Salon blames men for white nationalism in After Charlottesville, solving the problem of angry men: What does healthy masculinity look like? Feminist Sociologist Michel Kimmel is interviewed, and offers an interesting mixture of progressive claptrap and sound advice on how we should deal with men.
This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, VA, during which anti-racism and human rights activist Heather Heyer was murdered. Dozens of other people who stood up against white supremacists and others operating under the banner of the “alt-right” were injured. The white angry men who marched throughout Charlottesville chanted hateful slogans such as “The Jews Will Not Replace Us” and “Blood and Soil.” These right-wing brigands displayed their fealty to Donald Trump with great enthusiasm by chanting his slogan “Make America Great Again!” and wearing his de facto uniform of tan khaki pants and red “MAGA” hats. In total, the Charlottesville white supremacist riot was the explosive result of aggrieved white masculinity and racism.
I agree that the alt-right is driven by white racism (pretty much by definition). I would say that they felt empowered, not aggrieved.
Across the Middle East and other parts of the world, young men flock to Islamic terrorist groups such as ISIS/ISIL and Al Qaeda. They want to engage in a glorious struggle to create an Islamic “golden age” where men (and boys) such as them will be Islamic knights in a struggle against Christendom.
Whoa! Salon drops the red pill on Islam. Never thought I’d see that.
Both right wing domestic terrorists and extremists in the United States (and Europe) as well as Islamic terrorists around the world both embody a global crisis in masculinity. These men and boys are seeking meaning in their lives and to create a sense of community by asserting their “natural” rule over women and any other groups of people they deem to be subordinate and inferior.
This is not merely a crisis of “masculinity”. Islam is a patriarchal religion. The identitarian movements are primarily nationalist. Plenty of women voted for Trump, though admittedly more men did. Plenty of woman are married to and support identitarians.
Disruptions in the economy and changing demographics caused by neoliberalism and globalization are also contributing to this crisis in “traditional” understandings of masculinity and gender. There is a great disruption and paradigm shift: too many men and boys find themselves adrift, embracing unhealthy behavior in an effort to make sense of their lives and social responsibilities.
Globalization has played a role by moving what were high paying manufacturing jobs to the third world. Birth control, which allows women for the first time in human history to control whether they have children, has been a bigger factor by far. The welfare state, which gives women who do want to have children the option to do so without a man, is perhaps the biggest factor. These have led to a large problem, of which identitarianism is only one symptom.
What does healthy masculinity look like?
Healthy men (like healthy women) should take responsibility for themselves. For men, this means improving themselves and becoming self sufficient, and deciding whether and how they want to engage in long term relationships with women in a society that continues to make this an ever more risky endeavour.
How do race and gender relate to each other in right wing politics?
This is not a simple question. To vastly oversimplify: Traditional conservatives believe in traditional gender roles. No surprise there, right? Libertarians are individualist, and believe a minimal government should treat individuals of all races and genders equally. Neo-conservatives are corporatists, and see all races and genders as sources of power and ultimately, money.
Why are so many white men in America so angry and full of resentment when they are the most powerful group of people in the country?
White men are far less powerful than women, politically. Most men in the rust belt have seen their jobs exported by neo-conservatives and neo-liberals, and are told by the establishment (the group who are actually the most powerful) that they are racist, misogynist, and deplorable. How are you surprised that they are angry, and showed that anger by flipping the table in the last election?
In what ways are political extremists such as neo-Nazis and other white supremacists similar to Islamic terrorists in ISIS/ISIL and Al Qaeda?
Both are identitarian movements. One identifies with race, the other with its religion.
How are young men being radicalized into violence and hate? What if anything can be done to deprogram them?
Here a start: Stop smearing everyone whose opinion you don’t like (e.g. average Trump supporters) as alt-right. Stop spreading lies and conspiracy theories like the gender wage gap. If the only ones telling men the truth are the alt-right, if you ban all liberal and conservative voices from social media, you may actually create a movement worth worrying about.
The remainder of the article is an interview with sociologist Michael Kimmel. Kimmel is a spokesperson of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) and a longtime feminist. I will focus on his responses.
