Friday, April 18, 2008

The 'Ubersexual' in all of us

Can a man truly consider himself manly if he engages in certain activities? Are there certain things that are just taboo? Where does one draw the line? Let me give an example.

Let's say I know a guy named Fred. He had a floral design class this semester at college. Not only this, but he enjoyed it, and likes arranging flowers. Now, if that were all I'm sure we could easily look over his flower arranging fetish, but he also writes poetry, and even has a poetry blog. And, he likes to cook. he borderline metro? Let's look at the wikipedia definition:

"The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis – because that's where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference. Particular professions, such as modeling, waiting tables, media, pop music and, nowadays, sport, seem to attract them but, truth be told, like male vanity products and herpes, they're pretty much everywhere.

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."

Well I'm pretty sure Fred goes to the gym and uses moisturizer creams, but does this make us question his sexuality? Perhaps not. Perhaps he took the floral design class because he knew the ratio of girls to guys would be 20:1 and he wanted to look more caring, affectionate and get a few more dates. Perhaps he writes poetry to emulate one of the most notorious lady's men of all time, Lord Byron, and perhaps he cooks because he enjoys a good meal every now and then. Hmmm. Even if these justifications were true, it leads one to wonder. Maybe he's just ubersexual. Never heard of it before? Here's the definition:

The word "'übersexual" (from German über = above, superior and Latin sexus = gender) was claimed to be coined by the authors of the book Future of Men (O'Reilly, Matathia, Salzman, 2005). It is a variant of metrosexual. The word seems to have been inspired by the phrase "uber-metrosexual", used by the creator of the metrosexual Mark Simpson to describe David Beckham. Salzman appropriated Simpson's work on the metrosexual in 2002 to sell another book.

Simpson has pointed out that the book contains several deliberate misrepresentations of him, his work, and the history of the metrosexual.

Many of the "top ubersexuals" named by Salzman, such as Bono, Bill Clinton and George Clooney were on her list of "top metrosexuals" in 2003.

The authors of Future of Men argue that the übersexual is not derivative of the metrosexual man.

The future of men, proclaim the authors, is "not to be found in the primped and waxed boy who wowed the world with his nuanced knowledge of tweezers and exfoliating creams. Men, at the end of the day, will have to rely on their intellect and their passion, their erudition and professional success, to be acknowledged and idealised in contemporary society. Called the 'übersexual'—-a degree of greatness and perfection, an acknowledgment that this is an evolved species of man—he is so perfect as to leave little margin for error and fallacy."

Some, including Simpson and Armistead Maupin, have suggested that behind this confused/confusing marketing-speak there was something rather simpler going on: a homophobic attempt to stop the metrosexual being so "gay". Or, as Salzman herself put it proudly, the ubersexual (unlike the metrosexual) "doesn't invite questions about his sexuality".

Simpson has argued that from the beginning the appropriation of the metrosexual concept by American marketers such as Salzman in 2003 was always about trying to straighten him out. His original definition of the metrosexual was sexually ambiguous, or at least went beyond the straight/gay binary; marketers, in contrast, insisted that the metrosexual was always "straight" – they even tried to pretend that he wasn't vain.

However, they failed to convince the public - hence the uber-straight ubersexual.

Despite a large global PR push for their 'new', completely 'non-gay' metrosexual, and a slavishly uncritical press which failed to notice that the list of top ten ubersexuals was largely the same as the one's they'd been printed two years previously for top ten metrosexuals, the 'ubersexual' failed to catch on with the public and was stillborn, as Salzman has admitted herself.

That's it, he's ubersexual. Let's cut to the chase. The author of this blog post is Fred. And on a the occasion of a friend's graduation party from college he dressed up in a very well tailored pin stripe suit, hand-woven silk tie and polished black shoes with Armani cologne. This is when his friend's mother declared him an ubersexual along with her son who had just graduated. Intrigued I of course had to do some research before accepting the title. Then along came wikipedia. I suppose now I must agree.


Anonymous said...

How about "sexually confused"?

Anonymous said...

Enjoying flowers and poetry does not make you "sexually confused." Most poets were heterosexual and great lovers. And, floral design was first mastered by men. I'm tired of people claiming certain hobbies for women or gays only. Men can do what they want.

Anonymous said...

I'm not implying anything. There are just so many ______ sexuals to keep up with these days!