Beyond Babedom

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The No-Hug Zone

Two third grade boys see each other for the first time since June. The yell from opposite ends of the playground and run as fast as they can, ending in a bear hug of happiness.

After which they are taunted by fifth grade boys, who accuse them of “humping” each other.

Now, imagine this scenario with two girls. You can’t, right? Because even though there are tons of reasons girls can be brutal to each other, harassing one another for showing affection isn’t one of them. We can kiss each other on the lips without a smidge of worry about what people will think (except those purvey guys who drool over it). So, tell me this: why are guys so hung up about male-male affection? It makes me kind of sad that these two boys are never going to be able to hug one another (or any other boy) without remembering that playground encounter – and probably resorting to pushing and arm punching instead.

How sad is that?

So, why is it? Why do boys (and men) in this country find it so incredibly hard to touch each other affectionately without fearing that some jerk off will “out” them? And yet, ironically, they’ll pat each other on the butt during a ball game (something I don’t ever remembering a girl doing to me).  It’s not that way in the rest of the world. In the Mediterranean, men will kiss each other with abandon (they even carry purses).

Come to think of it, it isn’t only touching that they’re so sensitive about. Men in this country don’t even like to dance – with women! Sure, some men dance, but this is virtually the only culture in the world where dancing isn’t considered “manly.” How stupid. . . what is more sexy than a guy who can dance? And what better way to get right up close to a woman’s body without getting slapped?

All I can say is, I’m glad I’m a woman; I like being able to hug and kiss my girlfriends without fear of scorn. I’m glad I can share a bed with a friend without her getting all wierded out. And, if I had a son, I’d try to instill in him a little bravado and let him know that affection is good, there’s nothing “gay” about showing it to his friends  . . . and there’s nothing wrong with being gay, either.

And I’d teach him how to fight.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 14th, 2009 at 10:46 PM and is filed under My Pet Peeves, Relationships, Socializing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. Terri says:

    Colin is in 4th grade now and he still hugs his friends, but I know what you mean. It’s crazy. They will even get picked on for kissing their mother goodbye when she drops him off at school. (Colin still kisses me without even a thought of what another boy would say.) I do think about it sometimes. When is he gonna stop kissing me goodbye because he will get teased? Ahh the innocence of youth. Why does it seem to disappear so quickly now?

  2. Bob says:

    I feel the same way about two guys dancing together at a club, even when it’s a fast song, not a waltz or some similar “close together” type dance. Girls can do it, but not guys. Dancing solo seems equally unacceptable for a man, but a woman can get away with it.

  3. Bill B says:

    “It is a learned response. Most heterosexual males are taught from an early age, whether directly or indirectly that male bonding = homosexuality. Even though most men will go through period of “experimentation” for lack of a better word that usual involves things like comparisons: you show me yours and I’ll show you mine; we are taught to be embarassed by these things. We can only hope that this changes and men are able to develop in a natural and guilt-free way.
    In the example you cite, the fifth graders are much closer to puberty and hence feelings of confusion and embarassment. No excuse for their behavior but again, a learned response.”

  4. Scott says:

    I’ve always been a hugger ..guys,gals, dogs,dolphins….ain’t nothing like giving and getting a hug!

  5. Judy says:

    I used to hug people all the time – guys or girls. But, I began to sense displeasure from some people. They would almost pull away if they thought I was going to hug them. So, I stopped. I only hug those who mean A LOT. Heck, the other night, my ex-husband and I took our daughters out to dinner to celebrate our eldest daughter’s 21st birthday. When saying good-bye to my former husband, I gave him a hug. My daughter’s asked why I did that and I said it was because 21 years ago on that very day, we became parents. I don’t know how he felt about that hug, and frankly, it doesn’t matter to me. I was happy and I shared it.

  6. Bob says:

    I agree with the person who said it’s a “learned thing.” We live in a society that seems to appreciate the female form much more than the male form, both in art & in Hollywood, which is why men & women alike are more likely to squirm watching a love scene between two men than between two women. Also, men, by nature, are more attracted to visual stimuli whereas women are attracted to ideas, words, ambience, etc. The “idea” of two men together, while not repulsive exactly (unless you’re still a youthful schoolgirl prone to easy embarrassment), doesn’t fit into a proper romantic context in most women’s minds. Since heterosexual men need only see a woman’s body to become aroused, regardless of the context, it stands to reason that more than one woman’s body would only serve to provide an even greater feast for the eyes, in men’s minds.

