Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Male Vanity

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.


n.n said...

Shampoo, soap, and water. Air dryed hair, arranged with a comb. Clothes in good repair, contextually appropriate, and that create a semblance of symmetry or balance. Perhaps a suit and tie on a formal occasion. And low-cut shoes.

For maintenance and repair tasks, something similar, but about a decade older or otherwise retired from normal service. And work boots.

Sam L. said...

I'm old enough to ignore that.

Dennis said...

Never allow women to determine how, what where or when one is a man. This is allowing someone who has little idea who they are and what they want to dictate who you are supposed to be as a man. It is like the blind leading the blind.
One of the reason women are so unhappy is that they keep trying to create men to their liking only to find out they don't like the men they created.
Men should never get into a beauty contest with a woman because men will always lose both literally and figuratively. Ask yourself would you want to go to bed with you as a partner? Most women want a man to be in a relationship with just as most men want a woman.
I accept a woman as she is and I damn well expect a woman to accept me as I am. If one does not like that then don't let the door strike you in the rear end on the way out.
Don't let the "blue state" disease control your life. Only you can allow someone else to control you. One would be surprised how easy life is if one just has the courage to be themselves and part of that is liking to be a man for it is one of the greatest things one can do with their life.
I am like Sam L. in that I am old enough to ignore most of this and I have been lucky enough to know a lot of women who were not afraid to be women and they liked men who liked being men.
The rest have no value or place in my life other than being a human being and that only goes so far.

Ares Olympus said...

So what we're saying is we expect women to be vain, but that's a feminine thing?!

What's bizarre to me about these accusations is the sense of loss, the believe that someone else's vanity has diminished an entire gender.

And weirdly myself, I have no personal interest in preening, and quite content to dress to hide who I am than express it, but I'm also not particularly threatened by those who are.

So it makes me curious what's wrong with me that I'm not outraged too? At least that's one possible place to look.

Carl Jung would talk about the "Shadow" as the parts of ourselves we have been taught, or taught ourselves, to reject, and when you have a strong shadow, you project that shadow onto others.

Like when a relgious leader is lecturing to vehemently against the dark sins of homosexuality, it seems predictable that a decade later they're going to come out as gay, bisexual or at least admit guilt for some youthful homosexual experience that they've tried to rationalize away for their whole lives.

So what makes a man's shadow see over-grooming vanity in other men?

Maybe he saw his mother naked when he was 8, and it traumatized him? Who knows? I'm not the psychlogist here.

No really the sad thing is if I did feel an inspiration for self-expression in my appearance, voices like his would hurt me, and I'd believe him that there must be something wrong with me.

Live and let live, and remember what Red Green said "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess."

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I had forgotten about Mac Davis, perhaps the prima donna of male vanity? No need for preening, all he needed was a cowboy hat and religion.'s_Hard_To_Be_Humble

Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better lookin' each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble
But I'm doin' the best that I can!

I used to have a girlfriend
But I guess she just couldn't compete
With all of these love-starved women
Who keep clamoring at my feet
Well I could probably find me another
But I guess they're all in awe of me
Who cares? I never get lonesome
Cause I treasure my own company.

priss rules said...

"Interestingly O’Hagan calls it narcissism, the contemporary term for what used to be called vanity."

I call it tutti-fruity.

Dennis said...

One of the reasons women are unhappy with the men they have created and why ISIS believes they will destroy us.