The Metrosexual

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S2: In the early 2000, Marion Saltsman was an executive at a global advertising firm who specialized in market research. So that’s a pretty dry description of what she did.

S3: I guess I’m called a transporter. At one point in my career, I was responsible for the sex survey for Esquire magazine. And I would come up with really lovely and what friendly questions like who should sleep on the wet spot?

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S2: She also asked questions that cheekily tried to get at how men were feeling about their relationships and their masculinity.

S3: Do they have any kind of envy about the fact that gay men had better relations with women than they did more conversational relationships? Another question. Do they want to be the best friend, the best love shopping?

S2: The answer she got alongside ones for more exacting surveys stood out to her.

S3: She began to suspect that a trend was afoot between 25 percent and the third of men were straight men who wanted to increasingly adopt more characteristics. So stayed with gay men.

S4: Marion was not the only person to have noticed what seemed to be a new subset of self-identified heterosexual men.

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S5: So compares. Is he okay? Is history. This is from an episode of Sex and the City that aired in August of 1990. It’s not that simple anymore. The real question is, is he a straight gay man or is he a gay straight man? The gay straight man was a new strain of heterosexual males spawned in Manhattan as a result of overexposure to fashion, exotic cuisine, musical theater and antique furniture.

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S4: Well, in other words, this kind of guy was a known type to people in the know, but that wasn’t everyone. It was about to be, though, because this kind of guy variously called the gay straight man, the Pomo sexual, the flaming heterosexual. He was about to get his proper name.

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S6: A friend of mine who was working for me went down to New Zealand to go hallis skiing. He sent back a fax about a mutual friend of ours and the weird macho sexual will circle. And he said that’s what he is.

S7: This is Decoder Ring, a show about cracking cultural mysteries. I’m Willa Paskin. Every episode we take on a cultural question, habit or idea and crack it open to try to figure out what it means and why it matters. The metrosexual. A new kind of man. And a new kind of consumer was supposed to be a heterosexual urban male who embraced what it until then been seen as stereotypically effeminate habits like caring about fashion and style, using facial moisturizer and hair products, going for massages and maybe even manicures and in the early aughts heat. Really, the idea of him was in escapable in his episode. We’re going to trace the metrosexual is rise from a portmanteau tweet global trend. It’s a story that involves David Beckham, the New York Times style section, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and a very diligent team of marketers all coming together to sell lots and lots of product and maybe also to make some real changes to our ideas about masculinity. So today on Decoder Ring, what was the metrosexual?

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S4: For anyone who is vaguely sentiment, one metrosexual was at the height of its trendiness, as I was. The word is a real throwback. Or it is for me anyway. It’s not a term I would use now, but I’m not sure it’s one I used then. Not seriously. There’s always something a little purposefully ridiculous about it. It had a kind of tongue in cheek corniness to it, like it came inside a set of implied quotation marks that got dropped as the word became omnipresent, which it really did. In 2003, the term was everywhere. Everywhere.

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S8: Don’t tell me you truly have taken up this whole metro sexual affair. Oh, my God, not. This is who we are. No, it isn’t. No, you’re you’re turning out to be black. Now you’re going to be gay. You.

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S4: That’s a clip from a South Park episode called South Park is Gay, devoted entirely to lampooning the metrosexual craze. That same year, metrosexual was the American Dialect Society’s Word of the year. At one point, it was reported that then Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean had said he was a metrosexual. And just hours later, he had to walk it back. But this moment of peak Métro sexuality. It was just like the moment the volcano exploded. The pressure, the trend had been building for years and years, but it had gone unnoticed by most Americans until suddenly it burst into the open. So we’re going to start right before the pressure begins to build. We’re going to start before Metro sexuality was a thing at all.

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S9: The 80s regular guys would have their suits, shirts, ties. They wore to work and the rest of time they just wear old jeans and their college sweatshirts. Simon Doonan is a writer for many years, was the creative director of Barneys. Meanwhile, there’s this small group of men who are interested in fashion and accessories and trends. And this was something that most men avoided assiduously for many, many decades. It was seen as effeminate. It was seen as sleazy. It was seen as superficial.

