Male hug

Pound hug

A stylized greeting, exclusively performed between two males, the pound hug (also referred to as a "pound shake," "man hug," "dude hug," ""shug""or a "hip-hop hug") consists of a combination of a handshake and one-armed hug. Unlike the traditional hug, which symbolically and effectively removes interpersonal barriers and unites the two persons embracing, the male hug – performed by keeping the right hand locked in handshake while the left arm wraps around the other's shoulder – interposes the obstacle of the two right arms to the joining of the two bodies. While a common variant of this hug does not include the handshake but rather uses both arms to embrace , it still retains the essential ingredient of the double slap on the back, a symbol of masculinity that underlies the true meaning behind the hug as an admittance of affection while still maintaining distance so as not to appear "un-manly".

The origin of this hug is not clear. It is a manifestation of hip-hop culture, from which it has spread out into western society. It is used mostly by young people, particularly high school students and college students; however, it is not limited to any one race, culture or class.

Cultural aspects

Greetings will vary from culture to culture. Certain cultures, such as the Chinese or Japanese, are seen as low-touch cultures, in which men are more likely to bow to each other. Other cultures, such as the Central Asian, the Middle Eastern, and the Mediterranean, are characterized by a marked physical intimacy between men. Still other cultures, such as the American, are an amalgam between the two, and the male hug is seen as reflective of those values.

Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University professor of Black popular culture, states that when with men, he'll use a certain kind of hug - as long as the other guy also is Black. "If I was greeting a White guy, I would probably never go for the hug, it would always immediately be the handshake," says Neal. "In the case of Black males, particularly around my age, 40, it's the hip-hop hug: a handshake, you pull yourselves together, and you bump."



Mark Morman at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, identifies elements of the male hug such as the obstacle of the interposed hands, the distance of the bodies and the macho slapping on the back as driven by homophobia and fear, as men of certain groups do not wish to be seen by others while embracing another man. Other sources comment on American men being "plagued by fear of hugging," with some men afraid of hugging or being hugged, and others afraid of being considered "super gay."


The main point of this hug is to assert one's masculinity, claims Kory Floyd of Arizona State University. He is led to this conclusion by what he calls the "A-frame" configuration of the hug: the bodies do not touch except at the shoulders, which only touch briefly, as another of the characteristics of the hip-hop hug is its brevity, usually lasting for a second or less. This hug is generally not used in environments which are seen to intrinsically validate one's masculinity, such as sports, where traditional full-body bear hugs are common.

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