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The Metrosexual Meme

July 19th, 2003 · No Comments

Since the publication of this New York Times piece, it seems as though you can’t swing a dead cat in a major city without hitting someone uttering the word metrosexual.” Hell, in the comments to this Hit & Run post, my friend Will avers that I am, myself, a “card-carrying” metrosexual. (Maybe an ex-metrosexual, now that, having abandoned the think-tank-geek life, I no longer have an excuse to put on a suit on a daily basis.)

The term’s been around since ’94 when Salon writer Mark Simpson coined it, and had been percolating its way into the Zeitgeist for a while, but with the publication of the Times piece, it’s “tipped” in a way not seen since the glory days of All Your Base Are Belong to Us. A bit like Schadenfreude, it’s a word for something so common that, once you hear it for the first time, you wonder why there wasn’t already a word for that (err, in English, anyway).

Nevertheless, having a word changes things. Foucault famously argued (whether correctly or not is contested) that the “homosexual” was a product—a construction—of 19th century social science, in the sense that people had not previously had reflective identities as homosexuals. What kind of feedback loops will the spread of this term generate? What kind of backlash? And how long before the metrosexual displaces the soccer mom as the hot voting demographic?

While you’re puzzling over that, you can check out a TV show that’s getting a buzz-boost from all this metrosexuality: a Queer as Folk meets Trading Spaces hybrid called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

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