A skeptical look at the Manosphere

Doing my research about the racialists, I came across that internet subculture called ‘The Manosphere’.  Following on my anti-racialist Q & A, I thought it’d be interesting to investigate this next.  What I found, however, wasn’t as clear cut as the racialists.

If you don’t know anything about this phenomenon, here’s a good article from Taki’s magazine.  Here is J.J. McCullough’s article on Reactionary Douchebag Conservatism, also pertinent:

Young guys of this strain of thought (and they are almost all guys) are more pissed off about social liberalism, because they view it as a threat to their douchebaggy lifestyle. Which is to say, a lifestyle of smoking cigars, eating steaks, banging chicks, driving fast cars, calling people fags, and so on. So their counter-philosophy is to raise the lifestyle of a douchey jerk to the highest embodiment of traditional masculinity (and traditional western culture) and to ague for its rehabilitation as the respectable and proper standard of life.

Also Kay Hymowitz’s Child-Man in the Promised Land and Love in the Time of Darwinism.

The Good

  The above considered, people may be wondering how there can be ‘the good.  There’s a lot of truth to the stereotypes – angry, misogynist, etc. – but there is also this:

But apart from their predilection for hairy man ass, they’re just . . . dudes. They read all the other masculine publications out there, they just tend to skip over the straight parts.  That doesn’t make them less masculine, it just places their masculinity in a frame where the slavish devotion to femininity our masculine drive is tuned to is absent.  They are men free to be men without the advice or consent of women.

You see the raging metropolitan queen as gay and can spot him across the room.  But the bearded dude in the flannel and the pick-up, who spends all of his time camping, hunting, fishing, and going to NASCAR races?  He’s just as gay, but he hasn’t let the stereotype of his orientation define his masculinity.

I think that’s well written, and important.  It’s an argument – not a plea, an argument – for gay acceptance that comes from a completely different perspective from all the yells of “That’s offensive!”.  It’s an argument for gay acceptance that is routed in classical masculinity, and I think it will do a power of good.  It’ll reach audiences that a lot of the usual yells never will.  Personally, I’d have focused more on the matter of the capacity for masculine devotion, and linked that to Old Fritz, but it’s still an impressive piece of work.

Similarly, checking out Ironwood’s book on the Manosphere via my Amazon Prime subscription, I find the following:

The Manosphere needs far more distinctly African American voices, bringing their insights and experiences to add to our dirty snowball.  And I don’t just mean college-educated, thoughtful black perspectices.  Let’s bring out  the crazy too.  There are white supremacists aplenty in the Manosphere – some black supremacists would be a welcome balance.  The thing is, they’re both men, dealing with the same issues – women, marriage, divorce, work, kids visitation, child support, dating, relationships, achievement, respect, strength -as the rest of us.

Ending racism through sexism.  I like it.

One can find points of interest everywhere.  On the notorious Return of Kings website, I stumbled across such a post from an African American perspective, on the subject of false rape accusations.  This is a notoriously fraught area – I’d recommend reading the following from Scott Alexander.  It’s hard to get any sort of statistical information on this, though I have seen figures as high as 40% for accusers who later recanted.  Of course, many victims will just recant under the pressure, but many falsely accused will also confess (the innocence project places the rate at about 25%).  That’s for accusations made to the police; as Scott Alexander points out, if such accusations are just made to ruin someone’s reputation, there is a greater ease.

To the aforementioned article, it made the point that false accusations are not distributed evenly.  If you have a situation where a young, black American athlete is the subject of an accusation from a white girl, chances are he will be crucified in the media before any evidence whatsoever is shown.  And that raises the possibility of a well off princess spending a wild night with a sport’s champion, finding out that daddy is less than impressed and crying rape to avoid it – relying on a fear of the ‘black beast’ in society.  The article went on to discuss panics throughout America’s history, even when no victim was even found to make an accusation.

(Digression: these sorts of fears show up across time and space.  Part of the original selling power behind Dracula was the fear of fierce eastern European men coming over and ravishing good English womanhood).

It is, at least, a point worth considering and discussing.

The Bad

On the other side of the coin… well, you will have noticed that Ironwood casually accepts that the Manosphere has plenty of white supremacists, with whom I have dealt with before.  I don’t even need to reference any of the Manosphere’s critics for this section, I can just quote some of its (former) members, and leading lights.

Matt Forney: The Manosphere is Dead and you killed it

The manosphere today is primarily comprised of losers, weirdos and freaks. Cuckold fetishists who orbit Red Pill Women™ begging for stories of them getting fucked by their oh-so-alpha hubbies. Keyboard players who’d rather hate-masturbate to the latest Jezebel article then do something interesting with their lives. 30-year old virgins who lecture other men about “hypergamy” and “solipsism.” Plain Jane groupies who flash their panties at men in exchange for little pats on the head. And they’ll all gladly support frauds, so long as those frauds tell them what they want to hear.

