Informant (R): Yeah the KA’s had a tradition, we called the Brown Helmet, um, we had a travelling trophy that was awarded to the last person that got dumped by a date or a girlfriend. Uh and it was a brown army helmet. The reason it was brown or was called the Brown Helmet, or why it was appropriate was because you had been shat on by your girlfriend or your date who dumped you. So you know if you were unlucky enough to have the brown helmet, you were just waiting for someone to get dumped so you could give it back to them. Yeah, so we had that.
Collector (J): Was that something you learned during pledging (initiation)?
R: No, it was even before, because we lived in the house and we hadn’t gone through hell week or any of those things yet and you know I got, shit, I probably got the Brown Helmet before I was an active actually.
Context: The informant was recalling his experience as a fraternity brother in college. He is remembering his time there and the traditions celebrated as his child goes through the pledging process.
Analysis: The Brown Helmet is a way of expressing the recent loss of a relationship in a humorous way, encouraging brothers to be open about their experiences. The fact that every individual has the potential to wear the helmet also allows for a sense of solidarity for those who currently have the helmet, as they can seek advice from previous recipients. At the same time, it shows other brothers to be more sympathetic to the wearers of the hat. However, this could also make the wearers more likely to be teased for being “dumped.” Regardless, the sentiment behind the color brown certainly shows the negative attitude and stigma around being broken up with. In a way, the brown army helmet shows that regardless of their relationship status, the brothers are able to fight through it and reclaim their identity as a bachelor.
I asked my informant to provide a tradition or saying and he gave this:
“Okay, there are… certain sayings amongst articulate men that go along the lines of: “She wants the D.” What this “she wants the D” means is basically if she does something, which is arbitrary, I mean, you could put anything, then she wants the D.”
The informant revealed that he hears most of the “she wants the D” variations he knows in his fraternity. He also indicated the use of such vernacular is most common among the Greek System. However, given that I gathered this piece of folklore from my informant while he was working out at the gym, associations between working out and masculinity may have influenced his decision to narrate this particular piece of folklore, and to embellish its masculine elements.
I asked my informant for a proverb or colloquial axiom and he thus provided:
Alright, there are things in the Gym called “bro code,” and some of the bro code and bro sign stuff are, basically, “curls for the girls,” um, [laughter] “pecs for sex,” um, just meat-head stuff like that and um, they’re just insiders for the Ducheiest of Douchers, [laughter].
Although my informant defined such aspects of the “bro code” as, “for the Duchiest of Douchers,” such sayings seem to be largely prevalent in both the gym and other highly masculine gathering. Their prevalence suggests that they do not represent actual Misogynous values as often as they simply indicate masculine heterosexual bonding in male dominated environments.
“If you eat raw meat, hair will grow on your chest.”
David first heard this urban legend from his grandmother who is originally from Mexico. When he was seven, he was very impatient when it came to supper time that he would take a slab of meat before his grandmother was finished cooking it. She warned him that if he ate raw meat, hair will grow on his chest like a werewolf. After hearing that, he became afraid so he stopped picking at the uncooked meat. Contrarily in high school, David had a friend who desired chest hair badly. His friend had heard that urban legend, too, so he always ate raw meat as safely as possible.
I believe that this urban legend came about because devouring meat and chest hair are both signs of masculinity. Hundreds of years ago, men were arduous game hunters. Even now many of the restaurant ads that target men display huge platters of meat. Hairiness is also a masculine quality, especially chest hair. Many young teenage boys are zealous upon spotting their first chest hair because that would signify manliness. Therefore I can see how some people may link eating raw meat to chest hair.