We’ve all heard it: ‘man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘bros before hoes’"

It’s part of the unofficial and undocumented ‘bro code’ that dictates the behaviour of some men and boys.

Violate the ‘bro code’ and you’ll be accused of ‘doggin the lads’.

They’re popular expressions that paint a clear picture for an impressionable young bloke about what makes ‘a man’.

From an early age, we hear this kind of language in the schoolyard, in the media, in the company of mates and on the sporting field.

They are so commonly thrown around, that they’ve become a part of our everyday conversation – normalised by overuse.

The problem is they’re toxic.

Terms like ‘bros before hoes’ only work to encourage guys to value their relationships with ‘the bros’, over those with girls, and may make them more likely to excuse their mate’s bad behaviour towards women.

I’m not proud to say that I have played into this conversation without even realising.

I was recently asked if I’d ever been with a group of mates who’ve made disrespectful remarks about women, and if I’d spoken up.

While I was confident that I had never directly participated, on reflection, as a younger lad I had definitely heard some things I’d shrugged off as a bit of ‘schoolboy banter’.

Admittedly, I grew up thinking it was just casual chat that didn’t mean anything and regrettably, I fell victim to the pack mentality.

Although now I would never let that kind of behaviour slide, I wanted to be honest in my response. 

I know how hard it can be to call out bad behaviour, especially if it’s coming from one of your mates.

According to a survey conducted by The Line campaign, more than one in four (27 per cent) of young men say it doesn’t bother them if they’re with a group of friends and someone puts girls down by making jokes or comments about them.

I’d love to say I was surprised by that stat, but there’s intense pressure not to be a loser or a self-righteous hero; there’s always a worry you could lose your spot among the boys if you step out of line.

I know in rugby, these types of attitudes and behaviours have historically boxed guys who don’t fit the ‘macho mould’ out of the game, not to mention discouraging women and girls.

Rugby should be for everyone and thankfully a lot is being done to make sure that’s the case.

It’s not right to insult girls ‘for fun’ and there is a risk that speaking up against a mate’s disrespectful chat may cost you your friendship with him.

But at the end of the day, if you’ve tried to educate your mate and you’re still not getting through to him, you need to ask yourself if you’re hanging out with the wrong people.

As clichéd as it sounds, I believe it only takes one person to speak up before things start to change.

If you say something, even if it’s a ‘hey bro, that’s not cool’ or you pull that one guy aside to have a private convo, you could get him to think about the negative impact of his words and eventually change the perception of your group.

As an Ambassador for The Line, I want to encourage young people to be aware of what they’re saying and to acknowledge that they can positively influence others.

In order to stamp out disrespectful and sexist chat, we need an army of people to call it out when we see or hear it.

November 25 to December 10 marks 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence worldwide and it’s a time for all of us to think about what we can do to challenge a culture that disrespects women.

So, my fellow bros, maybe not everyone is going to agree with your beliefs, but you’ve got to stand up for what’s right.

Speak up, even if it means ‘doggin the lads’.

Allan Alaalatoa is an Australian rugby union player for the Wallabies and proud Ambassador for The Line. 

This article was originally published on The Roar.

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