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Most UK Male Students are Metrosmoochers

A new study of puckering practises reported in today’s Daily Mail (‘How men kissing each other on the lips in friendship is “no longer taboo”‘) suggests that the majority of male students in the UK think nothing of giving one another a big wet one on each other’s lips in all sorts of social situations.

Which is a bit much for this old bugger: I can barely kiss men in bed.

Researchers at the University of Bath found that 89 per cent of white undergraduate men at two UK universities and one sixth form college said they were happy to kiss another man on the lips through friendship.

It sounds though as if they may have been talking to members of the university rugby team:

They found that 36 per cent of respondents had also engaged in sustained kissing, initially for shock value, but now they occurred just for ‘a laugh’.

Dr Eric Anderson, the academic behind the survey claimed, plausibly enough, that heterosexual men kissing one another is a result of the decline of homophobia:

‘At these universities, overt homophobia has reduced to near extinction, permitting those men to engage in behaviour that was once taboo.’

University in the UK is now probably one of the most gay tolerant environments imaginable.  Which of course would impact on how non-gay men behave towards one another too, since homophobia is one of the key ways in which male-male relations in general are made to conform to traditional ideas about what is ‘normal’ and ‘masculine’. Even though quite a few homos — such as this one — don’t kiss other men as freely as these young straight men appear to.

‘The kiss is a sign of affection in student social spaces, a sign of victory on the pitch, or celebration at a nightclub but it does not have a sexual connotation in any of these spaces.

‘It seems generally younger people are becoming more and more open minded with each generation.’

Perhaps I’m hopelessly optimistic, but I would generally go with Mr Anderson here about what this metrosmooching signals.  Though I’d add that it also probably also represents the spread of Continental habits, like croissant-munching. And I’m not entirely certain that men snogging other men on the pitch or nightclub ‘does not have a sexual connotation’. I mean, wouldn’t it depend on how hot they looked?

Joking aside, however much attitudes may have changed towards manlove at UK universities, if the comments section is anything to go by, readers of the good old in-Continental Daily Mail haven’t changed much at all.

The ‘best rated’ comments are those expressing spluttering disbelief and assurances from random men that they only ever kiss ladies, thank you very much.  While the ‘worst-rated’ comment was the shocking: ‘Men kissing men shouldn’t be a taboo anyway’.

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37 thoughts on “Most UK Male Students are Metrosmoochers”

  1. Give them the turista spiel I give Americans: “directly in between Glasgow and Edinburgh, if you’ve heard of them. Place where television had its first public peformance. If you’ve ever seen the movie Braveheart, there’s a Battle of Falkirk in it.” That sort of crap. And the move the tedious had-it-a-million-times conversation swiftly along.

  2. I know you’re from Falkirk, Graham. But no one knows where Falkirk is. I don’t know where it is and I’ve been there. Or at least passed through. Besides, ‘Falkirk Kiss’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

  3. I’m actually from Falkirk, neebur, but placing me 25 miles away isn’t too bad. And if headbutting (a ‘Glasgow Kiss’ is a headbutt in the injurious vernacular) was metrosexual and a sign of affection, much of Glasgow and Falkirk would be a very loving and gay place indeed…



  4. That’s very kind of you to say so, Dr Eric. Congrats on the big piece in the Guardian today – glad they finally got around to giving your research the attention it richly deserves. These revolutionary changes in male behaviour have happened almost unobserved by the media until now – for all their shallow excitement a few years back about male facials and spas. But then the media tends not to be so interested in young men, unless they’re causing trouble or selling records.

    It’s heart-warming to hear that the concept of metrosexuality has helped a generation of young men express what they weren’t supposed to express before. Even if I was locked in a bit of a love-hate relationship with it myself over the years. I suspected that metrosexuality had become so mainstream, that much of what had passed for metrosexuality was now just ‘normal’, and hence the word was now almost redundant – but wondered whether it was just my madness. Thanks for confirming that I’m not mad. At least about that. At least for white university students.

  5. Your exactly on the mark with my work, Mark. And you might like to know that your concept of metrosexuality has been hugely influential in the lives of young men I study. Your term, long morphed form a 5th ave. executive, has given straight men permission to act, dress, or partake in entertainment/music choices that were once ‘gay.’ All they had to do was say, “I’m metrosexual.” Today, they don’e even have to identify that way any more. It’s just, okay (well, at least for white university students).

    Dr. Eric Anderson

  6. I suspect that relative to the intense streak of homophobia here in the states with students being harassed even for being gay and all of the suicides, there really exists no such thing as what the researchers refers to as an “absence of homophobia” even gay men can’t hold hands without being beat up, yet anyone kissing.
    After the last election during which a whole number of the really insane have taken over one of our houses, things can’t but become worse. I have friends talking about leaving the country even.
    Now that corporations can by all of the elections. Things can’t but worsen in terms of backwardness.

