Honey Badger Radio: Bronies and the Shame Game


For those who don’t know, Bronies–portmanteau of “bro” plus “pony”–are adult male fans of the children’s show “My little pony, friendship is magic.”

If the title of the show wasn’t a clue, the show is aimed at young girls. It has a lot of colour, it stars an almost all-girl cast and of course, ponies! Although it does have adult appeal with an intentionally more sophisticated subtext to it’s plot and character interactions.

Despite this, Bronies have been called pedophiles, fags and creeps.

Whatever men like, society seems to have an epithet to hurl at them for liking it. If it’s feminine, then they’re fags and pedos; if it’s masculine then they’re wife beating rapist neanderthals.

It’s almost like men don’t have a right… to their own time.

​Join us as we discuss Bronies and the Shame Game.

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Alison Tieman
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Alison Tieman

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="3591 http://www.genderratic.com/?p=3591">22 comments</span>

  • The fact that they would openly form this identity makes them a threat to the usual suspects because it suggests a certain degree of immunity to shame or at least it’s use as a means of control. So the attempts to shame them are amped up.

    That being said, I would personally have great difficulty ever forming an attachment to something with the tag line “Friendship is Magic”. It aggravates that latent desire of mine to become a hermit and makes me want to look exactly like Grumpy Cat.

  • Some interesting discussion in the reddit thread. You get the oligatory insinuations and accusations of pedophilia.

  • I bought my 3-year-old grandson some of the my-little-ponies (he loves them!) for his birthday — one orange and one purple. His dad, my son-in-law, was like– whaaa? And seemed to find them mildly-suspect toys for a male child.

    I said, oh, lots of guys are into them, and I showed him a link about the “bronies”. He was like, oh, okay then.

    🙂 It was that easy!

    Keep up the good work, fellas. Very proud of you for pushing the envelope.

  • I used to watch power puff girls as it was on right after dexters laboratory. That show actually had a lot of humor aimed at adults (not that it was risque, but it included references the kids wouldn’t understand).

    One was especially funny: when the villains all banded together to form the Beat-Alls and overpowered the power puff girls.
    The main villain is Mojo Jojo a super-brain-powered monkey. The PPG defeated them by introducing Mojo to Yoko Ojo a female monkey who broke up the group.

    The writers slid at least 30 different beatle song titles into the dialogue.

  • DDH
    “I said, oh, lots of guys are into them, and I showed him a link about the “bronies”. He was like, oh, okay then.

    🙂 It was that easy! ”

    Isn’t it ironic how the supposed macho thumbheads are never the bigots in these situations, the real bigots are the gender ideologues and Church Lady moral guardians?

    You did a good job of picking a son-in-law.

  • The Real Peterman on 2013-12-06 at 1:11 pm said:
    “What kind of man obsesses over something meant for kids? Now excuse me, I’m off to spend hours rearranging my fantasy football rosters.”

    For a second I thought that joke said “fantasy football roosters” and now I have a lot more bizarre imagery than I know what to do with.

  • Darn I saw Brony and posted in the wrong thread so I am just copying it here. Sorry.

    I’m about half way through listening but I had a few comments.

    First, I think most people would agree with the idea that men enjoy “eye candy”. Think about it. Special effects. Weird screen savers. Etc. I love “eye candy”. So the first time I actually saw the new My Little Pony I was blown away by how colorful the animation is. Wow. It’s great “eye candy”. The styling and where the animators choose to show detail is amazing. The quality is stellar.

    Second. If grown women can like Wolverine (my favorite super hero as a kid) then why can’t grown men like “girl” things? And these grown women flat out sexualize Wolverine in a way that Bronies don’t seem to sexualize My Little Ponies.

  • Debaser:
    ‘…in a way that Bronies don’t seem to sexualize My Little Ponies.’

    …heh heh heh.
    hee hee hee hee hee.
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Seriously, though, you clearly don’t hang out anywhere near them. I don’t even watch the show and the porn is still inescapable. There is a fairly common image of a post on /co/ predicting that there would be little to no MLP porn for the new show, and that image is titled ‘the wrongest person in the world.’

