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Prepare yourself for this one by putting on a helmet. You’re gonna slap your forehead so hard you may give yourself a concussion. Matthew Bell, a writer over at The Spectator, took the time to write a 854 word article about how man-hugging is destroying masculinity.
Bell begins: “As Grayson Perry identified in his book The Descent of Man, masculinity has been in crisis for years. Now we don’t even know how to say hello.”
“There’s the everyday occurrence of being friendly to a fellow male is a minefield of potential slights. And it is all the fault of the man-hug,” he continues.
Bell concludes, “My proposal would be to scrap all man-hugging except with family members, and bring back the quick and friendly handshake. Until then, every day will be fraught with the possibility of being made to feel either upright or over familiar.”
What’s destroying masculinity isn’t the act of man-hugging, it’s guys like Bell.
His narrow minded perspective on sexuality and gender are limiting our movement from moving forwards. By criticizing such an simple act as hugging and labeling it as “weak,” he is making the act of man on man hugging even more awkward than it may or may not already be.
As a feminine gay man who loves my friends, I always go in for a hug — even if they’re straight. I understand Bell’s claim that sometimes it’s awkward. Yes, it’s sometimes awkward because these men have been taught all their lives that hugging may be feminine or it may be weak or men don’t hug men.
If a straight male friend of mine fessed up that he’s not into hugging, I may eye roll, but I would accept his boundaries. The same way I would if a female friend or gay male friend or gender nonbinary friend asked me to not be so physical. Not everyone is a hugger and that’s OK. Take Jerry Seinfeld for instance.
The book Bell cites is by English artist and media personality Grayson Perry, a man with a sexually ambiguous pageboy haircut who sometimes wears dresses. He dedicates his new book, “The Descent of Man,” a plea for less toxic masculinity in the world, to his childhood teddy bear.
Perry calls himself “a doubter at the gates of the crumbling superdome of masculinity.” He writes: “We need to get a philosophical fingernail under the edge of the firmly stuck-down masculinity sticker so we can get hold of it and rip it off. Beneath the sticker, men are naked and vulnerable — human even.”
And humans — male or female — hug. Don’t like it? Don’t do it. But don’t claim it’s because you’re trying to uphold masculine virtues. That type of comp out is the only form of weakness we see here.
Featured image by Petar Chernaev via iStock