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Alphas, Betas, and Incels: Theorizing the Masculinities of the Manosphere

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Abstract

Since the emergence of Web 2.0 and social media, a particularly toxic brand of antifeminism has become evident across a range of online networks and platforms. Despite multiple internal conflicts and contradictions, these diverse assemblages are generally united in their adherence to Red Pill “philosophy,” which purports to liberate men from a life of feminist delusion. This loose confederacy of interest groups, broadly known as the manosphere, has become the dominant arena for the communication of men’s rights in Western culture. This article identifies the key categories and features of the manosphere and subsequently seeks to theorize the masculinities that characterize this discursive space. The analysis reveals that, while there are some continuities with older variants of antifeminism, many of these new toxic assemblages appear to complicate the orthodox alignment of power and dominance with hegemonic masculinity by operationalizing tropes of victimhood, “beta masculinity,” and involuntary celibacy (incels). These new hybrid masculinities provoke important questions about the different functioning of male hegemony off- and online and indicate that the technological affordances of social media are especially well suited to the amplification of new articulations of aggrieved manhood.
Review
Alphas, Betas, and Incels:
Theorizing the
Masculinities of the
Manosphere
Debbie Ging
1
Abstract
Since the emergence of Web 2.0 and social media, a particularly toxic brand of
antifeminism has become evident across a range of online networks and platforms.
Despite multiple internal conflicts and contradictions, these diverse assemblages are
generally united in their adherence to Red Pill “philosophy,” which purports to
liberate men from a life of feminist delusion. This loose confederacy of interest
groups, broadly known as the manosphere, has become the dominant arena for the
communication of men’s rights in Western culture. This article identifies the key
categories and features of the manosphere and subsequently seeks to theorize the
masculinities that characterize this discursive space. The analysis reveals that, while
there are some continuities with older variants of antifeminism, many of these new
toxic assemblages appear to complicate the orthodox alignment of power and
dominance with hegemonic masculinity by operationalizing tropes of victimhood,
“beta masculinity,” and involuntary celibacy (incels). These new hybrid masculinities
provoke important questions about the different functioning of male hegemony off-
and online and indicate that the technological affordances of social media are
especially well suited to the amplification of new articulations of aggrieved manhood.
Keywords
men’s rights, the manosphere, antifeminism, social media, hybrid masculinity
1
School of Communications, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland
Corresponding Author:
Debbie Ging, School of Communications, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland.
Email: debbie.ging@dcu.ie
Men and Masculinities
1-20
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permission:
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DOI: 10.1177/1097184X17706401
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The contemporary men’s movement has long been a conglomeration of different
groups with divergent ideological positions. Inspired by second-wave feminism in
the 1970s, the “men’s liberation” movement was committed to critiquing conven-
tional understandings of masculinity (Carrigan, Connell, and Lee 1985) but soon
split into pro- and antifeminist factions (Messner 2016), due largely to disagree-
ments over the claim that male privilege adversely affects women (Messner 2016).
According to Messner (1997, 1998), the antifeminist factions continued to deploy a
narrowly conservative language of sex roles, while the profeminist movement
adopted instead a radical discourse of gender relations aimed at ending men’s
institutional privileges and violence against women. For Messner (2016), three key
changes have occurred in the intervening years that facilitate the current gender-
political conjecture, namely, the institutionalization and professionalization of fem-
inism, the emergence of a widespread postfeminist cultural sensibility, and the
development of a neoliberal economy.
Messner asserts that postfeminism’s taken-for-granted discourse of equality won,
combined with a widespread “decline of males” rhetoric engendered by deindus-
trialization, has created fertile ground for a resurgent men’s rights movement. How-
ever, for Messner (2016), the institutional deck is stacked against overt antifeminist
backlash; he argues instead that the key danger is posed by a “kinder, gentler”
variety of men’s rights, taking the form of a neoliberal, professionally institutiona-
lized “moderate men’s rights strategy that skirts analysis of structural inequalities in
favor of a common-sense celebration of individual choice for women and men” (p.
