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Soft on manhood

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Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009

The end of the year is upon us -- a fine time for a fellow to dwell on the larger matters.

Such as this: Why are men turning into a bunch of softies?

I've been following this transformation for some time.

In the late '90s, the covers of men's magazines began producing headlines nearly identical to women's magazines: "Ten tips to remove that flab and win her attention!"

In 2003, I reported on the emergence of the "metrosexual" male -- "straight urban men who are willing, even eager, to embrace their feminine sides," said The New York Times.

In 2006, I reported on the Man Bag, a purse for men, though its creators hate when you call it that.

The modern man needs a purse so he can tote around his hair goop and other items he can't be without.

One happy Man Bag customer explained why he bought one -- it prevented his wallet, which he had carried in his back pocket, from misaligning his spine.

That's great. We're at war with tough-guy terrorists and our guys are getting injured by their wallets.

In 2007, I reported on another male trend: the "ubersexual" male.

An ubersexual is a metrosexual on turbo -- a "stylish urban fellow committed to uncompromising quality in all areas of life," says .

Including makeup.

Eyeliner for men -- "guyliner" -- is another softy male trend, as reported in The Washington Post. What is more puzzling than the sissification of modern males is that more women seem to be going for them.

And so it was that a report in the UK Daily Mail caught my attention.

A scientific study, highlighted in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, offers a theory as to why more women appear to be drawn to softy men.

It may have to do with the contraceptive pill.

When a woman is fertile, a few days a month, she is attracted to men who are assertive and masculine.

Her DNA directs her to pick a mate whose genetic makeup is rugged and dissimilar to her own, thus increasing her chances of having a healthy child.

The pill blocks fertility -- thus, women are more prone to go for boyish, softy men?

The pill has been around for 40 years or so -- the same period in which Hollywood icons such as Kirk Douglas and John Wayne have morphed into pouty, sensitive fellows, such as Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The scientists say more study is needed. Still, their theory on the sissification of the modern male is worth pondering.

The truth is men have always become whatever it is women want.

And, it would appear, fewer women want fellows from the "Mad Men" era -- stubborn, unabashedly masculine fellows who are more action than words.

More women are drawn to softy fellows, which is prompting more men to get dolled up at hair salons, adorn themselves in the latest hip fashions and paint up their noggins with the latest from Mary Kay.

Whatever the cause, the trend may not bode well for America.

If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, will there be any regular fellows around who know how to fix things and don't mind getting their hands dirty?

The best you may be able to hope for is that a modern fellow stops his car to offer consolation and hand you a cell phone from his purse.

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