Esther Watson

Jack Grealish and the cult of feminine men

  • From Spectator Life
Credit: Getty Images

Like everyone else I’m enjoying the boozy antics of Man City’s Jack Grealish. He’s spent the last few days partying following Man City’s victory in the Champions League, behaving exactly how a 27-year-old who earns £15 million a year should behave. He’s having a ball and who can blame him?

But there’s a difference between Grealish and the rowdier footballers of not so long ago – Wayne Rooney, say, or Gazza. It’s the accessories: Grealish keeps photographing himself in a pearl necklace. He and his Man City teammates have been seen clutching man bags that look suspiciously like handbags. Indeed, in 2021, Grealish was photographed wearing a £1500 Christian Dior ‘crossbody man-bag’ which looks like something a gaudy aunt might want. After winning the FA Cup he got a bit precious over his Gucci kit:

Put simply, he is dressing like a woman and getting lots of attention for it. He and other footballers, patron saints of lad culture, haves embraced the hottest trend of the 21st century – femininity.

There’s nothing new in this, of course – from courtiers to dandies to David Beckham, men in the public eye have long been inclined to peacock by wearing things usually worn by the opposite sex.

But Grealish’s sartorial androgyny speaks to a broader emasculating trend in the 2020s. We live in a time where gender fluidity is all the rage and sexual ‘norms’ are regarded as suspicious.

Last year, style magazines declared that, for men, tall, dark and handsome was out and the ‘short king spring’ was in. The internet fawned over the short kings – meaning men under 5 ft 8 – in the public eye, Tom Holland (not that Tom Holland), Joe Jonas and Daniel Kaluuya all fall into the category.

Short king spring was a symptom of a wider trend spearheaded by Gen Z who celebrate men who possess traits that are traditionally associated with women.

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