Proposition Man-Hug

February 05, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

Today is Super Tuesday, and there is a very important question that we all have to answer as American Citizens:

Can the "man-hug" replace the handshake as the preferred way for men to greet each other?

Now years ago, this would be a preposterous claim to make, one that could get you thrown in the stocks with a fresh coat of tar and feathers. The man-hug has long been frowned upon. Why would a man embrace another man in a hug when he could just as easily shake his hand and keep him at arm's length? What if this man is trying to kill me? Surely I don't want to expose my back to a man that may or may not have reason to stick a knife in it!

Part of the reason the man-hug has gotten such a bad rap is for ones that look like this or this. Society has long believed that the man-hug was somehow homosexual in nature and the handshake reigned supreme.

Despite this, the man-hug was still alive and well. There were even special circumstances where it was considered to be "ok" to do.

1. You can hug other male family members.
2. You can hug another man at a special event (Wedding, funeral, etc).
3. You can hug another man after a big win in any kind of sporting event, but both men must be wearing shirts.
4. If your friend gets engaged or has a child, you may hug him.
5. If you serve in the military with someone or are in any kind of near-death experience with them, hugging is ok upon seeing them again.

But for every 1 rule saying when it was ok to hug another dude, there seemed to be 2 rules specifically outlining times or circumstances where hugs were absolutely unacceptable. Men were even instructed to avoid the man-hug if at all possible by not reciprocating (See picture, left). The future looked bleak for the man-hug. The handshake looked at the man-hug, saw nothing worth liking, and drank the man-hug's milkshake.

But just like the '92 Bills, the man-hug has staged a miracle comeback. This is due to a few factors working together:

Hip Hop
There's no doubt that the man-hug owes much of its comeback to the hip hop world. Hip hop artists seem to be credited with inventing the next evolutionary step from the handshake, the "pound hug" or "pound shake". This starts off like a regular handshake, but can sometimes involve complicated moves such as "padlockin' it" and "puttin' the chain on it". From here, both parties can pull the other in and embrace quickly in a pound hug, which ends with one to two slaps on the back. While definitely a step toward the man-hug, the fact that the original handshake is still between the two men still classifies this move in the handshake family. But progress is being made.

In this post 9/11 society, it's ok for men to show emotion. I actually read that somewhere recently. True story.

The Sopranos
The man-hug made one of its biggest gains on the handshake when The Sopranos hit the airwaves. Here were a bunch of badass Italian mobsters and hitmen who almost never used the handshake. These guys completely skipped over the pound shake and went directly into the hug. Finally, America had some man-hug role models. Hell, they even went so far to practice the two-cheek kiss!

But still, the man-hug was being held back. Sure, Tony and company hugged like there was no tomorrow...but what about us men who aren't Italian? Or mobsters?

Maybe HBO should be known as the Martin Luther King Jr. of the man-hug. HBO started the man-hug revolution with The Sopranos and arguably finished the job with Entourage. Entourage brought us the man-hug Jesus himself, Ari Gold. It seemed like not a week would go by without Ari telling us that the best solution to any problem was to "Hug it out, bitch!"

Pro man-hug groups rejoiced. Here were the biggest, richest, most powerful men in Hollywood, and they were hugging like there was no tomorrow. Not only was man-hugging acceptable, but Ari Gold was making it cool! What better way to show how masculine you were than not asking for a hug, but demanding one and calling someone else a bitch at the same time?

So now hugs seem to be on the upswing. There are free hug campaigns. Athletes are hugging each other more and more, even before the game is over. John Kerry and John Edwards showed in 2004 that man-hugging could get you nominated for office, just not elected.

But the hug still has a lot of ground to make up before dethroning the handshake. I mean, the handshake is the handshake, the staple of meeting strangers and closing deals for as long as we can remember. On the other hand, the man-hug has made leaps and bounds in popularity over the last 10 years. Who knows where it'll be in another 10 years?

So is it now acceptable under almost any circumstances to lay a man-hug on another dude? Are we doomed to live under the iron fisted rule of the handshake for the rest of eternity? These are the real issues today.

Are you for or against Proposition Man-Hug?

This is what the Man-Hug will look like in 2025.