Remember how I was talking about how scary it can be to be a lady on the internet? I didn’t hit on one of the scariest recent phenomena: the manosphere. Over the last few years, an overwhelming surge of blogs, fora, and websites have been created to talk about male issues. This alone isn’t a problem. Men are allowed to talk about their problems with other men. But in the case of most of these sites, the quest for solving men’s issues involves a lot of discrediting women’s issues or discrediting women altogether.
Just like with feminism, the manosphere folks don’t seem to agree about all of their issues, and some cases are more offensive and terrifying than others. So I’ll start with the basics. Most of the blogs stem from the Men’s Rights Movement. This movement, which started in the ’70s but has become exponentially popular in the last few years, sets itself up in opposition to feminism, and professes concern about issues that they believe disadvantage men in today’s society, including family/parental law, domestic violence, military service, education, and the social safety net. Some of these are legitimate concerns, but the problem is how they are frequently expressed in the “safe spaces” of the manosphere. Many Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) get their power from attacking feminists and their issues. Perhaps the largest gathering for MRAs is on reddit.com, a site already accused of being sexist and recently involved in the not-unrelated dispersal of illegal nude photos of female celebrities, on a subreddit called MensRights, which now includes almost 10,000 members. This is a forum in which popular disccusion topics include, “Feminists and Manginas: “Slut shaming is bad. Virgin shaming is great!” (a term thrown around the manosphere frequently which refers to male feminists or male supporters of feminists), “How to expose hypocritical feminists at my school“, “Dear feminists, you having privilege is not discrimination against women, it’s just privilege“, and “Men are better equipped than women to deal with all sorts of situations and better able to adjust, which is a sign of intelligence.” For a group that claims it’s main goals are to fix social issues that negatively affect men, a lot of their rhetoric targets women and feminists. I haven’t read too much in their threads, because I can only handle so much of this nonsense at time, but pretty much anytime someone mentions that certain feminist goals actual line up with MRA ones, because they focus on equality, that person usually gets heavily downvoted. I even read one poor peacekeeper attempt to convince other members that it was in the group’s best interest to not alienate all women and feminists, and this person basically got laughed out of the conversation.
But the MensRights subreddit is only the tip of the iceberg. Some MRAs are also part of the subreddit TheRedPill (a group with over 70,000 members – roughly six times as many as r/puppies, just so you get a general idea of how prevalent this may be) which is based on the premise from The Matrix that those who swallow the red pill are choosing to see the harsh reality, and those who take the blue pill are choosing the comfort of ignorance. But in this case, the harsh reality is…that everything we’ve been taught about being nice and respectful to women is a lie, and that “feminism is a sexual strategy”. Some of their further fun beliefs, included as the tenets of their movement (if you can call it that), are that “women are irrational and inconsistent”, “women are Machiavellian in nature”, “western females are self-entitled”, “women are depreciating assets” who spend most of their youth “riding the cock carousel”, which means “fucking lots of different guys in nightclubs, having flings, being generally irresponsible and riding through life on easy mode getting ahead for no real talent, but because she’s pretty and can give head.” Some of these men try to pretend that this group is not filled with misogynists. Umm…what? The devaluation of women as assets that lose their value due to aging (losing their looks) and how many “cocks” they’ve “ridden”, is disgusting, hateful, and completely disrespectful. They can pretend that this is all just about giving confidence that women have taken from them (I mean, I know that I personally have a box in my closet where I store all the confidence I’ve stolen from women), but it’s really just a poorly thought out excuse they can use for treating women like objects and manipulating them into doing what men want (which is mainly sex, according to the content of this subreddit – am I the only one who thinks that this is a terribly limiting way to view men, as merely sex-crazed predatory types?). Their fundamental assumption seems to be that “well, all women treat men like shit, so I should treat them like shit before they have a chance to”, which might be a rational response if, in fact, all, or even most, women treated men like shit. Based on my own experiences, I’ve found that just as many men are crappy to women as women are crappy to men (frankly, I think more men are crappy, but this may be biased, so I’m going to assume it’s about equal), and I haven’t used this small number as a reason to become an asshole.