RooshV: The Manosphere is Lost

 The manosphere used to be full of Biggies and Tupacs—now everyone is tripping over themselves to be Drake, blogging and commenting in the hopes they may get laid. (I apologize in advance to the large number of neo-Nazis in the manosphere for comparing them to a man of non-Aryan race.) It’s hard for me to accept that the manosphere is well on its way to becoming a match.com for old people who hate blacks.

There was another one from the ‘Danger & Play’ website that seems to have been taken down, but it was sounding off all the same notes: The Manosphere is full of poseurs… guys who can’t get laid… keyboard warriors… a man acts, he doesn’t posture… you fill in the blanks.

Doesn’t this all sound like exactly the criticisms that the manosphere gets from the outside, even from, dare I say it, feminists?

The Analysis

My own analysis yields up a high level of ‘phoney’.  To return to the D&P for a second, it has posts like “How an Alpha handles a Mugging“. Hooh-boy.  By all means read it, and read his ‘Self-Defence for Men’, and then, for a change, try reading Marc MacYoung’s No Nonsense Self Defence website, where he describes meatheads like this.  D&P makes muscles the centre-piece of ‘whether someone knows what he is talking about when it comes to self-defence’.  As MacYoung points out, muscles, or training for that matter, aren’t that important to a street fighter – because in that world, you have people going for a weapon.  They’ll either pull out a knife, or worse, a gun.

Or take the idea that you should learn martial arts because ‘It’s important to know how to handle yourself in a fight’.  If you want to know how to handle yourself in a fight, join the army or the police.  The founder of Shotokan karate, Gichin Funakoshi, wrote:

 “The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of the participant.”

Sounds a lot less like “new age, hippy bullshit” when you know it’s from the founder of one of the world’s most practiced martial arts, writing at a time of extreme nationalistic and militaristic frenzy.  In point of fact, it reminds me of something that Mandela wrote about how boxing wasn’t about violence, it was about respect for each other and self-disciple.

Oh, and that’s what a real alpha looks like, by the way.  As I’ve had cause to remark elsewhere, that’s what the real Fight Club was.

Where have all the good women gone?

Moving from this to the subject of the Pick Up Artists.  These are a big part of the manosphere, and for those of you who don’t know, these are basically nerds and geeks applying their naturally powers of analysis to reverse-engineering the ways to get laid.

Here I have to make one acknowledgement: the complaints that this kind of thing is ‘misogynist’ are wrongheaded at best.  First of all, you look at most any women’s magazine, there will be a stack of stuff about attracting the opposite sex.  Secondly, and far more pertinently, the fact is you cannot legislate desire.  Try this Xkcd cartoon:   a guy who complains that women say they want nice guys, but they are really attracted to rough, tough bad-boys gets a snarky response about ‘guys who respond to rejection by belittling their judgement and self-awareness’.  Try it the other way around:  what about the girl who complains that guys say they just want to meet a nice girl, but are really attracted to busty, slim, young women? Can you imagine XKCD saying something equivalent about “girls who respond to rejection…”?

SMBC’s “uncomfortable truthersaurus” gets closer to it when he says “95% of people just want someone hot.  100% of people just want someone with a higher social status.”

To return to the subject of the PUA’s, again, I’m going to take another tack.  This article points out that the chap who founded the PUA movement – “Mystery” – was so insecure that he ended up almost killing himself over one rejection.  The article goes on to underline the connection between the PUA lifestyle and narcissism and co-dependency.  Further,  that PUA’s success at bedding women relies to a large extent on pre-selecting the kind of woman that this stuff will work on.

There’s a famous line from The Red Pill Reddit, taken from Radish’s summary of this:

“You are hating women because you have the wrong expectations for them. Don’t hate someone for something they CANNOT be. Women are, by nature, manipulative, attention-seeking, inconsistent, emotional, and hypergamous. Accept this truth. Once you do, you can game women for what they are… not what you want them to be.”

All women are like that, huh?  Really?  Is it just possible that the Red Pill lifestyle encourages people to seek out women like this?

A central part of this is the “alpha fux/beta bux” mythology.  That the young pretty girls will spend their twenties sleeping with dominant, alpha-male bad boys and then, when their looks begin to fade, they will find a reliable, sad-sack beta to pay their bills.