16). Messner rightly claims that this form of gender politics is both pervasive and
problematic. He is also correct in his assertion that a more orthodox antifeminist
movement—those groups which mobilized men around specific issues, such as
domestic violence against men, child custody, divorce, and the feminization of
education—is in decline. However, although he alludes briefly to a more virulent
strain of antifeminism online, his account overlooks both the pervasiveness and the
distinctiveness of this phenomenon.
This study suggests that more attention needs to be paid to the online context, not
only because it offers evidence of a widespread and particularly malicious antife-
minist men’s “movement” but also because these assemblages demonstrate a radical
shifting of the parameters of antifeminism, which is not accounted for by current
writing on men’s rights politics. Since the locus of debate and activism has migrated
onto the Internet and, in particular, into the realm of social media, the discursive tone
and communicative politics of men’s rights have changed substantially. Now, refer-
ring to themselves as men’s rights activists (MRAs), these groups have established
complex connections with a myriad of interconnected organizations, blogs, forums,
communities, and subcultures, resulting in a much more extreme and ostensibly
amorphous set of discourses and ideological positions (Nagle 2015).
In popular discourse, this loose confederacy of interest groups is broadly known
as the manosphere. First appearing in 2009 on a Blogspot blog to describe an online
network of men’s interest communities,
1
the term was later popularized by Ian Ironwood,
2Men and Masculinities XX(X)
porn marketer and pseudonymous author of the self-published The Manosphere: A New
Hope for Masculinity (2013). Readily adopted by both MRAs and journalists writing
about them, the manosphere has since received considerable media attention, most nota-
bly for its extreme misogyny and association with high-profile, off-line events; from the
Isla Vista and Oregon mass shootings (Garkey 2014; Dewey 2014; Williams 2015;
Chemaly 2015) and cases of college campus rape to the sustained abuse and death threats
directed at female gamers and journalists that culminated in Gamergate.
2
Central to the
politics of the manosphere is the concept of the Red Pill, an analogy which derives from
the 1999 film The Matrix, in which Neo is given the choice of taking one of the two pills.
Taking the blue pill means switching off and living a life of delusion; taking the red pill
means becoming enlightened to life’s ugly truths. The Red Pill philosophy purports to
awaken men to feminism’s misandry and brainwashing, and is the key concept that unites
all of these communities.
In the wake of the Oregon shootings in 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation
began an investigation into comments posted on the /r9k/ channel of the social media
site 4/chan, notorious for its libertarian invocation of free speech principles to defend
unfettered misogyny, racism, and “niche” pornography. Calling themselves
“betafags” and “incels” (involuntary celibates), and claiming to applaud Isla Vista
killer Elliot Rodger, contributors to these boards appeared to be using social media
to organize a campaign of revenge against women, “social justice warriors” and the
“alpha males” who had deprived them of sexual success. This spawned a series of
journalistic articles on the manosphere, the “beta uprising” and beta masculinity,
speculating on the links between the attacks and the claims to victimhood and
aggrieved entitlement (Kimmel 2015) being made by young, sexually disenfran-
chised white males. Beta masculinity thus became a topic for debate among journal-
ists and bloggers, whose explanations for such expressions of “toxic masculinity”
ranged from sexual rejection and unstable employment to video game violence,
pornography, and the erosion of white male privilege. Although the term “toxic
masculinity” has become widely used in both academic and popular discourses, its
origins are somewhat unclear. In psychoanalytic contexts, it has been used in essen-
tialist terms to describe “the need to aggressively compete and dominate others and
encompasses the most problematic proclivities in men” (Kupers 2005, 713). Connell
and Messerschmidt (2005), however, reject such usages, which imply a fixed char-
acter type or an assemblage of toxic traits. For them, hegemonic masculinity may in
some contexts refer to men’s engaging in toxic practices but they stress that these are
not always the defining characteristics, since hegemony has numerous configura-
tions, including distancing oneself from such toxicity. It is in this sense that the term
is used here.
