Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bromance Psychology

                  What interested me most in this article were the four key assumptions outlined by Scott Kiesling that structured hegemonic masculinity, and how some of those key structures contradict each other creating tension and conflicting desires.  Psychologically speaking, the structures can be labeled cognitions: mental ideologies/process influenced by experience and culture that shape believes and, to an extent, actions.  When two cognitions are in conflict it creates cognitive dissonance.  Cognitive dissonance occurs here when men are torn between wanting male solidarity and companionship while simultaneously upholding heterosexuality and dominance (strength and independence).
                    The uncomfortable feeling associated with cognitive dissonance can be relieved by one of three options: change first cognition to fit the second, change second cognition to fit the first, or develop a third circumventing cognition (“I think/do…. but it is ok because….”).  The label of “bromance” described in this article fits the third option.  Men are allowed to have close friends fulfilling their need for male intimacy without jeopardizing their heterosexual privileges because it fits under the playful and cultural definition of a bromance.  Culturally approved and projected as desirable in media representations starting in the 1990's, bromance can be seen as a lifeline for men to manage all four hegemonic male structures.  
                  However, as the author states, there are many pitfalls in this type of relationship.  Heterosexual men still have to work hard to be accepting of gay society without seeming gay themselves.  They also have to establish boundaries in bromances to safe guard against outside perception of gay relations, despite the positive associations with gays, because it is still essentially a heterosexual bond.  The notion of heterosexual bonds in terms of gay relationships in bromance doesn't disguise the fact that heterosexuality is still considered a more privileged sexual orientation.  The struggles faced by men to balance their changing and often conflicting cognitions is the common theme of the article.

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