My immediate [reaction to recent mass shootings is] to look at who is committing these mass murders, and in virtually every case, it’s a middle class white man.
In Europe, this is certainly untrue. Even in America, according to the Mother Jones – Mass Shootings Database, 1982 – 2018, since 2016, only 52% of mass shooters were white (all were men). Since more than 52% of the US population (as of 2014. Non-Hispanic whites totaled about 197,870,516, or 62.06% of the U.S. population), whites are actually underrepresented. So Kimmel starts off with a whopper of a lie.
When it’s a middle-class white man, the way we talk about it in America is to focus on mental illness. We talk about how there must be something wrong with them.
Again according to Mother Jones, 35% of the shooters (of all races) are confirmed to have had mental illness, and for many more it is uncertain. So yes, we should be talking about mental illness.
If these were all African-Americans, or if these were all Muslims, the last thing we would talk about is mental illness. The focus would be on “culture”. We would talk about religion.
In the case of Islamic terrorists (none of whom show up in the US in the Mother Jones database since 2016), they often have ties to radical sects like ISIS. In this case, why wouldn’t we talk about their radicalization?
This is how racism works. Racism disaggregates white people so each individual white person is discussed as an individual. Thus, it is an individual mental illness problem. Whereas when black people act or when Muslims act, it’s collective–it’s them, it’s their culture, it’s their religion. What racism does is it desegregates white people and aggregates people of color.
Racism also aggregates whites (as Kimmel is doing here). It individualizes the in group (the tribe) and aggregates the other. The solution is to treat everyone as an individual, while still being aware of demographic trends.
The second thing I noticed, of course, is that they’re all male. It’s not that there’s something genetic or biological or chronic about men’s violence and picking up guns. There is something about the cultural meaning of masculinity.
Bullshit. Testoterone is a real biological factor that leads to far higher aggression in men than women. The idea that men and women are biologically identical is unscientific nonsense.
For example, if this violence was really caused by mental illness is it not rational to assume that rates of mental illness would be relatively similar between teenage boys and teenage girls? The answer is yes they are. So why is it that they’re all boys? Well, it could be that boys have more access to guns, but it could also be that there’s something about the meaning of masculinity that says when you are ashamed or when you are humiliated this is a gendered experience of emasculation and violence.
Or could it be that, due to sexual dimorphism, men and women tend to express their mental illness differently?
The way you restore your manhood is through violence. All of these guys feel aggrieved and that something bad has been done to them. They are the “victims” and they are going to get even. American men don’t get sad. We get mad. And American men don’t get mad, we get even.
This is true of all men. Our gynocentric societies amplify the physical differences between men and women by caring about women and girls but telling men and boys to man up.
It’s about entitlement. Narcissism is a type of self-aggrandizing behavior… These guys all feel that way. They are following the Elliot Rodger model “I’m good looking, I’m attractive, I’m the perfect gentleman and I keep getting denied and I’m destined to die a virgin.”
So all mass shootings are the work of incels? Is there any evidence to back up this claim?
Every 20 years or so some male guru comes along and he says to men, “Your lives are empty. They’re meaningless, you’re not going anywhere”. Now you have Jordan Peterson saying, “Your life is shallow, stand up straight, dig in, do something hard, do something meaningful with your life, will you? Just get off your ass. Oh by the way, it’s not your fault that you’re sitting there watching the world go by, it’s women’s fault”. This is an argument that people have always been making.
This is bullshit. Peterson does not say “it’s women’s fault”. Kimmel is a liar.
And what is this system that these right-wing “men’s rights” types and others are suggesting but basically a kind of state-run brothel?
What? Who is suggesting this? Peterson, when talking about solving the incel “problem” with forced monogamy (see my post Jordan Peterson is Wrong on Forced Monogamy) was talking about arranged marriages, not state run brothels. Statists like Kimmel assume that all problems must be solved by the state. Sad.
In many respects, Jordan Peterson is a philosophical clown, an intellectual court jester. He likes being provocative but he’s not conscienceless. Peterson is a serious guy who has serious ideas about male malaise, but his diagnosis of it is so mistaken that he can’t possibly offer a solution to it.