In a recent article on the beta uprising, Nagle (2016) rejects the view of the
“social media–centric feminist commentariat” that beta masculinity is “just another
emanation of hegemonic masculinity,” arguing that to theorize these masculinities
as patriarchal is incompatible with their acceptance of “gender-bending pornogra-
phy, discussions about bisexual curiosity, and a male My Little Pony fandom.”
Ging 3
Nagle asks, “Can a retreat from the traditional authority of the nuclear family into an
extended adolescence of video games, porn, and pranks really be described as
patriarchal?,” and concludes that it cannot. Addressing these questions, which arise
from the ostensible contradictions inherent in MRA masculinities, is a key concern
of the current study. To date, academic research has been limited to specific aspects
of the manosphere, tending to focus on individual platforms such as Reddit (Massa-
nari 2015) and 4/chan (Nagle 2015) or notorious “flash point” events such as the
Fappening (Massanari 2015), when illegally acquired nudes of female celebrities
were distributed via Reddit.com and anonymous image-board 4chan. The current
study attempts a broader and more systematic analysis of the manosphere’s cate-
gories and the relationships between them. More specifically, it sets out to theorize
the masculinities behind these “affectively charged” narratives (Papacharissi 2014,
17), to interrogate their relationship to hegemonic masculinity, and to determine
whether the technological affordances of social media, such as speed, anonymity,
platform algorithms, and social disembodiment, facilitate new and different ways in
which to assert male hegemony.
Digital Hegemony? Theorizing Antifeminist Masculinities
In the following, I outline some of the key debates around hegemonic and hybrid
masculinities that have taken place in recent years, in order to provide a context for
understanding the apparent contradictions inherent in what MRAs refer to as alpha
and beta masculinity. I also consider scholarship on the technological affordances of
social media, with a view to better understanding how these masculinities operate;
most notably, how they relate to off-line masculinities, whether they can be consid-
ered as discrete discursive hierarchies in the gender order, and what role social
embodiment/disembodiment and transnationalism play in the establishment of hege-
mony in the online context.
In the past ten years, there have been intense debates in masculinity studies about
the meaning of changes in the performance of heterosexual masculinity—from
effete clothing and hairstyles to greater emotional expression and reduced homo-
phobia—and how they impact on gender relations and power dynamics. Anderson
(2008a, 2009) and McCormack (2012) have been to the fore in advancing a highly
optimistic interpretation of these changes, arguing that reduced homophobia has
facilitated the emergence of more “inclusive” or nonhomophobic forms of mascu-
linity, which allow men to be more emotionally expressive and physically tactile.
Others (O’Neill 2014; De Boise 2014; Bridges and Pascoe 2014) disagree that such
superficial signifiers have had any significant impact on gendered power relations.
They rightly reject Anderson’s claim that Connell’s theory of hegemonic masculi-
nity does not apply to contemporary masculinities, arguing instead that what Ander-
son calls “inclusive” may be little more than another strategy for straight, white,
middle-class men to secure economic, social, and political power in an era of gay
rights. Similar concerns have characterized debates about geek masculinity. As
4Men and Masculinities XX(X)
Connell and Messerschmidt (2005) have pointed out, geek masculinity “both repudi-
ates and reifies elements of hegemonic masculinity.” According to Kendall (2011),
geek males embrace some aspects of hypermasculinity, such as the valorizing of
intellect over emotion, but do not comply with others, such as sexual and sporting
prowess. Therefore, although they are white, male and possess significant cultural
capital, they perceive themselves as marginalized. According to Massanari (2015),
this makes geek males less able or willing to recognize their own privilege.
Interestingly, Anderson’s argument rests on the assumption that nonhomophobic
or homoerotic masculinities—whether described as inclusive, subordinated, or com-
plicit—are somehow not engaged in hegemonic patterns of practice vis-a`-vis
women. Contrary to this, the consideration that gay or progay men can also be
misogynistic is central to the current study, in which both mainstream MRAs such
as A Voice for Men (AVFM) and some of the geekier beta males of 4/chan and
Reddit were seen to support sexual fluidity, actively promoting publications such as
Matthew Lye’s The New Gay Liberation: Escaping the Fag End of Feminism.As
O’Neill (2014) argues, “Anderson overstates the centrality of homophobia to cul-
tural definitions of masculinity and in so doing downplays the sexual politics at stake
in the reconfiguration of masculinity formations and practices” (p. 111). By focusing
exclusively on relations between men, therefore, it is easy to overlook some of the
more contradictory patterns of practice that characterize the new online articulations
of masculinity, which are expressly concerned with men’s relationship to women.
