"She Could Be Your Sister, Bro!" Breaking Down Bro-Ness

If I'm your bro, SHE could be your sister! Would you talk about your sister like that?!

Category: Bros Start Here

What Makes You Madder: “Sloppy sluts” or Drone Warfare?

Okay, the title might seem a little….something, but there is a concrete point to this. Do you spend time being angry or contemptuous or indignant that some girl a) won’t “put out,” b) did at one point “put out” to you but now “puts out” to someone else, or c) seems to “put out” to everyone, regardless of whether or not you are included in that “list”?


This image is highly judgmental and indignant. By the way.

Okay, now, how much time do you spend angry, irritated, upset, et cetera about current event-type shtuff, say, Drone Warfare? In case you don’t know, drone warfare refers to the use of unmanned military aircraft mostly by the US along with other nations to ostensibly fight terrorism in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, often leading to numerous unaccounted-for civilian deaths.


source: avaaz.org

drone approval ratings

source: avaaz.org

Here’s a link about “double-tap” drone strikes, where the drone shoots a bunch of people, and then comes back to shoot those who come out to help the people who’ve just been shot. This shit is real.

So, does this make you mad? The Obama campaign has been using drone warfare to wage secretive, undeclared wars in these and other countries, resulting in the deaths of numerous civilians, NGO workers, aid workers, and journalists. For more information, visit this PBS.org primer. If this doesn’t make you all that mad because we’re fighting our enemies over there and some civilian casualties are inevitable and the “cost of war,” does that mean you’d be cool if “they” had drones and used them in your town to defend themselves and “accidentally” killed your entire family, giving them literally no chance to defend themselves “on the battleground”? Would that be fine? Acceptable?

I hope not.

Okay, so why this seeming tangent? The point is, there are ACTUAL injustices and horrors in the world other than how much a girl has sex. In fact, there’s a term for being openly indignant and contemptuous of such girls, and the term is:

That's right. Slut-Shaming.

That’s right. Slut-Shaming.

In general, slut-shaming refers to people (not just men) making other people (generally used in reference to women) feel bad about themselves or impugning their reputations for deciding that they like sex and who they have sex with. Women who choose to sexualize themselves, (see earlier post, ____), rather than allowing others to do so are often called “slut,” “whore,” “skank,” and other terms, because a woman who takes charge of her own sexuality is seen as not normal. According to traditional gender roles, only men are allowed to “provide” women with a sexual identity, since without men to take care of and fulfill, women would have no purpose. This is why some real pricky guys will use  “lesbo” or “dyke” to insult women who don’t show interest in them; because if “she’s not into you, bro,” (i.e. if SHE chooses who has she sex with) she must be different or weird (lesbianism only being “weird,” of course, according to our heteronormative culture) and therefore has no purpose. If you do this, you have a serious problem, by the way.

So, find something else to be mad about besides a woman who enjoys sex. There are plenty of awful and unfair things in this country and in this world: sexismracism, homophobia, imperialism, high deportation rates, high unemployment, global warming, Monsanto being able to sell untested genetically modified food, the list goes on. Additionally, assume women who enjoy sex enjoy it for what THEY get out of it, not for what they can provide you. Sex is not all about you, bro. It’s a two-way street. If it wasn’t, masturbating would be enough.

And one final note on women using the word “slut” about themselves, e.g. “SlutWalks,” et cetera: this type of social movement is called reappropriation. The purpose of it is to “claim” the word for their own in describing themselves as women who enjoy sex and own their own sexuality, removing the word’s shameful connotations. It does NOT give you the right to use it. Why? Because “slut” has been used by men to hurt women for many many years. That’s pretty much the only way a man can use it, due to its meaning and purpose. Imagine if you were tired of being called a “dick” to mean something bad, and you decided that you were going to use “dick” to describe yourself in a positive context. When you call yourself a “dick,” you know what you mean by it. When anyone else calls you “dick,” or “dickbag,” “dickweed,” et cetera, though, they are trying to label you based on what the word means what it means to the rest of society: something probably negative. Reappropriating words denies people the “right” to label and judge you with a word; rather, you label yourself, and reject societal judgments.

Slut Walk Boston

Notice the writing on the stomach. These women are proud to control their own bodies.

Long story short: If the idea of women who don’t NEED men (of course, they might still WANT and CHOOSE men, voluntarily, if they feel like it) to feel good about themselves bothers you more than Drone Warfare, again I’d say you’ve REALLY got a problem, bro. But that’s what I’m here for.


The Internality of Bro-ness

Here is a clip of Jerry Seinfeld talking about candy as a child. Exchange the word “candy” with “girls” and up the age a few years.

This is not unlike what it feels like to be a bro. Am I right?

