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Antifeminism Online MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way): Ethnographic Perspectives Across Global Online and Offline Spaces

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Antifeminism Online
MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way)
Jie Liang Lin
introDuCtion
Reactionary politics encompass various ideological strands within the online
antifeminist community. In the mass media, events such as the 2014 Isla Vista
killings or #gamergate,2 have brought more visibility to the phenomenon.
Although antifeminism online is most commonly associated with middle-
class white males, the community extends as far as female students and
professionals. It is associated with terms such as: “Men’s Rights Movement”
(MRM), “Meninism,” the “Red Pill,” the “Pick-Up Artist” (PUA), #gamergate,
and “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW)—the group on which I focused
my study.
I was interested in how MGTOW, an exclusively male, antifeminist group
related to past feminist movements in theory, activism and community
structure. I sought to understand how the internet aects “antifeminist”
identity formation and articulation of views. Like many other antifeminist
1 | On May 23, 2014 Elliot Rodger, a 22-year old, killed six and injured 14 people in Isla
Vista—near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus—as an act of retribution
toward women who didn’t give him attention, and men who took tho se women away from
him. Rodger kept a diary for t hree years in anti cipation of his “endgame,” and subs cribed
to antifeminist “Pick-Up Artist” videos. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/26/justice/
california-elliot-rodger-timeline/ Acces sed: March 28, 2016.
2 | #gamergate refers to a campaign of intimidation of female game programmers:
Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, from 2014 to 2015. ht t p: //
time.com/3510381/gamergate-faq/ Accessed: March 28, 2016.
3 | cf. https://fightingfeminism.wordpress.com/
4 | cf. http://ww w.bbc .c om/news/m agaz ine-25462758
5 | A term appropriated from the popular film The Matrix (1999). I will discuss this later.
6 | cf. ht tp://www.returnofkings.com/
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groups, MGTOW comprises of mostly straight, white, middle-class men
from North America and Europe. Unlike other antifeminist groups, MGTOW
espouse the abandonment of women and a Western society that has been
corrupted by feminism. The existing system, to them, is impossible to amend,
so MGTOWs are “going their own way.”
MGTOW believe that they are victims of “gynocentrism,” that the male
gender role entraps men as silent breadwinners. Through technological
advancement, men as a “race,” have essentially dug their own graves by creating
technological advances leading to public spheres and digital phenomena such
as “selfie-culture,” wherein females are privileged and rewarded for their
“narcissistic tendencies,” while rendering “the average guy” inconsequential.
Convinced that feminism will ultimately bring about societal demise, MGTOW
vow to expunge themselves of gynocentric influences, and to nurse their
besieged masculinities with the support of other men online. At the core of
their philosophy is a neo-individualistic dogma to live on one’s own terms at
all costs. There is discussion of “actualized” masculinity, and nostalgia for
American vistas and the old frontiers. The MGTOW community has its own
figures, video feeds, websites, Facebook groups and subreddit. In his video
“Double Standards,” Sandman, a prominent MGTOW YouTube content creator
airs:
Double standards, cock-blocking and pecking order all go in hand in hand, and it’s
human nature and there’s nothing we can do about. All we can do is accept it and realize
its a bunch of bullshit, plain and simple...The evolutionary and scientific arguments for
MGTOW has been laid. The theoretical framework has been laid down for MGTOW for the
most par t. The new world has been discovered and explored, but it hasn’t been settled
and colonized. The first MGTOW’s were like Christopher Columbus, who discovered the
new world, or James Cook, who provided the first map of the Pacific Ocean, or even like
Lewis and Clark who explored the interior of the North American Continent. But now it’s
time to settle t hat landscape, and tell our own stories, make MGTOW about our personal
journeys. If any of you have driven down I-95, the busiest highway in the East coast of
the United States, you’ll know you can drive all the way down from Canada all the down
to Florida in about 24 hours. And along the way you’ll see a lot of fast food joints and
motels to stop along the way[...]
7 | A classified area of interest on Reddit. cf. https://www.reddit.com/reddits/
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liter ature re vie w
In his “Lectures in Ethics,” Immanuel Kant (1920[1997]) defined objectification
as the use of a person as a thing. Kant provides the example of concubinage,
wherein the female concubine gives herself over fully to the man, while the
man, who has multiple concubines, does not fully submit to her. This unequal
relationship sets the basis for the man to use his concubine as a thing in a
dehumanizing way. For Kant, marriage was the only moral commercium sexuale
in which both parties can morally yield to their sexual impulses.
(I)f a person allows himself to be used, for profit, as an object to satisfy the sexual
impulse of another, if he makes himself the object of another’s desire, then he is
disposing over himself, as if over a thing, and thereby makes himself into a thing...Now
since the other’s impulse is directed to sex and not to humanity, it is obvious that the
person is in part surrendering his humanit y, and is thereby at risk in regard to the ends
of moralit y. (Kant 1997: 157)
Following Kant’s line of argument, objectification is immoral because the body
cannot rightfully be separated from the self.
Second-wave feminist Catharine McKinnon built on Kant’s link between
sex and objectification for an anti-pornography campaign. In “Feminism
Unmodified,” she charges that pornography educates men to view women on
objectifying and violent terms.
Gender emerges as the congealed form of the sexualization of inequality between men
and women [...] Aggression against those with less power is experienced as sexual
pleasure, an entitlement of masculinity. For the female, subordination is sexualized,
in the way that dominance is for the male, as pleasure as well as gender identity, as
femininity. Sexism will be a political inequality that is sexually enjoyed, if unequally so.
(McKinnon 1987: 7)
In “Gender Movements,” Cynthia Pelak, Verta Taylor and Nancy Whittier
(1999) designate the popularized perception of rape—as being more than just
a sexual act, but actually as an act of violence—as a success of the Feminist
movement (ibid: 159).
