Changing to Stay the Same: Michael Kimmel and the Rise of the 'New' New Men



In 2009, Miguel Lorente Acosta published "Los Nuevos Hombres Nuevos", or "The 'New' New Men", a critical inquiry detailing how men were adapting in response to feminism in order to maintain gender inequality throughout Spain. The book has no English translation, but it predicts the fall of Michael Kimmel, a foundational expert on masculinity who was accused of favoritism and sexual harassment in 2018 but retired before Title IX charges could be filed. Kimmel's tainted legacy provokes an important question for current and future male-identifying scholars in the field of critical masculinity studies: how can you spot the difference between a pro-feminist man and one of the “new” new men? As the field grows into a source ​​of power and authority, it will continue attracting men like Kimmel—those who seek its cultural and economic advantages in terms of jobs or attentive audiences, but who won’t actively work to reroute the systems and institutions keeping white, cis-hetero men in positions of patriarchal superiority. Combined with the notion of Habermasian “cheap talk,” I will advance Acosta’s claim regarding how men are “changing to stay the same” by altering the idea of masculinity—by tweaking it with metrosexuality, by aligning themselves with women who identify with traditional gender roles, or by taking on more tasks in the domestic sphere such as cooking, etc.—to neutralize the advances of feminism. Then I will demonstrate how Kimmel represents the most dangerous of these “new” new men, as evidenced by the title of his 2015 TED Talk, “Why Gender Equality Is Good For Everyone”, because Acosta noted six years prior, “when seeking equality, men [will argue they] do it better than women...since the position of men seeks the general interest, whereas that of the women only tries to obtain benefits for them.”


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Jess Flarity

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Submission Details

Conference GRC
Event Graduate Research Conference
Department English (GRC)
Group Oral Presentation
Added April 4, 2022, 10:03 a.m.
Updated April 4, 2022, 10:03 a.m.
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