Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action

By Frederick R. Lynch | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
INVISIBLE VICTIMS: INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES

We have seen that nearly all of the men in this study either explicitly or implicitly indicated that they feared being thought unmanly if they complained about a reverse discrimination situation. No one wanted to be perceived as a crybaby. And, as we shall see, if they failed to act out this gender-prescribed behavior, the mass media and other institutions were quick to remind them. Sex-role behavior has had a decisive impact upon how men responded to reverse discrimination and upon how others responded as well.

Traditional sex-role norms have long denigrated male expressions of weakness, powerlessness, or individual failure. Traditional inhibitions against viewing males as powerless have been reinforced today by what Warren Farrell terms a "new sexism," a product of women's liberation. The new sexism, with its emphasis on women's victimization by society, refuses to acknowledge men's vulnerability to pain and injury produced by the same social constraints. Contemporary "male bashing" in popular culture furthers a dehumanized, insensitive image of males. Under both old and new sexism, men cannot be seen as victims ( Farrell, 1989: 189-236).

We have seen this victim-denial process illustrated in the previous chapter. Interestingly, the data indicated that this denial process was strongest among men; wives were often the most sympathetic source of support. We must examine further the social and cultural sources of silence or self-blame among men who have encountered affirmative action obstacles.

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