Ar­lie Rus­sell Hochschild

The New York Review of Books - - Contents - by Chris­tian Pic­ci­olini

The Boy Cri­sis: Why Our Boys Are Strug­gling and What We Can Do About It by War­ren Far­rell and John Gray Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ism by Michael Kim­mel White Amer­i­can Youth: My De­scent into Amer­ica’s Most Vi­o­lent Hate Move­ment—and How I Got Out

The Boy Cri­sis:

Why Our Boys Are Strug­gling and What We Can Do About It by War­ren Far­rell and John Gray. BenBella, 493 pp., $25.95

Healing from Hate:

How Young Men Get Into—and Out of—Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ism by Michael Kim­mel.

Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Press, 263 pp., $29.95

White Amer­i­can Youth: My De­scent into Amer­ica’s Most Vi­o­lent Hate Move­ment—and How I Got Out by Chris­tian Pic­ci­olini.

Ha­chette, 275 pp., $15.99 (pa­per)

This March, in a four-part series on Fox News called “Men in Amer­ica,” Tucker Carlson sat in front of the Amer­i­can flag and listed a set of down­ward trends for men in school, work, and emo­tional well-be­ing. Com­pared to girls, Carlson told view­ers, boys far more often fail in school, are di­ag­nosed with ADHD (and take med­i­ca­tion for it, which car­ries a risk of de­pres­sion later in life), play video games, be­come over­weight, lack a driver’s li­cense, get ad­dicted to al­co­hol or opi­oids, be­come mass shoot­ers, com­mit other felonies, go to prison, and die of drug over­dose or sui­cide. In 1970, 58 per­cent of un­der­grad­u­ates in four-year col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties were male; by 2014, that had fallen to 43 per­cent. Women earn more doc­toral de­grees than men and are now a ma­jor­ity of those en­ter­ing med­i­cal and law schools. Young sin­gle women are two and a half times more likely than sin­gle men to buy their own homes; sin­gle men more often live with par­ents.

A re­cent book not men­tioned by Carlson, The Boy Cri­sis: Why Our Boys Are Strug­gling and What We Can Do About It, by War­ren Far­rell and John Gray, gives an­other set of such sta­tis­tics. In high school, boys re­ceive 70 per­cent of Ds and Fs, are more likely than girls to be sus­pended, and are less likely to grad­u­ate or be cho­sen as class vale­dic­to­rian (70 per­cent of whom are girls). Other re­search shows that boys are less likely to en­joy school or think grades are im­por­tant.1

Carlson com­plained that the me­dia have been silent about these prob­lems. He blamed this on pub­lic fig­ures who he thinks fo­cus too much on women: Barack Obama, Hil­lary Clin­ton, the Democrats, and the fac­ul­ties of “lib­eral” uni­ver­sity-based gen­der stud­ies pro­grams. (Carlson’s series ran dur­ing Women’s His­tory Month.) In sup­port of this view, he con­sulted the provoca­tive and pop­u­lar Uni­ver­sity of Toronto clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Jor­dan Peter­son, who in­sisted that any talk of “eq­uity, di­ver­sity, in­clu­siv­ity” should be con­sid­ered “in­doc­tri­na­tion” and rea­son to with­draw a boy from any school with a cur­ricu­lum in which such words ap­pear. Man­hood, both Carlson and Peter­son

1Another book out this year that cov­ers much of this ter­ri­tory is An­drew L. Yarrow’s Man Out: Men on the Side­lines of Amer­i­can Life (Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, 2018). have sug­gested, is some­thing that lib­er­als dis­par­age and con­ser­va­tives pro­tect. Carlson omit­ted to say that, as of 2016, women earn 80.5 cents to ev­ery dol­lar a man earns for year-round full­time work (a gap that in­creases as level of ed­u­ca­tion rises), and that two thirds of min­i­mum-wage work­ers are women. Men’s col­lege en­roll­ment is still on the rise—that is, rel­a­tive to fe­male BA-hold­ers, males have de­clined since 1970, but rel­a­tive to their male coun­ter­parts in 1970, a higher pro­por­tion of men hold BAs to­day. Carlson also largely ig­nored dif­fer­ences in class and race that ex­ac­er­bate those of gen­der. As the MIT la­bor econ­o­mist David Au­tor and his coau­thors found in a study of Florida brother-sis­ter pairs, the gen­der gap in school per­for­mance is wider among the poor than the rich. Boys born to moth­ers with lower ed­u­ca­tion and in­come got lower grades, rel­a­tive to their sis­ters, than boys born to more highly ed­u­cated and af­flu­ent moth­ers.

