II: Battling for supremacy - The Retrosexual versus the Metrosexual.
One theory that has been used to account for the construction of identity is the conception of Binary Opposition. Frequently, when the notion of binary opposition is considered, the use of ‘Other’ is manifest. “Otherness is a fundamental category of human thought... it became to contrast “Good and Evil, right and left, God and Lucifer” (de Beauvoir, 1949; 17). The ‘Other’, therefore, is utilized to provide empowerment to particular ‘dominant’ identities or cultures by simultaneously subordinating its opponent. The battle for supremacy begins as the growth in postmodernity brings about a new metrosexual man who fights for domination, alongside the back-lashing traditional retrosexual man fighting to keep its superiority. The growth in consumer society that dominates popular culture continues to develop and maintain the metrosexual consumerist. The rebellious retrosexual demands power, in which producers come to the rescue with a back-lash to the metrosexual values, enforcing more consumerism for retrosexual men to ‘prove’ and maintain their ‘bloke-ish’ ways. In order to do this, this chapter will present an analysis from the data collected alongside the contextual analysis, which should demonstrate a significant polarity between the two masculinities. Correspondingly, the data analysis will cover the way in which hegemonic masculinity is exemplified through the advertisements, and the effects this has on young men. The research will focus on the idea of binary opposition and how this contributes to the understanding of metrosexual and retrosexual masculinities, which ultimately follows up from the research examined in the first section on male dominance. Binary opposition is an important attribute in regards to the justification of power. Unlike regular opposition, binary opposition works on a deeper level that creates a hierarchal subordination. In particular, an example of such deeper meanings between binary opposites would be rational as opposed to emotional. This generates discourses of inferiority because in our society “men are seen to be rational and women as emotional, [therefore] the former are often placed at a higher position in the hierarchy” (Manji, 2005). The binary opposition places men above women, as they bore the dominant and significant trait. The more in-depth meaning within the context is that through aspects of institutionalisation, such as education and media institutions, it is learnt that rationality is privileged, combined with the fact that it is learnt that men comprise this trait, in which women comprise the opposing trait. Holland et al (1996) states that something which has become “institutionalised, refers relatively to its ‘invisibility’” (Holland et al, 1996: 144). Hence, the people of society are unknowingly taught the ways of living and conformity, through the hegemonic teachings within institutions. It is also learned which specific traits counterpart with particular gender relations, or we acknowledge certain traits that echo masculinity or femininity. For that reason, institutionalisation normalises such characteristics of our society which can create a mass conformity of this idea of ‘Othering’. For instance, the participants numerously constructed binary opposition through a subtle discourse of comparing two different insurance companies that in essence, metaphorically reflect masculine and feminine characteristics. This was particularly demonstrated after showing the gay group Zurich Help Point, whereby Drake announced; “I would go for a big corporate brand like ‘Zurich’, as opposed to ‘Sheila’s Wheels.’” (Drake, twenty-years-old) The subtle discourses that Drake conveyed subsequent to viewing the advertisement, replicated a socially constructed idea of masculinity as the more advantaged (Zurich), as opposed to femininity as the subordinated (Sheila’s Wheel’s). Zurich presents both a professional and...
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