S4: This kind of studied male indifference to fashion. The idea that to be particularly interested in clothes, in grooming, in appearance was to be overly interested in them. It was more or less the American status quo. Even as I see that there were a lots of exceptions to the status quo and not just from gay culture, men of color, black men in particular, have a longer history of caring, of needing to care about looking good. And working class white Americans have been known to like a bit of flash. Just think of the disco getups and Saturday Night Fever, which makes them similar to their British analogues. Did a European men have a different relationship to fashion than American men did?

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S9: Very much so. There’s great pictures of George Best. George Best was a famous soccer player who played in the 1960s and 70s, you know, just staring into a mirror, combing his hair, combing, combing, combing. It is hard to imagine the equivalent sports personality in America doing that. So it always has been. In England, a working class thing, when you get some money, the first thing you do is you go out and get you look together, buy some large clothes. You know, if you looked nice, smell nice, girls are going to be attracted to you, whereas some upper middle class guy in America wouldn’t really, really be even thinking that way.

S2: In America, the idea was that both elite men and regular Joes like the white guys who stood in for the American, every man just didn’t do fashion. They didn’t do shopping. It was beneath them. A lot of them don’t even buy their own clothes. Leaving that to the women in their lives, among other things, that made these men a huge untapped market.

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S4: Beginning in the 1980s, but really amping up in the 90s, companies began going after that market. There’s more stylish menswear, hair products, skin products, shoes and watches being made than ever before. And that stuff is selling. Simon Doonan told me that at some point Barney’s had to take out the flaws that have been dedicated just to suits and allocate them to men’s fashion designers. To be clear, most men are still behaving as they always had been. They were still skeptical about shopping, which remains the case for lots of men to this very day. But there’s a kind of guy, the kind of guy who might know about Barney’s, someone who lives in a city and has some money, who in the 1990s becomes newly attuned to his wardrobe and his beauty routine. Think of a fictional character like Patrick Bateman. The protagonist, A Brat, is an Alice’s 1991 novel, American Psycho, who, in addition to being a murderous Wall Streeter, is also a total Proteau metrosexual. Here he is in the 2000 film based on the book.

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S10: After I remove the ice pack, I use a deep poy cleanser in the shower. I use a water activated gel, honey, almond varnish and on the face and exfoliating gel scrub.

S4: Please note the beauty market is still so underdeveloped that Patrick, a total label whore, is using products without brand names.

S2: By 1994, there’s enough male beauty offerings that British GQ could put on an exhibition in London called A Man’s World, a showcase for men’s fashion that was full of little kiosks offering up samples of the latest moisturizer or a facial. Mark Simpson, a British writer who had written extensively about consumer cultures effects on masculinity, was commissioned to review the show for the U.K. publication The Independent. And what he saw there inspired him to kick this whole thing off in earnest. It inspired him to coined the term metrosexual.

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S11: I wouldn’t claim to be the first person to ever utter the word, but it goes through.

S2: I prefer a person who erm didn’t read the article he wrote was called Here Comes the Mirror Men Why the Future Is Metrosexual.

S12: In the piece, Mark describes the metrosexual like this metrosexual man, a single young man with high disposable income living or working in the city because that’s where we’ll shop. So is perhaps the most promising consumer market of the decade. In the 80s, he was only to be found inside fashion magazines such as GQ in television advertisements for Levi Jeans or in gay bars in the 90s. He’s everywhere and he’s gone shopping.

S2: But the thing was, he wasn’t quite everywhere, are not as everywhere as he would one day be. Mark was on to something. But in Trendspotting, timing is everything. And in 1994, when he wrote this piece, he was a little too soon to stick with my volcano metaphor. At this point, Mount Metrosexual admitted a little burst of smoke and then quieted down. But underneath the surface, the trend keeps building. The term starts to low key circulate, particularly in the UK. And then it gets a really big boost from the international poster boy for metro sexuality.

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S4: So talking to people for this piece, there was one person whose name came up in almost every interview that I did.

S13: David Beckham. David Beckham. David Beckham.

S2: David Beckham. The English footballer began playing in the Premier League for Manchester United. Nineteen ninety five. I played soccer growing up and I’m interested in it. But as far as David Beckham soccer skills go, I basically know that he was a free kick master who could put wicked spin on a soccer ball. And honestly, I might know that from the movie Bend It Like Beckham. I am much more familiar with him as a husband of one time Spice Girl. Victoria Beckham nhé Adams as the scantily clad spokesman for dozens of products, most notably men’s underwear, and for having a surprisingly adventurous, androgynous, even femme sense of style.

