The very mention of them can send shivers up a grown woman's spine. Local eateries shudder as they enter their establishment. The only thing more off-putting than their aggressive immaturity is the fact that society seems more than happy to continually indulge their inappropriate behavior and cater to their every ridiculous whim. I speak, of course, of toddlers. Oh, wait, no. Toddlers can't help it: they're toddlers, and I don't mind them (though I get why other people aren't fans). I'm talking about bros. But, I mean, I could be talking about both, because a toddler and a bro are basically the same person.
I'll be honest: I feel like when it comes to exposure to bro culture ("brosposure," if you will) I've gotten off pretty light. In high school my class was, rather miraculously, mostly cool. The bro contingent was pretty easy to avoid, especially if, like me, you did theater. I went to an extremely artsy college (fraternities were, in fact, illegal), and so campus culture was much more focused around events run by the LGBTU than around Greek Week. Post-college, my career path led me to non-profit institutions and writing for a feminist website, so I'll let you guess how many bros I've encountered professionally.
In other words, I have the benefit of an outsider's perspective. Unlike someone who went to a college that was super into Greek Life, bro customs never became "normal" to me. I therefore possess the kind of detachment necessary to view bro-ness with a sort of academic and non-biased lens that others may not be able to achieve. This, coupled with the fact that I have a lot of experience with toddlers (having raised two at this point), sets me up to make connections others might not be able to necessarily draw. When I have encountered bros (and let's face it: even someone with minimal exposure still gets a lot of "brosposure" because, you know, the internet), I recognize a lot of their quirks, peccadilloes, and behaviors right off the bat. I mean, they're identical to those of my two and three year olds'.
They Have Really Skewed Ideas Of Fairness
Toddler: "But I want to eat ice cream for dinner! Why won't you let me?! That's not fair!"
Bro: "They're re-booting one of my favorite movies with an all-female cast and it's going to ruin my childhood in ways I can't really articulate but want you to just accept as fact. That's not fair!"
They Don't Actually Think The Rules Apply To Them
"What's that? A "No Trespassing" sign on that fenced off construction site? It's OK, I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I went over. Because I really, really want to sit in the seat of the digger and maybe drive it around for a bit. It would be so much fun! They wouldn't even damage anything. No one will get hurt! Come on, let's go now! This is going to be epic!" I mean, you could just as easily see this brilliant scheme coming from the mind of a toddler or a bro out and about with his brohams, right? (Though, admittedly, use of the term "epic" does tilt it a little more into "bro" territory, if I'm being honest.)
Fortunately, toddlers (usually) eventually learn that the rules are rules for a reason. It takes a while, but thankfully we get there. That is, of course, unless that toddler grows up to be a bro, in which case the selective application of rules is a lifelong axiom. (See also: The Wolf of Wall Street, which bros seem to see as an instruction manual rather than a cautionary tale.)
They Expect A Damn Parade For The Most Basic Accomplishments Or Acts Of Kindness
The other night my son brushed his teeth, like he does literally every single night. When he was done, he went up to my partner and said, "Look at my teeth! Now do that thing where you lift me up and tell me you're so proud." For using mouthwash. It was adorable, yes, but seriously kid? This is basic hygiene and not necessarily a cause for celebration.
Similarly, a bro holds a door for you and you're supposed to drop your panties on the spot, ideally without using your hands, because if you're sufficiently and appropriately appreciative of his awe-inspiring acts of chivalry, your drawers will drop all on their own.
They All Dress Pretty Much The Same
Unless you have a conspicuously fashion-forward child on your hands, chances are your kid is going to be in the basic toddler uniform: a dirty shirt or onesie, comfy pants with an elastic waistband and a pair of sneakers. There's even a pretty good chance that it's from one of a couple brands, so you're going to be seeing a lot of the same thing over and over.
This is not dissimilar to bros. Granted, the bro uniform may vary by region or season, but overall you're looking at some pretty standard wardrobe staples: polo shirts, sunglasses perpetually perched aloft particularly coiffed hair (again, varies by region), boat shoes, backwards caps, button-downs, that pair sandals literally all of them seem to own. Again, the exact combinations may vary but I guarantee that no matter where you are, a Bro Clothes BINGO card could be filled up pretty quickly.
They Get More Unruly The More Of Them There Are
One toddler is enough to drive a person to exhaustion, as is one bro, but sometimes, one-on-one, they're sort of funny. Sure, you'll find yourself shaking your head in disbelief at the ridiculous things they're saying; like that one time a toddler I was babysitting insisted to the point of yelling about it that her mom was Jennifer Lopez, or that other time a bro told me that feminists are "scientifically uglier than average." But, whatever, there's just one. It's annoying but doable.
Get two, three, or a dozen toddlers/bros in one place? Pandemonium. Goddamn chaos all around. The only difference between a Chuck E. Cheese and a bro bar, really, is the ball pit, and if you give bros even the inkling of an idea, and enough time, I promise you they will build a ball pit in their local bar.
