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Sexualities, desire and ‘lifestyle’: masculinity constructs in three Greek - page 15 / 17





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requirements of the situational context of the interaction studied. In the case of lifestyle magazine, aiming to ensure popular appeal and follow the consumerist imperatives of the capitalist context of their circulation, it is quite unsurprising to see that they draw on well- established, dominant stereotypes of gender and sexuality. I have looked at three different texts including a range of masculinity constructions, in order to show how ‘hegemonic masculinity’ is not a homogeneous entity but rather a cluster of interrelated mental constructs one can draw on selectively. And vice versa, the very genre of ‘lifestyle magazines’ creates tensions with different aspects of these dominant ideologies, some of which can be seen in the data analysed here.  

The first major tension involves the relation of masculinity to the speech acts of advice prevalent in lifestyle magazines. By definition, the felicity acts of ‘advice’ presuppose ignorance on the part of the receiver and knowledge on the part of the provider of advice, which makes it face-threatening for the readers. This is accentuated by the common stereotypical perception that men are (or should be) particularly sensitive when it comes to questioning their authority, knowledge or competence, and thus not willing to accept any advice without being offended (encapsulated by John Gray’s 1992 magnum opus ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’, translations of which have been circulating in Greece in many editions, the earliest in 1999 by the publishing house Ψυχογιός /Psychogios).

Further tensions arise from the specifics of giving advice on how to sexually please a woman, in contradiction to beliefs about men being preoccupied by sex and being oblivious to emotions, including caring about their partners. This is resolved in the Playboy text (Section 3.1.) by frequent reminders of the ‘given’ ‘beastly nature’ of the assumed reader, an overall ‘laddish’ tone, objectifying women and projecting the whole affair as ultimately for the benefit of the reader alone.

Advice on appearance further disturbs the stereotypical dichotomies associating femininity and homosexuality with narcissism, insecurity and consumerism, and ‘real’ (straight) masculinity with security, lack of sophistication and contempt for these ‘feminine’ qualities. However, historically there is also the legacy of ‘the sharp dressing, heterosexually promiscuous and equally highly consumerist, masculinity… Interestingly, men could get away with being consumerist and stylish if they were heterosexually promiscuous enough’ (Edwards, 2003: 143) – and this is exactly the representation constructed in Status (Section 3.2), and also in Nitro (Section 3.3) – with references to female ‘sex symbols/objects’ like Pamela Anderson (example 23).

Thus, whereas these tensions could be used for the questioning and breaking down of norms, by promoting less stereotypical/(hetero)sexist gender and sexuality representations and practices, in fact they are resolved in the texts exactly by falling back on the dominant ideological patterns. Heterosexuality and promiscuity may serve as a presupposed basis (Playboy text), or be asserted when in danger of being questioned (Status), whereas Nitro takes it one step further by contrasting explicitly the consumerism and reflexivity of what they term the ‘modern man’ (avoiding the term ‘metrosexual’, despite it signifying the same construct, possibly to further fend off any ‘questionable sexuality’ implications) to homosexuality.

In practical terms this means that a market is maintained where sexual representations, advice and reflexivity are appealing and sold to men, while

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