By the time Matthias was in seventh grade, he felt he’d better belong to some group, lest he be alone and vulnerable. The punks and anarchists were identifiable by their tattoos and hairstyles and music. But it was the skinheads who captured his imagination. They had great parties, and everyone seemed afraid of them. “They really represented what it meant to be a strong man,” he said.
What draws young men into violent extremist groups? What are the ideologies that inspire them to join? And what are the emotional bonds forged that make it difficult to leave, even when they want to?
Having conducted in-depth interviews with ex–white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the United States, as well as ex-skinheads and ex-neo-Nazis in Germany and Sweden, renowned sociologist Michael Kimmel demonstrates the pernicious effects that constructions of masculinity have on these young recruits. Kimmel unveils how white extremist groups wield masculinity to recruit and retain members—and to prevent them from exiting the movement. Young men in these groups often feel a sense of righteous indignation, seeing themselves as victims, their birthright upended in a world dominated by political correctness. Offering the promise of being able to "take back their manhood," these groups leverage stereotypes of masculinity to manipulate despair into white supremacist and neo-Nazi hatred.
Kimmel combines individual stories with a multiangled analysis of the structural, political, and economic forces that marginalize these men to shed light on their feelings, yet make no excuses for their actions. Healing from Hate reminds us of some men's efforts to exit the movements and reintegrate themselves back into society and is a call to action to those who make it out to help those who are still trapped.
About the Author
Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s leading experts on men and masculinities. He is the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University and the author of Manhood in America, Angry White Men, The Politics of Manhood, The Gendered Society, and Guyland. With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, he founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook in 2013.
“[Kimmel] believes that gender, specifically masculinity, is both ‘the psychological inspiration’ that sends young men into these groups “and the social glue that keeps them involved.’ If true — and Kimmel makes a compelling case that it is — that could be good news for rehabilitation, because it is much easier to challenge violent extremism by engaging these young men as men, instead of trying to convince them that an ideology they may have embraced is flawed.” — Dina Temple-Raston
"Provides crucial understanding and context for anyone working with clients whose family members or who themselves have become involved with, or are seeking to separate from, an extremist group." — Psychotherapy Network
"Important and moving . . . . In Healing from Hate, an illuminating book building on over twenty years of thinking and research, Michael Kimmel shows that the boy crisis provides fertile ground for recruiters from white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and other extremist groups." — New York Review of Books
"Kimmel´s book is a true a page turner, presenting the very newest perspective on gender within extremism studies. In fact, he goes beyond extremism, masculinity and gender issues. He brings much wide cultural nuances, trajectory of EXIT foundations, economics, far-right politics, globalization and above all the effects of far-right politics which affects the very core of construction of young masculinities in the global North. This book undoubtedly opens a new chapter in the study of extremism, and it will certainly be the beginning of new issues between extremist groups and the studies of masculinity." — Masculinities & Social Change