Brosteque Enough For You? The Devolution of the ‘Brother’

Bro1Patrick sets down a red plastic cup of Miller Lite and looks at himself in the mirror. He adjusts his baseball cap and pops the collar of his rugby shirt. He can’t wait to start shouting about how awesome he is.

There is a knock at the door. “Hey bro, you almost ready?”

Patrick and his friend look forward to a night of binge drinking and competitive screaming to announce to all those in earshot just how much they like to party. They will drunkenly hit on girls and degrade those outside the bro circle until they start a fight, leave with a girl or pass out somewhere.

Rewind sixty years.

Patrick’s grandfather is in a foxhole somewhere in northern France. He’s reassuring the wounded soldier next to him.

“It’s okay, brother. The medic will be here soon.”

Patrick’s grandfather and the wounded soldier consider themselves brothers even though they only met in boot camp. They would both sacrifice themselves to save the other’s life.

Fast forward.

To call someone outside your family a brother used to be something sacred and honorable (think HBO’s award-winning series Band of Brothers). What happened in the last sixty years to bastardize something once so highly esteemed?

Bro2The college party scene happened and brothers became bros. What was once a high compliment is now a mockery. But what’s the big deal? Everyone knows that college frat boys are prone to act like idiots.True, frat boys are mostly bros, but you don’t have to be a member of a fraternity or even a college student to be a bro. The scary thing is: they’re everywhere now. They’ve graduated from frat parties to boardrooms but they haven’t lost what it means to them to be a bro.

For example, Pax Dickinson (recently the CTO at Business Insider) was forced to resign after an Internet backlash stemming from a long history of misogynist, racist and classist tweets. Pax has since become the face of “bro-grammers” the world over.

Most intelligent people have a healthy dislike for bros, and for good reason, but the term itself is not necessarily derogatory – it’s simply something guys use to describe each other. It’s also spawning a long list of new words of which bro-grammer is only one.

Have you seen the film “I Love You, Man?” It’s classified as a “bro-mance,” which, according to Urban Dictionary, is defined as the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males.

“Bro-git” is another example. In order to be a bro, you must first be legit and able to relate to the bro lifestyle (think Patrick from the anecdote above). If you pass the test, you’re now bro-git.

Aside from sounding completely ridiculous, these new words reinforce the ideas and stereotypes promoted by the bros that practice them. If the true brothers in arms could see what’s happened to the word they used so reverently, they’d surely roll over in their graves.

Can you think of any other “bro” words? Are there other words that have suffered a similar fate?