If there’s one thing that’s universal about MC Smut, it’s that The Brotherhood is the most important aspect of the club. What that means for romance is that the hero has a readily available cortege of badass bikers to get fierce when the action goes down. How they all know how to handle themselves like commandos, I have no idea…but a lot of them do have military backgrounds, so maybe that’s it.
Perhaps the best way to think about The Brotherhood is in terms of the old familial double standard: I can say whatever I want about my sister (etc.), but if anybody else says shit, I will fight to the death to defend her. In the books, this translates as: it doesn’t matter what kind of disagreements or infighting is going on in the club, every single brother will drop everything to defend…the club’s property. As it were.
For examples of this, I’d refer you to Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley or Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde, as both of those books involve direct conversations between the hero and heroine about how The Brotherhood is involved in the protagonists’ lives. (Primarily because both heroines are citizens, which we’ll discuss further when we get to the post about the women of MC smut.)
In Motorcycle Man, Tyra is kidnapped, and after she’s retrieved by the entire club roaring down the highway, Tack lays it out for her that everyone who belongs to Chaos is *safe*, because if they’re not, the club will rain down retribution the likes of which will make baddies think twice. In this instance, “rivers of blood” is the promise Tack makes. And it doesn’t matter that, at this point in the story, Tyra only belongs to Tack and barely knows the rest of the members of the club. She’s Tack’s woman, so every man in the club has Tack’s back to protect and avenge her.
Reaper’s Property goes in a slightly different direction, because Marie becomes Horse’s woman when her brother steals from the club, and Horse manages to negotiate that Marie become collateral instead of the club outright murdering her brother. (Because Horse wants Marie, not because he’s altruistic.) So the explanation about The Brotherhood comes more in the form of Horse trying to explain club culture to Marie when she’s horrified by the property patch, the relevant aspect of that conversation here being: no one will dare to mess with the club’s property, or – again – vengeance will be swift and brutal. It doesn’t matter that everybody in the club doesn’t agree with the approach the club has taken in dealing with Marie’s brother – they voted, the decision was made, and Marie was absorbed into the fold.
So, to sum up, The Brotherhood acts as an extended family, with the brothers in the club standing in for the hero when he’s not available to protect (or care for, but most specifically protect) the heroine. Buuuuuuut not for the other club women, necessarily (about whom more anon). When the brothers of the club talk amongst themselves about women, that’s usually the time that a whole lot of misogyny comes out. Which brings us to…
That’s one aspect of The Brotherhood. The other aspect is the male friendships/relationships that exist on page. In theory, this is really cool, because it’s not always easy to find romance with good male friendships. The connections between these men of the club can be really important and meaningful, and it’s nice to see men having friendships and support systems in books! Especially macho men who would rather be eaten by fire ants than admit that they have feelings.
In practice, I find that The Brotherhood is an odd juxtaposition of a family in which everybody understands and supports everybody else and a loose association of individuals without deep emotional connections. We’ll probably get into this a little bit more when we talk about the men of MC smut, but toxic masculinity is basically an absolute must in these books. There is absolutely no room here for men who enjoy pink or tea or who talk about their feelings with anything other than revulsion. Ergo, I have a hard time believing that we’re achieving that really deep male friendship connection if men are running around telling their *best* friends that expressing feelings means that a man is “growing a vagina.”
Like I said, the toxic masculinity is REAL.
So, to wind this down, I’d summarize all this by saying that The Brotherhood is essential to MC smut as both a cultural foundation generally and as a social foundation for the hero. There is nothing for the hero more sacrosanct than The Brotherhood. So, its existence is self-reinforcing, and it’s for the heroine to conform to the culture, not for the hero to break out of. Not that the hero wants to break out, but we’ll talk about heroes next week.
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