If there’s one thing the internet is good at, it’s coming up with words to describe people you hate. We’ve seen this a lot over the past years and, oddly, it’s the right wing that seems the best at it. Despite lefties having the bigger reputation for being creative and artsy, there have been some stunners to come out of the right. Remain voters quickly became “remoaners”. Straight men who sympathise with feminist causes are called “cucks”, short for “cuckold”, a Shakespearean word that was co-opted by porn to mean anyone who will willingly watch his wife or girlfriend have sex with another man.
And, of course, there’s "snowflake". Or, as I’ve been called on occasion, “Comrade Snowflake”.
"Snowflake" is a term that has come to mean a lot of things. It started with Fight Club, one of many perfectly decent movies from the 1990s that angry white guys on the internet have ruined (see also: The Matrix). Brad Pitt’s famous monologue ends on mocking the “snowflake generation”, proclaiming: "You are not special. You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.”
Hence, “snowflake” becomes a word for people – usually millenials – who are too sensitive, who are offended too easily and who want to shut their eyes to the world, choosing to live in their own prism of pretty, remote specialness. And, for some bizarre reason, the alt-right have decided that this word applies to anyone who wants to, er, end racism, sexism and homophobia.
No, I don’t get it either.
“Trump has successfully triggered the largest SNOWFLAKE MELTDOWN in history,” cackles one tweet. “I don't think acting like a SJW snowflake will get you a lot of dates w men,” says another.
(You’ll notice I’m not linking to any of these tweets, and I’m not going to, because, frankly, these people don’t deserve the airtime.)
Donald Trump is King Broflake and that’s fucking terrifying
And, y’know, accepting for a minute that “snowflake” now means “over-sensitive, over-privileged person” as opposed to “fragment of cold, cold water”, it feels as though we’re ascribing it to the wrong people. Surely there’s no better candidate for the nickname than the people who are devastated by the idea of all-female Wonder Woman screenings, sound off about how “there’s no Straight Pride Month” and yell into the sky that “All Lives Matter”. Y’know, the people who maintain that Donald Trump has “the right to free speech” and who simultaneously lose their minds when Meryl Streep gently takes the piss out of Mixed Martial Arts (“This washed up libtard needs to STFU!” is just one poetic response, when you google the event).
Enter the "broflake" – the newest addition to Urban Dictionary, and defined as a “straight white male offended by any feminist or ethnic activity which is not directly designed for him”.
The key difference between the snowflake and the broflake is this: if someone calls you a snowflake, it generally means that you’re being sensitive to how things already are. You’re angry when something racist or sexist or homophobic happens. You acknowledge that there are things wrong with the world that affect people who aren’t you. You don’t feel friendly when someone uses phrases like “I can say this; we’re among friends” to air their gross beliefs.
If you’re a broflake, you’re sensitive to the idea of absolutely anything changing. You may admit that discrimination is a problem, but you are much more determined that you have never, ever committed a racist or sexist act, and that women and people of colour need to “be patient”. On the surface, you would like “equality for all”, but that equality must come through “hard work” that you, personally, are not responsible for. Importantly, any equality gained by anyone else must not come at the expense of your salary, your comfort or your convenience. You love talking about equality so much in fact that your key concerns seem to be whether everyone is treating you equally. “All-female screenings?” you say. “Well, that doesn't sound very EQUAL to me!”
Broflakes are, essentially, Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud and somehow managing to make the newspaper.
Broflakes hate change and there are a lot of Broflakes. Half of global governments seem to be made up of people who are willing to pay lip service to social justice, but are so terrified of their advantages slipping away. Philip Davies is a broflake. The MSP who woefully asked “What about the male pay gap?” last week, causing Nicola Sturgeon’s eyes to roll out of her head, is a broflake. Donald Trump is King Broflake and that’s fucking terrifying.
Here’s the upshot, though: if there’s one thing human history has taught us to depend on, it’s change. Change has to happen for people and civilisations to survive. It has to happen, will happen and is happening right now. So, while the war between snowflakes and broflakes may seem urgent now, I have every hope that soon both terms will melt with the spring.