This strategic oscillation between apparent sensitivity/care and ‘real’ roughness and objectification of women brings to mind the cultural construct of the ‘New Lad’ in contemporary media representations of masculinity in the English-speaking world (see Benwell, 2002, and contributions in Benwell, 2003b). In a nutshell, the New Lad is often claimed to be a reaction to another construct/model of masculinity, the New Man of the 80’s – the New Man was supposed to be narcissistic, sensitive, and sympathetic to women and feminism, whereas the New Lad represented a return to traditional beliefs of ‘male superiority’ and misogyny, but at the same time, in a playful way eschewing the values of responsibility and seriousness included in traditional masculinity models (of the father and ‘bread-winner’ – cf. Rutherford, 2003). Gill (2003: 39) points out that
some accounts of the new lad […] assert that the performance of a new man sensibility is something that they knowingly enact to get women into bed. For example Sean O’Hagan [Arena magazine contributor] says that new lad ‘aspires to New Man status when he’s out with women, but reverts to old lad type when he’s out with the boys. Clever, eh?’ (1991).
This is exactly what is happening here – old stereotypes are preserved, but ‘keeping up appearances’ is ‘knowingly enacted’ to achieve yet another ‘victory’ over women (see also Crewe, 2003: 93).
3.2 Q+A (Roman characters in original)
(Status, Feb. 2006, pp 54-55)
Status generally aligns itself with New Man values (in his February 2006 editorial (pg. 19), the editor juxtaposes Status to more ‘laddish’ magazines, which construct themselves as ‘enemies of women’), at the same time it maintaining male hegemony ideologies. In this text advice is provided on issues of men’s fashion, style and skincare. Thus, we overall have promotion of consumerism (specific designer brands are recommended) and a preoccupation with appearance, both stereotypically associated with femininity – and, by extension, with (male) homosexuality, as the two are often conflated and assigned a subordinate position in hegemonic masculinity discourses (and practices). As Edwards observes, ‘[s]tereotypically, ‘real’ men don’t care what they look like and just throw things on whilst women go shopping and agonize over matters of self-presentation’ (2003: 142). Indeed, the New Man construct, and men enacting (parts of) this construct, have often been criticised for not being masculine enough (Gill, 2003: 48). So Status here is caught between keeping advertisers satisfied by promoting a consumerist lifestyle (as the editor points out, the main income of magazines like Status comes from advertising – editorial Feb. 2006: pg 19), and the consumerist imperative of keeping its (target) readers interested and satisfied by ensuring that neither the persona of Status or the (ideal, target) readers are represented as effeminate, unmasculine etc. As will be shown in the analysis below, here this tension is dealt with by providing (often seemingly irrelevant) assertions of heterosexuality, which in the previous text, by Playboy, were not necessary, as the heterosexuality and ‘machismo’ of both the readers and the expert persona providing advice were uncontroversial.
Q+A, as a question-and-answer section, includes a number of texts, each of them consisting of a question (presumably by a reader), setting up and potentially elaborating on the ‘problem’, and an answer by a magazine contributor represented