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Robes Were Never Not Manly

Last week, the enterprising dudes at DudeRobe launched a Kickstarter campaign, with a marketing angle that essentially amounts to: “Robes: Not just for women anymore!”

The promo video features Nick — your standard nonthreatening, doughy, run-of-the-mill white dude (you know, a generally unimpressive guy just like you) — struggling to find the right garment for all the casual dude shit he engages in. He pulls out a bathrobe, but the disembodied voice tells him “Bathrobes are too girly.” A hoodie, perhaps? “Hoodies don’t dry you,” the voice informs him.

But fear not, Nick, for at long last there’s the DudeRobe, which is essentially a sweatshirt lined with towel material. The DudeRobe comes in a hoodie or traditional robe style — and with a matching pair of shorts, so you don’t suffer any dick slips and wind up with an accidental indecent exposure charge.

It’s perfect for all occasions, too! Look at Nick, working out, shooting pool and playing video games with his bros all in his DudeRobe.

The DudeRobe appears to be the brainchild Howie Busch, an inventor and sometime YouTube vlogger who bears a striking resemblance to Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven’s Gate cult.

Busch in his Dude Robe

To our utter amazement, Busch’s product seems to be resonating. It’s earned more than $50,000 in pledges as of this writing (more than double its goal) and heaps of praise from around the internet. The DudeRobe is “game-changing,” according to the beta cucks at BroBible. And the DudeRobe received 69 upvotes (nice) on product discovery website Product Hunt.

As for us, our issue isn’t with the DudeRobe itself, per se — it looks quite comfortable — but with its message that a “normal” robe is an inherently feminine garment only a cuck would wear. It’s not even subtext: DudeRobe says in no uncertain terms that traditional robes are “too girly.” According to Busch, the only men to successfully pull off the robe are Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski.

All due respect, Mr. Busch, but the idea robes aren’t for men is utter bullshit. If anything, it’s the exact opposite. Some of the most masculine figures in the history of American culture wore robes. For example:

  • When Tony Soprano wasn’t whacking his best friends, committing extortion and cheating on his wife with a Kazakh immigrant half his age, the New Jersey crime boss paraded around his mansion in a robe. (Author’s note: This may have had something to do with his depression.)

  • Sean Connery wore a powder blue, terrycloth bathrobe as James Bond in Thunderball, and no one has ever question either of their manhoods.
  • Friar Tuck wore a robe like most monks, and those guys did all kinds of sweet man things, like brewing beer, not talking, obtaining knowledge and going to extreme lengths to avoid emotional relationships with women.
  • Legendary insult comic Don Rickles (may he rest in peace) wore a robe in his green room before each performance, right up until it was time for him to take the stage.
  • “Broadway” Joe Namath, the former New York Jets quarterback who set the archetype for the flashy, playboy athlete, wore a robe in this 1973 Noxema ad he did with Farah Fawcett.
  • Puff Daddy: The nearly billion-dollar hip-hop mogul wears a robe while literally swinging from chandeliers.

  • And virtually every boxer to ever square off in the ring entered their preferred combat zone with a robe that temporarily covered up their trunks (and heads) — with the notable exception of Mike Tyson, who defied convention by entering the ring wearing nothing but his trunks and gloves.

Not to mention a whole host of badass villains who were known to wear robes, including:

  • Rahad Jackson, Alfred Molina’s maniacal, boy-loving drug dealer character in Boogie Nights.

  • Alejandro Sosa, the primary antagonist to our titular antihero, in Scarface.
  • And, of course, Star WarsEmperor Palpatine.

These aren’t just men, but strong, powerful, and in some cases, downright dangerous men.

Oh, but see, DudeRobe has a hood. You know, like a boxer would wear. They’re tough! And pockets. For carrying stuff, like your wallet, because you don’t carry stuff in a PURSE like a WOMAN. Also, it comes with a matching pair of boxer shorts, because letting your dick hang out is kinda gay and stuff, especially when you’re just trying to play billiards in your man cave with all your other robe bros.

(Side note: The DudeRobe video is hilariously homoerotic for a product so obviously intended for straight guys. A bunch of guys hanging out, with no women around, sitting close to one another on a couch, in nothing but their robes… I mean, c’mon.)

What is interesting, and what Busch might be touching upon with the DudeRobe’s early success, is that there hasn’t been a notable male robe-wearer in years. All the men referenced above are at least a generation old at this point. The robe divide, if there is one, doesn’t seem to be along gender lines, but along generational ones.

Or maybe the answer lies in the DudeRobe’s choice of “dude” instead of “men.” They describe two vastly different iterations of the adult male species. Like the men listed above, a “man” is an adult male comfortable in his own skin, so much so that he’s not afraid to flash a little something while picking up the Sunday paper in his robe.

But “dude” connotes a certain lack of sophistication and maturity — a self-conscious guy who still worries too much about what his dude friends think about him, and doesn’t yet have the confidence to rock a robe unless some cynical marketer tells him it’s okay to do so.