In many respects, the figure of the playboy is the progeny of the libertine of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but with a distinctly sanitised and more decorous demeanour. Embodied in the ambivalent figure of the bachelor, the playboy was more than a romantic male movie hero or man of action. His refusal to accept the privilege and responsibilities afforded by marriage was met with suspicion at a time when traditional masculinity was the bastion of society. Choosing the decadent and narcissistic pleasures of a life of conspicuous consumption, he was at once a 'lady killer and a woman hater, a party animal and a lonely guy', as Stephen Cohan puts it. As well as tracing the genealogy of the playboy, it is, in today's world of androgynies and the 'third sex', important to ask as to what he means today, not only as a popular archetype but as a reflection of capitalism and heteronormativity.