I want to address the issue that’s been staring everyone in the face since the start of 2022: shooting sprees and mass shootings. I don’t need to recount what you’ve already seen in the news, the racist shootings in Buffalo, the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and other incidents of mass lethal violence. All these recent incidents of spree shootings have been committed by men, as they typically are.
So I’ve been busy in the background educating myself on masculinity through the work of YouTube educator, F. D. Signifier. F.D. is a Sociologist in gender and race studies, focusing on masculinity, primarily Black and white masculinity. F.D. began his YouTube series based on his research on spree killers, mass shootings, who are almost all men. He investigates the social-psychology of mass shooters and what drives them to commit these acts. F. D. looks in depth at the ‘Manosphere’, the social media and YouTube channels that establish a certain kind of anti-social, heterosexist, traditional masculinity and influence boys and men to think and behave in those gendered ways. F.D. has channeled his research into a series of video lectures on the ‘Manosphere’, how these content creators present and exacerbate toxic masculinity, and why men and boys are drawn to consume this content. F.D. also makes the link between the culture of toxic masculinity and overt violence, including mass shootings.
To begin with, I watched his video on ‘Edgelords’, the nihilistic anti-heros of films such as Joker, part of the Batman lore. Interestingly, F. D. notes that while Joker is the epitome of the nihilistic Edgelord, so is Batman, who works from a more privileged position to use his [toxic masculinity] power ‘for good.’ F.D. traces the development of white Edgelords through film and television over the last 40 years and how they relate to current notions of masculinity.
So I’ll leave you with the video streams that I’ve watched all the way through. F.D. focuses mainly on the white Manosphere and its connection with white supremacy, but he also delves into the Black Manosphere, and its similarities and differences to the white Manosphere, a series that he still developing. F.D. does a great job of linking his discussion of masculinity to anti-racist and feminist discourse, and the relative position of queer and trans people. Fair warning, though, these videos are long, and his arguments involve complex and nuanced analysis. You’re not going to get the instant dopamine hit of ‘yeah, right on dude’. Carve out some time to stop scrolling and really educate yourself on the issues.