Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Lesbiman: A New Masculine Ideal?


In the last couple of years I have spent a good amount of time studying the context  of the American Male (often in comparison with other geographies / cultures).  The concept of masculinity as a part of how men make their consumer behavior choices is pretty interesting.  I have been affirmed in some areas and proven wrong in others.  It’s actually great fun to have hypotheses be disproved by ethnographic research.  🙂

In any case, American Culture has traditionally (at least since the invention of printing presses and propaganda and marketing) a fairly simian point of view on masculinity – which likely has a lot to do with the fact that we are, indeed, a country still stuck in a posturing mindset as we deal with our growing pains.



But global communication has allowed a lot more dialogue into our everyday and has consequently impacted what I have seen as an evolution in the American masculine ideal.  To clarify: i don’t imply a speedy evolution, but a burgeoning one all the same.


In some cases, however, this movement has it’s cultural backlashes – like the “retrosexual” ideal you see among those males embracing the more “man of mystery”  / “madmen chic” ideal of masculine mystique that dresses up his power in a three piece suit or even the “hipster” / “anti-emo” version of the urban cave-man.





But today’s blog  was inspired by the latest Sociology of Style  piece on Manning Up: Our Bulging Crisis in Masculinity , which points out a number of pointed cultural tensions and art / studies / editorial content / marketing examples that addresses them.   At the end of this article, readers are asked to share their idea of masculinity, for which I left the below commentary, as it occurred to me that the men I see as most reminiscent of our cultural shift happen to be the type of men I “hang” with – the Lesbimen:

“I am probably a bit biased as a fellow sociologist and anthropologist, but for me, I see masculinity as a far more balanced ideal. And maybe it is just my idea. For example, I have found that the majority of my heterosexual male friends – at least the ones who are in my “inner circle” share a common set of characteristics: They are not overtly macho, but still maintain at least some interests that are considered traditionally “masculine, such as Football, Motorcycles, “gentlemen’s clubs”, etc. However, they also tend to be more emotive in general and free to talk about their feelings. They tend  to care more about their appearance and not just in the sense that they are attractive to women but that they are pleased with their own style and upkeep. They also don’t “freak out” but rather are flattered when gay men give them complements or proposition them – regardless of their general disinterest. They have a nurturing side and at least a minor tendency toward nesting and creating an aesthetic environment in their homes. And they are generally pretty intelligent and effective people who seek to improve themselves and are willing (for the most part) to be introspective and face their demons.

I think it comes down to them having the courage to allow a more spiritual and emotional perspective into their lives – to find a balance between the surface and the “deep” – which I think has been – throughout history – a socially recognized female trait. But this goes back to the idea of “Mother Earth” / Gaia.

In any case – I call these men ‘Lesbimen’ and they are my ideal of masculinity and they types of guys who become my chosen family.”

So I find myself wondering what others are seeing in their circles and if the Lesbiman ideal holds true?  Are you man enough to share your feelings on this matter?

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Gender, Heterosexuality, hipster culture, Marketing, pop culture, Uncategorized, urban culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What gets in the way of you loving the work you do?

Really enjoyed this perspective that merges my philosophy of context being everything (and in this case, the difference having a context of “loving it” makes) as well as the application to brand strategy – which is my profession and one of my deep passions. 🙂

Beloved Brands

love workWhen I was a Brand Manager and my son was in kindergarten at the time, I once said that our lives were very similar.  We make stuff that we want to put on our fridge.  It stuck with me because I started to look at work and wonder if it was “fridge worthy”? Would I be proud enough of this to put it up on the fridge at home. In other words, did I love it?

I’ve always stressed to my team “you have to love what you do, that has to be the benchmark on whether we approve things–do you love it?” And one day, one of fridge artmy Group Marketing Directors said to me “Loving it seems a bit unrealistic, why do we have to love it?  Why not just like it”.  Great question. I suppose not all marketers think this way, and I’m fine with that.  If you…

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Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Culture, Pushing Boundaries and Change


Recently in my professional career I have been yet again posed the question of “why study cultural context” – not so much from a “prove your value” perspective but from a “help us sell this stuff” perspective.

