The University of Kansas will host a new class starting in the fall titled, “Angry White Male Studies.” The course claims to explore the rise of angry white men since the 1950s in both the United States and the United Kingdom. A Republican Kansas Congressman Ron Estes tweeted his dislike of the course while students at KU feel the course will offer a valuable discussion.
According to the Fall Catalog released by the University of Kansas, Humanities 365 “Angry White Male Studies” aims to understand the growing angst felt by white men in the USA and the UK. The summary from their website describes the course,
This course charts the rise of the “angry white male” in America and Britain since the 1950s, exploring the deeper sources of this emotional state while evaluating recent manifestations of male anger.
Employing interdisciplinary perspectives this course examines how both dominant and subordinate masculinities are represented and experienced in cultures undergoing periods of rapid change connected to modernity as well as to rights-based movements of women, people of color, homosexuals and trans individuals. (Same as WGSS 365.)”
According to the Associated Press, Professor Christopher Forth will teach the class. Forth, a white man and author of the book Masculinity in the Modern West: Gender, Civilization and the Body, will help students understand the trajectory of male ire amid other populations gaining rights.
For centuries, white men have held a distinct advantage over women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community. With recent surges in rights for these populations, men have become increasingly angry and hostile. The course aims to help students understand how these rights movements have impacted the white male.
On face value, the course title sounds terrible. However, there is value in understanding the historical context behind the anger. Groups like Incels, the alt-right, white nationalists, and white supremacists are filled with angry white men. Within these groups, the narrative seems to be that as people gain rights, white men are losing their place in the world.
Not all men are angry. Naturally, the majority of men are adapting to the changing world. As the younger generations grow up in a world where equal rights to all is a given and not an exception, white male youth are becoming more tolerant.
However, a white Republican is angry about the course. Ron Estes from the fourth district in Kansas slammed KU for offering the course. In a tweet, Estes wrote,
“Instead of a course to unite people and empower women, KU has decided to offer a class that divides the student population and could pose a Title IX violation by creating a hostile campus environment based on gender.
Students on campus seemed excited about the new course. One student, Rianon Wallace-Demby, told KMBC that she hopes she will be able to take the course in the fall. She added,
“Creating dialogue which is something that we need to have. Dialogue is important. Dialogue needs to be had,” said junior Rianon Wallace-Demby.
Another student, John Koenig echoed Rianon’s thoughts, “There’s definitely some value into looking into things from–for history at least– from an intersectional view.”
As society continues to evolve, colleges need to expand their catalogs. Learning about the history of rights movements and the response of white men will enable students to understand the complexity of this social dynamic. Because white men held such innate privilege for hundreds of years, rights of women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ threaten their ability to be the top dogs in society.
Initially, I bristled at the title. However, I commend KU for taking the step to teach the course. Dialogue is critical to help unite people. Hopefully, the course will be offered at other colleges around the country soon.
Congressman Estes, your angry white man is showing.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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