Who's the Man?
Metrosexuals are out, we are now in the middle of a 'Menaissance'. Or so is the rhetoric sweeping across America. Fuelling this supposed resurgence in manliness is a recent flurry of academic books on the importance of real men, with the A to Z of Manliness, currently number two on the New York Times best-seller list.
Forget years of feminist struggle for the equality of gender roles, it's all about the caveman again. Quite a contrast to the polished, waxed, and groomed metrosexuals of recent years. But American culture insists that the spotlight is shifting back to the man's man. No longer complacent with wondering 'Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?', Americans have taken to hunting them down.
The leader of this crusade is widely held to be the staunch neoconservative Harvey Mansfield, a Harvard professor of government whose book, Manliness, laments the decline of clearly defined gender roles, and who believes manliness is defined by confidence in a situation of risk. Mansfield holds that a manly man has to know what he is doing. An academic twist on the 'man with a plan' adage.
I could be convinced of the renewed popularity manliness could have in the U.S. The beer guzzling, gun toting, fraternising bloke who changes his own oil, gets his hair cut at the barbers, and thinks the only thing you wax is a car. Translated to more familiar territory; he certainly wouldn't spend over £10 on a haircut, own anything from Paul Smith, or read the Styles section of the Sunday Times.
So can we see a Menaissance taking off in the UK? I am reminded of Homer Simpson's line, "I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexuals flaming". A manliness renaissance is all about liking our men manly. It is hard to see how this ever went out of style with the Yanks given their allegiance to Superman, Arnie Schwartnegger and the former mayor Rudy Guiliani. Quite different to cultural icons in England. Which leads me to:
The Top 3 Hints a UK Menaissance is Unlikely:
1) David Beckham. A sarong-clad, cry baby. Not to mention neurotically self aware.
2) David Cameron. The definitional wimp. Finds chocolate oranges and trucks evil.
3) Orlando Bloom. The ultimate she-boy. Too invertebrate as a pirate, and too pretty.
And then I realised what the whole Menaissance thing is really about. It is not as Mansfield would suggest about gender roles or stereotypes. Rather, it's about substance over style. That's what really matters. That's where you find out who really is The Man.
And for those still unconvinced:
There is now Coke Zero, or 'Bloke Coke.' It's Diet but without the taboo word, and in black packaging so as to appear more masculine.
Because to some, style will still matter more than substance.
Free samples at King's Cross, Victoria, and London Bridge Tube stations today.