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Do you remember the old debate about the objectification of women? Do you remember the old "I won't let my daughter play with Barbie dolls because they represent everything that it's wrong and superficial and sexist and I don't want my little princess to grow up thinking that all she can aspire to in life is to become a blond haired, plastic-titted bimbo with a perennial Botox-induced facial paralisis."?
Well, apart from the obvious answers to that (i.e. Usually the objectification and exploitation of women's beauty or sexuality for commercial purposes leads to very lucrative contracts that the 'victims' are only too happy to sign... And that Barbie will turn your daughter into a brainless slutty veterinarian only if you rely on said plastic doll to raise your child, exhonerating yourself from parental responsibilities...), the point I wanted to get to is that nowadays, it seems like it's men's turn to receive the 'piece of meat' treatment.
It smacked me on the mouth with ferocious audacity during one episode of my all-time favourite shows "True Blood".
In the UK the show is sponsored by 'Joop Homme', a really sweet/sexy/tacky fragrance that used to be popular in the nineties and now sells only to footie hooligans that want to smell suave and unimaginative homosexuals. Harsh much?
So it happens that every commercial break is headlined by Clint Mauro, the latest Joop testimonial, flexing his perfectly toned torso and looking every inch the kind of meat we would all love to buy at the supermarket. The female model that serves as 'prop' (you don't really notice her... Unless you are a straight man, of course..) limits herself to cling on to him and grab his ass.
In total fairness, the real "True Blood" is what's spurting out of my nose after every TV encounter with Mr Mauro. The man is hot.
Good shock-tactic there.... Still, I wouldn't buy the fragrance.
But seriously, look around.
Everyone is trying to sell you something with a set of six pack attached to it. And I don't mean beer. Ok, we all agree that sex sells, a lot, but somehow now, it's even sex in the male form that crowds the shelves.
The male model industry is on the rise, together with the so-called metrosexuals ( meaning, heterosexual men in touch with their feminine side that groom themselves one inch from a stupor à la David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo or end up overdoing it with makeup and looking like a male teenage slut à la Zac Efron... I do admit though, the word makes me think of someone regularly engaging in lewd acts on board of the subway though....). I wonder if it's because men have become more susceptible to the media bombardment of body-beautifuls, at least more than they used to be back in the time when the height of masculine sophistication/power/prestige was a Marlboro Classic double page spread....
Or perhaps they've succumbed to the same bullying tactics our female counterparts have had to deal with for centuries.... In which case allow me to say 'It's payback time bitches!' (and for 'bitches' I mean all the blokes out there that like to mate with women).
Anyway, it was about time this turn of event took place.
First, because I was genuinely tired to see tits everywhere on TV, on the pages of magazines and billboards in the street; second, because I find very interesting how men are reacting. Me included.
Just to give you an example of how things have evolved. I left Italy, land of the macho, of male supremacy over the female world, 14 years ago. Back then the height of refinement for a man was wearing an expensive cologne, having a gym-trained body and driving a sexy-looking car. Men used to battle among themselves for supremacy with the female kind by flaunting first and foremost their status: a good job, a healthy bank account and the promise of a nice lifestyle for any potential female partner.
Fast forward now to the year 2011.
What happens now that there are more and more women in high-ranking jobs, earning the socks off their male counterparts?
How are men going to claim their alpha status?
By becoming pretty.
And so, you might have the top job, the fast car, the big house, but do you have the pecs, the abs, the white smile and the perfectly arched brows?
Within this race, I admit, women have a fair advantage. They have no qualms about getting this thing plucked, that thing waxed, this thing pencilled in.... They have been doing it for centuries. What they had to struggle with is getting even on the professional front.
Men are experiencing exactly the same thing, but in reverse. After successfully planting their flag in the professional world, they now have to brave the world of male beauty, running chin-down into waxing parlours, tanning shops, the manicurist, and they have to do it whilst clinging for dear life to their masculinity, because out there, society is always ready to strip it off them at the first sign of concealer. And yet, they do it. I think they know it's worth it the humiliation.
But again, it's fair: if a beautiful woman in a high-power job is generally acknowledged as a bitch in spite of her true personality and merit, then is only fair that a man with transparent mascara is classified as a fag in spite of his true sexuality... Nowadays, we are increasingly what we look like, and it's easier to divide the world in two: the normal ones on one side and the freakish ones on the other, rather that make proper new sections for the straight guy that looks gay, the gay that acts straight and the stunning girls that are also very clever.
And speaking of fags ( I use the term very amicably, sort of like when black people refer to each other as niggas... Being gay, I can can't I?) back in the day, to spot the fag in the crowd you just had to look for that guy with perfectly shaped brows, tidy, even if ever so slightly drag-queen-ish. Things have changed.
I mean, have you been to Milan lately? Even taxi drivers in their mid fifties have plucked eyebrows now. This must surely warrant another section in the world classification?
You see these tall, strapping men wearing a suit, with ridiculously feminine eyebrows (no doubt, the work of sisters, girlfriends or wives that pluck with the same zeal as they would pluck their own brows), gleaming fingernails and a permanent orange glow that goes all the way under the shirt-cuff al year long.
Some results are pretty bad. Let's be honest. I think that equality between the sexes in terms of grooming and body image is still in its infancy. There is still a lot to be learned. After all, you cannot learn good taste and that's beyond one's sexuality.
But you can look and learn from other people's mistakes.
I am glad though. I am happy that some self assured straight men have taken it upon themselves to get out there and start waxing. You never know, maybe one day, watching Zac Efron's perfectly matte face and kohl-rimmed eyes, the first thing that will come into our mind will be "My, he's butch!". You never know, maybe one day the number one cause of divorce between man and woman will be the fact that there is no longer enough room in the bathroom cabinet for everybody's make up.
You never know, but the road to a more accepting society might just pass by a beautifully waxed crack, and if said crack is anything like Clint Mauro's, then it will be gridlock.


Remember all of you brow-plucking virgins out there: if you over pluck them, you fuck them! ;0)