Premise 1: The Nature of Bro-ness

by whynotbeme

Note: these are my beliefs that I aim to present as just that: beliefs, not facts, that I will support with logical reasoning and, where applicable, citations.

Premise 1: The Nature of Bro-ness

A central factor to the perpetuation of rape culture (the proposition that our culture consciously or unconsciously accepts and/or enables and/or encourages, or at least doesn’t discourage, i.e. normalizes, rape) is the prevalence of “Bro Culture” among young men: what is good for one “bro” is good for another, and if it isn’t, then there is something wrong with that “other.” Recognition of the existence of a phenomenon is dependent on the “bro’s” judgment, and the phenomenon is incomplete until it has been judged as such. Therefore, if that phenomenon is another person, the acknowledgement of her/his existence is based on her/his becoming an object of judgment. 

The central phenomenon being judged in the purview of Bro Culture is, of course, members of the female gender, and the central criteria of the judgment is sexual desirability. The female is only recognized within the context of this judgment, regardless of whether the judgment is positive or negative.

The “bro” that makes the initial judgment–“that girl’s hot,” for example–often then awaits validation of that judgment from another “bro,” in the form of agreement–“hell yeah, bro, I’d hit that.” Hence the objectification proceeds through three cycles: that of the initial subject male onto the object female, then from the subject male onto an object male “bro” (for agreement), and lastly from that object male onto the object female, the act of which transforms this “bro’s” position from object to subject and asserts his equality with the initial subject male.

Such seeking-out of agreement is the manner by which Bro Culture forms some collective understanding of what is desirable or undesirable. However, it is not adherence to this understanding that maintains one’s acceptance within Bro Culture, but rather to the understanding that women are incomplete and unrecognizable without being judged. All “bros” are expected to conform to this understanding, or potentially face alienation by one’s peers.

Conformity to Bro Culture is itself a form of self-objectification and necessarily perpetuates objectification as an ideology. Bro Culture, then, serves as a “safe space” for that ideology, manifesting itself in sexism, male chauvinism and concomitants of rape culture whereby alterity of the object male (during the second cycle of objectification) may result from challenges to that ideology. If a male refuses to objectify the woman and render some form of judgment to her–“hot,” “fat,” “sloppy,” “fuckable,” or whatever other adjectives are deemed applicable–he risks demotion of his social status: from Bro-hood, and implicit equality within the culture, to a bitch/pussy/girl/et cetera, and implicit inferiority and untrustworthiness.

This shifts the meaning of the term “bro,” which is of course a derivation of “brother,” from the descriptor of a biological, mutual, qualitatively equal relationship (actual siblinghood is not a matter of degree; you either are siblings or you aren’t) to that of a non-mutual and subsequently unequal relationship between Bros (subjects) and non-Bros (objects), i.e. females. Despite the fact that most “bros” are not actually brothers, the imagined sense of familial relations rarely extends to females because the culture itself is dependent on maintaining female status as objects. The female has even less chance of becoming a subject simply because the word “bro” by definition refers to a male, and no feminine equivalent exists in common usage that implies the same sense of equality.

In this context, Bro-ness is the opposite of biological: chosen or interpellated, and capable of being changed, retracted, and even rejected, like any other subject-position.

The question is, how?