Demetriou’s (2001) and Bridges and Pascoe’s (2014) measured contributions to
the debate are particularly useful in making sense of such contradictions. Demetriou
argues that subordinate and marginalized masculinities have been perceived as
having no impact on the construction of hegemonic masculinity. He argues that this
dualistic paradigm ignores the “dialectical pragmatism” of internal hegemony,
whereby hegemonic masculinity borrows aspects of other masculinities that are
strategically useful for continued domination. For Demetriou, the result is not a
homogenous pattern of hegemonic masculinity but rather a strategically woven
together hybridity of patterns, which—in an ongoing process of negotiation, appro-
priation, and reformulation—function to secure external hegemony. According to
Bridges and Pascoe (2014), these hybrid masculinities symbolically distance men
from hegemonic masculinity, while simultaneously compounding existing social
and symbolic boundaries. In other words, they “work to conceal systems of power
and inequality in historically new ways” (Bridges and Pascoe 2014, 246).
Theorizing the masculinities of the manosphere is further complicated by the
transnational nature of this space and its attendant overlaps between local, regional,
and global configurations of practice. In addition to this, the processes of social
embodiment central to the project of hegemonic masculinity can be both erased and
intensified, as required, by the technological affordances of social media. Anonym-
ity enables contributors to create fantasy personas or avatars, liberating them from
physical limitations. It also facilitates hostile and often illegal performances of
masculinity (Turton-Turner 2013), which would not go unchecked in face-to-face
Ging 5
contexts but are effectively impossible to regulate online. On the other hand, the
body and physical presence can be revealed and exaggerated for purposes of inti-
midation. As current research on dick pics (Thompson 2016) demonstrates, the
practice whereby men send women unsolicited photos of their penises, often on
dating apps such as Tinder and OkCupid but also in the context of anonymous rape
threats, reinscribes the body into the communicative act as a means of threatening
women or punishing them for rejection. Similarly, Flores and Hess (2016) have
observed that, on Tinder, fantasy performances of the hypersexual male body are
used to establish female submission.
While this type of sexual subjugation is by no means restricted to online envir-
onments, there is clearly far greater scope for it in virtual spaces, where identity, the
body, and socioeconomic status can be obscured or reimagined, and where legal and
moral culpability are radically reduced (Filipovic 2007; Turton-Turner 2013; Citron
2014). It has also been argued (Massanari 2015) that the algorithmic politics of
certain platforms such as Reddit aggregate material in ways that prioritize the
interests of young, white, heterosexual men. According to Massanari, “herding”
or power law effects create consensus or echo chambers around particular material,
giving certain groups, such as those under analysis, an “outsized presence,” which is
unreflective of or disproportionate to the “real” size of the community in question.
Moreover, the Internet has been particularly adept at facilitating political assem-
blages that coalesce around emotional involvement and empathy rather than political
principles. According to Andrejevic (2013), these “affective publics” (Papacharissi
2014), which discursively link political groups through personal storytelling, have
particular appeal and currency in an era of information overload. Given this, the
technological affordances of social media and, in particular, the affective power of
meme-based communication (Shifman 2013) appear to be especially conducive to
Demetriou’s “dialectical pragmatism,” whereby emotionally charged claims to vic-
timhood can be strategically amplified in a bid to dismantle perceived threats—both
online and offline—to power and privilege. Of particular relevance to the current
analysis, therefore, is the reminder from Connell and Messerschmidt (2005, 840)
that “Men can dodge among multiple meanings according to their interactional
needs. Men can adopt hegemonic masculinity when it is desirable; but the same
men can distance themselves strategically from hegemonic masculinity at other
moments. Consequently, ‘masculinity’ represents not a certain type of man but,
rather, a way that men position themselves through discursive practices.”
