“Why are we so squeamish about male friendship?” I can answer that in one word: homosexuality.
Now, this isn’t a screed against homosexuals. I’m not advocating for anyone to blame gays for anything. I’m pointing out what I think is responsible for a change that has occurred just in my lifetime and giving a reason I think fits the psychological profile of young males.
In days gone by young men would walk with their arm around each other. Men would show affection to each other. No one thought anything about it. Then homosexuals came out of the closet and heterosexual men did not want to be seen as, or made fun of for, being gay – when they weren’t. Regardless of that being the “right” or “wrong” it is what it is. Perhaps homosexuality is more acceptable but men don’t see it as normal. As a result the level of male affection has been reduced.
The article reads, “Boys and young men genuinely want intimate connections with their peers, yet there is stigma attached to male vulnerability, starting very early, conveyed in implicit and explicit messages that equate tenderness and affection with weakness and femininity.” But that much has always been the case. What has changed? Yes, this is my personal opinion, but I don’t think it is an outrageous one or completely without reason.
The article ends talking about a program for boys and says, “I looked around at the younger boys, free in their bodies and at home in themselves, thrilled with this adventure, and delighting in being in each other’s company.” And that says a lot to me. Those young men he’s talking about are innocent and don’t have any hangups about such things. Maybe the world is edging toward a place where this kind of thing will go away and men will once again be comfortable with more than just a side-hug. I for one would like to see that. I think men benefit from brotherly love and society benefits when men feel comfortable in the company of other men.