That's when "Cerebral America" was besotted with identity politics. It was the year of sensitivity workshops and "condoms are fun" campaigns. The coolest thing to be was biracial, bisexual or some other wonderfully even-handed identity hybrid. About that time, queer English author Mark Simpson (labeled by Vogue as the "gay anti-christ") coined the term "metrosexual," a term that's come to full fruition with a recent flurry of press pieces slathering over the fit Brit soccer star David Beckham, among others.
For those who don't read the New York Times or watch Extra!, a metrosexual is a man who, with his urban sophistication, fashion savvy and intimate familiarity with personal-care products, might once have been called a sissy.
Metrosexuality's chief triumph has been to make those petty categories irrelevant once and for all. Foxy ambiguity, universal appeal and a healthy self-love are just a few of the metrosexual's hallmarks. Although he's best typified by the sarong-and-nail-polish-wearing Beckham, he's actually all around us. You probably know, love or are one.
Unfortunately, like a lot of the better concepts to spring from the social soul-searching we did during the Clinton administration, fact is that the metrosexual is little more than a new target market for stuff. Today's most popular hipster gear allies itself with a kind of playful, knowing androgyny--Puma, Kiehl's, Abercrombie & Fitch, Mini Coopers, anything having to do with yoga. So gender-bending ultimately boils down to Bed HeadŞ and snug rugby polos? It seems a sadly superficial fate for such a promising idea.
That's why I'm proposing a fresh batch of identity categories. Why cleave to last season's concept when you can be the first to flaunt the next hot archetype? Pick your profile like you pick out a new pair of pants, and swing in style.
Nanosexual. Nanos express a thoroughly modern obsession with tiny technology. They're the first to cradle PDAs, Elf cameras and videoconferencing cell phones in their childlike hands. The nanosexual will scintillate you with smutty haikus about chip size and the city's wireless hot spots. May have a thing for Japanese girls.
Macrosexual. DoppelgŠnger to the nanosexual, the Escalade-driving, Starbucks venti mocha-drinking, McDonald's-supersizing macrosexual takes "size matters" to its greasy, throbbing hilt. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, from golf-course-sized front lawns to spending sprees at the Sharper Image. Likely to be recreational Viagra user.
AlexSexual. Inspired by Alex DeLarge, the Droog-ish ringleader in A Clockwork Orange, the AlexSexual wrings all his pleasure from observing--and occasionally committing--acts of violence. Addicted to raunchy reality cop shows and the video game Grand Theft Auto, this tightly wound "Man of the Future" is the guy who screams "Bitch!" when he drops the weights at the gym. See also American Psycho, Your Friends & Neighbors.
Adidasexual. Amply compensated employees of sportswear companies with persistent, insatiable guilt about "getting outside." Garbed entirely in logo swag from the last employee friends-and-family sale, the Adidasexual belongs to at least one running or mountain-biking club and can strap anything to a roof rack in less than 10 seconds. Tend to couple with their own kind. In visors.
In Vitro-Sexual. Upper-income, home-owning married couples often succumb to the "In Vitro" lifestyle, which requires skipping sex in favor of children. Distinguishing characteristics include credit accounts at Gymboree and Babies 'R' Us, and keen dedication to quilting, yard work or eBay. These are soccer dads who just want to pick up the kids without worrying about the balls. After all that remodeling, sex just seems--well--icky.
"Meet the Metrosexual" appeared on salon.com July 22, 2002.