Methodology
This study seeks to determine how antifeminist men are positioning themselves
through the manosphere’s discursive practices. It identifies the manosphere’s
key categories and maps the dominant trends and developments in men’s rights
rhetoric that circulate across Web 2.0. The approach adopted was inductive,
using repeated searching and cross-comparison over a period of six months to
6Men and Masculinities XX(X)
identify the manosphere’s most cross-referenced sites, with antifeminism as the
baseline criterion. Such an inductive approach is helped, in particular, by the
intensive hyperlinking that occurs between these sites (e.g., the r/TheRedPill
subreddit, theredpillroom.blogspot.ie, AngryHarry.com, and Manosphere.com all
link to a largely identical list of websites, blogspots, subreddits, and YouTube
channels).
The most frequently cross-referenced sites were selected for analysis, producing a
list that was capped at thirty-eight, after which cross-referencing diminished signif-
icantly.
3
These sites were subsequently categorized using thematic qualitative anal-
ysis (Lindlof and Taylor 2010). The five key categories or interest groups identified
as hubs of the manosphere were MRAs, men going their own way (MGTOW), pick
up artists (PUAs)/game, traditional Christian conservatives (TradCons), and gamer/
geek culture. It is important to note that, unlike the other categories listed, only a
subsection of geek and gamer culture are part of the manosphere, and these com-
munities exhibit some important communicative and ideological differences from
the other categories. There is very little obvious concordance, for example, between
TradCons and geek/gamer culture on topics such as marriage or abortion. Thus,
while there is substantial overlap between most of the categories, not all of them
intersect neatly, and many categories (e.g., MRAs and PUAs) exaggerate their
differences in displays of infight posturing, in spite of the fact that their philosophies
are almost identical. However, as O’Neill’s (2015a) work demonstrates, some PUAs
have a purely commercial investment in the seduction industry and are not engaged
in MRA politics.
Content samples of roughly equal size (one blog post, article, or discussion
thread) were selected from each site, on the basis of what was most prevalent on
a given site on the day of capture (i.e., the top thread or the main feature article), and
subjected to critical discourse analysis. This allowed for the identification of rheto-
rical and ideological tropes, which cut across all of the categories identified.
4
These
are prolific cross-fertilization, a highly personalized politics of emotion and a pre-
occupation with evolutionary psychology and high levels of ideological elasticity.
These tropes not only signal significant departures from earlier iterations of mascu-
linity politics but also point to important and often contradictory reformulations of
antifeminist masculinities. The following is an attempt to identify and theorize these
articulations of masculinity in relation to the political, ideological, and technological
contexts from which they have emerged.
The Red Pill Men: Where Global, Local, and Regional
Masculinities Converge
Firstly, the data indicate that the technological affordances of social media have
radically increased the flow of antifeminist ideas and information across groups,
platforms, and geographical boundaries. Hyperlinking to and reposting articles, blog
entries, memes, and videos have enabled the rapid spread and homogenization of
Ging 7
MRA rhetoric throughout the Anglophone world and beyond. AVFM provides
links to affiliates in twelve different countries, while the UK site AngryHarry.
com contains links to a raft of mostly American groups and blogs, operating
across a broad range of platforms, including Twitter and YouTube. The geekier/
r/TheRedPill subreddit, which links to nine other Red Pill-related subreddits,
also provides links to more mainstream sites such as the Rational Male, Illimi-
table Men, Dalrock, Alpha Game, and The Red Pill Room. The most striking
manifestation of this homogenization is the proliferation of red pill terminology,
which started on the /r/TheRedPill subreddit dedicated to antifeminism and the
defense of rape culture but which has subsequently spread into MRA and
MGTOW spaces. Even the TradCon site Masculine by Design features a Red
Pill tab, along with Bible studies, Christianity, game, sex, and never marry a
woman over thirty (NMAWOT). This rapid propagation of Red Pill
“philosophy” across multiple platforms demonstrates how a compelling cultural
motif has succeeded in balancing emotion and ideology to generate consensus
and belonging among the manosphere’s divergent elements, and suggests that
these assemblages have fused together in very similar ways to the affective
publics described by Papacharissi (2014).