Still, we can’t dis­miss such sta­tis­tics as a hy­per­bolic re­ac­tion to fem­i­nism. In the last three decades, the lives of men have un­der­gone what Au­tor and coau­thor Me­lanie Wasser­man have called a “tec­tonic shift.”2 Com­pared to women, a shrink­ing pro­por­tion of men

2David Au­tor and Me­lanie Wasser­man, “Way­ward Sons: The Emerg­ing Gen­der Gap in Ed­u­ca­tion and La­bor Mar­kets,” Third Way, 2013. are earn­ing BAs, even though more jobs than ever re­quire a col­lege de­gree, in­clud­ing many en­try-level po­si­tions that used to re­quire only a high school diploma. Among men be­tween twen­ty­five and thirty-four, 30 per­cent now have a BA or more, while 38 per­cent of women in that age range do.

The cost of this dis­ad­van­tage has only grown with time: of the new jobs cre­ated be­tween the end of the re­ces­sion and 2016, 73 per­cent went to can­di­dates with a BA or more. A shrink­ing pro­por­tion of men are even counted as part of the la­bor force; be­tween 1970 and 2010, the per­cent­age of adult men in a job or look­ing for work dropped from 80 to 70 while that of adult women rose from 43 to 58. Most of the men slip­ping out lack BAs. We have yet to fully ad­dress these changes, and there’s no rea­son we can’t do so while also cel­e­brat­ing the successes of Amer­i­can girls and women.

Warn­ings of the trou­ble fac­ing boys are not new. In 1999, the Pulitzer Prize–win­ning jour­nal­ist Susan Faludi brought the male predica­ment to pub­lic at­ten­tion with her com­pas­sion­ate book Stiffed: The Be­trayal of the Amer­i­can Man.3 In it, she ar­gued that dis­placed crafts­men, com­bat veter­ans, trou­bled “bad boys,” and other men had come

3Re­viewed in these pages by An­drew Hacker, Oc­to­ber 21, 1999. to feel that, in the world they were sup­posed to own and run, the val­ues of dili­gence, in­tegrity, and loy­alty no longer mat­tered. But the very “par­a­digm of mod­ern mas­culin­ity”—that men are masters of their fate—pre­vents men, she ar­gued, “from think­ing their way out of their dilemma.” Pow­er­ful so­cial and eco­nomic shifts, the im­pact of which re­mains un­ac­knowl­edged, have “a lot more to do with [male] un­hap­pi­ness,” she wrote, “than the lat­est sex­ual ha­rass­ment rul­ing.” The first se­ri­ous class­room ex­plo­rations of man­hood emerged in the cour­ses Peter­son seems to de­ride, of­fered by schol­ars like Michael Kim­mel, the fore­most so­ci­ol­o­gist of Amer­i­can mas­culin­ity, whose books Guy­land (2008) and An­gry White Men (2013) pre­date Carlson’s warn­ings, and whose im­por­tant and mov­ing new­est book, Healing from Hate, con­nects the male cri­sis with hate crimes.

Nor is there much new about the charge that Amer­i­cans have been “in­doc­tri­nated” to ig­nore the prob­lems of men. In his 1993 best seller The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Dis­pos­able Sex, Far­rell, who had once been a prom­i­nent sup­porter of the fem­i­nist move­ments of the 1970s, ar­gued that fem­i­nism had turned men into sec­ond­class ci­ti­zens. Kim­mel has called that book the “bi­ble” of many of to­day’s men’s rights ac­tivists; Peter­son has cited Far­rell as an in­flu­ence.

