Rumble, not rumba, in jungle

2011-03-18 09:25

My light-skinned friend with wavy hair and a pet rottweiler had a stint at ballroom ­dancing when we were kids. But go easy: you remind him of this at your peril. The guy has ­developed a penchant for fisticuffs and hard living, you see.

His days of tight, shiny pants and silky shirts are long gone. And he’s quick with his tongue too, saying to those who’d dare talk about it: “My left hook will be just as memorable.” Unless there are girls around and he thinks dancing will score him some sensitivity points.

But apparently there are girls who like their men macho and rough, so there’ll be no ballroom reminiscing around these types. A man’s got to play tough!

My friend’s behaviour got me thinking recently that ours is a world run on the cult of ­machismo.

This is a tough guy’s world and in a culture obsessed with “keeping it real”, it shouldn’t be surprising that our boys grow up into ­chauvinist homophobes.

The truth is that I actually think society secretly hopes we turn out that way.

No father – or mother – wants a sissy for a son. So we learn to play-fight for pleasure, as girls are taught to keep to their dolls.

I recently observed a mother caution her young son against ­playing with girls. She said: “You won’t grow into a clever man if you keep playing with girls.”

Is this perhaps where, as boys, we first learn misogyny? Is it fair to suggest that here lay the roots of violence against lesbian women who fall victim to “corrective rape”?

After all, the logic given for such assaults is that these women are disobeying some gender code and must be put back into the realm of dolls.

In my neighbourhood, if you came home crying after receiving a good thrashing from a tougher counterpart on the streets, you were likely to be sent back packing by a father who’d demand that you go and regain your ­honour.

And what could you do? You made a plan using sticks and stones if you thought they were necessary to help you win, and you’d be celebrated for it.

The motivation was simple: ­People like a man who can fight. Think of our beloved boxing or martial arts heroes.

It’s in our language, too, where phrases like “be a man” or its edgy alternative “grow some balls”, are thrown at the first sign of ­“malleability” in male behaviour.

So, I think it’s time we came off our PC pretensions. Ours is a ­society that actually celebrates homophobes, and we cherish a chauvinist brand of masculinity.

That’s our style. Otherwise, why would my friend be embarrassed to admit that while we got into boxing and karate, he chose the cha-cha? ­Rumba in the jungle doesn’t sell as hard as rumble in the jungle.

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