Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Profile: Michael Kimmel

Michael Kimmel is to scholarship what intelligent design is to science - a false parity of the process of inquiry.  It’s not intellectual curiosity that motivates him.  He is not interested in investigating phenomena or acquiring knowledge.  Like all people of faith, he already knows the answer.  Kimmel’s answer?  Feminism.  Feminism, with all its faith-based tenets, is the punch line to all his “scholarship.”  Yet, it is not Kimmel’s blind faith in his ideology that is disturbing.  It is that he enthusiastically vilifies a relatively powerless group of society - young men.  
Kimmel’s contempt is palpable when he writes about Doug Anglin, a former high school student who sued his high school on the premise that schools discriminate against boys.  (Kimmel, “A War Against Boys?”; Dissent Magazine, Fall, 2006.)  Kimmel writes, “And though it’s tempting to parse the statements of a mediocre high school senior…Anglin’s apparent admissions angle is but the latest skirmish of a much bigger battle in the culture wars.”  You can almost feel the hostility oozing out, as if the old man seriously considered matching wits with a seventeen year old “mediocre high school student.”  That says more about Kimmel than it does about Anglin.  What is it about Doug Anglin that is so contemptible to Kimmel?  It is enlightening to realize that Anglin shares something in common with other victims of Kimmel’s academic aspersions.
In his paper, “Global Masculinities: Restoration and Resistance” (Gender Policy Review)  Kimmel quotes sociologist Erving Goffman:
In an important sense there is only one complete unblushing male in America: a young man, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual, Protestant, father, of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight, and height, and a recent record in sports.

Too young to be married, a father, or fully employed, Doug Anglin is a young, white, urban, northern, heterosexual (assumedly), of good complexion, an athletic built young man that played sports (baseball and soccer) and who sought a college education.  This, I suspect, is the real problem Kimmel has with Anglin.  Although Kimmel perfunctorily attempts to mitigate his obvious distain for his chosen subject with polite references to diversity, it is only window dressing.  Why does Kimmel spend time talking about a demographic he obviously despises?  Calling Kimmel an authority on boys and men is like calling Joseph Mengele an authority of human anatomy - even if it were true, the thought is repulsive and the pronouncement unconscionable. 
Look at his work, “Guyland; The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men.” It’s an attack on people like Anglin.  Go to the official website of Guyland.  The first image you will see is five (four on the book cover) good looking white boys who appear to be young, white, urban, heterosexual, Protestant, college kids. 

Why don’t any of these kids have stereotypically Semitic features?  I guess Jews don’t dwell in Guyland.  The image of these men appears to have been photo-shopped to feminize their lips by coloring them an unnatural, lipstick-esque, shade of red.  This is symbolically exactly what Kimmel wants for our young men, the feminization of masculinity.

In fact, Guyland is a racist assault on white young men.  “The guys that populate Guyland are mostly white, middle-class kids…Guyland rests on a bed of middle-class entitlement, a privilege sense that you are special.” (Kimmel, Michael; "Guyland; The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men," HarperCollins Books, New York, NY, 2008, pg. 8-11.)  It’s as if Kimmel is looking at these all American types and lashing out at them for being popular.  Picture Kimmel in high school; a weak, awkward, obediently studious, creep who resented the popular boys for nailing the girls of whom he would fantasize while under the covers, masturbating.  One can imagine him muttering to himself in sulky celibacy; “Don’t these girls know that still waters run deep?  If only I could get them to see my genius…”  He writes:

“What boys ‘need’… [are programs] that both honor the actual diversity on boys’ experiences – including those who are shy, like school, and/or who study hard – and interrupt the facile connection that is made between academic disinterest and masculinity.” (Kimmel, “Boys and School:  A Background Paper on the ‘Boy Crisis”, 2010, pg. 34.)

