I have to admit that when I got offered a job at VICE, I was a little wary; although I was hired to work for the new women's site, people have long accused the company of being full of men. And not just any men, but bros--guys' guys, super dudes. There persists a perception of VICE as being a hotbed of masculinity, a place where men who like destruction and hot chicks with tattoos can find likeminded individuals and write about each other on the internet.
Having been around a few months now, I can say this stereotype is false; I have encountered little evil in my time here. But I still wanted to know whether my workplace might qualify as "bro-y." After all, the term has expanded in recent years to include not just fraternity members and guys who like cargo shorts but any man among men who prefers the company of his own gender and takes advantage of male-dominated spaces. And while many of the bro-like specimens stomping their understated white tennis shoes around our Williamsburg offices would dispute being called "bros," I wanted to find out what my male coworkers actually thought about being considered so dude-ish. Conscious men of the type we employ don't like to be confronted with the basic bro-ness that might lie dormant in their souls, and it's worth noting that the VICE guys seem to be grappling admirably with what to do with their unwieldy masculinities. Nevertheless, in keeping with the term's brotherly roots, they did do their interviews in pairs.
Broadly: Do you think VICE has a bro culture?
Dan: I always thought people gave VICE the "bro" label because in the past it was predominantly men covering predominantly male things.
Eric: In the way that drawing a dick on somebody's face when they're passed out drunk is funny to me and my male friend when we're hammered at four in the morning, but it's not a funny or OK thing to do--but in that moment, it's funny.
Why is that funny?
Eric: I don't know. It's just funny.
Dan: There's two parts of your bro brain, where you're, like, conscious bro--hey, it's not funny to make a dick joke at [someone else's] expense, but at the same time, the image of a dick on a guy's face is just funny.
Do you consider yourselves bros?
Eric: Well, I feel like we need to define what a bro is before I self-identify as a bro.
Dan: I think bro has become a word like hipster where it's like, a bro is somebody I disagree with, particularly because he's a man.
Eric: I disagree. I think bro is genderless. I think bro is a term that, like hipster, can be applied to a certain group of people.
Dan: Coming from Staten Island and being very close to the Staten Island/Jersey culture, I have a firm grasp of what a bro is, and I think I spent so much time trying to make fun of the bro that I became one myself, but like, in an ironic way. Is that still funny? I don't know. I'll be like, "Oh, I go to the gym to lift weights to be in shape, but ironically. That's funny!"
But you're still actually in shape.
Dan: Yeah, I know, but I'm ironic about it.
Eric: Dan, you have a great body.
Are you trying to set yourself apart as "one of the good ones"?
Eric: No, because I think that's also problematic. There's this sector of Twitter that's, like, dudes who are trying to pander to…
Dan: Pander to progressive feminist thinking online.
Eric: Exactly. And I feel like that is kinda a problematic thing because it also reinforces the idea that women need approval. I'm always obviously always thinking about this stuff. I feel like I think about this constantly, every day.
Dan: Now who's pandering?
Eric: No, no, you know what I'm saying. I feel like I'm thinking about it just writing headlines and copyediting things--like, if we use the word "tits" here, what does that mean? Is it a bad idea?
Do you try to impress your coworkers?
Eric: I felt it a bit more initially. [Then] I realized everyone is a nerd.
Dan: But [worrying about appearance] is intensified at VICE, for sure. I don't think I'm particularly in good shape, but sometimes I do get self-conscious because there is a stigma attached to going to the gym.
Eric: Too hot for your own good?
Dan: If you take care of yourself and work out, then [people think] you have this bro mentality and you believe all these bro things. I hate talking about working out. I'm so self-conscious about it. This is going to sound so fucked up, but I feel like industries that are kind of cool--VICE-type places--are really not part of that [gym] culture.
Have you ever had a man crush on someone at VICE?
Eric: Define man crush.
How would you define it?
Dan: There's goofy-looking guys at VICE.
But have you ever been like oh, that guy is so cool; I just want to be friends with him?
Dan: Yeah, Wilbert. Coolest guy at VICE. We hung out the other day, and he was wearing a shirt with cut-off sleeves and a gold chain. Not that I was paying attention, but that's what he was wearing.
Eric: There was this guy who used to work at VICE--his name was Kareem? Kareem was so cool. I was like man, I just want to dress like him.
Dan: I like Ben Shapiro. Not even so much physically--not that he's not a beautiful man--but he's just a very wise guy, and I'd like to just have conversation. I bet the pillow talk would be really… maybe too much.
