So I guess I have a dog in this fight. I am an academic and am now halfway through my doctorate after two undergraduate degrees and a Master's degree in related disciplines. Although immersed in the toxic leftist campus environment, I have learned to be discerning when distinguishing dangerous dogma from idealistic provocation.
HUM 365 - Angry White Male Studies is a case in point.
I consider this course being offered by Professor Christopher Forth as idealistic provocation - somewhat heavyhanded in execution, yet intended to provide a lively discussion about a contemporary sociocultural matter of great importance that also has a storied history. More on that in a moment.
I find that being bombarded with leftist dogma through campus life as well as private research requires a measure of psychological homeostasis, and so I find it necessary to venture off into the far corners of the commercial web, including Heavy-R, THEYNC, BestGore, LiveLeak, Gab, and Voat. I tend to avoid 4chan related sites because they legitimately boast some skilled malicious hackers that you don't want to fuck with.
And so my academic writing tends to be markedly leaning left while my hobbyist writing ends up expressing as more conservative, with occasional flourishes of non-committal bigotry. I believe that it is important to forge mass media as a discursive formation rife with contradictions and quagmires. Expression should be unrestricted but it should be managed responsibly. What this means is that you allow people to express whatever they want, but you bury it deeper and deeper on your media service depending on how provocative and dogmatic it is (right and left).
It is also important to not judge a person by what they do in the virtual - the virtual is the "sandbox of the real" and a place for performance. It is a place to try out new things to see whether they suit you, or to exorcise some of your demons through abstracting them from your psychology and placing them into a public forum where you might reflect on them introspectively and decide if you would like them to be representative for your personality.
So with that personal statement off my chest, I will start by saying that the title of Prof. Forth's course is intentionally provocative and I find it unnecessary. If you are coming at it cold then it just looks like racist sexism. Who wants to be qualified through their sensational vice as a headline description? "Emotional black women", "Self-piteous Indigenous Peoples", "Callous East Asian men", "Miserly Jewish Couples", are not titles in the spirit of a democratic society, and although we may just be interrogating the stereotype and doing something productive through demystification it is still tactless and in poor taste overall.
I took the time to do a quick review of Prof. Forth's publication history and it seems that he is an accomplished scholar who has been focused on the issue of masculinity for most of his recent academic career. I will now provide some of my takeaways from having glanced (sincerely) at his work.
Males who are virile or who value virility shouldn't be construed as "angry" and if they are labeled this way, then this is a political-based issue. They are only angry as it informs a historical-based tradition of male values, and if "anger" is a descriptor being weaponized against men, and despite the fact that they may be provoking this in certain ways, it nevertheless is derogatory and ignorant to stigmatize men this way. Forth at least has the good sense to keep "angry white males" in quotation marks, so that some of us might consider it fair to interpret it as a sneer.
I took a stab in the dusk regarding the thesis of his course and settled on the following: European men were "feminized" (my own term) by new technologies over the centuries as industry shifted from factory-based work (physical labor) to service-based work (psychological labor). New forms of masculinity emerged with these industrial shifts and in many ways these new masculinities were not masculine at all (at least not with respect to testosterone and other biological factors determining expression - and therefore definition - of masculinity).
Yet, the new technology is what Western society chose to prioritize in order to progress our species with respect to expanded experiences of time and space (i.e. more fulfilling lives) - we wanted telecommunications, we wanted the internet, we wanted fast jets, we wanted efficient locomotives, we wanted fMRIs, we wanted vaccines, etc. The way we get to those technological advancements seems to have resulted in men working more intellectually/creatively/emotionally, and less viscerally in a physical way.
The "angry white male" exists because the new lifestyle of men is deemed effete and ineffectual. Living in accordance with the priorities of expeditious technological advancement actually has the effect of making many or most men absolutely miserable in critical ways. We feel useless as "men" and I suppose Forth is tapping the rather fertile "post-human" vein here.
With respect to the course description, I interpret the point of using post-structuralist lenses (feminism, post-colonial, etc.) as providing the point of collision where new ideas will be wrested from disparate dogmas of old and new - dialectic exorcism, if you will. Feminism on its own isn't helpful here, however neither are proto-modernist texts about phenomena such as the Nietzschean Superman. Only through the juxtaposition of old and new views can we forge a proper understanding of the diachronic historical poetic for the phenomenon of Western masculinity. Feminism and other "progressive" theoretical approaches have failed if they willfully label and stigmatize Western men as "angry white males", while Western men have failed if not coming to an understanding about why they are angry.
From experience, I think the students will be the real problem in this class and not the course instructor per se. Forth should also realize now that he will likely be secretly audited by impish libertarian social media pundits. Between the scrambled egg-brained undergrads and shit-for-brains radical isolationists, it is difficult to believe that an important subject will get its due. I imagine class discussion will be an echo chamber of "angry white females" with the occasional ethnic minority standing up for conservative values and getting lambasted for it. I've seen it all before. The soft sciences university classroom has become the unholy union of a circus show and padded cell. To experience it is akin to having fireworks blown up in your face - it's a rather unpleasant sensation.
I hope that it does go well, and truth be told, I wouldn't mind being a TA for this course.
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