The Menaissance: The Death of the Metrosexual and the Rise of the Retrosexual

by Brett on March 29, 2010 · 123 comments

in Blog

ShareBack in February I gave an Ignite Talk in Tulsa called “The Menaissance: The Death of the Metrosexual and the Rise of the Retrosexual.” If you’re not familiar with Ignite Talks, here’s the jist of the concept from the Ignite Tulsa website:

A dozen or so speakers present on a variety of topics, but they only get 5 minutes and 20 slides. Oh, and their required 20 slides automatically advance every 15 seconds.

I decided to talk about manliness. I discuss the lame stereotypes of manliness that have taken hold in our culture, but then switch gears and talk about some of the signs that indicate a “Menaissance” is taking place in which men are holding themselves to a higher standard.

It was tough to cram all I wanted to say into five minutes. Consequently, I ended up rushing a bit which you notice in the video. But overall, it was a fun experience, and it stretched me a bit personally. And I thought you all might enjoy it as well.

So, without further ado…

{ 123 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Jeremy L April 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

This is absolutely retarded. It is espousing that what makes a man is getting into a masonic lodge, getting shaved with a straight razor, getting a hair cut at a barber shop… Really?

And the stereotypical male archetypes that you brought up? What research do you have to show that those males are the main types of men? None, because it certainly isn’t true. It seems to me that you’re denigrating entire generations of men because they do not fit into the stereotypes that you have laid out. Who says a trendy hipster can not be manly? I don’t think being a man has anything to do with what you wear, but apparently you most certainly do. If you think that deep v-neck tees rob you of manliness, I feel badly for you and your narrow minded view of the world.

And Don Draper as a role model??? LOL! The point of Mad Men is to show that he is a deeply flawed individual who has been shaped by a life of misery and deceit. He is trying to find happiness, but shits on everything he touches, except for his job……. Great role model. Burt and Peggy are the only honorable people on that show. Axe Men, and that crab fishing show…. if you believe that those are ‘true men’ then I suggest you go find a blue collar job and quit blogging. Beer soaked, foul mouthed, smokers is what they look like to me.

Refine your message and leave out fashion/career choices and you might be able to have a substantive argument. Oh, and don’t blame feminism, it just makes you sound ignorant.

102 The Mighty Tor April 14, 2010 at 12:04 am

That…is a wise man.

103 Hannibal April 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm

@ Sylvester D
Thank you, I’m a young black male that envies the past for their masculinity and code of ethics. I look toward so many different examples to incorporate that old soul into today’s zeitgeist but it’s never easy doing it alone. Being black also comes with a whole different set of issues also since many of my peers wouldn’t subscribe to an old spirited movement since it was mostly white examples. The blacks that did exist also had a racial overtone(civil rights) and my peers carry that same negativity energy of victimizing themselves. I only hope that this Menaissance can trickle down into my community.

I really don’t care to be stereotyped as one who vitimizes himself. You speak, but speak for “your own” inner circle of friends, acquaintances, and family. Don’t over generalize in an “Uncle Ruckus” sort of manner that portrays the entire Afro American “male” communtiy as “whinners,” “boy-men,” and incapable of facing the challenges ahead of them. Their are many men within the “community” like me with courage and integrity and honor and self-reliance as much as their white peers—-present and past. These men, whether they be straight or gay, when they fall down, they pick themselves up to continue in this daily ordeal called life. They do not embrace victimhood. They define themselves for themselves, not taking kindly to others making up their minds about who they are for them. There are “white men” I admire as much as men of African descent. These men, these brothers in spirit, those of the past, their best qualities I find worthy to admire, I attempt to incorporate into my own character thus making them my own with a distinct flavor that is my own. Moreover, challenges I face in life as an Afro American man, whether they because of my heritage or not, I fight to overcome and certainly challenge as I attempt to build on the sacrifices of those positive thinking pioneers of civil rights from yesterday—-that also included a number of altruistic white men— you accused of being enveloped in negativity.

104 Grooming Guy April 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

My local cable news station just aired a segment about the manaissance. Lots of air time for you and the Art of Manliness. Bravo Brett.

105 Reina April 17, 2010 at 3:54 am

I have to agree with Sunny. The more men are men, the more I feel like a lady too.
I’m also glad you mentioned the sad side-affects of the feminist movement. Yes, it was a reaction to some social and cultural norms that needed to be changed but we have to stop turning our heads from the reality that the feminist movement did some damage as well.
For example, there was a time when chivalry was normal. Nowadays it’s rare. I can’t help but think that the feminist movement had a role to play in the demise of chivalry.

106 Bill April 21, 2010 at 11:40 am

Wow – I came to this page in my pursuit to help my son find a way to break in his new catcher’s mitt, and found your video. How enlightening! I’m an architect who designs buildings, choses material, determines color palettes and is very much into all things aesthetic. I try to dress well, pick out the latest glasses when I need a new prescription, and like sporty cars.

