GRSJ224/The ‘Manosphere’ and the Alt-Right

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The ‘manosphere’ is the catch-all term used to describe loosely associated online spaces where users express extreme anti-feminist and anti-women’s rights attitudes and beliefs.[1] These online communities vary in terms of their purposes; however, there is an overarching purpose of upholding traditional ideas of masculinity, the disparagement of girls and women, and an apparent preference for Alt-Right ideologies and movements.[2] Specifically, these communities include MGTOW (men going their own way), PUA (pick-up artists), the Red Pill (the rejection of corrupting influences, i.e., women), Incels (involuntarily celibate), among others (Lyons; Winter). Because of its anti-progressive stances, the manosphere has also become a de facto community for Alt-Right movements.[3]

Reclaiming Traditional Ideas of Masculinity

The vast number of men who are part of the manosphere are reclaiming traditional ideas of masculinity that adhere to rigid gender roles in the effort to garner support and to air their grievances against feminist ideas.[4] As such, the manosphere has emerged out of a backlash against feminism and progressivism and attempts to impede social change that goes against the traditional gender roles that have perpetuated throughout history.[5] These traditional gender roles can be best described as hegemonic masculinity—a glorified version of traditional masculinity that also works to subjugate and disparage girls and women and non-conforming individuals to uphold the social norms that allow men, as a collective group, to possess social power and retain privilege. ‘Reclaiming’ these ideas of masculinity has emerged due to the belief that women are becoming more empowered at the expense of men.[4] In other words, many men in the manosphere believe that they are disempowered while women are imbued to social advantage.[4] Men’s rights activism (MRA) has become more widespread, as well as MGTOW (men going their own way), as these movements are meant to

Framing Men’s Issues within Traditional Ideas of Masculinity

The manosphere and its many different communities and movements use traditional ideas of masculinity to frame men’s issues. For example, men’s rights activists (MRAs) argue that women are privileged in the eyes of the law in regard to family court, as men/fathers are often denied custody and/or visitation rights if their children in favor of women/mothers.[6] MRAs and MGTOW (men going their own way) claim that marriage favors women because women receive the benefit of a man to care and pay for her, while the man is expected to work and support the household.[5] Further, MRAs argue that women committing domestic violence against men is more common than violence against women, and that despite this, men are still more likely to be arrested and serve time for domestic violence.[7] While these are no statistics and reports to back up these claims, MRAs insist that women are privileged in modern, Western society, and that men must fight against feminism and other modern systems that are taking power away from men.[4] These issues, therefore, are framed from the perspective of traditional masculinity, as the traditional family unit and traditional gender roles upheld the correct power balance structure in which women/mothers are the caregivers and homemakers and men are the supporters, and when this structure is off-balance, society suffers.[8]

Red Pilling and the Alt-Right

Red pilling is described as the process of becoming ‘aware’ of the world and society, and in becoming aware of reality, one is finally free and empowered.[2] Red pilling is often associated with online anti-social justice, anti-feminist and Alt-Right movements that have emerged in the rejection of multiculturalism and globalism.[2] Red pilling is also often referred to as ‘uncucking’, which is an apparent sexist term that is used to disparage women and men who are not part of the manosphere.[2] ‘Uncucking’ is the process of becoming aware of how liberal beliefs such as feminism and multiculturalism have emasculated men and left them powerless in society.[2] Therefore, to become ‘uncucked’, men must reassert their dominance and masculinity. Red pill communities can be found almost exclusively online on platforms like Reddit and in Alt-Right hubs such as 4chan and 8chan, among others.[2] In this regard, red pilling communities are some of the main pathways to Alt-Right beliefs and ideologies.

MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way)

MGTOW is an online community that takes a wholly anti-feminist stance. MGTOW originated online and most of the community still operates through online spaces only. Men who are a part of MGTOW have made the decision to live life free of women in terms of forming romantic attachments and relationships because they believe that men will always be at a disadvantage with women and cannot ‘win’ in a relationship with women in modern society.[9] Some of the talking points of MGTOW include: women are hypergamous, meaning that they are always on the lookout for a ‘better’ man, one who is better looking, wealthier and more powerful; women are incapable of logic and long-term planning as they are naturally hedonistic and materialistic; women are at an advantage legally and socially, e.g., divorce, alimony, sexual relationships, child custody, etc.; and women benefit from double standards.[9] These beliefs have driven men to the decision that they should not pursue any romantic or friendly relationships with women and that society should revert back to a more masculine and anti-feminist belief system. These beliefs go hand-in-hand with those of the Alt-Right—that feminism has effectively ‘ruined’ society and that men are now disadvantaged.

The Manosphere and Troll Culture

The manosphere, especially Incel communities and other communities targeting younger men, use troll and meme culture to recruit and spread their ideologies and beliefs. The Alt-Right has also heavily relied on these same tactics for recruitment purposes.[10] Trolling and memes work well on certain audiences who are attracted to humor that is hyperbolic, ironic and ‘edgy’, typically younger audiences who also think of themselves as part of the counterculture or far removed from the mainstream.[10] The manosphere and the Alt-Right use irony as a central component to differentiate themselves from feminist culture and other social justice movements. Trolling and memes in the manosphere and the Alt-Right are typically provocative and antagonizing so that they get a rise our of their opponents (or enemies) while at the same time attracting like-minded individuals who will then help spread the same messages and content to other online spaces or within their same communities.[11] Most of the messages are filled with hateful racist and sexist content.[11]

References

  1. Ging, Debbie. "Alphas, betas, and incels: Theorizing the masculinities of the manosphere." Men and Masculinities (2017): 1097184X17706401.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Kelly, Annie. "The alt-right: Reactionary rehabilitation for white masculinity." Soundings 66.66 (2017): 68-78.
  3. Winter, Aaron. "Online Hate: From the Far-Right to the ‘Alt-Right’and from the Margins to the Mainstream." Online Othering. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019. 39-63.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Schmitz, Rachel, and Emily Kazyak. "Masculinities in cyberspace: An analysis of portrayals of manhood in men’s rights activist websites." Social Sciences 5.2 (2016): 18.   
  5. 5.0 5.1 Farrell, Tracie; Fernandez, Miriam; Novotny, Jakub and Alani, Harith (2019). Exploring Misogyny across the Manosphere in Reddit. In: WebSci ’19 Proceedings of the 10th ACM Conference on Web Science, pp. 87–96.
  6. Marwick, Alice E., and Robyn Caplan. "Drinking male tears: language, the manosphere, and networked harassment." Feminist Media Studies 18.4 (2018): 543-559.
  7. Gotell, Lise, and Emily Dutton. "Sexual violence in the ‘manosphere’: Antifeminist men’s rights discourses on rape." International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 5.2 (2016): 65.
  8. Dragiewicz, Molly, and Ruth M. Mann. "Special edition: Fighting feminism–organised opposition to women’s rights; Guest editors’ introduction." International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 5.2 (2016): 1-5.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lin, Jie Liang. "Antifeminism Online. MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way)." (2017): 77-96.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Nagle, Angela. Kill all normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the alt-right. John Hunt Publishing, 2017.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Heikkilä, Niko. "Online antagonism of the alt-right in the 2016 election." European Journal of AmericanSstudies 12.12-2 (2017).