S14: For a male athlete, moisturise is something that I always go for ice cream. I think it’s important. Morning and evening. Wash regularly, obviously, and hydrate. You know, hydration is such a big part of the way you feel.

S2: Here’s how Mark Simpson described Beckham in another piece that he wrote.

S12: Becks is almost as famous for wearing sarongs and pink nail polish and panties belonging to his wife for having a different tricky haircut. Every week I’m posing naked on all up on the cover of a squat, as he is for his impressive full skills. In the interview with Butch Gay Mag attitude, this married father of two confirmed that he’s straight. But as he admits, he’s quite happy to be a gay icon. He likes to be admired. He says, and doesn’t care whether the admiring is done by women.

S2: Obama becomes unabashed interest and style and self presentation. The pleasure he took in being looked at, the cool he got from pushing at the edges of typical masculine behavior, the way he kept his straight guy bona. The whole time. This was all quintessentially metrosexual and it helped bring the whole trend into focus. Or at least that’s what it did for Details magazine, which would become leader in the arts. The magazine most famous for intentionally, coyly, sometimes problematically playing around with the metrosexual gray area. Bill Waxman, who is currently the founder of a PR agency called High Social, was a publisher of Details magazine.

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S4: Beginning in the very late 1990s, when did you first hear the term metrosexual like? In what context?

S13: It was about David Beckham. I was calling a Dolce Gabbana in Italy and they had done a editorial piece with him. And it’s maybe new why they did this piece. And in the piece, I believe he’s the he’s wearing nail polish, kind of highly sexual. And I heard the term like he’s metrosexual. I remember being. What’s that? And then like, oh, that’s David Beckham. He’s sort of like, you know, we Brits can’t figure out what he is this. Is he gay? Is you, whatever it is. And I remember thinking, that’s it.

S4: Metrosexual Metro sexuality solves a real problem for Bill and for details, details. It started in 1982 as a downtown culture magazine. But over the following years, it had changed owners and approaches. In 1999, it was reconceived specifically as a men’s fashion and Beauty magazine. And as the publisher, Bill was constantly going on sales calls, pitching the concept to advertisers.

S13: I would talk about this brand that we’re relaunching for a guy that was gonna be comfortable in his own skin and he was, you know, going to care about the way he dressed and he was going to use face cream and he was going to you know, he was okay with it. The response I overwhelmingly got in nineteen ninety nine was that’s a gay guy.

S4: Bill sometimes described the details guy as a black short guy, you know, at white collar and blue collar are their guy was black color. But when he heard the term metrosexual he immediately incorporated it till it was exactly the shorthand he was looking for a term that would help people understand that the guy he was talking about really existed.

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S13: I came back to New York and started putting that in all of our sales marketing materials because people couldn’t understand who that guy was before I would use David Beckham as an example. Right.

S4: So David Beckham did create this type. He hadn’t inspired the idea for the magazine, but he helped make the tape. And the idea, comprehensible, approachable, saleable. Marion Saltzman, the transporter you heard from at the beginning of the show, would call him a trend spreader as opposed to a trend setter.

S6: If you think about it, Madonna isn’t a trendsetter. Madonna is a trend spreader.

S4: Madonna didn’t come up with trends. She recognized the right ones for her. She adopted them, spread them and then moved on. Maybe the most famous example of her doing so came in 1991 with a song and the video for Vogue.

S2: Bogeying is infamously taken directly from New York City’s Queer Underground Ballroom scene immortalized in the documentary Paris Is Burning. Madonna took something that was cool because it was from the underground, because it was from queer people of color. And she put it on MTV.

S4: You can think about David Beckham and the metrosexual and a similar, if less intentional way. The trappings of a certain type of gay consumer, knowing dapper, well groomed fluid was adopted by a growing cohort of affluent urban heterosexuals who probably couldn’t articulate why there was some cachet about willingly aping the habits of a certain kind of gay man, but felt it nonetheless. I think that’s worth remembering here is that we’re talking about a significantly different, more fraught and intolerant moment in gay straight relations, especially in America. In the 1990s, when Metro sexuality starts taking off, we’re just beginning to come out of the AIDS crisis. AIDS deaths peaked in America in 1995. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed under Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996 while in Greece would premiere on TV in 1998, the same year a young gay man named Matthew Shepard was beaten and tortured to death in Wyoming. And in facing this kind of adversity with flair. Gay men came to see him to a group of straight men who are facing no such adversity, like the epitome of cool. And David Beckham was one of the guys tapping into this hall for his arm. Except he wasn’t because he was famous. His fame would help popularize the trend. But it also helped sanitize it. In adopting Métro sexuality, straight guys would no longer just be imitating gay men. They would be imitating David Beckham. And this set the stage for a metro sexuality to really go math.

