Sociologist Michael Kimmel explores the history of the aggrieved American male, but fails to capture what drives our age's most prominent discontents: the men's rights movement.
Nov 20, 2013
The most surprising thing about Michael Kimmel’s new book Angry White Men is that the title was still available. We’ve been hit by wave after wave of angry white dudes for decades, from the so-called “silent majority” of the seventies incensed by “forced busing” and braless “women’s libbers,” to your Tea Partier brother-in-law who’s always forwarding terrible jokes about Obama being born in Kenya.
Largely ignoring Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck fans to focus on more extreme examples of angry white manhood, Kimmel, a sociologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an influential writer on masculinity, devotes chapters to such charming folks as white supremacists, domestic abusers, and guys who “snap” and shoot up their schools and workplaces. Kimmel does an excellent job in explaining the whys and wherefores of racist skinheads and violent men and manages to write about some pretty damaged and hateful men with a remarkable degree of empathy. But he doesn’t ever get a firm grip on the most zeitgeisty of our zeitgeist’s angry white men: the men’s rights activists. As the proprietor of a blog devoted to chronicling (and mocking) misogyny online, I’ve spent the past three years tracking this aggrieved fringe group, which claims that in our binary gender system, it is men who have gotten the short shrift.