Angry White Men — Heirs to the American Dream

“This is a phenomenon so visible, so widespread that were it happening with any other group (say black men or Asian women), it would be discussed incessantly. But precisely because becuase it’s so ubiquitous, so visible, it has received hardly any serious discussion”(Kimmel,6).

Kimmel’s book offers a different perspective into the thought process of white American men, and theiropinions of politics. In the first two (2) chapters, he dives into the “social construction” of white men’s anger by examining pop culture much as radio, film, historical background of societal norms and how they’ve evolved, and pivotal moments such as “The Tea Party”. The second chapter explores ” angry white boys”, and the ” Pull[ing] a Columbine phenomenon is significantly psychological rather than simply blamed on personal circumstance or merit.

Kimmel’s language is straight forward and very easy to understand. He does not sugar coat or provide personal bias; just the facts. The quotes of real Right Wing white men are eye opening as well as his focus on Right Wing radio.

First, Kimmel writes about the idea of entitlement. Kimmel states that a sense of
we-ness is established. This is brought about through pop culture. Radio’s have become a huge medium for ‘angry white men’. As a collective they can hear their opinions spread over the sound waves by Right Wing host. He calls this “Outrage Media”,  this idea of ‘masculinity’ in which radio host, such as Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage bring across, the so called “defensiveness” that white men portray is one that seeks to “completely leverage the apparatus of the state in the service of the destruction of an entire biological sex [women]”(Kimmel,43).  According to Rush Limbaugh’s followers, “[H]e’s creating a community out of people’s individual frustrations, and giving them a sense of we’ness” (Kimmel, 44).

The following chapter, Angry White Boys, tackles the teen/adult school shoot problem in America. Kimmel offers two events, The Columbine High School shooting and the Virginia Tech shooting. Both equally sad and horrific, but if examined further have logical reasons to explain why they happened. People tend to blame those sorts of events on home life like parenting, or on psychological problems like child abuse or unstable family environment.

Moving into in fifth chapter, Kimmel dives into entitlement as a result of denial from women. Kimmel begins with the ‘rejection and emasculation’ of man that caused him to murder 5 women and injured 12 . Kimmel notes that this is not uncommon. Kimmel tells the chilling history of George Sodini who was rejected by women, even though ” it was his right, he felt, he have access to women” (Kimmel, 170). And when he would not get his way he would get upset, he would get revenge. What shocked me most about this was that he had fans who agreed with him and would speak their opinions on a men’s right blog.  One of them said, ” I am calling him a hero for being a symbol for the consequences of denying men sex, not for killing those women” ( Kimmel, 172). Why women? Luckily, I asked this question at the right time. Kimmel suggests that it is due to a ‘social hierarchy’.  Again the author brings up a sense of entitlement. He explains this by first thinking of why men hit women when things in the relationship seem fine. It is because the situations in which violence occurs, the men think they are right when the female has inserted her individual opinion , and then the male feels entitled or his entitlement has been challenged. The interview of the 16 year old boy to researches stood out to me a lot. Boys are taught at a young age to be right, and to be the boss, and when that position is challenged or threatened they feel weak. To researchers, the boy explains, ” it’s like [women are] more important than me and they think they can make the decisions… It’s not right. It makes me feel like a wimp or a pussy. That’s not the way things are supposed to be” (Kimmel, 182). Kimmel goes on to explain that the violence inflicted happens when men’s power is “broken down”. As a female, it is hard for to read this chapter because it doesn’t make sense to me that, not cooking a male significant other can cause him to get violent. Kimmel did not offer me an explanation to my question: where does the entitlement originates from? Overall, why do men feel entitled to this country and to women? 

 

Angry White Men

Angry White Men is about how the American white male has lost his voice in our society. It is shown in the introduction to this novel that it is simply not “American angry white men” but American white men who have increasingly gotten angrier over the years. (4) Michael Kimmel has a lot of great points when it comes to explaining why these men are angry and continuing to get angrier. For example, the election of 2012 when Obama won against Mitt Romney. Most people in the US where not too happy to have an African America as our president, some believed “we lost our country.” (35) But can these men really be mad at the fact Obama was elected and he is black when they are the ones who voted him into office? Kimmel goes on to state that these angry white men “take the anger that might, in fact, be quite legitimate and direct it elsewhere onto other targets”, this is when all the issues start to arise. (37) When these men get angry they look for a source to release that anger on; “women, minorities, gays & lesbians, immigrants and Jews” are some of the groups that these men target with their anger. (12) When these different groups are called out, things such as women movements, gay right marches and racial protest become more common.

