Self-proclaimed masculinity expert Michael Kimmel had an excerpt of his book, “Angry White Men: American Masculinity At The End Of An Era” published some months back on Salon. As with most of his work, he focuses exclusively on white men—especially rural and poor men—and endeavors to understand how white men collectively see themselves in society.
Of course, the only satisfying approach to these group of people is to treat them as class oppressors of women and racial minorities then assume their issues stem from primary narcissism and encourage to “man up!” and ditch their infantile, hateful masculinity in favor of an enlightened standard of masculinity devoid of any substance and completely based on other people’s approval. Here is what what Kimmel and his ilk generally believe:
The modern era is one characterized by increasing level of diversity and equity. As such, the mindset of the white male needs to change. Instead of feeling that it’s their birthright to have good jobs and avoid poverty, they need to understand that the playing field is leveling and they might find themselves in extreme poverty and disadvantaged, just like how everybody who wasn’t a white male was before. Instead of getting angry and not voting for Democrats, they need to understand that it is those others—Republicans—who are hurting them and they need to embrace progressive policies. By doing this, they can stop opposing feminism, environmentalism and socialism and instead understand that not being a progressive is based out of a reflexive state of fear of change and hatred of anybody who doesn’t look like them.
First off, Kimmel shows off he has zero understanding of basic human psychology, much less American psychology. Kimmel advances the queer argument that white males who appeal to their fathers and grandfathers legacies are displaying white male entitlement. This isn’t entitlement in any sense of the word, but a common and healthy desire for males to follow in the footsteps of their fathers. Kimmel is thoroughly urban, as such I think he instinctively feels urban fathers are an average worse than rural ones.
In Kimmel’s world, (urban) fathers are nebbish, frightful little rodents that feel the need to constantly apologize for their existence, most especially politically. From this posture of failed fatherhood, he is immediately suspects anybody better relations with their fathers. His constant smearing of these men as full-throated hatemongers is wholly off-base. When he explored these communities, he found a foreign world with healthier relationships.
As I observed about my own upbringing in rural America, the idea that there is all this hate and fear freely expressed and flooding the community is laughable. Rural America is psychologically healthier precisely because the omnipresent eye of mass media, marketing and access to technology and public works is greatly diminished. As such, people learn to depend on one another. That is much more healthy then the urban mindset of slavish dependence on corporations and the state.
Christopher Lasch wrote an afterword to “The Culture Of Narcissism,” in which he observed the decline of the family and home life had resulted in the rise of the influence of mass media, peer groups and “helping professions.” He further observed that this decline and the rise of large bureaucracies and wider media had resulted in the creation of folk with distinct psychological issues. Some of these, he listed, are cloying displays of independence while being wholly dependent of those around you, terror of close, emotional relations and heightened anxiety of what those around you think of you. Lasch said that all of these traits are indicative of narcissism, a mindset that wasn’t truly realized socially until the radicals of the 1960’s came around.
This is why Kimmel doesn’t understand American society. When he speaks of white male entitlement, he is talking about white males being more narcissistic than their female and racial minority peers. That patently isn’t true, as women collectively are more narcissistic than men and men often are the codependent in the story of their wive’s life.
Further, this is new. America was not born a narcissistic society, but a highly morally puritanical one. When Freud first started out analyzing people psychologically, he encountered mostly neurotics and obsessive-compulsives. Later on in his career, he found increasing numbers of narcissists coming in. This trend has been observed in the psychiatric community for decades. To say that the issue with white men is the long-held sense of entitled masculinity isn’t just factually unsound, it has the ring to it of people who think that if they were just born a white male, they would have the license to chase their dreams.
To people like Kimmel, they seem to think the reason white men rise to power is that they are encouraged to do so from youth, as a result of white supremacy and misogyny-based patriarchy. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. People like him only seem to think people do the things they do only because they were allowed to do so. What this is indicative of is a person who doesn’t believe in free will.
They feel the crushing weight of media, corporatism and government bureaucracy, but instead of actually challenging what is hurting them, they take up non-issues. Instead of challenging the power media has in how people feel about themselves, they demand that plus-size women be featured in media. Kimmel thinks society gives white men a license that it doesn’t to others—it’s changing, though!—and that’s why they rise to the heights of success.
