Here’s What’s So Harmful About Words Like ‘Bromance’

Here’s What’s So Harmful About Words Like ‘Bromance’

Modern language has drastically adapted as time has gone by.

There’s nothing new about that. But nowadays, we deal with new words that exist entirely to separate genders for no reason.

The example that probably comes to mind is the famous word bromance. Defined as a close but nonsexual relationship between two men, the word seems pretty harmless. After all, doesn’t it just mean a great friendship between two men? Isn’t that what we are supposed to be encouraging? Men have been shamed for years for being even the slightest bit emotional, so showing affection to a fellow male friend in any capacity is a form of knocking down those walls that have been built up.

This isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to the word bromance. In fact, it’s doing the exact opposite.

The word bromance falls into a list of “Brocabulary” terms in which the word “bro” is inserted into any word possible, making it more masculine and therefore acceptable to use for the most macho of men. In the case of bromance, the word bro is being added to romance, suddenly turning one of the deepest forms of love and affection into a hollow relationship. It suggests that the bond between two men cannot be meaningful, or that two men cannot have real feelings or intimacy between each other without having to clarify that it’s a “bro” thing, and doesn’t make them gay.

What makes terms like bromance toxic is that it reduces important, supportive relationships that men need to have with each other to the trope of a group of men drinking beer around a poker table or getting together on Sundays to watch football. They do “bro” things, activities that are physical or manly but have no emotional depth or meaning.

Another problem that comes up is the fear of being perceived as gay for showing affection towards another man, which is part of the definition of homophobia. Ultimately, using the term bromance, or any other word that turns the meaning masculine and therefore makes it okay to be used by men, is harmful because it makes masculinity even more fragile. It makes men feel that they cannot show basic human emotion without it being “justified.”

Interestingly, when the situation is turned around and feminine prefixes are added to normal words, the meaning changes for the better. Take the word shero, meaning a female hero. This word is empowering because it highlights a woman’s accomplishments or contributions to society instead of grouping them in as part of the general population of males and females.

In history, women did not have the opportunity to learn, create things, or work in fields they were good at. When they did, their accomplishments were credited to men; many things we have today are the product of the female mind, but few know that. When feminine prefixes are added to these words, it is, for once, putting women in the spotlight in a community of other women and acknowledging their accomplishments. To be a shero does not simply mean to be a female hero. It also says that females can be heroes, and that that will be celebrated by getting its own word or concept.

Ultimately, the fact that either of these types of words exist still indicates a big problem. Terms like bromance exist because social expectations of masculinity do not allow men to reveal their emotions. Terms like shero exist because women have been overshadowed so much historically that they need an opportunity to be featured on their own.

As long as a major part of male and female identities are being subverted and as long as they are limited on what or who they can be, these concepts will remain.


Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.