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

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Overview


"[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 ...

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

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Overview


"[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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kimmel, a sociologist at Stony Brook University in New York, is unusually adventurous for an academic... Kimmel maintains a delicate balance when handling his sources... In one fascinating chapter Kimmel explores the changing nature of school violence... Kimmel's balance of critical distance and empathy works best in his chapter on the fathers' rights movement, a subset of the men's rights movement."
—New York Times Book Review

"[Kimmel's] book exposes an urgent need for a strong, appealing, sensible Left movement that addresses the dispossession of America' s angry men and replaces it with a movement that respects our needs emotionally, politically and economically."—Truthout

"An interesting and ranging discussion of the dark side of modern manhood with America's best expert on the topic. That quality is what makes the book so special, interesting, and easy to read. Kimmel blends personal stories with careful, journalistic study; he shifts between accessible academic and wide-ranged social commentarian; he explains complex sociology with the accessibility of a fun high school teacher in a small seminar class.... Whether you care about men, boys, masculinity, gender, feminism, violence, prejudice, post-industrial economics, or the frustrating, never-ending catastrophes that seem to make up modern American political life, Angry White Men is worth a read."
—The Good Men Project

"[Angry White Men] delivers... a lively, frequently scary look at a group of people who are trying, ever more desperately, to hang onto a world that no longer exists."
—Booklist

"Kimmel's writing is open and engaging, reminiscent of a conversation with friends in a bar... Another worthwhile examination of important issues affecting men and, by extension, everyone else, from an author known for his insight into the subject."
—Kirkus Reviews

“Being white and male has brought unfair power for so long that some think it’s natural, both among those claiming it and those suffering from it. Michael Kimmel has done us the life-saving favor of naming this delusion that may endanger us more than any other. From executives for whom no amount of money is enough to white supremacists for whom no amount of power is enough, from U.S. wars in which men die to U.S. domestic violence in which even more women die, this illness is lethal for us all. Angry White Men is a brave, sane, compassionate, and rescuing book.”
—Gloria Steinem, feminist activist and author

“White men still have most of the power and most of the money, so why do so many of them feel so victimized? In this fascinating guided tour of the world of angry white men—Glenn Beck fans, white supremacists, school shooters, men’s rights activists—pioneer sociologist of masculinity Michael Kimmel shows how ‘aggrieved entitlement’ leads them to blame people of color, immigrants, liberals, intellectuals, the government, and above all, women, for a society that is changing fast and, they fear, leaving them behind. No dry academic study, Angry White Men is full of shrewd political analysis, empathy, and humor.”
—Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation

“Michael Kimmel has written a comprehensive study of working and middle-class white men and described their collective grievances with insight and compassion. In regard to those among them who ally with the Far Right, he is equally insightful but justifiably more critical; his analysis of their misdirected rage at minorities and women is entirely persuasive. I enthusiastically recommend Angry White Men to the wide readership it has amply earned.”
—Martin Duberman, professor of history emeritus at the Graduate School of the City University of New York

“Men and women should read Angry White Men. Women will gain insights into the sources of male anger and men will learn that increasing gender equality does not pose a threat to their masculinity. Rather, in this rapidly changing society, Kimmel believes that women and men will be able to lead more satisfying lives.”
—Madeleine Kunin, former governor of Vermont, author of The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family and Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead

“In this timely book, Kimmel shows us that in these times, even those who have historically been powerful and dominant are becoming victims as they find themselves slipping between the cracks and falling behind. Kimmel has his finger on the pulse of their anger and by revealing their fears and growing desperation, he reminds us that their problems are ours as well.”
—Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
A study of what Kimmel (Sociology and Gender Studies/Stony Brook Univ.; Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, 2008, etc.) calls "aggrieved entitlement" and how it leads to the angry rhetoric and violence endemic to the United States today. The author is no stranger to thinking and writing about men in their cultural climate; in his latest book, he turns his gaze to the pervasive anger specifically white men experience. White men, he claims, have held the upper hand for so long that equalizing the playing field results in explosive rage over their situation rather than the quieter despair, anxiety and frustration that other men feel. "Theirs is the anger of the entitled: we are entitled to those jobs, those positions of unchallenged dominance," writes Kimmel. "And when we are told we are not going to get them, we get angry." From there, the author moves through manifestations of this rage, such as domestic violence, mass murder and involvement in white-supremacy activities. Kimmel's writing is open and engaging, reminiscent of a conversation with friends in a bar. This makes some of the disturbing content easier to digest and his arguments palatable even to those inclined to disagree with him. Though he admits his left-leaning bias, he writes, "I try to look into the hearts and minds of the American men with whom I most disagree politically….I do so not with contempt or pity, but with empathy and compassion." For the most part, the author succeeds, but he does himself a disservice by alienating readers, with an overwhelmingly liberal introduction and first chapter, who might otherwise see merit in his conclusion that these "angry white men have some justified grievances--even though they often aim their arrows at the wrong targets." Another worthwhile examination of important issues affecting men and, by extension, everyone else, from an author known for his insight into the subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568586960
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 11/5/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 84,554
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael Kimmel is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University in New York. An author or editor of more than twenty books, including Manhood in America, The Gendered Society, The History of Men, and Guyland, he lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.
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