Second-wave feminists promoted two types of organizational structures:
first was the bureaucratic, democratic structure of larger organizations—such
as the National Organization for Women (NOW); second was the smaller,
collective structure led by feminist radicals. Bookstores, theater groups, music
collectives, poetry groups, art collectives, publishing and recording companies,
8 | cf. ht tp://now.org
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spirituality groups, vacation resorts, and self-help groups were largely
maintained by feminist lesbians and nurtured a feminist collective identity in
the 1980s and 1990s (Pelak et al. 1999: 158-159). Feminist collectives organized
themselves in a way that reflected or prefigured their values. Feminists strove
to construct a women’s culture “valorized by egalitarianism, the expression of
emotion and the sharing of personal experience” (ibid.). They made decisions
by consensus, rotated leadership and other tasks among members and shared
skills to avoid hierarchy and specialization. The attempt to form a women’s
culture also furthered a larger social movement community outside formal
organizations (ibid.).
Within the climate of re-emergent feminist activity, it also became possible
to conceive of a “men’s liberation.” Men’s liberation rhetoric and literature
“optimistically posited men’s liberation as the logical flip side of women’s
liberation” (Messner 1998). In the 1970s, men in colleges and universities
across America organized male consciousness and collectivity workshops,
groups and newsletters for men, which were sometimes included in women’s
liberation gatherings. Tensions and limitations in men’s liberation discourse
soon split the men’s liberation movement into divided camps: antifeminists
and pro-feminists. Problematically, men’s liberation groups attempted to
criticize male dominance and power over women in society, while at the same
time professing to be oppressed by that same line of power (Messner 1998).
By the late 1970s and 1980s, the career woman became a popularized image
and a feminine ideal in mass media. The implication was that feminism had
achieved its ideals, and that women no longer needed a protest movement.
Scholars declared the 1980s and 1990s a “post-feminist” era. In the early
1980s, the number of feminist organizations rapidly decreased. Funding for
women’s organizations such as rape crisis centers, shelters for battered women,
abortion clinics and job training programs were cut and forced to close. Roe vs.
Wade (1973) was curtailed in 1989 by the Supreme Court’s decision Webster
v. Reproductive Services. Consequently, limits were set on abortion rights,
such as “informed consent laws”, ‘parental consent laws’ of under-age women,
and outright bans of an abortion unless the woman’s life was in danger.
Simultaneously, under the Reagan administration, women’s studies programs
came under attack by conservatives in a backlash against “multiculturalism”
9 | The statute contained a preamble interpreting life to begin at conception. T hus,
the foetus had protected rights. Doctors were required to perform tests to see if a
foetus was “viable” at five months old, before conducting an abortion. The use of public
facilit ies for abortion, as well as using pub lic funds or employees to c ounsel on abort ion,
was prohibited unless the mother’s life was in danger. https://www.law.cornell.edu/
supremecour t/tex t/492/490
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and “political correctness;” academic institutions sought to reestablish focus
on the “great thinkers” of Western European history (Pelak et al, 1999: 158-159).
According to Messner (1998) in, “The Limits of the ‘Male Sex Role’: An
Analysis of the Men’s Liberation and Men’s Rights Movements’ Discourse,”
men’s liberation groups employed sex role theory, a functionalist analysis of
family structures developed after World War II. Sex role theory posits that
the socialization process puts men into instrumental roles and women into
expressive roles in society. Ruth E. Hartley was a pioneer of sex role theory and
examined the “costs” of the male sex role to boys and men. Messner writes,
The ideas that socially created symmetrical (but unequal) sex roles trapped men into
alienating, unhealthy and unfulfilling lives, and that the devaluation of ‘the feminine’
was the main way through which boys and men learned to discipline themselves to stay
within the confines of this narrow sex role, became a foundation in men’s liberation
discourse and practice. (Messner 1998 in Farrell 1974; Fasteau 1974; Nichols 1975)
According to psychologist Joseph Pleck (1974, 1976, 1982), the paradoxical male
reality was that despite institutionalized male privilege, most men do not feel
powerful. Fulfilling the scripted male sex role to succeed in public life left
them “emotionally and psychologically impoverished, leading men to feel that
women had ‘expressive power’ and ‘masculinity-validating power’ over them”
(Messner 1998). Sex role theory was radical in the pre-feminist context of the
1950s and 1960s, because it broke partially from biological essentialism, and
suggested a correlation between identity formation and social structure.
Men’s liberation, seeking to align itself with the women’s movement and
eager to resolve any contradictions, packaged sex role theory as an argument of
the symmetrical oppression of men and women in a sexist society. According to
Warren Farrell, a public men’s liberation figure and—for a while—a feminist,
men are trapped in a “masculine mystique,” compounded by women’s
economic dependency on them. “The unliberated woman [...] living vicariously
has become a two-sex problem” (Messner 1998, in Farrell 1974, 73). Thus,
men’s liberation, coalescing with the women’s movement, sought to undo
sexist forms of oppression to the equal benefit of both genders.
A pointed feminist critique was that the men’s liberation platform
decontextualized institutionalized relations of power and the inaccessibility
of women to male, institutionalized privilege. Sex role theory problematically
posited a false symmetry between women’s and men’s liberation, and
assumed white, male, middle-class and heterosexual identity to be normative.
Furthermore, gender analysis often fell back on essentialist dichotomizations
of men and women. Pro-feminist men and feminist sc holars abandoned sex role
10 | cf. Hartley, R. E. ([1959] 1974).
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theory in favor of a discourse exploring gender relations and power, in which
constructions of gender are studied alongside historical dynamics of race and
class. However, Messner believes, “the language of sex role symmetry is still
flourishing in men’s rights organizations and is very common currency in the
general public and the media. It tends, for instance, to be used to discuss and
inform debates about armative action and can be employed to fuel backlash
against ‘special treatment’ for women” (Messner 1998). Messner encouraged
the use of sex role theory for the study of men’s rights ideology.
In “Men’s Responses to Feminism at the Turn of the Century,” Michael S.
Kimmel (1987) delineates three responses to the feminist movement:
The antifeminist reaction relies on natural law and religious theories to demand wo-
man’s return to the private sphere. Kimmel defines antifeminism as the direct opposi-
tion to the women’s right s movement and women’s participation in the public sphere.
Antifeminists’ argument s often rest on the distinction between natural right and civil
right, claiming that feminism is a war against nature. Antifeminists use the argument
of natural law to oppose women’s education, arguing that education pushes women
beyond their physical limits. Medical texts treated women’s equality and newly found
sexual autonomy as threatening, and deride the feminist rejection of femininit y (ibid:
268).
