chest," says 19-year-old Pragya Khatri, a garba enthusiast from Navrangpura. Jal Shah of Vadodara is spending Rs 250 every night to set his hair for all the nine nights.

Hairdressers say they are getting equal number of men, as girls this Navratri. Says centre head of Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves (VLCC), Vadodara, Sujata Gohil, "We have seen more males walk in for hairstyles, streaking and German re-bonding to straighten their hair and they are ready to spend up to Rs 2,500."

Limbachia brothers of Capital beauty parlour, Vadodara, confess that males are waxing their chests. "Some boys want tattoos of bulls and anchors on their chests," says Abhishek Limbachia. "Boys, in fact. highlight their hair according to the colour of their dresses."

Navratri (Navaratri) an Indian Festival :-

Come October and there's just one feeling allover. A feeling of joy & happiness. A time for dance, music and devotion. Yes, we are talking about the most awaited festival by people from all walks of life -Navratri. A festival when the young-hearts throb with excitement and energy and the older generation is full of devotion.

What is 'Navaratri' all about?
Navratri is a festival of worship, dance and music celebrated over a period of nine nights (Nav-nine and Ratri-nights). It is celebrated from the first to ninth date of Ashwin Shukla Paksha of the Hindu Calendar for the worship of the Goddess Durga. Goddess Durga is believed to exist in many forms like Goddess Bhavani, Jagdamba, Mahakali etc. The first nine days of the Ashwin are devoted for worshipping the Divine Mother -'MAA'. These nine days are divided and devoted to the Trinity of God worshipped in a female form - three days for Durga (Goddess of valor) three days for Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and three days for Sarswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Art). On the fifth day (Lalita Panchami), it is traditional, to gather all books, light a lamp and invoke Sarswati . The eighth and ninth day, it is traditional to perform Yagna (sacrifice offered to the fire) to honor Divine Mother and bid her farewell.

In Edmonton a new Mens Spa has opened, aptly titled the Boardroom. The only one in Canada, specifically for men. And it opened in Edmonton not Montreal or Toronto, or even Calgary (they like their men hairy and butch, like Stephen Harper). The Edmonton Journal recently ran a feature on the new trend in Men's grooming, taking advantage of manicures, pedicures, waxing, once the domain of women. Meet the Metrosexual. The age of consumer bi-sexual gender f**k is upon us.

LOLA The Kinks (1970)

I met her in a club down in old soho
Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola [lp version:
C-o-l-a cola
She walked up to me and she asked me to dance
I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said lola
L-o-l-a lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Well I’m not the world’s most physical guy
But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine
Oh my lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man
Oh my lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Well we drank champagne and danced all night
Under electric candlelight
She picked me up and sat me on her knee
And said dear boy won’t you come home with me
Well I’m not the world’s most passionate guy
But when I looked in her eyes well I almost fell for my lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

I pushed her away
I walked to the door
I fell to the floor
I got down on my knees
Then I looked at her and she at me

Well that’s the way that I want it to stay
And I always want it to be that way for my lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Well I left home just a week before
And I’d never ever kissed a woman before
But lola smiled and took me by the hand
And said dear boy I’m gonna make you a man

Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man
But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man
And so is lola
Lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola
Lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola lo-lo-lo-lo lola

Ray Davis and his great rock band the Kinks were always ahead of their time. This metrosexual anthem set the stage for a coming out of the bi-sexual gender f**k in Rock and Roll. Two years later Lou Reed released his famous (drag) Queen anthem, Walk on the Wild Side.

Lou Reed was first known as the songwriter and singer for the hugely influential and acclaimed Velvet Underground. He released his self titled debut solo album in 1972. It consisting of songs originally written during the Velvet years. David Bowie produced Transformer later that year and included a surprise hit, "Walk On The Wild Side." The song reached the UK Top 10 and US Top 20, his only track to enter the pop charts in either the US or UK.

1972 The era of androgynous bi-sexuality,Glam Rock was upon us in the 1970's with Reed, David Bowie, and the New York Dolls, etc.

