Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Embargo Period

2-14-2015

Degree Program

Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2015

Month Degree Awarded

September

Advisor Name

Leda

Advisor Last Name

Cooks

Co-advisor Name

Claudio

Co-advisor Last Name

Moreira

Abstract

This paper explores white American masculinity within the “ginger” phenomenon. To guide this study, I asked: How is racism conceptualized and understood within popular culture, as seen through discussions of whether or not gingerism constitutes racism? How do commenters respond or interact when their understandings of racism or explanations for gingerism are challenged by other commenters? And finally, what does the creation of and prejudice against/making fun of a “hyperwhite” masculine identity at this social/historical moment suggest about the current stability of the dominant white masculine identity? Through discourse analysis of online comments, I explored discussions of race, gender, and gingerism. The analysis covered 6,413 comments on 102 articles. I found that within discussions of race and gingerism, readers made use of varying definitions of race and racism. Different definitions led to conflations of racism, oppression, and bullying. Simplified and individualized definitions of race and racism also led to arguments that supported frameworks of reverse racism and post-racism. So-called discrimination against redheaded men was overall considered to be more serious than for women. These arguments were bound up in questions of the specificity of cultural contexts, and ethnic and national identities, particularly with regard to Irish and Scottish immigrant heritage in the United States and United Kingdom. Future work should continue to untangle ideas of race and physical appearance and ask how whiteness is understood and works within this context.

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