The masculinist response opposed the feminization of culture—less than the
advancement of women as a group—which masculinists believed had devalued
male identity. Masculinists sought to create homosocial spaces, or islands of un-
tainted masculinity (ibid: 261), to socialize young men to the hardiness appro-
priate to their gender. They did not oppose women’s participation in the public
sphere, so much as they sought to counteract women’s monopoly of the private
sphere and the feminizing influences of childrearing. Masculinism espoused
anti-modernist and anti-urbanist sensibilities to reassert traditional values.
In the 1980s, masculinist men’s rights groups and father support groups, per-
ceived male supremacy to be an illusion and denounced female institutionali-
zed privileges—such as exemptions from the draft, advantages in alimony and
child custody and child support (ibid: 269-272). Kimmel quotes Messner:
Men they [masculinists] say, are emotionally and sexually manipulated by women,
forced into provider roles where they work themselves to death for their gold-digger
wives, kept from equal participation and power in the family and finally dumped by
11 | Thompson Seton, founder of “Boy Scouts of America,” believed that in the cities
“robust manly, self-reliant boyhood [turns into] cigarette smokers with shaky nerves
and doubtful vitality” (Kimmel 1987: 271).
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wives only to have courts and lawyers give all the property, money and child custody to
the woman. (Kimmel 1987: 270, cited from Messner 1986: 32)
Finally, the pro-feminists embraced feminist views and supported feminist
methods of social reconstruction as correctives for oppressive, patriarchal
structures. In Kimmel’s survey, pro-feminist texts constituted a minority of
reactions to feminism. Contrary to masculinists, pro-feminists believed in
the liberating potential of modernity. Men’s support to feminism consistently
came from the argument of scientific advancement and societal progress. Pro-
feminists acknowledged the oppressive qualities of the marital institution and
championed women’s surage, education, equality in the workplace together
with sexual freedom, divorce and birth control (ibid: 272-276). According to
Messner, pro-feminists began to diverge from the men’s liberation movement
due to feminist critiques: “These men tended to be less impressed by the
liberal, middle-class feminism of [men’s liberation than] the student anti-war
movement, the Black power movement, and especially by radical feminism
and the fledgling gay and lesbian liberation movement” (Messner 1998). Pro-
feminist rhetoric changed from that of sex role symmetry and equal oppression,
to one in which they de-emphasized the costs of masculinity and emphasized
men’s derived benefits of patriarchy (Messner 1998, cited from Snodgrass
1977: 137). However, some pro-feminists outside the campus settings were
also reverends and rabbis and others linked to patriarchal institutional power
that held onto misogynistic beliefs and divisions of sex, while still furthering
women’s issues—such as surage, divorce and birth control—in the name of
egalitarianism (Kimmel 1987: 272).
methoD ology
Initially, the antifeminist presence online caught my attention as a reactionary
meme against the “Slutwalks” protests in Toronto, Canada. According to the
Slutwalk Toronto website, Slutwalks began in 2011 “as a direct response to
a Toronto Police Services ocer perpetuating rape myths by stating ‘women
should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized’.” Since then,
Slutwalks have developed into an international movement. Antifeminist
women wanted to distance themselves from Slutwalk protesters ostentatiously
parading their sexualities, while still staking a claim in notions of (female)
12 | http://www.slutwalktoronto.com Accessed: March 15, 2016.
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empowerment. I grew aware that the inter net hosts a large network communit y
of antifeminists, both female and male.
From the beginning of my study, I knew my access—as a female
researcher—would at least partly be hindered to male, antifeminist circles. I
began with a remote approach—as set out by US anthropologists: Margaret
Mead, Bateson and Benedict—designed to study Japanese, German and other
“cultures at a distance” in the 1940s. As John Postill (in press) writes, “with
the explosive growth of networked technologies in recent years, the remote
study of social practices is once again on the agenda.” Postill posits one of the
advantageous facets of remote ethnography to be an extra element of safety
(Postill in press). His concept of “safe distance” refers enmity and hostility on
the “ground” or a single locale, but in context of #gamergate and the general
phenomena of cyberbullying, the initial invisibility of my own “remoteness”
cushioned antagonistic sentiments that may have been directed towards me as
I sifted through a plethora of online material.
I identified dierent platforms that antifeminists frequent and use to
communicate with each other. Google searches gleaned a variety of search
results including Tumblr pages by young antifeminist women aged 15 to
25, a digital manifesto by a Men’s Rights Activist, and a website for “Pick-
Up Artists.” I moved on to Facebook groups such as “Meninism” and other
antifeminist groups for both males and females, inclusively and exclusively.
This initial survey gave me a general idea of the rhetorical framework of online
antifeminism.
I learned of MGTOW on Facebook and began to follow the MGTOW YouTube
content creator, Sandman. I searched the MGTOW website and read MGTOW
posts on Reddit. I became interested in what MGTOW was to various men,
cross-platform. For example, how did Sandman’s high visibility on YouTube as
a MGTOW “star” reflect in the expression of his ideas of MGTOW, versus the
“regular” MGTOWs on Reddit? One of the main challenges was to discern the
ways in which the online and oine worlds informed each other. In “Social
Media Ethnography: The Digital Researcher in a Messy Web,” John Postill and
Sarah Pink’s study of Barcelona Free Culture social media and activism departs
from models of “network and community to focus on routines, mobilities
and socialities” (Postill/Pink 2012: 2). As MGTOWs conservatively numbered
between 20,000-30,000 at the time of the study, my intention was not to map
out this immense network and community or to define MGTOW by “bounded”
(Postill/Pink 2012: 2) terms, but rather to understand dierent types of MGTOW
socialities and how online and oine worlds create “intensities” (Postill/Pink
2012: 2) through participation and routines.
