Do you want your husband or boyfriend to be like this?

“Michael Gustman, a 25-year-old public relations account executive from Boca Raton, Fla., even [has] separate moisturizers for the face and body. Facial pores can clog with too heavy a salve, it seems. Not long ago, these and other habits would have been considered odd for a male. Gustman exfoliates. He gets manicures. He gets pedicures. He gets facials. He gets his hair done every two weeks. He accessorizes. He puts effort into getting ready for a date. He loves cooking complex dishes. He’s a refined, evolved, sensitive guy. In a word, he’s a metrosexual.”

My reaction was–blech! Sorry, Michael, but real men who date real girls don’t have separate moisturizers. Their idea of a “facial” is a shave and maybe some aftershave. Real men keep themselves clean and well-attired but don’t fret about their pores unless they’ve got terminal acne, at which point they consult a dermatologist, not Helene Curtis. Real men get decent haircuts, but they don’t exfoliate unless they are professional tree-trimmers. And they do not, repeat, do not, get pedicures. That’s because real men who have any taste know that sandals and slides and flip-flops are great for around the house and at the beach but not for displaying male tootsies while eating “complex dishes” in “refined” places. As for “metrosexual”–well, Howard Dean used that word to describe himeslf once, and look where it got him.

You, like me, may blanch at the idea of your man going metrosex–but not the U.S. State Department! Yes, you read that right. The above quotation about Michael Gustman and his evolved accessories comes from a story in “Hi,” a magazine published in Arabic and English by the State Department and aimed at Arab youth overseas; the aim, as the State Department says, is to “build bridges” between the U.S. and the Arab world. The article begins: “Real men moisturize.” Mona Charen found the story and writes about it in today (hat tip to Michelle Malkin):

“The photo accompanying the story pictures the male author seated in a pedicure chair, pants rolled up to his knees, along with half a dozen women enjoying the same treatment. (The women’s faces aren’t visible, but we can guess that they look puzzled or possibly even repelled.)

“First things first. Is this what the U.S. State Department thinks America is really like? How many men, outside a tiny subset in major cities, are the primping, feminized ‘metrosexuals’ the article lauds? Not many. You cannot enhance understanding between one people and another by presenting a false version of one side.”

Worst of all, says Charen, the State Department doesn’t seem to realize that gender-related problems of much of the Islamic world go a bit deeper than lack of adequate male access to nail care. She writes:

“In Iraq, half the population, according to one poll, believes that a man has a right to beat his wife if she disobeys him (and the Koran gives this sanction). In Iran…women continue to be stoned to death for the crime of adultery….

“The size of the stones to be used in such executions is specified by law. ‘Penal Law in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Article 116: Stones used in stoning should be neither so big as to kill the adulterous at the first or second blow, nor as small as a pebble.’ Other punishments meted out by the Islamic Republic include cutting off hands, arms and legs, and plucking out the eyes.

“In Saudi Arabia, an Australian man has been sentenced to 16 months in prison and 300 lashes for a crime his wife may have committed (stealing equipment from a hospital). His flogging, inflicted 50 strokes at a time, by a guard with a Koran under his arm, has already begun….In Saudi Arabia, the punishment for Muslims who convert away from Islam is death.”

As Charen points out, these are some of the issues that a U.S. taxpayer-funded bridge-building magazine ought to focus on rather than facials for sensitive guys.