Tag Archives: Connell

Women with hairy legs – an oxymoron?

The Daily Telegraph (and other media channels) reported that the actress Mo’Nique caused quite a stir at the Golden Globe Awards, not only for winning an award, but also for her ‘fashion faux pas’. That is, she had hairy legs. Such reactions tell us something about gendered identities and specifically about cultural notions of what is means to be a woman.

The negotiation and representation of women’s identities centre around what is called ‘emphasized femininity’ (Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005). That is ‘emphasized femininity’ is a normative femininity, which is oriented to accommodating the interests and needs of men. It presents as the current most honored way of being a woman, even though most women do not enact it. However all women are required to position themselves, and are positioned by others, in relation to this ideal form (Giddens, 2009). Specific practices associated with ‘emphasized femininity’ include presenting oneself as ‘sexually attractive’ by being ‘well-groomed’. In other words, removing body hair other than on the head (and perhaps the genitalia). Those that fail to conform to this norm tend to be held accountable.

Hairy moment for Golden Globes winner

Emphasized femininity

Femininity and Feminine Values

Is Santa Claus ‘retrosexual’?

The British columnist Mark Simpson first identified and named a ‘new, narcissistic, media-saturated, self-conscious kind of masculinity’ – the ‘metrosexual’ – in an influential article entitled ‘Here Come the Mirror Men’ in the national newspaper The Independent in 1994. Apparently the ‘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’ (Simpson, 2002). The point Simpson was making, was that men are becoming more involved in historically feminised practices, which centre on consumption and self-presentation. Since Simpson first coined the term, ‘metrosexual’ practices have grown exponentially and even seem to have reached more mature men (Mintel, 2006).

It seems then, that ‘metrosexuality’ is here to stay. However in contrast, many men still continue to follow more conventional masculine and gender distinct scripts and these men have been termed ‘retrosexual’ (Simpson, 2003). Retrosexuality aligns itself with more classical or ‘hegemonic’ masculinity (Connell, 1995) and includes typical characteristics such as heroics, strength, drive, ambition and risk-taking, along with a disinterest in health-related practices, body image and grooming.

Given this identity criterion then, Santa is clearly ‘retrosexual’. For example, his beard is long and unkempt and he doesn’t wear the latest fashions. He clearly has a disinterest in health-related practices and body image, evidenced by his large paunch and he is well known to eat numerous mince pies and drink copious amounts of alcohol (at least on Xmas Eve). I should probably not mention too loudly the risk-taking involved in controlling his sleigh under the influence of alcohol or not following HSE lifting guidelines when hauling his sack. And of course we all think of him as heroic since he manages to delivery on time (unlike the Royal Mail) all our presents in just a few short hours, even whilst it’s snowing.

Merry Christmas to all readers!

Analysing Discursive Constructions of ‘Metrosexual’ Masculinity Online: ‘What does it matter, anyway?’

Men’s Grooming Habits – UK – March 2007

The Journal of Popular Culture