In The Boy Cri­sis, Far­rell and Gray (the au­thor of the 1992 book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus) con­cen­trate on what they con­sider a pri­mary cause of the prob­lems fac­ing men: de­clin­ing con­tact be­tween boys and their fathers, an un­in­tended con­se­quence of Amer­ica’s high rate of di­vorce. Some chil­dren of di­vorced cou­ples live with a step­dad, but two thirds of those mar­riages dis­solve. For a pe­riod af­ter their par­ents’ di­vorce, boys are es­pe­cially prone to de­pres­sion and show more ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior. In an ap­pen­dix enu­mer­at­ing the ben­e­fits of good and present fathers, the au­thors in­clude a height­ened ca­pac­ity to em­pathize, to de­lay grat­i­fi­ca­tion, and to avoid be­ing bul­lied or be­com­ing a bully. One study of fac­tors that in­hibit teenage delin­quency found that the sheer “pres­ence” of a dad—be­ing on call—mat­tered more than his fi­nan­cial sup­port or even “in­volve­ment with” (play­ing with or read­ing to) his son. Far­rell and Gray con­cen­trate on bi­o­log­i­cal dads in tra­di­tional mar­riages, but other re­search has shown that step­dads ben­e­fit boys too. One large quan­ti­ta­tive study found, sur­pris­ingly, that the pres­ence at home of a step­dad in­hib­ited male delin­quency even more than that of a bi­o­log­i­cal dad. The Boy Cri­sis is an ad­vice book for par­ents, so chap­ters are short and pages stud­ded with bold­faced topic head­ings: “The Male Hero’s Kryp­tonite,” “What Hap­pened to Pickup Team Sports?,” “The Power of Pur­pose.” The rea­son­ing can be sim­plis­tic: “Dads who nur­ture dad-en­riched chil­dren re­ceive the gift of a nur­tured soul.” And given Far­rell and Gray’s fo­cus on the fa­ther-son bond, it’s cu­ri­ous how lit­tle at­ten­tion they give to class and race, for it is in poorer fam­i­lies that that re­la­tion­ship

is more often trou­bled or ab­sent. One study tracked changes be­tween 1960 and 2010 for white men be­tween ages thirty and forty-nine. In 1960, the fam­ily lives of those in the top 20 per­cent and bot­tom 30 per­cent of the class lad­der were fairly alike; 94 per­cent of the top and 84 per­cent of the bot­tom were mar­ried. But by 2010, a dra­matic split had ap­peared; at the top 83 per­cent were mar­ried, but at the bot­tom only 48 per­cent were. A trou­bling cy­cle is set in mo­tion: sons of fad­ing fathers, stud­ies sug­gest, es­pe­cially fathers with a high school ed­u­ca­tion, are more likely to be­come fad­ing fathers them­selves. In some ways, the ex­pe­ri­ence of chil­dren in low-in­come white fam­i­lies has come to re­sem­ble that of those in many African-Amer­i­can fam­i­lies. From 1970 through 2014, the pro­por­tion of white chil­dren liv­ing with a sin­gle par­ent rose from 10 to 19 per­cent, while that of black chil­dren rose ear­lier and higher, from 35 to 54 per­cent. These sta­tis­tics show, among other things, the dis­pro­por­tion­ate ef­fects of mass in­car­cer­a­tion, which has sep­a­rated many black chil­dren from their fathers. To­day, three quar­ters of white chil­dren live with two mar­ried par­ents, while a third of black chil­dren do.

I re­cently asked Mike Schaff, a Ca­jun from Bayou Corne, Louisiana, whom I’d in­ter­viewed for a book on the far right, for his thoughts on the state of man­hood to­day. Now a sixty-nine-year-old re­tired oil worker, a Fox News watcher, and a Trump voter, Mike felt Carlson “had a point”—these were tough times for men, more so than when he was a boy, shoot­ing crows in the su­gar cane fields and set­ting craw­fish traps with his strict but lov­ing dad, a plumber. Nowa­days, mar­riage and a steady fa­ther fig­ure were less cer­tain (he was on his third mar­riage, and has had no chil­dren). Less cer­tain, too, was re­spect for the male role of pro­tec­tor. “We men res­cue women and chil­dren first and put our own lives last,” he said. “In war, men risk their lives for wives and chil­dren. As po­lice­men and fire­fight­ers, we pro­tect the pub­lic.”

