Finally, a character has arrived that gives bros a good name. Years after Judd Apatow began churning out man-children and making them popular, a sitcom on Fox has taught the world that a man who frequently makes super-douche-bag comments can still be a decent human being.
That’s the lesson we’re all taking from Max Greenfield‘s New Girl character, Schmidt. The Grindstone‘s Lisa Skapinker does a great job explaining, “Schmidt’s ability to balance his traditionally male and female characteristics, and his ability to navigate the reverse discrimination he faces at work, are a large part of what makes him successful in an all-female company.”
And yet, there’s a part of my that hesitates. It’s the part of me that’s worked with a man who frequently shared detailed descriptions of his visits to strip clubs. It’s the part of me that rolled my eyes day-in and day-out as fist-bumping co-workers got drunk during lunch and turned in expense reports filled out for them by their girlfriends or mothers. (No gentlemen, I did not believe that you suddenly acquired the bubbly script of a teenage girl or the precise cursive of a middle-aged woman. Besides, these aren’t the only hand-written reports you turn in. the comparison is pretty clear.)
Max Greenfield plays an amazing character, and I can completely admit that I enjoy watching him week-to-week. But his endearing, yet insecure attempt to be a bro doesn’t mean that every man-child in the office is a former fat kid pretending to be cool but really nursing a heart of gold. In fact, I might argue that this description makes up a very small percentage of the bro-tastic, former-frat male population.
I am by no means arguing that every young male you run into at work is a misogynistic creep. That’s not even remotely true. There are plenty of amazing Gen Y professionals out there, male and female, who completely fly in the face of their generation’s prevailing stereotypes.
And yet, bros have taken up a place in my generation’s narrative, and it’s for a reason. This self-centered, peacock of an existence is recognizable everywhere. And for a million and one reasons, they are decidedly difficult to reign in or manage in the office.
Where Schmidt is attempting to fit in to an all-female office, bros normally seem to be resentful of female empowerment and quick to belittle or sexualize women to gain control. After all, you don’t tell a story about strippers to a completely disinterested female co-worker because you think she’ll enjoy it. I know very few women who want to hear about g-strings and pasties before their morning coffee. You talk about females in a derogatory and sexist manner to reiterate a female’s place as a sexual object.
It’s very difficult to see some women as sexual objects (not to be confused with human beings who possess their own sexuality) and others as respected individuals. Bros who talk about women as targets or conquests have a difficult time with females in a management capacity. And that’s something that no adorable character on TV show can address or turn around. Schmidt seems like an awesome character that I would love to find in my office. But that doesn’t mean that every guy contributing to the douche-bag jar is really a Prince Charming in disguise, and it doesn’t making working with them any easier.