It has come to this.
The war against men, the pervasive contempt for men, the constant attacks on male predators and abusers, bullies and brutes has gotten us to the point where Andrew O’Hagan rises to say: enough.
In the New York Times, no less, O’Hagan writes:
Men have always had secret regimes, always had worries about their hair and had midlife dalliances with youthful treatments, but there is now an explicit pressure on men to impersonate the women in their lives, and that is arguably becoming true of straight men in a way that it formerly wasn’t. Over-grooming is now a mode of hysteria common to every other man I know, and it isn’t attractive. I believe it feeds off a larger anxiety in the culture, the obligation to self-invent, the demand for constant increase, and it has made the men of my generation into emotional shadows of their former selves. I repeat: I love fashion and I’ve always denied the expectation that men should be sweaty, Neanderthal pigs, but I would be failing my obligation to honest perception if I denied that the rise of over-grooming may have slightly neutered my generation of men and turned us into petted creatures, somehow alienated from ourselves, and stranded at some point distant from our instincts. Tradition, especially when it comes to sexual stereotypes, is often worth obliterating, of course. But is it possible that our generation is busy throwing out the boyfriend with the aromatherapeutic bathwater?
O’Hagan is dismayed to see his male friends impersonate women. He believes that his generation of men has been, as he charmingly puts it, “slightly neutered.”
If you are asking, I believe that slightly neutered is roughly akin to slightly pregnant.
Interestingly O’Hagan calls it narcissism, the contemporary term for what used to be called vanity.
And, he makes a good point.
We see narcissists as having fallen love with their mirror image. Such was the fate of Ovid’s Narcissus.
And yet, narcissism was originally defined as loving one’s own body, in the sense of taking it to be a sexual object. Thus, the term describes O’Hagan’s male friends perfectly. You know who they are. The ones who primp and preen in front of their mirrors, the ones who luxuriate in body wash and exfoliating scrub, the ones who wax themselves into hairless perfection ... What are they doing if not bringing us back to the true meaning of narcissism.