Tag Archives: Mark Simpson

Christiano Ronaldo, Emporio Armani and homoeroticism

(Images obtained from Emporio Armani website: see link below)

A previous post of mine on Social Psychology Eye (June 22, 2009) about Christiano Ronaldo, argued that he was not just a footballing superstar, but like David Beckham, a commercial ‘brand’ advertising and marketing the likes of Emporio Armani or his own CR7 products. I argued that the Ronaldo ‘brand’ and avant-garde image allowed heterosexual men to engage with ‘metrosexual’ fashion and grooming products. However, one of the problems I signposted with the Ronaldo ‘brand’ (and others) was the open invitation of a homoerotic gaze. That is, men visually enjoying other men’s semi-naked bodies. It is argued this has (Simpson, 2004: 2):

…“queered” all the codes of official masculinity of the last hundred years or so: It’s passive where it should be active, desired where it should be desiring, looked at where it should be always looking.

This so called ‘queering’ of the male gaze unsettles traditional heteronormative hegemonic masculinity (Connell, 1995) in opening up a space for questions over gender and sexuality identity to be raised. Marketers are acutely aware of this tension and the imperative of disavowing homosexuality and promoting gender difference in order to allow men to enjoy images of other men (Edwards, 2003).

Ulrich Beck’s (1997) provides a useful framework for understanding how marketers deal with the undermining of traditional heteronormative hegemonic masculine scripts. Where the potential for uncertainty arises (e.g. other men’s semi-naked bodies and advertising feminised products), marketers attempt to construct certainty by dismissing alternative forms of sexuality altogether or by rendering consumption unproblematic. In other words they ‘construct certitude’ in order to ‘attempt to replace questioning and doubt with more certain frames of reference’ (Jackson et al., 2001: 129). One of the more prominent ways in which this is achieved is by photographing men with women in order to signpost heterosexuality. The way this is achieved in the photographs of Ronaldo advertising Emporio Armani’s summer 2010 underwear collection (above) is by reference to a masculine marker e.g. sporting and muscular poses, and by omitting direct eye contact with male viewers.

Emporio Armani’s summer 2010 underwear collection for men

Cristiano Ronaldo: The Brand

Masculinities and consumption

Sporno

Metrosexuality and hegemonic masculinity

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