This is a man centered post, which might seem silly on a feminist blog, but sexism hurts men too.
If you haven’t heard there was recently a petition to have BFFs Bert and Ernie get married. The Sesame Street producers released a very sweet response on Thursday:
Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.
Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.
This to me is a sad reflection on our society. People look at two male characters who spend a lot of time alone together and they think – there is no way they could be just friends, no two men are that close. There have been a multitude of terms developed to deal with men sharing affection designed to let them keep their masculinity. As if men loose their masculinity when they hug another man. That’s like saying a woman looses her femininity when she plays a competitive sport and shows up to win.
There is a whole series of terms developed to describe male intimacy (emotional closeness), the most popular of which is bromance. According to urban dictionary, bromance “Describes the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males.” (as if all relationships aren’t complicated). Another term, bromantic, really gets to the heart of the matter with “Bromantic (adjective); not necessarily homosexual, yet still just a little too much love goin’ on between guys.” This definition is outvoted by the less homophobic one “Displays of affection between two heterosexual men.” Wikipedia has a good article on bromance which gets into the emotionally isolating nature of traditional views of masculinity and how visible homosexuality in society has made it less socially acceptable for two men to show affection. Watch out, you might loose your man card!
The Man Hug
There is a whole post on the Art of Manliness dedicated to the man hug. Walking the line between showing affection for those close to you and still remaining manly is a ridiculous double standard. Manly in this case seems to be described as preventing any hit of gay-ness. The procedure for man hugging seems oddly specific: 1. handshake 2. initiate hug 3. slap twice 4. let go. There was a lot of discussion in the comments about the proper number of slaps. Apparently 3 slaps is too try-hard. One slap might be confused for a too enthusiastic embrace.
Platonic Male Intimacy Exists
Men who share close friendships exist all around us. While it may seem that only women can be close to others in this way, that is simply untrue. Studies have found that men with close male friendships live longer and are happier. Take note though, casual hang out friends won’t cut it.
Take a risk on a deeper friendship… you might be pleasantly surprised.