According to a recent study out of the UK, nearly 93 percent of male athletes surveyed said they’ve enjoyed cuddling and/or spooning with male friends on a regular basis and — better yet — don’t understand why American bros don’t cuddle more often. Of the 40 participants surveyed, 39 also revealed that they’ve shared a bed with another man since starting college.
Published in March in the journal of Men and Masculinities, the study observed the social habits of 18 and 19-year-old white, middle-income college students enrolled in study co-author Eric Anderson’s sociology of sports class at the University of Winchester. Along with co-author Mark McCormack of Durham University, Anderson concludes that homosocial behaviors becoming more acceptable among heterosexual friends is a sign of the times.
Or, more specifically, “the expansion of esteemed homosocial behaviors for heterosexual men is evidence of an expansion of changing conceptions of masculinity in contemporary culture.”
“We knew they [straight males] were hugging and cuddling, and we wanted to understand this phenomenon in more detail,” McCormack said in an interview with HuffPo. “They don’t realize this is something that older men would find shocking; It’s older generations that think men cuddling is taboo,” he said.
“The social taboo against cuddling has been because for two men to get close was traditionally seen as ‘gay’. Men wanted to avoid being the target of homophobic abuse, so they would be macho to distance themselves from any perception of homosexuality. But there is a generational effect here: Older men who grew up in the 1980s may still feel the need to present a very straight version of themselves, but more positive attitudes toward homosexuality in contemporary culture mean that younger men are simply less concerned about how other people view their behaviors.”
As a result, it seems modern teenagers aren’t too concerned with “defending” their heterosexuality. And who in their right mind would ever reject a bro cuddle?
Students and test subjects Jarrett and Max explain:
Without being prompted, Jarrett repeatedly stressed the amount of cuddling he and his mates engage in. ‘‘We’re always cuddling, my lot. We’re all comfortable with each other.’’ Others highlight that cuddling occurs during the day and will often be described as ‘‘a quick cuddle.’’ John praised these short interactions, saying ‘‘I love a quick cuddle, just so you remember your friends are about and are there for you.’’
It’s worth noting that these are European teenagers — men from a continent where rugby players use making out as a celebratory gesture. It might take some time for ‘bro cuddles’ to catch on here in the States, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re totally ready for this to happen.