Tag Archives: alcohol

Rugby, Riverdance and Bar Fly Masculinities

25 May

My wife and I recently travelled to Edinburgh to celebrate a Scottish friend’s 40th birthday. The party was held in a local rugby club, and coincidently on the day of the party, Ireland was playing against Scotland in an important rugby match. We arrived in time to watch the rugby and have a pre-party drink with other Irish friends who had also made the journey over. At this point you may notice, I said it was “an important rugby match”, which to the astute observer might reveal my rugby ignorance. I am not a big sports fan, actually I don’t watch any sport and I don’t really know anything about rugby. Even my in-laws, who are staunch rugby fanatics – professional appreciators of the sport some might say, have lost all hope of trying to convert me and fuel my interest in the game.

My rugby ignorance became noticeable to others early into the match, and for the remainder of the game, the other men took the proverbial out of my sporting ineptitude. It was tongue and cheek; the other men roared laughing at their jokes (and at me) and I took it as it was intended, a bit of fun. However, this type of interaction highlights how some men do masculinity.

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Men In Skirts – A Pub Full Of Them …

17 Jun

I had a surreal experience recently.  Imagine if you will a stereotypical Irish pub in the centre of Dublin dominated by men; one that is normally full of crusty old regulars propped at the bar watching football and giving out about the weather, politicians and the price of water.  Now imagine the same pub swarmed by men in skirts … big hurley burley beer drinking macho men all wearing skirts … well that is exactly the scene I witnessed!  And it got me thinking, thinking about masculinities (yeah, yeah I know I am always thinking about masculinities!).

Football fans might guess the context for this story.  I was out for a social pint with colleagues and as it happened the Irish football team was playing in a European qualifier with Scotland, in Dublin.  Scottish football fans had come over to the Irish capital in their droves for the match, and in traditional Scottish style many of our Celtic brothers donned kilts.  After the match, Scottish fans flooded the pub my colleagues and I were socialising in.  The atmosphere was rowdy but jovial.  The Guinness was flowing like the Liffey, and the Irish and Scottish football fans exchanged witty jibes and taunts followed by loud bursts of laughter.  I was too preoccupied talking sociology with my colleagues to have noticed the extent of this flood of men in skirts, until I turned around and went to the little boys room.

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Irish Men Talking Drugs – Alcohol, Puke and the Twelve Pubs

3 Dec
From Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

People talk about drugs all the time, most often unbeknownst to themselves.   I’d wager however that if you were to ask a random person, whether they think they talk about drugs very often, they would most likely reply “no” or “not much”. My generalization is based on my own professional experiences delivering drug education and prevention programs with young people and adults. I talk to people on a daily basis about drugs, all types of drugs. In Ireland, as in many other places, illicit drug use carries huge stigma. When I begin a drug conversation, no matter whether it is with a young person or adult, invariably when I say drug … they think illicit. This reveals much about drug(s) as a social construct, and as word that is hugely value laden. Drug talk in Ireland is taboo, especially when talking about personal drug use or family drug use, and even more so when such drug use is illicit.

However, Irish people generally have no problem talking about a stranger’s illicit drug use. Nor for that matter do they have any difficulty in talking about alcohol, in fact many revel in it. It’s a regular occurrence to hear Irish people talk about being on a night out and how much alcohol they drank, and how drunk they were. Irish people have an exhaustive list of weird and wonderful words and phrases for being drunk – “hammered”, “squiffy”, “pissed”, “blotto-ed”, “skuttered”, “gee-eyed”, “bo-jangled”, “twisted”, “bolloxed”, “three sheets to the wind”, “langered”, “ossafied”, “lamped” and the list goes on! This is drug talk, yet very few Irish would consider it as such. This is because very few Irish would include alcohol in their construct of a drug.

My own PhD research is interested in Irish men’s views on men’s recreational use of illicit drugs, and how illicit recreational drug use contributes to the construction, display or maintenance of specific masculinities.

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The Men Who Stare at Beer

1 Oct
by ClayDarcy

by ClayDarcy

Train-watching (aka ‘railfanning’) men and plane-watching men are synonymous with England, men who (allegedly) stare at goats synonymous with America; however, in Ireland if one looks in the right places you can find the men who stare at beer! I recently witnessed an animated conversation between two men that sparked my attention and got me thinking about these beer gazers. The conversation I witnessed brought to my mind a quintessential image associated with old Irish pubs: a lone man sitting at the bar or small table staring into a cold pint of beer or stout.   Usually this man is silent and still, occasionally he might throw a comment or two to the bar man or fellow beer gazer … if he feels obliged or inclined.

The conversation I witnessed went a little like this:

First Man (FM): Why didn’t you go out the other night?
Second Man (SM): Because I had no one to go out with.
FM: What do you mean?
SM: It would have been too late by the time I got to the pub and there wouldn’t have been anyone there I would have known.
FM: Could you not have rang someone and said “Hey are you coming down for a pint?” Or what about ya man Andy? Would he not have been there?
SM: It was too late. It would have been last orders by the time I got there.
FM: Are you telling me that you wouldn’t go into a pub by yourself for a pint?
SM: No, I wouldn’t go into a pub by myself, I would have to meet people there. You can’t just go in by yourself … on your own … I’d have to be meeting others, you know?
FM: WHAT? [total disbelief]… A real man can walk into a pub by himself get a pint and read a paper or just sit at the bar or whatever – A REAL MAN!