What he is saying is that we need programs to honor people like Michael Kimmel.  He appears to be the male manifestation of the quote, "There are a lot of homely women in women's studies. Preaching these anti-male, anti-sex sermons is a way for them to compensate for various heartaches -- they're just mad at the beautiful girls." Add to this frustration an unhealthy dose of mother-worship, and you may just have the adolescent cocktail that served as the impetus for his subsequent career. 
His ramblings demonstrate a man with the ego of an elephant, but the self-esteem of a cockroach.  Go to his website and read his “biography.”  The funny thing about his biography is that - it isn’t…a biography.  You learn nothing about the man, or where he comes from, or what life experiences contributed to his work.  His “biography” is a listing of his accomplishments in a sort of “I’m smart, not like everybody says” exercise in self-aggrandization.  One is stuck with the image of a balding, post middle-aged man with a creepy smile and no context with which humanize him. 
According to Kimmel, “[Y]oung men typically enter Guyland before they turn 16, and leave in their mid to late 20s…Guyland lies between the dependency and lack of autonomy of boyhood and the sacrifice and responsibility of manhood.”  (Kimmel, Michael; "Guyland; The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men," HarperCollins Books, New York, NY, 2008, pg. 8) What Kimmel is stating is that grown people of the male persuasion are not men until they “sacrifice” and take “responsibility.”  You would never expect him to say that people of the female persuasion are not women until some vague event.  He just assumes all people of a certain age with vaginas have matured into full human beings.  He does not gift the same benefit to our young men.  What does he think of young men?
The baseline from which Kimmel approaches boys is that they are sub-human.   “The most depressing four words in all educational circles these days are ‘boys will be boys.’…what we’re saying when we say ‘boys will be boys’ is boys will be violent, rapacious animals.”  I don’t know what boys he’s been hanging out with.  Those aren’t the boys I’ve seen.  God forbid we allow boys to be boys.  A central tenet of his faith is that there is something fundamentally wrong with men and manhood.  So, his work is based upon the question, “Why can’t a boy be more like a girl?” 
When Kimmel defended feminism in the context of the “boy crisis” he, like the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Sara Mead of the Education Sector, ironically attempts to shift the focus away from gender. “Why don’t the critics acknowledge these race and class differences?” he pouts.  (Kimmel, A War Against Boys, Dissent Magazine, Fall, 2006.)  This is the same refrain put forth the AAUW and Sara Mead:
"...What has happened is that women's organizations, in an attempt to viciate the call for the fair distrubtion of resources, have played the race card and said, 'Oh, don't worry white middle America, your sons aren't doing that much worse that white girls, its only the blacks and Latinos who are woefully behind -- no problem here.' The argument is racist and patently untrue for both the interpretation of the research and the actual facts. Boys -- ALL BOYS -- regardless of income or race fare worse than girls, a reversal of fortunes that has specifically been ignored by both the media and academics, because boys are not as sypathetic as girls..."
Look at Kimmel’s own focus. He levels his distain toward one group, white boys,.  “[O]n most measures boys—at least the middle class white boys everyone seems concerned about—are doing just fine, taking their places in an unequal society to which they have always felt entitled.” (WEEA Digest, Nov. 2000).  Why doesn’t Kimmel deal with race and class?  The answer is that if the fabric of society were complex, the notion of “patriarchy” goes out the window.  “Patriarchy” is the simple minded polemic used to assign false causation to complex social phenomena, championed by gender war partisans. 
More telling than his shuck and jive with gender and race, is that fact that Kimmel is just patently dishonest.  He writes, “[Scott Adams argues] that women have overtaken men in college attendance and if the situation were reversed it would be considered a national emergency. No, it would actually be considered the Ivy League in 1965.  It wouldn't be considered anything.  It would be considered normal.”  ( interview of Kimmel, Mar. 29, 2011, “Is the Men’s Rights Movement Growing?”)  This statement ignores the fact that Harvard went co-ed in 1977; Princeton, 1969; Dartmouth, 1972; Cornell, 1870 (no, that’s not a typo); Brown, 1971; Yale, 1969; Columbia, 1983, and UPenn, fully coed by 1954; all in response to perceived inequities between the sexes.  In a 2000 version of Kimmel’s  aforementioned polemic “A War Against Boys?” for Tikkum he writes:  “And while some college presidents fret that to increase male enrollments they'll be forced to lower standards…no one seems to find gender disparities going the other way all that upsetting.”  Of course, this is flatly bullshit.  Kimmel purposefully overlooks the fact that Title IX was passed specifically because there were disparities in the education of girls.  He overlooks it because it conflicts with his disengenuous conclusion.  It’s as if the existence of Title IX never enters the equation.  When girls were down, we blamed the system and passed Title IX.  When boys are down, Kimmel blames the boys, and we’ll pretty much do nothing.
