Posts Tagged ‘ masculinity ’

The Relevant Rise Of Bronies: Neo-Masculinity

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

I felt it was my duty to try to understand the “bronies” movement.

All I knew is that there are apparently young men (typically ages 18 to 35) who are legitimate fans of the kids’ TV show, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

“Bro’s” and “ponies” equals “bronies.”

The thing that makes bronies so interesting is that… (I’m trying to think of an appropriate, inoffensive, non-judgmental, politically correct, social media friendly way to say it)…

They’re not of any particular demographic; especially not the one that most people might assume. In fact, according to this brony survey (page 7), 70% of bronies… (How can I again safely and appropriately say this?) … 70% of bronies like girls.

Most bronies, other than liking a TV show that was intended for little girls, are not necessarily otherwise into “countercultural” things. I learned this when I saw the documentary “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony” on Netflix.

As I watched the documentary, seeing the bronies made me think of Star Wars fans, or Star Trek fans, or comic book fans.

From what I can see, bronies are pretty much just regular dudes who happen to really appreciate the acceptance of all people, as well as love and good morals… lessons I remember from the 1980s animated version of The Smurfs.

(Though most male fans of the show are older, there are younger male fans as well. Just recently, the story of 9 year-old Grayson Bruce went viral, when his mom claimed that school officials banned his brony backpack because it was a trigger for bullying.)

Again, I felt it was my duty, as the dad of a son who for all I know may be interested in being a brony one day, to check out “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” for myself.

So I watched the first episode.

And it wasn’t really my thing. However, I think I can personally relate to where bronies are coming from…

I remember in high school thinking how it would be cool in a nostalgic way to put a rainbow sticker on the back window of my Bronco II.

Simply because rainbows are happy and make me think of the 1980s… like the famous PBS painter Bob Ross and his “happy little clouds.”

But then I realized that’s not how it would be perceived by most people. I didn’t want to have to keep explaining myself over and over what the rainbow simply meant to me personally, so I decided to the leave the rainbow alone.

Instead, when I graduated 15 years ago in 1999, I walked the stage in my yellow Saucony Jazz running shoes, which I happen to still own and even wore today to the Vanderbilt scrimmage football game. Those shoes are, in a way, my version of a rainbow sticker.

They were my way of personally “disidentifying” with the extremes of American masculinity, as a man.

Still today, if I were forced to choose between identifying as a butch or a femme to decribe myself, which I feel is the way the mainstream media portrays men in the polarized society I believe we live in, I would choose neither:

I would chose brony. I would choose to be the male protagonist of the Nicholas Sparks book. I would choose to be Jim Halpert from The Office. Or Peeta from The Hunger Games.

In other words, I embrace neo-masculinity. It’s a natural and relevant combination of being both sensitive and masculine, which is what I know I have to be, as an active and involved father to you and husband to Mommy.

I like the way Lauren Faust, the developer of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, stated this concept in the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony:

“We need to allow men to be sensitive and to care about one another and not call them weak for caring.”

Okay then. I’ve done the homework. I don’t fear you becoming a brony one day. I understand and appreciate what they represent. 

Until then, I’ll continue teaching you why Captain America is actually the coolest.

Love, Daddy

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Lords of the Playground: Babble
Lords of the Playground: Babble
Lords of the Playground: Babble

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I Am My Son’s Main Masculinity Model

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

2 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

This morning before I dropped you off at school, I told you I wanted to take a picture of you wearing your cool sunglasses for Nonna and Papa.

Without hesitation, this is how you posed:

You instantly crossed your arms like a classic tough guy!

How did you know to do that? It’s not something I’ve ever specifically taught you.

Yet somehow, you knew that because you were getting your picture taken with your black skull-and-crossbones sunglasses (which you identify as “robots”) you instinctively knew that meant to look as masculine as possible.

So you did.

After laughing about this picture all day, a deep thought finally crossed my mind:

I am your main model of masculinity. You get free testosterone lessons from me everyday.

That’s weird/interesting/humbling/cool.

Sure, I know the importance of you getting regular exposure to a positive male role model.

But this goes beyond that. In fact, it’s more subtle than that. The way I walk, talk, play, react… you’re catching clues from my daily performance.

You are learning to be a boy (and ultimately, a man) according to my free lessons.

I take it as a compliment that you are a strong-willed yet polite little boy. That’s pretty much what I’m aiming for.

It’s important to me that you are a true Southern gentleman when it’s all said and done.

I want to know you’ll always stand up for yourself and protect others, yet not be an instigator.

It’s no secret: I am raising and training you to be a leader among others.

Sure, I may err on the side of bravado here, but I love to see that at just 2 and a half, you already sort of remind me of the toddler version of Bruce Willis.

I can easily imagine you driving a motorcycle away from a fiery explosion; like in every cliche action movie trailer I’ve ever seen.

You’re the man.




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The Difference Between 2 Year-Old Boys And Girls

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

You are a boy… and you definitely act like it. You make it so obvious that little boys are wired much differently than little girls.

It’s a rare sight to find you without some kind of overly masculine (and therefore predictably goofy) Hot Wheels car clenched tightly in your hand, whether it’s on the car ride to day care, watching Hard Hat Harry on Netflix at the house, or even navigating your way around any given playground.

At no point do you ever need me to tell you what little boys should like. You are currently obsessed with monster trucks, but it’s not something I prompted.

You just saw a toy monster truck one day and asked me, “I can like that? I take it home?”

The answer was obviously yes. Now you have like 7 of them.

One of your daily routines on the way to school now is to go through the colors of the rainbow in reference to monster trucks and/or Jeep Wranglers:

“I have a blue monster truck? I can drive it?”

I will reply, “Jack has a blue monster truck… He drives it!”

Next you’ll say the truck (or Jeep) is black, orange, purple, or even pink. Twice now you asked for a “dinosaur Jeep.” I’m still trying to figure that one out…

I contrast this against what I see the girls your age doing at daycare. They are always tending to either the baby dolls or the pretend kitchen and food; meanwhile the boys are wandering around, looking for trouble… I mean adventure.

It’s not that I have to stereotype little boys versus little girls. That’s just naturally how it ends up.

Even if you want to drive a pink monster truck or Jeep, the fact is still that you want to drive a monster truck or Jeep.

It would be different if you were fantasizing about a VW Bug, Mini Cooper, Mazda Miata, Dodge Neon, or a Toyota Rav 4.

I say you just can’t hide your masculinity, even behind the color pink.





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