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“Have You Heard of the Brony Phenomenon?”

from dreamcicle19772006 on Flickr.com Would you be worried if this was your bro's bedroom? I think I'd be proud.

Yesterday, Child was watching My Little Pony on Netflix when Fella got home from work.

He said to me, “Have you heard of the Brony Phenomenon?”

I said, “Sounds like a three-year-old saying bologna.”

He laughed and said, “It does, but that’s not what I’m talking about.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Bros who love ponies.  Heterosexual men in their twenties–though I’m sure there are some who aren’t–who love watching My Little Ponies.”

The ponies squealed from the TV in the other room with their high-energy love for all things pink and their insipid social hijinks and I thought for a moment, “This can’t be real.”

Oh but it can.  Boy can it ever.  Holy birds.

On to the Bronies

Apparently, it’s Brony singular and Bronies plural.  There are memes and videos and rather a lot of this kind of strange, incredulous confessional.  NPR got it here, and Wired has it in this article.

In my googling this morning, I came across those two links above, but–somewhat disturbing to me–some “concerned” questions on Yahoo answers and Ask.com about male relatives who are bronies requiring some kind of intervention.  A particularly judgemental blog post by a woman who finds bronies to be disturbing and then rails off with some pro-family/anti-different rhetoric.

Aside from the fact that I shudder to think what would occur on 4Chan, Reddit, and their troll-magnet counterparts–plus all the fan-girl generated Memes and forums and blogs and other content factories–if a group of female adults decided that a specifically “male” show, like say Johnny Test or  Bob the Builder or GI Joe (do they still have that?  I heard they’re remaking Thundercats) was worthy of obsession: certainly, those women would be labeled dykes in a heartbeat and scorned with hate speak, and some how the conservative/tea party/religious right pundits would figure out a way to spin it into meaning that women can no longer be trusted with their own uteri; I’m kind of fascinated by the Bronies.

Maybe there is some women-who-dig-Handy-Manny phenomenon, but we wouldn’t know about it, because there would be no polite little articles about it on Wired or interest from “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on NPR.

Still, I dig the bronies.

I do not dig MLP, but that this is happening, I think, bodes well for women in the future.

Here’s what I mean: Enough men have to evolve beyond believing that women are stupid ninnies in great enough numbers such that majority populations (beyond just the women themselves) agree that, for example, women should vote.

This sucks and is massively depressing, but it’s an American historical precedent, and we’ve been trying to get rid of it for almost 100 years, to a still-too-great ineffect.

While women have been bucking gender stereotypes on a small scale for generations, there are still more people who would prefer to keep us safe and sound in our kitchens, willing depositories for multiple daily ejaculations, and whenever we’re not, tucked away in some public school someplace as a teacher, or servicing some (male) executive or attorney’s busy schedule.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that’s more urbane than where I do, and you doubt me, according to the Women’s Labor Bureau, just over half of all women ages 16 and older were part of the work force (not necessarily employed, but looking for work) during 2010.

And yes, it’s true that a lot of women prefer to not work (ahem because they’ve been indoctrinated by patriarchal rhetoric since birth, or it is legitimately their preference), and it’s also true that statistics can be presented in such as way as to be lies, and it’s also true that it’s not necessarily safe to assume that the statistics complied by the government are carefully and soundly collected and agenda free.

But here’s why I see Bronies as a total win for women and for feminism.

1.  Bronies are YOUNG.  20-30, typically.  Some younger & older outliers.  Probably mostly childless.  Young people get to determine the future mores.  If young men are flexible enough about gender to be MLP fans, they’ll remember that when their daughters want to play football or go to college for welding.  I hope.

2.  I’m not aware of any cultural events as significantly blind to (or ignoring) gender as this one during my lifetime.  Men have not started taking up teaching or being secretaries or nurses or other traditionally “female” jobs in record numbers, or wearing pink.  Men have not started reading chick lit or romance in large enough numbers to warrant mention in media.  I really think that this sets a precedent of making it more okay for people–hopefully both women and men–to express preferences and sympathies that cross traditionally gendered media, careers, etc.  Perhaps notions of gender will get so watered down that by the time Child is having kids, there won’t be “girl” TV shows or “boy” TV shows.

Of course, it could also be posited that this is all a symptom of an absolute shit job market, and that when it improves, the men won’t return to work introspective and evolved, they’ll be angry that they were so very demoralized and emasculated while they were unemployed, they’ll shirk their bronie badges and they’ll rally toward a dark, villainous reign of terror, and who will be their subjects?  Yup, women.  And like we did after the second world war, we’ll probably let them to a large extent.  After all, time does seem to be peddling slowly backward in terms of women’s rights…

What do ya’ll think, blog readers?  Sound off in the comments.

6 comments on ““Have You Heard of the Brony Phenomenon?”

  1. “If young men are flexible enough about gender to be MLP fans, they’ll remember that when their daughters want to play football or go to college for welding. I hope.”

    I hope so, too!! I think, but mostly hope because I don’t think I’ve met a large enough subset to say with certainty, that Gen Xers and Millenials are getting fed up with some of the really limiting narrow-mindedness that has plagued older generations. Of course, I’m making huge generalizations and of course there are members of the Greatest Generation through to the Boomers who are also getting fed up, but I have high hopes that our generations will usher in a kinder, more open and accepting world. At least legally, if not socially, since humans have always seemed to struggle with putting each other in groups, assigning characteristics to those groups, sticking to the groups and not doing well with moving between them or with people who behave in ways that don’t suit theirs.

    • I hope you’re right. I think, however, that it’s easier to see what you’re seeing when you live in an urban area and work in a field in which people are generally liberal and well-educated. I feel like, however, as much as urban areas are the noisiest culturally (which is a good thing), there’s still far far less enlightenment in the population that’s rural. Think about how (I don’t know if it feels like this to you) whenever you go back to Carlisle you sense that you’ve time warped backward 30 years. It’s that way here, too. And, I imagine, in other rural parts of the country… maybe even more so because some rural areas are far more secluded from city life. I’m thinking of the massive portion of our country over in the Western part here.

      Still, I have high hopes for the ways in which the internet seems to be making our country smaller and giving more people access to more information that’s pretty readily available, if you care to go looking for it. Trouble is, people are lazy, so probably still a smaller percentage of the population is thinking about this stuff… Too, think about the hubbub in the media and government right now about women’s rights. An unfortunate thing about the content and information availability is that not everybody will have the education or critical thinking skills to pluck through it and glean anything valuable. And I think most people would agree that there’s nothing more dangerous than under-informed zealotry.

  2. My closest childhood friend came out to me as a brony, so I decided that I would have a little look into what all this is about. I hadn’t a clue that it was an entire subculture! The cartoons look so much more sophisticated from when I saw them as a kid, and the toys look gorgeous compared to the mangy ones I played with when I was little! I might convert to bronyism! :D

  3. I’m a 22 year old college guy and I’m a brony. : D I love the show. The characters are so unique even down to the secondary characters.

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