February 15, 2014

NYT frontpage teaser: "Focused on strength and bonding, [football] has a homoerotic component."

That surprised me, because it feels really old-fashioned, a throwback to a time when supposedly deep thinkers and culture critics thought it was intriguingly perceptive to describe something as unwittingly exhibiting homosexual tendencies. That was when sophisticated people thought they'd be admired for basing their insights on what was presumed to be a shared understanding that it was embarrassing or shameful to seem gay. Of course, the New York Times does not want to unwittingly exhibit the tendency to seem like those benighted people of not that long ago, and it's certainly not how one basks in one's own sophistication today. So, as I said, I was surprised.

Here's the underlying article, an op-ed by Nicholas Dawidoff, author of "Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football." Researching his book, hanging out with the New York Jets, Dawidoff says that "at times," he "found the atmosphere intensely homophobic." Example, a coach reviewing film of a game might criticize a play by calling it "gay porn." Dawidoff, apparently taking his own word "homophobic" literally, asks "What were these big, strong men so afraid of?"

Dawidoff notes that players and coaches spend lots of time together, much of it in small rooms. "It really is intimate." They like this close association and speak of mutual love. He leaps from that brotherly love to sexual love:
The very nature of football, focused as it is on strength, virility, grace and manly bonding, has an obvious homoerotic component for those who play and for those who watch. 
The word "obvious" is supposed to keep you from seeing what to me is obvious, that he swapped one kind of love for another. Eros for philia.
Part of the reason homosexuality is anathema in football, the reason gay players hide their sexual identity and fear rumors will keep them from getting drafted, is the worry that the affection could go too far and force the rest of the team to confront something uncomfortable in their bonds.
Oh, come on! Who's the homophobe here?! Heterosexual male athletes are afraid that their friendships will feel sexual? That's not my understanding of male heterosexuality. I haven't interviewed every heterosexual male on this subject, but I don't think heterosexual men worry that if they hang around indoors with their male friends long enough, there will be blow jobs.

79 comments:

Oso Negro said...

Correct, Professor! Blowjobs from male friends has never crossed the mind of this male heterosexual. Or am I a cis-gendered male? I forget.

David said...

Team sports create intimacy among men?

I thought men were incapable of intimacy.

Fen said...

See. This is the problem with homosexuality - it turns the noble bonds that men form with one another into perversion.

I think thats why its considered a Sin.

traditionalguy said...

NYT probably will also see teachers in schools being pedophilophobic about their natural lust for prepubescent children being expressed anytime.

Where have the sociable mores that create safe people all gone? The answer my friend is blowing in the pagan post-Christian winds.

Laslo Spatula said...

Blow jobs are the 'gateway drug' to anal sex.

Shouting Thomas said...

When I read this article this morning, I knew you'd post on it, Althouse.

This is freshman year in college BS. High testosterone men like football players are much less likely to be gay.

Homophobia could, after all, be a reasonable response to the threat of dying from shitting yourself to death from AIDS.

I guess we should just soldier on in spite of it, huh teach?

Ann Althouse said...

If putting heterosexual men in a room with other heterosexual men made them want to have sex with each other, then putting a homosexual man in a room with women should make him want to have sex with women. Homosexuality would be curable.

Meade said...

"hanging out with the New York Jets"

Say no more.

Shouting Thomas said...

The traditional cultures idea of how gays should live is what you call "hypocrisy," not "cure," Althouse.

As a primitive child of the 60s, I know that hypocrisy is the worst thing that could ever happen to a person.

The traditional cultures believe that children have responsibilities to their parents, and vice versa. You are permanently stuck in adolesence, so you concern yourself only with the desires of the child.

The desire for grandchildren to continue one's lineage is a primal desire of all animals. You've labeled it "homophobia."

In the traditional cultures, the sexual desires of the individual are sublimated to the needs of the adult culture. Everybody owes their parents offspring.

You're a very childish woman. You refuse to acknowledge the obvious.

Shouting Thomas said...

Let the denunciations begin!

People who disagree with Althouse and Meade are bigots!

rhhardin said...

The NYT missed the homoerotic component in airplane-owning guys standing around the airport all day on weekends.

Apparently getting out of the house escaped them too, which is more evidence.

kovacs said...

I've long thought football was really gay. The garishly colored, tight costumes; the ass-slapping; the grappling and lying on top of one another. That's why the useless "cheerleaders" are there. To reassure the viewers of this obviously gay spectacle.

