Almost every one of my male friends under the age of 30 has, at some point, mentioned “the bro code.”
There exists an unspoken code of law that governs the behavior of decent men as it pertains to their relationships with one another, the way they interact with women (particularly those other “bros” are related to or sleeping with), and the way they slap each other’s butts before a big game.
(I haven’t really grasped all the intricacies yet…)
What I don’t hear people talking about much is any kind of “girl code.” Maybe it’s because women sometimes have a reputation for being catty, manipulative, cliquey, backstabbing, and all around divisive. (It’s not necessarily a fair stereotype, but it’s also not without a bit of truth, either…See: sororities, Real Housewives of Anywhere, every episode of The Bachelor, ever.) I’m lucky enough to have some pretty great lady-bros, and we all seem to hold tightly to this rarely-mentioned code of lady-conduct. Somehow it seems to help us keep from dissolving into a mob of hair-pulling, man-stealing, mascara-smearing, and general lady-douchbaggery. Although, to be honest, when it comes to keeping us happy, throwing in a few
bottles glasses of wine or whiskey sours never hurts.
But anyway, since I have a much better grasp of the “girl code” than I do this mysterious “bro code,” I figured I may as well shed some light on the laws of nature and being a lady that govern most decent female behavior.
The Lady-Bro Code
(Alternate Title: “A Series Of General Guidelines That Most Decent Females Should At Least Attempt To Follow”)
[I was originally calling this “The Girl Code,” but it came to my attention after writing this, but before publishing, that there is a show on MTV called Girl Code. There is no relation between that show and this list…mostly because I have never seen it. Remember, I am a weird old
cat budgie lady who reads Les Miserables instead of watching TV. Any connection between this list and that show is purely coincidental and/or proof that I do, indeed, have telepathic powers.]
- When a girlfriend asks if you want to go to the bathroom with her, you will always go. No questions asked. Clearly there are man-problems to be discussed…or she likes a wingman when she pees. Who cares, just go.
- Tampons are shared property. If a homegirl needs a tampon and you have one, you are honor-bound to hand it over. On a similar note, you get extra lady-bro points for keeping extra tampons on hand at all times for situations like this.
- If a female friend is oblivious to food stuck in her teeth, lipstick smeared on her teeth, the smell of the morning’s latte on her breath, or any other potentially embarrassing situation involving her face, you must help the woman out. Not only should you point out the problem with discretion and grace (bonus points for empathy and a sense of humor, but I know we’re only human), but make a good attempt to offer a solution. If you have dental floss/tissue/mints/etc. available, cough ’em up. Like tampons, these goods become shared property as the need arises.
- When giving your opinion on another woman’s appearance: Be honest, but kind, and always make an effort to point out something positive. When your friend asks if the jeans she’s trying on are worth buying, you can say, “The dark wash really brings attention to how long your legs are, but I think a different fit in the hips would look more flattering.” Do not say something like, “Well if you want to look like a stuffed sausage, sure. I hear muffintops are the latest runway trend.” The female psyche can be a fragile thing, and as a member of the sisterhood, we are bound to protect each other that way. Also, you don’t want to be responsible for sending someone into a downward spiral that involves binge drinking, subsequent drunken online shopping, a frenzy of Keeping Up With the Kardashians reruns. Nobody wants that kind of mess on their conscience.
- The above rule also applies to expressing your opinions about women who haven’t asked (aka, gossip). When your friend is laughing about a woman girl in the leopard-print bodysuit that’s about four sizes too small, point out her fabulous hair before you start cackling over her cameltoe. Bottom line? Don’t be a bitch about it.
- Sharing a bed is not weird. It’s not even weird if you end up snuggling, as long as you trade off on who gets to be the little spoon.
- While spooning is ok, prison hugs are never ok. They’re not ok for bros, and they’re not ok for lady-bros. This is real life, not Orange is the New Black (although, if you are incarcerated and reading this from the computer lab at a state penitentiary, then good for you. I’m glad to see that our prison literacy programs are so fruitful.)
- If you are a female worth your salt, you will watch out for your friends when alcohol is present. If she is getting tipsy, you will keep your eyes peeled. If she is getting completely schnockered, you will say something…and maybe swap her vodka tonic for a plain seltzer when she’s not looking. Should she become inebriated enough to attempt something really stupid, like getting naked on the bar top or making out with a man older than her father, you should do everything you can to keep her clothes on, the old men away, get her home, and delete any photographic evidence. It’s not fun, but somebody’s got to do it.
