Fall 2010 Course Offerings in the Men’s Studies Department

Reader Elizabeth tipped me off last week to a podcast of some DaHarb named Lionel Tiger (no, seriously) who has had the blisteringly original idea that universities, if they’re going to offer Women’s Studies courses, ought to be required – in the name of equality – to offer Men’s Studies courses. As someone who has spent the last eight years on college campuses futzing around various humanities and social sciences departments, I would like to reassure Mr. Tiger that he needn’t worry about men’s curricular under-representation. Men’s Studies actually already exists. I don’t know what they call it at Rutgers where he teaches, but at the two universities I’ve attended, they call it Literature, History, Art History, Political Science, Economics, and Area Studies. Really, nearly every course taught in every humanities or social science department on Earth could be considered Men’s Studies were it not for the token textbook chapter here and there on “women’s history” or “women’s literature.” Or maybe Tiger is concerned when he looks at the course catalog and sees a section for African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Studies, Women’s Studies, etc. but doesn’t see a White Men’s Studies, an omission that would imply that white men aren’t oppressed enough to warrant a department dedicated to the study of their suffering. I mean, just imagine.*

Let’s pretend for a minute that the majority of Women’s Studies departments haven’t already been rebranded and ideologically reworked as Gender Studies departments and think about what kinds of courses might fall under the rubric of Men’s Studies. Davetavius and I have designed for your perusal a hypothetical grouping of course offerings for the Fall 2010 semester for the Men’s Studies department at Alternate Universe State (I’m guessing that it might be possible that in some alternate universe there exists a shortage of college courses about men and their concerns, though I still doubt it).

Undergraduate Course Offerings

MNST 101 Introduction to Chicks – Required for all Men’s Studies majors. Introduces basic concepts in the study of chicks, how to get them to get naked, and what’s wrong with them. Concepts that will be covered include basic sexual coercion techniques, creative avoidance of privilege examination, and basic victim-blaming.

MNST 110 Strip Club Etiquette  — This course will give students a thorough grounding in the behavior expected at strip clubs. Topics will include avoiding contact with bouncers, how to discreetly inquire about the availability of intercourse or fellatio, how to maximize the amount of attention one can get per tip dollar, how to avoid ingesting pubic hairs at free strip club lunch buffets, the parameters of lap dances, advanced glitter removal laundry techniques, and basic alibi formation.

MNST 123 Intermediate Automobile Appreciation – Building on the fundamentals taught in MNST 122, this course will take students beyond a basic understanding and appreciation of horsepower and will prepare them to classify American vehicles by year and to detect and precisely identify common vehicle modifications. Prerequisite: MNST 122 Basic Automobile Appreciation or proof of ownership of a classic vehicle as defined by department guidelines. May be taken concurrently with MNST 124 Introduction to Drifting.

MNST 209 Intermediate NFL Theory – This course will build upon the basic knowledge of the NFL taught in MNST 109 to prepare students to call sports talk radio shows and discuss coaching strategies and to assemble a viable fantasy football team. Intended to prepare students for MNST 210 Applied NFL Theory: Fantasy Football. Prerequisite: MNST 109 Basic NFL Theory To Prevent Sounding Like A Faggot or permission of the coach.

MNST 212 Applied Fart Science – This course will allow students to put what they have learned in the course of our two-semester fart theory sequence into practice. Topics to be covered include public flatulence strategies, mind control techniques that will allow one to maintain a straight face while others attempt to detect the source of a fart, complex “pull my finger” sequences, the scientific principles of rectal methane combustion, and rhetorical strategies for smelt it/dealt it disputes. Prerequisite: MNST 211 Intermediate Fart Theory or department placement exam.

