We caught up with some friends at the weekend and when the husband and the old man did that awkward shuffle as they greeted each other, our male friend launched into the story of how he had tried to hug his elderly father once, who froze and brushed it off.
‘I’m not much of a man-hugger,’ he admitted to him.
‘But did you like it?’ my friend pushed.
‘It was surprisingly quite nice,’ his dad responded.
What a truly sad world we live in when there are men out there that have never been hugged by their fathers, sons or close friends?
And then, we wonder why they are so emotionally ill-equipped.
Upon further discussion, it turns out that there are rules of etiquette when it comes to man-hugging. Both the old man and our friend agreed that while they hug their inner circle of close friends, they don’t hug the next tier of their friendship group.
‘But I hug everyone,’ I admitted, because I think that women do, in general, once they’ve met once or twice.
But the boys were adamant that it was only their tight circle of friends that got the special treatment. So – obviously – we made them man-hug on the spot, in front of us, which was when we witnessed something truly beautiful happen.
Of course, I’m generalising here. I’m sure that some men are massive huggers, but there is still that stigma associated with men hugging men.
In her book, Boys Will Be Boys, Clementine Ford claims it has to do with the stigma of what the show of affection implied in the past, and the need to prove “compulsive heterosexuality” – one of the issues of “toxic masculinity”.
And she’s right. If we don’t teach our boys how to share respectful, caring relationships with each other, how can we expect them to do the same with women?
She says: “It breaks my heart to know that men – and young men especially – are conditioned against embracing the pleasures of a physically-expressed platonic love for each other for fear that the authenticity of their man-hood may be challenged.”
So let’s change that right now. Any men out there – give your father a big, fat man-hug the next time you see him. And fathers – remember to hug your sons as well as your daughters. Finally, men – for God’s sake, hug your goddamn friends. It’s not a sign that you’re weak or that you fancy them, it’s a sign that you value them.