One of the more troubling features of the modern bro isn't the sad, relatively recent dose of anxiety that fuels his behavior, but the cultural power he maintains.

Ironically, the history of homosexuality in America may hold the secret to the modern hyper-masculine bro. Prior to the 1970s, the majority of psychological literature on homosexuality was based on the presumption that the practice was a mental disorder, a view that coincided with advances in medicine at the end of the 18th century and the rise of psychoanalysis in the U.S. and Continental Europe. Homosexuality was eventually declassified as a mental illness in 1973, and all references to homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder were removed from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Despite this, gays and lesbians were still met with apprehension and hostility by the American public: In 1988, only 11 percent approved of same-sex marriage, and while that number increased to 46 percent by 2010, 40 percent of Americans remain opposed to it.

But decades of classifying homosexuality as a "dysfunction" in America left a lasting mark on all homosocial relationships. In modern Anglo-American society, writes gender theorist Eve Kosofsky (who coined the term "homosocial") in her classic study "Between Men," there's a significantly greater disconnect between male homosexual and homosocial bonds, whereas there's a much more psychosocially continuous relationship between female homosexual and homosocial bonds. The discontinuity between male homosociality and homosexuality results in male homosocial relationships taking on the form of "male bonding," which is characterized by homosocial desire and intimacy (say it with me now: "broing out") but marked, most notably, by homosexual panic, the fear of this attention gliding over into something a little more taboo, a little more risqué. In an attempt to emphasize heterosexuality, fear or hatred of homosexuals and misogynist language developed. The bro, in short, is a culture-wide defense mechanism against the gay.

This social split between male homosexual and homosocial relationships is why the sort of homosocial bonding on display in black-and-white photographs of men throughout American history all but went extinct by the middle of the 20th century: homosexuality had become a pathologized identity, one that carried connotations of psychological dysfunction and perversion. "The shift meant sitting for a portrait in your best bro's lap was verboten; more important, though, some have argued that it has led to a wide-scale deprivation in boys and men of intimate touch that is important to their development and mental health," Kat Stoeffel explains at The Cut, discussing the rise of touch isolation. "Men who hold hands, sling an arm around each other, and say 'I love you' risk being labeled gay at best and violent homophobic backlash (either from observers or their beloved bro) at worst."


Racism, sexism, and misogyny are alive and well in the minds of some men with too much time, money, and anger on their hands. In this respect, the chest-thumping, booze-guzzling mess of a man you encounter clad in stunner shades and blasting EDM in the early hours of the morning isn't the norm, but some accidental avatar of the worst impulses of modern man. The bro is a historical accident, a hostile social virus—incubated in the safety of homosocial bonding and bred in communal organizations—that has infected the bloodstream of the United States.

But the bro is a persistent creature, and some male-centric organizations can remain safe spaces for misogyny, frustration, anxiety, and cultural narcissism despite shifts in American society. The emphasis on terrible style choices—the cheapest, most juvenile form of identity politics—only distracts attention from other forms of sexism that permeate American culture beneath the veneer of irony and sophistication (hello, hipster sexism). And casting homosocial relationships between men into something cartoonish and clownish, either as insufferably haphazard and childish (like the bromances that dot Judd Apatow's filmography) or mortifyingly aggressive and secretly homosexual (Jersey Shore), can end up conflating positive friendships with the caricature of a man that is the American Bro.

Male friendships are camouflage to the worst impulses of the bro, at the cost of a relatively decent, courteous, and moral class of American men. For them—us—being good isn't enough. We can't just point to this scourge of American social life and say "not all men." I was lucky enough to belong to male-centric institutions—like my childhood summer camp—that emphasized understanding, empathy, and loyalty. But as a straight, white man, I benefit from brodom in American culture, and I've been socialized to navigate it. This is what it means to actually "check your privilege"

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Source. Excerpts taken from source.