I’m 44 now, and in this past decade I realized that all this vanity that has pervaded my existence since I was a child was basically a projection of a lack of self-esteem and self acceptance. Well, after years of being called a “metro” by coworkers and even my wife, I embrace your “retro” term with open arms. For all the years that I shopped for cool Kenneth Cole belts and boots, I have also been changing my own oil, replacing timing belts and shocks, renovating my house, cleaning my furnace, ripping out thorns by the roots, changing diapers, hugging my sons when they cry, and doing my best to always remind my wife how beautiful she is. Thank you so much for freeing me from such an insidious stereotype, and helping me feel like a man again! Kudos!!

107 Rick S. April 22, 2010 at 11:51 am

Jeremy L,

I think you got it wrong at least from what I heard. No, a man is not defined by the club he joins, clothes he wears, church he attends (if any), or the cut of his hair (or who cuts it). What makes a man a man is how he treats others, how he views himself, how he does business, his actions. Self reliance, not self pitying. Basically his honesty and integrity, his honor. I know that on “Ax Men” there are slackers who stand side-by-side with non-slackers (real men). I know that “Ad Men” is a caricature of life in the 1960s and the roles are overblown and unrealistic. A “Trendy Hipster” can be as manly as a man who carries an ax and wears plaid shirts to work. Again, this is about self sufficiency, self-reliance, take charge of your life, live with honor and integrity, non-whiner, TANSTAAFL existence. TANSTAAFL is ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’.
As for feminism the Menaissance isn’t about taking away rights from women, it isn’t about taking back control from women it is more about taking equal share in responsibility for what goes on, taking equal control in our lives. The pendulum has swung one way and is now headed back the other way. What we need to do is stop it midway.

108 BMac April 25, 2010 at 2:56 am

Thank you. Seriously. As a woman, this whole thing is fantastic. I’m sick of men being degraded to the stereotypes you identified initially. Men are more than insecure, stupid, or entirely self-absorbed. Those are choices people can make, not the entirety of the people themselves. Though I haven’t gone through the entire website, I’m excited to link it to my open letter to men who hold the door open. Marvelous.

Please reconsider. The current wave of feminists I get to be yelled at by on campus (at one of the world’s most prestigious universities no less) are certainly nothing like my grandmother who established the League of Women Voters in Wisconsin. They reflect anti-men sentiments predominantly – not the original equality movement. Feminists like these misrepresent at minimum myself, and degrade fellow women for not being “pro-woman enough.” Interesting that the very message can be in paradox to its presentation.

109 Seth April 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

Dude, you lost me at “feminism”.

Feminism did not make men become “confused about their role”. It made it okay for women to do the things that men had typically always done, and at the same time we kept on telling men that it it *not* okay to do things that women do – and if you do, you’re a sissy/gay/etc.

That exactly the problem that I have with this talk. He’s doing the same thing – “oh, look at those metrosexuals who get their nails done and don’t like having body hair! They’re not *real authentic men*! Now look at your grandpa – he’s a real authentic man!” Well you know what? I loved my grandpa, but like a lot of people of his generation his was quite racist and sexist in his thinking. I agree that the stereotypes you mentioned are negative and a problem, but trying to emulate our grandfathers is no *less* of a problem. Instead of moaning about the decline of chivalry, why don’t we ask ourselves *why* we open the door for a woman who appears perfectly capable of doing it herself, but we don’t do the same for a man? Is he any less likely to have hidden disability that makes opening the doors difficult? Do we really believe that woman are inherently weaker than men to such an extent that they *can’t* do it themselves?

110 Seth April 27, 2010 at 10:50 am

@ Angel

*In the end I think it’s about picking and choosing what applies to you.*?

If this website, or one like it, started catering to gay men exclusively, and assuming that all the men reading it had male partners and changing pronouns and word usage accordingly, do you think the straight men would be willing to stay here and just ignore those parts? I’m guessing not; a lot of them would just leave because they’re not gay and don’t want to read a site that’s only for gay people. Why would you then assume that gay men want to read a site that’s only for straight people?

To be clear, I don’t dislike this website per se. I think it offers some really great advice and useful information. What I don’t like is that what Alan said is spot-on – the image of manliness presented here is exclusively heterosexual. If the writers think that correcting this problem wold be impossible… *why*? Can you not use “partner” or “spouse” instead of “girlfriend/wife” in the future? If you think you can’t, I’d like for you to sit down and think really, really hard about why this is.

111 Joe April 29, 2010 at 12:24 am

I’m willing to bet the whole farm that “Seth” is in fact a woman pretending to be a man. She has a female voice through and through.

112 Michael Hill May 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

very cool. love the retrosexual term

113 Blair May 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm


Why should articles have to use the terms partner or spouse? Are homosexuals reading this site incapable of applying the message towards their partner unless non gender neutral terms are used.

The majority of AOM readers are probably heterosexual males, there is nothing wrong with the articles using terminology which reflects this. AOM seems like a very open minded site and it’s sad you feel excluded because not every word is vague enough for you.

Also, men and women being different and all maybe some articles containing advice concerning female partners would not be as valid when applied to male partners.