    I’ll have to be happy that I’m taking care of a dog who is always snogging me.
    He’s cute too, although I have to share his affection with the cat. God be happy you live in a different world than I do.

    I have the impression here that many-very many of the “straight” men are in fact gay even. so we’re screwed up totally.

  7. Joe D’Allesandro. Yummy. I love to see two attractive men go at it. I am a straight woman last time I checked . . . of course, it has been awhile — hence, the Joe D’Allesandro reference.

  8. Women DO get jealous of guys in heavy friendship relationships with each other, cos it takes away attention from them, and men can relate to each other in ways that women and men cannot. My best friend for years told me that his ex-girlfriend said that we were “queer for each other” when they split up. Typical female pish. She was dumb as a box of dirt and couldn’t hold a conversation to save her life. I laughed hard as fuck for ages when I was told of her homoerotic supposed-asslover assumptions about my friend and I. Hilarious.

  9. The problem, which is highly significant, indeed prohibitive, is that heterosexuality is the social standard of good behavior, so no deviation from that is going to be examined but just not thought of .

    A simliar situation can be conceived in any medical research as long as something e.g. healthy breasts are the norm and there is no deviation,no one would create cancer just to find out about it !

    Questions don’t arise out of thin air. A question: why are you so concerned about research; There is none without preliminary philosophical inquery and design.

  10. It’s not clear to me that are were any drugs to my knowledge that encouraged “touchy-feely stuff” especially with heterosexuals. Some drugs make sexual experience itself more prolonged and intense if not obsessive. I believe that E is in that category, although, we have used plan old Meth for that. I haven’t really talked to more than a few females about that. I seems to be more of a male thing. Females seem pretty able to have prolonged and intense enough sex with just a good partner.

    As far a the visceral type of experience you suggest, I Imagine something milder like grass or mushrooms might be helpfull. i think they are supposed to be good by themselves. Fact is, I’m not sure though, not having been a touchy feely type person.

  11. I wonder if they factored in all these party drugs popular among young people, which makes their inhibitions on showing affection melt away. Isn’t one of the fun aspects of things like E that it facilitates all those bromances and touchy feely stuff?

  12. Many a woman worth her salt that I’ve known would send a bottle flying full tilt into bubby’s head. My mother would certainly pound the tar out of both men, athletes or no. My own last girlfriend would question extensive or overenthused conversations.

    The whole picture seems a little odd. Maybe women here are more liberated, but certainly they would never ever tolerate that sort of behavior.

    It strikes me that good academic research would have to deal with that part of the sociological picture, since it bears on the men’s sexuality directly.

  13. I’ll bet their girlfriends have coronaries; my experience with m/m even friendship becomes pretty weird here, when there are girl friends around.

    Of course you seem to live in a very different world. I have tried addressing e-mails xxx (which you spoke of) and get no response. xo from one New Yorker.

    But I hear that your world is coming apart politically and according to some(which I doubt) becoming more like the U.S.

  14. No, I think I’ve only mentioned those ones once before, if at all – there’ve been several snogging squaddies. Some of them much more attractive. I tend to mention them more.

    The survey and interviews also covered ‘banter’ kissing, such as the displays I’ve seen up here. They argued that it was members of student sports teams that were more likely to kiss in social/club contexts and also intimate ones. I think what’s happening is that the homoerotic/homosocial traditions of male groups are meeting the contemporary greater acceptance of homosexuality and producing something rather… splendid.

  15. I live in the North East and I’ve seen quite a bit of male-on-male snogging (sorry, but that’s what we call it round here), out and about. Even when I’ve not been looking for it. On one especially memorable occasion, two not very attractive squaddies standing in front of me at a crowded bar started snogging one another, tongues and everything, continuing for a good 15 seconds while their girlfriends peeled the labels on their WKDs. Finally coming up for air, the one who initiated it declared: ‘Wow! You’re a really good snogger, mate!’ They then went back to the usual heterosexual dating rituals. I went home and had an early night.

    In Glasgow a few years ago I was in a pub where the Glasgow University rugby team were downing vodka shots and getting very friendly. Unlike the unattractive squaddies, I was paying these absurdly fit lads lots of attention even before they started snogging one another. So much so that my worried gay companion suggested we leave. Apparently I looked like I was going to self-combust.

  16. “A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh. It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die . . . the world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by.” Wonderful lyrics — coupled with this famous quote “I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.” and many others, you get a damn fine movie.