13 | cf. https://twitter.com/WomAgainstFem and http://womenagainstfeminism.
tumblr.com/
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Researching MGTOW across platforms entailed,
flexibly adapting and developing new methods [...] yet retaining reflexive awareness of
the nature of the knowledge produced and of its limits and strengths [...] This approach
neither replaces long-term immersion in a society or culture, nor aims to produce
“classic” ethnographic knowledge but, rather creates deep contextual and contingent
understandings produced through intensive and collaborative sensory, embodied
engagements often involving digital technologies in co-producing knowledge. (Postill/
Pink 2012: 4)
I was aware that when I finally did reach out to MGTOWs to ask questions, it
would likely be viewed as an encroachment. This prediction was confirmed
on April 29, 2015 when “thick_knees” chastised his fellow MGTOWs for
responding to my questions on Reddit, “Congrats all. You’ve essentially written
this chicks paper for her.” As of April 29, 2015, “thick_knees” received one
point for his comment, as did “Orbital Thrownaway” who chimed in: “Seems
like old habits die hard.” My response on April 30, 2015 also received one point:
“I understand your concern thick_knees. Interviews and questions are only
part of the research process. Those who respond help me represent MGTOW
more correctly in writing.” In submitting questions and comments via Reddit
and Facebook, I was leaving “digital traces” of the ethnographic process,
“thus weaving a digital ethnographic place that is inextricable from both the
materiality of being online and the oine encounters that are intertwined in
its narratives” (Postill/Pink 2012: 14). My very presence may have compromised
MGTOWs conceptions of “exclusiveness” and the status of their “safe space.”
However, I was pleasantly surpr ised to receive multiple answers from MGTOWs
on Reddit immediately. Sandman did not respond to the questions I submitted
to him via Facebook, although he had agreed to it when I initially made contact.
Restricted access also informed me of possible disparities of MGTOW identity
formations across platforms.
fin Dings
Mean0dean0, on the MGTOW subreddit, informs me on April 28, 2015:
The MRM is the ‘change’ wing [...] they are seeking legal and social avenues to redress
[men’s] issues [...] MGTOW is the ‘aba ndon’ wing: seeing that me n are disenfranc hised in
numerous ver y real and potent ially lethal ways, MGTOWs ar e opting out of those aspect s
14 | http://www.reddit.com/r/MGTOW/comments/34fc80/some_questions_
about_mgtow/
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of life which are statistically most likely to result in extremely negative consequences
for men: sex [false rape accusations], marriage [divorce/family court bias], traditional
male jobs [high mor tality rate due to assumed male disposability], etc. (Brackets in
original)
Some men went through a bad divorce and scoured the internet for answers
amidst bouts of depression. Others realized their financial assets were the
target of “gold-digging women.” Many came by way of other antifeminist
groups such as MRM and Red Pill. Like many other MGTOW, Nigelh—a diver,
caver and glider—lived his life according to MGTOW values for 14 years before
even hearing of the term. He first heard of it after the Isla Vista massacre last
year, when the mainstream media blamed online groups like MGTOW. Though
many MGTOWs have had bad dating or divorces experiences, MGTOWs are
careful to not cast themselves neither as unattractive, impotent, emasculated
nor too nerdy. In the comments section of his “Double Standards” video
Sandman elaborates that, in high school, he was more like “a physically-fit
outsider.” “Self-glorification” can be used to sum up MGTOWs neo-liberal and
neo-individualistic values.
The internet is the only route of access to the community for MGTOWs.
They feel unable to express their opinions openly in oine interactions, fearing
that they will be shunned or judged in a gynocentric society and workplace.
Some express their views to select family members, without mentioning the
label MGTOW. Although one of the guiding rules of the MGTOW subreddit
precludes it from being “safe space,” the anonymity of the internet allows
MGTOWs to create an all-male “safe space” on their own terms. Members may
exchange ideas and personal experiences without fear of backlash. However,
insularity and anonymity have its consequences. Mean0dean0 writes, “When
we already have to hide our identities in order not to be seen as vicious
misogynist neckbeards by wide society, we end up being defined by our more
vocal and most shameless members.
MGTOWs post and exchange videos and articles exposing the “true”
nature of society, feminists, “gold-diggers” and female (sex) criminals; there
are discussions around the usefulness of pornography and prostitution
to circumvent commitment and marriage. Fellow MGTOW members are
commonly alerted to various salient cases and potential dangers—for example,
one thread on the MGTOW subreddit is devoted to the façade of subservient
Asian women. MGTOW share personal testimonials of instances where they
have been “burned.” Across platforms, MGTOWs consistently display pent up
emotion, cynicism and resentment towards women. They deliberate over just
how a man should go his own way, and whether men and women are meant to
work together or not.
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MGTOWs agree to disagree, and disagreements do not necessarily disrupt
the greater sense of camaraderie. Responding to one of my questions, Ancap-
biochemist writes, “MGTOW has probably been one of the most enriching par ts
of my life and I value the thoughts and insights of my fellow men [as well as my
own insights].” Ancap-biochemist, like many of my informants, chose to write
additional comments under their answers, which spoke of their willingness
to come forth and discuss the group; MGTOW is a mantra, the means and the
end, the individual and the collective. The popular films The Matrix (1999) and
Fight Club (1999) are also sometimes referenced. Nigelh writes, “It may sound
contradictory, but like the Buddhist enlightenment once a person has embraced
MGTOW they no longer need MGTOW.”
The origins of MGTOW are unclear, though it seems to have emerged from
the RP (Red Pill) phenomenon. “Red Pill” is a term appropriated from the 1999
film The Matrix that provides antifeminists with the metaphor for waking up to
society’s (gynocentric) evils. Its antithesis, the “Blue Pill,” is blissful or willful
ignorance. The MGTOW neologism: “Purple Pill,” is between Blue Pill and Red
Pill. Purple Pill is a Level 1 MGTOW: a man who is aware of that there may be
conspiring gynocentric forces, but goes through the motions of a being Blue
Piller anyway. The media has spoon fed the Blue Piller false conceptions of
love and romance from birth.
