He’s the man whose eyes roll back into his head when he sees an all female Q&A panel once a year.
He’s the man who barks during International Women’s Day “But what about International Men’s Day?”
He’s the man who watches a horrific story about rape on the news and says angrily, “It’s a one off. That’s not all men.”
He’s the man who insists everyone starts from the same place, there’s no such thing as systemic inequality and in 2017 you make your own luck.
LISTEN: Holly Wainwright, Gemma Garkut and I discuss the term ‘broflake’ on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
He’s the man who argues, “Why should I apologise when I didn’t do anything?” during any discussion about Indigenous rights.
He’s the man who yells in the face of workplace quotas, “Shouldn’t the best person just get the job?”
We know him. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he exists.
When we impersonate him he has a deep, stupid voice, like a deeply unfunny version of Homer Simpson.
Urban Dictionary has termed him the ‘broflake’.
“Straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him,” reads Urban Dictionary’s definition. The example is:
“Kyle: ‘How come there’s no Straight Pride parade’?
Me: OMG you’re such a delicate little broflake.”
Unquestionably, women have been called a lot worse on the Internet. Compared to the usual vitriol thrown at women online, simply as a consequence of having a vagina, 'broflake' sounds almost cute.
But 'broflake' reinforces the very expectations and ideologies that I thought we were desperately trying to undo.
Our patriarchal culture shortchanges men and women by forcing them into a neat and oppressive binary system. The idea that men have to 'man up', 'grow some balls' and ultimately hide their feelings is enormously problematic, especially in a culture where men's suicide rates are at an all time high.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among Australian men aged 15 to 44. Six men each day take their own life. It is widely acknowledged that an overwhelming reason for this statistic is that mental health issues go undetected in men for far longer than they do in women.
Why? Because as a man, it's never okay to be hurt.
'Broflake' infers weakness. Fragility. The belief that one is special. That one might just fall apart at any moment. It pokes fun at an emotional response. 'Broflake' sits among words like 'manbaby' and 'male tears' - so that anytime a man gets upset, we can use it as a weapon against them.
How is that useful?
If an argument reduces itself to basic name-calling, drawing upon outdated stereotypes of what makes a man, you've already lost.
It is this kind of language that shuts down debate before it's even begun, and dismisses the very real struggles of being a man in the modern world. It entirely misrepresents men as the enemy.
We can get our point across without exploiting damaging masculine ideals which actually stand at the very root of patriarchy.
When we call someone a 'broflake' or a 'manbaby', we shoot ourselves in the foot.
Feminism can do so much better than 'broflake'.
You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.