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College Offers Class on 'Consequences' of Whiteness

The University of Oregon is offering a course this summer to teach students about the “consequences” of masculinity in the United States.

Taught by Ashley Woody and Tony Silva, Sociology 399: Whiteness, Masculinity, and Heterosexuality is a featured course on the sociology department’s website, and it aims to take a critical approach to the historical development of masculinity and heterosexuality.

The class —which also goes by “Sociology 399: Straight White Heterosexuality Masculinity” — must be taken for a grade by sociology majors, but its description notes that grading is “optional for all other students.”

“What do whiteness, heterosexuality and masculinity mean today? How do they differ across contexts? How do they intersect, and what are the consequences?” the course description opines.

Neither Woody nor Silva responded to a request for more information about the class, but they appear to take a social constructionist approach to gender theory. In one of Silva’s recent works, for example, he interviewed 19 men from Grindr and Craigslist to document the “centrality of heterosexuality to normative rural masculinity.”

According to Silva’s research, hobbies such as hunting, fishing, cutting firewood, ranching, and farming are ways that certain men “perform a rural masculinity,” as Silva documented in his seminal article “Bud-Sex.”

That study strangely concludes by blaming “inequality” on straight-identifying men who occasionally have sex with other men.

These men “enjoy marginalized sexual practices, but they are unwilling to challenge heterosexism or other forms of domination, maintaining numerous systems of inequality” Silva laments.

On the other hand, Woody tends to focus on whiteness and racism. She is the author of forthcoming works on topics such as “whiteness in professional surfing media,” “color-blind racism,” and “white anxiety in Orange County” according to her CV.

Some students -- who are not enrolled in the class -- have expressed concerns.

Alec Saoplin, 18, told PJ Media that “I don’t understand why a class can be targeting white heterosexual males. That’s the definition of racism and sexism right there… it suggests that all men are bad and white men are worse.”

She also pointed out what she says is a double standard in what is taught on campus, saying that “a class on heterosexual women would never be taught ever.” Men should not be the scapegoat for society’s problems, she added.

McKenna Sjoden, 19, said she’s noticed that UO’s sensitivity towards social justice seems to have “unintentionally created an environment that views masculinity as inherently bad.”

“The sets up a platform that supports the victim mindset… all it seems to do is breed hatred, sometimes even against one’s own. I don’t really think the college should be offering this class.”

The sociology department is also offering classes on topics such as “Marxist Sociological Theory,” “Racism, Inequality, and Resistance,” and “Sociology of Gender.” UO also did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.