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S2: OK, so it’s early 2002 now, and I hope you can tell the metrosexual volcano. It’s just belching out smoke at this point. The trend has been observed. The market is known to exist. The type is popping up in TV shows like Sex and the City and in magazines like details. In fact, in April of 2001, New York magazine runs a trend story called You’re So Vain about a now familiar sounding type of straight guy who confounded women’s gaydar and had a taste for facials and manicures. But this piece fails to call this guy a metrosexual like it literally just doesn’t use the word. And for the volcano to really explode this guy and his name, they have to become synonymous in the public imagination. This begins to happen when Mark Simpson, the British writer who coined the term, took it out for another spin with an article about David Beckham. The piece, which ran on Salon AKAM, was called Meet the Metrosexual and it playfully out Beckham as one went viral.

S11: Load of people read it, but then it was plagiarized by gigantic.

S4: Her advertising company Plagiarise is maybe too strong a word, but there is something to what Mark saying, and the best way to show you what is just a walk you through what happened after Mark’s piece was published. For starters, the term metrosexual begins to pop up in other newspapers around the country, like the Australian newspaper at The Age, which ran a story explaining the type. This may have been or Marian Salzman first heard the term, remember? She heard it when a friends center, an article from New Zealand with the word metrosexual circled. It also might have had something to do with why Warren St. John, a reporter at The New York Times, first heard the term. He was on assignment in New Zealand in early 2003, covering the America’s Cup for the paper.

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S1: Somewhere down there, I heard the term metrosexual. I was kind of hanging out with yachties and somewhere in that crowd of, well put together, wealthy ducks. Someone mentioned that you’re a metrosexual. And I remember just kind of thinking like, ha, what is that? I don’t even know what that is. And then it just went away.

S4: When Warren returned to New York, he resumed his regular job as a feature writer for The New York Times style section. The style section had been launched in the early 1990s as the style of the Times. A section that was meant to meld society women’s and marriage pages into a canny lifestyle section from its very first cover story, one about the arm, like the human arm, as the must have accessory of the moment. It could be a love, hate, hate to love it. Provocation. And by the early art, it had perfected this particular formula.

S1: At the time, the style section was was pretty, pretty hot stuff. Did you enjoy that about it? Oh, we love. Yeah, absolutely. I think it was like the only bad thing that could happen with the style section story was that nobody talked about when Warren was writing.

S4: The Internet was making unprecedented inroads into how people lived their lives. Many of his stories focused on that. He wrote a piece about the newfangled personals on the site, nerv dot com. He wrote another about Gawker, the then newish media gossip blog that was, among other things, obsessed with the style section. He also did stories about young guys taking Viagra to counter their nerves, and others were really into a particular brand of button down shirt. At some point, he started gathering string on a nebulous idea, something that he couldn’t put into words about young guys and their anxiety about dealing with this brave new world. And then he had lunch with some marketers.

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S1: So in all of these conversations, somebody said the word metrosexual. One of these marketing people. And I was like, what? What do you think it is? And they’re like, well, we don’t really know.

S2: For his job, Warren talked to marketers all the time. There would be the only people more committed to identifying trends than him. And they often had more concrete data. Though even that concrete data feels fuzzy compared to what’s available now.

S1: But it’s kind of these marketers who are starting to say, well, this guy we’re after the one who’s like kind of got taste. He’s got these ambitions. He likes to tell everybody about all the stuff he knows about. He’s the guy and it’s all about wine. He’s a guy who knows about the best Broadway show. You know, he’s kind of like you’re in the know, culturally hip gay friend. He just happens to be straight.

S2: It may come as no surprise at this point that one of the marketing people Warren is referring to is none other than Marion Saltzman. I had lunch with Warren and he was asking me what I was working on. I said, I have this data. It’s worth saying here that Marianne, who now works for Philip Morris, was something of a trend spotting hot shot. She was then the chief strategy officer at the huge advertising firm that was then known as URO RSG and is now known as Harvard’s. In 1982, she’d gone on Oprah to tell her about a type of suburban white kid who was really into rap music and black culture. In 2000, she’d helped identify Singleton’s happily independent single women who were showcased in a Time magazine cover story. And now she was trying to make the metrosexual happen, trying to place him in the public eye. Though even she didn’t know what a big deal. Warren St. John and The Times would be able to make him.