Shouting Thomas said...

The cheerleaders are there, kovacs, for the very obvious reason that the girls involved want to get laid by big, athletic, rich young men, hope to land one of those men, and because men like to look at girls.

Tarrou said...

Well, allow me to draw a parallel from something I know nothing of (football), to something I know a lot about (the military).

There is a tendency for close-knit groups of men without females to act in ways that would seem "gay" to outside observers, but which profoundly are not to the participants. Freed from the need to impress anyone sexually, the weird and quasi-sexual becomes simply another humor venue. The real key is a lack of sexualization (strange, because everything to young men is sexual), the complete security that no one is angling to get laid.

The tittering and juvenile judgmentalism of those who have not experienced a bond with their fellow men at this level says everything about them, and nothing about men who are closer to each other than they ever will be to any sexual partner.

Men are often assumed to prize sexual relationships above all, because of the male drive for sex. What is anathema to women and lesser men is the idea that men's closest bonds will always be with men. So they sexualize it, mock it as simultaneously gay and homophobic. It is only masculinity. Pure and unadulterated (in the most straightforward meaning of the word). The security in oneself, one's sexuality and one's place in the unit to behave as one likes. The neo-puritans just can't take that. A bunch of guys who care more for each other than anything, and are unimpeachibly masculine? Call 'em gay!

Heyooyeh said...

Althouse--you might want to read that paragraph again to make sure it says what you thinking says...because it doesn't.

betamax3000 said...

Cheerleader Camp has a Strong Homoerotic Content. I Hope.

Oso Negro said...

Only Betamax can save this thread.

betamax3000 said...

There is a Bond Among Women Who Are Secure in Knowing They Need Not Ask "Does My Cheerleading Skirt Make My Ass Look Fat?" Comfortable in Their Own Skin. In the Shower, Especially.

traditionalguy said...

NFL as entertainment is actually a sadism cult popular for the same reasons as cock fighting and dog fighting are popular.

Football itself is not a gay sexual fetish. Football is also how young men get the cheerleaders. Apparently gay men getting gay men is not so hard to do that a guy will volunteer to go through that much violence to get him one.

Shouting Thomas said...

Did you force Meade to sit through a Woody Allen chick flick, then retire to the wine bar for a three hour "our relationship" discussion last night, Althouse?

Talk about homoerotic.

No truly heterosexual man would sit through a Woody Allen movie.

AReasonableMan said...

Shouting Thomas said...
No truly heterosexual man would sit through a Woody Allen movie.


Like the proverbial million monkeys with typewriters, statistics decree that from ST's dense thicket of logorrhea something both funny and truthful would eventually emerge.

vigilante_cat said...

The extent to which homosexuality remains uncharted territory in the NFL and NBA may have less to do with "hypermasculinity" than with the strident, occasionally violent, homophobia that predominates among urban-bred blacks who constitute the majority of those leagues' athletes; of course we're not allowed to talk about that so blame must be assigned elsewhere, to their conniving white coaches or the stodgy white male team owners…

betamax3000 said...

In Cheerleading Camp Tuesdays Are Reserved for the Development of Proper Pelvic Thrust Technique. Much of this Practice Focuses on Perfecting the Perfect Pelvic Thrust Facial Expression, the One That Winks "Oh My, Is this Naughty?" Rather Than the One That Says "I Work at the Strip Club by the Airport." A Lot Has to Do with the Eyes. Hard Work.

Pogo is Dead said...

Progressivist culture is a cancer.

Everything they touch turns to shit.

My advice is maximum intolerance toward everything they say and do.

Mark O said...

Everything is gay. Get over it.

SGT Ted said...

It only has a homoerotic component if you are a homo. If you are straight, it doesn't.

AReasonableMan said...

Pogo is Dead said...
Progressivist culture is a cancer.

Everything they touch turns to shit.


Clearly universal education had the predicted effect in this case.

SGT Ted said...

The tittering and juvenile judgmentalism of those who have not experienced a bond with their fellow men at this level says everything about them, and nothing about men who are closer to each other than they ever will be to any sexual partner.

Men are often assumed to prize sexual relationships above all, because of the male drive for sex. What is anathema to women and lesser men is the idea that men's closest bonds will always be with men. So they sexualize it, mock it as simultaneously gay and homophobic.


This.

