Bromances: A Challenge to Hyper Masculinity

It was mid May, a Saturday and the kind of day that most college students designate for drinking before 2:00pm. My male companions were no exception. My friend and I stood on the steps of their front porch and watched two of them wrestle drunkenly under the warm spring sun. “Look!” I snickered and nudged my girl friend’s arm. “Oh my God, this is priceless!” she responded and sipped her beer, pretending to enjoy it’s dull flavor. “Awe, now isn’t that just the most precious thing?” I tried my best southern drawl. “They look like kittens playing. My heart is melting.” I agreed, “Yes, like two gigantic drunk kittens.” We laughed in unison and finished what was left of our stale beer.

Now, if one were to see two grown men wrestling on the ground all the while gazing longingly into each other’s eyes he or she might be able to assume which team they’re pitching for. On the other hand, contrary to most straight male fantasies, two women pillow fighting in their underwear is less likely to be seen as lesbian behavior, no matter how close they get. So why is it that women can touch, play, and occasionally blur the borders between hetero and homosexuality but men cannot? As our society becomes increasingly open minded we’re beginning to feel more comfortable disregarding the categorization of female sexuality. It is a cultural expectation for many women that we able to openly show affection for one another. Learned affection can be seen as important form of social conditioning that has been historically enforced in order to teach women how to become proper caregivers. Real affection, hugging, holding, and physical contact of this nature often enough has nothing to do with sexuality. Rather, it has more to do with love.

My friend has a theory about male sexuality, she thinks that all men harbor secret homoerotic fantasies. “All men are truly gay deep down.” She spoke so confidently that I choked on my wine. “What? What does that even mean?” I giggled and swallowed hard. “No, You know what I mean. Like, I would bet money that when we’re not around men dance around naked and have drunken sword fights.” I thought of my friends, the ones posing in the picture above, and decided that for them that was probably the case but that it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to have sex with each other. I asked her to remember back to middle school when we would all take turns flashing one another at sleepovers. None of us became lesbians later on in life, we were just curious. Can’t men share the same kind of curiosity without having to be branded as “gay”? Shouldn’t men be allowed to freely express affection and curiosity the way that most women do? I would think yes.

We live in a society with a hyper masculine idea of what men should and shouldn’t be. Our culture has decided that any form of same sex affection is automatically entangled in sexual desires. Most of the time this is simply not the case. We as women cannot expect to break our sexuality and love free from the cages and categories that bind us if we continue to perpetuate the stereotypes for men. There is a deep longing within every human regardless of gender or sexual orientation to feel physically comfortable with their peers, so let them. I’ve learned a lot from observing bros interact with one another but I believe that the most important less thus far is that real men hug it out.