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Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

New Gender Roles: Metrosexual Men and Independent Women

Gender roles are changing, and could be one of the reasons why so many people find it difficult to find and maintain successful relationships. People appear to be remaining single for longer periods of time. This could be because it has become difficult, at times, to understand, accept and deal with, practically, the new gender roles that society has developed.

Of course, the various roles of women have gone through the most dramatic evolution, believed to have changed more in the last two generations, than in the last two millenniums. Women have achieved near equality to men in education, the workplace, and many other places, thanks to politics, mass media, and urbanization.

 The sexual revolution has been instrumental in freeing our minds. Many women are supporting themselves and raising children, without the help of a man. The independent woman does not want to be controlled or told what to do. All of these components, have ensured that women will never again, be in a junior position to men, in society, over all.

Just as women’s roles have changed, so have men’s. Enter “metrosexuality,” which, according to British journalist Mark Simpson, is the trait of an urban male of any sexual orientation, who has a strong aesthetic sense and spends a great amount of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle. Mr. Simpson coined the term in 1994 in an article in The Independent, after writing his book about contemporary masculine identity Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity. Simpson described the effect of consumerism and media proliferation, particularly the men’s style press, on traditional masculinity [Wikipedia].

Mr. Simpson, in his intriguing article for last year, wrote: "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. Particular professions, such as modeling, waiting tables, media, pop music and, nowadays, sport, seem to attract them but, truth be told, like male vanity products and herpes, they're pretty much everywhere."

Many people wonder why dating has appeared, at times, to become increasingly more complicated. The dating scene has always been a confusing experience for some, even resembling a chore, rather than a good time. Lately, with the advent of the new “metrosexual,” the single world of large cities has changed, evolving into more complexity. As a result, society often seems to be advancing into more chaos, as opposed to settling into the well stationed roles that our parents, and their descendents, created for us to follow.

As men have begun to take over some of the duties that women have always controlled, this has facilitated a shift from the somewhat rough, rugged males, to metrosexuality. There are now women working right alongside these men in the office. Sexually homogenous advertising has also contributed to the metrosexual identity. This new male breed can exhibit the following traits, for starters: matching ensembles for every occasion, perfect hair, indulges in manicures and pedicures, and smelling good, too. He can enjoy shopping, the opera and even watching chick flicks. By all appearances, one might assume that he is gay, however, it is simply a man, who is completely in touch with his feminine side, and comfortable being so.

As the roles we are used to having filled by the opposite sex shift, the metrosexual is raising the point of why he has to pay for every date, open doors and pick a woman up at her door since women are now so independent and financially equal. However, these men still enjoy a woman who is domesticated, will handle the housework, and raise children, just as their moms did.

The independent woman, however, is somewhat afraid to give back that independence, only to begin relying more on a man than herself. Yet, on a certain level, women desire the manly man who will sweep her off of her feet and take away all of her problems, just like daddy did.

These new gender roles have created a cycle that may only be averted, by trust. The nuclear family with a hard working father and stay at home mother, is becoming, essentially, a thing of the past, except in affluent society, where finances allow more for the kind of lifestyle of more traditional roles. For some time now, men and women have been taking on more equal roles in relationships and families.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a metrosexual is, in reality, a modern, enlightened, sort of renaissance man. Secure and confident, capable and cool, typically well educated and stylish. Heterosexual with a twist, not gay by any means, but he probably has a few gay friends, and can easily be mistaken for gay by rednecks and jock types. Often, the only straight guy in a fabric store, antique shop, or the like, who was not dragged there, against his will, to appease a woman.

A metrosexual may or may not appeal to everyone – whether women are attracted to them, or men aspire to be more like them. In any case, whether society ever becomes comfortable enough to truly embrace them, remains to be seen.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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