It’s true: girls like this absolutely exist.  I know a few of them – loud ‘party’ girls, and so on.  I’m sure you know girls like this yourself.  The question you should ask yourself is: what proportion of the girls you know are like this, for real?  Entering my fourth decade now, I think it’s something of a minority.  Most men and women I know have had about three or four partners, and then settled into marriage with someone they love.

The Verdict

The manosphere is a mixed bag.  The thing that I think distinguishes it from the almost 100% negative racialists is that the racialists are only about running down others.  If there was anything in the racialist spheres analogous to the Malcolm X idea – of cleaning up your life, building solid communities, organizing education and help etc – I’d have been less condemnatory.   But there isn’t.

The Manosphere is different because it does offer a lot of advice, and a lot of self-improvement, to young men who can use it.  From advice on weight-lifting, to personal finance, to sorting out your career – all of this is specifically tailored to men, and it is very good to do this.  There are a lot of young chaps who don’t have much of a community to offer advice and are at a loss.

The problem is with the rest of it, with the unremitting negativeness, married to a kind of parochialism.  I detest modern feminism, since it seems to be wholly sold out to the sexual revolution, and be solely the province of well off, middle class or higher, first world women, usually in academia.  It has little or nothing of value to say about the continual existence of sexual slavery and trafficking, the gross oppression of women under Islam, domestic violence that has spiked dramatically in the UK or the rest of it.

The issue isn’t so much that the Manosphere doesn’t address these problems, as seem to be completely unaware that they exist.

In fact, a large chunk of the Manosphere seems to be the mirror image of modern feminism, the same way that the racialists are the mirror image of identity politics. Consider Return of Kings article 5 Reasons Fat Girls Don’t Deserve Love.  Mean?  Sure – but no different from “Unworthy Guys: That thing you call Female Privilege is just Whiny Male Syndrome“.  The PUA movement is just “sex positive feminism” adapted for men – if women can have lots of casual sex, and no one is allowed to judge,  why, turnabout is fair play!  The extreme misogyny you can find in this sphere is just like the extreme misandry you can find amongst radical feminists.

I don’t think anything good can be built on such crooked timber.  The easy recourse to outrage, anger and hatred is addictive, but ultimately it destroys people.  If you are part of a movement that readily trains this on outsiders, you’ll find that it readily trains it on you too.  Again, I find modern feminism a good illustration.  Here’s an example, courtesy of the “judgy bitch”, of the kind of tweets the aforementioned Matt Forney gets:

Miss Poppy Leigh ‏@SoFullOfSht 29 Sep

@CozworthGrind  I really hope he meets someone who chops his dick off and feeds it back to him in his food

Charming, huh?

Now try the following article, which is about how radical feminists who think that sex is a social construct, move to the necessary conclusion that there is no such thing as transsexualism, that male to female transsexuals are just motivated by a sexual fetish – and promptly found themselves labelled as ‘terfs’ by transsexual and other feminists:

Abusive posts proliferated on Twitter and, especially, Tumblr. One read, “/kill/terfs 2K14.” Another suggested, “how about ‘slowly and horrendously murder terfs in saw-like torture machines and contraptions’ 2K14.” A young blogger holding a knife posted a selfie with the caption “Fetch me a terf.” .

What goes around, comes around.  Social Justice Warriors have made outrage, anger, hatred and threats their standard modus operandi, and in doing so they taught them to others.  The whole sorry New Yorker story illustrates this.  Eventually, you have people so completely sick of the hate and distrust that they leave in droves – which is why we now have #womenagainstfeminism.  Google it.

How does that relate to the Manosphere?  The aforementioned powerflounces from the ‘sphere all started with a row with the figure who effectively founded it, one ‘Tucker Max’, whose book ‘I hope they serve beer in hell’ could stand as a ‘douchey jerk’ manifesto.  Well, some of the figures who followed him – the aforementioned Matt Forney and Danger & Play – got angry and upset that he turned the same philosophy on them, rubbishing and stealing their work.  They responded with complaints that none of the Manosphere was defending them, damned the thing and headed off.  That in turn lead to further factionalism… you get the idea.

Sic transit and all that…

I do find it something of a pity.  I do think that there does need to be a voice and forum for male issues, for dealing with masculine matters, as there has been for most of history – for the same reason and in the same way that there needs to be the equivalent for female issues.  I also think that an emphasis on self-improvement and action is generally a healthy message.  It’s better to tell the ‘nice guy’ who is upset at his failure to meet girls to exercise, become great at his career and pick up some exciting hobbies, than to tell him ‘just to be himself’.  It’s also good to have something countering the insanity that emerges from so much of modern day feminism.  It’s just that I don’t think that this is it.