Sunday, November 14, 2010
Punch for Punch
I'd been in the midst of thinking and reading about the issues we'd discussed in class: masculine aggression, competition, and violence in the context of sports, socialization, shame, and alcohol consumption. Fitting that the conversation that I'm about to relate took place in a bar, with the Florida State game on the TV's. FSU scored, so several men in the bar erupted in exaggerated yells of triumph, before hatcheting their arms in the "tomahawk" (along with many women). I brought up my masculinities class (the women I was with were also women's studies students) and mentioned that I should write about the night on the blog, seeing as it so nicely fit in with the themes we've been discussing. At this point, one of my friends (let's call her A) says "speaking of violence, you'll never guess what her boyfriend did the other night," and indicates our mutual friend, K. K tells us that her boyfriend and one of his friends got drunk and decided to try to punch each other in the arms for as long as possible. Literally, the two men proceeded to take turns punching each other in the arm for forty five minutes, competing to see who would stop first. The picture above is what K's boyfriend's friend's arm looked like after this.
I thought the incident pretty well encapsulated the ideas we've been discussing in class; masculine "toughness" conflated with violence, and further reinforced by the presence of alcohol ( furthermore, the night of this conversation about K's boyfriend, like most spent in social situations, was also an opportunity to observe street harassment and the male gaze in action). The themes at work in the "punch for punch" incident are similar to the social forces at work in the culture described in "Athlete Aggression on the Rink and off the Ice."