114 Nuria May 10, 2010 at 5:03 am

Great speech! Yay, death to the Metrosexuals! (figuratively, of course). I’ve always thought being a real man equals to “growing a good pair”, which is exactly what I perceive from this site. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation – hey, it doesn’t even have to do with sex itself.

115 John May 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm


Always loved the blog…but Freemasons???!!!

You do realize that your Roman Catholic readers would be excommunicated for joining the nefarious lodge, don’t you?

I’m one of those readers.

116 Another Mom June 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Love the term retrosexual!

As a mom of 3 boys, I need all the help I can get. Love the site. : )

117 Chris June 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Great talk, Brett!!!

Well…except for that whole Freemasons thing. As was stated above, we Roman Catholics would be looked upon quite disdainfully for joining that organization.

However, Catholic men are quite free to join the Knights of Columbus!!! I, like both of my grandfathers, am a Fourth Degree Knight and very proud to be such.

118 dylan July 1, 2010 at 9:50 am

That was awesome great job. Love the optimism of it as well

119 Larry Donnelly July 6, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Here are song lyrics I come up with a while back and I think they might fit your concept:

A Retrosexual Man

It ain’t easy these days to be a guy
Got to be caring and sensitive, even have a good cry
Have a facial, be well groomed, read Robert Bly
Watch your carbs and an episode of Queer eye

But baby I’m old school…
I’ll get the door and pay for our date
I’ll get there on time; I’m not fashionably late
I’ll work hard all day and kick some ass at night
I need time with the boys, but you’ll never be out of sight

Because Baby…
I’m a roaring retrosexual
A throw back
From a simpler time
When men were men
And not confused
I’m meat and potatoes
Football and a beer in a can
I am what I am
And I’m a Retrosexual man

My cologne is WD-40 and Old Spice
Like a good cigar and Jack on ice
When problems come, I don’t run to a shrink
I could give a damn what GQ would think
Flannel and denim is as fancy as I get
Meditation is a lake and a fish in the net

You see I am old school…
I’ll get the door and pay for our date
I’ll get there on time, I’m not fashionably late
I’ll work hard all day and kick some ass at night
I need time with the boys, but you’ll never be out of sight

I’m a roaring retrosexual
…. It’s a matter of factual
A throw back – to a simpler time
… It’s the attitude, strictly casual
When men were men
… Never fake, always actual
And we weren’t confused
… I don’t come with a manual
I’m meat and potatoes
…But don’t think I’m not intellectual
I like football… and beer in a can
…. It wasn’t something gradual
I’ve always been, I’ll always be
I am what I am
And I’m your Retrosexual man

Baby, can you deal with it?? Oh I knew you could
I’m yours always, I’m your Retrosexual man.

Copyright 2004
Larry “Retro of Center” Donnelly
Lorenzo Donnelli Musix, October 2004

120 Feliks July 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Your presentation is going direct to the burning point of 21 century!
The man like real man is attacked sabotaged abused and sometimes accused from feminist and homosexual organisation .We have decline in quality of family union .
Man needs help new life compass !

121 madmax October 30, 2012 at 6:13 am

thanks for the article. My father is very masculine. I am no sissy now, but as a child , I was. My father was very masculine even as a child. I don’t understand why the differencies, but I made a study out of this. All very interesting, great website

122 Dr. CS. Lawrence October 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I tend to agree with Jeremy L.
A Man makes his own path in the world, seeks to improve it and leave a good legacy. What use is a man who does not improve that around him. To live with honour, integrity, commitment, and constant striving for improvement is a worthy goal. A REAL Man is not influenced by shallow, instant gratification, less than upright behaviour because ‘everyone else’ thinks it’s funny, cool, or acceptable, nor the social or peer pressure commonly advocated in what is accepted as ‘okay’ in the world. A REAL Man walks his own path, strives to EARN respect, is a leader (even if only in his own life), and is strong in the conviction of his own life.
When we consider courage and bravery then we have to accept that fear affects everyone, however understanding fear opens a door to overcoming it. Fear is basically that of the unknown (that which has not yet happened), facing this with understanding takes courage but based in a clear view of reality. A REAL Man looks and observes life, especially his own, and makes his decisions based upon his observations. To follow the crowd is sometimes acceptable however to think carefully before you act is a wise precaution, so many do not!
Take control of your life, make YOUR decisions based on your morals, standards, experiences, understanding, and learning… then you can say you are yourself. Some sacrifice is required in life especially for those who are lesser men and for those who are weaker, more vulnerable than you. Live honourably and if you don’t know how to then find out where to learn how to do so and become so.
Many accept the easy path because the majority walk this, being a Man requires you sometimes take the harder path because it is right, not popular. Stand up and be counted, even if it is only before your family, earn respect and you will grow to be Manly and wise. That is a very small part of Manliness but it is a good start.
CS. Lawrence
An Englishman from the old school.

123 Jacob Hill February 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Honestly, I see his point. Men are weaker, less self-dependant, and more…flowery if you will. Within 50 years we went from Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, to Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert. That’s two of the most manly men is history, Vs two of the weakest and most feminine. I have joined the Menaissance. I say let that chesthair grow.

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