The Metrosexual: Gender, Sexuality, and Sport. By David Coad. Albany: State University of New York Press, July 2008. Paper: ISBN 978-0791474105, $16.95. 214 pages.
Review by Gypsey Teague, Clemson University
from SJC post 2 (10/13/08)
There are not many books on gender that do not cover women’s issues or Women’s Studies. Therefore, when I was asked to review this book I agreed quickly, and I am very glad I did. This is not the book I anticipated. What I expected—a book on how the metrosexual became part of the general vocabulary of television and print—although close to the heart of this book, was replaced by a book rife with examples of how the boundary between the homoerotic and the heterosexist is being blurred in advertising.
Coad gives the reader many examples of how the clothing industry, specifically the underwear and sportswear manufacturers, wove a mythos of sports stars and their irrefutable heterosexuality. However, Coad also uses the same examples to show how this mythos of heterosexuality was used by publishers to lure and capture the gay reader into dreaming that these models at the height of their masculinity could be theirs. It has been a fine line trodden since the 1970s, one still in evidence today with actors and sports figures such as Michael Jordan and Charlie Sheen.
As a professor of Women’s Studies I have taught for some time that not all advertising is exploitive of women merely because it shows women in their underwear. This book gives the male side of this same issue. Yes, the male models are showing much more than they would have in print and television ads of yesteryear; however, they are doing nothing more nor less than what the women have been doing for years, and they are enjoying the fame that goes with it.I am saddened, though, by the fact that in order for these ads to work in the minds of the straight general viewing public, the models must be hyper-hetero. They must portray a degree of homophobia in some cases that borders on damaging to humanity. Examples of trophy wives for featured sports stars are mixed with their highly evolved sense of style and fashion. Their knowledge of which material goes with which style is no longer the exception to the rule but is the rule itself.I have ordered a copy of this book for Clemson University’s Gunnin Architecture Library and have included it in my syllabus for the Gender class that I teach in Women’s Studies. As the saying goes; “the mirror has two faces,” and in this case one of them is not what you expect to see. I recommend this book for anyone who has a Gender, Women’s Studies, or Men’s Studies program, or anyone who is a marketing or management major. There is something for all of them, as well as the general public, to see how we are being manipulated in our view of sex, sexuality, and image in advertising.