However, some MGTOWs also distance themselves from RP because, on
Reddit, RP has become equated with PUA (Pick Up Artists). PUA are men who
tailor their maneuvers to maximize on sexual encounters with dierent women
(“game”), having become aware of what they perceive as women’s dominance in
the dating sphere—especially given the current popularity of social media and
dating apps. ShitfacedBatman came to MGTOW via the RP subreddit. On April
28, 2015, he wrote:
I was already into Seddit16 and RP and was trying to figure out what possible use I would
have for MGTOW once I learned about it. I landed in MGTOW once I burned out on RP and
all other pill metaphors. There was really nowhere else I was going to run with it. If you
go to the Red Pill sub, a lot of it is really impatient men tr ying to burn through women in
short order. They’re not very relaxed or chill. One thing t hat happened to me [I don’t know
if it happens to other guys] is I was ‘ex-RP’ for a while, or thought maybe I was “Purple
Pill.” It’s that your wheels are still spinning and they feel like they need to spin. But for
me, after the wheels normalized I was still Red Pill, just not keyed up or losing sleep over
it. If RP and MGTOW were a form of “game,” RP is fast and MGTOW is slow. (Brackets in
original).
15 | Neologism.
16 | A subreddit for “seduction, self-improvement, and pick-up.” (ht tps://www.reddit.
com/r/seduc tion)
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Such is the ambiguity of MGTOW’s origins that some of my Reddit informants
deny outright any correlation between MGTOW and RP. Still, another of my
informants, oldredder, maintained this:
[U]ntrue. The true red pill which is the core of going your own way has been so since
1999. Truth is the bizarre version of “red pill” on Reddit isn’t the real actual red pill at
all. Reddit has a bad way of pretending it’s the authorit y on something when in fact the
subreddit “theredpill” is literally the least accurate source on what the red pill is on the
face of this earth.
This led me to hypothesize that MGTOW, though diuse across sites and
platforms on the internet, also has specific identity formations on specific sites.
According to the MGTOW website:
Men Going Their Own Way is a statement of self-ownership, where the modern man
preserves and protects his own sovereignty above all else. It is the manifestation of
one word: No. Ejecting silly preconceptions and cultural definitions of what a “man”
is. Looking to no one else for social cues. Refusing to bow, ser ve and kneel for the
opportunity to be treated like a disposable utility. And, living according to his own best
interests in a world which would rather he didn’t.
The manifesto also provides a definition for sovereignty: “Supreme power
or authority. Autonomy, independence, self-government, self-rule, self-
determination, freedom. Self-governing.Exactly how the MGTOW philosophy
should be applied to one’s daily life varies from man to man, pointing again
to the core tenet that men should live their lives however they want. Modern
man must “unlearn himself” andreturn to a more primal, “actualized” state
of manhood.
A common MGTOW claim mentioned in other “anti feminist ” online circles,
is that men are powerless and invisible in the society that they themselves have
built up through industrialization and technology. While men have served
society and their female partners dutifully, reality has painfully backfired on
them. Many MGTOWs feel betrayed. According to MGTOW, women use the
rhetoric of objectification to their own benefit—playing the victim card—while
at the same time posting fetishized and sexualized selfies in order to solicit as
many male admirers on social media as possible. MGTOW members believe
that women’s higher visibility on the internet, especially within the online
dating sphere, promotes a mentality of narcissism within women. According
to Sandman, women get “male attention on tap,” and engage in hypergamy—a
lifestyle of heightened sexual activity with multiple partners. Men, seeking to
17 | w ww.mgtow.com Accessed: April 15, 2016.
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meet or simply chat with women online, must compete with a few thousand
other “liking” admirers.
MGTOW believe modern women have been “brainwashed” by feminism
to believe “they are right no matter what.” She will “ride the cock carousel”
with as many men as possible, most of whom will mistreat her and valorize
her feminist claims of victimhood. When women do decide to settle for a man,
he will be a passive “beta-type,” whom she will boss around and target for
his “utility value”—financial assets and stability. The “beta” may be a Purple
Piller who is aware of the risks of marriage, but tries to hold out for a “Disney-
ending.” However, divorce proceedings will inevitably sway in a woman’s favor,
due to institutionalized female privilege.
According to Sandman in his video: College Girl Debt Bubble—MGTOW,
women who use their looks to get free favors from men, demonstrate the notion
of female privilege. Sandman grew up in Florida and later in Canada. He went
to a school for art, photography and design, and lives in Toronto. Growing up,
he was the intellectual-type but instead of being the nerdy guy who helps girls
with homework, he worked out and slept with them instead. He says, he felt like
his body and his mind were in direct competition, because girls didn’t seem
to care about his thoughts. Nowadays, Sandman is working freelance about
40 hours a week. Often, he works with women to create start-up packages. He
believes female-led start-ups often fail because women resort to paying others
for their skills instead of learning those skills for themselves. In any case, he
insists, most women are miserable having careers, because female instinct
revolves around “manipulating men to build a home.” Men, on the other hand,
are “hard-wired” to be productive. Sandman muses that he himself earns more
than he “could possibly know what to do with” but he keeps on pushing himself
to work hard and to be productive anyway. His innuendo contains some irony:
tragically it is the same productivity that has landed men in their current, dire
situation.
Further, according to Sandman, men invent, while women “manage and
redistribute the wealth.” Men do the “dirty work” and are responsible for
“maintai ning roads,” while women are “city planners, working comfor tably from
behind the computer.” Women are more likely to invest in higher education,
but their degrees are “dumb” and “useless,” as they “find themselves working at
Starbucks, and leaning on their fathers and husbands for support to get out of
debt.” Although discrimination in the workplace may occur, Sandman states:
“Perhaps companies are paying their workers based on productivity versus
position” (Paraphrased from Double Standards—MGTOW, College Girl Debt
Bubble—MGTOW and The Ideal Woman).
18 | Neologism.
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Sandman often rehashes that women might seem beautiful, innocent and
harmless on the outside. He dated a “hippy girl” for a year and a half in his early
twenties, with whom he was deeply connected. Since then, he hasn’t been able
to find that same kind of connection. Reflecting on the ephemeral nature of
things, he concludes, “the notion of an ideal mate is childish.” His ex-girlfriend
only appeared like the ideal:
a soft-spoken, quiet hippy woman, but she was covertly feminist and manipulative, as
her mother had taught her to be. MGTOW is the idea that men will use their faculties of
reason and rationality to discern female mind games that enshroud day-to-day realit y.
