The Bro Code
Dr. G. David Moss | Monday, November 7, 2011
One of the goals of this column is to help create an environment where authentic, healthy relationships can flourish. As we continue on this journey, it is necessary for us to examine the unique forces that influence, prescribe and direct our thoughts and actions, both overtly and covertly.
One such force is the Bro Code. It is a real presence in our campus culture and often pre-determines many of our social interactions. The Bro Code is a powerful determinate in the quality of our relationships and has the potential to damage both the keepers of the Code and those left reeling in its aftermath. Recently, I asked our Student Senate if they were familiar with the Bro Code. As expected, 98 percent of the men and only a small percentage of the women were familiar with the term. For a detailed description of the Bro Code with research to back it up, check out the book “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men” by Michael Kimmel. It is an excellent read.
The Bro Code is founded on three cultural mandates: Entitlement, Silence and Protection. Entitlement is rooted in the ideas of male superiority; men are in control at all times and in all situations and always exhibit the perfect example of perfect manhood. It is also gives men the right to regain those things given up to society.
As a man, society owes me for all of my sacrifices over time, and now my payback has arrived. Silence, according to Kimmel, is one of the ways boys are welcomed to manhood. This is true when coming to terms with their own emotions, and especially true when faced with the violence of other men. Whether the violence involves making harassing statements at the Fro-Yo machine, acts of intimidation toward those outside the circle of coolness or taking advantage of an intoxicated female, the code of silence is in full force. No one confronts because no one wants to become the next person living outside the circle of coolness.
Protection begins with peers, but can also expand to include parents, professors, city officials, girlfriends, university administrators, coaches and entire communities. Kimmel states that the cultural mandate of protection is particularly evident when these support structures rally around “their guys” while “demeaning their victims.”
Upon this foundation of entitlement, silence and protection, the Bro Code reigns unchallenged and insurmountable. The specifics of the Bro Code can change depending on the particular community, but here are several consistent rules: 1) It is your right to have sex, and to do so as often as you like. 2) Always upgrade your woman when you can. 3) You must never get in the way of a Bro who is attempting No. 1. 4) Bros always before Hoes. 5) You will tell her whatever she wants to hear to achieve No. 1. 6) Never ask a women’s opinion about anything sexual. 7) If there is no sexual action after so many dates, it’s time to move on. 8) Men don’t cry. 9) Don’t get mad, get even. 10) Take it like a man. 11) Size matters. And the list continues.
As men we have all heard these messages both explicitly and implicitly. The Bro Code preamble states that women want sex as much as men, and if not for them being “socialized” to say no, women would say yes to sex all the time. That being the case, it seems logical to use alcohol and/or date rape drugs to give them what they really want.
To be fair, I must say that the Bro Code is not followed religiously by every guy on our campus. The Bro Code culture, however, is alive and well and I have witnessed it (as have many of you) first hand. I have seen it most obviously in the way many of us support the Bro Code by the silence of our actions.
Kimmel states that guys do what they do in part because they believe they can get away with it, that other guys won’t say anything — and that the community basically will support them. Is this the new standard for Our Lady’s University?
My guess is that we could severely weaken the grip of the Bro Code in this community if we shake the foundation of silence when bad things are about to happen. To those who are already committed to this effort, your sacrifice and willingness to do the right thing is to be commended. Swimming against the current of culture is not for the faint of heart. But like geese who fly in formation, fish who swim in schools and cyclists who create a draft for those behind them, the burden is lighter when we work together.
Dr. G. David Moss is the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and the Interim Director for the Gender Relations Center. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.