This prolific cross-fertilization of ideas is also strongly evident in discussions
about Gamergate, which garnered widespread support from PUAs, MRAs,
MGTOWs, and even TradCons, despite the fact that its antifeminist rhetoric is
largely dominated by atheist and libertarian sensibilities. PUA Roosh V has used
it as an opportunity to launch a gaming website called Reaxxion, devoted to hosting
Gamergate’s antifeminist propaganda, while Christian science fiction writer and
game designer Theodore Beale (Vox Day) perceives it as symbolic in the fight
against threats to Western values. According to Beale, “At this point, #GamerGate
is about more than games now. It is a Schwerpunkt in the ongoing cultural war for the
West.”
5
This coalescence of diverse and transnational political sensibilities around
affectively charged focal points such as Gamergate and The Red Pill calls to mind
Connell and Messerschmidt’s (2005) call for greater recognition of the interplay
among local, regional, and global masculinities. Moreover, these examples demon-
strate how the rhetoric of free speech and antipolitical correctness can be used to
serve both conservative Christian and atheist interests when the common enemy is
perceived to be feminism.
Toxic Technocultures and the Politics of Sentiment
Besides transnational homogenization, the most striking features of the new anti-
feminist politics are its extreme misogyny and proclivity for personal attacks. This
marks a significant departure from men’s rights before social media or what Papa-
charissi (2014) terms “the rationally based deliberative protocols of public spheres,”
coupled with a clear move toward what Ahmed (2004) describes as “the cultural
politics of emotion.” It is common in MRA discussion threads for women to be
8Men and Masculinities XX(X)
referred to as “cumdumpsters,” “feminazis,” “femtards,” and “cunts.” This is espe-
cially prevalent on 4/chan/b, on subreddits such as /r/TheRedPill, /r/MensRights,
6
and /r/MensRants, and on the anti-PUA site Sluthate.com. Interestingly, the man-
datory anonymity associated with these geekier spaces is now increasingly evident
on more mainstream forums such as AVFM or AngryHarry.com, where almost all
commenters operate under pseudonyms.
Closelylinkedtothisuncheckedmisogynyisanincreasingshiftawayfrom
activism and lobbying toward ad hominem invective and personalized, often spec-
tacular, attacks on individual feminists. This has been most evident in the prolif-
eration of death and rape threats made by men’s rights advocates to female
journalists, game developers, and games journalists. Contrary to mainstream
media coverage, as Shannon Sun-Higginson’s documentary GTFO (2014) demon-
strates, hate campaigns against women and female gamers precede by several
years the targeting of Zoe Quinn, which sparked the Gamergate controversy in
August 2014. Originating mainly but not exclusively from the geek and gamer
category, strategies include the mass filing of fake rape reports, hacking women’s
websites and Wikipedia pages, doxing (retrieval and online broadcasting of per-
sonally identifiable information), distributed denial of service attacks (attempts to
incapacitate an online service by swarming it with traffic from multiple sources),
using graphic porn as a weapon against women, and manipulating images. Cum
tributes, known as “tribs,” involve videoing the act of ejaculating on the photos of
women’s faces and uploading the video, often without consent. In 2012, self-
described “feminist humiliator” Benjamin Daniel debuted an online game called
Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, which allowed players to punch and disfigure the
Canadian feminist and media critic, while others made memes of her being raped
by the game character Mario. At the time of data collection, Sarkeesian continued
to be attacked across multiple manosphere platforms. The following comments,
posted in response to an article in Tech News Today and linked on KokatuInAction,
were typical:
7
A: You don’t understand. She has a vagina, so therefore is physically incapable of
sin. She received the same amount of abuse and harassment as Jack Thompson,
but her vagina entitled her to boatloads of money, while Thompson crashed and
burned.
