'Manly' gets a makeover
Men now have a wider range of masculine models - from sensitive to he-man
(Page 2 of 2)
But men are still learning to deal with the changing attitudes about masculinity, which at times can seem more conflicting than liberating.Skip to next paragraph
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"Tons of my clients struggle with, 'Well, I finally learned how to control my emotions, and now to be successful in this team-oriented job, or with my family, they all want me to be more egalitarian and more transparent, and how do I do that?' " says Glenn Good, an associate professor of counseling psychology at the University of Missouri Columbia.
In Dr. Good's part of the country, he's not sure the metrosexual trend has caught on by name, but he says men there do struggle with how to show warmth toward their good male friends without acting in a way that would appear odd. "How masculinity is enacted is constantly changing," he says.
In a survey last November of more than 1,000 men and women by dating website Match.com, a majority of the men - 66 percent - said they would not call themselves metrosexuals (which, for the purposes of the survey, was defined as a straight man who likes designer clothes, art, fashion, home décor, and shopping). Only 20 percent of those asked identified themselves that way.
One place that all the masculinity choices can take a toll is in the world of relationships.
Ken, a 40-something man who owns a small business in the Atlanta area (and asks that his last name not be used) says he's more of an emotional guy; he also drives a nice car and wears stylish clothes. But in his case that doesn't seem to be what women want, he says. For him, masculinity is all about women.
"Masculinity has nothing to do with men," he says. "The whole issue of masculinity rests entirely with women. It is not, per se, a male issue. Men spend most of their time in relationships in trying to be what the woman perceives as masculine."
That's problematic if you think women have the wrong view of masculinity. In her latest book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands," radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger chronicles her efforts to get the listeners who call into her radio show to think more about appreciating the qualities of men that are traditionally male - stoicism, bravery, strength - rather than expecting them to exhibit more emotional behavior like that of their female friends.
"We have a generation ... of women who don't understand nor do they appreciate men or masculinity," she says in a recent phone interview. To her, the metrosexual trend is society's "attempt to finally emasculate men. Give me a Marlboro man any day."
Some American women agree with her. In the Match.com survey, for example, 44 percent of single women said a metrosexual man isn't their type. Far fewer - 20 percent - said a guy who's into clothes and decorating is their type.
A lightning rod for debate about traditional values, Dr. Laura blames the women's movement for chipping away at masculinity. "Tell me one thing that looks positively at men or masculinity in our culture," she argues.
Others say is that it's not examples of a particular kind of man people should look for - an age-old concern - but for those of "good men" as measured by their integrity.
That's the approach Dr. Mechling takes. He's a fan of the FOX prime-time cartoon "King of the Hill" for the way it deals with issues of fatherhood and masculinity.
"The notion that somehow something has happened to masculinity and that we may not have a lot of models, whereas we used to, the answer is, well, we didn't really used to," he suggests.
In the past, just as today, he says, "it's always been a much more complex story about kinds of masculinity and what counts as a real man."