The Florida Man at the Fringes of American Society

Authors: Tyler Sonnichsen*, University of Tennessee
Topics: Cultural Geography, Qualitative Methods, United States
Keywords: florida, internet, poverty, drug abuse, masculinity, crime
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Florida Man is a straw man - an apocryphal figure who exists to validate an array of preconceived notions about time and place. At the same time, the Florida Man is a distinctly American phenomenon: a fatalistic, substance-abusing, Darwin Award candidate whose existence depends upon a contempt in equal parts for the law and social contracts. He inhabits the quintessentially masculine traits of aggression, impulsiveness, abrupt physicality, and, to draw upon 1990s popular culture, abject mookishness (see Broadbear 2003). These traits are all universally recognized facets of "toxic masculinity," especially given a recent elevation of the subject in social discourse in light of Donald Trump's history of sexual assault as well as the #MeToo movement.

It would not be a coincidence, then, that the Florida Man most often materializes on the spatial and metaphysical fringes of society, as he represents a convergence of activities and lifestyle choices that have systematically alienated him from mainstream acceptance. This paper contends that in order to understand what the Florida Man represents, the figure must be examined and understood geographically within the spaces and places of Florida. Ultimately, this paper aims to pose and answer the question whether the spatiality of 'Florida Man' incidents can be comprehensively understood, or if one can learn about greater sociological issues affecting Florida or wider American society from Florida Man.

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