A new study shows straight British dudes are okay with kissing each other on the lips. The study authors think this means homophobia is on the way out, but we're not so sure.
According to the Daily Mail, researchers surveyed straight, white men at two UK universities and one sixth form college (where 16-19-year-olds can go after their mandatory 11 years of school are over). Eighty-nine percent of these guys said they were comfortable giving a male friend a platonic kiss on the lips. One student said, I am comfortable to kiss my friends in situations such as their birthday or when someone scored a goal or just if we are having a laugh. Physical contact with your friends helps to bring you closer. I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for more than a year and she doesn't think anything of it when I kiss my guy friends.
And, says lead study author Dr. Eric Anderson, Heterosexual men kissing each other in friendship is an offshoot of what happens when homophobia is reduced. At these universities, overt homophobia has reduced to near extinction, permitting those men to engage in behaviour that was once taboo.
Anderson hopes to study kissing attitudes across race and class. Comparing across age groups also seems like a good idea — I'm not convinced that because a few young men at universities are comfortable with kissing each other, this extends across British society. Also, I'm not sure that heterosexual male kissing really means the death of homophobia. Anti-gay bias does constrain a lot of straight male behavior, and it's nice if some dudes are able to break out of restrictive gender roles and show physical affection for one another. But I also wonder how these young men would react to public displays of affection by actual gay guys. Is kissing men really okay for all guys, or only for those who have girlfriends and are totally not gay, bro?
I'd also like to see a similar study conducted in the US. Given that efforts to support and empower gay youth often seem to be met with fresh outpourings of homophobic hate, I don't think there are many places here where homophobia is reduced to anything near extinction. The real victory would be if anybody could freely kiss anybody else not because "I have a girlfriend and I'm totally straight," but because nobody cared whether they were gay or not — and at least in the US, we're woefully far away from that.
Giving some British tongue is becoming more and more common in England. Only not how or from whom you would expect.
New studies show that there is an extremely significant increase in kissing in British high schools and colleges. And it's not just pecks on the cheek. It's mouth against mouth with a little tongue added in.
And the increase in kissing is not coming from male and female couples. It's coming from STRAIGHT male friends. That's right. Straight dudes in Britain are now into kissin' their buds.
"Snogging", as the British will tell you, in high school isn’t something reserved just for couples in love. It’s also a behavior exhibited by perfectly straight blokes who just happen to enjoy the company of their male friends. Totally straight boys.
Apparently a sign the anti-gay machismo fad of earlier decades is fading, British researchers quizzing 145 university and high school students found 89 percent have kissed on the lips a straight male friend, while 37 percent took part in “sustained” kissing with another man. All of these dudes, meanwhile, identify as straight and didn’t see their lip smacks as sexual behavior.
The trend toward male same-sex smooches has skyrocketed in recent years, Anderson said. It began on the professional soccer field, where players often share exuberent kisses after goals. That made kissing between men acceptable for college and high-school players, Anderson said. Then the players took the same behaviors to nights out in pubs, spreading the trend to non-athletes. Despite stereotypes of the homophobic jock, athletes were more likely to have kissed another man than non- athletes. Just over 80 percent of non-athletes had kissed a man, compared with 95 percent of athletes.
Of the guys in the study who hadn’t shared a same-sex kiss, all found the practice acceptable. One student who had never kissed another lad joked with the researchers that when he told his friends about the study, they’d probably ensurethat his classification changed. That night, Anderson received a text from the student reading, “I’m in the majority now.”
The idea that two straight guys can be affectionate with each other in public isn’t terribly new: In much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, straight male friends hold hands and walk down the street with their arms around one another. Then again, much of that behavior isn’t looked at as “gay” in these cultures because homosexuality is a hidden, unrecognized abnormality for plenty — a concept so foreign that seeing two men kiss couldn’t be considered sexual, because two men are never sexual with each other.
More men are openly kissing in public.
Sexual minorities have made tremendous cultural and legal improvements towards equality’, says Eric Anderson, of Bath University. When two students asked Eric Anderson, a sociology lecturer at Bath University's department of education, if he had heard of the game "gay chicken", he shook his head. "I had no clue what it was," he says. "So they showed me." The students – both men – went in to kiss each other. "The challenge was that whoever pulled out first was the loser," Anderson explains. "But because men are no longer afraid of this, they ended up kissing." Anderson was inspired to carry out a new research project.