This is an amazing piece of projection. Kimmel, an avowed feminist, thinking he has the monopoly on helping men, is surely the clown.
I think that the difference is these white men start from a position of aggrieved entitlement and victimization. They believe they’ve gotten a bad deal and are getting screwed. Now, if you feel that you’re a victim and you’ve gotten screwed, you have to figure out why you feel that way. One idea is the global restructuring of neoliberalism. Now if you think systematically and structurally you would conclude that, “Gee, I’m in the same position as African- American men and other dispossessed men. I should make an alliance with them.” That is what we would call left-wing populism.
But if I say that those people of color and those immigrants are the cause of my malaise, the cause of my distress, then I move to right-wing populism because the difference between right-wing populism and left-wing populism is your position on race.
When the left-wing populists call them racist misogynists, and the centrist establishment is dominated by globalists who are selling them out for profit, is it any surprise that the denizens of the rust belt turn to the populist right?
If you focus on class over race then you’re a leftist. The right-wing populists supports Donald Trump and his predecessor The Tea Party because they focus on race.
Bullshit. The progressive left focuses far more on race than they do on class. Even Bernie Sanders, who is a labor oriented democratic socialist, is being called out by the progressive left. The Tea Party were primarily constitionalist. More lies from Kimmel.
Here’s the thing about Trump that’s really interesting to me. His base is almost entirely angry white men who experience aggrieved entitlement and believe that they deserve certain jobs and status and all these immigrants, people of color, gays and women and everybody else is getting what they “deserve.” They’re angry because they feel dispossessed. They’re emasculated.
Statements like this will help Trump. Every woman and non-white male who voted for Trump is going to think “fuck you, I voted for Trump”. If you keep calling Trump voters and Republicans deplorable, he may win again in 2020.
Now, what Trump has managed to do is to take this individual experience among his base and make it America’s policy. We’ve got to, “Make America Great Again!” so we can be the biggest, baddest bully on the block. This is really a brilliant strategy to take the individual experiences of those individual angry and white men who feel dispossessed and make it a national sentiment.
I agree that “Make America Great Again” is a brilliant populist message. Anyone who argues with it presumably doesn’t want America to be great. This is what Scott Adams refers to as a high ground maneuver.
What I would say is that if you want to try and make [white nationalists] feel bad for being in the movement you will never reach them. Of course, you want to erode some of their earlier beliefs and you do that by having them interact with men of color or Jews or gay people or other people they were taught to hate. Hopefully then they begin to realize,” Oh my God, they’re normal people.”
And here, I agree with Kimmel entirely.
I don’t use the “toxic” and “healthy” masculinity framework very much because masculinity is a mixed bag. There are parts of it that have a lot of integrity and honor. But if you ask most men what it means to be a “real man” they don’t say any of those things. They say “strong, stoic, never show your feelings, never cry, win at all costs, get rich, get laid.”
The reason men don’t show their feelings and their weaknesses is that they are punished for doing so. The desire to get rich is a symptom of our materialistic culture and the innate greed stemming from the human survival instinct. Women are at least as guilty of this as men. The desire to get laid is instinctual. This is why Peterson’s message, which is to find a meaningful pursuit, is important. Without one, we devolve to our baser instinctual behaviors.
What I argue is that to be a “good man” or a “real man” is constantly being evaluated and judged by others. It is a constant performance. Every man will face a dilemma in his life where he will be tasked with proving his masculinity to other men. Men are also asked at some point to not betray the “brotherhood” because it would mean betraying other man and some version of masculinity and its rules.
What it means to be an adult is to become independent of the judgment of others. Everyone (men and women) will face times in their lives when their own principles come into conflict with the norms of their company, or even their society. How they handle such conflicts determines whether they are “real” men and women.
I believe that the conversation we men need to have is, “How can we stand up for each other? How can we support each other in being the good man that we already know how to be?” I am not interested in telling men that they have to be different. I’m interested in supporting men in being more authentically themselves and who they say they want to really be.
Again, I agree with Kimmel. It’s fascinating that we have such different world views, and yet still agree on so much. Perhaps its because we are in agreement in the pragmatic realm. I suppose if you disagree on the cause but agree on at least some of the solution, things could be worse.