Books, films, TV shows, and other media have also been dedicated to exploring what it’s like to be a guy (whereas the female experience has historically been marginalized. A fine example of bro-thinking, which is gross and offensive to some women I have met, is the short story “A&P” by John Updike). One thing most of us can all agree on as human beings is that sex is important and desired. In our heteronormative society (one in which heterosexuality and heterosexual relationships are considered normal, while non-heterosexuality and its manifestations are considered abnormal), “sex” is depicted in the form of what are often called “hot girls.”

We see “hot girls” everywhere we look: in movies, on TV, in books, on the internet, in cartoons, in video games, at sporting events, on magazine covers, on billboards. Breasts, buttocks, midriffs, crotches, lower backs, and even faces are depicted as purely sexual objects (what’s called “sexualization“), often separated from the rest of the women in a technique called fragmentation.


Desire. Embodied. Except that you can’t own a woman.

These images are a large part of how we determine what is “hot” and what is not hot. Secondarily, we see variations on “hotness” in real life, girls who may possess some “hot” attributes: at school, at work, the cute cashier at the pharmacy, the city girls walking down the street in fashionable jeans, walking around all over the place. A guy understands early on that he may not obtain that ideal “hotness” as it is depicted in movies and magazines right off the bat. But he can work up to it. All he needs to do is get his foot in the door.

And women are this door. That’s how we’re taught to see them; sex is something we want, and women have it (I forget where I’m borrowing this idea from but when I find out, I’ll post a citation). And as long as we start somewhere, and overcome that whole virginity issue, we have a chance to SOMEDAY achieve Angelina Jolie-level hotness. It’s a reflection of the same pursuit-of-happiness thing like the one in the Constitution. And think how happy that will make us! We’ve wanted it our whole lives; how could it not?

We’re reminded, or we remind ourselves, that the human race is dependent on the urge to procreate as a justification to objectify women this way (backhandedly making it seem healthy), yet we men are also taught not to want kids, because kids mean commitment and loss of independence. So we are told to want to fuck a lot, with no consequences.

With this logic, women possess both the most desirable thing on earth (sex) and the most undesirable thing (motherhood). How are we supposed to see women as complete, consistent human beings with this ridiculous contradiction spinning away in our heads? We must divest ourselves of it; it’s the single greatest cause of objectification. Is a woman truly no more than a thing to be fucked and run away from?

The answer is no. The urge to judge a woman based on her looks must be placed under control in order to curb any manifestation of this flawed mentality. The “male gaze,” as it is sometimes called, is a judging gaze in which her value is being assessed based on her looks. Therefore, if she is not seen, she has no value.

NO! SHE HAS VALUE BEFORE YOU SEE HER! SHE HAS IDEAS, DREAMS, INSIGHTS, KNOWLEDGE, POWER! You don’t know her. You don’t know anything about her, except that she is human. Think of it this way: her sexy curves might be turning your brain to jello, but she doesn’t know anything about you either. Maybe she’s judging you as an ogler, a pig, a scumbag, a creep who can’t keep his eyes to himself. But women are so often made to feel dependent on men for their own identities, not to mention financially. So men, then, also possess the most desirable thing to women (security), and the least desirable thing (no respect as a human being). DOES THIS DESCRIPTION SUM YOU UP? IS THIS ACCEPTABLE TO YOU?

No. It shouldn’t be. You don’t know her, she doesn’t know you. Remember that, and keep your eyes to yourself. Keep your tongue, your whistle, your comments, et cetera, to yourself. She is more than an object, and you are more than a subject.

Additionally, she might very well be judging you on your looks, too, but in a country where “one in 4 college-aged women report experiences that meet the legal definitions of rape or attempted rape” (source: Dr Kathleen Young) you have a lot less chance of getting sexually assaulted for it. So, from one bro to another, back off with that argument.

The First Post!

I am starting this blog as my final project in my Writing Women Safe course at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, which is a course dedicated to preventing violence against women through writing and activism.

SHE COULD BE YOUR SISTER BRO will be a collection of ideas and methods for young men, like myself, to undermine what I call Bro Culture from within, without having to “lose face,” become alienated, or lose credibility among our peers. It will give men a way to think for themselves, to not commit verbal acts that they know to be mean and wrong, to not objectify women and themselves in the process, and to grow beyond the limited and narrow expectations that society has laid out for us.

It will not make men into “feminists” necessarily, but it will allow men to avoid perpetuating the inequality between men and women that serves only to undermine everyone’s self-esteem, and limit our agency (and all the premises that I posit will be discussed; nothing will be taken for granted). It will describe how we objectify and hurt ourselves by hurting others, and help us to instead find ways to feel good about ourselves by finding solidarity with others, instead of at their expense. Lastly, it will strengthen our critical thinking about the world around us, and allow us to add to it, rather than simply participate in it.

The first few posts after this one will contain all of the academic underpinnings (as required by the assignment), and then it’ll get a little easier. If you have any questions or comments, leave a comment or email me.