A group of men in Pennsylvania have formed what they are calling a “cuddle group” meant to “redefine manhood” and help “heal trauma.”
The Men’s Therapeutic Cuddle Group of Plymouth, Pennsylvania, claim to advocate for the “three As.”
The purpose of the group is to “provide a safe, structured, and platonic environment for men to experience what I call ‘the three As’; Acceptance, Affirmation and Affection. (The Affection intrinsically ‘anchors’ the first two As.),” the group’s meetup page says.
“We establish ‘safe touch’ boundries [sic], and only allow non-sexual cuddling,” the group adds.
“The two-year-old group draws men from various backgrounds: a 37-year-old Mormon who works as an airport gate agent, a 57-year-old married father of three, a 62-year-old retiree. There is a range of sexual orientations,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
According to Scott Turner, a 46-year-old interior designer, the group wants to bust the traditional “stoicism” that is a “mark of manhood.”
“If you show any emotional weakness or vulnerability, that’s a failure to your title of a man,” Turner told the paper. Turner added, “if we expect men to be emotionally sensitive to the needs of others, they first need to be able to build an emotional vocabulary.”
Turner also said that men need to learn that physical touching can be set apart from aggression of sexual activity.
“It’s not the ends of what we’re doing. It’s part of a larger toolbox of healing,” Turner explained.
For their sessions, the men engage in the “motorcycle hold,” where the men pair up and sit one behind the other with one holding on as if riding behind the pilot of a motorcycle. Later they flop together in a big “puppy pile” where they lay on the floor with their heads in each other’s laps whole they laugh and talk.
According to member Kevin Eitzenberger, 57, the room becomes a “safe space” for the members where “they learn it’s OK to be a little fractured.”
Another member, TJ McDonnell, said that the group changed his life and allowed him to “experience what good friendships are, what brothers are.”
All the members told the paper that the group helped them get over fears of intimacy with other men or helped them deal with childhood traumas.
As the cuddle session ends, the men chant slogans in parting. They hug, shake hands and intone phrases such as, “As a man among men, I feel grateful to be with all of you,” or “worthy of connection,” and “loved, accepted, and included.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.