…American men actually engage most in hunting and fishing. The desire of men in wealthy societies to re-create the food-gathering conditions of very primitive people appears to be an appropriate comment on the power of the hunting drives discussed earlier. Not only is hunting expensive in many places – think of the European on safari in Africa – but it is also time-consuming, potentially dangerous, and frequently involves considerable personal discomfort. Men do it because it is ‘fun’. So they say, and so one must conclude from their persistent rendition of the old pattern. What is relevant from our point of view is that hunting, and frequently fishing, are group activities. A man will choose his co-hunters very carefully. Not only does the relative intimacy of the hunt demand some congeniality, but there is also danger in hunting with inept or irresponsible persons. It is a serious matter, and even class barriers which normally operate quite rigidly may be happily breached for the period of the hunt. Some research on hunters in British Columbia suggests the near-piety which accompanies the hunt; hunting is a singular and important activity. One particular group of males takes along bottles of costly Crown Royal whisky for the hunt; they drink only superior whisky on this poignant re-creation of an ancient manly skill. But when their wives join them for New Year's celebrations, they drink an ordinary whisky: the purely formal and social occasion does not, it seems, merit the symbolic tribute of outstanding whisky.
Gambling is another behaviour which, like hunting and sport, provides an opportunity in countless cultures for the weaving of and participation in the web of male affiliation. Not the gambling of the London casino, where glamorous women serve drinks, or the complex hope, greed, fate-tempting ritual, and action of the shiny American palaces in Nevada, and not the hidden gambling run by racketeers. Rather, the card games in homes or small clubs, where men gather to play for manageable stakes on a friendly basis; perhaps – like Jiggs and his Maggie – to avoid their women, perhaps to seek some money, perhaps to buy the pleasant passage of time. But also to be with their friends and talk, and define, by the game, the confines of their intimate male society.
Obviously females play too, both on their own and in mixed company. But there are differences which warrant investigation, in the same way that the drinking of men in groups appears to differ from heterosexual or all-female drinking; the separation of all-male bars and mixed ones is still maintained in many places despite the powerful cultural pressures against such flagrant sexual apartheid. Even in the Bowery, where disaffiliated outcast males live in ways only now becoming understood, it has been noted that, ‘There are strong indications that the heavy drinkers are more integrated and more sociable than the light. The analytical problem lies in determining whether socialization causes drinking or drinking results in sociability when there is no disapproval.’ In the gentleman's club in London, the informally segregated working man's pub in Yorkshire, the all-male taverns of Montreal, the palm-wine huts of west Africa, perhaps can be observed the enactment of a way of establishing maleness and maintaining bonds which is given an excuse and possibly facilitated by alcohol. Certainly, for what they are worth in revealing the nature of popular conception of the social role of drinking, advertisements stress the manly appeal of alcohol – particularly whisky – though it is also clear that there are ongoing changes in the socio-sexual implications of drinking. But perhaps it is hasty to regard the process of change as a process of female emancipation which will culminate in similarity of behaviour, status, and ideals of males and females. The changes are still too recent to warrant this. Also, they have been achieved under sufficiently self-conscious pressure...