Mike felt like his fam­ily’s pro­tec­tor. He owned four guns, which he was pre­pared to use “if things got worse.” But did women still need a man’s pro­tec­tion? Did they need, as they used to, a man’s fi­nan­cial sup­port, a man’s con­fer­ral of sta­tus in mar­riage, or even his tra­di­tional part in pro­cre­ation it­self? Not so much. Mike’s wife earned more than he did, and had a higher level of ed­u­ca­tion. Since his step­daugh­ter, a sin­gle mother, had suf­fered sev­eral up­heavals in her life, and since his wife was still work­ing, Mike had re­cently taken on week­day care of his new­born step-grand­son, bot­tle-feed­ing and chang­ing di­a­pers. Far­rell and Gray call for a world in which fathers deeply in­volve them­selves in the lives of their chil­dren, a goal most fem­i­nists heartily em­brace; in­deed, a vast num­ber of ar­ti­cles and books—my 1989 book The Sec­ond Shift among them—have been de­voted to men’s in­volve­ment in the lives of their chil­dren and at home. Be­tween 1989 and 1999, no fewer than two hun­dred so­cial sci­ence stud­ies fo­cused on this. For decades, talk was of “the new man.” Peter­son, and to a lesser de­gree Far­rell, cri­tiques “fem­i­nism” for ig­nor­ing the im­por­tance of fathers. The Boy Cri­sis au­thors of­fer one pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to both the needs of sons and the de­sire and will­ing­ness of wives to sup­port the fam­ily: the stay-at-home dad. Such an op­tion still chal­lenges the pre­vail­ing no­tion of male sta­tus. But in an in­ter­view with Peter­son, Far­rell ex­plained how we might el­e­vate the sta­tus of the stay-at-home dad us­ing the same so­cial bribes that per­suade men to sacri­fice them­selves in war: men want to be heroes, the au­thors ob­serve, so the cul­ture needs to make it heroic to be a great dad. In our con­ver­sa­tions, Mike strongly con­demned white supremacy and misog­yny. But some of his neigh­bors con­demned these views less strongly and knew oth­ers who ap­proved of them. 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. Ac­cord­ing to the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, the num­ber of hate groups rose from 784 in 2014 to 954 in 2017. The cen­ter’s list now in­cludes “male supremacy” hate groups such as Re­turn of Kings and A Voice For Men, which char­ac­ter­ize “all women as ge­net­i­cally in­fe­rior, ma­nip­u­la­tive and stupid and re­duces them to their re­pro­duc­tive or sex­ual func­tion.” Alek Mi­nas­sian, the man who drove his van into pedes­tri­ans on a Toronto street in April, killing ten, de­clared him­self an “in­cel,” a mem­ber of an on­line com­mu­nity of “in­vol­un­tar­ily celi­bate” men who con­sider them­selves the vic­tims of women who de­cline to sleep with them. His ram­page was pledged to the “In­cel Re­bel­lion”—a back­lash against fem­i­nism, but also against the so­cial hi­er­ar­chy in which con­ven­tion­ally at­trac­tive and suc­cess­ful men, “Chads,” have greater ac­cess than other men to sex and the af­fec­tion of women. The rise of such groups is a threat in it­self, but it also re­veals a close link be­tween vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and misog­yny.4

