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Metrosexuality as a Cultural Phenomenon. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

This essay seeks to analyse and unpack the underlying assumptions regarding gender, and specifically metrosexual identity through consideration of the portrayal of some central figures of contemporary masculine identity: David Beckham, who arguably embodies the metrosexual man, and James Bond, a character who may be approached as an embodiment of idealized masculinity. 

The term 'metrosexual' was originally coined by Mark Simpson in Meet the Mirror Men, a journalistic article which, as he subsequently felt bound to point out, had been intended at least in part as a satirical appraisal of our increasingly materialist society, where identities and lifestyles are not only defined, but actually created, by conspicuous consumption.  "Metrosexuals," claims Simpson, "are the creation of capitalism's voracious appetite for new markets." (Simpson, 2002)  Continuing a cultural process which has its roots in the 1980s, single men are increasingly being identified as an untapped consumer group, who are accordingly encouraged, through powerful media messages, to begin to view themselves narcissistically, as objects of sensuality and desire.  (Simpson, 2002)

The suggestion implicit within all these classifications are that retrosexual and metrosexual are lifestyle choices: they have been appropriated and marketed as such by the media and markets. For instance, heteropolitan (coined by Men's Health): "The survey builds a picture of a man who can't be pigeonholed as either a binge-drinking, skirt-chasing new lad or a preening metrosexual who spends more time in the bathroom than his girlfriend. Today's man is a 'heteropolitan', trying to balance looking good with pub culture, and career success with a happy family life." (Morgan Rees, Editor of Men's Health magazine)

It should be said, however, that these views of masculinity are highly exclusionary, failing to take into consideration the experiences of men who are not white, middle-class, The name in itself, with its emphasis on 'metropolitan' centres of commercial power, would suggest the exclusionary nature of this figure, and his various permutations. All of these classifications amount to the process of ideologically purging masculinity of its negative qualities: slovenliness, vanity, chauvinism, effeminacy, thuggishness, feebleness.  However, one cannot fail to notice that these are often contradictory qualities, suggesting that the process of labelling and creating instructive terms for maleness is far from over.  Whilst the increasing diversification of masculinity is opened up by these shifts, their seems to be a cultural need to fix and label these new male identities with false terms such as metro sexual, ubersexual, retrosexual etc. Essentially, metrosexuality is, according to Simpson, the act of allowing advertisers and the media to sell your own identity to you.  Whether this identity is labelled 'retro' metro uber or otherwise (Simpson, 2002). 

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