Americans and their love for the middle finger.

Americans love their middle finger.
A greeting with an unruly gesture.

I believe this to be true.

It seems to me as if every child born in the United States knows that the middle finger is a “bad thing”; some I believe know this even before they learn how to spell their name.

As an American, raised in the midwest, in a little section known as “the Region”, I became accustomed to the middle finger in my early childhood. I thought it was a strange phenomena that by simply making a fist and raising just the middle finger could bring such dismay.
In order for it to work properly you must be making eye contact with the person or thing. I say thing because I’ve witnessed my father giving the middle finger to the television.

I also never understood as a child the whole “giving” somebody the middle finger. Aren’t you pretty much just showing them your middle finger? It’s also called just “giving them the finger”, you know,  instead of saying the word “middle”? It seems that this mighty, unruly, disrespectful gesture that when in use or in conversation, the middle finger has been given the notoriety when the word “finger” is being used or talked about.

For example, if you heard that somebody gave somebody else the finger, you know right away what finger is being refered to – the middle finger, of course.

Growing up as a “Region Rat” here in the Region, giving somebody the finger doesn’t always have to mean disrespect. It still may mean “fuck you”, however, there’s more to it.

For example, if I saw my friend win $100 from across the street; he saw me and knew that I knew he just won $100, being so far away, we’d probably just give each other the finger. Congratulations.

To understand the “middle finger” – I had to know how it started

I see people giving each other the finger at least once a day – strangers even. Whether somebody is taking their time crossing the street, or changing lanes without proper signalling (or while signalling) and cutting somebody off, even if by accident. A long honk from a car and then somebody usually showing their impeccable middle finger stamina.

Really…? How odd.

So, after a little research I came across a couple of sites and found a little bit of history on the middle finger.
Interesting…very interesting indeed.

Giving somebody the middle finger dates back at least over 2500 years ago from ancient Greece. It started as a crude joke from a playwright named Aristophanes. He was a very popular playwright and was given the same notoriety as we do to our favorite modern-day celebrities. The crude joke is that in one of his plays there was a mix up with a middle finger and with a penis.

I also found out that it can also mean a sign of sexual superiority and you’re wanting to make someone (anyone, obviously) your bitch. It means you are becoming “phallic aggressive”, so instead of threatening with an erect penis like a wild animal (it doesn’t have to be your own, you can threaten with a dildo also), giving somebody the middle finger will do just fine.

Repeated use of the middle finger can cause “phallic aggressive behavior”. Having a phallic aggressive attitude and behavior can lead to “flipping the bird” excessively (aka giving somebody the finger). So you’re not just showing that you’re a better man (woman) than that person, but that person is your sexual inferior.

During the middle ages giving somebody the finger was almost unheard of – it went away, some say it went underground. I say it just lost its popularity. That is, until the 19th century and the invention of photography.

"Old Hoss" Radburn brought the middle finger back

Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn brought the middle finger back in this 1886 photo of him on the professional baseball team the Boston Beaneaters. This photo is documented proof of the first person to be “flippin’ the bird”

There could be a lot of things that would upset Charles Radbourn enough to provoke “The Old Horse” to give the finger right before this photo was taken. Back then, professional baseball players didn’t make enough to support a family so most found part-time jobs. Charles Radbourn was by trade a butcher.

So everybody thank Charles Radbourn (December 11, 1854 – February 5, 1897) for bringing back the middle finger – so we’re able to express how we feel when others are out of an earshot.

So what is this obsession with the middle finger and Americans?

Frankly, I just think it’s our way of saying, “I don’t want to deal with that right now…I got something else going on.”

Some people get easily offended and will try to escalate it into something bigger. It’s like if they feel they’re being told that they’re sexually inferior, wait…
…I guess they kind of are, especially if that person is being phallic aggressive.

Yeah, we are quick to flip the bird, but at the same time, we’re sensitive about it also.

Comments
  1. Amy Hendrick says:

    love it…. hahahaha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s