White Male Privilege

White Male Privilege

Sociologist Michael Kimmel interviewed members of men’s rights groups around the USA. They were right-wing White men filled with rage towards minorities and hatred towards women. They grew up with a fantasy that they would head a male breadwinner household. As society changed, and the economy plummeted, the position and power they felt entitled to did not hold up. Kimmell calls this “aggrieved entitlement.” He writes:

“Today’s Angry White Men look backward, nostalgically at the world they have lost. Some organise politically to restore ‘their; country; some descend into madness; others lash out violently at a host of scapegoats. Theirs is a fight to restore, to reclaim more than just what they feel entitled to socially or economically — it’s also to restore their sense of manhood, to reclaim that sense of dominance and power to which they also feel entitled.”

Read about his book here.

6 thoughts on “White Male Privilege


  1. Thanks for this Zuleyka Zevallos. On a slightly funnier note that is equally illuminating, I came across this fundraising campaign http://www.gofundme.com/basic. The donation levels are awesome!


    _”$5: At this level, I agree to be the black friend you are referencing when you tell people “I’m not racist, I have a black friend!”_


    “$65: At this level, you may touch my hair without asking, enabling you to potentially absorb some of my magical afro powers.”

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  2. Maybe being raised predominantly by my mother helped me not to think that it was ever okay to subjugate women or think of them as lesser beings unable to provide for their families. I find entitlement in general problematic, but this is not entitlement, this is a nonsensical response to a world that probably should not have been moving away from those who fail to embrace a better way.

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  3. Thanks for your thoughts VeySon The Younger. Kimmel uses the phrase “aggrieved entitlement” to reflect what his participants discussed. These men feel that the world owes them what they thought they would inherit whilst growing up: job security, dominion over women and cultural authority. I take your point that these men have misdirected anger.  Men’s Rights Activists are filled with rage and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with them, their sense of entitlement is, unfortunately, palatable and difficult to engage with. They do not want to listen to alternative voices; they do not want to engage in respectable debate; they are not open to self-reflection or change. Instead, they want the world to change back to the way they think it should be: a male-headed breadwinner model where women and minorities know their subordinate place to White men. I highly recommend Kimmel’s book – get your hands on a copy or borrow it from your local library (http://goo.gl/mMle8G). Or you can read an excerpt of the book on Salon (http://goo.gl/fUwmb9).


    Unfortunately these attitudes are similar to angry White sexist, racist men in Australia, the UK and elsewhere. It is a response to changing social dynamics in multicultural societies, and has taken on new dimensions since the economic downturn.

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  4. The Other Sociologist, would it be simplistic of me to consider the whole thing little more than the fearful rantings of those whose would-be control is beyond their grasp and they are falling ever downward into a spiral of uncertainty, based solely on their nurtured worldview?

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  5. VeySon The Younger Sadly, no. “Aggrieved entitlement” is about shifting socio-economic dynamics, but While men still have a lot of social power as a collective. We see this in the way politicians exercise control over women’s reproductive rights, unequal pay, workplace discrimination, state-sanctioned police violence against people of colour and so on. The individual disenfranchisement amongst privileged White men matters when it affects politics and human rights. It is not benign anger; it is not simply ignorance we can dismiss. It’s a social issue we need we address at the institutional level, through education and better social policies.

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