Michael S. Kimmel

The Sociology of Masculinity: Men Confronting Sexism

Ideal Use: gender and women studies, Women’s History Month, masculinity, men’s issues programs

Michael S. Kimmel is a sociologist and author who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity.


His latest book, GUYLAND: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men provides the first convincing definition for this emergent, culturally dominant group of young men who, in another generation, would be readily preparing to strike out on their own, cultivate long-term professional careers and/or moving on to marriage and families, but are instead settling into a complacent, homogenous existence in which their thoughts, attitudes and relationships are completely dictated by their equally complacent peers and driven by an anachronistic, outdated view of masculinity.

His other books on masculinity include Changing Men: New Directions in Research on Men and Masculinity (Sage, 1987) and Men Confront Pornography (Crown, 1990), which was called “revelatory” (Kirkus) and “timely and valuable” (Village Voice). His book, Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the United States, 1776-1990 (Beacon, 1992), is a documentary history of men who supported women’s equality since the founding of the country. This “inspiring, path-breaking collection of remarkable documents” (Dissent) was also called “meticulously researched” (Booklist) and a “pioneering volume” which “will serve as an inspirational source book for both women and men.” (Publishers’ Weekly).

His book, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (Free Press, 1996) was published to significant acclaim. Reviewers called the book “wide-ranging, level headed, human and deeply interesting” (Kirkus), “superb… thorough, impressive and fascinating” (Chicago Tribune), “perceptive and refreshing” (Indianapolis Star). One reviewer wrote that “Kimmel’s humane, pathbreaking study points the way toward a redefinition of manhood that combines strength with nurturing, personal accountability, compassion and egalitarianism” (Publishers’ Weekly). Another called it “the most wide-ranging, clear-sighted, accessible book available on the mixed fortunes of masculinity in the United States” (San Francisco Chronicle). Another called it “a cultural history as readable and fascinating as Kate Millet’s epoch-making Sexual Politics (Booklist). The book also received impressive reviews in The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post Book World (front page review), and The New York Times Book Review, which noted that this “concise, incisive” the book “elucidates the masculine ideals of the past 200 years…just as shelves of feminist books have elucidated the feminine.”

An edited book, The Politics of Manhood (Temple University Press, 1996) develops a debate and dialogue between pro-feminist men and the mythopoetic men’s movement, best known through the work of Robert Bly. Bly and Kimmel have recently begun a series of public debates and dialogues about the politics of men’s movements. Kimmel’s book, The Gendered Society was published by Oxford University Press in 2000.

Kimmel is also a well-known educator concerning gender issues. His innovative course, Sociology of Masculinity, is one of the few courses in the nation that examines men’s lives from a pro-feminist perspective, and has been featured in newspaper and magazine articles (The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, People and television shows, such as “Donahue,” “Sonia Live,” “The Today Show,” CNN, “Smithsonian World,” “Bertice Berry” and “Crossfire.” His co-edited college textbook, Men’s Lives (5th edition) has been adopted in virtually every course on men and masculinity in the country.

His written work has appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals, including The New York Times Book Review, The Harvard Business Review, The Nation, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, and Psychology Today, where he was a Contributing Editor and columnist on male-female relationships. On the basis of his expertise, Kimmel served as an expert witness for the U.S. Department of Justice in the VMI and Citadel cases.

Kimmel is National Spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), and has lectured at over 200 colleges and universities, and run workshops for organizations and public sector organizations on preventing sexual harassment and implementing gender equity, and for campus groups on date and acquaintance rape, sexual assault, pornography, and the changing relations between women and men.

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