MNST 323 Directed Research in Mammarian Theory – Senior seminar intended for MNST majors. This course will allow students to move beyond basic breast appreciation and to formulate an individualized mammarian taxonomy in preparation for the senior thesis (required for all MNST majors, a 25,000-word essay on who has/had the world’s greatest tits). Students work with an advisor to identify three individual areas of interest (e.g., 80s boob comedies, silicon implants versus saline implants, tactile versus visual breast appreciation, etc.) and to examine relevant research data. Intended as preparation for MNST 324 Senior Thesis Seminar in Advanced Mammarian Studies. Prerequisite: at least four courses in the MNST 310-319 range of upper-division Mammarian Theory courses.

Graduate Course Offerings

MNST 412 Computer Science for Men: Advanced Pornography Perusal Techniques – This course will prepare students to develop complex Boolean search sequences for the efficient and precise acquisition of highly specific pornographic content. Final exam to consist of a timed search for a minimum of five free video clips matching at least 7 of 10 of the criteria outlined in a randomly chosen description of a 4Chan member’s preferred masturbatory fantasy. Intended for MA students as preparation for the MA thesis in the Erotic Arts sub-field. Prerequisite: MNST 380 Intermediate Pornography Perusal Techniques: Moving Beyond Basic Anal.

MNST 465 Directed Research in Microbrews – This course builds on the MNST 460-464 series of courses in microbrew appreciation to prepare MA students to write the MA thesis in the Fermented Beverages sub-field. Students work with an advisor to identify three breweries (either domestic, European, or a combination of the two) and to sample and analyze the products of each before writing a comparative thesis in the field. Students seeking entry into the PhD program with a focus in Fermented Beverages are encouraged to complete MNST 466 Applied Microbrew Theory: Home Brewing and/or MNST 467 Applied Microbrew Theory: Advanced Punning for Beer Naming in preparation for their doctoral research. Prerequisite: MNST 464 Advanced Microbrew Appreciation: Boulder vs. Belgium.

MNST 501 Advanced Men’s Rhetoric for PhD Students – This multidisciplinary course is intended to help doctoral students to prepare for their oral qualifying examinations by introducing them to advanced rhetorical strategies for the defense of male privilege and the male-supremacist status quo. Topics to be covered include creative interpretation and misrepresentation of rape and domestic violence statistics, the utilization of historical precedent as a rationalization for the continued subjugation of women and/or people of color, the deployment of basic evolutionary psychology/biology to excuse sociopathic behavior on the part of men, advanced applied false analogy theory for use in situations in which it is advantageous to compare the white male heterosexual experience to that of groups of people who have actually been oppressed, and advanced men’s ultramicro-economic theory, which will prepare students to appear to refute the claims of Marxist and anarchist feminists about men’s systemic misappropriation of women’s labor by producing anecdotal evidence that a woman once took advantage of a man for monetary gain. Having completed this course, students will have the opportunity to earn extra credit for participation in a debate with students from the university’s Women’s Studies department at which everyone will be required to give both sides’ arguments equal weight regardless of the quantity and quality of thought and knowledge that underlies each, as to do otherwise would unfairly disadvantage the Men’s Studies students. This event, like our department, will be funded with monies taken from the Women’s Studies budget.

Should you have a class title or description to suggest, please do so in comments. The department will surely expand.

* Since I know everyone really wants to know my opinion on the organization of university curricula: in short, ____ Studies departments only serve to create the illusion of commonalities that are at best crude and misleading and to further ghettoize the study of women, non-heterosexuals, and people of color. A wiser tack to take would be to quit judging all people against a white male heterosexual yardstick and require that the professors of regular ol’ history/literature/etc. courses quit pretending dead white men were the only people who ever did anything noteworthy.

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Fuck politics, women need to be making sitcoms.

I’m serious.

Justin sent me a link to a recent (OK, not that recent) article about Kathryn Bigelow, the first female recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker (who also directed one of the greatest movies ever made — provided that you watch movies for the same reasons I do — Point Break). The article, written by Barbara Kellerman of the Harvard Kennedy School, while it did make me snort a few times, made me come to an important realization: it’s more important for women to concentrate on gaining control of the entertainment industry than politics.

