You may call me old-fashioned – actually, please do: I subscribe to a number of values and principles that seem to have very much fallen by the wayside in modern times, however I think they’re important – but there are some things that just jar with me when I come across them. I’m probably going to get shot by a few people for saying this, but I’m a firm believer, at least to some extent, in certain role models and stereotypes that are – apparently – no longer to be encouraged, even though to me they seem entirely natural.
Take Metro Man, for example: A disturbing trend which – like male facial hair – seems these days to be de rigeur for the bloke who wants to be seen to be trying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against a chap who takes care of themselves, smells pleasant and has obviously made some attempt at personal grooming, but then again, I’ve no beef with a guy who comes striding over the moors, long hair blowing in the wind, a good five o’clock shadow and weather-worn skin, à la Heathcliff, (the Wuthering Heights one, not the cartoon cat), or maybe the rustic, homespun charm of Monty Don! What I don’t want is a bloke who spends more time in front of the mirror, shopping for clothes, or worrying about split ends than I do.
It’s not that I have anything against a guy wanting to look his best, and kudos to those who do, for making the effort; the problem is, as I see it, we’re looking at the thin end of the wedge, because it’s but a short step from taking a manly pride in one’s appearance, to losing the essential maleness that sets you aside from the gentler sex. Let me explain further by relating what I saw yesterday in SL – and it’s something that I’ve come across on several occasions recently inworld.
It was one of those days when a spot of retail therapy was the order of the day and, rather than head off to my usual shopping haunts, I decided to revisit some of the lesser used landmarks cluttering up my inventory. As always, the first half dozen either didn’t work any more, or saw me stood in an empty field with a big yellow ‘Land Rental’ sign plonked in the middle. Eventually however, I did manage to find a clothes’ store, where I spent a good hour, and a fair few lindens, on satiating my needs. That’s when I ran across ‘the couple’ – a girl and a guy seemingly attached by an invisible elastic prim that ensured that wherever she went, he dutifully followed a few steps later. Nothing wrong with that, of course, sometimes when you’re buying an outfit for a special occasion, it’s good to get your other half’s opinion before you splurge your savings – happens in RL too, particularly when love is young and one party is trying to make a good impression on the other. Not throughout the entire shop though… Which is precisely what I observed: Ms Elastic spent pretty much the whole time I was there, examining pretty much every outfit on sale, whilst Mr Elastic tagged along faithfully behind like a meek little puppy dog trotting at her feet.
Aside from trying to impress one’s partner in the very early days of a relationship, as mentioned above, there is only one other reason – whether in real or virtual life – that a woman would drag a man around every single display in every single store on a clothes shopping trip: It’s to assert her power over him. It’s a form of dominance that is very public and completely obvious to everyone watching, and for the guy concerned there’s simply no hiding the fact of exactly who is in control. At any other time, no woman wants to drag a sulky, bored, whinging lump of man around with her whilst she shops, and this is a perfectly well understood principle in enlightened society. Then man’s role is to let her get on with it, whilst he hangs around in loose groupings with his fellow males, shuffling in the doorway of M&S, or – if he’s lucky – nipping off to the pub for a swift one, or indulging his desires for gadget porn at Dixons. This is one of the reasons local councils put seating in the high street – it’s reserved for drunks, old ladies and bored men waiting for their partners to choose a pair of shoes.
As I’ve stated, I’ve nothing against men showing their softer side, neither do I have a problem with traditional concepts of dominance – some of my best friends, in both worlds, are dommes! However, it’s not one of those things I really want to have on my radar under such mundane circumstances as when I’m shopping, even in a virtual setting – somehow, it just seems wrong – there are solid reasons why masculine and feminine are fundamentally different, no matter what the PC brigade my want us to believe – and whenever I do see it heading off on this downward spiral, something of my faith in the virtual human race dies inside. I really don’t want, neither do I need to see poor, downtrodden, meek examples of the male of the species trudging mournfully around in the wake of their better halves, in the shoe aisles of the stores I frequent. I’d much prefer them to be out, getting into trouble and getting up to the stuff that blokes are supposed to get up to.
Like I said, I’m pretty old fashioned, or maybe I’m just out of touch!
I wanna play cricket on the green
Ride my bike across the street
Cut myself and see my blood
I wanna come home all covered in mud
The Who – I’m A Boy