Assume the Position!

8.10.2006

By Out.com Editors

When I joined my local rugby team, I was made to do terrible, awful things. Even now, all these years later, I feel distressed and choked up recounting what happened. I had to stand on a chair as a full pint of beer was shoved in my groin, soaking it. I then had to drink a yard of ale (three pints in a yard-long horn-shaped glass) with a bucket in front of me. Later, several of us had to run around the rugby pitch stark naked. In January.
I was traumatized. I may never recover. This wasn't what I had signed up for! I want to complain. I'm going to sue! Someone's got to pay. You see, it was a terrible, awful, unforgettable, wounding disappointment. It was just all so'restrained. I had been hoping that we would be performing some of the other bonding and initiation rites that I'd heard about, such as the one where one naked teammate bends over and a pint is poured over his ass, down his crack, and over his sack while another sits underneath him with head back and mouth open. Or the soggy biscuit game: a circle jerk over a cream cracker where the last one to come has to eat it. Or perhaps the carrot game, where a root vegetable is shoved up the rookie's ass and a pink ribbon tied around his erect penis (something to do with the 'carrot,' I suppose), which he has to keep on for two weeks, to be checked at each training session. Frankly, I would have even been happy with the relatively vanilla hazing that all new recruits to a crack U.K. Army regiment have to participate in: According to a straight soldier pal of mine, the 'old-timers' rub their asses and genitals over the faces of the new recruits or 'crows,' as they're called. Sounds like an excellent icebreaker to me. It is just a shame it has to happen only once'why can't you join every day?
But, alas, none of the really juicy stuff for me at my rugby club'just a wet crotch on my jeans and a frost-shriveled penis. Judging by the excited media reports, things would have been very different if I'd been a college freshman in the United States and joined the football team or one of those kinky fraternities with those Greek names. At the University of Vermont the 'elephant walk' is, or was, rather popular: Pledges drink warm beer and walk naked in a line, holding the genitals of the lucky lad in front of them. At Tiffin University in Ohio the soccer team has been known to strip their freshmen players to their underwear, handcuff them together, scrawl vulgarities on their bodies, and make them lick one another's nipples. Sometimes the fun isn't just reserved for members of the team. At a Utah high school two wrestlers stripped a male cheerleader in the school locker room and 'attempted to shave his pubic hair' with an electric clipper. Attempted? Does that mean they didn't succeed?
The truth be told, even in the United States, hazing isn't what it used to be. This ancient rite is under attack from all sides: the media, feminists, mothers, educational authorities, legislators, police'and also many gays. Hazing is being shamed up and stamped out. The only reason we know about the sordid goings-on in frat houses across the nation is because the authorities were involved, litigation was initiated, criminal charges brought, and the media involved'a big stink, in other words. Most respectable people seem to agree hazing is wrong, sexist, and homophobic and must be stopped.
Now, perhaps it's because I'm not terribly respectable, or maybe because I enjoy championing lost causes, but I think hazing is a valuable, venerable masculine institution that should be defended, particularly by men who are interested in other men. Hazing is the last rite of passage left for boys in a world that doesn't seem to want boys to grow into men anymore, a very physical form of male bonding in a society that wants us to remain as disconnected as possible, an antidote to individualism, which in this atomized day and age tends to just mean alienated consumerism.

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