An International Masculinity Conference Hosted a My Little Pony-Fetish Panel

Bj?rn Sahlberg

My late great-uncle John, who lived into his nineties, made a career of creating crossword puzzles for The Guardian. It was the newspaper of choice for my English grandparents, and a family tradition. When I hear the name, I think of home-cooked meals, family board games, and Sunday breakfasts full of toast.

Hmm, I wonder what’s in The Guardian today? Tum-ti-tum-ti-tum…

One brony has posted a picture of a My Little Pony wearing sunglasses and drinking lemonade by a pool. In the comments beneath, the poster has made the fatal mistake, at least within this community, of admitting that he lost his “wizard eligibility 26 years ago” – has had sex with a person – and that he does not “clop” – that is, masturbate – to the images. Another brony had responded immediately: “Go be normal somewhere else, faggot.”

For the first time in my life, I feel a moment of relief that my grandfather is dead and my grandmother can’t retain memories.

It is the second day of the International Conference on Masculinities, an annual meeting of the best and the brightest in the field of masculinity research. This year the conference is being held in New York City, at the Roosevelt hotel in Manhattan.

What did our best and brightest find?

Bailey and Harvey had found that there was a community on the image-based bulletin board 4chan of men who like My Little Pony.

No shit. Did you learn that nerds like Star Wars yet? Oh wait, there’s more.

Within this community, having sex with a real person, in real life, is seen as a negative – and not “clopping” is a form of heresy. What was happening here was an example of “normal” hegemonic masculinity in action, Bailey and Harvey said.

Whu-whu-what? Broad brush much?

The term “hegemonic masculinity” is used a lot here. It is the theory of how men manage to assume and retain dominant positions in society, at the expense of women. Being a hegemonic male means being powerful, dominant, stoic, successful, like the actors Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jason Statham. It is about not being weird or different. Men strive to attain this ideal, and as they do so, women are held back.

Bailey and Harvey found that even men who fancy My Little Pony cartoon characters are likely to scrap with each other using similar terms and putdowns to “normal” men, even to the point of using the same terminology, such as “faggot”, to police their environment.

That’s not a community thing. That’s an Internet thing. Anonymous people are racist and horrible.

As hard as these men might try to escape a “traditional”, boys-don’t-cry, tough-guy version of masculinity – by becoming obsessed with My Little Pony or calling themselves “nerds” and running around a field in fancy dress – they are always influenced by it.

You take that back, um…[immature slur here]!

And perhaps it is only when we men better understand ourselves that we can really be happy: whether that’s in dressing up and fighting each other with foam swords, clopping away to My Little Pony characters, or just hanging around with the guys, trying to explain to them what you’ve learned from the feelings wheel.

Or the Pony Jar. I learned something about what radiators do there.

via Horse News