Marvin Harris argued in his work, “Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches; The Riddles of Culture,” that it is women who determine how masculinity is expressed.  “It is within their power of selective neglect to produce a sex ration heavily in favor of females over males.  It also lies within woman’s power to sabotage the development of ‘masculine’ males by rewarding little boys for being passive rather than aggressive.”  It is also generally accepted that women tend to favor masculine men.  So, what responsibility do the ladies have?  According to Kimmel, none.  Kimmel doesn’t discuss them, except to paint them as weak victims.  Although he talks a great deal about men’s “privilege," he never addresses women’s “privilege.”  My position is that being yourself is not a privilege, since I cannot control how other people treat me because of some immutable characteristic, just like it's not my fault if someone discriminates against me for the same immutable characteristic.  That being said, Kimmel’s doesn’t consider women’s macro-societal behavior, because in Kimmel’s world, women have rights, while men have responsibilities. 
Kimmel laments that college men idealize “Athletes, rock stars, and film actors who are in action movies.” (Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg transcript, July 29, 2000.)  He doesn’t tell us why they are idealized.  The answer is that athletes, rock stars and film actors tend to attract the favor of women, which gets them laid a lot.  Which brings us to the question, “Why doesn’t Kimmel discuss the sexual dynamic between young men and women?”  The answer is that, to do so, would necessarily implicate women’s complicity, or outright control, in determining what it is to be a man.  It would require an examination of the behavior of women.  Remember, Kimmel’s narrative is that men and masculinity are fundamentally flawed.  He wants to change what it means to be a man.  So ergo, according to his logic, we must change men, and do so without implicating women as a variable in the equation. 
Kimmel describes himself, thus; “I’m a sociologist and an activist who supports gender equality.”  The conflict is that he is an activist.  He is not a disinterested party.  He has an agenda.  His work is not scholarship, but propaganda based upon a collection of ridiculously ideological missives presented as science.  In the previously cited interview with Ben Wattenberg (Michael Kimmel, Christina Hoff Sommers, and the AAUW’s Susan Bailey), Kimmel begins his argument by admitting that he believes that boys and the “ideology of masculinity” are not politically correct.  He is then eviscerated by Sommers, with whom he spends the entire program agreeing, until he states, “The place where we disagree is not the observation about boys, the place where we disagree is that Christine’s book is not about boys, it’s about feminism. It’s about how feminism has distracted us, diverted us, whether willingly or not.  And that's where we disagree.”  That’s because Kimmel does not care about boys.  He cares about feminism.  Boys and men are just the victims of his applied faith.
Kimmel’s work is celebrated in feminist circles, not because it is profound (it isn’t), and not because it is interesting (it’s not), but because his propaganda confines itself within the walls of an already established belief system – a belief system so devoid of curious inquiry that false statistics, advocacy research and outrageous statements, predominately slandering men, are common place in gender discourse.
And, thus, Kimmel can argue without irony; “It’s feminists who are really ‘pro-boy’ and ‘pro-father’ – who want young boys and their fathers to expand the definition of masculinity and to become fully human.” (Kimmel, “A War Against Boys, Dissent Magazine, Fall, 2006)  Besides the fact that Kimmel is reiterating his theme that men are not fully human, this statement is troubling for its sheer dishonesty.  To have Kimmel, who spent much of his career slandering young men, tell us that he and his ilk are pro-boy is laughable. 
So what is his agenda?  Kimmel is perhaps the most esteemed of the pro-feminist male “women firsters.”  Although he talks a lot about boys and men, his real agenda is to promote women.  He writes:
“Thus any initiative to improve the condition of women must include efforts to involve men…Of course; most initiatives toward gender equality must, and will continue to focus on women’s empowerment.”  (Kimmel, “Global Masculinities: Restoration and Resistance,” Gender Policy Review)
“If Guyland could prepare young men to be better fathers, they’ll spend more time at home.  Which will free women to balance work and family.”  (
It has been said that; “If something has a direct benefit to an individual or a class of people, and a theoretical, abstract, or amorphous benefit to everybody else, realize that the proponent’s intentions are to benefit the former, not the latter, no matter what bullshit they try to feed you.”
To apply that to Kimmel’s bullshit; If something (feminism) has a direct benefit to an individual or a class of people (women), and a theoretical, abstract, or amorphous benefit to everybody else (men), realize that the proponent’s (Kimmel’s) intentions are to benefit the former (women), not the latter (men), no matter what bullshit (feminism) they (Kimmel) try to feed you.
So, we understand that “changing the definition of manhood,” and all that entails will result in freeing and empowering women, but, what is the benefit for the guys?  He never articulates it, because he doesn’t care.
To illustrate, let’s mosey over to Kimmel’s “Why Men Should Support Gender Equity”: 
“But why should men participate in the movement for gender equality?  Simply put, I believe that these changes among men will actually benefit men, and that gender equality is not a loss for men, but an enormous positive thing…” 

