Rethinking The Term “Bro”

what is a bro?Bros” are commonly described as guys who hang out with each other in groups and display certain traits like: going to the gym frequently, “partying”, being fans of sports teams, and participating in other masculine activities.

Calling someone a bro is the modern day male equivalent of slut-shaming. Let me explain.

The primary aim of bro-shaming is to put men down for maintaining strong male friendships.

As a young whippersnapper who grew up in a stable two-parent household with a strong male father figure I was privy organizations like The Kiwanis, Freemasons, Knights of Columbus, Elks, and other male-only fraternal organizations. Not only did these “clubs” provide a general meeting space for men to socialize and meet like-minded individuals but they also played an important role in shaping communities by providing a forum that fostered business relationships and charitable givings. They played a vital role in making America the economic and cultural powerhouse that it is today. During the “Golden Age Of Fraternalism” (which lasted from the late 1800s to around the middle of the 20th century) it was estimated that nearly 40% of the male population belonged to one of these organizations. 

In the 21st century male-only clubs are dying a slow death. Organizations that once boasted membership bases that included titans of industry, politicians, inventors, and community leaders have seen dwindling numbers in recent years.

Several factors have contributed to this:

3rd Wave Feminism

members of 3rd wave feminismFeminism achieved many of its original goals via landmark victories like the right to vote, government-assisted health programs, equal rights in the workplace, Title IX, and enhanced legal protections. On a macro level it’s hard to argue that these weren’t necessary in earning America’s monicker “The Land Of The Free”.

In order to justify its existence any “movement” must have something to fight against. Once the original goals are achieved the objectives become watered down and petty, as evidenced by modern feminism. The women’s rights movement is a shell of its former self, resorting to attacks on these male-only institutions and posing questions like, “why shouldn’t women be allowed to join?”. This, coupled with identity politics that have infiltrated American media outlets has led to hostile attitudes towards any arena in which men organize. They’re seen as exclusionary and outdated.

Social Media/Technology

social networks leading to the downfall of mens groupsClass reunions have also seen a decline in recent years. Why schlep back to your hometown for a “reunion” when you’re already connected with everyone you went to highschool with on FaceBook? Although this technology has become a modern wonder for staying in touch it’s become a cancerous ego incubator where we see projections of people’s lives. Nothing is authentic. “Likes” are the new social currency.

In its ideal form, social media should be a forum where diverse opinions are discussed and even encouraged. Instead, it’s a safe space for people to post their best moments. We are living our lives out on a grand (and artificial) scale where the need to organize and see people in person has been mitigated by other readily available forms of communication.

Agenda-Ridden “News” Media

donald trump media biasThere’s nothing more terrifying to the American media than a strong male figure. Although flawed in many ways, Donald Trump has exposed the appalling liberal bend that many of these outlets have willingly embraced. Our enormous appetite for talking head “news” programs has reached fever pitch levels. There once was a time when you could watch the nightly news and get a nuanced, neutral view on the current state of affairs in this country. Nowadays every news anchor has to have an opinion to get ratings (and likes). It’s also nice for the news networks who no longer have to splurge on travel expenses and location shoots for their anchors: just put two people in a studio and have them yell at eachother and tell the American public how we should feel.

The problem is the types of people occupying these increasingly vocal positions. I once had the privilege to sit down with a renowned media consultant and asked him, “why does it seem like the news media has a liberal bias?”. He sighed and responded:

Smart kids from conservative families go on to run companies and start new businesses. Smart kids from liberal families become college professors and journalists. But they all went to the same private school…….

There was a collective “holy shit that make sense” in the room. A simple explanation for a complicated issue. It was also a nuanced statement on the types of people who are actually running this country.

Donald Trump is rough around the edges, no doubt. Most media members would likely consider him to fit the “bro” stereotype. While many criticisms of him are well-warranted there are some real head scratchers that make you question the agendas that these prominent media members hold (yes this includes late night comedians, because thanks to “political entertainment” programs like The Daily Show many young Americans use this as their primary news source).

Common themes:

“Donald Trump Is Stupid”

A dumb person couldn’t survive the absolute gauntlet that is the modern election process. These claims are an easy way for the media to make sense of the ever-growing silent majority that elects these politicians to office. The “Middle America Must be Stupid” mantra backfired spectacularly in the last presidential election. Donald Trump played them like a fiddle and defied all all odds by utilizing raw political talent, charisma, and an unusually persistent campaign tour through Middle America.

In the media’s eyes, Trump is the privileged high school jock who was crowned prom king through self-promotion instead of hard work and determination. Politics is a game and it was shocking to the Washington-class who’d spent years years playing it that a virtual newcomer who’d never held public office could come in and beat them.  This isn’t the work of a stupid person.