The New York Dolls were a rock music group formed in New York City in 1971. They found little success during their lifetime, but the New York Dolls prefigured much of what was to come in the punk rock era and even later; the Dolls' over-the-top crossdressing influenced the look of many hair metal groups.

1972 was certainly the year that Bowie began to get a glimpse of the power of the pop. Previewed in London that Spring, his rock and roll creation Ziggy Stardust, put on one of the most spectacular and innovative live shows to date, and the craze that followed was the beginnings of his superstar myth. The summer of 1972 was also a busy one for him in the studio, as he produced albums for Lou Reed ('Transformer') and Mott The Hoople ('All The Young Dudes', for which he wrote the hit title track). The US Ziggy tour began in September playing sold out shows full of theatrically inspired Japanese costumes, snarling guitars courtesy of Mick Ronson, and a bold, daring approach to performance that propelled the audience into a rock and roll fervor. He abruptly put his own creation to rest on June 3, 1973 with, the pronouncement, "of all the shows on the tour this one will stay with us for the longest because not only is this the last show of the tour, but it is the last show we will ever do." This surprised everyone in the house - not least the members of his band.

Rockers were wearing make up, which has always been a bi-sexual gender f**k, and by the end of the era of Glam Theatrical Rock the logical outcome was the Kabuki Drag of Kiss. So that even the toughest long haired head banger macho guy was allowed to like guys in Drag, and even wear drag. Cause bad guy Gene Simmons said so.

And of course I would be remiss if I did not at least reference the Queen of rock and roll, Freddy Mercury. He and Queen have remained enormously popular over the past thirty years. And even more so after his passing in 1991.

Rock and Roll culture was given permission to challenge sexual/gender stereotyping by the emergence of the gay liberation and feministmovements in the seventies. It was gay/feminist movement that transformed the popular cultural definition of masculine. And Rock and Roll was its medium, especially rock n roll coming out of New York city. The ultimate Metropolis, and home to all the above bands sans Queen. And by the eighties the gender f**k bisexuality of rock n roll came out of the closet with a new age Queen, Boy George. Who while not making music is still making the news.

And it is still reflected in the musical culture around us.
Ever on the cutting edge of Gangsta Culture and hip capitalism even P Diddy is going Metrosexual. P Diddy Combs To Launch Mens Beauty Line

Today the boys, can care about looking good and being pampered, just like the girls.

Meet the metrosexual
He's well dressed, narcissistic and bun-obsessed. But don't call him gay.

For some time now, old-fashioned (re)productive, repressed, unmoisturized heterosexuality has been given the pink slip by consumer capitalism. The stoic, self-denying, modest straight male didn't shop enough (his role was to earn money for his wife to spend), and so he had to be replaced by a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image -- that's to say, one who was much more interested in being looked at (because that's the only way you can be certain you actually exist). A man, in other words, who is an advertiser's walking wet dream. Beckham is the biggest metrosexual in Britain because he loves being looked at and because so many men and women love to look at him: He's the future, but also a way of adapting other, less advanced specimens to that future.

Gender f**k and cultural bi-sexuality have come of age after thirty five years, and we now call it Metrosexual. It is the culture of the subject in the urban metropolis and its objectification. What men had objectified in women has in capitalist urban culture become the mirror of subjectivity, men are now beautifying themselves.

The appreciation of the mirror as object, to push the metaphor, reminds us that however deployed as a metaphor for likeness or sameness, mirrors are actually not at all about similarity, since there is ontological difference (at the very least, ontological, but also epistemological, representational, and political differences) between the subject of the mirror's reflection (image) and the subject reflected before the mirror. Indeed, this difference is crucial for Lacan; his digression on the need of a particular species of bird to perceive another of its species in order to mature emphasizes that it is not the function of the mirror so much as the function of specularity, the seeing someone irreducibly other and yet recognizably similar.To Mirror Tomorrow Reflections on Feminism and the Future by E. L. McCALLUM

Once again capitalism through consumer culture challenges the very 'traditions' and stereotypes of gender that those on the right cling too. Capitalisms revolutionary destruction of all the old moral and conservative traditions, as Dr. Marx pointed out, continues. "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his, real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."Those who cling to capitalism as some sort of conservative life saver are sadly mistaken about the revolutionary nature of a system that remakes and resells itself on a continous basis.