People do what they want, period. Michael Kimmel doesn’t understand that anybody who claims they can’t at least strive for X, Y or Z in modern America is deluded. In world in which everybody is taught they can be anything, it is psychologically disturbing to realize you can’t be everything (have it all). He is propping up delusions of his readers (mostly white women) who want to think the reason they haven’t become a somebody is that they weren’t allowed by society to be somebody. While the latter clause may have a hint of truth to it, the former is a childish view of life. If you didn’t achieve your dreams it is overwhelmingly true for three reasons: you didn’t try, you weren’t talented enough or you didn’t luck into it. The first two explanations are abhorrent to the narcissist, so the latter reason—pure luck—has to be the reason.
They reason Kimmel and his fans hate on white men is that they think the success that a white man achieves isn’t his to own. That was supposed to be their life but white supremacy and patriarchy set a firm bar against anybody but white men enjoying success in society. That is completely false. The reason white men like the recently deposed Brendan Eich cause so much anger and rage is that these people want to want to be a CEO, but either do not put in the work or do not have the talent, so they claim pure blind luck (white male privilege) is the reason CEO’s are predominately white males. They think success just happens and isn’t a result of hard work and talent.
Moreover, Kimmel doesn’t seem to get just why these white men get into right-wing politics: they are purposefully avoiding people like Kimmel. Kimmel’s life is about offering men progressive palliatives to American rage: wholly repress it and instead of expressing it, port it on media-approved themes of race and gender. These men don’t want to be the self-abnegating beta progressives that Kimmel wants them to be. They don’t want to have to walk an incredibly fine line of political correctness so that they have to avoid being labeled “one of them”—racist, misogynist, homophobe, etc. Kimmel doesn’t understand that right-wing groups can easily pluck these men up is because left-wing groups have nothing to offer white men.
Finally, Kimmel doesn’t understand the role of race and sex in these men’s lives. First, Kimmel is flat out wrong about white men and race. A queer—and false—idea progressives have is that poor white men are obsessed with blaming blacks and hispanics for the problems in America. Maybe that has a stab a truth to it in the South, but for the rest of the country these sorts of white men are only surrounded by fellow white people. These white men are not thinking of racial minorities in their ideologies. You can’t simultaneously be indifferent to a racial minority while also actively hating them. They are thinking of their own communities, where many women live off government money after getting pregnant with a couple different rough-hewn bikers. They are angry at the broken social contract between men and women in their communities, not hating on black folk.
As far as this broken contract, this is a direct result of the Sexual Revolution and the dismantling of chivalry, putting men and women in direct class conflict. Men and women are different and have very different wants and needs. Men are justifiably upset that women are crappy mothers, not just to men but also to other women.
The problem is messages on standards for girls and women have to come from other women, not men. So men get upset that women are failing each other so badly. True, they don’t think this consciously, but it is evident why men refuse to view media directed at women: it reminds them how poorly modern women behave. The utter lack of seriousness that women comport themselves is unnerving to men, who are not allowed socially to comment on this, only to watch women behave like infantile morons.
Kimmel thinks that it is men who hurt women and women’s problems come from men or patriarchy, not women. He doesn’t understand that even if that was 100% true, it wouldn’t matter because women maintain the system they call “patriarchy.” Women watch rap videos with degrading lyrics, they run the cosmetics and educational industry and consume most of the media aimed at celebrity gossip and relationship tips – all concepts men like Kimmel would denounce as tools of the partiarchy. The presumption every man is some latent rapist or abuser of women is incredibly tiresome and, once more, is why white men are not a left-leaning demographic. I can’t imagine anybody but an Uncle Ruckus who would stick around in ideological waters that constantly demean and insult you.
At the end of the day, white men are upset they are presumed to have all this social power—when, in fact, they don’t—and watch the same people and groups completely ignore all the power other groups have, most especially white women. The blind feelings of superiority coupled with the concurrent obsession with symbiosis (let’s all hold hands, celebrate diversity and repress our rage!) on the left all drive white men out. White men simply can’t identify with the narrative that their accomplishments are a result of unearned privilege or that if they don’t achieve success that they need to learn to live with it, as the star of the white man has long passed.
That isn’t a winning argument, nor is it one based out any facts or real analysis. Kimmel has his voice simply because all the white women reading need an excuse for their personal disquiet about the arc of their life. Oh, if only they were born a white man!
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