It’s an ongoing question: What is the purpose of college?
Some would say it’s to prepare young adults for careers.
Others might point to knowledge acquisition or the sharpening of skills.
But there’s another function, and it appears to be gaining popularity: to engender a particular world view.
Apropos of Door #3, Rhode Island College is offering adolescents the analytical opportunity to mince men.
Introducing Fall 2021’s FYS 100-14.
The in-person course will meet Mondays and Wednesdays.
Its title: The Rhetoric of Toxic Masculinity.
“Toxic masculinity has been defined as a set of behaviors exhibited by men, but really it’s an outcome,” the description notes.
As it turns out, guys have been socialized to be…guyish:
[I]t’s the self that emerges in boys and men after years of being taught that emotions like fear or sadness must be suppressed, that one must maintain an appearance of stoicism and strength at all times…
Men are also, apparently, taught this:
…that violence signifies power.
Where might one look for an example?
Who of note is stoic, violent, and suppressed?
One need look no further than former President Donald Trump to find a vivid illustration of this concept as it manifests in the early years of the twenty-first century.
Never underestimate whiteness:
The fact that Trump was able to get elected and that he maintains support especially among white men is a sign of the health and endurance of toxic masculinity.
As text for the journey into manly malignancy, students will benefit from Jared Yates Sexton’s The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making.
From The New York Times Book Review, New & Noteworthy
Sexton draws on his own boyhood in rural Indiana to challenge social perceptions of masculinity, arguing that narrowly defined gender roles hurt men and women alike.
The book began as a 2016 NYT op-ed, “Donald Trump’s Toxic Masculinity.”
As noted by The College Fix, it explored the then-candidate’s “macho-isms, his penchant for dividing the world into losers and winners, his lack of empathy for anyone but himself.”
However, course instructor Michael Michaud told the outlet last semester’s iteration “started just weeks after the January 6 riots.”
“Talking about Trump in that context,” he explained, “seemed very timely and relevant…(but) he is no longer in the spotlight the way he was.”
TCF reports attendees will be given three main assignments:
- Tell a story about gender and masculinity of your choosing from your own life
- [Analyze films that] broaden…discussion of gender and masculinity
- Examine gendered messages about masculinity (in a critical analysis)
Back to the opening of this article, recent headlines have highlighted education’s evolution:
In June, Real Time host Bill Maher described college thusly:
“[C]olleges have turned into giant luxury daycare centers with overpaid babysitters anxious to indulge every student whim. … A third of students now spend less than five hours a week studying. And when they do, it’s for their onerous magnum-cum-[baloney] course load of Sports Marketing, History Through Twitter, Advanced Racist Spotting, Intro to Microaggressions, and You Owe Me an Apology 101. … The answer isn’t to make college free. The answer is to make it more unnecessary — which it is for most jobs.”
In other words, he’s not impressed.
And, presumably, those who attend FYS 100-14 won’t be impressed either — with masculinity.
Manliness may have built some bridges and a few empires along the way, but we’re living in a softer, gentler era.
“In this class,” the description reads, “we’ll examine the rhetoric of toxic masculinity through film, literature, and cultural history as we work to imagine, enact, and expect better and saner versions of masculinity for and from boys and men.”
Professor Michael told the Fix he looks forward to incorporating “perspectives of non-white, non-working class, non-straight, non-male people into the class.”
That should be a breeze.
So go the winds of change.
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