Bros, like hipsters, are an externally defined group. Just as Williamsburg is full of twentysomethings who will never self-define as hipsters, every frat house in America is full of bros who will tell you they are not your typical frat guy.
Enter The New Republic’s Adam Wilson. Just when I thought the Internet had exhausted every angle for discussing Seth MacFarlane’s Oscars, Wilson invokes a new one: bro code. In an essay entitled “Play It Cool, Bro,” Wilson offers a penis-centric rebuke of MacFarlane’s boob song:
But there’s a group that should be equally irate about “We Saw Your Boobs”: admirers of bare breasts. Because MacFarlane’s is exactly the type of frat-boy behavior that leads so many American women to keep their breasts hidden from public view for fear of just such humiliation.
Adam Wilson is not your typical frat guy. Instead of loudly objectifying women, he does it silently in his head. He’s a frat guy who studied abroad for a semester in Europe, where the honeys were naked all of the time:
Think of any European man that you know. If you don’t know any European men then just think of Javier Bardem, whose stubbly demeanor represents a kind of pan-European suavity. Now, imagine Javier Bardem, or someone who looks like him, at the beach. Two female bathers park their towels next to his. […] The bathers are confronted with a choice. Do they remove their bikini tops at the risk of being ogled by male beachgoers?
Bro, I went to this nude beach? Down on the Amalfi Coast, where that hot murder chick went. And the bellezas were just taking their tops off, but only if the dudes were cool:
Now, if Javier were an American man — someone like Seth MacFarlane maybe, or the member of a college lacrosse team — he would take this opportunity to stand up, beat his chest, and chant the word “boobies” in guttural monotone. He would snap photos with his iPhone, poke the air with his erection, and drool uncontrollably. […] But Javier is not American. […] He doesn’t even look at the bathers who have now removed their bikini tops. He plays it cool.
Bro, I played it cool. I thought about baseball, didn’t even flinch. You can’t look directly at beach tits, only side-eye. Like wild horses, they’ll run away if you look at them straight-on. Like a dude slaying Medusa, you must look away so you don’t turn into hard stone.
What, bro? You want to know what happened next? I mean, I guess, uh, we started, hmm, talking? Yes, talking. No, I’m not lying. I was like, Ciao, and they were like, Take me home and ravage me, you stallion.
Perhaps later that night, after a few rounds of drinks, she decides — or maybe even both women decide — that, sure, they’d like to see his apartment, and yes the music is nice, and before Javier knows what’s happened he’s not only seen both women’s breasts but he’s caressed them and kissed them, and possibly even been smothered by them while coming to asphyxiated climax.
Now, I understand that Wilson is being tongue-in-cheek. (The New Republic helpfully labels his essay HUMOR.) His heart is in the right place, and he is funny. But when I consider whether I’d rather take my top off in front of a man who will sing a song about it, or a man who will fiendishly fantasize about erotically asphyxiating me, my conclusion is that I should set fire to my boobs and avoid all men forever.