Bronies and masculinity

This video explains the weirdness of the brony culture.

TL:DR version: the My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic show is watched and loved by kids and adults, men and women alike. For some reason this has become a stigma.

Doesn’t this just scream “manly”?

So what’s the problem, anyway? Is it with the show? Let’s do a breakdown of MLP:

Six characters who happen to be female. One is an introverted bookworm nerd. One is the down-home country girl. One is the super-shy soft-spoken animal lover. One is the fashion-oriented glitter-fixated clothing designer. One is the tomboy. One is the spastic random-joke-spewing party animal.

Together they have adventures involving topics like the hazards of babysitting, what happens when you try to please everyone (and wind up pleasing no one), pride going before a fall. And also dragons (although we’ve seen hydras and manticores at least once, too).

As cartoons go, it’s a pretty good one, once you get past the cutesy pinkness.

So what’s the deal about bronies? Oh yeah, there are men who like this show. Like, adult men. They call themselves “bronies”. There’s this whole kerfuffle about “omg My Little Ponies isn’t manleh”. But what is appropriate for men, anyway?

Our culture has this skewed idea of what constitutes masculine and feminine. According to our culture, trucks, jets, explosions, sports, the color blue, and beer are all considered masculine. Conversely, things like flowers, dolls, ponies, interest in clothing and looks, and the color pink are considered feminine.

Nevermind that lots of men like things on the “feminine” list, and women like things on the “masculine” list.

Where did these ideas come from, anyway? As the mother of a boy and two girls, I’m the first to admit that the genders are different. Boys have more energy and express themselves more violently than girls. They love picking on girls. Whereas girls are all about the drama. They enjoy slightly milder pursuits. And they let boys pick on them.

(It drives me mad, but all you have to do is sit on a crowded playground and observe their interactions. Girls always, always play the victim. It’s why they scream so much. It’s how they have fun.)

Just because some boys enjoy dinosaurs, we have this idea that all boys like dinosaurs. Is there something wrong with a little girl who enjoys dinosaurs? Not exactly, but it doesn’t fit the stereotype. Is there something wrong with a little boy who plays with ponies? No.

(Men have ridden horses for thousands of years before the car came along. Before cars, horses were the car. Horses, and even ponies, are extremely ‘manly’ if you think about it that way.)

Taking it even further back, the Bible has the oldest definition of the gender roles available to man.

Man was created to love God, to work on this earth, to pursue righteousness, to care for and protect those weaker than himself.

Woman was created to be man’s helpmeet. She also shares man’s responsibility to love God, work, study, and care for and protect those weaker than herself, especially children.

Notice that enjoying shows about pink ponies doesn’t fall into either classification. Going by this ancient model, My Little Ponies is appropriate for everyone.

Just like how there are men who enjoy Jane Austen and romance novels. They just don’t spread it around, because our culture has skewed views of what is an appropriate pursuit for a man.

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6 thoughts on “Bronies and masculinity

  1. THANK YOU for drawing the distinction between secular and Biblical masculinity.

    So they like MLP, I don’t bat a lash to that. It’s a good show with nice characters and stories. I’m pretty sure men are also involved in its production.

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    1. Nobody knows what the male and female roles are anymore. Fortunately the Biblical ones are very, very simple. Things vary according to culture, of course, but man is always the protector/provider and woman is always the helper/nurturer. It’s just the way our bodies are made, even if our minds rebel against it.

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  2. I think everyone should read this. Not just for the brony thing, mind you, but for other gender “linehopping” as well. I’m such a tomboy and strangers assume that must mean I’m gay. Just because I like boys clothes and don’t wear makeup doesn’t mean I’m not feminine. =P

    I’m going to share this. XD

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  3. Rachel: I used to be like that until I got married. Then I learned that you “have to keep the barn painted” for your hubby. So I wear a little makeup all the time, even if it’s only eyeliner. Also skirts, because he thinks I’m hawt in dresses. It’s amazing how your view of your own femininity changes when your man likes you looking like a woman. 🙂

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  4. Some of the topics actually are pretty girly, I mean you don’t normally see “boys’ shows” feature babysitting. The precursor–the old cartoon–was also very girly, and let’s not forget the heart-shaped brushes or the pretty packaging with rainbows and flowers, that come with the toys. You can’t easily see past all that unless you actually sit down and watch it.

    People also seem to have difficulty considering things in terms other than their black and white extremes. You can love something, or hate it, but if you say you’re indifferent folks will try to ascribe one or other opinion to you anyways. So it’s not much of a surprise to me that people can’t see MLP as just an “everyone’s cartoon” with some girly elements.

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  5. The world is an interesting place but society seems a bit confused on some things. We tend to get hung up on outdated definitions.

    This reminds me of another subject…

    When people give me the ‘aren’t you too old for comics?’ or ‘cartoons are for little kids’ routine then I tell them to read the credits. Granted, comics and cartoons may often be made for kids but they are not – in most cases – made by kids. They’re made by adults. Adults invent and draw the comics and cartoons. Adults give voices and storylines and depth to all those characters. And it’s a heckofa way to a make a living, I imagine. Therefore fans of all ages should not be discouraged.

    With the gender thing – it’s the same brand of logic at work. People think My Little Pony is girly? Okay, so it’s definitely marketed that way. But watch the credits. There’s guys working behind those scenes, writing and directing and editing and so on – aren’t there? So the show may be made for girls but it is also made possible, at least in part, by guys. Therefore fans of all genders should be expected and welcomed.

    I’m glad that more people are making progress in that direction.

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