By Marian Salzman, Friday, December 23, 2011, at 9:00 am.
This is the 20th in a series of 32 posts—each one a section from Euro RSCG Worldwide PR’s “The Big Little Book of Nexts,” which in total features more than 150 sightings for 2012. It’s the biggest, most robust annual trends report ever from @erwwpr CEO Marian Salzman and her trendspotting team. To download the entire report, go to the Brainfood tab at havaspr.com/us.
We’ve spent lots of time talking about men in the past, but we can’t help but broach the topic again. Men in the post-metrosexual world trouble me. Here’s why: They’re in a transitional phase. The recession was dubbed a “mancession,” leaving women to take over at work, and as the gender race reaches a conclusion, women are out in front. Perhaps that’s why PBS is devoting a series to raising boys, with alarming statistics in tow. American boys, for instance, are 15 times more likely than girls to abuse drugs and alcohol and twice as likely to die in a car crash. Boys are also 30 percent more likely than girls to drop out of high school. Though the epidemic of violence that gripped young men in the U.S. from 1975 to 1995 has diminished, young men in America are still the most violent in the industrialized world. And boys are not just a threat to other people; they account for 85 percent of completed suicides. Thankfully, more websites and organizations are popping up to help boys find their way. Look for making better men from boys to be on the agenda in households not just in the U.S. but worldwide in 2012-13. And the young man’s search for meaning often includes a rediscovery of what it means (or once meant) to be a real man. Look for rough-and-tumble icons such as John Wayne and Steve McQueen to become idols once more, and keep an ear out for the roar of muscle cars on our streets. Sales for Dodge, which makes the muscle-y Challenger and Charger, are up 10 percent in September of this year versus the same month a year ago. You’ll also find men taking up an aesthetic that The Wall Street Journal calls “The Gentleman Adventurer.” This male is said to take his style cues from people like mountaineer George Mallory. It’s a trend that outfits men in gear designed for the elements, but because it’s tough out there for men, the trend has figurative implications as well. Look for mountain climbing to continue to gain popularity as men once again test their limits and look for adventure in hopes of finding themselves. The New York Times attributes part of this male meltdown to the fact that men are the new women. A spate of new TV shows in the States helps prove the point: The male leads of “Man Up” and “Last Man Standing” are victims of a changed economy and a new social order. Long gone are the days of TV past when manly types such as Ralph Kramden and Archie Bunker called the shots. Today’s TV husbands and fathers are lampooned not for their chauvinism but for their perceived “womanly” ways. (Think jokes about body wash and fancy cups of coffee.) As the gender gap continues to close, there’s a real opportunity for men to gain some balance: a place between too much testosterone and too much eye balm. But first: Where are the men? As if we don’t have enough to worry about, the lack of males, real or not, is dominating global conversations. In Russia, male death rates are skyrocketing. A recent Atlantic article is alarming: Fourteen Russians of every 1,000 die per year (compared with eight per thousand in the U.S.), making Russia’s death rate “one of the world’s worst.” Women outlive men in Russia by 13 to 14 years, one of the biggest gaps globally. A significant proportion of the deaths of men and women are among the working-age population, which is declining in size. In New Zealand, claims one newspaper, the lack of men is “not just a man drought, it’s a man desert.” In the whole country there are only 24,000 men who are straight, single, have no children and earn at least $60,000 a year, compared with at least 50,000 single women aged 25 to 39. So not only are men losing their identity, but they’re also losing their whole demography. However, there are still overtones of metrosexuality pervading their DNA these days. The pampered man is alive and well and shopping at a beauty counter near you. A new survey finds that more and more men are developing a “beauty regime.” Fifty-three percent of men said grooming was expected of them, 34 percent said having a beauty routine would improve their love lives, and 25 percent thought it would enhance their careers. At the same time, androgyny is on the rise, as French retail chains like the Kooples show androgynous- looking couples in its cooler-than-thou ads. Likewise, male model Andrej Pejic is taking the fashion world by storm and stealing the spotlight—at all the women’s shows. And it seems the much-maligned murse is having a moment with Lil Wayne, Jude Law, Kanye West and Cristiano Ronaldo as card-carrying supporters of the murse trend. Bryanboy, the Filipino fashion blogger making waves at shows, explains for the murse-ignorant: “A man-bag is something very utilitarian where function is prioritized over form. A murse is the opposite; a bag where form is prioritized over function. Most men who carry murses tend to have a sense of fashion awareness.” The Daily Mail Online has even spotted some clutches on the male set in the streets of the U.K. Is it time for men to get versed in murse? Regardless, look for men to explore their infinite possibilities and redefine themselves in coming years in the face of some real challenges and crises. In a recent piece for the Huffington Post, comedian Margaret Cho put it this way: “Someone can look very male but then reveal himself to be a true lady. A woman can appear incredibly feminine yet be super butch inside. We are all creatures of infinite possibility, and sexuality is one aspect where our souls and bodies really collide.”
Photo Credit: creativecommons.org/Hello, I am Bruce