Metrosexual is a term coined in 1994 (along with the noun, metrosexuality) by British journalist Mark Simpson, who used it to refer to an urban male of any sexual orientation who has a strong aesthetic sense and spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle. He is the fashion-conscious target audience of men's magazines:

The promotion of metrosexuality was left to the men's style press, magazines such as The Face, GQ, Esquire, Arena and FHM, the new media which took off in the 1980s and is still growing (GQ gains 10,000 new readers every month). They filled their magazines with images of narcissistic young men sporting fashionable clothes and accessories. And they persuaded other young men to study them with a mixture of envy and desire.

Some people said unkind things. American GQ, for example, was popularly dubbed "Gay Quarterly". Little wonder that all these magazines - with the possible exception of The Face - address their metrosexual readership as if none of them was homosexual or even bisexual.

The origin of the term traces to a 1200 word article titled "Here come the mirror men" dissecting the new urbane man by Mark Simpson, published on November 15, 1994 in The Independent, a major British daily. Barely any usage of the term in print publications can be found in the same decade. Beginning around June 2003, the term frequently appeared in the British press. A June 22, 2003 New York Times article titled "Metrosexuals Come Out" inaugarated fashionable usage of the word in the American media. The rising popularity of use followed the increasing integration of gay men into mainstream society and a correspondingly decreased taboo towards homosexuality (and, by extension, the appearance of homosexuality or effeminacy). Over a short span, Canada introduced same-sex marriage legislation, the US Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy statutes as unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, and gay characters and themes, long present on TV shows like Will & Grace, made further inroads. In particular, the Bravo network introduced Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a show in which stereotypically style- and culture-conscious gay men gave advice to their heterosexual counterparts.

Macho man has bitten the dust: he's been replaced by something just as tough inside, but softer at the edges. Peter Gotting reports on a new target market.

Lenin once said that 'come the revolution it will be the capitalist who sells us the rope to hang the last aristorcrat'.

Today it is capitalism that sells men mascara to challenge masculine stereotyping and homophobia.

This reification of gay liberation and feminism has upset some on the left, which see it as reducing the revolutionary potential of these movements. However the fact is that it is the result of capitalisms ability to absorb cultural identity movements through making them consumers and consumer sub cultures. Gay culture was and is middle class male culture from the begining, feminism was absorbed into capitalisms cultural hegemony once it focused on its academic and corporate success at getting 'women into power'.

Metrosexuality the Middle Class Way
Exploring Race, Class, and Gender
in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

The portrayals on the show contain numerous contradictions, some of which contribute to gay visibility. However, ultimately, the show contains gayness by reducing it to a commodity that services heteronormativity. Given the recent decision by the US Supreme Court overturning the Hardwick vs. Bowers case (Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas), and the growing international debate over same-sex marriage, these portrayals serve to depoliticize queerness. Much work in feminist visual culture has explored the gendered power relations in the gaze that is constructed by filmic representation, while critical race theorists have analyzed the colonizing nature of that gaze and queer critics have discussed the commodification of the “gay” hip look. This article brings together these bodies of work in order to suggest that the cultural function of Queer Eye does more than perpetuate problematic stereotypes. Specifically, this article analyzes the interrelated links between the commodification of gayness, the reinscription of the heterosexual imperative, and the problematic racial and class-based constructs of masculinity perpetuated by the show in order to argue that Queer Eye ultimately serves to dramatically limit radical queer resistance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you a girl and gay?

Or you are not sure.


Looks like you waste too much time on what people want you to be, rather than who you are.