Man Hugs


The pressure on young British men to hug one another – their friends, their brothers, even for God’s sake their fathers – has never been greater.

Watching Big Brother or Love Island at the moment, you realise the trend has reached epidemic proportions.
Not an incident or even a conversation goes by that does result with the likes of Callum Best and Chris Brosnan embracing like brothers who haven’t seen each other for decades.

On Love Island, pathetic pipsqueaks Lee Otway and Paul Danan frequently resolved their heated disputes over voluptuous Playboy bunny Colleen Shannon (not only by hugging but kissing each other’s stubbled cheeks (on their faces that is), and muttering various meaningless assurances such as “I love you man…” or “I think you’re wicked.”

Anyone would think they think they had survived a tour of duty in Iraq, not ‘enduring’ some overblown publicity stunt on a luxury resort in Fiji.

On Big Brother, the hugs are saved mostly for eviction night as lads like Mikey and Pete hug the very people that they nominated/stabbed in the back in the first place.

Every Friday, they indulge in an orgy of hugs, tears and kisses as one of their member steps out to a world of appearances in Heat magazine and Richard & Judy whilst the others behave as if they were being sent to the electric chair.

I’d say I don’t know who these soft-hearted “New Men” think they are, but I do. Or rather I know who they want to be.

The recent trend for men to hug their fathers for instance is, mostly, an imitation of Italians and Italian’s (very admirable) long-standing institution of ‘family’.

Suddenly, repressed English males you’ve known for years are patting their Dads ostentatiously on the back if they were greeting Tony Soprano.

In most cases, it’s totally bogus. Or rather it’s actually the act of someone UNEASY about their relationship with their dads – which is, after all, one of the very mainstays of English society.

The problem is, we are not Italian. And this, as David Bowie said, is not America. By hugging one another every time they meet, young British males like Otway are merely aping the cool young Americans they see in hip-hop videos, gangster films, or frat-pack movies. As the fraudulent gesture of the American wannabe, the male hug is basically the emotional equivalent of the baseball cap worn backwards.

Equally, the hugging will be accompanied by all manner of Rasta-style clashing of knuckles, one-handed fists clasping, hip-hop-style thumping of the heart or a variety of finger signs to indicate how ‘down’ or ‘dope’ they are.


This sort of random hugging – serial hugging – LOOKS like the gestures of someone who is ‘in touch with his feelings’.

Actually they have undermined the currency of a REAL (British) hug – to be saved for special occasions (like, say, funerals). Hugs are becoming the nervous tics of a nation full of young British men in crisis – of men who can’t be their old gloriously repressed selves.

Personally, I would no rather hug my mates than kiss them on the lips. They know how important to me they are without this sort of facile gesture.

Obviously it’s OK – understandable even – to hug another man you haven’t seen him for say a period of over ten years or more.

I remember being in America when Barbara Bush endorsed the ‘Hugs Are Better Than Drugs’ campaign. And obviously hugs aren’t (quite) as harmful as heroin. But it’s time we left the hugging to the Americans and the Italians and in general, when it comes to hugging other men, Just Say No.