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S6: I mean, we, I think, had no ability to envision a big what we were giving to Warren was for the piece.

S4: Warren put it all together. He connected all the dots. And at this point, there were a lot of dots. The article mentions an innumerable number of name brand products, including diesel jeans, Grey Goose vodka, Kiehl’s and Axe Body Spray. It references Mark Simpson, David Beckham, a 2001 British series called Metro Sexuality, and a forthcoming series called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It includes interviews with the editor in chief of Details and a number of Metro asexuals who’d been gathered together for a casual focus group organized specifically for the story by Marion Saltsman on behalf of her agency. She’s quoted in the piece as well. The story, which ran on the cover of the Style section on Sunday, June 22nd, 2003, was called Metro Sexual has come out and it featured a picture of a man getting a pedicure, looking directly at the camera. By this point, the trend was robust enough that many, many people knew a guy they might describe as a metrosexual. It was a sensation. Here’s Marion Saltsman.

S6: On the night the piece came out and I got an email from a mom. I’d like you to find a match, ma’am. My honor. Then by the next morning, I started seeing ads on Craigslist for people looking for a macho sexual mount or people advertising themselves as metrosexual now. And that was obviously the beginning of a life I’ve spent trying to do something more significance, them sexual matters, dynamites.

S2: It was the style section story that metro sexuality finally fully exploded. After all this time, getting bigger and bigger. If there’s a metro sexualise jumps into the public consciousness and over the shark all at once, there is when you get Southpark and Howard Dean, when the term becomes a regular feature not only of style coverage, but of op ed pages. The trend is not without controversy. A lot of people were extremely skeptical that it was real. And even more people wrung their hands about what had happened to man that it could be. But it’s being controversial only contributed to its ubiquity. It was all over advertisements, newspapers, magazines and TV broadcasts. In July 2003, Inside Edition did a segment that tried to explain the trend to the masses. Pedicures aren’t just for women anymore. It a metrosexual sip’s a mojito while getting a pedicure and another last face up on a massage table, getting a facial.

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S1: I love the way it cleans my skin and cleanse my face.

S2: The man you just heard was on Marion’s team at Euro RSG Marion herself shows up a bit later in the same segment known as the Metrosexual.

S4: He is quite macho to sports. He drinks with boys. He drinks with the girls. He does manicures and pedicures. At this point, that Métro sexuality starts to become less of a sociological phenomenon and more of a way to sell stuff. Not such a surprising turn of events for a trend being driven in large part by an advertising agency. The term stops being descriptive and becomes prescriptive, telling regular Joes across the country men who are not metrosexual, what they need to do and buy in order to become one. That’s part of what’s going on in Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which came out a few weeks after the New York Times style section story and became a cultural touchstone in its own right.

S2: I had not been conceived with a metrosexual in mind, but it tapped right into the hole, fished out on the show, a shlubs straight man was made over by a group of five stylish and likeable homosexuals, often to the delight of his female partner.

S15: I’m not sure what her goal was to create metrosexual necessarily, but I think what did.

S4: Ted Allen is the host of Chopped on the Food Network. And one of the original cast members of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

S15: But I think often the result that we produced was somebody who was, at least for a day, a metrosexual or whether they stayed that way forever.

S4: I actually kind of doubt where I was about a camaraderie between gay and straight men. There was neither common nor commonly showcased, and it was a camaraderie that didn’t depend on the gay men toning themselves down to appeal to straight guys. The show erased some boundaries while making real progress and how Americans felt about gay men.

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S2: But even as it did this, it also reassured straight men they hadn’t crossed the line. This was another feature of late stage metro sexuality. If it had for years been about a kind of ambiguity. It now becomes super straight. Here’s Mark Simpson again.

S11: Remarks and people had insisted over and over again that there was nothing gay about much social, such as a all straight and that they’re not bad. The marketers had done what they always do, which is to turn the tide, something that was hard and take away the stuff that might hold. But threatening and turn it into something very dull.

