Good Reads: Gronk’s Party Boat + “Bro Culture”

Senior year must be the year of gender because I took one class last semester, Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in the Media, and I’m taking another this semester, Language in Communication (where we are relating language to gender and social movements). My roommate said to me the other day, “You’re always writing about gender.” And that is very true.

The class I took last semester focused more on gender stereotypes in the media (particularly television and movies) while the class I’m taking now deals with the kind of language we use to communicate about gender. Both classes are seeming to overlap, because how we communicate about gender reflects how it is represented in the media.

I think my interest in gender comes from being a sports fan. I’m a female in a man’s world, and although it seems to be accepted by some, I feel like women are still struggling to get their foot in the door.

Late last week I was browsing through ESPN and came across an article from ESPN W about the Gronk Party Boat, which launched its inaugural cruise the previous weekend. Those who weren’t on the boat were the ones making assumptions about what was happening, more specifically, how women were being treated.

Sarah Spain, who writes a column for ESPN W called “That’s What She Said,” made some very good points about those assumptions from her point of view: she was actually on the three day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas. In the beginning of the article, she tries to figure out why a party cruise is “sexist”. It can’t be because of the “frozen drinks, tropical weather, private beaches, intimate concert venues, and dance parties” since those are “pretty universally liked.” So it has to be the Gronkowski family, right?

Gronk, the Pats TE, is well-known for his crazy outfits, fun personality, and outrageous parties. I mean, everyone remembers “Yo soy fiesta” from an 2012 interview with ESPN Desportes. He’s a big guy who likes to have a good time; there’s nothing wrong with that. Gronk can play and play well, and hey, he actually stays out of legal trouble, which seems to be uncommon lately for NFL players. But because of his party philosophy plus his appearance (he’s 6’6″ – 265 and ripped), society automatically associates him with what Spain calls “bro culture”:

Men who like to work out, dance and party should not automatically be implicated as part of the “bro culture” that’s become a talking point in recent years. Real, damaging “bro culture” excludes and alienates women and minorities, makes for an uncomfortable and sometimes hostile workplace or classroom, and isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s unfair to point to the Gronkowski family as part of that problem, particularly when the Gronk Boat was remarkably inclusive and friendly to all.

Spain recounts seeing everyone being invited to dance and have fun, “from the two widows in their 60s who love the Patriots to the pre-teen boys who kept popping up at the concerts with their parents.” There were no VIP rooms for celebrities, no “hot girls” only restrictions for the concert stage, and there wasn’t any “spring break” culture – no body shots, wet T-shirt contests, etc. There were no fights, no name-calling, and no cliques, Spain explained, defying those assumptions from land-locked individuals who criticized the cruise.

Rather than exclude people, the Gronk Party Boat invited everyone, no matter who they were, to spend three days to have fun, meet new people, and party all day and night. Gronk is 26, gets paid roughly $9 million a season, and is a big kid at heart. It’s so easy to make judgments and put Gronk into that “bro culture” because of his actions, but he’s more than that. He wants everyone to have a good time – cut the kid some slack.

(In other news, apparently the Gronk Party Boat is now involved in a lawsuit brought by Tony Romo against the NFL?)

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