In an iconic episode of “Married . . . With Children,” women’s shoe salesman Al Bundy forms a pro-man society called “No Ma’am.”
No Ma’am stood for National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood and was devoted to testosterone-fueled pursuits — quality time with the boys at the Jiggly Room and watching sports.
The club was born after their wives — emboldened by a “Masculine Feminist” local talk show host, played by Jerry Springer — commandeered their sacred bowling night.
The esteemed members of No Ma’am kidnap the TV personality and force him to watch hours of pro wrestling while wearing stinky old boxers until he convinces the women to cede control of their husbands’ macho leisure time.
The year was 1993 — long before the internet could turn a tiny seed into a forest of chatter.
While the satirical, fictional club never gained traction outside of Bundy’s garage, there’s a modern, slightly more evolved movement that is equally staunch in its support of males being unabashed males.
It’s called “Saturdays are for the boys,” and since June it has gone from a simple hashtag to an ethos lording over the frat boy (and slightly aging frat boy) universe.
Quite simply, it means that dudes are taking back Saturdays, which have traditionally been devoted to household chores and fulfilling family responsibilities. And they’re doing it with a drink or 15 in their hands.
Every Saturday, social media platforms are packed with acts of worship to the SAFTB religion in the form of videos and photos of hard-partying men. Plug #Saturdaysarefortheboys into Instagram, and a never-ending stream of daredevil high jinks — such as guys launching themselves into pools from roofs, hurdling beer pong tables or shotgunning beers — will materialize.
It’s become so popular that professional athletes such as Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown have posted snaps of themselves wearing shirts emblazoned with the slogan.
In August, the official Twitter page of the Detroit Lions got in on the game, tweeting the phrase with a handful of team members posing with pride. Giants lineman Justin Pugh shared a hilarious video of his pals going wild in a hot tub and breaking a flat-screen TV with a baseball bat after proclaiming, “Saturdays are for the boys.” And a few weeks ago, Michael Phelps captioned an Instagram photo of him and his infant son, Boomer, with the now-ubiquitous hashtag.
This summer, the hashtag was trending on Twitter for four weeks straight, and recently the phrase was added to Urban Dictionary. The saying has metastasized so much, it’s doubtful many even know of its very humble origins — a drunken tweet sent by Barstool Sports blogger John Feitelberg from a Newport, RI, bar.
Yes, the male mayhem kicked off in June during a night of copious consumption when the revelry was pierced by the voice of a grizzled old man. Addressing nobody in particular, he offered an impromptu toast that would inadvertently become the biggest jolt to male empowerment since Caitlyn Jenner was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year.
“Fridays are for the men. Saturdays are for the boys,” he yelled.
“My buddies and I thought it was outstanding,” says Feitelberg, who was within earshot. “I tweeted it right away and didn’t look at my phone until the next morning.”
When the 28-year-old roused himself from sleep at 9:30 the next morning, it had been retweeted almost 3,000 times and his account was flooded with followers sending in videos of themselves acting like “Animal House” castoffs.
“I thought, ‘Oh s - - t, this is really big now.’ My friends and I decided we were going to make this a thing.”
An inspired Feitelberg ran with it. He spent the next several Saturdays skydiving, renting a boat and jumping off cliffs to show support for his newly minted motto.
As the hashtag and videos continued to dominate social media, Barstool Sports created T-shirts, which immediately sold out. They trademarked the term and rolled out a variety of SAFTB merchandise, including flags, hoodies and hats. When college football season kicked off, they sold shirts dedicating Saturdays to specific schools (i.e., “Saturdays are for Buckeyes”), and their flags began showing up all over stadiums.
Surprisingly, it has endured in these politically correct times without spawning numerous think pieces on the movement’s inherent misogyny.
“I’ve been waiting for a big piece to drop about it being sexist. But nothing has come. Our biggest complaint was that the shirts didn’t come in women’s cuts,” says Feitelberg, adding, “And it’s not sexist. It just means that Saturdays are for partying. Girls can come along, too.”
And ladies have been just as instrumental in spreading the phrase. In fact, Barstool unveiled a popular “Mondays through Fridays are for the Girls” T-shirt after their new CEO Erika Nardini started her job in July.
However, Barstool Sports hasn’t been without controversy and sometimes openly courts it. Started in 2003 by “El Presidente” Dave Portnoy as a gambling sheet he’d pass out in downtown Boston, it morphed into a blog with commentary on sports and current events presented through a crude, bro-centric spectrum. They graded teacher sex scandals, recapped low-rent crime stories and featured a “smokeshow of the day” with photos of scantily clad co-eds (the latter of which has raised the ire of feminists). Last year a group of Barstool employees, led by Portnoy, were arrested during a sit-in at the NFL’s offices to protest Tom Brady’s “Deflategate” punishment.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this, the site has developed a rabidly loyal following, who call themselves “Stoolies” and are akin to the Howard Stern disciples of the early ’90s.
Earlier this year, it sold a majority stake to the Chernin Group for a reported $15 million and they moved the entire operation — which was previously splintered off with contributors in Boston, New York and Chicago — to a Flatiron office. Currently, their “Pardon My Take” podcast by Dan Katz (a k a “Big Cat”) is the top-ranked sports podcast on iTunes, with athletes, established broadcasters and sports-inclined celebrities clamoring for an invite.
And of course, SAFTB is another large feather in their cap as their influence grows from an East Coast brand to a national one.
“I am guessing a lot of people don’t know the origins [of SAFTB], but I think that’s the cooler thing. It’s branched out bigger than Barstool. It’s been wild,” Feitelberg says.
As for his compensation, the viral hit maker hasn’t yet sat at the negotiation table, but he’s hopeful his bosses take note.
“[Peter] Chernin is a tough guy to get in touch with,” says Feitelberg. “But I’m sure someone from the office is reading this right now, so give me a raise.”