Saint Croix said...

supposedly deep thinkers and culture critics thought it was intriguingly perceptive to describe something as unwittingly exhibiting homosexual tendencies.

It's a liberal form of insult. You don't like football? Call it secretly gay.

See, for instance, all the jokes about Larry Craig. Don't like Republicans? Call them secretly gay.

The use of the term "homophobe" is an attempt to portray Republicans as haters and bigots. It's rather like "racist" in that regard--just another insult, another way to attack human beings.

At the same time the liberal calls you a homophobe, he would also suggest that you are secretly gay. That too is meant as an insult. So now you are hateful and a bigot and secretly gay, you three-time loser.

That's why the this article reads like a liberal who didn't get the memo. He's feeling superior to the football players who are secretly gay (ha!) and homophobic (double ha!), and he's forgotten that gay is no longer an appropriate insult.

SGT Ted said...

The problem with the gays and pro-gay culture is that they think everything is about fucking.

Pogo is Dead said...

I'm just not as gullible as I once was. Skeptical enquiry, the scientific method, led me out of the ashes.

SGT Ted said...

S.T. is apparently reading while drunk and doesn't realize that Althouse is MOCKING this article and the notions it puts forth.

S.T. you are off the rails on this one. Sober up and try again.

SGT Ted said...

The entire pop-psych effort to psychoanalize sports culture is an attempt of people to assert that they have insight into something they really have no clue about.

What this is, is the geeks trying to cut down the jocks by claiming they are really closet homos. Ann is right that the entire exercise is homophobic in application.

Ann Althouse said...

"I've long thought football was really gay. The garishly colored, tight costumes; the ass-slapping; the grappling and lying on top of one another. That's why the useless "cheerleaders" are there. To reassure the viewers of this obviously gay spectacle."

That's exactly the kind of observation that first paragraph of my post is referring to. You used to hear that kind of thing all the time. It's fallen out of fashion, as I noted. It's funny to crack jokes about that when you're among friends watching TV and it seems to be the locker room humor that Dawidoff is calling homophobic. (The coaches review a play and ridicule it as "gay porn.")

Ann Althouse said...

But to go from that to thinking that the heterosexual players are actually afraid of their sexual feelings toward each other is a big leap.

Ann Althouse said...

"Men are often assumed to prize sexual relationships above all, because of the male drive for sex. What is anathema to women and lesser men is the idea that men's closest bonds will always be with men. So they sexualize it, mock it as simultaneously gay and homophobic."

I think there is a widespread assumption that men do prefer their male friendships and that the female sex partners are more interchangeable and temporary, and that in fact replacing one woman with another is a good idea. Men may "prize" having sex with women "above all," but that doesn't automatically correlate with having a deeply dimensional relationship with any particular woman.

That might irk women, who want more from a man, and it's easy to jump to some homophobic jokes from there. Whether the women who talk like that literally think the males are having sex with their male friends is another matter. Seems doubtful.

betamax3000 said...

If the Practices at Cheerleading Camp are Not Homoerotic It Means There Is Much, Much More Work to be Done.

Bob Ellison said...

This reminds me of several jokes involving trees, sidewalks, and ethnic minorities.

betamax3000 said...

The Pom Poms are Necessary to Keep the Hands Busy: without Pom Poms the Cheerleaders' hands Would Gravitate to the Breats of Other Cheerleaders. Inevitable.

Big Mike said...

... but I don't think heterosexual men worry that if they hang around indoors with their male friends long enough, there will be blow jobs.

We don't. I think the Times needs a few more manly men on its editorial staff so they don't make this sort of blunder so often.

pst314 said...

Tarrou 8:38AM
Well said!

Rich Rostrom said...

a time when supposedly deep thinkers and culture critics thought it was intriguingly perceptive to describe something as unwittingly exhibiting homosexual tendencies. That was when sophisticated people thought they'd be admired for basing their insights on what was presumed to be a shared understanding that it was embarrassing or shameful to seem gay.

To me, it always seemed like the "critic" was mocking some traditional institution (whose members overtly rejected homosexuality) for being itself homosexual without the members realizing it.

sydney said...

Everyone knows that wrestling is the truly homoerotic sport.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Tarrou,
Very well said. In the shared dangers and challenges of the military, you absolutely depend on the others to accomplish the goals/mission AND to stay alive. Over an extended period of time, this creates extremely close bonds. Football has some of these same characteristics, to a lesser degree.