(Paraphrased from The Ideal Woman)
With regards to actress Emma Watson’s “HeforShe” speech at the United
Nations, Sandman remarks it is clearly a “feminist, utility campaign masked
as gender equality.” Feminists are trying to re-brand themselves as egalitarians,
when feminist ideology is clearly aimed at female superiority. Men have never
had the supposed benefits “male superiority,” let alone equality. Men have only
had “the burden and responsibility” of building up infrastructure. “Patriarchy”
is just a term to take power away from men, but MGTOW is about “rebuilding
the self-esteem of a ghost nation of men.” Sandman attended and filmed the
Toronto Slutwalk last year (for the video “Slutwalk Toronto 2014”). He, himself,
was there to protest against the outlawing of prostitution by the government.
Women and transgenders paraded the streets in bras and denim-cutos.
Maybe, like feminists, Sandman muses, MGTOW needs “a smart, gay guy” to
broaden its appeal.
A MGTOW has four levels to his journey; as paraphrased from Sandman’s
“Introduction to MGTOW,” they are:
• Level 1: A man is aware that women use “the government, courts and men’s
desire to reproduce” as devices to manipulate him psychologically, but
believes marriage is worth the risk. This man is referred to as the Purple
Pill.
• Level 2: A man only believes in short-term relationships, but abstains from
marriage, long-term relationships and cohabitation.
• Level 3: A man abstains from dating and limits his interactions with women.
• Level 4: A man limits his interactions with the state and society. It also
means working as little as possible—“going ghost.”
19 | “Hefor She” is a gender equality and solidarity campaign initiated by UN Women to
engage men and boys to fight for gender equality and women’s right s. cf. ht tp://www.
heforshe.org/en
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However, not all MGTOW delineate the community by Sandman’s terms.
According to one thread entitled: “Are MGTOW’s completely against the idea of
being in a relationship with a woman? vtsobnf writes,
Tradcons [Traditional Conservatives] claim its about self-actualization and being your
own man. These “MGTOW” claim that even married men can be MGTOW. The original
phrase “Men Going Their Own Way” came from a letter that went viral a decade or so
ago that was basically a tradcon screed, so tradcons do have a claim on what defines
MGT OW.
Another “MGTOW” faction, let’s call them Anti-Gynocentrists, would say that any man
can be MGTOW so long as they avoid marriage.
Finally, the “MGTOW Monk” faction [according to Sandy] would say that MGTOW should
avoid all relationships with women. They probably shouldn’t fap21 either. Also, they
should live of f the grid. Also, real MGTOW are child-free. Also, real MGTOW should get
vasectomies, Also, the government is responsible for 9/11, and Grey Aliens, and the
Illuminati, etc.
[...] MGTOW is a poorly defined philosophy with a few different factions trying to push
their agenda.
In Vtsobnf’s view, the MGTOW community is clustered into horizontally
distributed subgroups, rather than divided by hierarchy based on fame and
visibi lity.
In reviewi ng Sandman’s YouTube content, I found that he makes concessions
to “Level 1” MGTOW who date women, while staking most of his arguments
in radicalized claims. Like radical feminist collectives, MGTOW disavows
hierarchies, and similarly, hierarchies inadvertently crop up. Most of my
informants on Reddit adamantly deny MGTOW as a movement, and fashion it
more as a like-minded internet collective. Sergeant Dickhead writes:
Keep in mind MGTOW isn’t a movement or somet hing that can be penetrated or s topped.
It’s a personal choice that is shared in the Commons of like-minded. In fact, there is no
winning or losing MGTOW is straight up just opting out completely [...] many undercover
people come around here asking the same questions like you did trying to unearth and
get under our skin and see the inner workings of what we believe in trying to debunk it as
well as manipulat e It. This can not happen because we are not a gr oup we are individuals
who believe in our own personal choices and “get together” to offer help and advice to
others who share our common thought. In fact, a logical perception such as MGTOW can
20 | http://www.reddit.com/r/MGTOW/comments/33fdwk/are_mgtows_complete
ly_against _the_idea_of_being/ Accessed: April 15, 2016.
21 | An onomatopoeic slang term for male masturbation. http://www.urbandictionary.
com/define.php?term=fap Accessed: March 28, 2016.
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only work when there is no hierarchy. When everyone is their own belief system. Now tell
me, how does one change the choices of others when those others have all dif ferent
choices? You cannot.
In the more radicalized directives of Sandman, and other YouTube content
creators such as Barbarossaaa and Stardusk, MGTOW resembles an anarcho-
masculinist movement, using the internet as an expansionist tool for MGTOW
agenda and for plotting against “gynocentric forces.” Unlike Men’s Rights
Activists (MRA), who advocate for changes in legislature concerning Men’s
Rights issues, YouTub e content creators present the withdrawal from society
as a subversive tactic, and the rejection of traditional standards, or gynocentric
indicators of male success—such as being married or having a family—as the
only recourse against society that has already failed.
In the last year, these MGTOW YouTube personalities have begun taking
donations for their videos, a move that has been met by some MGTOWs with
suspicion. Hard_Cold_Truth posted under Sandman’s Double Standards video:
I didn’t whole heartedly agree with your slandering video but what I and others like to
know is if you’re homeless or jobless cuz [s.i.c.] why should you be capitalizing on our
pain, misery and fear while this is supposed to be brothers helping others out.
ProLifeVegan Aryan also commented:
Barb22 is full of shit. Ever since he stated that he couldn’t continue making video content
since it cost him too much time, and thus money, he asked for people to donate. Funnily
enough, since that time, the amount of content he has produced has dropped to the
point of where he is supposedly retired. but is capable of both simultaneously moaning
about other men “stealing” the spotlight, and that upsets his overinflated ego [...].
Sandman responded in a post to ProlifeVegan Aryan:
Between this and my full time gig I’m working 60+ hours a week [...] All I wanted to
do was make enough “mobile” income so I could afford to travel around the USA and
Canada and make these videos and do nothing but that! Make it my lifestyle.
