Ten years ago, men were metrosexual, but now I’ve lost track. Currently, the spornosexual, a more body conscious and sexually explicit version of the metrosexual, is vying with the check-shirted, bearded lumbersexual for top spot. Nattily dressed and neatly bearded, the “dandy wildman” and the hipster also abound, too.
These are men’s consumer lifestyles. If you want to be a spornosexual, you buy gym membership, protein and some expensive photography equipment to spruce up your Instagram feed. To be a hipster, go to vintage clothes shops, buy the most obscure craft ales, and some beard oil.
In the last 30 years, the number of men’s lifestyles on the market has grown exponentially. My ongoing PhD research explores this phenomenon, trying to understand and explain the appearance of new “marketed manhoods”. Having held focus groups with young men around the country, I have found new marketed versions of manhood have taken hold to vastly differing extents in different areas.
One participant from Doncaster described Sheffield as “like a different country” in terms of how men behave, while another from Taunton in Somerset suggested that, in rural Devon, men’s fashion is “ten years” behind that of his hometown. The more urban and metropolitan the area was perceived to be, the more likely that manhood is to have changed.
Unprompted, many participants linked these masculine dividing lines to those that characterised the vote to leave the European Union in June last year, with one participant summarising, in terms of geography, “Brexit’s just blown stuff up”. They’re not wrong. The places that stood out as bastions of Remain were urban areas, notably London plus Bristol and Brighton in the south, but also northern cities, such as Manchester, Liverpool, York and Leeds. Personally, I don’t think this is a coincidence.
Some of the analysis of the Brexit vote argued that people in rural parts of the country felt their employment was under threat from migrant labour from the EU. This was an argument that came up in many of my focus groups, too, with one participant arguing that “if they see immigrants as threatening that employment, then it’s almost, yeah, threatening their manhood, their masculinity”.
This analysis is somewhat misguided, as there is little evidence that migrant labour actually does negatively affect employment prospects. But there is a strong sense in which many men, in this country and the Western world generally, gather their own identity from their worth in the workplace. And the type of work that men do is significantly affected by the function of capitalism.
The last 30 years hasn’t just moved men in a different direction, but also altered capitalism, too. A lot of people refer to this era as neoliberalism, a specific form of capitalism that leaves markets free of regulation. One of neoliberalism’s central achievements has been a significant decline in the type of manual labour once dominated by working class men, from coalmining through to factory work. As a result of this decline, more men are now freelance, in office-based jobs, or working for service companies rather than doing manual labour.
These different types of work involve non-physical investments, such as aesthetic and emotional commitment to your work. If “what it means to be a man” is so dependent on labour, this would suggest that as labour changes, so too does manhood. Now required to do more than physically exert themselves, men need new ideals of manhood that teach them such skills. Fashion-conscious metrosexuality and hipsterism, body-conscious spornosexuality – these are men’s lifestyles that, like the work in the service sector that many men now do, demand daily upkeep of appearance. With the decline of manual labour, the masculine ideal has changed.
But, as my research shows, men’s consumer lifestyles have not had universal geographical acceptance across the UK. In areas that used to be more reliant on manual labour, such as Durham, Yorkshire, and large parts of Wales, men have struggled to deal with its decline. Why? Capitalism has for a long time focused development and renewal in urban and metropolitan areas, an aspect that neoliberal capitalism has magnified. As a result, the resolution of new forms of labour with new manhoods have taken hold to a much greater extent in more urban and metropolitan areas.
So, instead of providing men in less urban areas with the investment and skills to engage in new forms of labour, the market simply forgot them. The American sociologist Michael Kimmel calls this “aggrieved entitlement” – men who thought they were entitled to these jobs feel they have had their futures taken away from them, and, frankly, it’s made a lot of them quite angry.
The point of this is not to “blame men” for Brexit, and nor is it to suggest that what rural Yorkshire really needs is more hipsters. In the short term, it’s certainly a good idea to invest more thoroughly in the harder hit former industrial areas of the UK. But none of this would be a problem if masculinity were able to sever its association with employment. The view that men obtain their worth from their employment exacerbates already existing geographical divides. To fully address those divides, men must begin to question whether they are more than just their employment.
Fox & Friends hosts visibly deflated after Andrew Napolitano destroys their hope for a quick impeachment trial
Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano deflated the hosts of "Fox & Friends" by poking holes in their impeachment defense of President Donald Trump.
Co-host Steve Doocy argued that Trump's conversations with former national security adviser John Bolton and other White House officials were protected by executive privilege, but Napolitano pointed out that wasn't necessarily so.
"If John came here as he used to, and started spilling the beans, that would violate the privilege," Napolitano said of Bolton, a former Fox News guest. "But it would be perfectly lawful and he would be able to do it. If he did it in a press conference it would be lawful and he could do it. The question is, can he do it under oath in the well of the Senate? That's where the authority is divided."
Morning Joe incinerates Ken Starr’s ‘pious’ Trump impeachment defense: ‘Do you know who you are?’
"Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday took a flamethrower to former Whitewater special prosecutor Ken Starr after he delivered a solemn lecture during President Donald Trump's Senate trial about American lawmakers impeaching presidents too frequently.
Rick Wilson buries Pam Bondi for ‘laughable and shallow’ impeachment defense designed to dazzle Trump
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Republican campaign consultant Rick Wilson leveled former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for her defense of Donald Trump on Monday -- which turned into a diatribe against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Speaking with host Willie Geist, Wilson also brought up accusations os political corruption against Bondi who dropped a Florida state lawsuit against Trump before he became president after a PAC associated with her received a substantial political donation.
"This is also one of the great master fantasies of the Trump campaign, make Hunter Biden a major issue in the 2020 election and Pam Bondi played to one audience. and that was Fox and Trump that's all they cared about," he explained. "That's all they were trying to accomplish, and, look, she goes way back with Donald Trump; left office under a cloud when she left the office of attorney general in Florida, because she had taken basically a $25,000 bribe from Donald Trump about Trump University and drop the lawsuit in Florida."