Shouting Thomas said...

If only the women would learn to give a decent blow job, the ranks of the homo men would thin dramatically.

Ever since "Deep Throat" the women have bitching about how oppressive it is to give a decent blow job.

If you'd only learn from the gay men, girls...

Wishful thinking, huh?

Fen said...

Tarrou gets it.

And says it better than I could.

BrianE said...

The intellectual idiots of the chattering class are determined to normalize homosexuality even if by doing so their utter stupidity is revealed.

All across the country,I sense a collective 'really? this is what the smart people think?'

It's time for a thinning of the herd.

RecChief said...

a while ago, a "progressive" acquaintance told me that conservatives politicize everything. yes you read that correctly, that's what she said.

RecChief said...

Althouse said....
"Homosexuality would be curable."

It's not? I've been told two contradictory things over the years:
1. It's a choice (in which case it would be "curable")
2. It's genetic (with the mapping of the genome, experiments in genetic surgery, etc. perhaps someday identifying the gene that causes homosexuality would then be "curable")

Think about that. Personally, I don't give a shit what consenting adults do behind closed doors, but it seems to me that there are a lot of people who resist having a particular viewpoint forced on them (that cuts both ways). It's not like hollywood and tv haven't pushed the primacy if homosexual males on the rest of us at every turn. Karma.

AJ Lynch said...

Last week, the media and others were wringing their hands about traumatic brain injuries to pro football players.

This week, the media is joyous that a gay man may now get a traumatic brain injury from pro football!

Saint Croix said...

Everyone knows that wrestling is the truly homoerotic sport.

Oh, I dunno, I think you're seeing things.

pst314 said...

Tarrou, do you remember the "Men on Books" sketches on the old comedy show "In Living Color"?
The two hilariously over-the-top gay reviewers would see homosexual content where it did not exist, and would rate everything in terms of how much it titillated them.

SocialllyExtinct said...

I think there is an air to legitimacy in the NYT story, however the focus is all off.

The players are not where the homo-eroticism lies. It's the fans.

Many male football fans are hosting a repressed sense of homosexual awe in watching men in tights and pronounced shoulders banging into each other like bumper cars. The lens needs to be shifted from the field to the stands.

This is where the true gayness lives.

Drago said...

ARM:"Clearly universal education had the predicted effect in this case."

Clearly universal education as conceived and executed by leftists has had this predicted effect.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/03/80-of-nyc-high-school-grads-not-illiterate.html

Ebonics.

"Alternative School".

Whole Math.

Most teachers not actually degree'd in the subjects they teach.

Collages for math assignments.

Complete failure in international standings for Math and Science coinciding with a rise in the capture of academia and teaching methods/instructions by the left.

Yep.

Nothing to see here.

Move along.

William said...

"You ass is grass, and I'm the lawn mower." As I remember, basic training was nothing but a long string of homoerotic/homophobic insults......Maybe when men live in such close proximity, they need to reassure each other that nothing's going on. The plus side of homophobia is that it keeps homoeroticism in check.

B said...

SGT Ted said...The problem with the gays and pro-gay culture is that they think everything is about fucking.

Same problem permeates the war on women charade.

Ambrose said...

I remember as a teenager often tying to get girls to join us in a friendly game of tackle football. I also remember why we did this.

pst314 said...

SocialllyExtinct "I think there is an air to legitimacy in the NYT story, however the focus is all off. The players are not where the homo-eroticism lies. It's the fans."

Not unless you watch games with gay men.

Paco Wové said...

"statistics decree that from ST's dense thicket of logorrhea something both funny and truthful would eventually emerge."

(Golf clap)

Kelly said...

Soldiers sleep together, shower together, eat together, live or die together. I noticed when my husband came home from his first tour in Iraq, whenever he saw a fellow soldier he had served with they greeted each other with the man hug, basically a shoulder to shoulder hug while gripping hands and accompanied by a lot of back slapping. Maybe I should wonder what went on in the sleeping bags after dark?

Birches said...

Our society has sexualized everything; it has become impossible to not see things in a sexual context, even when none is intended.

Check out this story on old time male affection for a real idea about how men will act when there is no sexual context present.

Jupiter said...

"If putting heterosexual men in a room with other heterosexual men made them want to have sex with each other, then putting a homosexual man in a room with women should make him want to have sex with women. Homosexuality would be curable."