Another chapter in this novel is targeting women. Men are always viewed as the stronger gender compared to women who are seen as weak. Kimmel gives the example of a man who wasn’t getting the attention from woman like he wanted. He eventually got fed up with all the rejected, went into his gym and set fire killing a handful of woman and injuring a bunch more. This gentlemen said that he felt “entitled” to get women’s attention, he wanted the affection but mostly the sex that he wasn’t getting that other men were, he thought it was “his right, as a man, he felt, to have access to woman” and when these women he pursed did not want he felt the need to get “even.” (170) Men feel a sense of entitlement to the things they believe they deserve just because they are men and this sense of entitlement can cause a lot of damage as gathered from the example above.

We Should All Be Feminist

The term feminist is fairy new though the concept has been around for a while. From the text, We Should All Be Feminist, it is fair to say that a lot of people don’t have a clear meaning of the term or don’t truly grasp the concept of what a feminist is or what they stand for. A concept of feminism that is clearly established in the text is gender and the role society and one’s culture can have an effect on how one views gender and the roles that come with it. Society has a way of making men seems like they are better than women for the simple fact that they are men and because they are men they are stronger and there for more capable of completing task that require strength, intellect or a leadership type role. On the other hand, woman are not as capable enough to handle such tasks because we as women lack these traits, that we are more concerned about having “likable traits.” This novel was very informative and a lot of the authors point were accurate.

We Should All Be Feminists

Adichie’s TED Talk converted book addresses this importance of feminist views in a predominantly male dominated world. She makes the important observation that it is not just about how we raise our daughters, to be strong and independent, but also to raise our sons to be softer, instead of forcing a rigid mold of masculinity onto them from such a young age.  She makes her personal struggles relatable, taking her own experiences in Nigerian culture and comparing them to those of her American friends, showing that these kinds of trends are not isolated to just one part of the world, that this is something to work on globally. Personally I think the only thing she truly left out of this discussion was the treatment and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and how they fit into a true form of intersectional feminism.  Overall her argument is clear, half the world’s population is made up of women and we need to do more to treat them as equal to their male counterparts, in all areas.

Adichie and Feminism

In her book We Should All Be Feminists, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie succinctly and deliberately argues for the cause of feminism. She cites many anecdotes of experiences from her life and the lives of Nigerian and American women that she knows to illustrate modern gender inequality. Her introduction addresses the negative connotation that the word “feminism” has and how male dominance has become normalized and accepted over centuries. Adichie then uses examples to illustrate the many ways in which men and women are socialized and treated differently based on gender in both Nigeria and America.

Adichie raises many issues in an effective and concise manner, summing up a number of the basic manifestations of gender inequality so precisely that I found myself surprised at the basic truths of some of them. While I had recognized on some level, for example, that domestic duties are often not divided equally between husbands and wives, I had not considered just how abnormal it is for a woman to say “thank you” to her husband for taking care of their child, as Adichie describes on page 37. In my own home, my mother, younger brother, and I do most of the housework, particularly my mother. By contrast, my father rarely steps in to clear the table after dinner, do his laundry, or even sweep. This is a regular occurrence in my house even though he and my mother work approximately equal amounts. There is also a much less visible “mental burden” that is largely carried by women such as my mother in households. She keeps mental lists of groceries that are needed, domestic things that must be taken care of, appointments for my brother and I, and an array of other necessities that I have the privilege of being unaware of. Overall, my mother does a disproportionate amount of the housework in my home.

One aspect of Adichie’s work that stood out to me was her references to biological differences between women and men. Her assertions that these differences were undeniable and somewhat rigid struck me as straying into the territory of trans-exclusionary feminism. Earlier this year, Adichie came under fire from several activists for her statements about trans women. She stated:

“I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of change gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are” (Michelson, Noah. “Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Under Fire For Comments About Trans Women: Twitter comes for your fave in the wake of a problematic new interview.” Huffington Post. March 11, 2017. Accessed September 10, 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-transgender-women-feminism_us_58c40324e4b0d1078ca7180b).