Of those Kim­mel pro­files—mem­bers or ex-mem­bers of male hate groups in the US, as well as for­mer mem­bers of hate groups in Ger­many, Swe­den, Great Bri­tain, and Canada—vir­tu­ally all were aban­doned by their fathers or “were abused, phys­i­cally or sex­u­ally, by step­fa­thers or moth­ers’ boyfriends.” Fathers who were present, he says, were “emo­tion­ally shut down, opaque, phantom pres­ences in their own homes.” Many of these sons were bul­lied or be­came bul­lies on the play­ground. One man told Kim­mel he grew up in a “field of vi­o­lence” that kept him “con­stantly en­raged.”5 Such a boy then links the harsh­ness and in­dif­fer­ence he en­coun­tered with his iden­tity as a boy, so that he be­lieves he is be­ing pun­ished for be­ing male. “Whether I was talk­ing with ex–neo-Nazi skin­heads in Swe­den, ex–white su­prem­a­cists in the United States, or even ex-ji­hadists in Lon­don,” Kim­mel writes, “the is­sue of mas­culin­ity. . . did not fail to come up.”

4For the his­tor­i­cal prece­dents of ex­trem­ism, see Linda Gor­don, The Sec­ond Com­ing of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the Amer­i­can Po­lit­i­cal Tra­di­tion (Liveright, 2017). 5For a closer de­scrip­tion of the rippedup child­hoods of Amer­i­can neo-Nazis, see Eli­nor Langer, A Hun­dred Lit­tle Hitlers: The Death of a Black Man, the Trial of a White Racist, and the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Move­ment in Amer­ica (Met­ro­pol­i­tan, 2003). Failed by men—pre­sum­ably moth­ers played some part, though we hear lit­tle about it—the men he stud­ied also felt like “fail­ures as men.”

Men don’t need women to rec­og­nize their man­hood, Kim­mel ar­gues; they need other men. “Women would pol­lute things,” he was told. Gen­er­ally women are badly treated by white su­prem­a­cist groups; in the US few ac­cept women as equal mem­bers. A num­ber of white su­prem­a­cists call for “trad­wives”—tra­di­tional wives—to pro­duce more white chil­dren. The men in neo-Nazi groups shave one an­other’s heads and dress alike in black, tat­too their arms, and wear bat­tle-ready, hard-toed, thirty-two-eye­let boots. Male-to-male ini­ti­a­tions into hate groups also called for “mi­nor van­dal­ism” for which they would be “de­clared heroes,” Kim­mel ob­serves wryly, such as paint­ing swastikas on Jewish tomb­stones. “Men need a glo­ri­ous war against some­thing,” the his­to­rian Ge­orge Mosse ob­served of Ger­man ex­trem­ists in the 1930s, so that they can dis­play their mas­culin­ity “stripped down to its war­like func­tions.”

In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy White Amer­i­can Youth, Chris­tian Pic­ci­olini of­fers a vivid il­lus­tra­tion of the path to ex­trem­ism Kim­mel de­scribes. Born in 1973 to blue-col­lar Ital­ian im­mi­grant par­ents who worked long hours in Oak For­est, Illi­nois, Pic­ci­olini re­calls his fa­ther as be­ing quick with un­de­served smacks to the head and oth­er­wise as an im­pas­sive chauf­feur driv­ing him to be placed in “some­one else’s care.” A short boy with a funny name, Pic­ci­olini be­came the play­ground tar­get for bul­lies, un­til he de­vel­oped a vi­cious punch of his own. He car­ried guns, drank, and lis­tened to harsh mu­sic from bands with names like Skrew­driver, Bru­tal At­tack, Skull­head, and No Re­morse.

It was a fa­therly ges­ture from a neo-Nazi that first drew the four­teen-year-old into an ex­trem­ist world­view. Pic­ci­olini was smok­ing a joint with a friend when he was spot­ted by a sharp-jawed, bulky man sit­ting in a car. The friend ran away. Chris­tian stood his ground. The man rose from his car, walked over to Chris­tian, took the joint from his mouth, and told him that he shouldn’t suc­cumb to a Jewish plot to se­date Gen­tiles.

In his new life of white supremacy, Pic­ci­olini be­gan to “suc­ceed.” He wrote and per­formed songs—one of which Dy­lann Roof lis­tened to in 2016 a few months be­fore killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston. He started a busi­ness sell­ing vi­o­lent mu­sic and launched a band that per­formed at white power ral­lies around the world. At six­teen, he led Ham­mer­skin Na­tion, which the Anti-Defama­tion League de­scribed as the “most vi­o­lent and best-or­ga­nized neo-Nazi skin­head group in the U.S.” Pic­ci­olini was liv­ing out a strange, toxic in­ver­sion of the Amer­i­can Dream.

