8 "Bro Codes" I Don't Want My Son To Learn, Ever

by Dina Leygerman

"Bro," a term coined sometime in the 20th century, refers to a young man considered to be a "conventional guy's guy." A bro is part of the subculture of young men who are often members of a close group of friends. These young men sometimes belong to fraternities, spend much of their time together, and are often alike in personalities and interests. The "Bro Code" is an unwritten list of "etiquette" bros are "required" to follow. Most of these rules for bros are actually kind of great and encourage companionship, loyalty, and camaraderie. However, there are certain "Bro Codes" I don't want my son to learn. Ever.

The rise in the popularity of the Bro Code came with Neil Patrick Harris' character in How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson. Barney, the infamous womanizer, misogynist, and the ultimate party boy, strictly abides by the Bro Code. Barney treats all of his male friends as "bros" and insists they all uphold and respect the Bro Code at all times and regardless of circumstance.

Now, to be fair, many "Bro Codes" are actually quite stellar. Like, a bro should never let his bro drive drunk, bros help each other move, bros console each other after a break up, and bros must honor their parents. However, the rest (which happens to be the majority) of the "Bro Code" is rooted in sexism and bigotry. So, as much as I hope my son has close, true friends, I definitely do not want him to immerse himself in most of the bro culture.

Bros Before You-Know-What

"The bond between two men is stronger than the bond between a man and a woman because, on average, men are stronger than women."

This is the original, and probably the first, Bro Code. "Bros before females" implies that one's friends are more important than one's significant others. Now, in theory, this code has a decent foundation. Friendship is important and we shouldn't ditch our friends just because a cute guy/girl comes along. However, while I do want my son to respect and value his friendships, I do not want him to think that his friends are more important that his significant other. While friendships may be the most important relationships we have when we are teenagers, when we grow up, relationships change, and that mindset must also change. When (and if) my son is married, I hope his family is his priority.

Also, the original phrase for this code is ridiculously offensive and misogynistic. I don't want my son to even utter it.

Bros Should Never Date Each Other's Ex-Girlfriends Or Sisters

"Never shall a bro make a move or even harbor thoughts of making away with his bro’s sister or ex-girlfriend."

The main problem I have with these codes is the blatant sexism. Women are not possessions and hence they cannot be "off limits." A man doesn't get to tell another man whom he is allowed to date. It's abysmal to believe that the man is in charge in "choosing" his partner. If my son likes a friend's sister (or brother, for that matter), then I'd like him to ask her out. As long as he is respectful to both his friend and his friend's sister, he's good to go.

Wingman Duties Should Be Taken With Utmost Seriousness

"When a bro tasks you to being his wingman for the night, you must drop all your initial plans and report for this divine duty. If the woman he is targeting has a friend, it’s your sacred duty to sometimes feign romantic feelings, drawing her away in order to give your bro ample space to bond with his catch."

There is so, so much wrong with this code. I agree that it's a good idea to have a "wingman," in that I hope my son has someone he trusts by his side, someone who makes sure he is safe, and someone who makes sure my son doesn't drink himself into trouble. However, the rest of that code is pure ridiculousness. "Drop all of your initial plans," really? No. If you have plans, you stick to those plans. That's accountability. A "woman he is targeting," really? What's up with this language? "Targeting," like she's an antelope and he's a cheetah? Is this woman his prey? No, do not "target" women. Finally, a bro must "feign romantic feelings" for the targeted woman's friend. I mean what in the actual f*ck? I really hope my son doesn't pretend to like someone just so his "bro" can hook up with her friend.

A Bro Shall Never Share A Bed With Another Man

"A bro shall never share a bed with another man unless there is absolutely no other option. When a bro is forced to spend the night lying on the same bed with another man, both shall sleep with all clothes on and a buffer zone shall be created between the two."

Why are straight men so obsessed with proving their sexuality? In addition to this code, bros apparently are not allowed to stand next to each other at the urinal or give each other hugs. If my son wants to hug another man, he shouldn't feel ashamed for doing so. I mean, come on.

If It Makes A Good Story, Do It

"A bro is always entitled to do something stupid, as long as the rest of his bros are all doing it."

No. Don't be stupid. Please, son, just don't.

Lie For Your Bro

"You shall vouch for everything your bro says even when it’s totally ridiculous."

This is usually in reference to a woman. Apparently, a bro must tell a woman that his bro is the best and the greatest even if that isn't at all true. No, I don't want my son to learn that deception is OK when the end result is for your friend to "get some."

A Bro Can’t Wear Pink

"A bro shall never wear pink. Not even when in Europe."

But, why? What exactly is "wrong" with the color pink? Is it too feminine for a "real" bro? I've seen plenty of men wear pink and it looks great.

A Bro Never Cries

A bro never cries except for when watching Field of Dreams, E.T., or a sports legend retire.

I simply cannot stand it when I hear people tell their sons to stop crying because "men don't cry." Men cry. People cry. Everyone cries. Crying is a natural response to an emotion, whether that emotion is anger, sadness, grief, empathy, or any other feeling that incites a teary response. To tell men they are not "allowed" to cry is ludicrous. If my son is thrown by an overwhelming emotion, I don't want him to have to suppress his tears because his bro thinks it's wrong.

Son, I know I won't be able to dictate your life for too long. I know you'll grow up and eventually stop listening to me and to my advice. You'll make a bunch of mistakes, probably take wrong turns, and likely get yourself into some trouble. You'll hear, and possibly (but I hope not) be a part of, some "locker-room" talk. You may find yourself walking among peers who degrade and dehumanize women and those who think it's "cool" to brag about their "conquests." You may slip here and there and say something out-of-character because your "bros" may think it's cool or funny. However, please know this: you can respect women and respect yourself and be a good friend all at the same time. You can be a bro and a good human simultaneously, which is why I hope you never abide my most "Bro Codes." Honestly, they're ridiculous.