22 | Barbaros saaa
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Con Clusio n
MGTOW is primarily a masculinist reaction to feminism that finds its
conclusions in antifeminism, radicalism and anarchism. The internet provides
MGTOW an anonymous, homosocial-type space, where men can resurrect lost
notions of masculinity. MGTOW adheres to men’s liberation’s appropriation of
sex role theory symmetry and parallels its “slippage [...] to angry antifeminist
men’s rights language of nude victimization” (Messner, 1998). Messner writes,
“First is the claim of having been an early and ardent supporter of [liberal]
feminism in hopes that it would free women and men from the shackles
of sexism.” At the beginning, a MGTOW is either Blue Pill or Purple Pill.
Beginner MGTOWs buy into the gynocentric system. “Second is the use of the
language of sex role theory that equates sexist thoughts and attitudes without
discussing gendered institutional arrangements and intergroup relations.”
(ibid.). A MGTOW had alienating experiences, which consequently made them
realize double standards exist that do not work in their favor. They realize they
have been taught to buy into this unequal system by seeking validation in
women. “[...] and last is a sense of hurt and outrage when women do not agree
that men’s issues are symmetrical with those faced by women, coupled with
an enthusiastic embrace of an angry and aggressive antifeminist men’s rights
discourse and practice.” (ibid.). MGTOW, unlike MRM, believe in breaking
communication with women, divisively re-inserting male sovereignty into
discourse and the re-inscription of essentialist divisions of sex.
Inverting Kant’s notion of marriage as the only moral commercium sexuale,
marriage is instead, an oppressive institution to be avoided, just as for many
second-wave feminists. In keeping with sex role theory symmetry, men are not
objectified by their sexuality like women, but by their success. Again echoing
the men’s liberation platform of the 1970s, the husbands’ success is the woman’s
source of power in marriage. MGTOW mirrors the “gendered spaces” of radical
feminist collectives in its devised non-hierarchal structure, with the same
rationale being that their beliefs directly influence the organizational structure
of the community. Like radical feminists who furthered a social movement
culture in the 1980s and 1990s, MGTOW attempts to create a “men’s culture”
through MGTOW approved books and songs. Hierarchy emerges in the
distinctions of MGTOW media and platforms. Reddit MGTOW, who write long
posts on message boards, do not seek donations in the way Yo uTu b e content
creators do. Ironically, Sandman has, contrary to “going ghost,” enjoyed the
elevated status of internet star. He cemented his position by an economy of
donations for creating videos on request. Another sign of hierarchization is
the control and censorship of ideas, since technically the MGTOW community
is about whatever men individually want to discuss. This again, occurs along
the division of Yo uTu b e content versus written posts. On the MRM site,
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rockingphilosophy.com, a message by Tilted in the comments section to the 2013
article: “Face it, MGTOW is a Cult,” indicates that Barbarrossaaa repeatedly
censored the posts of Tilted that contended Barbarrossaaa’s ideas. While
Reddit message boards provide MGTOW non-hierarchal modes to negotiate
male identity formation and is thus truer to the cause of MGTOW, radicalized
versions of MGTOW on YouTube also stick closer to men’s liberationists’
packaging of sex role theory symmetry.
While the popular press is quick to find answers in generalized notions
of “misogyny” with regard to tragedies and controversies, such as Isla Vista
and #gamergate, male identity formations on the internet warrant a closer
inspection. With MGTOW, MRM and PUA, the numbers are indeed evident
of latent and unresolved male identity issues, which the internet has enabled
into a “ghost” consciousness of anonymous men in the digital milieu. But
which points are salient for “antifeminists” to expand on contemporary gender
discourse, if any? The answer may be dierent with every type of antifeminist.
Given the strong undercurrent of antifeminist presence online, the notion of
“men as victims” and other types of sex role theory language may begin to play
an increased role in gender debates. This is illustrated in the 2013 Columbia
University sexual assault controversy between Emma Sulkowicz and Paul
Nungesser. Sulkowicz alleged that Nungesser raped her, although they had—
previous to the incident—been consensual sex partners. Columbia University
reviewed the case and found Nungesser not guilty. Sulkowicz, an art student,
responded with an act of protest by creating “Mattress Performance: Carry That
Weight,” as part of her thesis project. Maintaining that Nungesser had raped
her, Sulkowicz carried a mattress with her wherever she went. This garnered
so much attention in the popular press and in the art world, that she eectively
ruined Nungesser’s reputation. At their graduation ceremony, Sulkowicz and
her friends also carried the mattress onto the stage. Nungesser sued Columbia
University for allowing a “gender based anti-male discriminatory harassment
campaign to take place on the campus, a case which the judge ultimately
dismissed. The case put into question the role of educational institutions in
presiding over campus violence and rape cases. By accusing Sulkowicz of an
“anti-male campaign,” the council for Nungesser was using an antifeminist
line of argument. A particular antifeminist language, emerging from an earlier
men’s liberation rhetoric, has entered into the courtrooms. Although sex role
theory is not new, its language may still be recurrent in gender politics and
discourse.
23 | cf. http://ww w.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/magazine/have-we-learned-anything-
from-the-columbia-rape-case.html?_r=0 cf. http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womeninthe
world/2015/06/26/emma-sulkowicz-accused-of-anti-male-campaign/
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refer enCes
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Kant, Immanuel (1997 [1920]): Lectures on Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge
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webs i t e s
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watch?v=RQirMw5H5SI
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... This indicates that Incels are increasingly exploiting the YouTube platform to spread their views. • Using word2vec, along with graph visualization techniques, we find several interesting themes in Incel-related videos, with topics related to the Manosphere (e.g., the Men Going Their Own Way movement [31]) or expressing racism, misogyny, and anti-feminism. • Sentiment analysis reveals that Incel-related videos attract a substantially larger number of negative comments compared to other videos. ...
... Overall, the majority of research studying the Manosphere has been mostly theoretical and/or qualitative in nature [21,16,31,18]. This is particularly important because it provides guidance for our study in terms of framework and conceptualization, while it motivates large-scale quantitative work like ours. ...
