Editor's note: Michael Kimmel is distinguished professor of sociology at Stony Brook University and author of "Guyland" and "The Guy's Guide to Feminism," among other books.
By Michael Kimmel, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Some years ago, I appeared on a well-known television talk show opposite four "angry white men": four men who believed they had been discriminated against in the workplace by affirmative action programs initiated, they argued, by feminist women.
Each man told his story of how he was qualified for a job or qualified for a promotion that he did not get because of this putative reverse discrimination against white men. One ended his remarks with a line that served as the title for this show: "A black woman stole my job," he declared.
Asked to respond, I had but one question for these guys, a question about the title of the show. Actually, my question was about one word in the title of the show. I wanted to know about the word "my." Why did the men think it was their job? Why wasn't the title of the show "A black woman got a job" or "A black woman got the job"? The answer, I argued, was that these men felt entitled to the position, and that any effort to make the workplace more equal was perceived, by those men, as a loss.
I thought of those men recently while reading Suzanne Venker's addled rant against feminist women as the source of the unhappiness that saturates male-female relationships. I thought of how painful it is when you are used to having everything to now have only 80%. What a loss! Poor us! Equality sucks when you've been on top - and men have been on top for so long that we think it's a level playing field.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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