Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Bro Talk: "Shorthand for the Sort of Privileged Ignorance That Thrives in Groups Dominated by Wealthy, White, Straight Men"

Piggybacking on yesterday's posting about bros, bros, and more bros: 

For New York Magazine, Ann Friedman notes that rhetoric about bro culture previously confined to feminist blogs is now going mainstream: 

Mainstream news has been dominated lately by stories lamenting "bro culture" — a term that used to be found solely on feminist blogs — everywhere from Silicon Valley to the U.S. military to the financial sector to pockets of academia. Last week, National Journal published an examination of the military’s fratty atmosphere under the headline "How the Military’s 'Bro' Culture Turns Women Into Targets"; and in Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Jodi Kantor examined Harvard Business School’s attempt to de-bro itself. Also over the weekend, at a TechCrunch-sponsored hackathon, two "grinning Australian dudes" got onstage and pitched a "joke" app called Titstare. (Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like.) "It's as if," wrote the Atlantic Wire, "the brogrammers seen here didn't know their audience wasn't all bros like them." 
"Bro" once meant something specific: a self-absorbed young white guy in board shorts with a taste for cheap beer. But it’s become a shorthand for the sort of privileged ignorance that thrives in groups dominated by wealthy, white, straight men. "Bro" is convenient because describing a professional or social dynamic as "overly white, straight, and male" seems both too politically charged and too general; instead, "bro" conjures a particular type of dude who operates socially by excluding those who are different. And, crucially, a bro in isolation is barely a bro at all — he needs his peers to reinforce his beliefs and laugh at his jokes. That’s why the key to de-broing our culture just might be the straight white guys who aren’t bros.

I'm grateful to Andrew Sullivan for linking to Friedman's article at his Dish site.

"Bro" as "shorthand for the sort of privileged ignorance that thrives in groups dominated by wealthy, white, straight men": at Common Dreams, Frank Smyth focuses on a slice of that same subset of the human population who are now "clinging to guns and bibles as a way of trying to hang on to a fleeting past" and, in the process, creating serious problems for American society as it seeks to deal with gun violence:

NRA conventions are filled every year with predominately white men who all seem to share a fear of the future. Economic decline, decreasing incomes and rising health care costs, combined with the steady pace of changing demographics toward an increasingly “browner” America, along with what many see as eroding social mores exacerbated by mass media, combine to generate fear. The American lifestyle depicted in Norman Rockwell paintings is long gone.     

And there's more: in The Atlantic, Eva Hershaw notes that "the unfortunate reality is that for women living in rural Mexico, marital sex represents the single greatest risk for HIV infection":

In the words of Jennifer Hirsch, professor of sociomedical sciences at Colombia University, in rural Mexico "women are infected by the very people with whom they are supposed to be having sex—indeed, according to social convention in Mexico, the only people with whom they are ever supposed to have sex." Male infidelity in Mexico does not represent any sort of major social transgression, a statement that is not true for women. Gender ideologies have created relationships of power where decisions about the female body, such as whether or not to use a condom, are commonly in the hands of men. It is a patriarchal set of norms, beliefs, and actions that make women particularly vulnerable to infection. 

And so, as Adela Bonilla, director of Nuevos Códices Compatía A.C., a group working in Chiapas to empower rural Mexican women, tells Hershman, "Machismo is deadly." As Frank Smyth's article suggests, it may well be deadly for all us, particularly when the strutting and swaggering and gun-totin' are legitimated by religious texts and religious beliefs that bros imagine they own in some privileged and exclusive way. 

And when they imagine they have the right to interpret their sacred texts for the rest of the human community in the same privileged and exclusive way . . . . 

Thanks to Natasha Hakimi at Truthdig for linking to Eva Hershaw's article.

The graphic: pro-science activists demonstrating yesterday at the Texas State Board of Education, from the Maddow Blog, crediting The 51 at Twitter.

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