#ManHug: The Men who MANtain and the Men Who Hug.

As White Ribbon launches a movement asking men to open up and connect,  Jeff Perera looks back at how Higher Unlearning was born and the reason White Ribbon started #ManHug

So Gentlemen, are you familiar with the ‘Bro-Hug’ ?


Or maybe you do ‘The Side Hug’?

bat hug

You see, hugs can be awkward for some guys…


Enter the Bro Hug: it’s how some men hug one another. It’s an excited and energized but ‘safe’ hug, a half-ass hug. I’m sure you know it.


Yeah, you’ve seen it, maybe you do it.

The play by play action is an enthusiastic handshake as the dudes approach, they then pull another closer while keeping the handshake between them as a ‘bro-barricade’,  while leaning in with groins and heads far apart, as the free hand goes around and aggressively slaps the back of the other dude. It is like a handshake/burping motion/man-up exchange of  pleasantries…er…

Here’s a how-to guide:

Bro Hug

Note the fine art of hugging while maintaining as much distance as possible from the other man. It allows for some men to carefully step into the realm of expressing emotion and conveying your companionship with a fellow man without threatening your fragile heterosexual Man-card-carrying sense of self.

It seems for some men, giving other men hugs is kinda…


The Bro Hug is pretty much the equivalent of saying ‘No Homo’ with your Hugs. 

Maintaining…MANtaining if you will.

See folks, it’s all about ‘Protecting and Maintaining your Heterosexual House Of Cards’…

It’s all about maintaining a distance, MANtaining with ‘bro-hugs’ and phrases such as ‘Bro-mance’ because some Men and Young Men need to create ‘permission’ (with peers and with themselves) to express emotion and display concealed sides of their humanity.

Sounds silly?



Now, to be clear, Hugs are not mandatory (to both give or receive) and having a preference to not hug is more about personal space when it comes to hugging anyone. However, when it comes to the ways some men need to ‘hetero-inject’ everything they do, sometimes it makes you want to seriously ask, are we adult men or adult boys? The fear of vulnerability leaves many guys struggling to give hugs, say what we need to say, say what we mean to say. Sometimes in a moment of uncensored joy, men forget the performance of manhood and just embrace. Dismiss it as juvenile or silly, but it is real, and we have ignored the conversation way too long.


So, can we go there, friends? Can we speak on it for a minute?

Fist Of Cuffs

It was almost one year ago when I created a response to a piece Christie Blatchford wrote in a national paper calling Toronto a ‘City of Sissies’ because she saw two boys hugging.


10 and 12 year old boys. Hugging.
Read on in horror:

“There were a couple of boys, maybe 10 years old, maybe 12, walking ahead of me. Coming towards them was another small knot of boys about the same age. The two groups met, and immediately began hugging each another, one at a time… I was mortified and appalled.” 

I read it and thought of parents heeding her call for young men and boys to be manly men, void of emotion and expressing love, compassion, humanity and empathy. This is about real respect for Women and Girls, and the freedom for a wide spectrum of masculinity. In my response I said that “It is time to stand up and provoke the freedom to be a full, whole complete human being. Find the Freedom to Be Who You Are. I give hugs, Christie, full all out hugs. I am a man. ”

 White Ribbon is working to reboot the conversation on what it means to be a man. Here’s our manifesto:

“Gentlemen, it’s time.
Time to write a new code of manhood.
A code as complex and diverse as men…
That frees us to express all emotions.
That demands equality for all and inspires us to play a powerful, positive role…
We believe in men.
Let’s show the world what it means to be one.”

Rather than a room full of men asserting warped ideas of manhood. imagine men giving each other permission to be the best version of themselves? Let’s give guys the tools, one man at a time, one hug at a time. Clay Jones at White Ribbon reflects on the term, saying “we are trying to engage men that are otherwise disengaged, uninterested or don’t even realize the power dynamics that exist in society. In our experience, using a little bit of humour can go a long way to engage people that we would otherwise miss. “Manhug” is a term used often in sports as term to put up a barrier to physical displays of emotion, often going hand in hand with terms like “no homo”


Allowing men to embrace but “not in that way.” We are specifically trying to break down those barriers and encourage men to have real emotional connections. Once “manhug” is normalized, it will just be a “hug.”

…and so #ManHug was born.

Strombo and MANsbridge

  George Stroumboulopoulos and Peter Mansbridge kicked things off online, tweeting their #ManHug.

Jeremy Flowers ads “I think this is a great way to send a message that men showing emotion to each other is just ‘men being men’ without any stigma attached”. By calling it #ManHug, we hope to make this a conversation that Men and Young Men hear, understand and engage in. Re-imaging ideas of masculinity means changing limiting ideas of gender altogether, which benefits us all. The #ManHug is a step towards a day when men hugging men isn’t a big deal across the board and is ‘just’ a hug.

So guys, let’s see you share your #ManHug!

Remember fellas, ask for consent first…and don’t get carried away


And don’t go overboard (no Tigers, Lions, Pumas or Leopards)


so join us! Share your #ManHug with us online today


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5 thoughts on “#ManHug: The Men who MANtain and the Men Who Hug.

  1. Pingback: On White Ribbon’s Be-a-Man.ca launch | New Brunswick Media Co-op

  2. Pingback: Beutiful Magazine Online » Five ways guys are fighting sexism

  3. It’s time that Society writes a new code of manhood.
    A code as complex and diverse as men…
    That frees them to express all emotions.
    That demands equality for all, and inspires men to play a powerful, positive role…
    We believe in men.
    Let’s show the world that it is so…and yes… REAL men DO hug…and cry…and show the entire spectrum of emotions…

  4. I agree. The bro hug is a half-assed hug, indeed. And so obviously fraught with insecurity. Why bother? I’ve seen more real connection in a handshake. People are funny about hugging, not everyone cares for it regardless of gender. But if you’re gonna hug… hug.

  5. Pingback: COME AT ME BRO!! Russell Brand on Men and Conflict Resolution | Higher Unlearning

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