An article at The Atlantic by Willa Brown, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Virginia, says a “crisis in urban masculinity created the lumberjack aesthetic” now making a “comeback.” She says some urban men are growing beards, wearing plaid shirts, jeans and work boots to pretend to be something they’re not and likely don’t even comprehend. She says these effeminate urban men in flannel can be seen sipping lattes at the local Starbucks as they type text messages with their moisturized and un-callused thumbs. She calls these wannabe men a new name coined by Tom Puzak at GearJunkie: “lumbersexuals.”
Puzak writes, “He looks like a man of the woods, but works at The Nerdery, programming for a healthy salary and benefits. His backpack carries a MacBook Air, but looks like it should carry a lumberjack’s axe. He is the Lumbersexual.”
No doubt a few such fake men exist. Many have noted that a lot of urban men seem to have something earthy, and therefore masculine, missing from their metropolitan identities.
Being caught, as they are, in an image-stricken culture, perhaps a few such urban men shop for a new and manlier image as they grow a little facial hair to complete the Paul Bunyan part. They then look in the mirror and see a man. In appearance only, but who can say? Maybe next they’ll pick up a copy of Field & Stream. Maybe they’ll go and catch a fish or shoot their own dinner. If so, in each outdoorsy step along the way, they just might become the masculine men some part of them is seeking.
Okay, maybe that’s a leap too far for many. But maybe they’ll at least read some Raymond Chandler, Jack London, Ernest Hemingway or Robert Ruark as they find other ways to get some dirt under their nails. Maybe they’ll camp out and so have to chop wood for a fire or maybe they’ll start mountain biking, rock climbing or canoeing.
For all Brown knows, maybe a lot of them have done many of those things, but now they’re working in a land of asphalt, concrete and corner coffee shops. Maybe they happen to like what both the urban and rural environs offer different parts of themselves.
The point is Brown is judging from appearance.