Aside from suave, devilishly handsome David Beckham, the metrosexual poster boy, how do you really feel about a man who likes to exfoliate, color coordinate, and has a more extensive wardrobe than you do, ladies?
Personally, I prefer a more beastly fellow. And yet, I admit to being turned on by a well-tailored suit on buff male a la Don Draper.
But really, would I want to live with that guy?
Lucky me, as I writer I often channel my musings and questions into themes in my work. Thus, in Save The Pearls Part One, Revealing Eden, I created Ronson Bramford, beastly but intelligent, honorable and one helluva sexy guy. By the end of the book, I had gained greater clarity about what I was looking for in a man.
But first, let's take a look at the fairly recent phenomena of the metropolitan heterosexual, or the metrosexual. Mark Simpson coined the word in The Independent in 1994, and later offered this 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."
Okay, stop right there. Frankly, I want to be the love object in my guy's life. In fact, I want his adoration to focus on me rather than his latest Armani shirt.
Several years ago, as I sallied forth with a hot prospect on a date, he pointed out with great interest the make of his Junya Watanabe coat. I murmured my appreciation--its beauty was indisputable; and I appreciated the absence of khakis or a T-shirt.
But as he waxed enthusiastic about the cut and fabric of his fine apparel, I felt my libido plummet, and the lens through which I saw him turn from hot to cold. I felt he had encroached on my domain; the road between us had tilted askew.
Before you accuse me of being a throwback to the Fifties, consider that I am not married to traditional gender roles. For example, I have always managed my finances, and quite well. If I want to dine or travel somewhere beyond my guy's budget, I'm happy to pay. And in bed, well, I'm just saying that I believe in the fluidity of yin and yang (figure it out).
So why do I resist the metrosexualization of men?
At different times in history, the province of makeup or jewelry or fine clothing has shifted between the sexes. And certainly, we should applaud a man's desire to improve his appearance, whether through better clothes or exercise, though I'll let you decide about pedicures.
And so, I suspect that the metrosexual's interest in shopping or clothing is not really at the core of my resistance. Rather, something deeper tugs at my heart.
The argument in favor of metrosexuals suggests that when the ardent male shopper invests energy in his appearance, he gets more in touch with his feminine side. Supposedly, the results include a loosening of repression, and increased willingness to share his feelings and intimacy, all to the benefit of women.
Well, that's good too, as long as the thing that I need most from him is not lost in the process of deciding which cream best suits his tender skin, or whether he will shine in the palette of autumn or spring: self-confidence!
I'm afraid that his shopping and polishing speaks to some deeper insecurity, which reveals that, fundamentally, he isn't sure who he is or what he wants in life.
So why would I ever want to invest my emotions or time in a romantic relationship with him?
Likewise, self-confidence in a woman is just as sexy. Way beyond designer duds and exotic creams and any trend of the moment, a man or a woman who values his or her worth, and is not afraid to be present in the world, as well as in a relationship, wears the most intoxicating aphrodisiac, guaranteed to win love and admiration.
Getting back to my literary exploration of the beastly nature of man, in my dystopian fantasy novel, Revealing Eden, Bramford is transformed into a jaguar man. And our heroine, Eden Newman, falls head over heels in love with him, although she detested the hip, sought after titan he once was.
Fighting for their survival in the last patch of the rainforest, their values become very elemental. Finally, in that simple world, they each get in touch with their true selves, and yes, find true love.
If Bramford were here, he might change the oil in my car or cook an intimate dinner for us. In either role, he would know who he is, his confidence would sweep me off his feet, and not his tailored suit.
As the world becomes more chaotic with its increasingly fast-paced flow of information and crises, I want reassurance and clarity from my guy about where he stands in our relationship, and in the world.
And while I'm happy and, even eager, to listen to his feelings, I'm looking for him to demonstrate the courage to act on how he feels, not hide from conviction in a storm of accessories.
Simple? Maybe not. I'm a woman, and by nature we are complex, evolutionarily wired to multitask for the benefit of our young.
Fortunately, I've found a new model. The ecosexual male: a man who is not afraid of his masculinity or his feminine side, as naturally at ease with himself as an animal in the jungle.