I got to thinking about the connection between “values” (broad term for not-so-easy-to-measure sociocultural “stuff”) and value (the “dolla bills”) and how the way we (at my company, in my profession) help create meaningful change by solving human-centric problems.

Essentially it really all comes back to identifying the need for and efficiently managing the process for change.  Change is what helps us grow – both socially and  – in business terms, financially.   And it all comes down to understanding the boundaries so you can bust them.

It took me back to my go-to explanation of the meaning of culture:  what happens when humans collectively respond to constraints (the big stuff on a social, environmental, economic, etc.  scale).

So what’s the connection?  It’s about understanding what the boundaries are by way of the underlying human and cultural context so you can create the change.

You must push against boundaries to understand the deep underpinnings that are reinforcing them. This understanding helps you empathize to facilitate meaningful and necessary change and ultimately growth .  Empathy is, after all, the energy that allows us to motivate others.

Essentially, the hypothesis is that growth can only come from pushing the boundaries.

But there is an art and science to this which is why the study and application of insights regarding human and cultural context is so important: anthropology, sociology, worldview science (shout out to my buddy John Marshal Roberts), etc.   I knew that concentration in deviant behavior for my MA in Applied Sociology had a purpose.  🙂  My graduate coordinators would be so proud.

By the way, there is a rub here.  That being, this definitely applies on a macro-scale but it also  implies that we have to push our own personal boundaries in order to push the social ones.  Reminds me of a quote from a book I read recently called Fascinate that said something along the lines of “you can be extraordinary or comfortable but not both”.  Dammit.  😉

This is the most narcissistic thing I’ll write all week. Glad I decided to find an appropriate venue for it rather than the notes file on my iPhone that  I typed while driving (apologies to my wife).

I am thinking this might be a frame for something bigger – maybe “the book”.

Any feedback or research direction from my peers?  I have a reading list started as well as a list of “stuff” to go back to with more of a focused eye, but would love any direction my intelligent and talented peers and colleagues have to give.

Categories: Anthropology, Culture, sociology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Joy And Mike’s Place: An Ethnographic Southern Comfort Snapshot

Yesterday I spent an afternoon with Joy and Mike and their daughter (my wife) and son and his wife.

We were having a get-together to share some Korean delicacies sent as a gift from the Son’s in-laws and to celebrate the Birthday of Joy’s mother who passed a few years ago.

My wife often fondly reminisces about her relationship to her grandmother (referred to as Mama Gran) and what a strong influence she was in how she curates her home, her penchant for entertaining and a general sense of nurturing that she has carried with her through her adult life.

This predisposition seems to also have rubbed off on her Mom (Joy) as well. There is a certain literal gentility that translates into a cultural aesthetic seen in and around the home she shares with her husband and two dogs.

Joy and Mike have been married over 44 years and have built a home together. They both come from a rural upbringing:  working class with American dreams of upward mobility.

Their home is filled with collections and mementos. In it you see the fruits of their creative pursuits, travel keepsakes and carefully curated collections of antiques that seem to pay respect to subsistence-oriented simplicity merged integrated with emerging middle class consumer culture .

The context of their rural south upbringing woven in with the mainstream middle class life they created for themselves has led to  a very homey aesthetic that always makes me feel at ease when I visit. Here are some highlights of a brief photo walk through their indoor and outdoor space to show you some of the artifacts that make a house a home, inspired by 40 some-odd years of participation In consumer culture.










To the other Anthropologists (and particularly, the Archaeologists), I would love to hear about what else you see here – the cultural communication evoked from what you see in these images that elaborate on my analysis or even refute / enhance it.

Categories: American Culture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Consumer Anthropology, Consumer Culture, Culture, Ethnography, sociology, southern culture, Suburban Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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