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The Feminist Wire: Taking the white man-boy seriously

The white man-boy is the most important cultural figure in America today.

Hyperbole?  Maybe.

But, allow me to make a case that the ‘white man-boy industrial complex’ is producing ways of being and knowing the world, particularly for white men, that threaten the social interests (if not rights) of women and people of color in contemporary American culture and little critical attention is being given to this phenomenon.

What do I mean by ‘the white man-boy industrial complex’?

I mean the lucrative constellation of industries that produce movies, television shows, music, books, magazines, advertising, and a range of other products that have made popular the idea that white guys today are refusing to grow up, retreating to fratriarchal spaces and ‘man caves,’ reviving racist and sexist humor with irony, and seeking liberation from women they imagine as trying to castrate them (usually metaphorically).

The white man-boy market was initially a niche, but now must be seen as defining ‘the mainstream.’  The white man-boy industrial complex sells its wares to white men of various social classes.  Socialized around the idea that masculinity is a style performed through conspicuous consumption, these men range in age from awkward teens, to twentysomethings who may imagine themselves caught up in a quarterlife crisis, to thirty- and fortysomethings who may be trying to ironically hold onto their youths while denying that that is what they’re up to.