    To sum it up, I like to say “Every generation thinks they’ve invented sex.” But, of course, they haven’t. It is still the same old story, and our problems don’t amount to a hill of beans.

    Kissing and hugging may be a trend — l’ amour de la mode, or dating game de rigueur, but if it is something more, is it? Or just the same play, with different players . . .

  17. I wouldn’t always let them off if they were great kissers – I might just move on to other orifices that like being kissed, such as ears, nostrils, belly buttons and arsepuckers.
    I once spent an immensely agreeable night at a Barcelona leather club snogging a Catalan whio had come down from the mountains for the night. We were just glued together, without anything else much happening except in other parts of the club. He even gave me lift home to my hotel. A gentleman worth remembering after 7 years.

  18. Hate to say it, Mark, but that’s just a horrible sounding word: “snog” . sounds like something unsavory you do with your nose .

  19. I suspect the reason I don’t always snog is because I want to keep snogging special. A bit like Puritans and sex.

    The interviews were conducted in Bath and the Midlands.

  20. It doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to feel good.

    And if you don’t snog because it feels too good, then you’re either a masochist (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or a Calvinist (with which, in contrast, there is most certainly something wrong)

    Perhaps you’ve spent far too much time writing about modern romance, Mr. S., and not enough time participating in it!

  21. Uroskin: You mean you’d let them off if they snog you nicely? Actually I do like snogging – but usually forgo it because I like it so much. Does that make sense?

  22. Much of showing affection is “common courtesy” depending on cultural norms. I recall my first encounter in college with well turned out educated Greek fellows who would be insulted if you did not exchange kisses on social occasions.

    Some women are happier being Muslims and wearing a burkah, so no one could even see them.

    I believe entirely that if we don’t behave in a more tolerant cosmopolitan way toward each others habits this world is bound to be in a much more horrid state than it’s in. We will have to live side by side with people who are different and not insist that they be the same as us.

    The problem becomes one of tolerance, otherwise we are cursed to bombing and shooting each other so no one is left. Then there won’t be any problems with deviance.

  23. Well, I’m just not the “touchy-feely” sort. Call me old-fashioned, but common courtesy, and a good ole handshake, high five, or slap on the back is good enough for me. No thanks, I do not need a hug.

  24. Of course, MaryLynn, by the same reasoning we can say that we suffer from overexposure to cold impersonal contact. The bottom line psychologically has to do with the degree of confidence one has with themselves and their boundaries. You might take note of the fact that autism is often related to a lack of physical closeness. became psychotic. People do need physical nurturance. It was discovered by the Nazis that babies/children deprived of this become psychotic.

    I don’t think that affection is the kind of thing that if you give too much of it you will run out: it’s one of the few renewable resources we have anymore.

    Today, a crabby old lady gave a bus driver and myself hell for chatting: some people I think are just envious.

    I go with Foucault’s description of male/ male gay friendships as being sublimated sexually and better for that reason. I think that the template can be extended to straight men or women.

    It might get boring if people were having sexual intercourse all over -but that seems like a somewhat different matter

  25. Ummm . . . I don’t like PDA’s (public displays of affection), no matter who is doing it. If it is a short, quick, genuine display of emotion, fine. But if it is done for effect, well, please spare us. I’m against the trend of hugging and kissing in public, which has become increasingly popular in all sectors.

    Last night SNL featured a same sex kiss (male on male), which was the climax of motorcycle cop buddy skit. ‘Ambiguously Gay Duo’ was funny in its time, but this particular brand of humor is becoming harder to pull off. However, Fred Armisen’s sniggering Liberace played against Vincent Price still gets by on vintage camp.

    I suppose it becomes a question of overexposure.

  26. A damn fine thing, too. It’s about time men enjoyed some of the peace-of-mind that comes from unselfconscious emotional intimacy, the way women enjoy it. Is it sexual? Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares? Men have suffered because we interpreted all forms of emotional comfort as having a sexual dimension. Time for us not to feel bad about comforting ourselves.

  27. When I played soccer in College, there were certainly Greeks and I think French guys who would kiss but not on the lips. I think that Mark s. has an article somewhere about the phenomenon of young straight guys using triple x’s (xxx). It’s not that uncommon here for fellows to hug if they know each other.

    I remember thinking through most of my life that kissing had no place in sexual encounters. More a sign of affection, I suppose.

  28. The phenomenon of young males putting a x on the end of text messages is interesting, too, i think. I had come to notice that all the guys I knew in their early twenties were doing this, and that it was a matter of indifference whether they were gay or straight. Utterly normal, unselfconscious, and rather sweet.

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