March 30, 2014

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

Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era by Michael S. Kimmel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a bit of a non-fictional break, given all the young adult fiction I've been reading lately. Sometimes it's hard to get into these kinds of books, with their dense and nuanced subjects, but that wasn't the case with this one. It's written in an easy-to-read, accessible manner, for all it's covering some deep and complicated topics.

The gist of this book is that American culture is changing from a patriarchal one to an egalitarian one, and white men in particular are having a hard time dealing with it. The author invents a term for this: "aggrieved entitlement." In other words, the world has always been the American white man's oyster, and now that this isn't true any more, some of them are furious. In fact, I have a quote from page 128 that pretty much sums up their attitude, as well as the entire book:

"When you've commanded 100 percent of the oxygen, I guess having your share reduced to three-fourths must make you feel like you're suffocating."

The author discusses several facets of this aggrieved entitlement: the so-called Men's Rights Movement (in which the participants, for the most part, come off as whining dickheads, blaming everyone but themselves--particularly feminists--for their problems); Fathers' Rights (which the author admits does have some small basis in reality, but that's due to the family courts not yet catching up to the changing roles of husbands and wives); men's violence against women; workplace rampages; and white supremacists. (This last topic is particularly sad and scary.) The author is sympathetic to these men to an extent, but as he emphasizes, "Angry white men are on the losing side of history."

This is a pretty eye-opening book. I would definitely recommend it for a gender studies class.

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