B: Not a day goes by that I don’t get called a cunt on Twitter, and threatened with
death. The affect on my health has likely been positive since I laugh at the idiots
who send me death threats and correct their grammar. Perhaps attempting to
navigate the world as an adult would help Neetie?
C: The difference between an adult woman and an insecure lying attention
whore.
While Gamergate is strongly associated with Reddit, 4/chan, and the beta upris-
ing, this shift toward the personal intimidation of women is not restricted to the
manosphere’s geek factions, as is evidenced by AVFM’s publishing of a fake White
Ging 9
ribbon.org site in 2014. AVFM has also been involved in numerous cyberstalking
campaigns, most famously of Canadian feminist Chanty Binx in 2013 by AVFM
blogger Dan Perrins, with the result that her face has become ubiquitous in anti-
feminist memes (Futrelle 2016). Binx’s case also demonstrates another key trope of
the new antifeminism, namely, its appropriation as a platform for Islamophobia and
racism. In January 2016, Richard Dawkins shared a cartoon video featuring Binx on
Twitter with his 1.3 million followers. The video, entitled Feminists Love Islamists,
was posted by notorious British antifeminist Sargon of Akkad and ended with Binx
encouraging the “Islamist” to rape her. This perversion of intersectionality not only
appeals to the Islamophobic sensibilities underpinning both atheist and Christian
elements of the manosphere but it is also routinely used as a strategy to deny the
existence of rape culture in the west and thus to recuperate the virtue of white
Western masculinity. The following comments posted in response to an MRA
YouTube video about the alleged Cologne attacks in January 2016 exemplify this
discursive trope:
A: What’s funny is Western women often treat men from their country like rape
happy peons, but the moment they’re in actual danger of sexual assault from men
who were raised to actually see them as sex objects, then they want their “real
men.” Too bad ladies. Let’s see how good having a man’s balls in your purse will
do you when Abdul Mohammed Yousef Camel Jockey tries to give you some
“cultural enrichment” dribbling down your chin.
B: These women are not just getting non-con’d (raped), they’re copping it in a truly
diverse fashion—in the ass, mouth, and vag. And its all on themselves. Lube up,
ladies, it’s time for the diversification you’ve been asking for.
8
This tendency toward personalized attacks supports the argument made by
Papacharissi (2014) that emotion—in this case anger—is a key driver in the polit-
ical coalescence of digitally networked publics. In an article posted on Return of
Kings entitled “Top 10 Worst Female Role Models In The Entire World,” Matt
Forney opines that, “One of the most disturbing aspects of modern culture is the
mainstream media’s obsession with promoting slutty, corrupt, and untrustworthy
women under the guise of ‘empowerment.’”
9
Among the women listed are Hilary
Clinton, Lena Dunham, Angela Merkel, Beyonce´, and Sheryl Sandberg. Also
captured in the data were numerous threads on the /r/MensRights subreddit
attacking British lawyer Charlotte Proudman and Australian feminist writer
Clementine Ford. The following comments were posted on /r/MensRights in
response to an article entitled “Man Who Called Feminist Writer Clementine Ford
A ‘Slut’ On Facebook Loses Job”:
10
A: This bitch and all the other “feminist” whores like her are destined for a slow
painful and lonely death. Because no self-respecting man worth his name will
have anything to do with her except sex. And when she gets older as all women
inevitably do, not even that.
10 Men and Masculinities XX(X)
B: Clementine forward needs to do more yoga and be less of an angry cunt.
edit: how did I guess she would have gross tattoos?
C: What an incredible slut whore.
Taken together, the above findings indicate a marked shift from a predominantly
political to a broadly cultural discourse, including a move toward more visual,
video- and meme-based articulations of men’s rights. This is accompanied by a
greater preoccupation with men’s personal relationships and psychological and
emotional pain rather than with collective political action. While many men’s rights
sites still give advice about family law, their focus is intensely personal and anec-
dotal. As Andrejevic (2013) has argued, in an era of information overload, infor-
mation sources and interpretative authority have been radically relativized, and
systemic analysis is often subordinated to fact checking and “gut feelings.” In this
sense, most men’s rights rhetoric functions less as a call to political action and more
as a channel for the collective venting of anger.
