June 27, 2003

Liberty, justice, and hair products for all

This week has been a good one for the gay and gay-ish. Not only has the Supreme Court ordered police across the nation to stop breaking into any well-decorated home they are referred to, but The New York Times reports that it has officially become acceptable for straight men to run around giving every impression that they play for the other team.

The NYT Style Section's discussion of the "metrosexual"-a man who likes to pamper himself with the finest of beauty products before going on a date with someone female-introduces to the uninformed a category of man all women should desire, one who shares her shopping urge yet directs the urge that counts towards her.

Warren St. John's article, "Metrosexuals Come Out" sadly ignores the nation's significant ruralesbian population, the low-maintenance, sometimes-mulleted, and yet oddly enough hetero women who are rarely found in areas containing metrosexuals. Otherwise, the paper makes a good point. Women are supposed to like gay men the way that men are supposed to like lesbian acts performed by straight women. So, what could women want more than metrosexuals?

I have heard women compete over whose boyfriend has the most stereotypically gay characteristics, the way women used to ogle their male companions' incomes or sports prowess. The audience at subtitled coming-of-age films in which two tanned males learn life's lessons is not composed entirely of gay men. The clich├ęd straight woman and gay man duo is as ubiquitous as reality television.

But are metrosexuals what women really want? Sensitivity, a lack of excessive machismo, and a willingness, even eagerness, to accompany a girl on a shopping trip are all fine qualities in a male. But are men who are as vain as the vainest of women, who revel in seeming what they are not, the sort of men women are after? Something about these men seems a bit off. They seem more like an idle aristocracy than a group of open-minded non-homophobes, embodying the worst that straight women and gay men have to offer. Yet overall, I think that the existence of a new group of men who, in the words of an actor quoted in the Times article, "smell better than your mother on Easter," can't be a bad thing.

How, then, will the Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas affect the metrosexual, who personally had nothing at stake in this case? The answer, I'd imagine, is that our freer society will allow sexual orientations of all kinds, real or imagined, to flourish, providing straight women with a more aesthetically-minded and aesthetically-pleasing heterosexual male population to choose from.