The underground fandom known as Bronies is challenging gender stereotypes one My Little Pony at a time
Taken from the January issue of Dazed & Confused:
The rainbow unicorns and sparkly ponies of My Little Pony galloped back into view in 2010 from the seedy alcoves of anonymous imageboard website 4chan as millions of young men came out about their unwavering adoration for the cutesy franchise, specifically its fourth series, “Friendship is Magic”. This unlikely fanbase of 18-to-35-year-old dudes – Hasbro’s intended target audience was girls aged two to 11 – love Little Ponies with a passion that is sincere, deep and in some cases, very, very intimate. OG brony Purple Tinker is responsible for BronyCon, the largest gathering of bronies in the world; here she tells us how the scene erupted.
I am brony, hear me roar
“At its best, brony culture is very much the male equivalent of feminism. It asserts that it’s okay for males to like things that have historically been forbidden to them, and that there’s nothing wrong with ‘girly’ things. Brony fandom is gender-transgressive as hell. Teaching young males it’s okay to wear shirts with pink ponies on them is just as revolutionary as it was to teach young women 100 years ago that it’s okay to wear pants.
Something for everypony
My favourite pony is Twilight Sparkle. She’s nerdy, she’s a rationalist, she’s a bit of a scatterbrain, and of course she loves purple. I can relate. Honesty, loyalty, generosity and kindness aren’t just good ideals because they’re from a show we all like; they’re good ideals, period. My personal ‘cutie mark’ is a lightning bolt emblazoned over a gear. The lightning bolt can symbolise wild energy; the sort of thing that led me to plan four conventions for a brand new fandom within one year.
The gender of brony
Liking ponies doesn’t make one gay, but many Americans tend to assume that things which challenge conventional gender roles are evidence of homosexuality. When some random guy from an ordinary white-bread American town finds out that his best friend is into pink and purple unicorns, the thought is something like: ‘Oh, but he always seemed so normal!’
Keep your mane on, bro
Brony fandom was birthed out of 4chan, and certain people there can be brutal on those they deem embarrassing, ‘spaghetti’ or ‘autistic’. Trolls can be utterly relentless, insulting, mocking and goading people literally to the point of suicide. But this isn’t the dark side of the brony fandom, or even of 4chan; it’s the dark side of human nature.
Ride it, my brony
‘Cloppers’ are a subset of bronies who have a sexual interest in pony porn, but they exist as a minority. This is a fandom dominated by teenage and 20-something males, so of course there is going to be lots of naughty pony art floating around the internet. ‘Clop’ art is a product of brony fandom; it doesn’t define brony fandom. At the end of the day, finding a drawing, or a character, or a vegetable erotic harms nobody.”