But first, let’s get back to what made me snort. Kellerman, apparently a sex discrimination and objectification apologist, claims that it’s:

… not that Hollywood dislikes women. It does not: films and females have gone together since the inception of the movie business. It’s just that even now, a decade into the 21st century, Hollywood wants women in front of the camera rather than behind it.

See? It’s all good, y’all. Hollywood may not value women’s abilities, intelligence, or artistic talent, but it likes looking at conventionally “hot” ones. Why complain that there aren’t enough female Best Boys when women dominate the Interchangeable Sex Object market? Come on, now. How can Kellerman make the claim that Hollywood doesn’t dislike women when “it” only allows them to play the limited roles it assigns them, when it requires that they perpetuate its own warped ideas about womanity (I love coining new words) if they want to participate at all, when it bars them from occupying any positions within the industry hierarchy from which they might gain the power to create entertainment that depicts women as human beings rather than formulaic rehashes of the temptress, girl next door, damsel in distress, or shrew archetypes? Sounds to me like Hollywood dislikes women and wants to make sure the rest of us do, too.

And then there’s this humdinger:

[I]t would be disingenuous not to point out [Bigelow’s] decades-long relationship to James Cameron, the guru behind The Hurt Locker’s most obvious competitor, Avatar, and one of Hollywood’s all time heavyweights.

The fact that they were married for a couple of years a couple of decades ago has no apparent bearing on Bigelow’s emergence as a star director in her own right. But the fact that for years Cameron has been her mentor, as well as her apparently unwavering collaborator and champion, does. It’s anyone guess whether Bigelow could have made it so far on her own, notwithstanding her talent and drive.

Oh, SNAP! So, even when a woman finally does wrest a begrudging nod from the 90028 phallocracy, we have to give a dude credit for it, “notwithstanding her talent and drive” (whatever that means)? I wonder whether anyone, when discussing the garbage James Cameron has strewn across the cultural landscape, has ever bothered to pontificate on the various personal relationships that might have propelled Cameron to his current position atop the entertainment shit heap. Probably not, since when men make use of personal connections to get ahead, they’re just savvy, resourceful go-getters. But when a woman (or anyone who isn’t a white dude) does anything other than take some kind of melodramatic Russel Crowe-esque stand against accepting help from anyone in their struggle to measure up to standards set and enforced by these nepotistic networkers (I’m practicing my alliterations in the hopes that TruTV will hire me to narrate some “shit gone awry” clip show), everyone assumes that she — because naturally, being female, she lacks any true talent or skill — must have hosed her way up the ol’ ladder of success.

Not only does Hollywood dislike women, but I suspect that Kellerman, though possibly unbeknownst to herself, might not be that big of a fan either.

Which brings me to the actual point: women need to get control of the entertainment industry (and its controlling boyfriend, the advertising industry) or else, and it ought to be our foremost goal, possibly even taking precedence over political representation. Whether we are pumped about it or not, the entertainment and advertising industries make up the bulk of our culture, and culture, though it is an excuse for nothing, does appear to underlie everything. The entertainment industry, news media included, shapes and directs public opinion on nearly everything, including and especially gender roles. We’re surrounded by the entertainment industry’s influence nearly every second we’re awake, and it probably plays a larger accumulative role in forming our ideas of self, other, and society than any other influence. If women were to gain control over at least half of that industry and its output, and if that control were to result in kinder, more sympathetic, more realistic, or just plain less hateful representations of women, the effect on our culture would be striking.

Equal representation in politics would be great, but the only way that will happen without a massive reduction in societal misogyny would be through the use of a quota system. Whatever your views on affirmative action or our purportedly individualistic and meritocratic political system, that isn’t likely and would probably lead to the kind of social backlash I’m not interested in learning the details of. It may very well be that the only way to ensure women’s interests are represented in politics is to create the kind of culture in which women’s views and political participation are seen as desirable and necessary to the functioning of society, and the only force in the world with the power and reach to propel us toward that reality is the popular media. Blogs ain’t doing the job. The corporate entertainment industry shut down any potential that the independent media efflorescence of the early to mid 90s offered. No one cares what the local booger punk band thinks. A popular entertainment media takeover by women is the only solution.

