Academic journal article Texas Journal of Women, Gender, and the Law

CAUGHT IN A BAD BROMANCE[dagger]

Academic journal article Texas Journal of Women, Gender, and the Law

CAUGHT IN A BAD BROMANCE[dagger]

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION .................... 242

I. MALE FRIENDSHIP G? POPULAR CULTURE AND LAW ....................245

A. What is Bromance? ....................246

i. Gender ....................247

ii. Sexuality.................... 248

iii. Intimacy ....................248

B. Friendship in the Law ....................249

II. BROMANCES IN MASCULINITIES THEORY ....................250

A. Bromances as Explained by Current Constructions of Masculinity ....................252

i. Parallels to Marriage ....................253

ii. Heteronormativity Under a Guise of Masculinity.................... 256

B. Bromances Outside the Bounds of Masculinities Theory.................... 257

III. THE FUTURE OF BROMANCES.................... 258

A. What Do Bromances Offer? ....................258

B. How Are Bromances Harmful?.................... 259

C. Maintaining Male Intimacy While Eliminating Subordination.................... 260

D. A Thought Experiment ....................260

i. Lifting Social Burdens on Friendship ....................263

ii. State Expression.................... 265

CONCLUSION ....................266

INTRODUCTION

Popular culture celebrates the "bromance," a form of friendship that channels intimate male friendship into narrow and well-defined boundaries. Studying popular culture permits discernment of shared values and ideals that underlie the distribution of power in that society - power that often plays out in law and that sometimes reveals the limits of law. In particular, bromances provide a case study of gender, sexuality, and exclusivity constraints in twenty-first century America as they operate in law and beyond. Those constraints in turn speak to the privilege and subordination imbued in this type of relationship, with implications for other types as well.

Male friendship is not a new concept - Aristotle famously described multiple forms of it in the Nichomachean Ethics. ' In fact, scholars even today consider male friendship to be "deep and lasting" in contrast with women's "fleeting and emotional" friendship.2 Psychologists have even written on the need that boys have for intimate friendship.3 Examples of bromances abound in media coverage of dyads of heterosexual men who share close, exclusive friendships. From Matt Damon and Ben Affleck4 to House and Wilson5 to even Bert and Ernie,6 the phenomenon is widespread. As a sign of its cultural prevalence, the term has inspired a reality television show.7 Some sources have even noted an uptick of personal advertisements seeking bromances, rather than traditional romances, on Craigslist,8 odd in part because personal advertisements tend to focus on romantic or sexual relationships, and almost never on "mere" friendship.9

While scholars have examined the connections between friendship and the law,10 none have specifically considered intimate male friendship as a framework for understanding and analyzing gender and sexuality hierarchy.11 In this Article, I argue that male friendships in the form of bromances offer a lens through which subordination and privilege can be examined. These relationships offer insight into constructions of gender, sexuality, and intimacy that have implications for both men and women. This is not to say that some men do not have multiple intimate friendships with other men, or that bromances are necessarily the norm for all male friendship. I merely seek to examine the construct as described in popular culture, and understand how it may be acting to the detriment of men and women through its influence in that context.

But how much do bromances really matter? There are both benefits and harms that arise from the constraints on male friendship. Examining the harms can reveal ways that law and society can mitigate them and address discrimination through disrupting hierarchies. Interrogation of the benefits may provide room for such friendships to flourish. …

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