Ubersexual: The New Masculine Ideal?
The authors who popularized the term "metrosexual" say a new type of masculinity is taking hold.
Masculinity in Flux continued...
"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 have shifted.
"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.
"For example, during industrialization, skilled artisans started losing their jobs and men started to feel they were losing control. Again, during World War II, when it became clear that the U.S. was going to enter the war, people were wondering if American men were up to the task."
E. Anthony Rotundo, an instructor at Phillips Academy Andover, made a similar point in American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era. He stresses economic uncertainty as the cause of current confusion about masculinity.
"The great majority of American men can't support a household on their income," he tells WebMD. "Families with a couple of kids need two incomes, and that calls into question the idea that the man is the breadwinner."
The authors of The Future of Men, in contrast, say the feminist movement has posed the greatest challenge to traditional notions of masculinity.
"The women's movement has arguably had at least as big an impact on men as on women," they write.
From 'Nice Guy' to 'Integrated Male'
Robert Glover, PhD, a psychotherapist and marriage counselor, believes many men have responded to feminism by repudiating traditional masculine traits -- such as strength, assertiveness, and independence -- because they fear feminists may find those traits offensive. In an effort to please women, they transform themselves into sensitive, emotionally responsive "nice guys."
"They constantly ask themselves, 'how do I make sure the woman is happy and doesn't get upset with me?'" says Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.