A study of what Kimmel (Sociology and Gender Studies/Stony Brook Univ.; Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, 2008, etc.) calls “aggrieved entitlement” and how it leads to the angry rhetoric and violence endemic to the United States today.
The author is no stranger to thinking and writing about men in their cultural climate; in his latest book, he turns his gaze to the pervasive anger specifically white men experience. White men, he claims, have held the upper hand for so long that equalizing the playing field results in explosive rage over their situation rather than the quieter despair, anxiety and frustration that other men feel. “Theirs is the anger of the entitled: we are entitled to those jobs, those positions of unchallenged dominance,” writes Kimmel. “And when we are told we are not going to get them, we get angry.” From there, the author moves through manifestations of this rage, such as domestic violence, mass murder and involvement in white-supremacy activities. Kimmel’s writing is open and engaging, reminiscent of a conversation with friends in a bar. This makes some of the disturbing content easier to digest and his arguments palatable even to those inclined to disagree with him. Though he admits his left-leaning bias, he writes, “I try to look into the hearts and minds of the American men with whom I most disagree politically….I do so not with contempt or pity, but with empathy and compassion.” For the most part, the author succeeds, but he does himself a disservice by alienating readers, with an overwhelmingly liberal introduction and first chapter, who might otherwise see merit in his conclusion that these “angry white men have some justified grievances—even though they often aim their arrows at the wrong targets.”
Another worthwhile examination of important issues affecting men and, by extension, everyone else, from an author known for his insight into the subject.