Mark Simpson (United Kingdom)
UK writer Mark Simpson is the author of several books, including Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity and Metrosexy: a 21st Century Self-Love Story. Back in the un-moisturised 1990s he predicted that the future of masculinity was metrosexual. His Cassandra-like prophecies were largely laughed off at the time, but the self-loving, image-conscious male he identified and intimately anatomised has come to define 21st Century masculinity.
From Metrosexual to Spornosexual – A Permanent, Spectacular Revolution
Metrosexuality, the male desire to be desired – to be wanted – once considered a ‘passive’ ‘feminine’, possibly perverted and definitely ‘niche’ past-time, has become the ‘dominant’ – or ‘hegemonic’, even – expression of masculinity in many if not most consumerist societies.
Two decades on from its emergence in the 1990s, metrosexuality is the new ‘normal’, particularly for the younger generation for whom male ‘vanity’ is the air that they breathe and the social media they swim in. In a visual world, ‘male beauty’ is no longer an oxymoronic taboo, but instead a shared aspiration, and pleasures, products and practises previously ring-fenced for ‘women and gays’, from shopping, to handbags to penetration, have been opened up for males.
But because metrosexuality has triumphed, being metrosexual is no longer so noticeable, so attention-grabbing. For younger people the word itself is probably largely redundant – because everything is metrosexual. So for a new generation, metrosexuality has gone hardcore. The sexuality part has gone hyper. The male body itself has become the ultimate hot commodity and accessory – one that young men fashion in the factories of the 21st Century: the gymnasium. Uploading their pumped selfies onto the online marketplace of Facebook and Instagram for likes, shares and lust.
Meet the spornosexual, and a new shameless age of male self-objectification.
Mark Simpson outlines the emergence and evolution of metrosexuality and where it might be taking us. And also analyses the curious determination of many older people not to notice it.
Or the profound, ongoing revolution in masculinity of the last few decades that it represents – and which sociological orthodoxy said couldn’t happen.