Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era

Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1568585136

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"[W]e can't come off as a bunch of angry white men.”
Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party

One of the enduring legacies of the 2012 Presidential campaign was the demise of the white American male voter as a dominant force in the political landscape. On election night, after Obama was announced the winner, a distressed Bill O’Reilly lamented that he didn’t live in “a traditional America anymore.” He was joined by others who bellowed their grief on the talk radio airwaves, the traditional redoubt of angry white men. Why were they so angry? Sociologist Michael Kimmel, one of the leading writers on men and masculinity in the world today, has spent hundreds of hours in the company of America’s angry white men – from white supremacists to men's rights activists to young students –in pursuit of an answer. Angry White Men presents a comprehensive diagnosis of their fears, anxieties, and rage.

Kimmel locates this increase in anger in the seismic economic, social and political shifts that have so transformed the American landscape. Downward mobility, increased racial and gender equality, and a tenacious clinging to an anachronistic ideology of masculinity has left many men feeling betrayed and bewildered. Raised to expect unparalleled social and economic privilege, white men are suffering today from what Kimmel calls "aggrieved entitlement": a sense that those benefits that white men believed were their due have been snatched away from them.

Angry White Men discusses, among others, the sons of small town America, scarred by underemployment and wage stagnation. When America’s white men feel they’ve lived their lives the ‘right’ way – worked hard and stayed out of trouble – and still do not get economic rewards, then they have to blame somebody else. Even more terrifying is the phenomenon of angry young boys. School shootings in the United States are not just the work of “misguided youth” or “troubled teens”—they’re all committed by boys. These alienated young men are transformed into mass murderers by a sense that using violence against others is their right.

The future of America is more inclusive and diverse. The choice for angry white men is not whether or not they can stem the tide of history: they cannot. Their choice is whether or not they will be dragged kicking and screaming into that inevitable future, or whether they will walk openly and honorably – far happier and healthier incidentally – alongside those they’ve spent so long trying to exclude.

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attitude expressed what millions of Americans seem to feel about their working conditions. People cheer him as a hero. In that sense, Slater’s actions are understandable, if not justifiable, rational, if not reasonable—not as the flipping out of a madman, but as a desperate effort to draw attention to the miserable conditions that working people endure. More, it’s that conditions have become so much worse, that the social contract has been torn apart by corporate greed and government inaction.

W. W. Norton, 1992), 15. 27. Samuel Sullivan Cox, Eight Years in Congress, from 1857 to 1865: Memoir and Speeches (New York: W. Appleton, 1865), 250. 28. Cited in Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 59. 29. Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color (New York: Scribner’s, 1920), 297–298; Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race (New York: Scribner’s, 1916), 68–81; Homer Lea, The Day

northern industrial cities and waves of immigrants from Asia and southern and eastern Europe, moving into tenement slums and creating a vast pool of cheap labor. Everywhere men looked, the playing field had grown increasingly competitive and uncertain. Just as Horatio Alger was celebrating the “luck and pluck” that would enable young men of modest means to make their way to the top, native-born American white men were becoming far less concerned with how to make it to the top and far more

to 1.) Let’s take a closer look at that much-heralded authoritative review. A few years ago, I read every single one of the articles that were cited in one of those reviews of the literature. I asked a few of the researchers on the list about their inclusion; they expressed dismay that their work had been so dramatically misunderstood for political ends. Indeed, they all sent me copies of the articles in question—along with several others they had done that showed that they had found dramatic

craft workers—plumbers, electricians, contractors—and small businessmen whose livelihoods have been steadily eroded, as the farm crisis of the 1990s consolidated independent farmers into wage workers for agribusiness, as Walmart put local grocery and other retail stores out of business. Even upper-middle-class men, even those with jobs and pensions and health plans, feel ripped off—by affirmative action programs, immigration, welfare, taxation, and the general sense that they’re being had. What

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