I don't remember when I first heard the expression "male catfight," but I do remember, vividly, the immediate tingle I felt upon hearing it. Something about it was so right, bringing together two things I long had loved--the catfight and males.
Wikipedia offers a useful definition of "catfight": "an altercation between two women, typically involving scratching, slapping, hair-pulling, and shirt-shredding as opposed to punching or wrestling." The definition goes on to say that the term can be used more generally, to refer to any "vociferous" fighting, but the 18-word definition sums up my idea of a catfight. I remember seeing catfights outside the junior-high cafeteria and getting instant boners. They were so sudden, so shrill, so animal, so free of rules and reserve. The definition leaves out one thing, and that's the erotic component. When I think "catfight," I also think "sex kitten," since the word hints at the sexual attractiveness of the two women--possibly in heat, possibly tearing at each other over a man--or a woman--or desire for each other. The catfights in From Russia with Love and House of 1000 Dolls were pivotal in my early adolescent sexual development ... or mis-development. Wikipedia cites comic Jerry Seinfeld: "Men think if women are grabbing and clawing at each other, there's a chance they might somehow, you know, ... kiss." What distinguishes a catfight from a generic fight is that most fights set out to settle scores or to assert authority, while catfights primarily aim to destroy the other person's sex appeal.
By extension, the male catfight is not simply a matter of two guys fighting. First, the usual rules of fair combat have to be thrown out the window. Catfighting guys must scratch, slap, pull hair, and/or shred each other's clothes just as the girls do. The altercation must be vociferous--i.e. shrilly noisy. The combatants must also be reasonably pretty--guys known for their good looks--since the potential desecration of that beauty is part of the catfight's frisson. And, I believe, there must be sufficient hair for pulling.
The male catfight can also suggest a certain degree of (for lack of a better word) "queeniness." Not normally attracted to effeminate men, I can still be drawn in if a couple of them started trouncing each other in the parking lot. Twink fights have an element of this--slender young males with expensive haircuts and boyishly smooth skin. I think of twinks as pretty, but not sexually attractive, sort of like porcelain figurines in a Victorian sitting-room. But with me context is everything, so my balls start clapping when Jonah Richards and Jeremy Burk go at it in the BG East gazebo ... or when Axel and Klown collide at UCW-Wrestling.
Marvin Atwell's photos show us Adam Cole, 5'11", 190#, and Shiima Xion, 5'8", 170#, tearing into each other at last night's Real Championship Wrestling show in Baltimore. It was billed as a champion-versus-champion match, Xion being RCW's cruiserweight champ and Cole, one half of the tag team champs. But it's also a hair battle--with recognizable elements of the male catfight.