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Sexualities, desire and ‘lifestyle’: masculinity constructs in three Greek - page 9 / 17





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There are two possible explanations about the insertion of this irrelevant information, which is not really ‘new’ if we take into account the presupposed assumption of heterosexuality underlying all three men’s magazines analysed here – it is self-evident that a heterosexual man would have (romantic) interest in Italian women rather than men (example 8), and that a woman would be recommended as a romantic partner to a heterosexual man (example 9)4. The first explanation is that precisely in this context and co-text, that is, providing advice for ‘feminine’ matters such as fashion and appearance, heterosexuality is not self-evident but rather in danger of being questioned, and thus it needs to be deliberately asserted to avoid the feeling of ‘getting drawn into too feminine issues’. The second explanation is that the author is just trying to be entertaining, rather than to ‘be taken seriously’, and the magazines often try to simulate everyday, naturally occurring conversation in both style and content. Especially in example 9, the reader is advised to find a woman ‘made of velvet’ (linking to the recommendation of velvet shoes in the previous sentence, who should not be a slip-on’ – here the Greek word used for ‘slip-on’, παντοφλέ (pantofle) has the same root as the word ‘slipper’, παντόφλα (pantofla), which can be used in Greek humorously to describe ungraceful objects or people. Even if we take the second explanation, the presupposition of heterosexuality and omnipresent/continuous male interest in women remains a presupposition used as a basis for the humorous remarks, which otherwise wouldn’t be funny (clearly recommending to a gay man to find a woman could possibly include a humorous element, depending on the context, but would involve also a number of face-threatening, and indeed discriminatory, implications).

The third question I am looking at here explicitly draws attention to the ‘dangers’ of becoming ‘effeminate’ through caring about appearance too much:

(10) Ποια είναι τα κυριότερα καλλυντικά που πρέπει να χρησιμοποιεί ένας άντρας, αν δεν είναι γυναίκα;

What are the main cosmetics a man must use, if he is not a woman?

The elements of the semantic frame of ‘woman’ relevant, and therefore evoked, here are not those of ‘femaleness’, but rather of ‘femininity’ – thus, the question is how a man can use cosmetics without appearing to conform to the femininity stereotype of vanity, delicacy, insecurity and so on (which the reader asking the question takes as the ‘given’ reality of how women are).

The expert answering initially discredits the desire of some men to use cosmetics, by attributing it to a number of negative characteristics of the modern society and the modern individual:

(11) Ακραίος ατομισμός, λυσσασμένη επιθυμία αθανασίας, λατρεία νεότητας, πλήρης απελευθέρωση και ισοτιμία των γυναικών, ανασφάλεια, καθημερινός ανταγωνισμός, οικογένεια πάπαλα…

4 Another presupposition underlying lifestyle magazines in general, so self-evident that it seems pedantic even to mention it, is that references to people of the ‘opposite sex’ to that of the target reader are usually related to romantic interest, unless otherwise indicated – in examples 8 and 9 it is presupposed that the speaker is interested in, or recommending, women as ‘objects of desire’ and not as friends, colleagues or human beings in any other sense (cf. ‘her’ in example 1).

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