verushka70: CKR laughs in this publicity photo outtake from Due South ep Strange Bedfellows. (CKR)
[personal profile] verushka70
So yesterday on my break, an African-American co-worker asked my opinion on something. She asked what I thought "bromance" meant.

I told her as far as I knew it was from reviews of the first Hangover movie, and it means 'male besties.' (I later found out I am wrong; it actually dates back to the 1990s, according to Wikipedia.) I also said it has been applied to things like Brokeback Mountain (I had read that in more than a few articles about BBM, though I felt that was an incorrect usage; the point of "bromance" is that it's nonsexual).

She explained that her 12th grade son's teacher described him, in front of his entire class, as being in a 'bromance' with his best friend. This led to all his classmates teasing him relentlessly about being gay ('you know, in our culture, that's not acceptable,' she told me), until one kid took it too far, which culminated in a fistfight with her son.

The fistfight unfortunately occurred at a time when some inspection of the school was happening, and the inspectors observed it, which reflected badly on the school. Now the school wants to suspend and possibly expel him.

She mentioned her son is on the honor roll and she thinks this is really unfair, given that it was the teacher's comment that started the whole thing. He is getting harassed on social media too, she added. She said she tried talking to the principal, who blew her off, saying her son shouldn't have taken it the way he did (and didn't address the fact that the other kids also took it that way. The principal said two of the male teachers in the school have also been described as in a "bromance" and didn't take offense. She asked me what I thought, what she could do.

I asked her [which was my immediate first guess]: Was it a white teacher who said it?
She said, Yes.

I said, Well, that would explain why this all happened. Try to explain to them that it means a different thing in white culture than in black culture, and due to the cultural differences, this teacher's statement had a negative social impact for your son, to the point that he is being teased and harassed constantly about it. And it sounds like the school is retaliating for your son's fight happening at the same time as the inspection, making the school look bad. If it had not happened at that time, would they be this harsh? She said she didn't know, but she though not.

I said I know teens take stuff to heart and are really sensitive, and combined with the cultural difference in the meaning, it's clear all his classmates took it the same way he did, which she should bring to the attention of the people she has to talk to. In other words, it's NOT just her son who interpreted "bromance"="gay", but his peers do, too.

We both lamented how stubborn and sensitive teens are, and she worried out loud that this would derail the progress he's made (it's only his 2nd year at this school - they moved into district last year).

She said she would try using the cultural difference angle in her last resort to try to avoid her son getting suspended or expelled: talking to a board member.

I personally think it was kind of inappropriate for the teacher to use the term "bromance" anyway because of the possible connotations it could have, in any culture. However, I'm sure she didn't mean it in a negative way. But it's not just what you say but how it comes across, and maybe it was culturally insensitive of the teacher, though I have to say, I was unaware that African-Americans interpret "bromance" to mean "gay" until this conversation. But I can see why people from any culture might perceive it that way -- it's got the word "romance" in it.

I'm fully aware if you said it to most white adult males they would likely not be bothered. However, I wonder if teenaged white boys would feel differently and interpret it as "gay," too.

Adolescence is such a terrible time of caring so much what other people think of you, first and foremost your peers.

But I'm wondering what other people think. Does "bromance" have a culture-bound meaning/interpretation? or an age-related meaning/interpretation?

What do you think?

Date: 2017-03-26 05:24 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
I understand bromance as two guys who, according to societal norms, have an extremely close bond. Kinda like being super!BFFs. Occasionally, this kind of friendship does develop into a romantic and/or sexual relationship.

HOWEVER, most straight and cisgender people do equate bromance with a queer m/m relationship. The usage (by these straight and cisgender people) is one of mockery. Like the ~soft~ version of "no Homo".

FWIW, I don't like the term because it's less sweet that it appears to be (once you see it how straight cisgender people use it.)

I also think that the teacher should've never used it to refer to the students. That was in really bad taste. >:(
Edited Date: 2017-03-26 05:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-26 06:20 pm (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lucifuge5
Hmm, I dunno if one's age is a factor. Like, I remember its usage becoming v. prominent some 10 years ago? IIRC, there was even a movie about it starring Paul Rudd and some other white dude.