Growing up in the US, Anderson did his PhD on "the intersection of sport, masculinities and declining homophobia" after coming out at 25. His research subjects caught the interest of students at Bath, hence the question about "gay chicken". Anderson discovered that the game had almost died out in the UK in the last few years "because nobody ever loses", and began to consider heterosexual university students' views of kissing other men. "I started going through my students' Facebook profiles, with their permission, and was inundated with hundreds of photos of men kissing on their nights out," Anderson reports. He was intrigued, and decided to investigate further via formal research. He interviewed 145 students, a mixture of men studying sports-related subjects and every third man who left the library on a particular day, from two different universities, plus other male students from a sixth-form college.
The results of his survey showed 89% of the polled men saying they were happy to kiss another man on the lips through friendship. And almost 40% added that they had engaged in "sustained kissing, initially for shock value, but now just for 'a laugh'." "I started telling people about it, but found that a lot of academics literally did not believe me," Anderson explains. "One professor excused it as 'something in the water at Bath' – even though the research covered three different educational establishments. Others flatly told me that they did not believe me. From their 'adult' perspective, this action was unfathomable. They have been stamped with attitudes of acceptable behaviour as a part of their entry into adulthood, and kissing was not permitted between men when they were young. So although they had not been in students' clubs or pubs in 20 or more years, they assumed that nothing had changed. This is known as human plasticity theory; people are stamped with a belief system that they cannot easily shake."
In contrast, Anderson, 43, now believes homophobia is dying out on university campuses, and says attitudes to male kissing reflect that. "Sexual minorities have made tremendous cultural and legal improvements towards equality – the media is saturated with images of sexual minorities, and homosexuality is almost normalised today," he says. "This is particularly true of youth. Young people have disassociated themselves from homophobia the way they once did from racism.
"This is not to say that all youth are gay-friendly, but there's an awareness that anybody can be gay without the homohysteria – where men try to act in sexist, hyper-macho and homophobic ways to prove they are not gay – that used to exist. Young men are becoming softer and more inclusive."
Anderson says men are now kissing each other to show their "intimacy towards one another", but not in a homosexual way. "The kisses seem to be stripped of sexual connotation, and given the percentage of men doing them, they certainly do not indicate a hidden homosexual desire."
The trend, he adds, is not just in a few UK universities or even limited to Britain.
"I've interviewed graduate students who did their bachelor degrees at other universities, and been to undergraduate clubs and pubs from Bristol to Birmingham to Edinburgh – I can definitively say that although the percentages might vary depending on the city, the class and the racial background, these kissing behaviours are happening all over the country. I have also found it occurring in a fifth of the 60 university soccer players I interviewed in the US, and have a friend who is beginning formal research into male kissing in Australia after recording it there."
The soaring popularity of male kissing is, Anderson believes, partly thanks to the behaviour of professional sportsmen, especially top football players. "That has been mimicked by footballers at lower levels – a kiss in a moment of sporting glory. When these men brought it into the pubs, their kisses made it OK for other men to do the same. The knock-on effect is that gay men can now kiss in student spaces as well." He believes that his findings indicate that the UK is "near the end of homophobia being acceptable for youth in the UK". He explains: "You would be gravely mistaken to think that most youth are homophobic. Kids are coming out earlier and earlier – contact theory works: we all have gay friends and family members today. Homophobia is in rapid retreat – it's just not the issue it was when I was a kid."
He expects "many academics and executives will shake their heads at that statement". "When I say that homophobia is in retreat, people often point to one case and think every gay person is oppressed," he says. "One academic said to me last year, 'what about Matthew Sheppard?' [a gay American student who was beaten to death in 2001]. I replied, that was 6,000 miles away, and 11 years ago. We're very good at holding one case of bullying up as a belief that this is the common experience, but the common experience for gay kids is that they are treated just fine."
Anderson is now moving his research on to cuddling. "Last week, I was talking to my second-year students about two straight men cuddling; they laughed, 'what's the big deal about that'," he says. "I polled them, and found that 14/15 said they had spooned another man, in bed, sleeping all night long.
Gone are the days in which men would rather sleep on the floor or head to toe; not only do they share beds and cuddle, but they are not homosexualised for this."
|Liveleak on Facebook|