- In the unfortunate event that one of your your female friend is sick to her stomach (whether due to inebriation, food poisoning, or
human spawnpregnancy) you should at least offer to hold her hair back. Even if you’re praying she’ll refuse, make the offer. What else are friends for?
- When a lady-bro sends you gratuitous photos of her how sweaty her cleavage is after a run or how ridiculously pregnant she looks after eating an entire container of hummus (…not that I have experience with this), you will respond with appropriate appreciation/sympathy/enthusiasm. You will not share that incriminating photographic evidence with anyone, particularly men.
- When you are in a relationship, you need to make an effort to make sure that your single friends still feel included. On the other hand, when you are single, you need to make sure that your married/engaged friends (and those in that weird “long term FWB’s that might have feelings for each other” Twilight Zone) don’t feel like they’re been kicked out of the group because they’re not single. Ladyfriends are ladyfriends, regardless of whether they have lovermen at any given time.
- When a close girlfriend starts dating a total douchenozzle, you are obligated to be honest (but kind!) about why you think they are not a good match. When she breaks up with said douchenozzle, you are obligated to not saying, “I told you so.”
- If you know or meet a guy who would be a good match for one of your single girlfriends, you will make a solid effort to get them together, or at least introduce them. (Time for a humble-brag: I’m compulsive about this. I am almost always playing matchmaker for my friends, and it’s kind of a love/hate thing- I love it, they hate it. But my success speaks for itself.) When a good girlfriend considers herself the fairy godmother for her friends, magic happens. Usually. Or at least 30% of the time.
- Speaking of matchmaking, never pass harsh judgment on a girlfriend who has resorted to online dating. Instead, stage a calculated intervention with the utmost professionalism. If that’s not possible, at least be willing to run background checks on all her
- When a ladyfriend has a first date with a man she met online (or, um, on Tinder…), you will act as her official bodyguard. This means you will stalk them at the restaurant, or coffee shop, or theatre, or racetrack, or cagefight arena, or wherever they decide to go. Whether she knows that you will be stalking them is up to you. If you really want to channel your inner Liam Neeson and do a Google search of the guy beforehand (don’t forget to check the Megan’s List website…seriously), go for it. If you can find a way to run his plates, then you’re basically Batman.
- When borrowing another lady-bro’s belongings- whether it is a sweater, lipgloss, car, or knitting needles (do people even knit?) – be sure to return it in the best condition possible. If it shrinks/breaks/gets stained, fix it or buy a new one. (If you can’t afford to fix/replace it, you probably shouldn’t be borrowing it…)
- Decent females do not share the details of their ladyfriends sex lives. Good females will be sympathetic when friends share their stories of sexytime woes. Great females will enthusiastically commiserate/celebrate their friends’ amorous adventures, while also discreetly sharing personal experiences for the cause of educating their more virginal acquaintances.
- Speaking of sex, it is never a good idea to get involved with a friend’s former boyfriend, at least not without asking. Now first off, I’m not a believer of the “you can never ever date one of your female acquaintances’ exes” philosophy. After all, once you’re broken up, it’s all fair game…so put your feelings away, princess, and get on with it. But! That being said, even if she and loverpants have been kaputz for years, it’s smart to talk about it beforehand rather than risk her finding out from someone else and assuming that you were sneaking around in some act of sordid betrayal. At the very least, she can warn you that he’s a cheapskate and not worth your time. At best, she can give you her blessing and help you pick out what to wear on your first date (ok, maybe that last parts a bit of a stretch…). At any rate, if you plan to date a guy who previously dated one of your friends, don’t be sneaky about it and do make him get tested beforehand.
- When a ladyfriend is ovulating, gestating, cruising on the crimson tide, or has any other hormone-fuled hankering for chocolate, you should, at the very least, validate her need for some goodies from the dark side. Better yet, find a way to supply her with some of the high-quality, fair-trade, heaven-in-a-bar stuff.
- Good girlfriends will always remember their friends’ birthdays and other milestones (but a really good girlfriend won’t hold it against you if you don’t!), and will make every effort to be present for important things like graduations, weddings, baby-births, and the like. Just pray like mad that she won’t make you actually be in the room for the birthing
Above all else, being a high-caliber lady-bro means being a woman who embraces her unique identity, chases her dreams passionately, cares deeply for those around her, and always stands by her friends.
And, of course, being able to wear heels with confidence and tell a dirty joke with panache (especially at the same time) never hurts.