What Are Bogans?

Question: What is a bogan?

Answer: A bogan is an Australian redneck.

Wait, is a bogan really a redneck? Yes. Here’s why:

The official definition of “bogan,” according to the Cambridge Dictionary is “an insulting word for a person whose way of dressing, speaking, and behaving is thought to show their lack of education and low social class.”

The definition of “redneck,” also by Cambridge, is “a poor white person without education, especially one living in the countryside in the southern U.S., who has prejudiced (= unfair and unreasonable) ideas and beliefs. This word is usually considered offensive.”

Wikipedia’s entry for “bogan” expands on simple definitions by describing bogans as

[…] Australian and New Zealand slang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated…Some features regularly associated with the bogan stereotype include residing in the outer working class suburbs of larger cities, having teeth that have not had dental care due to cost, having an anti-authoritarian or jingoistic stance, as well as being interested in classic rock music, hoon-driving (think “Fast and Furious” – ed) and excessive alcohol consumption…[Bogans] may refuse to conform to middle-class standards of taste, dietary habits, leisure activities, styles of dress and ways of speaking, and might be looked down upon […] due to preconceived perceptions and biases which can often exacerbate the hardships faced by disadvantaged people.

For the word “redneck” Wikipedia also gives a broader explanation:

Redneck is a derogatory term chiefly, but not exclusively, applied to white Americans perceived to be crass and unsophisticated, closely associated with rural whites of the Southern United States. Its usage is similar in meaning to cracker (especially regarding Texas, Georgia, and Florida), hillbilly (especially regarding Appalachia and the Ozarks), and white trash (but without the last term’s suggestions of immorality) […] People from the white South sometimes jocularly call themselves “rednecks” as insider humor.

Definitions of rednecks and bogans emphasize class differences using multiple ways to paint a group of people negatively by another group of people. For years, “redneck” was a fiercely classist word that was used to mock a group of people who fell outside of “respectable” American society. Redneck men were historically pitted against various “others,” but mostly non-whites by the “elites,” in order to keep the middle and lower classes suspicious of, and busy fighting among, each other. “The [INSERT CONVENIENT ENEMY OF THE DAY] is coming to take away your jobs, your women, your income, your benefits, and destroy your family/country/way of life!” the powerful would say, laughing all the way to the bank.

Classism is always enforced by racism and sexism.

Rednecks and bogans are stereotyped as typically mullet sportin’, torn flannel wearin’, hard drinkin’, classic rockin’, trailer trashin’, train wreckin‘ simple, unsophisticated, uncultured, and boorish folk who are always on the fringes of acceptable society.

Historically, bogans and rednecks have been laughed at and easily dismissed as coarse buffoons.

For the most part, we Americans have embraced our working-class, marginalized, and misunderstood brethren. Jeff Foxworthy, known for his “you might be a redneck” jokes, became the best-selling comedy recording artist of all time. Are there racist rednecks? Absolutely, however, there are also rednecks who have long known the system is rigged against them regardless of race, because they understand how racism and sexism are used against them in a broader class struggle. The differences are really just nitpicking across oceans.

So, are bogans rednecks?

In my opinion they absolutely are!

Even if the words themselves are rooted in classism they’re also words embraced by the very people they were weaponized against. Both are loud, proud, fiercely independent, and above all they are survivors within societies, to paraphrase George Carlin, where the upper-class uses their existence to scare the shit out of the middle-class.