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September 27-October 3, 2006

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Men-aissance, Schmenaissance

Is it legal to look this good? Yes, it is ... for now. So live it up!

Men-aissance, Schmenaissance

By Joseph Rosenfeld, AICI, CIP

THERE seems to be a lot of buzz lately about the need for "men to be men." I don't know when men were not supposed to be men. Of course, there is a diverse variety of men, who are labeled as to which sort of men they are. But, since when is taking care of oneself considered "unmanly?" The supposition that it's manly to let one's self go, or take less care of one's self, is the ultimate insult to men-kind. The manipulative media and those who rely upon it should consider that no single idea about how men should be is applicable for each and every man. Being a man means making decisions that work for you—and sticking to them—regardless of what fad the marketing world concocts.

Having more choices than ever to help men live the way they want to live is great. There are more entertainment choices than ever before. For instance, consider how many hundreds of channels can be quickly clicked through with the use of the "universal remote control" before settling on something to watch on TV. Even ESPN has multiple channels to accommodate all of the sporting event options that are now available. Who knew that gambling is considered a sport? If television is of disinterest, the "universal remote control" can lead a couch potato into a cluster of other entertainment mediums.

The globalization of the economy has made taking care of oneself affordable and the products that we like accessible. Options that were never before available to men are here, and even greater choices are constantly developing. Men's grooming products have proliferated in the past 25 years. Despite the call of some who suggest that men should stop taking such good care of themselves, the rate of growth of men's grooming products has superseded the growth of women's cosmetics for the past several years. Walk into any Nordstrom or Macy's and take note of the abundance of scents and styling and shaving stuff that is for sale. Twentysomething men are truly leading the way in this area and are influencing their fathers that it's important to feel good as well as to look good.

The idea that men should turn their backs on the smorgasbord of choices in favor of being plain, ho-hum men is a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that the roles of men and women are shifting. The paradigm of women needing to be competitive in order to find a mate has shifted into that being true of men. In Silicon Valley, more men are vying for the attention of fewer women, who happen to have elevated expectations—even of engineers. But not all women are attracted to the same qualities found in men. From sharp to scruffy, men have now become as diverse as the products they use to look and feel good, and to attract a partner.

Rather than tell all men they need to "act like men," I suggest everyone recognize that men, like women, continue to evolve. For women, the key is to attract the kind of man they want without trying to change who he is. And the key for men, to whom choice is a newer concept, is to wisely choose what works for them, and to work with advisers who can help them have it all—thanks to all of these great choices.

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