Just in case that doesn’t deter you from joining this group, or from supporting their missions, they have an entire glossary of terms and abbreviations, many of which they’ve coined, to set up their system of delusions. Most familiar are probably alphas (leaders, typical “masculine men) and betas (more “feminine” men who like to do nice things, especially for women – the horror!), and somehow redpillers believe that all men fall into one of these two categories, as do all behaviors. Then there are “incels”, or “involuntary celibates” – some of you might recognize this term. Guess why? Because this is how Elliot Rodger referred to himself. A sane person might just call this a single person who either doesn’t enjoy/pursue or is unable to effectively find casual sex. If this idea, and the terminology, makes you nervous, you’re having a normal reaction. The terms sets up the understanding that sex is something owed to men, and when they don’t get it, it’s because women aren’t giving it to them. Fun stuff, right? There’s also the Friendzone, which I’ll talk more about later, because that’s another rabbit hole altogether. There’s “plate theory”, which is the idea that women are plates that you spin once, then move onto another one. Sometimes you can return to plates, but they exist strictly for sex, and almost exclusively in addition to other plates. And, of course, there’s SMV, or sexual market value, a key component in their teachings. For women, this number comes mostly from their appearance (at least, until they hit their “wall” – the point at which their SMV starts decreasing rapidly, as does their power over men), while for men, it can come from their alpha qualities, job/social standing, and wealth. When I first read all of this, I thought it was an elaborate hoax. No one could really think like this, right? So, so wrong. And these are just the things you find in their foundational texts – the actual threads and comments are worse. And some of these redpillers will wonder around other subreddits, or feminist spaces, to try to convince others that their ways are rational, logical, and beneficial for all. It’s like their trying to be sexual manipulation missionaries.
Another overlapping group are the “Men Going Their Own Way”, or the MGTOW. This group may be even more hateful then the redpillers. I don’t think they even try to hide their misogyny. This group consists mainly of bitter divorced men, and very young guys who haven’t had much luck in the dating world, and who have decided to give up on dating altogether. Which is funny, because for men who are done with dating, they spend a decent amount of time on OKCupid. At one point, they posted a profile of a 24 year old woman whose biggest offense was that while she detests when friends or guys she’s met in person don’t respond to texts, she admits to being flaky responding to OKC messages. Now, if they wanted to just point out this discrepancy, I wouldn’t take issue with it. But no. They went on to claim her as a slut who, because she looks older than her age, shouldn’t be dated, but rather “fucked and chucked”. The 1702 that’s part of her username must be her “cock count”. They mock her appearance, and label here a dumb whore. And some other, possibly worse insults. In response, she wrote an article about all of this for xojane, a feminist-leaning site, where she mostly just seemed amused by their endless angry and hatred for women. The MGTOWs found out, and trolled the comments section to call her out, and basically to call all women “fat cunts.” Because there’s nothing the MGTOW hate more than fat women. HOW DARE ALL WOMEN NOT APPEAL TO MY SPECIFIC STANDARDS OF BEAUTY? Then again, I’ve heard some of these men refer to Jennifer Lawrence as “fat”, so it sounds like their main criterion is “woman who who never in a million years want to sleep with me”. Which is accurate, because what self-respecting woman would want to have sex with, or even associate with, such misogynists? I checked out some other discussions on one of the MGTOW fora, and found another post with OKC profiles and pictures from a few random users. While they weren’t the most interesting profiles (the users mention liking music and hikes, or cooking, but were vague and generic), but they got hatred spewed at them for being single moms (all single moms want to find a man who will pay for her kids – they actually believe this), looking a few years older then their actual age, and for having boring interests. And I’m not talking about people pointing out that they are boring. That’s valid. But that they are disgusting sluts who should get banged and then thrown out? (And about 30 more similarly absurd comments). No. No, no, no, no.
And these sites don’t exist in isolation. There are pickup artists sites with advice on improving your game. Don’t forget to “neg” a woman if you want your attention. Well, not all women. Only the 8s, 9s, and 10s. They’re the ones who will act like the don’t have time for you. Say something mean to her, and she’ll HAVE to talk to you. One of these blogs for pickup artists types, Return of Kings, has such delightful posts as “No One Would Have Died if PUAhate Elliot Rodger Learned Game”, “5 Tips for Getting a Quality Foreign Woman”, and “How Much is Your Cost Per Orgasm (CPO)?”. Another blog, TheAntifeminist, the author responds to any remotely dissenting (note: not aggressive, nasty, or name-calling. Merely any discussion of a different opinion) which charming one lingers like “If you have a degree then you’re already well past peak sexual attractiveness and in a truly free sexual market most men probably wouldn’t even look at you”, “You stupid fucking bitch, learn to read” and “Now f*** off you retarded whore”. It’s one thing when trolls invade and say these things, but it seems like the author should be civil enough to at least refute these people, rather than bully and insult them. When another commenter suggested that these kinds of responses would alienate potential female readers, the author replied that, “And they’re not particularly welcome here”. He claimed that any women who agreed were just trying to get men back on their side so that they would be sexually favorable again, and they they were all working with agendas. Because…this guy obvious doesn’t have one. And there many other sites just like the ones I’ve looked at.