    Over time, women have adjusted to seeing more women’s bodies on movie screens & cable TV than male ones, and even when a naked man IS shown, it’s usually from behind. The sight of a fully naked man from the front still inspires audible gasps in most instances, because it’s rare enough to prevent us from having accustomed ourselves. For one thing, male genitalia is not thought to be a particularly romantic image, and some even regard it as borderline pornographic if it’s not attached to a bronze statue in a museum. The male form, in all of its maleness, is just not as widely accepted in mainstream entertainment. Rarely do romantic love scenes include it, because the sight of it somehow takes the viewer – male or female – out of the romantic mood the scene is striving for.

    I once asked a twentysomething woman why she couldn’t be turned on by watching two men kiss, in much the same way a man might be turned on by watching two women do the same. Her response: “Because it’s just silly!” That practically spells it out for us, in a nutshell. Understanding the fundamental differences in what makes each gender tick is ultimately where the answer lies, & Hollywood has always helped to fuel that sexual zeitgeist. I believe our general way of showing each other affection eventually starts to follow the same model.

  7. J R Petraglia says:

    If Patrick Swayze could portray a dancer and a drag queen and still make our hearts flutter, you would think men could get past their hang-ups. Drew Hollywood, who looked more like a leprechaun than like Swayze, was totally comfortable with his masculinity. He would hug everyone and everything he could wrap his arms around.

  8. Kirk says:

    I remember being in Paris and having dinner with a good male from of mine who is French. He drove me to my Metro stop and he gave me a kiss and I cracked up. He laughed too saying that I guess you Americans don’t understand that kissing is not dangerous.

    I think in the US we have a different sense of space and kissing as grown men doesn’t feel right. I do hug my male friends after a hand shake. It’s pretty common now days. So it would seem that the barriers to male on male affection are beginning to be lowered.

  9. James says:

    I once dated someone that taught me about being affectionate. My friend Kirk and I just met for lunch in Maui after about 8 years and after the standard handshakes, we hugged each other. My son and I, he’s 18, always hug each hello and goodbye. My father and I always hug each other too. I started that with him years ago. I have danced with male friends just as a gesture of fun and friendship. The key to me is being comfortable in my own skin. Lastly, I have not gone so far as kissing  my male friends, on the lips or cheek. I think a hug will do .
    Mahalo Lucille, I believe this is my first blog response 

  10. David Alexander says:

    Men do hug more than they used to, but it has become somewhat ritualized, especially in the black community. But as long as a significant percentage of men believe that homosexuality is contagious, there will always be a limit on physical shows of affection…

  11. Patrice says:

    I am dating a man who grew up in France. He hugs and kisses everyone! I love it. My son is a hugger, too. Personally, I think it takes a real man to be able to hug/kiss his male friends. I hug/kiss the females in my life, as well as the males. What’s the big deal, anyway? We, as Americans, are so uptight about men hugging men, going topless on the beach…WTF? (for the record, I’m one of those who is uptight about going topless and find it uncomfortable when other women do).

    ((Hugs))) to everyone!

  12. Frank M says:

    Lucille, it’s the way we were taught by society. I don’t think there’s a message or anything else to worry about. It is what it is. Besides, if I were to run up to Gary and hug and kiss him (unless of course we just won the Mega Millions lottery), it really would be very gay and I’m certain we’d be picked on by some 5th graders who happened to be nearby. We most likely would then cry on each other’s shoulders.

  13. Barry Jay says:

    Hey, it is silly….every time we visit Gary and Lucille…Gary always greets me with a kiss….but he’s such a tease…never slips me a tongue…

  14. Chris Munson says:

    Much research on this question has been done particularly by Drs Frischkäse and Räucherlachs at the University of Dortmund in Germany. They hypothesize, on the basis of studying contemporary tribes from the uplands of New Guinea whose behavior most approximates that of neolithic cultures, the male reluctance to hug arises from the peculiar bonding required for a successful hunt, and the fatal distraction that could arise when the male mind wanders to thoughts of a great, hairy embrace between hunters when the game, let us say perhaps, a Great Wooly Mammoth is afoot. The fatal tramplings, tuskings and mayhem caused by such “lustvollen Sehnsüchte” as the good Doctors term it need scarsely be imagined to confirm their thesis.

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