Essays academic service


A discussion of the white males club and its benefits

Michael Kimmel studies the role of masculinity in far-right movements. Then came Trump, propelled to power by a wave of angry white men. His recent research has looked at topics including spree killers who are overwhelmingly male and whiteas well as the relationship between masculinity and political extremism.

Your book Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era will be republished this April, is that right? So my publisher thought it would be a good idea if they reprinted it with a new preface by me that talks about him.

Can you tell me more about your new book? When is it coming out? One of them is an organization in Sweden which helps young neo-Nazis and skinheads get out of the movement. Another is Exitin Germany, which does the same with German neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and Life After Hatea US group created by former members of the far-right extremist movement. The fourth group, called Quilliamis a foundation based in London that helps ex-jihadists get out of the movement.

My book is really about masculinity and how men get into these movements and how they get out — how masculinity is entirely wrapped up with this. Participation in the movement gives them validation of their masculinity. There are some differences, of course. The ex-neo-Nazis who go through the program in Sweden are on average 16 or 17 years old. The German guys are a lot older and have a different trajectory.

They come in largely through connections they make in prison. They are burglars and petty criminals who are radicalized there. I also wrote a lot about the power of music. Policymakers and researchers typically ignore masculinity when they try to understand how people get into these movements.

My challenge to them is: In 2009, the homeland security intelligence analyst Daryl Johnson wrote a report arguing that rightwing extremist movements were on the rise.

  1. Let me give you two examples. So what any reasonable biological researcher would conclude is that testosterone does not cause aggression, it enables it.
  2. So you have to calculate that.
  3. What we do know to be true is that our military exercises in Iraq and Afghanistan have left veterans coming home with serious PTSD.
  4. So my publisher thought it would be a good idea if they reprinted it with a new preface by me that talks about him. Is it nature or nurture or both?

The report became an unexpected political football: Republicans were enraged at what they saw as politically motivated alarmism conflating nonviolent conservative and libertarian groups with terrorists. Has any of your research touched on that issue? Just because a lot of recruits for white nationalist movements are veterans does not in any way imply that all veterans are going to become recruits.

What we do know to be true is that our military exercises in Iraq and Afghanistan have left veterans coming home with serious PTSD. I think that is an equation that might make some people susceptible to far-right ideology.

He was angry about that and that is where he started to drift towards extremism.

  • My challenge to them is;
  • So what any reasonable biological researcher would conclude is that testosterone does not cause aggression, it enables it;
  • These people on college campuses are whining all the time;
  • So my publisher thought it would be a good idea if they reprinted it with a new preface by me that talks about him.

So I would never say that veterans are more susceptible to far-right ideology. But I would say that a large number of veterans have been seriously affected by their experiences. Far more likely is Wade Michael Page [identified in a shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple ], not some jihadist group.

One of the major points you make in Angry White Men is that the notions of masculinity which drive men to join far-right groups or go on shooting sprees are deeply rooted in humiliation. In The Looming TowerLawrence Wright discusses how a similar sense of humiliation in the Arab world informed the line of thinking that eventually became al-Qaida and Isis. He argued that shame and humiliation underlie basically all violence: In his famous statement, Osama bin Laden talked about how the west had humiliated the Muslim world … that conservative Muslims have been humiliated by hyper-modern society and the cosmopolitan McDonaldization of the world.

For them, restoring the seventh-century caliphate is their way of reinstating traditional masculinity. If you feel entitled and you have not gotten what you expected, that is a recipe for humiliation. At least in the case of the German, Swedish and American guys that I interviewed, sometimes it is not really political at all. Many of them, especially the American guys, were sexually abused, beat up, bullied as children. Some of them have basically the same sort of profile as the victims of the Catholic priests.

That just made them better targets, and the far right drew them in. The camaraderie of the community validates their masculinity, and — even more importantly than that — gives them a sacred mission. That is really powerful for these guys. Do you think with Trump in office, the MRAs may actually influence change in legislation and policy? The group that I think has a point is the fathers, or some of the fathers. But I do think that the courts have not kept pace with changes in society.

Far more men now are involved in childcare. But our laws were really designed for the Don Draper era, when men were absentee landlords at home. So in some respects, some of these guys really have gotten a bad deal. The reasons for this problem are usually the circumstances for why she wants sole custody: So you have to calculate that.

What do you make of Milo Yiannopoulos? He is gay; he has dated black men. Does someone like him complicate the narrative of masculinity and the conservative right? Milo Yiannopoulos is basically a provocateur. He wants to provoke a reaction so that he can claim victim status. These people on college campuses are whining all the time.

Pentagon training manual: white males have unfair advantages

He is very like Trump: He is hardly underprivileged. What he wants to do is provoke a censorious reaction so he can say the left is equally censorious as the right.

But in this country, that has not been the case. We have a long history of censoring free speech and that history has always come from the right.

And this notion that the left is all so angry and censorious … it depends on ignoring one small technical detail: The left does not have the power to be censorious.

'Angry white men': the sociologist who studied Trump's base before Trump

What are your thoughts about the age-old debate about men being violent? Is it purely social — a product of culture — or are there biological factors at work? Is it nature or nurture or both? I think nature and nurture are intimately linked. What we know is that testosterone as a hormone both drives aggression and responds to aggression. It is a really malleable hormone. Let me give you two examples.

I mean, my boss would likely piss me off more than my wife would, right? Because you have to feel like you have permission. He takes five monkeys and measures their testosterone. Then he puts the five monkeys in a cage. The monkeys immediately establish a hierarchy of violence — number one beats number two, number two beats number three, number three beats number four, number four beats number five. Of course, number one has the highest testosterone, and so on.

So the experiment is: What do you think happens? When I tell this story my students always guess that he immediately becomes number-one monkey. What happens is that when he goes back in the cage he still avoids monkeys number one and two — but he beats the shit out of numbers four and five.

So what any reasonable biological researcher would conclude is that testosterone does not cause aggression, it enables it. The target of the violence must already be seen as legitimate.

You have a biological argument and a sociological argument. It is always both. This transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity Topics.