September 23, 2013

When I was a kid, a “dude” was a cowboy who worked on a ranch and had an abiding fondness for his horse. I didn’t start hearing “dude” used as a generic term meaning “dumb, hairy, cloddish male” until the late 1970s, when suddenly my world seemed flooded with dudes.

In decades gone by, “bro” was a term of endearment almost exclusively used among black males, who later famously abandoned it en masse in favor of “homie.”

Now cometh the “dudebro,” an obnoxious term used to describe an obnoxious type of individual. My task here today is to determine who’s more obnoxious: those who use the word as a slur, or the dudebros themselves.

Although the pejorative “dudebro” may be new to you, you’ve seen the type. And it is a sociological type”€”perhaps even a genetic one. I’m not sure what causes it, although I’d reckon there’s some correlation with high testosterone and low intelligence. In terms of cognitive capacity, the dudebro is the peer of the female bimbo”€”in other words, dumb as a cheese doodle.

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from Jersey Shore is an archetypal East Coast dudebro, while chubby peroxided idiot celebrity chef Guy Fieri represents the West Coast strain. David Puddy, Elaine’s meatheaded boyfriend on Seinfeld, is perhaps the most perfectly rendered dudebro in comedic history.

“€œThere are greater crimes than being cheesy”€”like, for example, being insufferable.”€

In previous incarnations such types have been known as “douchebags,” “douches,” “jocks,” “frat boys,” and “male chauvinist pigs.” For decades now they have been more benignly known simply as “dudes,” yet the newer term “dudebro” is heavily salted with sneering progressive condescension.

In this sense “dudebro” is like earlier pejoratives such as “yuppie” and “hipster””€”hardly anyone uses such terms as a self-descriptor. Instead, it’s nearly always used to demean someone else. And just as the term “racist” has come to mean “any white person who’s OK with being white,” the word “dudebro” is an ever-expanding catchall term to describe any male who’s OK with being male. It is a testosterone-aversive gendered slur intended to induce shame in one’s very male essence, to evoke repulsion at the very thought of one’s precious male bodily fluids.

The term “dudebro” allegedly first appeared in the online gaming community to describe players with an affinity for macho, eminently dudely games such as Madden and Call of Duty. The social-justice community later adopted it to describe any male who shows warning signs of possessing testosterone.

The dudebro is severely masculine, often cartoonishly so, and frequently exaggerates his physical and sexual prowess through elaborate and ongoing rituals of compensation. He guzzles protein shakes and measures his penis daily. He’s comically horny yet doesn’t have the first clue about how to seduce a woman. He emits an aroma that is a disconcerting mélange of hotel disinfectant and baloney sandwiches. He shows no outward respect for bitches or fags, although he and his dudebro friends are constantly calling one another fags. He is likely to have a tribal tattoo, or at least one in Asian lettering that he doesn’t understand. He practices mixed martial arts in his backyard and likes to fancy himself as “extreme.” He may, at any given time, suddenly appear in flip-flops wearing cargo shorts, a puka-shell necklace, and a Hawaiian shirt while pumping his fist and going “WOO-HOO!” He typically likes to drink himself insensate and would not be the least ashamed to appear in public wearing one of those hats that holds your beer can and enables you to sip your favorite malt beverage through a straw. He prefers to drive a truck even though he doesn’t need one. There’s a good chance he’s tried steroids.

Oh”€”and he’s white. Black and Hispanic males who exhibit similarly idiotic levels of machismo are exempted from the cultural stigma that afflicts the lonely white dudebro.

In a plotline that reads something akin to The Protocols of the Privileged Dudebros of Silicon Valley, social-justice warriors have been sounding alarums that the tech industry is a festering haven of unabashed spermy maleness, with all the moral and literal stench that such a thing entails. Back in March a mulatto female caused a huge stink by overreacting to a benign joke she’d heard from some male tech geeks sitting behind her at a conference. This month came tech-world honcho Pax Dickinson’s firing as the result of a Tweet that used the word “boobies.” Salon tells us that Dickinson’s ritual expulsion “is just one example of how dudebro culture has powered”€”and stunted”€”the tech industry for the past decade.” Man-hating pseudo-male PZ Myers claims the tech industry foments “a culture of self-congratulatory dudebros.”


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