Sexuality and Gender roles have always seemed to me to be best understood as transient and fluid. Virginia Woolf famously proposed in her feminist manifesto that “it is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly”. Recent manifestations of deplorable misogyny in print and on screen would perhaps see Ms. Woolf picking up the gauntlet once more to pen A Room of One’s Own – Volume Two but the current wave of so-called “Spornosexuals” seems to fit more accurately with modern trends of excessive narcissism than it is a reflection of destructive and depressing patterns of chauvinistic behaviour.
The creator of this new term, Mark Simpson, was also responsible for the Metrosexual label; a rather innocuous term which described urban males with a penchant for grooming rituals and high fashion. Metrosexual men even had an Alcopop alternative to Beer as seen in a slew of advertisements for WKD which were keen to show that the modern man could broaden his palette yet remain true to bawdy stereotype. These cheeky-chappy caricatures seemed to have it all. Well, perhaps not, as Simpson now casts his all-seeing eye over the habits of a more dubious breed of men, less an offshoot and more of an extension of the Metrosexual male; obsessed with pumping iron and pornography. As Simpson informed us last week in The Telegraph, such individuals “want to be wanted for their bodies, not their wardrobe. And certainly not their minds.”
And therein lies the problem, and a contradiction central to the term itself, which uses an amalgamation of sport and porn. By my albeit limited understanding, mental skill and commitment must surely be as paramount to competitive sport as maintaining a healthy and powerful body, not to mention the ability to play as a team. It fascinates me that Simpson refers to Oscar Wilde and his supposed approval of Spornosexual aesthetics when Wilde’s best known novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey deals satirically with a man so consumed with his own aesthetic appeal that he sacrifices his mortal soul. By retreating so deeply into one’s own reflection the need for any kind of meaningful human connection outside of sycophantic mutual affirmation becomes redundant.
And what of those unwilling to put in the hard graft and countless hours at the Gym in order to maintain the coveted lean, muscular exterior. Is it all too tempting to rely on synthetic supplements as a quick fix? Jodie Marsh’s excellent documentary served as a timely expose of the dangerous underworld where body-builders and general fitness enthusiasts alike pursue any means possible to achieve the perfect physique. Marsh to her credit has remained drug free but admitted that her integrity has held her back from success in an industry fuelled by unhealthy ambition.
All in all it is important to remember that this is a term which is being dictated to us. We are under no obligation to accept our fate as a society shaped by self-absorption and fallacy. Perhaps its time we exercised our grey-matter a little more.