Samuel Miller

Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Timothy Pasch


This dissertation examines the cultural phenomenon of Bronies, adult, mostly male, fans of the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. When large numbers of grown men like a show designed for little girls, how do they contend with the challenges presented by the culturally accepted norms of masculinity? Do these fans disclose their love of ponies to others, if at all? An online mixed methods survey conducted in 2014 looks at how Bronies interact with the show, other fans, and non fans. While some Bronies are cautious about disclosing their fondness for ponies due to potential harassment, there is potential movement growing within the fan community that is slowly changing constructions of masculinity which fosters community and inclusivity.

This project explores issues of masculine identity management in four sections. The first segment examines how Bronies experience harassment for being public fans. Secondly, how do secretive members of the fandom maintain their traditional masculine identity through self monitoring techniques like “The Stable.” Third, how are conceptions of masculinity changing in environments where hypermasculinity and ponies intersect, such as the case of military Bronies. Finally, the Brony fandom is aiding in the creation of a new framework of masculinity that distinguishes itself as a more inclusive gender construct separating itself from hegemonic masculinity.