Would you ever date a coworker?
Eric: Like, how closely do we work? I don't handle breakups well.
Why? Do you cry?
Eric: I've cried. Yes, multiple women in my life have brought tears to my eyes.
Dan: Well, it's a hard thing to see your coworkers on a regular basis every single day [anyway]… If I were dating someone, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wanted to date someone you were working with at VICE?
Dan: Sure, there's a lot of women, really attractive women. What can I say?
Have you ever tried?
Dan: No, I haven't.
Eric: [giggling] Yeah.
Eric: I mean, nothing happened. That's it. The challenge I had was that I had never dated a coworker, and I've always thought it was a bad idea, and then I like didn't really know how to go about it. That's why I was giggling--I didn't have any idea how.
Brian, 25, account executive; Andrew, 26, activation manager
Broadly: Do you consider yourself bro?
Andrew: I [wouldn't] say I consider myself a bro, but I've been stereotyped as a bro before.
How does that feel? And what do you think that means?
Andrew: I mean, it is what it is. I guess a bro nowadays is a typical party bro who's, like, getting wasted or wears a polo shirt.
Brian: I love it.
Would you say that there's a bro culture at VICE?
Andrew: I would say that there's a lot of dudes that work in the office, and it's a young atmosphere, socializing and drinking, things like that. So I guess you could say it.
Would you ever date a coworker?
Brian: Sure. I feel like when you work in very young environments, some of it is bound to happen. And also times have definitely changed to an extent. I think also people get mature when they're dating people at work. I've been around it.
Andrew: I don't think it's VICE-specific. I think it's this age demographic--you spend a lot of time with people, you're out drinking with people, and it just happens to be that you're coworkers, too.
Have you ever had a crush on a coworker?
Brian: 100 percent.
Brian: Who? There's a couple.
Do you have a flirtation with them?
Brian: You try to make the hints, the introductions, where possible.
What do you mean?
Brian: Like, running into them in the pantry.
Would you orchestrate a run-in in the pantry? Would you see her get up and be like, oh it's time for a coffee?
Brian: Totally. It's time for her coffee but also my coffee. It just so happens to be time for my coffee. I'm trying to make it our coffee.
Do you talk to your guy friends about the women you're sleeping with?
Brian: Totally. You've got to kiss and tell.
Do they ask?
Brian: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: When you have your bro group, it's pretty much that you share everything. I live with three of my bros, and it's like the same thing as college. Everybody knows everything.
Brian: I was away with a bunch of my bros in one of my friend's houses, and there were some other guys there who weren't in the group, and we asked [one of them] how it was last night. Like, what happened? And he told us, "I don't kiss and tell." Totally not a bro, totally not a bro.
Andrew: Not a bro.
What about other guys--are there any men at work that you want to impress? Or emulate?
Brian: Maybe here and there. Maybe in body size, being able to pull off different kinds of combinations of shirt and pants. I'm just too big, and my stature does not allow for certain clothing to be worn in the certain way that I would like it to be.
Andrew: He wishes he could look like me…
Brian: I can't pull off Converse. I just can't do it.
Brian: I just feel like I look too goofy in them. I'm wearing like New Balance. And cuffing, too. I can't really get down with the whole cuffing thing.
Andrew: I'm a smaller dude, so the Converse don't look too crazy. I cuff because I have small ankles, so my pants flap around down by my feet. I have to get that under control.
People make fun of cuffing, I think.
Andrew: Yeah that's fine. I'm completely OK with that. If I was uncomfortable with that, I just wouldn't do it.
Brian: I would love to be able to pull it off.
Have you ever wanted to wear something that you didn't really know if it was work appropriate?
Brian: Well, it took me a while to get into shorts here. Finally I started doing it, and now I can't get enough of it.
Really? Shorts? What kind of shorts?
Brian: Regular shorts. Cargo shorts are a total no-no now. Maybe on the weekends when you're really hungover.
You have cargo shorts?
Brian: Yes, I have a pair of camouflage cargo shorts.
Andrew: Are they from Abercrombie & Fitch?
Brian: No, no, no. Those are all gone. But especially here in the VICE office, it's hard to see the button-down shirt, which is, like, acceptable across the river. You know, you have to wear it with your jeans. Then you go into the T-shirt, but not too T-shirt-y…I'm still not really comfortable wearing a straight-up vintage T-shirt.
Andrew: You could come into this door with anything you wanted to, and I don't think anyone would even bat an eyelash.