But then we’d have to rely on the kinds of women who give a shit about getting ahead in Hollywood to represent our interests to the public, you say? Yes, it’s a lesser of two evils situation, to be sure, but at least women can identify with women as human beings like themselves and would be less likely to make yet another horror movie in which young attractive women are tortured to death for the titillation of teenage misogynists or yet another boob comedy. Without looking it up, I can guarantee you a woman didn’t write or direct American Pie. Sure, I’d like to see something a little more radical than a gradual, piecemeal amelioration of women’s systemic oppression, but until I write my treatise on how to create an anarcho-communist utopia in which beer is blue and tastes like flowers and Cadbury Creme Eggs are sold year-round by peaceable means, I’ll have to stick to offering my thoughts on how to change things from within the cruel system in which beer tastes like beer and I ate my last Creme Egg last night. For now, I’ll take what I can get, and this seems possible. Just think, with a popular media that portrayed women as human beings rather than either syrupy, kissy-faced angels or conniving whores, maybe Barbara Kellerman would be able to measure women and men by the same standard and either give women credit for their achievements without disclaimers about the personal advantages they enjoyed, or call attention to the far more numerous social, economic, political, and personal advantages most men enjoy.

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Facebook update causes Nine Deuce to delete contact, hate Nietzsche even more.

Well, I’ve been shirking long enough and it’s time to write. I suppose the many, many MRA-penned death threats I’ve been getting this week have had something to do with my reluctance to get back on the old bloggeroony, but fuck those assholes.

For some reason, I have as one o’ my Facebook bros a dude I tertiarily knew when I was 20, and this particular dude has been a source of laughter for me on many occasions. He’s about 40 years old, has been a rave DJ for the last 16 years, and, like rave DJs the world over, has a hankering for women half his age because they’re too young to realize how fucking ridiculous it is for a 40-year-old man to be hanging around in dodgy industrial lofts playing tired, rehashed 1999 house music for teenagers on ketamine by night while spending his days writing and re-writing online bios about what a serious musical artist he is. I know I’m supposed to disassociate myself from all sexists, misogynists, users of women, and general dickfers, but I just can’t seem to do so sometimes. As revolting as these types can be, they’re also good for a laugh. I mean really, what in the world is funnier than a person who has striven for so long to avoid analyzing himself or the world around him that he has successfully convinced himself that playing records in public matters and that the absurd thoughts that MDMA causes in the minds of people who dress like kindergarteners gone wild might have the potential to radically improve human society? I can’t give up a source of entertainment that rich just because the guy happens to objectify women. Call me a sell-out if you must; I still don’t listen to Ludacris or go see Seth Rogen movies.

Anyway, this particular individual has recently been having problems with his girlfriend, aged 22. I know this because he stopped posting her borderline pornographic head shots with captions like “My little super model” and began writing cryptic updates about the value of honesty and how wack it is when “people” attempt to deceive others. It was REAL subtle, I assure you. I admit it, I snickered at this fellow’s misfortune, but only because I think it’s very funny when adults air their relationship difficulties in a public forum. I especially like it when they include song lyrics they think are pertinent to the situation. Well, this dude dealt very poorly with having been cheated on and dumped and, in between posting updates such as, “I don’t have to put up with this shit. I’m ____ _______!”, got a little introspective and started checking out quotes from European philosophers on the internet, the choicest of which he elected to share with his many Facebook pals. Most of them were the kind of silly, obvious, sophomoric nonsense that seems to appeal so much to Fight Club fans (sorry, Geoff) and MMA enthusiasts, but one of them really got me to snickering. The other night, this sage posted a quote from our boy Friedrich Nietzsche that nearly made me drop my taco:

“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”

I started sputtering and cussing in a manner reminiscent of Dennis Leary discussing Steven Seagal’s ponytail as I recounted the quote and its context to Davetavius. In between giggles and exclamations of surprise at just how ridiculous people are capable of being, we came to a very important conclusion: it’s probably best to avoid anyone who likes to talk about Nietzsche.

