An Ethnography Of “The Frat Party Bro”

Some fifty people are gathered in a circle. In the center, commanding their collective attention, is a drunk powerlifter. He is vigorously miming the act of lifting a huge weight. Everyone is as rapt as if the real thing were happening.

This dude had mimed lifting two hundred. Then two hundred and fifty. He was now raising the stakes to four hundred pounds. He grasped the imaginary bar, shifted his feet, and heaved—pulled—thrust it into the air. Victorious, he dropped it down and everyone cheered.

This is an actual event witnessed at my school last weekend and you couldn’t find a more perfect encapsulation of American bro culture: standing around cheering at the most extravagant possible (if fictional) displays of masculinity.

For those who haven’t set foot on a college campus for a hot minute, allow me to give you a refresher: the bro is a subspecies of college male, often large in size and loud of voice, who can often be found in the basement of a frat house, in the stadium bleachers, or anywhere kegs can be found. They can be observed blacking out, peeing on walls, telling other people about blacking out and peeing on walls, or perhaps calling me a "ratchet bitch" and explaining to me why that's funny.

Like any social group, bros can also be identified by common styles of clothing. Allow me to enumerate the good, the hot, and the ugly.

Emily Lever is a French-American writer who wishes she led a life of adventure. You can follow her on Twitter here.