It's Just A Prank, Bro: The Madison Cawthorn Story
dispatches from the frat house
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The biggest crime of the Madison Cawthorn video that just dropped is that these coke orgy ghouls are forcing me to agree with the little asshole on something. For this, I will never forgive them.
I cannot believe I am about to die on this hill. I cannot believe people are so unfamiliar with bro culture and I mean this literally: I cannot actually believe people are unaware of what’s happening here. A lot of you are choosing not to know because it's funnier that way, I suspect. We’ll get to that later.
For those who actually don’t know: allow me to explain.
On May 4th, agents, I presume, of the degenerates who host the coke orgies leaked 29 seconds of the most the heterosexual footage I have ever seen in my life. In it, Madison Cawthorn crawls across a large bed with a white comforter on it. Cawthorn, on top of the comforter, maneuvers onto the sleeper horizontally and grunts aggressively as he begins to exaggeratedly hump whoever is underneath. The comforter separates them the entire time. At the end of the video we see the man beneath the comforter groggily sit up and make confused just-waking-up noises.
If this sounds gay to you, you have not spent enough time around bros.
Here are my bro qualifications: I was in the military from 2005-10. From 2007-10 I was in the 82nd Airborne Division which is one of the most testosterone-poisoned places you can end up long-term as a woman.
Like Rutger Hauer, I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
The funniest joke in our alcohol-soaked little lives was the idea that someone was gay. Every veteran on the planet knows about "gay chicken," wherin two dudes act progressively more gay with each other until one of them chickens out. They did this whenever we were bored, which was all the time.
This is a dangerous game, of course, because if you go too far people will wonder if you’re actually gay, which is considered a very bad thing. If you don’t go far enough–well, seems like you’re protesting too much and anyway it’s not sporting.
Either way: you'd be surprised how far the games went.
The Army periodically tests its soldiers for drugs, which means you have to pee into a cup in front of someone. One time, during a piss test, a member of my platoon whipped his dick out, masturbated until erect, and hung the pee cup off of it until the “meat-gazer” (also male) ran out of the bathroom. We laughed about this for days. This was not considered gay.
I can think of at least two separate instances when a soldier broke into another soldier's barracks to get into bed with them in a very similar manner to the Cawthorn video, for laughs.
I'm aware this sounds batshit and abusive. I'm not here to justify it, just to tell you the truth about it: none of it is sexual. It’s bro shit.
A lot of bro shit is incredibly gay. Hazing, pranks, actions that under any other circumstances would be ragingly and unambiguously homosexual. It permeates every aspect of bro culture, and it can be very homophobic and bad and downright ugly.
Ironically, though, I think it originates from a place of love.
What you need to understand about bros is there's no good way to say "I love you" to a fellow bro. I mean, you can say it to them if you're hammered. But even then it's kind of a joke. Plausible deniability.
I wrote an entire trilogy of articles about how masculinity emotionally castrates men. Feelings are feminine, which means male closeness is queer-coded. For a lot of men, this means no close friendships at all. Bros, on the other hand, get around this limitation by pretending to be queer. They essentially perform the gay feelings thing, but they make it as gross as possible so everyone understands it's a bit. The root meaning, however, is often "I love you, bro." Or, "you're one of us now bro." Or "I feel safe enough around you to joke about not being masculine enough."
I can never get as angry about bro culture as I should because at least it allows men to be close to each other. It's also deeply homophobic, obviously, and there are way better ways for men to be men together. All the same, it’s healthier than complete emotional illiteracy.
Which brings us to Madison Cawthorn's little video: this profoundly heterosexual frat-house nonsense we've all decided to pretend is hella gay. It isn’t. It’s a stupid prank. Can we please stop pretending it’s real?
I recognize this seems like a weird hill to die on, like I’m denying people one of life’s few pleasures when there’s so little cause for schadenfreude lately. Maybe I’m overreacting, I don’t know. Maybe it just pisses me off watching a bunch of ancient coke-addled monsters playing the libs like violins. Or maybe it's weird to me that so few people know what young testosterone-poisoned men get up to in their free time. A little sad. Maybe this is all nostalgia, bro.