Think about the famous people who claim him as an influence. Marilyn Manson? Jim Morrison? (Scott Stapp claims to be the inheritor of Jim Morrison’s legacy, so we can indirectly blame Nietzsche for the existence of Creed. OK, maybe that’s a slight stretch, but whatever.) Yes, I’m aware that Nietzsche did present some interesting ideas about the possibilities of intellectual inquiry, and that all those French dudes I’m forced to read every semester would have been nowhere without the foundation Nietzsche laid (I’ll give him credit for some of that, but he also gets credit for helping some of those French dudes drop us into the toilet of relativism we now swim in), but very few people know anything about that. Most people who go around quoting Nietzsche do so because they heard he questioned the basis of morality, and that kind of shit really appeals to people who are looking to intellectualize their juvenile, narcissistic interest in smoking pot and participating in faux-Wiccan orgies or whatever.

But as hilarious as Jim Morrison was (The Doors is the greatest comedy ever made) and as embarrassing as Marilyn Manson is, they still at least deserve credit for attempting to understand something Nietzsche wrote beyond whatever one-liners one can find on a website of quotations that also includes “I’m the type of nigga that’s built to last. If you fuck with me, I’ll put my foot in ya ass” (NWA, “Gangsta Gangsta”). Jim Morrison was most definitely a self-absorbed asshole whose “art” amounted to getting ripped, fucking whoever was around, abusing his girlfriend, and overusing the word “death,” but at least he was smart enough to justify his behavior in terms that were not quite yet trite in the 1960s (now, on the other hand…). And though I cannot help but snort, snicker, and pretend to fall over with mirth when someone tries to tell me what a genius Marilyn Manson is, I suppose I can admit that he seems reasonably intelligent and that he possesses the mental faculties required to manipulate quasi-rebellious adolescents en masse. But this DJ dude, and the vast majority of dudes I come across who love to repeat banal quotes from philosophers in some impuissant attempt at projecting sophistication, cannot boast of such, and hence deserve even more derision than Morrison and Manson (fuck, what a rad super group that would have been).

And it’s the selection of quotes like the one above that tip you off to who these guys are. Let’s think about that quote for a minute. Real men want danger and play, and hence they’re into women because women are “the most dangerous plaything”? SNORT.

Now, I know better than to spend any time stomping around in a rage over the misogyny present in nearly every philosophical text from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (whoops, I mean ever). I do, after all, have to sift through them once in awhile to get at ideas that I need to write or think about. But it’s 2010. Even DJs should know that the ideas these guys held about women and gender roles are fucking silly. Nearly every one of these continental thinkers seemed not to realize the contradiction between making the assertion that women are mentally inferior children who need male guidance even if “guidance” requires physical violence, and then claiming that women are evil geniuses who will make use of their wily-ass feminine wiles to dupe even the most astute among men of letters into doing their bidding, bidding that almost always results in the destruction of the man of letters in question. It’s fairly obvious that these guys had some serious problems relating to women (maybe because they were continental intellectuals, the totality of which group has never produced one dude any woman should have deigned to have sex with), and that their ideas about what it means to be a man resemble most closely the masculine ideal of The Lord of the Rings or some other such regressive dorkery, so why the admiration?

Oh, right, because quotes like that from figures one has heard mentioned by people who wear glasses do a sahweet job of grounding one’s own stupid worldview and behavioral tendencies in pseudo-intellectual authoritativeness. After all, in this day and age the kind of dude who, at 40, dates someone who was born when he reached the age of majority needs to stand on the shoulders of giants if he’s to reconcile his penchant for preying on younger women who have yet to develop the maturity and self-confidence to recognize what a creepy DaHarb he is with his insistence on crediting them with the kind of depraved brilliance that would allow them to victimize him. I mean, really, how else are we to interpret the “dangerous plaything” concept?

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