Interesting idea, Althouse. Wouldn't it also mean that heterosexuality would be curable? Or are we in agreement, that homosexuality is an unfortunate disability, which one would like to "cure", while heterosexuality is a normal and desirable state?

Kelly said...

Birches, that is so true! When my daughter was in the fifth grade I had her read Anne of Green Gables. Anyone who has read the books knows that Anne is overly dramatic, especially on her relationship with her "bosom" friend, Diana. About halfway through the book my daughter asked me if Anne was a lesbian! I found it sad she thought that, but I'm not surprised with the way everything is sexualized.

Birches said...

@ Kelly

I used to think the same thing about Anne Frank.

Craig said...

My life plan was to join the NFL until the football coach in 8th grade explained that it's a contact sport and to succeed players really needed to enjoy physical contact. I had always assumed that the idea of the game was to avoid getting hit. That's when I took up competitive swimming.

Steve said...

The tighter the hetro philia component in a relationship the larger the concern about the perception of eros. Sitting next to a gay guy and talking at the coffee machine raises no concerns, being locked in a submarine together for three months raises more. Football players wear spandex and shower in each other's presence so they are kind of on the hairy edge of blow jobs anyway. Football players have to talk a big game ahead of time about how they aren't gay and how they aren't sure if a gay guy will fit into the culture. After making this show a gay guy that can block and tackle will be welcomed into the fold.

Forbes said...

Ambrose: We'd have the girls join us--it would be tackle if a guy had the ball and two-hand touch if a girl had the ball. To this day, I'm not certain they got the joke of "two-hand touch" or that they liked it...

dbp said...

Back when I was in high school I didn't like NFL football. Probably a lot of it stems from the fact that televisions were small and low resolution. It seemed as pointless then as soccer does now.

I would rag on my dad about how gay football was. But even then I knew that it was just a tactic that would work to push his buttons. I am a lot less of an asshole now, but it is interesting that I had more self-awareness as a teen aged boy than the current NYT op-ed writers do now.

Scott M said...

Bart: "Mom, Lisa's trying to ruin football now!"

Scott M said...

Bart: "Mom, Lisa's trying to ruin football now!"

rcocean said...

Hunting and Fishing = homoerotic

eric said...

When I first started working on the Southern Border, I met a lot of Filipino men who were retired from the US Navy. I'd never met a Filipino before, let alone lot's of them. I found I like them quite a bit, most of them anyway. And they had lot's of stories of home and I was interested in hearing about the Philippines.

One story I was told struck me as sad, yet was meant to be funny.

In the Philippines you could join the US Navy and become a US Citizen because we had a naval base there (Not anymore). It was a good way to climb the ladder, so to speak. But many of these Filipino men didn't know English very well or American culture. It is a common thing for Filipino men to sit together with their arms around one another, in the sense of, if he is on your left, you lift your left arm and put it around your buddies shoulders.

After joining the Navy, these guys would sit together on a bench or something, and put their arm over their buddies shoulder as they sat together. They soon learned from American shoulders that this meant they were "Gay" if they did this. So they stopped doing it.

I read something not too long ago that said Abraham Lincoln was gay because he slept in a bed with another man.

The left and the gay culture would like us to believe it's normal, so everything becomes gay. You can't hug your buddies anymore. You certainly can't share a bed with them. You can't put your arms around them. Any sign of male on male affection is seen as gay.

What a terrible thing the left does to us.

eric said...

Birches wrote;

"Check out this story on old time male affection for a real idea about how men will act when there is no sexual context present."

Is it just me, or in the picture of the two guys on the beach laying one on top of the other, is the guy on top Obama?

If it wasn't a black and white picture, I'd think that guy was President Obama. Wish I could put it here.

paul a'barge said...

http://greenlightbookstore.com/files/greenlight/Dawidoff__Nicholas.jpg

Let me guess. Homo.

n.n said...

I didn't realize that headhunters, or rather penis hunters, are so aggressive in their recruitment efforts. The competition with women must be brutal.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birches said...

Holy crap! I have never laughed so hard in my life.

Maybe he's a time traveler. . . .

eric said...

Birches wrote;

"Holy crap! I have never laughed so hard in my life.

Maybe he's a time traveler. . . ."

So it's not just me then right? It looks like President Obama.

Birches said...

@ eric

It really does. I was a little skeptical when I went over there to look for the picture, but the second I saw it there was no doubt.