Lately, writing-inclined Midd folk have gotten their hands dirty in what I’d coin “Middlebury bro-ology,” or, the study of “bros” at Midd. Recent dabbles in Midd bro-ology include Nathan Weil’s ’15 Middlebury Campus op-ed defending the white-privileged-male-econ major against the feminist “condescension” found in Sam Kaufman’s ’12.5‘s Campus article, and Cody Gohl ’13′s MiddBlog analysis of “bro” culture. Last month’s ADP disbandment further ignited tensions among “bro-ologists,” as many deemed Delta house “home of the bros.” For the purposes of this article, a Middlebury “bro” is defined as a white, male athlete, though Cody’s post associates “bros” with traits such as ”racial/social/economic elitism, misogyny, affiliations with sports teams, heavy drinking, dorm damage, homophobia, close-mindedness.”
I think most of us agree with Cody that “bro-hate is stupid and unproductive.” That being said, stereotypes like “bro,” “hipster”, “nerd” etc. are deeply engrained in our vernacular, despite often being incorrect, offensive, and vehicles for social segregation. Influences like the hit 2010 “Midd Kid” music video prime our acceptance of such social stereotypes even before arriving on campus, though this video offended targeted groups including “lax bros” as described here.
But amid all the discussion of “bros” in campus media, the voices of those labeled as “bros” have been left out. Social psychology explains that no matter how many reliable peers tell us the dude decked out in croakied Ray Bans and Vineyard Vines should not be defined by elitism, over-aggression, and intolerance, stereotype reversal depends on “bros” themselves providing counter-examples.
In this spirit, sixteen white, male, athletes were asked by email for personal reflections upon various “bro” stereotypes (racial/social/economic elitism, misogyny, affiliations with sports teams, heavy drinking, dorm damage, homophobia, close-mindedness). Here’s what they had to say (bold was put in by the post author):
Nick Spencer ’15, White, Soccer/Track, Psychology:
“Yes, there are kids on campus labeled as “bros” who can be slightly malicious, aggressive, ignorantly rude, and whatever other stereotypes the word ‘bro’ has taken on. The word bro is not the problem, though. I refer to many of my friends as “bros and do so in a way that perpetuates the trust and reliance I hold in them… That said, let me clarify that I do not condone any inappropriate behavior… We all need to take a step back and remember how important it is to respect the place and people around us.
Arguing about this topic only spreads negative feelings around campus, and helps fragment the already split social scene… In reality, all these categories (bro’s, hipsters, nerds, etc.) hold a rigidity that belittles everyone and deprives people of their human complexity… We all make mistakes, we all have the potential to be better, it is very possible to make this school a more fun place for everyone. We already suffer enough from the Grill not being open after 2 and the lack of juice at lunch. We don’t have to suffer because of each other.”
Travis Fishstein ’15, White, Baseball, Biochemistry:
“I do not consider myself a “bro.” A traditional interpretation of the word ‘bro’ means literally, one’s brother. Thus, a bro is anyone (usually male) that one (again, male) sees and feels towards as being of the same level of emotional and cultural meaning as a true, genetic brother. Now, this term can either be invoked in a serious manner (picture a middle aged guy saying “I love you, bro” to a lifelong best friend) or in a very nonchalant manner (“what’s up, bro”). When we get into trouble, then, is when the word degrades to the point where a ‘bro’ becomes so meaningless that it can be used in phrases like “come at me, bro”… A man you are about to fight is a NOT a bro.
However, just because you are a baseball player does not make you a bro, though it provides a foundation for a “bro-lationship.” This is no different to the foundation a roommate or a family friend has. What makes the term bro so appealing is the traditional meaning it invokes. However, this word has degraded. [Consequentially] I am stigmatized by a small group of young men who are largely physically, economically and socially similar to me, yet are not representative of what a bro is, or of the majority of ‘bro’s’ on campus. We are young men with ambition, pursuits and noble ideas, but sadly some of the more vocal members of this sub-set of students on campus cast a bad light.”
Click after the jump for more responses.