They Are Prone To Exaggeration
My toddler has no concept of reality, for the most part, so anything that happens, happens in a way that was significantly more extravagant than humanly possible. My toddler didn't just jump, my toddler jumped over an entire building.
Bros, well, are the same. They didn't just "hook up" with one girl, they hooked up with several and probably at the same time and it was magnificent and glorious. Yeah, whatever bro.
They Like Wearing Less Clothing In Public Than Is Appropriate
Why is it that no matter where you are or what you're doing, toddlers and bros alike will find any excuse to take off their shirt? In each case, usually, it'll happen before you realize it happened. You'll just look over and be like, "When did Taylor take off his shirt? Did anyone notice? Can we have someone ask him to back on? I mean, we're at a funeral."
They Have A Lot Of Emotions Which They Express In Inappropriate Ways
Bless their hearts, they feel really big feelings and, for whatever reason, they just can't seem to express themselves properly. Maybe it's because their brains haven't developed yet or because they had this one really awful but charismatic football coach who routinely hurled homophobic slurs at them. I mean, you never know, I guess. Either way, deep-seated hurt and frustration just becomes incoherent screaming fits and throwing furniture around, which both bros and toddlers seem to do far too frequently.
They Like Stupid TV Shows
Toddlers have Caillou. Bros have Entourage. I guess both demographics are attracted to male-driven narratives that center around the life of a total douchebag with an inflated sense of self.
They Are Entitled AF
In the minds of toddlers and bros, wanting something means deserving something. Not getting that thing you want, well, that's just not fair.
If they don't get what they feel they're owed? Straight-up temper tantrums abound. Bros probably actually one-up toddlers in this particular area for a couple reasons 1) toddlers' brains have not developed enough for them to realize there's a world outside of their wants and needs and 2) bros tend to extend their sense of entitlement to the things they love and relate to. I mean, have you ever seen a group of bros after their sports team loses? Toddler freak-outs (hell, not even my toddlers' freak-outs) don't even compare.
They Are So, So Loud
It's otherworldly, and I say this as a notably loud woman. Neither group has any real sense of volume control or concept of "time and place..."
Their Taste In Music Is Usually Pretty Predictable
Toddlers: Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Mommy Finger/Daddy Finger...
Bros: DMB, Sublime, Avicii, Mumford and Sons...
They Believe The Women In Their Lives Exist To Cater To Them
Toddlers are sort of trained to believe this because they more or less rely on adults to do everything for them, and that adult is most often their mother.
Bros are sort of trained to believe this too, but by a culture built around toxic masculinity. Unlike toddlers, bros should know better. Women, from mothers to girlfriends to girl friends, are there to provide physical and emotional support for pretty much everything they do, from feeding egos to feeding bellies.
They Quote Their Favorite TV Shows And Movies All The Time
With toddlers, it's just sort of a quirk of the age to repeat what they hear ad nauseam. It's important to language development and, honestly, it can be pretty damn adorable.
With bros? Well, I think they really and truly have a difficult time forming an original thought, so they just quote Daniel Tosh and Stewie Griffin and pretend they were the first person to pick up on how hilarious the "Mom! Mom! Mom!" bit was.
They Are Obsessed With Genitalia As A Source Of Humor
Okay, I'll give it to them a little bit: a penis can be pretty funny. But dear God, there's a limit, guys!
They Really Don't Get Irony
Irony is a concept lost on toddlers, as they lack the mental development to understand it. While what a toddler does on a daily basis can and usually is pretty ironic, pointing out said irony to them would be fruitless.
Same goes for bros. Except in their case, they claim to understand irony and use it as some kind of social armor after they say or do something really sexist, racist, or otherwise dickish. Anyone who dares call them out will be told "I said it ironically, relax." Sure you did, dude.
They're Messy AF
I used to visit a friend of mine in college, whose boyfriend lived in a frat house, and the hideous messes I saw there used to haunt my dreams, until I had toddlers and now it's pretty much the status quo.
They're Not Especially Good Gift Givers
True story, that same friend's boyfriend once bought her season tickets to his favorite baseball team for her birthday. She had zero interest in baseball whatsoever and he knew it.
This reminds me of the Christmas my son gave me a pine cone dipped in glue. Nothing went on the glue. Like, if he were decorating the pine cone with something it's still kind of a pointless craft, but I'd have gotten it. But no, there was just glue. Truthfully, I think he just wanted to see what would happen when he put a pine cone in glue, and didn't want to get in trouble for it. Well played, son. Well played.
They're Super Pushy
You know how, in Game of Thrones, every noble family has "house words?" The Starks have "Winter Is Coming" the Lannisters have "Hear Me Roar." If toddlers and bros had house words they would most likely be "Come On, Man! Come Ooooooooooon!"
They Do Really Stupid Things When They Get Together
The gathering of so many individuals who believe, unequivocally, in their right to do whatever the hell they want, coupled with an overestimation of their own abilities and their complete disregard for others, leads to absolutely spectacularly awful, often dangerous ideas.
In the end, you kind of have to hand it to these two groups of headstrong idiots. Toddlers? Bros? I salute you. It's a wonder you've lived so long.