S4: There’s another thing. Metro sexuality tapped into that had once seemed dangerous and recently had its edges sanded off cities. You know, the metro part of the term metrosexual in the 1990s, when the metro sexual starts to exist, American cities were coming off. Decades of hard times to take New York. The police are most familiar with. As an example, through the 1980s, the city had been bankrupt, crime ridden, dirty, polarized, written off as a lost cause. In the 90s, the city was made over. It got cleaner, richer, cheesier. Its center turned into the glam stomping grounds of Sex and the City. In other words, in this period, cities like gayness itself came to be seen as safer and eventually so safe that they could be marketed in the form of the metrosexual to the rest of the country and the world as aspirational. So for about a year or two, a volcano is metro sexuality happily spews out lava. It’s around this time that it starts to spawn. Other words like Bromance, Manscape and Mandell’s. All it’s ranty offspring, all suggesting other things guys should try or buy. But the frenzy couldn’t last. By 2005, 2006, the word had gotten so overheated it burns out mostly. Mark Simpson, who coined the term, watched the craze unfold with a kind of cranky sense of wonder.

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S16: The thing that interested me about metrosexual too, back then was does much of sexuality represent a form of male liberation? Or is it, you know, just a very, very beautiful form of stilted imprisonment where we’re expressing a new way of being able to talk.

S8: Being able to be a man. So like the freedoms of being a man. Bye bye. Bye bye. Trapping yourself and having to do all this preening and grooming. That actually is stuff that’s been entrapping women for centuries.

S16: Yes. I mean, the discussion that I was having with myself back then is academic and historic now because it happened, you know, whatever it was, it’s happened that this was a preparation for social media. As it turned out, this is some this is normal that you are going to take photographs of yourself all the time and you try and you’re going to use filters and you’re gonna, you know, and you to work on your body and you post this stuff on that lunch and. Sure. But that’s more than just growing up nicely.

S2: That’s about that’s about directly putting yourself into the marketplace and a desire metro sexuality help make men more like the rest of us. People are to think about what it is to be seen, to be looked at and not just to do the seeing a giving up of authority that also let them play around. But as is so often the case, playing around in this context largely meant buying things. Ultimately, this might be the most observable accomplishment of Metro sexuality. The way it destigmatize shopping and grooming for young men. Metro sexuality may have faded out of fashion, but not before changing how the average man relates to fashion. Forestar.

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S7: There were three people I spoke to for this story. You all feel a little proprietary about the metrosexual. Like they made him happen. Mark Simpson warrants in John and Marion Saltsman. My initial reaction to their sense of ownership was skeptical, like, no offense, but this trend would have happened without them.

S4: I mean, what’s already happening when they each observed it straight guys adopting certain, quote, gay behaviors was a reflection of such vast forces, market forces for sure, but also changing understanding of heterosexuality and homosexuality, of masculinity and urbanity, that it would have happened no matter what. But the more I worked on this piece, the more I kind of came around to their point of view. It’s not just that without them, we don’t have metrosexual as a word, let alone a word of the year. Is that without the term, without The New York Times, without some relentless marketing muscle? You don’t get what I think of as Metro sexuality’s baroque grand finale where Metro sexual. In some ways becomes totally disconnected from what it had been. The elite behavior of some sophisticated guys in the city and becomes a kind of gateway experience for dudes everywhere to stop thinking, caring about what they looked like is effeminate ultimately. I came to think of the story of the metrosexual as one about the power of the right word, albeit in the right place at the right time. What if the metrosexual had stayed? The gay straight man. The Pomo sexual. The black collared guy? Would we still remember him? He would have happened. But would we know it?

S7: We had made the male beauty market mainstream. We’ve just been some hazy phase. In other words, what’s in a name? I think the story of the metrosexual tells us sometimes it’s almost everything. This is Decoder Ring. I’m Willa Paskin. You can find me on Twitter at Willa Paskin. Do you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode? You can email us at Decoder Ring at Slate. Com.

S2: You haven’t yet subscribe and read our Feed and Apple podcast or ever you get your podcasts. Even better, please tell your friends. This podcast was written by Willa Paskin. It was edited by Benjamin. Fresh Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Benjamin Fresh. Cleo Lieven is a research assistant. Thanks to Corey Seager, Carl Swanson, Brian Berger, Bill Bishop, Helene Shugart, June Thomas, Alicia Montgomery and Andrew Adam Newman. See you next month.