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Understanding Brotherhood, or Why ‘Bro’ is not a Dirty Word! – Episode 146

In this episode, Dara is scratching his head over the idea of brotherhood. One of four sons, he feels he has a reasonably reliable perspective on his own experience of brotherhood, one he admits was not, nor continues to be, straightforward.

In the online space at least, ‘bro culture’ seems to be thriving, and certainly in the world of podcasting there is a prolific number of shows hosted by male friends and featuring largely male guests. Many of these shows are extremely popular and successful in a market that is over-supplied with options, but in spite of that success, or perhaps because of it, bros and their shows are dismissed with sneering condescension.

Some of that criticism comes from female voices, and Dara wonders if this is a point in history when it has never been more acceptable for women to express their anger, justified or not, at the opposite sex. He argues that the world is changing fast, but that many women of a certain generation have warranted historical anger towards men and patriarchal injustices.

Dara lays out his theory of healthy brotherhood, rooting it in pre-conditions of safety and non-judgement. He believes many men thrive in environments where they feel validated, unthreatened, and free to be open and vulnerable without shame. He proposes that men who can access safe spaces where they can express their fears and struggles and be supported by other men, will be far less likely to take out their anger on their loved ones or the world around them.

He refers to different television and movie iterations of brotherhood, both good and bad, and gives special mention to Sean Durkin’s The Iron Claw (2023), which he believes to be one of the most beautiful depictions of brotherhood ever put on screen.

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