But when his wife be­came preg­nant, “I sud­denly felt guilty and out of sorts,” he re­called. “I didn’t re­spect... the Klans­men, . . . the mother car­ry­ing her in­fant with a tiny Klan hood on.” Be­com­ing a fa­ther turned Pic­ci­olini’s life around, but he ac­knowl-

edges that this came at the ex­pense of his teenage wife’s own am­bi­tions: “She sobbed. What about her plans? What about col­lege? What about be­com­ing a teacher?” That trade-off is not in­ci­den­tal. Kim­mel found in his re­search that

for sev­eral it was a wife, girl­friend, their mother, or an­other woman who drew them away from the move­ment. It’s often through per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with women that the guys get enough strength to tear them­selves away. It’s hard. It was the in­ten­sity of the male bonds that got them in. That in­ten­sity has to be matched—or even ex­ceeded—by the re­la­tion­ships with women.

Like mil­lions of girl­friends and wives, Pic­ci­olini’s wife made enor­mous hid­den sac­ri­fices to res­cue the an­gry lost boy she’d mar­ried. She de­serves great credit for re­hu­man­iz­ing her hus­band and so im­prov­ing the safety of those around them. But it seems like a lot to ask of fe­male part­ners of vi­o­lent men to take on, in ad­di­tion to all else they do, the daunt­ing job of act­ing as so­ci­ety’s tacit res­cue squad. It’s surely bet­ter to solve the prob­lem at its many roots—with gen­er­ous sup­port for trou­bled fam­i­lies, school outreach pro­grams, drug re­cov­ery cen­ters, re­duced mass in­car­cer­a­tion, help with the sky­rock­et­ing costs of higher ed­u­ca­tion, and en­hanced un­der­stand­ing of the forces at play that Susan Faludi de­scribes—all of which con­trib­ute to the male cri­sis it­self. This has not been Pres­i­dent Trump’s ap­proach. Dur­ing his cam­paign, he promised to re­store jobs in coal mines, on as­sem­bly lines, on oil rigs, and in steel mills. To this he added bad-boy ap­peals to sex and vi­o­lence, as when he urged his sup­port­ers in Cedar Rapids in 2016 to “knock the crap” out of heck­lers. Some in­ter­preted this bravado as an un­mis­tak­able sign of in­se­cu­rity; oth­ers saw it as a clear ex­pres­sion of male strength: one web­site for Trump sup­port­ers fea­tured T-shirts with the slo­gan “Fi­nally Some­one with Balls!” No equiv­a­lent shirts emerged for Bernie Sanders.

But some of Trump’s de­ci­sions in of­fice are highly likely to hurt the very men who sup­port him. His pro­posed fed­eral bud­get—although not the one that Congress even­tu­ally passed— slashed pub­lic money for re­gional de­vel­op­ment pro­grams such as the Ap­palachian Re­gional Com­mis­sion, which has a strong record of sup­port­ing job re­train­ing for un­em­ployed coal min­ers. When Trump claims he can re­store blue-col­lar jobs to Amer­i­can men, he per­sis­tently ig­nores the tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments that have brought us the au­to­mated oil rig, the clerk-free store, the self-driv­ing truck. Es­ti­mat­ing the “au­tomata­bil­ity” of each of 702 dif­fer­ent oc­cu­pa­tions, Ox­ford schol­ars found that for der­rick op­er­a­tors it was 80 per­cent, for chem­i­cal plant and sys­tem op­er­a­tors, 85 per­cent, for pe­tro­leum tech­ni­cians, 91 per­cent. Across the na­tion, jobs that have in the past mostly gone to men are now go­ing to robots. Trump’s first choice as sec­re­tary of la­bor, Carl’s Jr. CEO An­drew Puzder, praised robots be­cause they “never take a va­ca­tion, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race dis­crim­i­na­tion case.” Puzder’s “per­fect” ro­bot may be great for com­pany stock­hold­ers, but it is ru­inous for many male work­ers.