Now, normally I would just chalk this up to the internet intensifying people’s shitty behavior, but the numbers are pretty terrifying. As are the demographics: they’re 98% male (not surprising), 94% atheist (not sure what this means yet), 87% aged 17-20 (also not terrible surprising), and 98% white…there it is. Reddit itself is fairly white, around 77%, but this is a much whiter subset of reddit users. There are some theories floating around about why it’s mostly white men involved in the Men’s Rights Movement: they are finally feeling what it’s not like to have overwhelming privilege is the main one. I think they feel a little left out: women have feminists (not that men can’t be feminists!), and other minorities can fight for their specific rights, and for barriers to their success to be removed. But as the most privileged group, white men feel a bit persecuted. So they’re lashing out. So their story is that they aren’t privileged. That, in fact, it’s women who have all of this wonderful privilege. When asked what issue they support, 84% chose legalizing marijuana, while 10% or less chose gay marriage, trans rights, abortion, socialized medicine, increasing the minimum wage, and gun control. They overwhelmingly identify as strongly conservative. So, they’re not terribly concerned about LGBT folks, women, poor people, or sick people. You know – many of the people who might experience systematic oppression. 88% answered that they believe they are largely more socially disadvantaged than women, and a whopping 93% believe that women also have large legal advantages (so when they try to say that they’re just trying to voice men’s views because they aren’t being otherwise heard, keep this in mind!).
And there follows an alarming narrative that is perpetuated throughout the manopshere about dating. There’s the nice guy. Oh, he’s so nice. I mean, he has to be – he keeps telling us that he is! So he makes lots of friends who are ladies, because of the niceness. But none of the ladies want to play hide the salami with him. Well, at least, this is the conclusion that our nice guy draws, because it doesn’t happen. Even though he tells her nothing of his, erm, feelings. So now she is a terrible person, because she put this sweetheart in the FRIENDZONE! Don’t look for it on a map, guys, it’s not a real place. It’s not even a real concept. It’s just you being pissed because a.) a friend did not want do the ol’ in-and-out with you, and b.) your friend is also not a psychic. But now our little hero is alone and listless. So he goes to the internet to find dates. And he messages the 100 most attractive women on the site. But…none of them respond! No one wants him! At no point does our nice guy think, hmm, maybe I should focus on finding a lady who has common interests, or who shares my beliefs! Or, I bet there are some moderately attractive ladies out there who would like me. No, he deserves the best! After all, he’s so nice! He can’t stoop to average, even if he is boring, unintelligent, and unattractive himself. And so, he bemoans the ladies. Why don’t any of you like me? Why are you all so shallow? Why do you only date jerks? And he makes a decision. Women are all sluts, whores, and bitches. They are vain, stupid, manipulative, and ugly. And they are all fat! And he puts little dogmatic bandages on his heart as he becomes a Man who Goes His Own Way, and begins to spread the world the womenfolk are out to destroy men, and that they are not to be trusted.
As it turns out, nice guy, you aren’t actually that nice. You make friends with women because you want to get into their pants, and then are angry when they exercise their right freely choose the men they date. This is not nice – this is manipulative. If this is all you want from this friendship, then you weren’t looking for a friendship, and you are being dishonest. And while you judge all women as shallow, you are unwilling to lower your standards to a woman who isn’t stunning, or who is maybe a few pounds overweight. You aren’t being nice; you are being judgmental and narrow-minded, and you need to stop assuming that the blame should be placed on all women, or even any women.
Now, don’t get this confused with the friend who turns into a love interest scenario. I’ve been on the crushing side of a mixed gender friendship, too. But see, I TOLD the guys. One of them was a jerk about it – he pretended like I hadn’t said it, and spent the next few months whining about his problems but not bothering to listen to mine. We’re not really friends anymore. A second was very sweet about it – he told me he was flattered, but didn’t see as as more than friends. We were never best buds anyway, but we’re on good terms, and he used to invite me to his comedy shows when he was performing in Seattle. And a third became my first boyfriend. We’re still on good terms, though I don’t see him much as he lives on the other side of the country. It’s okay to develop feelings for friends. Or to stay friends with someone you once had feelings for. But it’s not okay to be friends with someone just because you want t date them. Women aren’t a sex company that you’re investing your time in. That kind of relationship will almost never pay off for you. You are not entitled to women or their bodies. Your supposed niceness does not guarantee you anything. You need to shed this story that our culture has built for you that you are superior to everyone, and that you are owed things in life because of this. And, maybe you should try…actually being nice? It’s a start.