John Brier discovers why being referred to as Brother feels so good
I love when men refer to me as their “brother.” It makes me feel accepted as a man, and connected among men. I’ve only recently encountered the usage since joining a men’s group several months ago and more recently, after entering into online discussions with other men who are examining masculinity.
In my men’s group the term is something appended to the end of greetings and also after certain processes, especially in our “carpet-work” where we do role-playing, often having several men act out different characters in another man’s life. In this instance after the process is over and we have helped a man see that he doesn’t have to be the wounded boy or man anymore, we remind each other that we are not their hurtful father/spouse/sibling/etc., we are their brother.
That specific usage of brother as a reminder of what we’re not mirrors its general usage. Men are told they’re not good enough. Either we aren’t competitive, sexual, strong, violent or stoic enough or we are too feminine, vulnerable, empathetic or weak. Taken together they create an impossible ideal to meet and equate to nearly infinite reasons for our inadequacy. In my men’s group’s carpet-work we use brother to remind each other we are not the hurtful character in their lives, and in general we men refer to ourselves as brothers to remind each other we are not inadequate.
Often times highly valued social interactions are turned into routines. For example, in greeting people we often ask how they’re doing. Knowing someone’s health and state of being is obviously important, but in making it a habit we can forget why we did it to begin with. These days most of the time when people exchange their answers to “how they’re doing,” they don’t really care. This is kind of how it was for me when people referred to me as brother in my Men’s Group. It didn’t affect me that much. But the two times when men called me brother out in the wild to thank me for something, let me tell you, I felt more than adequate, I felt loved.