    That said, the accusation one would have to make would be bestiality, not pedophilia, because even without watching the show I know that the characters in it are not represented as being children. I also know that the shows adult fans generally display no real interest in or desire to interact with its child fans. All they care about is that enough kids are watching to ensure more episodes get made (the people making the show clearly care about all their demographics, but the people writing the checks and buying commercial time only care about their target one). Of course, the accusation of bestiality would ring hollow because bestiality being immoral is founded on the inability of animals to speak and express consent, and because not a lot of them seem to be into actual horses.

    The Wolverine comparison is also silly because Wolverine actually has sex in the comics and movies all the time (although he is much more entertaining when he is being a mentor/father figure to adolescent girls, which is fortunately most of the time).

    What friends have shown me of the show and what I know of its staff does lead me to agree with you that it is both well-animated (especially when it comes to replicating quirks of animal body-language) and well-written, however.

    On a related note, I have been watching mahou-shoujo shows on and off since I was eight years old, and I do not intend to stop unless they stop being entertaining. Fortunately, it’s only boring normal people who don’t do anything interesting who still give anyone shit for that.

  • Supplementing my statement vis-a-vis MLP and porn, I just checked my Facebook page and found, front and center, a picture of the ‘mane six’ (I spend enough time lurking to know many things about media properties that I will never actually watch) each holding a sealed condom in their mouth, drawn and posted by an acquaintance of mine. This is not a rare occurrence. Attempting to deny that there is a strong sexual component to these fandoms is absurd and, I think, ultimately harmful.

  • Maybe a better comparison might be Transformers. Would women who liked Transformers have all these assumptions made about their motivations and sexual fantasies?

    And ftr I’ve only ever seen about 5 minutes of the new MLP. I don’t see it in ads. I don’t see funny gifs about it. I don’t hear anyone talking about it…and I have three daughters. MLP is so off my radar that I only heard of the new MLP because of a blog post on NSWATM about the flak Bronies were getting.

  • Debaser:

    Clearly, we frequent different parts of the internet. Since it started airing, it has been difficult to be on 4chan, any major comic, gaming, or general ‘nerd culture’ site, or to listen to podcasts on related topics (I know one devoted to live-action B movies that does a yearly MLP show) without seeing ponies somewhere, even if it’s just someone’s forum avatar or a reaction image. It was truly inescapable for a while, and a lot of the backlash in those spaces was due to that (4chan now restricts MLP to its own board and bronies have since mostly learned to go on about the show in the proper places). I also have several friends who are big into the show, so I know a bunch about it from listening to them. As regards little girls watching, or rather not watching, it, I know a lot of people were initially worried it wouldn’t get renewed for additional seasons because it didn’t hit it off with kids in anywhere near the same way it did with adults.

    You’re definitely correct that similar allegations are not made about women who become interested in comparable ‘male’ properties; even when such people are disliked, they are not considered deviant or dangerous. Of course, allegations of pedophilia have become like allegations of communism at this point: they often only mean that the person speaking disapproves of the group being referred to (a Kotaku writer infamously claimed that an extremely large-breasted woman in Dragon’s Crown was designed to appeal to ‘lolicon fantasies,’ despite the sheer absurdity of such a claim).

  • Anthropomorphic rabbits, cats and tasmanian devils from the 20th century are good.

    Anthropomorphic ponies from the 21st are perverse.

    Any time a female character with wit, personality and even vaguely defined secondary sex characteristics or wardrobe is depicted there will be porn made themed on her. These shows take what is generally looked for in females and projected it on a less threatening species than humans (or a less threatening form of human society in space or distant future) in an environment where there are usually few of the daily obligations of this one like provision of food and shelter, achieving employment and status or securing retirement savings. The characters are free to joke and socialize and go on adventures. So there is little wonder that some would bring their sexual fantasies into such a utopian world. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of people from the same demographic who are just in it for the utopian vision and comedic content just like there are many Simpsons fans who don’t search for Simpson porn.