He goes on to spend eleven pages not talking about any benefits for men.  When he finally does address the actual issue of the paper, he does so thus:

“We, as men, should support gender equality – both at work and at home.  Not because it’s right and fair and just – although it is those things.  But because of what it will do for us, as men.  At work, it means working to end sexual harassment, supporting family-friendly workplace policies, working to end the scourge of date and acquaintance rape, violence and abuse that terrorize women in our societies.  At home it means sharing housework and childcare, as much because our partners demand it as because we want to spend that time with our children and because housework is a rather conventional way of nurturing and loving.” 
It is obvious that Kimmel wants to shape boys into his own image; weak, studious, and uninspired.  “…boys can be raised to be competent and compassionate, ambitious and attentive, and that men are fully capable of love, care and nurturance.”  (Kimmel, “A War Against Boys?”; Dissent Magazine, Fall, 2006.) In other words, boys should be molded into neo-males,  "...a bland, conformist, and unimaginative group of males, for which the term “man” is too strong a word."
Thus, he tells us that the benefit to men of feminism is that men can promote women, which just so happens to be Kimmel’s aforementioned agenda.


  1. Amazing read. Definitely bookmarking this blog. Your discourse was logical, dispassionate and didn't come off as ranty. Basically the way arguments need to be formed to convince people that don't already agree with you.

  2. I'd actually be down with the premise of "guyland" if he didn't make it all guys, and specifically said that it is the actions of white, middle-classed males. Of course it wouldn't really be "guyland" then now would it?

    I also sort of sympathize with the whole activism/research thing seeing as I am slowly falling into the same position myself. Thats why gender is sort of my side cause and my major sociological stuff is the core concepts of power dynamics (as of now). But I'm not even 22 yet (less than a month away!) let's see where the world takes me lol.

  3. "Picture Kimmel in high school; a weak, awkward, obediently studious, creep who resented the popular boys for nailing the girls of whom he would fantasize while under the covers, masturbating. One can imagine him muttering to himself in sulky celibacy; “Don’t these girls know that still waters run deep? If only I could get them to see my genius…”"

    This is a nice ad hominem attack, which you then use to inform the rest of your opinion. Criticism is fine, but don't be a dishonest douche about it.

  4. Awesome article. I was referred here by Tom Snark. If you are interested in cross posting this to AVfM please let me know.

    Great work.