Thursday, 25 March 2010

Do my moobs look big in this?

Pity the modern man. He's been manscaped, emasculated and metrosexualised past the point of rescue. Anyone would think that we're just moments away from spontanous gender realignment, like those frogs in Jurassic Park.

Mindful of our ever-diminishing masculinity, a few bold pioneers have done their bit for the men's movement. Pepsi was kind enough to give the world Pepsi Max, since 'Diet' seemed a little too femme. The way Pepsi saw it, men were concerned that drinking Diet Pepsi was like being caught parading round the house in your wife's underwear.

Nestle had similar ideas with Yorkie. Chocolate had, for too long, been seen as a feminine indulgence, like shoe shopping, flower arranging or doing better in school. This, on the other hand, was the chocolate so masculine that women weren't even allowed to eat it.

Here, at last, was a chocolate bar for big, beefy men, with hairy chests and sweaty, oil-covered muscles. A bar that "recognised that men needed places to be, in a simple sense, men." However, they may have overshot the mark somewhat - the campaign itself was so homoerotic that the Yorkies might as well have been moulded into the shape of a giant fist.

It's strange how much of this gender warfare is fought in the largely sexless area of food and drink. The latest development aims to show lady-loving lads that it's OK to ditch animal products from their diet.

Scared that men are put off by the label 'vegan', a new movement is attempting to introduce the word 'hegan' to our already over-abused vocabulary. According to a news story in the Boston Globe, the ultimate hegan is the preposterously masculine Rip Esselstyn, a veteran firefighter and triathlete from Austin, Texas.

He was concerned about the high cholesterol of the men in his fire department, and so created the "plant-strong" Engine 2 diet to help them fight the flab. Since then, he's popped up on the talk-show trail to make the point that veganism isn't "for yuppie, tree-hugging, emaciated weaklings."

Rip might believe that "real men eat plants" but this is just another case of 'protesting too much'. These shallot-sauteeing tough guys might be able to tear a phone book in half with their bare hands, but the moment they boast that they “make a great avocado Reuben sandwich" or can whip up a batch of vegan cookies at a moment's notice, the illusion is shattered.

The fact is, nobody is confusing veganism with vagina. They just don't fancy an all-vegetable diet. And no amount of gender-specific redefinition will change things. Here's another noble idea that ought to be swiftly consigned to the herstory books.

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