Move over metrosexuals, today's modern men are all about the feels

Decency, honesty and loyalty are the important things to today's metrosensitive men, says a new study on masculinity

05 November 2017 - 00:00 By Martin Daubney
Modern man is in a constant state of evolution.
Modern man is in a constant state of evolution.
Image: iStock

Look out, chaps, there could be manbags at dawn - because a new breed of modern man looks set to finally usurp the metrosexual.

A major academic study into masculinity shows men in 2017 are increasingly abandoning narcissism, the perfect body and promiscuity, and instead looking for a greater depth and meaning. Substance, it seems, trumps superficiality.

Gratifyingly, the survey - run by University College London in conjunction with the US grooming company Harry's - discovered that 2017 Man placed the highest value on dependability, reliability, honesty and loyalty.

At the other end of the spectrum, only 7.4% of men deemed athleticism - having the perfect body - to be very important. A greater number of the youngest respondents - 14.4% - deemed athleticism "unimportant".

That's not to say 1990s beer bellies will be back. On the contrary, physical health was deemed "very important" by 34.9% across the board (which increased with age).

Today's men aren't utilising health primarily to look good, but rather to feel good, both physically and, crucially, mentally

But here's the crucial difference: today's men aren't utilising health primarily to look good, but rather to feel good, both physically and, crucially, mentally. This "brawn + brains" route to positivity leaves the dopey metrosexual in the dust.

But the breakthrough moment of the Harry's Masculinity Report was that men, for the first time, value their mental health more than their physical health.

Overall, 44.4% of the 2,000 men surveyed deem their mental health to be "very important" to their sense of general wellbeing.

This is interesting in the context of the male suicide crisis, which has seen suicide become the biggest killer of men under the age of 50.

In recent years, high-profile men such as Britain's Prince Harry have spoken out about their struggles with mental illness, revealing a vulnerable, open side to their masculinity. It appears that the message has caught on.

There's also a disarming decency to the man who emerges from the questions. More than athleticism and (sexual) adventurousness, he cites honesty, reliability and dependability as the most important values in his life.

And family is top of his priorities: he wants to get married, provide a good education for his children, and be seen as a decent person.

Those findings echo the words of English comedian Robert Webb, whose memoir on the theme of masculinity was recently released.

Webb told an interviewer: "The men that I really admire, in my personal life, my friends, they are the gentle dads and the reliable partners, and the people that you catch in random acts of kindness." 

Overall, what's clear from the study is that modern man is in a constant state of evolution.

If the metrosexual got in touch with his feminine side to improve his appearance, then this new iteration of man picks up the moisturiser and runs with it, applying a softer and more progressive approach to deeper aspects of masculinity, such as emotions and gender politics.

What do we call this mental-health aware, morally driven, new man? The metrosensitive, perhaps? One thing seems clear: as masculinity forever broadens in its scope, there is now yet another way to be a man in 2017. - The Telegraph, London

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