Photo via Internet Archive Book Images/Flickr (Public Domain)
Masculinity seems to be in a fragile state, with men going to extremes to protect their neck(beard)s from all that is pink, floral, and otherwise lady-like. So each week, we’ll dive into the ways men are guarding themselves from a feminized society, as we ask, "Are men OK?"
If the New Man Revolution, a company out of Idaho, is to be believed, men’s shampoos are in danger of not being manly enough. That “sh” sound is awfully close to “she,” and it just doesn't seem right to have men going around using the same word women do for their hair products, does it?
So to save men from womanly cleanliness, NMR set up a Kickstarter for Manpoo, “a natural, intelligent and bold men’s shampoo." Sounds good, bro! *Crushes beer can against skull*It’s almost beautiful watching NMR describe their “Manpoo” and “Manditioner” as holistic and essential-oil-infused while insisting it’s still hyper-masculine—as if all of the above can’t exist simultaneously.
“Everything we make is free of harsh chemicals, dyes, parabens, sulfates, and perfumes—but our scents are still awesome, manly, and will leave the ladies begging for more,” they write. In fact, they take a line from the Axe playbook and say, “WARNING: Product usage will cause female attraction.” So, sorry, gay men.
For what it’s worth, their scents sound pretty nice! One is a mix of spearmint and eucalyptus, while the other is peppermint, cedar, and tea tree oil. However, they go full bro with names like “Going Commando” and “Firm Handshake.” They also make beard oil in the scents “Smokejumper” and “Lumberjack.” In a way, this is just taking the musks, muted colors, and manly auras of brands like Old Spice (Timber, Amber, Denali) and bringing them to their logical conclusions.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using or making products of good quality and that are (presumably) ethically made. There is also nothing wrong with being a straight man who is into firm handshakes. Ryan Bodenheimer, co-founder of NMR, says they’re essentially on a mission to educate men, showing them it’s OK to put some effort into their grooming. “Women understand that rubbing harsh chemicals, parabens, and sulfates on their body is not a good thing. NMR is helping to educate men on this important subject,” he told the Daily Dot over email.
Brodenheimer also understands how toxic masculinity can hurt men, saying his uncle died of prostate cancer, but was too “manly” to go to the doctor when he began experiencing early symptoms. “In our society, men sometimes power through things they shouldn't, like the signs of prostate cancer or harsh chemicals, dyes, and perfumes in their body-care products.” Instead, he hopes a product like Manpoo can teach men self-care is acceptable.
Which is cool, we get it: Men should be encouraged to take better care of themselves, and if moving beyond an all-in-one shampoo-and-conditioner is the first step, bring on the Manpoo.
But the branding still posits that a sense of manliness must be at the center of every male experience. While there are certainly hair-product lines that solely target women, there is nothing overtly feminine about shampoo in general, and calling it Manpoo just sets up a false dichotomy.
If anything, “Manpoo” just sounds sort of gross. Maybe at least workshop the name?