In any case, it's a reflection of how male homosocial dynamics are seen as strange.

Oh, and yes, teachers will never be hip. #Never

Date: 2017-03-26 07:41 pm (UTC)
ride_4ever: (Older_Not_Dead)
From: [personal profile] ride_4ever
My age is generally noted in fandom as "about the same age as Paul Gross". *g*

And as for that Guy on guy -- not gay. Guy on guy. WTF? How is that not gay?

Date: 2017-03-26 09:03 pm (UTC)
grey853: angry penguin (Angry_Penguin_rainbowgraphics)
From: [personal profile] grey853
First and foremost,her son is being bullied, first by the teacher and secondly by the other students. The teacher was totally inappropriate for making such a personal comment to her son in front of the class. White or black, "bromance" is code for teens for gay. And gay is not generally accepted in high school. The fact that the administration isn't taking it seriously disturbs me. The fact that he's also being bullied on social media makes it even more difficult for the boy. Homophobia is rampant and teenagers take their cues from the adults around them. If her son is getting no protection from the school, the kids know that and will continue their harassment. They have to have the message that such behavior won't be tolerated and they're definitely not getting that message. In fact, they're getting just the opposite, that her son is fair game. It's like blaming the victim to say he's "too sensitive".

The teacher initiated the problem. If anything should happen to her son in terms of discipline, she should threaten to hire a lawyer to file a civil suit for bullying. If her son suffers, it'll be because the school, the teacher and administration together didn't protect him.

She needs to document all the incidents that have happened so far, her meetings with the teacher, the administration, any social media posts she can copy and keep, and let the school know that her son isn't at fault, but that the school is failing him. If she has to go to the board or hire a lawyer, then she should do that. Her son deserves a public apology and some support from the school team of teachers, counselors, and administrator.

You might think I'm overreacting, but I worked in public schools for 27 years and I know how miserable other kids can make a boy if they even get a hint that he might be gay. Don't get me started on how bad it is if the child is really gay.

Date: 2017-03-27 01:40 pm (UTC)
grey853: little animal hitting its head against a wall (ani_Frustration_sanya4)
From: [personal profile] grey853
It was especially inappropriate since the teacher was apparently white and the student black. The teacher targeted her son intentionally with something he/she knew would be a problem. Denial of that fact, saying it was unknown doesn't fly unless the teacher was a complete idiot. You don't work with kids on a daily basis and not know this information. Then to compound the insult the people in charge didn't step up and do their job which should be zero tolerance of any kind of bullying whether from a student or staff member.

Teens are notorious for picking up anything, especially if they get the signal from an adult, that they can use to torment someone else. Sadly in our world, being gay makes someone a target as much as race does.

As for affording an attorney, see if there's a local ACLU office in her area and have her check with them about civil violations if she can't get any satisfaction from this school or school board. Sometimes just the threat is enough to get some kind of action. There's been a lot of bad press about bullying allowed to go unchecked and nobody wants that kind of heat.

Sadly, if she can't, perhaps she might need to find a way for the boy to switch schools. A lot depends on how the boy and his friend are handling it, which from what you said, isn't very well. I wish her luck.

Date: 2017-03-27 02:22 pm (UTC)
grey853: (alice_facepalm_ozqueen)
From: [personal profile] grey853
I would not recommend him switching to a program for behavioral problems. That's more than a black mark against him. Those programs are used for students with severe behavioral issues, and that's not the case here. He would officially be considered special needs and impacted negatively if he ever wanted to go to college.

He needs an advocate who will put the school and school board on notice that the mother isn't going to accept that it's the victim's fault when they did nothing to protect him. They don't usually want that publicity. I hope with a good meeting things can improve, but putting the boy in a alternative program would be nearly as bad if not worse than suspension or expulsion. If you think regular program kids can be bullies, you have no idea how bad teens in that program can be if they find a "soft target", which is what her son would be.

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