Never be­fore has higher ed­u­ca­tion in all its forms—BAs, as­so­ciate de­grees, com­puter-cod­ing pro­grams, job-re­train­ing—mat­tered more for all Amer­i­cans. And never be­fore have Amer­i­can men earned a de­clin­ing pro­por­tion of BAs, while BAs lead to bet­ter wages—es­pe­cially for men. Yet in 2018, Trump pro­posed cut­ting over $200 bil­lion from higher ed­u­ca­tion over the next decade, mainly to re­duce help to stu­dents strug­gling to pay its ris­ing costs. Trump’s pro­posed cuts were large enough, ac­cord­ing to a Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress re­port, to “pay twice over for a decade” of es­tate tax cuts for the rich. While Trump strongly ap­peals to Repub­li­can Fox News–watch­ing men such as Mike Schaff, he is steer­ing fed­eral dol­lars away from the ed­u­ca­tion such men will need for the jobs they badly want. Mean­while Trump is also do­ing noth­ing to help re­di­rect way­ward men from what is now the main source of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism. When he re­vised the US govern­ment’s pro­to­col for com­bat­ting vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, Kim­mel notes, he funded only pro­grams ad­dress­ing “rad­i­cal Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ism” and can­celed fund­ing for those fight­ing white na­tion­al­ism—in­clud­ing Life Af­ter Hate—even though, over the last decade, only 26 per­cent of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated mur­ders in the US have been com­mit­ted by Is­lamic ex­trem­ists and 71 per­cent by right-wing ex­trem­ists. As

I was writ­ing this piece, and think­ing about the dis­con­tents of male iden­tity, the pho­tog­ra­pher Richard Mis­rach hap­pened to send me an ex­tra­or­di­nary set of pho­to­graphs he had shot over the last few years for a new project.6 The im­ages were of graf­fiti scrawled on sur­faces of cracked plas­ter in aban­doned homes, long-for­got­ten weath­ered sheds, or on rocky out­crop­pings in the windswept desert sands of Texas, Ari­zona, New Mex­ico, Cal­i­for­nia, and Ne­vada. “Wher­ever I went,” Mis­rach said, “I saw penises.”

One pe­nis ap­peared on a golden desert boul­der, out­lined by a large heart and ini­tials. An­other ap­peared alone on a wall, for­lornly ejac­u­lat­ing a tear­shaped ho­muncu­lus. One aimed up­ward on the trunk of a tree as if try­ing to climb it. One was marked USAF for the United States Air Force. Yet an­other em­bod­ied the im­age of a skin­head man. In one star­tling case, the male mem­ber was care­fully suited, as though strid­ing off to the of­fice.

There were no im­ages of women. Drawn in aban­doned places where few be­yond a wan­der­ing pho­tog­ra­pher would look, Mis­rach’s anony­mous scrib­bles seemed to ex­press the idea of an or­gan iso­lated, cas­trated, ex­press­ing a story all its own. It was as if mas­culin­ity had lost its way. In some cases, de­tached from a hu­man body, it had at­tached it­self to some­thing else. One pe­nis was ac­com­pa­nied by a swastika, an­other by a “White Power” slo­gan, a third by a Con­fed­er­ate flag.

6Richard Mis­rach, “The Writ­ing on the Wall,” shown at Fraenkel Gallery, San Fran­cisco, July 31–Au­gust 15, 2017.

Chris­tian Pic­ci­olini with a crew of neo-Nazi skin­heads, Ma­ri­etta, Ge­or­gia, 1990

Fra­ter­nity broth­ers at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, 2006. The pho­to­graph is by An­drew Moisey from his book The Amer­i­can Fra­ter­nity: An Il­lus­trated Rit­ual Man­ual, which con­trasts fra­ter­ni­ties’ con­sti­tu­tions, oaths, and rit­u­als with pho­to­graphs re­veal­ing their often un­der­ly­ing vi­o­lence and misog­yny. It is pub­lished this month by Day­light.

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