Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Grinds My Gears: Bromance Edition.

I hate the term "bromance". You wanna know why this really grinds my gears? Well I'll tell you.

The word is used to describe a close friendship between two straight guys. It's pretty much a friendship that goes beyond the superficial where dudes discuss what's on their minds and pretty much be real with each other. And lately it's popping up in all these buddy comedies where every close friendship is described that way.

But here's where I have a big problem with that. The word "romance" is in that term - directly implying that two men cannot be close without being sexual. It seems like recent history is making true male friendship a thing of the past and men pretty much get together for superficial reasons, unlike women - and if you have feelings, you must be gay or soft.

In my life, I've seen examples of what being a man is all about. A man is supposed to protect and provide for his family, be someone you can look up to and know when to express/control your feelings. Too often we teach our young boys not to express themselves so they grow up being macho without that balance.

The problem with "bromance" is that assumes one of the biggest lies/stereotypes about male friendship - men don't bond over real talk so when they do, it's pseudo-romantic (i.e. FEMININE). That's a big problem because not everything has to be read through a romantic lens these days.

Plus, everything today is somehow to reduced to sexual terms. If a man and a woman are close friends, apparently they have to be intimate. If men are close with each other, they have to be gay. Is this fair? No and it's just another sign of how we're acting like high school and trying to come up with clever yet immature names for everything.

"Yeah me and my boys discuss real life issues. We discuss our futures, our concerns, and whatever over dinner at Dennys. That ain't a bromance, that's what real friendship is - keepin it real"

Real friendship goes beyond just hanging out at general times, it's knowing the entire person on a deeper level. That's not romantic - that's essential for any real friendship. So why can't guys just be close friends. Why do we need this term to describe it - something sexual to describe something non-sexual?

I know guys around me don't use this term and I'd be hard pressed to find many guys - men comfortable in their sexuality - who like using it. It's like that term metrosexual a few years back - that was a label placed on men who appreciated things women enjoy. Most non-Hollywood dudes didn't appreciate it because again, it sounded like something borderline suspect.

"So what, I know how to dress, how to take care of myself, how to enjoy myself - that doesn't make me metrosexual. That makes me a grown adult who knows how to carry myself as one when the time is right."

"Bromance" is just another lame term that's borderline suspect to describe something that's already been established for centuries - close heterosexual male companionship. Don't try to read anymore into it or place a pseudo-homesexual label on it. It's another sign that you need to grow up and stop trying to place "high-school" type labels on things.

Thank you (steps off soapbox and awaits response).


  1. Response: This is reminiscent of the point you made about the homosexual boy being crowned prom queen, and as I did then, I still agree that sexuality has been inappropriately linked to gender. The trigger this time is a stereotype of men that rarely gets touched upon.

    This is common: In high school, there might be a gay student who, after making it public, doesn't accumulate so many male friends. Instead, he is surrounded mostly by girls, who all "know" that if a man is homosexual, he is gentle, and sensitive, and will enjoy similar things they enjoy. And vice-versa.

    A relatively harmless situation until you consider those girls might believe "straight" men are everything gay men aren't... It grinds my gears, too.

  2. Great point Steven. You're right, sexuality and gender have been linked too closely. If you explore gender roles, men and women are supposed to do certain things - when they step out of those roles or do the opposite they get labeled as homosexual or something related to it.

    If you think about it, labels like bromance and metrosexual support upholding gender roles instead of breaking them down. They merely explain inconsistencies of gender roles instead of expand them.

  3. Well-said. This is actually something I struggle with often as someone who writes/reads slash fiction and creates/watches slashy videos. On one hand, I love slash for a lot of good reasons, but on the other hand, I do sometimes hate the way it reinforces the idea that close male friendship (or even female friendship, for that matter) is interpreted as homosexuality.

    It's just sad that any time men are shown having a deep friendship or love, it is perceived as sexual in nature. It's homophobic and tends to reinforce our concepts that men can't be platonically intimate and open with one another, can't support one another, can't be anything except tough, stoic, and independent, unless they want to be suspected of being gay. No wonder so many men die early, suffer from stress and hypertension, when we hold them to such standards and tell them they must weather every storm alone, never being able to be close to male friends lest those guys say "You're such a f*g!", and then with the added alienation of never being able to be emotionally close with female lovers for fear that she'll see him as less of a man if he shows even an inch of vulnerability.

    It's crazy that such an innocuous-sounding term can do that :(