I felt a lot of emotions while reading Angry White Men by Michael Kimmel. I love reading a book that is not simply good or bad. I can see the words that are written on the page, but also the cultural dilemmas that affect why Michael Kimmel decided to write and publish a book about angry White men that would result in him receiving profit.
Kimmel’s analysis often exemplified a central claim about cis-gendered, heterosexual White men in this country. They all have this sense of “entitlement” (Kimmel 2013, 40). When writing about the various mass shooters in different times in history, Kimmel saw that the men that found a hatred towards women, all “felt entitled” to their bodies (Kimmel 2013, 176). They not only felt entitled to the women around them, but the restaurants they ate at, the jobs they “earned,” and the land these men and their ancestors stole. Even though Kimmel states instance after instance of White male rage going too far, it never was a surprise to read, just as the events on January 6th were not a surprise to watch. This country was built via Capitol Riots. It was made out of the bricks of White supremacy and entitlement. It was conceptualized out of theories of “self-made masculinity” (Kimmel 2013, 15). One point that I think exemplifies this idea is when Randall, one of Kimmel’s interviewees, said, “The Twin Towers are our Bunker Hill” (Kimmel 2013, 235). The United States is made for this White male entitlement to thrive.
I also found myself frustrated reading this book. I know Kimmel consistently underscores the ignorance and the impact of White men’s fatal mistakes. However, the book itself illustrates the privilege White people have over this country. We have to empathize with White male anger when reading this book. White men are allowed to be angry. Their anger is never written off as a flaw of their genetics. Their pain is never ignored. Even when they kill people in schools, movie theaters, or gyms, people often brand White men as troubled, mentally ill, or high school rejects. White men can be multiple things at once. They can be men, they can be angry, and they can be White at the same time. As Kimmel said, “White men are not a monolithic group” (Kimmel 2013, 34), but every other group, arguably for the exception of White women, are required to be monolithic. Our pain is never contextualized. Our intersections are ignored in books that say phrases like “gay men, immigrants, blacks, and women” (Kimmel 2013, 14). I think one of the most hurtful parts of White angry male supremacy is that we have to sympathize and study them in order to dismantle the systems that they put in place to oppress us.