Angry White Men: The Masculinity of White Supremacists

Michael Kimmel, an award-winning sociologist, gave a presentation on his experiences with members of small, scattered communities of neo-nazis last Wednesday.

The topic for this discussion originated in Kimmel’s investigations captured in his newest book titled “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era.” The presentation was sponsored by the Diversity Council.

Renny Christopher, vice chancellor for academic affairs, set the stage for the revealing, hour-long talk. Various members of the Washington State University Vancouver community attended, including faculty, students and even alumni.

Kimmel said that his book was concerned with certain groups of men that express anger “at a system that no longer guarantees that they’re gonna get all the rewards.”

His main focus of the speech, was on one chapter, which was about angry, white supremacists and his interviews with them. The overarching theme was on how neo-nazis see race and class experiences in gender terms.

Kimmel explained how these white supremacists felt emasculated. Through art and cartoons, they showcased the discontent of their situation. One striking image depicted a cartoon of a white man being subordinated by a feminist, a Jewish judge and a black man. Kimmel said, “They feel that they have lost their masculinity, or more accurately, it’s been taken from them.”

Kimmel then displayed more images on how these angry skinheads are using their masculinity to place blame on other groups. One of the images was of a map of the United States and a borderline horizontally across the middle signifying the encroachment of Mexico into US territory. Another image portrayed lesbians as more masculine than the modern white man.

Kimmel conveyed the point that these neo-nazis were using manliness as a recruiting tool for their cause. “So if you join us, you will regain your masculinity,” the professor said. The premise of these images was to invoke their masculinity to recapture what was once theirs.

For example, one animation had an Aryan man carrying a woman into the sunset in which the sun had a swastika at the center. Also, some of those depictions showed how a man would lose his manhood, then regaining it after transforming into a white supremacist.

Surprisingly, Kimmel even expanded on how the same neo-nazi ideas are being used around the world. Kimmel concluded with the direction of where these skinheads are headed in the United States.

Particularly, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, some of the Aryan factions were split. Half of them urged violence in retaliation, while the other half seemingly rejoiced because the terrorists had hit the Zionist power where it hurt; in the financial sector. Sort of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” situation Kimmel said.

Kimmel closed his presentation with a twist. He expressed sympathy toward these angry, white men. “I believe that many of these guys, they have been screwed by the system,” Kimmel said.

“I believe these guys are right to be angry, but they’re delivering their mail to the wrong address.” Also, he added that in order to relieve the circumstances, we needed to understand their situation and give them an alternative to view what has happened to them.

One audience member expressed her appreciation of the lecture. Jennifer Shroy said, “For me what was [the] most valuable part of this talk revolved around how to have a talk with men, about masculinity that doesn’t attack them, but has them have an internal conversation to change actions that are damaging.”

Throughout the lecture, the speaker presented a variety of deeply racist art, cartoons, pamphlets and words used by these angry men. It gave the audience a glimpse into the world of white supremacists and the messages they convey how they are the ones that have been done wrong by “the system.”

For more information on Michael Kimmel and his wide array of books, lectures and articles, you can visit his website at www.michaelkimmel.com.

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