I just realized that, like, this entire week has been about rape and murder and prisons and depressing things, so I’ve decided it’s time for a happier topic: PONIES! (Also, gif warning, epileptic people!)
Are bronies changing the definition of masculinity?
[Video summary: Dude talks at a camera. He defines “brony” (adult fan of My Little Pony, usually male), points out that they’re everywhere and get a lot of hate, and says that they’re expanding the definition of masculinity. If men are doing it, clearly it’s masculine. Also, Judith Butler and Anais Nin get mentioned. In a discussion of cartoon ponies. I kind of feel like Ms. Butler would be pleased.]
Bronies actually do get a truly absurd amount of shit. I mean, some of them are assholes, and some of them are really creepy, and some of them refuse to shut up ever about how My Little Pony is the best thing ever seriously you guys twenty percent cooler, but you know who else that’s true of? Literally every large group of fans ever. And yet no one has the same absurd hatred for fans of the Avengers movie.
[Depicted: Loki crying, not being hated by half the Internet.]
Also, nearly everyone who is like “adults like a show about cartoon ponies? That’s soooooo weeeeeeeird” has never had to put up with a brony explaining that no seriously Fluttershy is the best pony. I am just saying.
So I do think a lot of the explanation is essentially our good old friend femmephobia. You can’t like My Little Pony! My Little Pony is for girls! Girls’ things are terrible! (It doesn’t help that previous generations of My Little Pony were actually terrible.) I mean, some of it is that it’s for children? But adult fans of Avatar (real Avatar, not blue-people Avatar) don’t get the same hatred, and male fans of Sex And The City* almost certainly would. Men aren’t allowed to like girlthings. It’s wrong. Girlthings are supposed to suck! You are shaking the foundations of our ~world~ with your fondness for magical ponies that are learning about friendship!
I don’t necessarily know that My Little Pony is having as big an effect as all that, though. After all, there are misogynistic bronies. (There are even MRA bronies, a phenomenon which never ceases to amuse.) And a whole lot of people who like My Little Pony are going to be people who are already non-gender-conforming a little already. For one thing, very gender-conforming men are not (usually) going to watch My Little Pony. For another, most My Little Pony fans are geeks, and most geeks are not very good at performing their gender properly. (See also: stereotype of basement-dwelling can’t-get-laid unathletic nerd.)
What I really hope is that there are some men who never really questioned the idea that Boys Do Boythings and Girls Do Girlthings, who see their friends get into this show and start out kind of reluctant, kind of “that’s weird,” and are finally prevailed upon to watch it and actually like it. And then they can get a chance– not to like girlthings. Because the point is not to have guys like girlthings and chicks like boythings, because that’s just the same gender roles flipped the other way around. The point is to have people like things that are awesome, without worrying about whether they’re girlthings or boythings or ziecreaturethings. And maybe My Little Pony can be one tiny step towards getting that to happen.
*or whatever it is you people watch