(Also, with the 24-hour news cycle every politician’s character quirks and previous misgivings are put under a giant microscope. Candidates are essentially vetted by the increasingly resourceful American media whose jobs have become much easier thanks to technological advances in how they “investigate” people. Anyone can publish an article making bombastic claims about a candidate. The barrier to entry involved with starting a website is lower than it ever has been thanks to advances in web content management systems (WordPress, Drupal etc. ) Even more problematic is how easily information can be repurposed for nefarious purposes. Just as millennials flock to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for news coverage they also rely on Google as a replacement for what were once was well-sourced encyclopedias. The system can be easily gamed through link manipulation and social media accounts created for the sole purpose of brigading online communities like FaceBook and Twitter. Look at what Russia did in the last election. 

We were inundated with every negative characteristic associated with Donald Trump. The media tried their darndest to sway the election by using this system and HE STILL WON)

“Donald Trump is a Misogynist”

Newsflash: every politician in the history of politicking has skeletons in their closet. If JFK were put under the same spotlight that Trump is under now he’d probably be living out his final days on his family’s Massachusetts estate instead of lying six feet under. Trump may very well be what many people consider to be a “sexist” but let’s not pretend that he’s the first flawed man to ever hold the presidency. The Kennedy family is the poster child for modern liberalism and their misgivings are well-documented. Because JFK was the media’s right kind of candidate these things are often overlooked. Hypocrisy at its finest.

“If we only elected good men we would never have leaders. – Boardwalk Empire”

(It also irks me that people babble on about Trump inheriting his success through his father when it’s well-known that Joe Kennedy built his family fortune on bootlegging, often times alluding to his desire to see his children hold public office someday.)

From the attacks and criticisms levied against Trump it’s easy to see a common theme of resentment towards this type of male authoritative figure. While the “locker room talk” and braggadocious nature certainly don’t help his cause it’s still fascinating to see the vitriolic and exhaustive measures the media will go to in order to shame him for embodying classic masculine traits.

Hate Groups Don’t Help

kk memberThe Klu Klux Klan, perhaps the most notorious male-only organization in the United States has also added to public disdain. And while numbers show that white nationalist movements are actually on the decline they still tend to get an inordinate amount of press coverage thanks to their enduring symbols (swastikas, burning crosses, public rallies) and vocal leaders like David Duke still beating the drum in public forums.

The media has a perverse obsession with these people, making them out to be larger-than-life forces when in reality they are nothing more than powerless fringe groups. The only time you see or hear about these people is when the press is covering them .

Hollywood And The Male Ego

The common male protagonist in many films (especially coming of age movies) usually embodies several characteristics including but not limited to:

  • White Male
  • Good Looking
  • Drives A Nice Car
  • Has A Hot Girlfriend
  • Plays Sports
  • Dim-Witted or Smart And Downright Evil
  • One Dimensional

Take the Karate Kid for example. The protagonist is a generic white guy with good looks and the hot girlfriend. Daniel-son was quite the little bitch if you view the movie on a macro level. Here is a video analysis of why Daniel was actually the real bully:

Hollywood uses the standard “evil white guy” archetype to help the average viewer easily identify with the meek and betamax fuckboy Daniel.

We can also blame Judd Apatow. All of his movies seem to be a subtle attack on the male ego. Take Knocked Up for instance: all of the “men” are lazy, pot-smoking virgins who seem to completely lack awareness when it comes to getting women. The 40 Year Old Virgin is also a shining example of this.

judd apatow movie starterpack

Another major problem is men on television sitcoms: the husband/dad is usually portrayed as a deeply flawed, stumbling bumbling idiot who somehow managed to pull the hot wife (who’s constantly on his ass for being an idiot). We see this in countless shows:

  • King Of Queens
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
  • The Simpsons
  • Family Guy
  •  Step By Step (TGIF holler!)
  • Modern Family
  • Home Improvement
  • Malcolm In The Middle
  • The War At Home
  • According To Jim
  • Roseanne

These characters are deliberate subversions of the classic 1950s father who embodies the “father knows best” mentality. It’s hard to find modern T.V. shows with strong male characters these days.

Conclusion

Women who “sleep around” are constantly shamed by their peers and referred to as sluts and whores. “Bros” are the modern-day male version of this who are starting to experience the same public ridicule. Although the typical bro is still viewed in a better light than the slut it’s easy to see the cultural shift taking place here. And it’s all rooted in jealousy. The popular girl/guy holds the top 10% of the sexual marketplace and the other 90% are desperately trying to knock them off their pedestal.

Related Posts