Or maybe the tenor of the reaction is reminding me of the virulent and dangerous homophobia I experienced in the military. Not the bro shit. The real shit.
Here’s an example. To make sergeant, soldiers have to do the Warrior Leadership Course (WLC), which is a few days long and supposedly teaches you how to be a leader or whatever. Navigation courses. Marksmanship. Jumping out of a Black Hawk for those of us who are airborne qualified–very cool.
Mostly, though, it was PowerPoints, and one of those PowerPoints was about how to counsel soldiers–think something between a performance review and an HR writeup. We each took turns fielding a counseling session with the instructor, who played the part of our wayward privates.
When it was my turn, the instructor adopted a high falsetto and a lisp. In what to this day the most offensive rendering of a gay person I have ever seen, he came out to me while my classmates howled with laughter. This was during the days of don't ask don't tell, and so I told the imaginary soldier he can't be telling me this, since I didn't ask. That he needs to keep this quiet.
And I got in trouble, dear reader, because that was the wrong answer. The correct answer was to ruin his life by ratting him out through the chain of command so he could get an other-than-honorable discharge. Because he told me. He broke the pact. He had to go.
Obviously I never did this, would never do this. I’m queer. It wasn’t safe to be queer in the military back then–and back then wasn't that long ago. 15 years, maybe. Very much within living memory. Probably still isn’t super safe, though I have to imagine it’s better.
I recognize this isn’t the most traumatic story you’ve ever heard. But that was the atmosphere back then. You could lose your job for bein ggay. So I guess the idea of someone having their life ruined because their private life becomes public feels dangerous to me. Even if it’s happening to a really terrible person.
A lot of people don’t agree. Every time the coke orgy ghouls drop more Cawthorne dirt I point out that the dirt isn't really very dirty and inevitably someone says "so what? He deserves it." And actually, no. He doesn't. He deserves jail, possibly, for bringing guns to the Congressional chamber on J6. He deserves to not hold office on account of his repugnant ideas and the multiple people who have come forward to credibly accuse him of sexual assault and his Adolf Hitler fandom. He deserves to be shunned from polite society on account of all these things and more, but this thing where we pretend the straightest thing I've ever seen is video of Cawthorn fucking his cousin and then talk about how disgusting the video is, how foul and off-putting and even criminal–I don't think any of us deserve that, actually.
People are going to tell me that Democrats are laughing about the Madison Cawthorn video because it's hypocritical of him to be both gay and homophobic/transphobic but 1) this isn’t a video of Cawthorn being gay and 2) that's not why you're laughing. Come on. You're making jokes about how gross it is. You're making fun of his body and the noises he makes. If you actually think this is his sexuality you're being incredibly fucking gross about it.
I think it's bad that we reflexively attack our enemies with any weapon anyone hands us, even if it's bullshit, because we think the ends justify the means. Means themselves lead to their own ends, and they often aren’t the ends we intended. Why should anyone take you seriously when you admit outright you'll say anything to hurt your foes, even if it isn't true? Why should anyone believe anything you say? That's straight-up war, and if we keep acting this way then war is exactly what we'll get.
If you stand up for what’s right even when the people involved are scum, on the other hand, people will take you more seriously when you point out the scummy parts. Sometimes morality is practical too.
To be honest, after the past few weeks of Cawthorn character assassination I'm frankly way more worried about these coke orgies than some frathouse Hitler fanboy. We’re seeing what happens when someone crosses the ghouls who control the party. Cawthorn crossed them by saying some shit about sex parties he shouldn't. I have to assume there are some other red lines congresspeople aren't allowed to cross. I wonder what they are. Don’t you?
Pour out a cold one for the douchiest dude-bro of them all. You don’t have to go home, Cawthorn, but it’s looking more and more like they’re not gonna let you stay here.