    The real issue here is that it is acceptable for females to dream about a fantasy world with no labor or carnage but males being anywhere near such a vision risks corrupting and distracting them from there ‘real’ purpose of dragon slaying and princess saving.

    Incidentally, few people know or care that there are adult MLP fans who are females called (not making this up) pegasisters. Few care to ask if they are 40 years old, living in their mother’s basements or are paedophiles.

  • The Right Honorable Lord Snake Oil:

    That last point is a good one to bring up. The adult female fans of MLP are often extremely marginalized in discussions of the show’s adult fandom. I am personally acquainted with one who was very angry to see a Cracked article cite her fanworks as evidence of how male fans were doing crazy, twisted things with the show without making any effort to ascertain the gender of their author. In addition to the harmful nature of the accusations heaped on men who enjoy such things, I believe the assumption that female interest is more benign (‘sanitized’ might be a better word) does a disservice to all involved and is generally not appreciated by anyone.

    I also think your second to last paragraph strikes close to home. Men who pursue ‘childish’ interests have been regarded unfavorably by society time out of mind because such pursuits generally mean finding value in something outside of the structured competition and sacrifice that props of traditional power structures.

  • There’s a bit in the Iliad where the Greeks (or Achaeans, whatever) have a competition amongst themselves during a lull in their real business of fighting the Trojans. All they can think of to do, though, is compete with the same skills they’d be using on the battlefield anyway, so they throw spears and do armed combat and things. I’m pretty sure the way to win the armed combat was to draw first blood, so the loser(s) of that would necessarily get injured.

    I’m going to go ahead and assume that these guys were in a very patriarchal society. They were so caught up in the epic heroism thing that they took a break from fighting their enemies for kleos (glory, fame won through acts of valor) to fight each other for fun, even risking injury. That’s how good men have it in a patriarchy: play is the same as work, except you only get one gaping flesh wound at a time.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs,

    “Clearly, we frequent different parts of the internet. Since it started airing, it has been difficult to be on 4chan, any major comic, gaming, or general ‘nerd culture’ site, or to listen to podcasts on related topics (I know one devoted to live-action B movies that does a yearly MLP show) without seeing ponies somewhere, even if it’s just someone’s forum avatar or a reaction image. ”

    That’s true of several popular franchises, though- Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel Comics, etc. The most recent episode of Doctor Who I’ve watched had Tom Baker in it, but I see the last few guys to have played the Doctor on what seems like a daily basis. They and their fans don’t get the same sort of hate.

  • John Markley:

    That’s because those are established franchises. They have established places in spaces dedicated to ‘nerd culture’ and have occupied these places for so long that they become part of the background. People hated MLP when it showed up at least in part because, being new (there were multiple older cartoons, but they didn’t have strong online followings and weren’t very fondly remembered by many), the volume of material for it stood out to people; they didn’t filter it out as part of the background of these spaces like they would with content to which they were more accustomed but not interested in. Additionally, there was a lot of ambiguity as to where MLP belonged; it’s fanbase had a lot of crossover with many others, and as a result it became heavily posted in a lot of spaces that did not always have a history of similar content. Things have cooled down significantly since then as a result of people growing more accustomed to MLP and its fans as an enduring phenomenon and of those fans creating spaces of their own in which to contain the bulk of discussion. You can see similar processes with the arrival of almost any new fanbase to an established space; MLP is just especially noticeable because it got so big so fast and because its popularity defied expectations. This by no means explains away all hostility, but I believe it does cover a large part of the initial backlash. Another important factor relating to the show’s aesthetic is, I think, that people in the communities where MLP came to be widely discussed tend to be dominated by the immature desire to appear very serious and by doing so to legitimize their interests in the public eye (comic books have been ruining themselves over this for decades now). I think that issues of gender role-policing are far more relevant to brony-bashing in more general media than to backlash within fan communities.

    Adding to what I mentioned in previous comments about adult female fans, I have since spoken to several bronies of my acquaintance, and it is their opinion that while the teenage fanbase (who are often the people really being discussed when the ault fanbase is brought up in articles) is predominantly male, the adult fanbase (people in their 20s and up) is close to gender parity.

By Alison Tieman

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