9th Oct 97
A colleague of mine recently sent out this mass email containing some of his musings about male affection. In it, he rambled and ranted about the rightness of guys holding hands in public and telling each other "I love you". Geez. He never did that to me. Of course, this might partially be explained by the fact that I usually command him to shut up and stare at the wall. You see, it's in a military situation, in a military environment. But still, I'd tell him to shut up anyway.
What's with males holding hands in public? For God's sake, why does it sound as though it is actually morally right to do it? I for one would be among the first to join the ranks of those males out there who would prefer to keep the right to keep their hands to themselves. What's wrong with keeping your hands to yourself? The last time I ever held hands with a guy was in Primary 2. That was in an all-boys school and we had to line up in twos and hold hands. We were NOT precocious poofters. And don't tell me that girls are more sensitive and social. The last time I played with a toy ironing board in Kindergarten (NS boys do their own ironing don't they?) the girls told me plainly to screw off. Kindergarten. I would have smacked her with the iron, had it not been for that (i) there was a teacher - a female teacher, and (ii) the iron was merely plastic.
As for this thing about males being unable to express their true feelings...first of all I must say that males ARE capable of expressing them. It's just that they have a higher threshold before which they actually make a statement. Don't tell me males have no true, intense emotions. Just look at any football game. "Foul!" "OFFSIDE!!!" "REFEREE KAYU-U-U!!!!!!!!!!!!" Say it ain't so. Alright, that might be a rather impersonal situation, but males do express their feelings towards each other too. "You suck!" "YOU'RE AN ASS!!!!" "UP YOURS!!!!!!!". Often, words fail them. But, undaunted, they resort of physical language. Batman, in his earlier days, was one such linguistic exponent, with his KAPOWs and SMACK and BASH!!! Until the 90s. Sheesh.
OK, so that sounds like macho shit. And what - am I supposed to believe that macho shit is the product of socialisation? Am I supposed to believe that, left to themselves, male children will grow up sensitive and woman-like, etc.,...? Oooh. I'm touched. Like hell I am! During the 7th-9th week of gestation, the brain of a male foetus is, by dint of genetic instruction, flooded (relatively so, considering ppm fluid concentration) with testosterone. Yeah, even at such a young age. Thus literally alters the physiology of the embryonic male brain and does two things. First, the neural pathways have been configured into a typically male pattern. Which is why there is a marked psychological difference between newborn boys and newborn girls. Studies have shown conclusively that whereas newborn girls are capable of recognising human faces dangling before them and responding appropriately (as measured by a marked rise in salivary output), newborn boys aren't that capable. Their salivary output remains high regardless of what you dangle before them - a face, half a face, a piece of bacon, etc.,...
The second thing that testosterone does is to pre-wire the embryonic male brain to actually respond to testosterone itself later in life. And more acutely too. Which is why the adult (healthy) male brain responds more acutely to testosterone than does the adult (also healthy) female brain. This also accounts for why children, who have been "misdiagnosed" as male when they are female, or female when they are male, eventually shake off all the wrong socializations once they hit puberty and the hormonal floodgates break. A boy, raised as a girl all his life, will still prefer the sexual company of females and want to socialize "with all the guys" the moment the juice starts flowing from the sack. And for all the right reasons.
Furthermore, just because I don't hold hands with guys nowadays doesn't mean I don't have male friends. Ho ho ho. In fact, the reverse sounds quite true, doesn't it? If you were a guy and you went about holding the hands of the guys whom you like as friends, I don't think you'll have that many friends left (although it might be a different story if you're in San Francisco or, say, Selarang Camp).
Guys have this thingy between them called telepathy. Which also helps explain why guys don't talk very much emotionally. Guys know what each other is thinking. Guys don't need more than a pat on the back or a punch on the shoulder. You see, guys are very shallow creatures. We can't possibly stray very far from the basic male pattern of thinking. Therefore guys don't need to tell each other how they feel. They already know. Whereas a woman driving a speedboat in a marsh might be enjoying herself, contemplating the beauty of nature, and engineering of the vehicle, the freedom of her Kotex, and mentally checking that her kids are okay, a guy doing the same thing would be thinking this - "VRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!" And nothing else. And all guys would be doing this, be it the President of the United States or the President of the Cybernerds Association - they would be thinking nothing more or less than "VRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!" Except perhaps the President (and members) of the Richard Simmons Fan Club.
In summary, letting another guy know that you care for him is perfectly fine. If you do it right. But if you want to hold his hands and say "I Love You" then you'd better make sure he'll take it in the right spirit. There are many guys who hold another guy's hands and say "I Love You". Al Pacino does it in the Godfather when the guy is his brother and it is the only polite way of telling him that, for strictly business reasons, he has to be killed. On my part, for reasons stated above, I do not believe in generally holding guys' hands and declaring love, brotherly or otherwise. I'd rather jump in front of speedboat.
Contributed and written by dom