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Girls, Boys, Booz and Bad Behavior

26 Feb

Source: The Independent onlineMost people are familiar with celebrity personal trainer Jillian Michaels’. Like most A-listers these days she’s investing in everything including a podcast where she doles out pop-culture-style advice about how to live in a healthy body. You know, the kind that really tries to be armchair psychology more than anything else. In a recent episode titled Girls and Booz she responds with moral fervor to the Emily Yoffe Slate article College Women: Stop Getting Drunk which discusses the relationship between rising rates of college binge drinking, particularly among young women, and female sexual assault. Yoffe’s main point is that rising rates of sexual assault on college campuses might be a reflection of our failure as family, friends, teachers (presumably more experienced folk) to tell young women that when they ‘render themselves defenseless [by getting wasted to point of incapacitation] terrible things can be done to them’ [sexual assault]. Michaels’, in agreement with Yoffe, adds that young women who choose to dress sexy in situations where heavy drinking is likely to happen are ultimately ‘playing with fire’ or ‘putting themselves directly in harms way’.

Both women suggest that, as a society, we’ve become reluctant to make girls and women responsible for their reckless behavior because it might resemble blame should something awful happen. All of this urgently calls for major changes in how we educate young people (but really girls) about self respect and bodily responsibility. Michaels, a parent to a son and a daughter, says that this should start in the home. I don’t disagree. Education is an integral part of any sort of prevention and of course family life is a fundamental part of how we come to know ourselves and the world. What we’re taught in the home can unwittingly be as much a part of the problem as it is the solution though. Michaels’ claims that she’s wants her daughter to know that she doesn’t have to cheapen herself [with compromising behavior like provocative dress and binge drinking] to get attention and she wants her son to know that true male power and prowess ‘…is being able to sleep with a girl because she wants to’. Hmm.

Heavy drinking can cause both men and women to behave in ways that are potentially detrimental but men are almost expected to get to that dangerous state of drunkenness where doing something inappropriate to another or themselves becomes even more likely. In the last few months a social media drinking ‘game’ has surfaced in Ireland and the U.K., claiming the lives of several young men. The idea behind ‘neknomination’, as it’s called, is to accept the dare to ‘neck’ or down a pint of alcohol while being recorded so that it can be uploaded online. Dares, which become increasingly dangerous as a way to one-up the next, are passed back and forth on a given night resulting in the consumption of very high volumes of alcohol over a relatively short period of time. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it. Judging by the spate of online videos and images it’s something that appeals more to men than women, but women are still participating. This sort of thing is an example of what Yoffe is referencing when she argues in her article that matching men drink for drink has been turned into an expression of feminism among young women. Unfortunately, both she and Michaels take a position that is all too familiar in that it heavy-handedly makes the reality of drink-related risk a burden that women must disproportionately manage or mitigate. More to the point, they fall into the paradigmatic trap that ‘boys will be boys’ and therefore it’s girls that must change.

What it means to be a ‘real man’ or put another way, boys just being boys, is in everything. This gets into our language and informs our practice by adapting itself to a number of moral arguments (like this one). Unfortunately it’s less the social exception and more the rule to the extent that it can infiltrate our perspective without us even seeing it. For example, Michaels’ wants her son to grow up to be a man who respects women but at the same time she believes there’s a fine line between being a good man and being emasculated. Her son’s ability to understand this concerns her because of his familial environment. He has two mommies, a female nanny, an older sister and a very involved grandmother. What she’s saying without actually saying it is that being surrounded by mostly women might result in him being more feminine and by direct consequence, less good (i.e. manly). This historical idea that what is good is masculine and what is truly masculine is good is at the heart of the bigger gender disparity issue at-play that permeates Western culture from above and below. It’s tired and frustrating and although it’s a root in a decaying tree that’s losing the stability to sustain itself, its remaining strength is reinforced by Michaels’ and many others who so badly want to be part of the solution but just end up being more of the same and by default, part of the problem.

Further reading:

Bachman, R. and Peralta, R. (2002) The relationship between drinking and violence in an adolescent population: does gender matter?, Deviant Behavior, 23(1) pp. 1-19

Cowley, A. D. (2013) “Let’s Get Drunk and Have Sex”: The Complex Relationship of Alcohol, Gender, and Sexual Victimization, Journal of interpersonal violence, 0886260513506289

Herman-Kinney, N. J. and Kinney, D. A. (2013) Sober as Deviant The Stigma of Sobriety and How Some College Students “Stay Dry” on a “Wet” Campus, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 42(1) pp. 64-103

Messman-Moore, T. L., Ward, R. M. and DeNardi, K. A. (2013) The Impact of Sexual Enhancement Alcohol Expectancies and Risky Behavior on Alcohol-Involved Rape Among College Women, Violence against women, 19(4) pp. 449-464

Miller, K. E., Melnick, M. J., Farrell, M. P., Sabo, D. F. and Barnes, G. M. (2006) Jocks, gender, binge drinking, and adolescent violence, Journal of interpersonal violence, 21(1) pp. 105-120

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