Kimmel, M. and A. Ferber. 2000. “‘White Men Are This Nation’: Right-Wing Militias and the Restoration of Rural American Masculinity.”

Kimmel, Michael and Abby L. Ferber.  2000. “’White Men Are This Nation’: Right-Wing Militias and the Restoration of Rural American Masculinity.” Rural Sociology 65(4): 582-604.

Media depictions of right-wing militias a rural, lower middle class, racist, sexist, anti-semetic, homophobia – but rarely focus on masculinity as a cohesive and salient factor for these groups – masculinity as an analytic lens used to differentiate self and subordinate others. Militia masculinity as “a self-reliant, self-made masculinity endemic to American history” (582).  Global economic changes impacts rural lives throughout industrial (kx^ and semi-industrial world)-  (Bonanno et al 1994, Jobes 1997, McMichael 1994). Experiences of corporate downsizing, massive layoffs, decline in real wages, technological shifts, class gap, immigration impacting manufacturing jobs, introduction of low-paying service jobs, market uncertainty.  International agreements increased international agricultural imports, and exports, creating uncertainty for rural workers. Experiences of downward mobility from high-paying, (breadwinning) jobs (Weis 1993).  (kx^ writes of these experiences in the 1980’s and impacts felt in the 1990’s… still same rhetoric used today!)

Desperation, suspicion of government, suicidal drives – loss of lands, jobs, meanings, place – “It is not only many rural men, however, who have faced wrenching economic transformations; many urban men too have tasted the good life and have fallen from it” (585).

“It is hardly, surprising, then, that American men lacking confidence in the government and the economy, troubled by the changing relations between the sexes, uncertain of their identity or their future begin to dream, to fantasize about the powers and features of another kind of man who could retake and reorder the world.  And the hero of all these dreams was the para-military warrior” (Gibson 1994, 11).

“The American dream of the middle class has all but disappeared, substituted with people struggling just to buy next week’s groceries” – Timothy McVeigh, in letter to hometown editor a few years before Oklahoma City Bombing (in Dyer 1997, 63).

“And when it became evident that sons would not inherit that legacy [fathers’ statuses and security as businessmen and artisans], some of them became murderously angry at a system that emasculated their fathers and threatened their own manhood” (589).

Farmwork traditional performed by men; women’s labor supervised by men, or gender-divided so that caretaking and housekeeping as alternatives.  Farm crisis of 1980s drew women out of farm work and into supplemental or breadwinning jobs in cities – a threat to gendered division of labor.

Life in small towns and non-metro areas where “traditional gender norms emphasizing primacy of men’s employment or the appropriateness of particular occupations for each gender” (Cotter et al 1996, 273).

“The far right didn’t create bigotry in the Midwest; it didn’t need to. […] It merely had to tap into the existing undercurrent of prejudice once this had been inflamed by widespread economic failure and social discontent” (591).

“These scions of small-town rural America, both the fathers and the sons, are not characterized only by their ideological vision of producerism, threatened by economic transformation; nor only by their sense of small-town democratic community, an inclusive community that was based upon the exclusion of broad segments of the population.  They are also marked by their sense of entitlement to economic, social, political, and even military power.  To cast middle-class straight white men as simply as the hegemonic holders of power in America prevents us from comprehending their feelings of loss.  They believed that they were entitled to power by a combination of historical legacy, religious fiat, biological destiny, and moral legitimacy” (592). This, threatened by women, nonwhites, immigrants, Jews, government.

Emasculation observed through government control over personal rights, gun control, entering international agreements, taxation, immigration issues — where the state must serve others instead of the “interests” of white men.

Feminism as masculinization of women; state is a mechanism of gender inversion – feminization of men; reclaimed through the Othering of men, who are simultaneously “too masculine” in sexuality/business or “not masculine enough” in sexuality or business.

Of WN:  “It is our RACE we must preserve, not just one class… White Power means a permanent end to unemployment because with the non-Whites gone, the labor market will no longer be over-crowded with unproductive niggers, spics, and other racial low-life.  It means an end to inflation, eating up a man’s paycheck faster than he can raise it because OUR economy will not be run by a criminal pack of international Jewish bankers, bent on using the White worker’s tax money in selfish and even destructive schemes” (600, see also Daniels 1997; Ferber 1998, 140).

Print-era magazines rife with physical and emotional domination and “reclamation” of power from “bullies” and “threats”


Bonanno, A., L. Busch, W. Friedland, L. Gouveia, and E. Mingione, eds. 1994. From Columbus to Conagra: The Globalization of Agriculture and Food. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Cotter, D.A., J. De Fiore, J.M. Hermsen, B. Marsteller Kowalewski, and R. Vanneman. 1996. “Gender Inequality in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas.” Rural Sociology 61: 272-288.

Daniels, J. 1997. White Lies: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in White Supremacist Discourse. New York: Routledge.

Dyer, J. 1997. Harvest of Rage: Why Oklahoma City Is Only the Beginning. Boulder: Westview.

Ferber, A.L. 1998. White Man Falling: Race, Gender and White Supremacy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Gibson, J.W.  1994. Warrior Dreams: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America. New York: Hill and Wang.

Jobes, P.C.  1997. “Gender Competition in the Preservation of Community in the Allocation of Administrative Positions in Small Rural Towns in Montana: A Research Note.Rural Sociology 62: 315-334.

McMichael, P. 1994. The Global Restructuring of Agro-Food Systems. Ithaca: Cornell University.

Weis, L. 1993. “White Male Working Class Youth: An Exploration of Relative Privilege and Loss.” In Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race and Gender in United States Schools, edited by L. Weis and M. Fine. Albany: SUNY Press.


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