Do you insist on rising at five to run each morning, even when your back is
aching, black ice coats the streets, and your wife beseeches you to stay in
bed? Do you only feel good when you’re training for triathlons? Is eating
merely a way to replenish for the next race? Then you, my Spandex-clad friend,
may have an exercise addiction.
What's the difference between these two types of men?
In a study they wrote in 2003, the three trend spotters wrote that "One
of the telltale signs of metrosexuals is their willingness to indulge
themselves, whether by springing for a Prada suit or spending a couple of hours
at a spa to get a massage and facial."
In contrast, they claim the ubersexual is less concerned with fashion and
more inclined to develop his own sense of style.
"Compared with the metrosexual, the ubersexual is more into
relationships than self," they say. "He dresses for himself more than
for others (choosing a consistent personal style over fashion fads)."
Examples of Ubersexuals
Holding up actor George Clooney as an example, they say the ubersexual's
"best friends are male; he doesn't consider the women in his life his
And the ubersexual is more concerned with principles and values. Bono, of
the rock band U2, represents this, they say, by the way he campaigns to reduce
poverty in Africa.
In short, the ubersexual possesses what the authors call "M-ness," a
type of masculinity "that combines the best of traditional manliness
(strength, honor, character) with positive traits traditionally associated with
females (nurturance, communicativeness, cooperation)."
Although The Future of Men is based on interviews with 2,000 men
nationwide, it is not an in-depth sociological analysis, as Salzman, a trained
sociologist, readily admits.
"I'm in the business of marketing," she told WebMD. "The job of
understanding men was undertaken from the perspective of how we can do a better
job marketing to them. I have no apologies for that motivation."
Masculinity in Flux
But by arguing that the ubersexual is already succeeding the metrosexual,
the authors of The Future of Men underscore an indisputable fact of
life in the U.S. -- the concept of masculinity is in flux, leaving many
confused about what it means to be a man.
"It was clear that men were questioning the feminization of men,"
said Salzman, explaining the origins of The Future of Men.
"We wrote the book to focus on the question, 'what is the byproduct of
40 years of increased rights for women?' The instability of the male role model
has been a reaction to the rise of equal rights for women."
This is not the first time in American history that notions of masculinity
"It seems like every time the country is in a crisis there's concern
about masculinity," said Sonya Michel, a history professor at the
University of Maryland and the author, with Robyn Muncy, of Engendered
America: A Documentary History, 1865 to the Present.