Jesse Watters, Brown’s favorite B-list Fox News reporter, returned to College Hill last week to interview students about “toxic masculinity,” a highly problematic cultural ideal of manhood defined by violence, lack of emotion, misogyny, and sexual aggression. The clip can be viewed below:
Right off the bat, Watters offers a clickbaity trivialization of the concept; he begins with a flex of his bicep and the words: “Macho men, under attack on college campuses across the country, now encouraging men to be less manly with courses to fight [air-quotes] toxic masculinity.” At this point, it’s worth noting that Brown has not offered any class entitled “Toxic Masculinity” this academic year, according to Courses@Brown.
Over the course of the video, Watters—a 38-year-old, married man with two children—can be found skateboarding in Memorial Park, walking down Thayer Street, and directing innuendos at students fifteen years his junior. That’s just the kind of high-quality journalism those of us here at Blog love to see!
Watters began his investigation by seeking a definition of toxic masculinity. One student explained that “it’s not about shaming men for being men; it’s about examining what cultural forces allow men to feel like they are superior to women.” Another student pointed out manifestations of toxic masculinity as “violence, aggression, sexual assault—whatever [one needs] to show dominance and power.”
Despite a meticulously edited attempt by Fox News to denigrate Brown students, those interviewed performed valiantly. They resisted Watters’ inappropriate actions and attempted to respectfully correct Watters’ misinformed assumptions. Between his infiltration of Nudity Week and his general perpetuation of problematic attitudes, the Brown community certainly has bad blood with Mr. Watters (and rightly so!)—so this restraint was especially commendable.
Watters also applied toxic masculinity to our nation’s current political climate, asking students if they viewed President Donald Trump as an example. Students pointed to the patriarchy that President Trump represents as a source of toxicity, while others referenced vulgar comments about sexually inappropriate actions towards women that President Trump specifically made.
While most of the responses were precise and informative, some poked fun at the reporter and attempted to disengage his trademark inappropriate sarcasm, offensive tone, and feigned victimization. For example, one student quoted the Britney Spears classic, “Toxic,” and another student, when asked how much she could bench press, replied simply: “More than you.”
Keeping in tradition with the anti-social-justice tactic of inappropriately throwing together terminology in an attempt to undermine its legitimacy, Watters took the final twenty seconds of the clip to ask about safe spaces. He asked for directions to the nearest space and wondered if he could stop by and cry.
Watters really went above and beyond this time. Excellent work.
See you next time, Jesse!