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retrosexual

noun [countable]

a heterosexual male who spends as little money as possible on his personal appearance and lifestyle because he has very little interest in how he looks and what he wears

retrosexual

adjective

retrosexuality

noun [uncountable]

'No botox for the Retrosexual. No $1,000 haircuts … The Retrosexual man eats red meat heartily and at times kills it himself.'

The Washington Dispatch 2nd May 2004

In the mid-nineties, the noun metrosexual was coined to refer to a heterosexual male with a strong interest in fashion and appearance. In 2003, Mark Simpson, the British journalist who first used metrosexual, coined an antonym for the term, describing those men who refuse to embrace metrosexual ideals as retrosexuals. Like metrosexual, retrosexual can be used as a countable noun or an adjective, and has an uncountable noun derivative retrosexuality. Retrosexual males are not interested in plucking their eyebrows, trips to the hairdresser's, or men's cosmetic products; they are the classically average chaps that represent the majority of the male population.

proponents of retrosexuality have even begun to promote a retrosexual code, which includes directives such as opening doors for women, knowing how to use tools, dealing with flat tyres, and paying for everything when out on a date

This term has prompted significant media interest during recent months, particularly in the United States, where the feeling is that 'metrosexual is out and retrosexual is in'. Retrosexuality is seen as a reaction to the nineties exhortation that men should 'find their feminine side'. Proponents of retrosexuality have even begun to promote a retrosexual code, which includes directives such as opening doors for women, knowing how to use tools, dealing with flat tyres, and paying for everything when out on a date!

Retrosexual and metrosexual are often abbreviated to retro and metro respectively. Like the full forms, these abbreviations are used both as adjectives and countable nouns, media commentaries often drawing a contrast between metros and retros.

Background – retrosexual and retrosexuality

As a play on metrosexual, the term retrosexual exploits the prefix retro- meaning 'from the past', with the implication of 'traditional' male values.

Another recent coinage borne out of the current preoccupation with male stereotyping is the noun and adjective technosexual (also with derivative technosexuality), which refers to a metrosexual man who, as well as being concerned with fashion and appearance, has a strong interest in technology:

'It was bound to happen: the metrosexual has spawned an offshoot, the technosexual … The official definition for technosexual is "a dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle and gadgets; a straight man who is in touch with his feminine side but has fondness for electronics such as cell phones, PDAs, computers, software, and the web."'

www.alternet.org 8th March 2004

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 14th August 2004.

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