This notion of male privilege being experienced by trans women is one that is commonly repeated by those who call themselves feminists and wish to exclude trans women from their activism. It is problematic and regressive because it treats trans women as people who have enjoyed the benefits of male privilege rather than as individuals who have suffered oppression for their gender identities not being recognized. Overall, I agreed with the arguments Adichie was making in her book. However, her views on gender versus sex are not as progressive as her other views are.

We Should All Be Feminists – Adichie

While reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TedTalk essay titled We Should All Be Feminists, I honestly was not surprised by her words.  In our current culture, we hear about feminism quite a bit.  I knew of and have heard her arguments many times.  However, that doesn’t mean I still was not affected by her words.  While reading this short essay, I could not help but think about the events in the show The Handmaid’s Tale.  This weekend I binged the entire first season, so it was fresh in my mind.  Adichie paints a picture of the male-driven society that we still live in today.  She recounts many times when she could not go places alone.  In The Handmaid’s Tale the remaining fertile women are forced to the role of procreating.  They are not allowed to own property, have jobs, read, drive, go anywhere alone and much more.  While watching the show, I often wondered how something like this could happen in the United States.  But the flashbacks prove that one right at a time they gave to us and one right at a time they took it away.  Adichie’s piece reminds us that there’s still so much progress that needs to be made.  As an female, I always wondered why the word ‘feminist’ was chosen, when it means to represent both genders equally.  However, Adichie shines a light on the issue of the word choice, “but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender.”

Post 01; Adichie and Feminism

What does feminism mean today? The common meaning of the word, as defined by Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie is a “person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” This current, broadly approved definition of feminism is the least threatening for those who do not agree or have negative connotative definitions for the work feminism. As in Adichie’s book, those around her told her to not define herself as such because it means everything but what it should. One person said that it means she ‘is unhappy because she cannot find a husband’ or hates men and that it is ‘unAfrican’. These definitions all center on the notion that a man is the center of a woman’s life. The woman is simply not unhappy with her life, but because of the absents of a husband. And because she cannot find a husband she now hates all men. Which is in essence an ‘unAfrican’ trait because of the way African society and culture is set up around a man. As seen in the picking of class monitor, who is greeted in a restaurant, and thanked in the exchange of money.

How these products of society and roles we act, are so strong, that we cannot break out of them? The answer is that humans are social beings, who bury what they really feel deep in themselves. The examples and experience can differ between Adichie’s Nigerian home and America. One example she gives is the American females need to be ‘liked’ and how being likable is in some way equal to being respected. This is a byproduct of the American society. While being liked will allow a woman more leeway with a group of individuals because it is expected of her, therefor she is playing her role and not trying to deviate from a norm. And when the role is not played expertly others feel as if they are being lied to and lash out. Like the woman who took over the job from a male coworker and handled the job in the same way but was seen as being meaner and harder to work with.

Adichie wrote that we have evolved but our ideas on gender have not. This is most easily seen in the initial reaction of publicly stating “I am a feminist”. Some will look at you in a certain way, change their stance and tone when talking, or halt the conversation entirely. While the definition has evolved what it means at heart to be a feminist has not, like Adichie’s grandmother who was a feminist before it was defined as such.

“We Should All Be Feminists” reflection: Ronan Goforth

Part of why “We Should All Be Feminists” was so successful as a TedTalk, and then as a published text, is Adichie’s way with words. Every syllable is deliberate; every sentence has a purpose. She talks about feminism being a dirty word in Nigeria, and it is as if I am there, hearing the Nigerian academic tell her that “feminism is un-African.” I feel her frustration so deeply that it becomes my own. When Adichie says “If we do something over and over, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over, it becomes normal,” she describes a near-universal experience for women. Maybe we haven’t all been passed over for class monitor in favor of a boy, but we’ve all had something similar happen, and it was just as unfair.

“Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice,” Adichie says. “Of course I am angry.” I think her focus on anger is important, because too often women are told that anger is intimidating — that when they display the same emotions men are praised for, they are called aggressive, domineering, bossy. We should be angry! “Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man?” she asks. Why indeed? Why are my triumphs seen as an attempt to overshadow my male colleagues and theirs are seen as something normal? This is, of course, because men are raised to have weak egos, Adichie says. Masculinity has become so important to them that any accomplishment by a woman is perceived to be a slight against them as men.

A final point she makes is that of guilt. Women are raised to think of ourselves as “inherently guilty.” We silence and police ourselves and feel shame for expressing our interests and emotions, because we have internalized the notion that we must. Only by directly challenging the ways in which children are raised can we combat this and overcome it, and only then can we all be feminists.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses her personal life, in Nigeria, throughout We Should Be Feminists to illustrate her feminist experience.  Her stories allow the reader to relate to her. Starting with her childhood and moving into her adult life, Adichie offers her hopes for the world. Adichie talks about gender expectations society has for children both male and female , women and men in the workforce, and she touches on gender expectations in everyday life.

Many things stuck out to me in this short book. Her experience with the waiter in the restaurant in Nigeria was eye opening to me. She says, ” The waiters are products of a society that has taught them that men are more important than women”(Adichie,20). She follows that with her reaction, ” …I feel invisible”  (Adichie, 20). This instance stuck out to me because it was such a small event, but she remembers it; it affects her today.

Adichie’s tone throughout is very light hearted but she she firmly gets her points across. She is also able too see both sides of the coin and refute her arguments well. “In a literal way, men rule the world, and this made sense a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival […] we have evolved, but it seems to me that our ideas of gender have not evolved.” (Adichie, 2).

By bringing up gender roles, Adichie highlights the problems we face today in everyday life and society as a whole. By highlighting her experiences, she is allowing people to relate to her, rather than spewing facts and statistic as if she has more knowledge than the reader

This entire book reminded me of the Speech Emma Watson gave in 2014, at a United Nations HeforShe event. She touches on many of same subject as Adichie. The both shared the experience during adolescence of feeling like a their was and time in their childhoods were they had a goal but culturally, it was a males goal. Emma states in her speech, “I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays…but the boys were not”.

This book has impacted me a lot. I have never considered myself a feminist until now. I think this is because I have never been truly educated on the meaning of the word.

We Should All Be Feminists

For this weeks reading, we read We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was an argued essay where she talked about the importance of feminism, why everyone should be one, and what being a feminist means. At the start of the essay she explained how friends and coworkers would give her a hard time when she called herself a feminist, saying that it wasn’t her culture or that being a feminist meant she couldn’t like lipstick or high heels. I really related to this section of the essay because that is what I originally thought feminism was and didn’t consider myself a feminist. It wasn’t until my roommate really explained to me what being a feminist means and this essay confirmed that I am a feminist. Many of the issues that she brought up were very relatable, especially when she described how she was treated in restaurants and clubs with her friends. It is so frustrating when one goes into a restaurant on a date and doesn’t get the same respect as the other person (for me, a man) who is with you. I agreed with her on all of her points. Boys and girls do need to be raised the same, their gender shouldn’t make a difference. Their gender should also not affect how they are treated later on in life. Over the summer, I was one of three women who worked in the Brickyard. With it being my second summer, I was expected to do and know more than the first year brick makers. This was fairly easy to do because I knew everything from the year before and I overall really enjoy the job. The big thing that was frustrating was how my male coworkers treated myself and the other women who worked there. As the summer went on it was apparent that one of the guys working did not respect women very much. If we got upset or annoyed about something, he would say, “Oh, she must be on her period.” He would also say that all men were stronger than all women – there were at least three times when I proved him wrong. I would move more bricks than him, shovel more shovels of clay, I would move bigger objects more often. I felt the need to prove him wrong and made sure to prove him wrong everyday. I didn’t just do it to be entertained, but so that way other women wouldn’t need to go through his constant speech about being better than women. At the end of the summer, he respected me more and would ask my opinion on things. I felt that he genuinely respected my opinions. I overall really enjoyed this argument essay, I found myself agreeing with every point she made. I hope that more people come in contact with this essay and start to see things from this side.

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