Preprint
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YouTube is by far the largest host of user-generated video content worldwide. Alas, the platform also hosts inappropriate, toxic, and hateful content. One community that has often been linked to sharing and publishing hateful and misogynistic content is the so-called Involuntary Celibates (Incels), a loosely defined movement ostensibly focusing on men's issues. In this paper, we set out to analyze the Incel community on YouTube by focusing on this community's evolution over the last decade and understanding whether YouTube's recommendation algorithm steers users towards Incel-related videos. We collect videos shared on Incel communities within Reddit and perform a data-driven characterization of the content posted on YouTube. Among other things, we find that the Incel community on YouTube is getting traction and that during the last decade, the number of Incel-related videos and comments rose substantially. We also find that users have a 6.3% of being suggested an Incel-related video by YouTube's recommendation algorithm within five hops when starting from a non-Incel-related video. Overall, our findings paint an alarming picture of online radicalization: not only Incel activity is increasing over time, but platforms may also play an active role in steering users towards such extreme content.
... However, the anti-feminist reactions can root from the traditional nature of society that considers women as a part of a family but nothing else. Being said that, most of the antifeminists perceive feminism as resistance against the rule of nature [8]. Therefore, it is essential to learn the indicator and sentiments of anti-feminism that can lead to radicalization and the rising of extremism in society. ...
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The rising of feminist movements and debates over problems related to women issues are considered a threat to the groups that benefit from the current situation of gender balance in society. Furthermore, feminist activists are always presented as a threat to the conservative order of the state, as well as, maintained under pressure in the society. Therefore anti-feminist activities and anti-feminism is and should be studied as a phenomenon in the feminist discourse. This research mainly analyzed the attitudes towards the feminist movement in terms of the comments from the videos on the YouTube platform, thereby adding to study to the literature gap in the discourse of feminism studies in Azerbaijan. In this paper, we mainly focused on the explanation of the empirical facts and evidence that pave the way for learning the anti-feminist attitudes on the YouTube platform towards feminist movement in Azerbaijan. Being said that this paper has two main research objectives. One purpose of this study is to establish a conceptual framework for analyzing the feminist movement. Another primary goal of this research is to learn the main indicators of anti-feminist attitudes which can lead to backlash in society against the feminist movement in Azerbaijan. The analyzing of the comments on the YouTube platform cannot completely account for the measuring of attitudes towards central beliefs of feminism in Azerbaijan. Subsequently, the available users and their comments partly represent the whole population of our research. Therefore, the analyses in our study aim to provide minimal insight to fill the gap in the literature of feminism studies.
... De är övertygade om att feminismen i slutändan leder till en samhällskollaps. I väntan på kollapsen menar de att män bör undvika kvinnor och odla sin maskulinitet med stöd av andra män online (Lin 2017). Den misogyna retorik som MGTOW-anhängare använder verkar spridas och normaliseras online, och den spelar en aktiv roll i att bevaka gränserna för den hegemoniska maskulinitetsnormen genom att trakassera de som offentligt avviker från den (Jones et al. 2019). ...
Thesis
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The overarching aim of the thesis is to describe and analyze men’s pro- and antifeminist engagement. Men’s approach to feminism is assumed to be created in the interaction of men’s intentions and a sociocultural structure that conditions human action. Men want something that they perceive that feminism enables or constrains, after which they engage for or against it. The men’s views on feminism were extracted from interviews, social media, books, and newspaper articles. A host of philosophical assumptions, general analytical theories, and specific analytical tools were used in processing the empirical data. In the first part of the findings, profeminist men are understood to view feminism as a force that enables them to accomplish important projects in their lives. They express a wish to improve both women’s and men’s lives through the practice of changing men and masculinity. Above all, their efforts focus on changing themselves. In the second part of the findings, antifeminist men are understood to experience feminism as a force that constrains them in their lives. They oppose feminism on several issues: women’s subordinated position in the gender order, the social construction of gender, and men’s violence towards women. They fear that state feminism is pushing a hatred of men that threatens individual men, nuclear families, and Western civilization. The third part of the findings consists of a model of men’s approach to feminism. In the model, men’s differing approaches hinges on whether they believe that feminism enables or constrains them and other people in their quest to satisfy basic human needs. Their understandings of if and how the needs are being met are central to how men approach feminism. In this understanding, the men are influenced by their respective ideological beliefs on how the gender order should be organized. The thesis ends with two methodological musings. The first revolves around the author’s development of a deeper understanding of the antifeminist worldview and how that came to rub against his profeminist way of viewing the world. The second reflects on researchers’ understandable but counterproductive tendency of trying to protect their research from all criticism.
Article
Can negative evaluations of a broad outgroup paired with positive evaluations of a broad ingroup, sustain willing affiliation with even intensely self-derogating online communities? Synthesizing concepts from masculinities scholarship, social identity theory, and self-verification theory, this study compares language from two distinctive misogynist communities active on Reddit.com —Men Going Their Own Way, male separatists who positively frame members as superior to other men and men as superior to women, and Involuntary Celibates (incels), who openly derogate incel community members—to understand what sustains misogynist incels’ willing affiliation with the self-derogating incel community. Using thematic qualitative analysis, I find that while male separatists favor both their own narrower online community and the broader ingroup of men, misogynist incels engage in a patriarchal bargain, using relatively benevolent depictions of some men alongside negative depictions of all women to perpetuate broader gender inequality.
Thesis
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How has the male supremacy movement developed as a category of alt-right extremism to become a clear and present danger in the U.S.? Male supremacy is an ideology which advocates for the subjugation of women based on the representation of women as genetically inferior, manipulative, and reduced to sexual function. Male supremacists can generally be categorized in three ways: Involuntary celibates (Incels), Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), and Pick Up Artists (PUAs). Connected by feelings of entitlement and hatred of both women and feminism, these groups gather on accessible and dissociative online platforms, where they grow and radicalize quickly. The Alternative Right is often defined as a set of far-right ideologies whose core belief is that their “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice.” At the core of these ideologies is the aim to revert political systems to some imagined or perceived ideal past or “golden age,” and may be based in ideal scenarios where Christianity reigns, white people are dominant, or men have more power. By analyzing different types of male supremacist groups and as well as what connects and motivates them, I will examine the ways that the male supremacist movement contributes to alt-right violence in the U.S. Through the use of academic journals, news articles, and referencing cases of misogynist violence, I will discuss the increasing threat of alt-right violence from the male supremacist movement. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
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Chapter
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