To what extent, then, can these toxic practices be described as hegemonic? The
data tell us nothing about Red Pillers’ age, social class, or how they enact mascu-
linity offline, allowing for the possibility that, in some instances, these may be
subordinated masculinities performing forms of hegemonic masculinity online. In
a recent Guardian article entitled “Swallowing the Red Pill: A Journey to Heart of
Modern Misogyny,” Stephen Marche (2016) asks, “Are we our real selves online or
off? Is the screen the place where we indulge the fantasies that our offline selves
would never dare? Or is the screen where we perform the truth of our being that that
world of faces and consequences does not permit?” The question risks slipping into
essentializing discourses of the “real self” and false dichotomies between the online
world and “real life” as well as overlooking the fact that multiple and hybrid mas-
culinities are regularly performed in different social contexts in order to maintain
male hegemony (Demetriou 2001; Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). In this sense,
it is irrelevant whether these masculinities relate to men’s “real selves,” as they have
both the intention and the effect of reasserting male sexual and cultural dominance.
That this might be achieved through exaggerated performances of misogyny and the
simultaneous mobilization of tropes of victimhood is nothing new. As David Savran
(1998) and others (Hanke 1998; Carroll 2011) have noted, the discourse of white
male suffering has become a dominant trope in American culture and is a deliberate
strategy to reinstate the normalcy of white male privilege through the articulation of
its loss. This oscillation between hegemonic and subordinate patterns of discourse is
especially evident in the manosphere’s appropriation of evolutionary psychology,
discussed in more detail below.
Alpha, Beta, and Zeta Masculinities
To the extent that they shared a common doctrine, pre-Internet men’s rights groups
relied mostly on sex role theory (Messner 1998). The political rhetoric of the
Ging 11
manosphere, by contrast, is almost exclusively dominated by evolutionary psychol-
ogy, which relies heavily on genetic determinism to explain male and female beha-
viors in relation to sexual selection. Notwithstanding the objective limitations of
evolutionary psychology, whose problematic influence has been noted across a range
of social and cultural contexts (Ging 2009; O’Neill 2015b; Cameron 2015), the mano-
sphere’s engagement with this field is limited to the superficial interpretation and
recycling of theories to support a recurring catalogue of claims: that women are
irrational, hypergamous, hardwired to pair with alpha males, and need to be domi-
nated. Moreover, these evolutionary biological concepts have been heavily masculi-
nized and geekified to give rise to a uniquely misogynist, heterosexist, and racist
lexicon, which includes terms such as cuck (a weak man whose girlfriend cheats on
him, usually with black men), negging (giving backhanded compliments designed to
undermine women’s confidence), friendzoning (sexually rejecting a man because he is
a friend), going caveman (sexually dominating a woman), zero night stand (having sex
without staying the night), shit testing (see below), the bitch shield (female defense
against unwanted male attention), and pawning (using attractive women to demon-
strate high SMV or sexual market value). Although this terminology originated among
the PUAs or seduction community, it is now prevalent across all categories of the
manosphere as well as in mainstream Internet spaces such Urban Dictionary. In a
typical article posted on /r/TheRedPill entitled “HumanSockPuppet’s Guide to Man-
aging Your Bitches,”
11
the original poster (OP) offers the following advice:
Remember, women are children: mentally, behaviorally, and evolutionarily. They are
not like us. They don’t think like us or have the same deep sense of personal
responsibility.
Even the most sociopathic man will intuitively know when he has crossed a bound-
ary and offended another man .... Evolving this instinct was the key to a man’s ability
to either strategically make enemies or avoid unwanted conflicts.
Women, on the other hand, evolved no such instinct. On the contrary, women
evolved the instinct to push a man’s buttons as a way of testing his willingness to face
conflict head-on (what we call shit testing). A man who is willing to fight against her
will also fight for her. Likewise, a man who caves before her will most certainly cave
before his enemies.
In a piece on the /r/mgtow subreddit entitled “Men ARE the primary victims of
female nature,” OP LonelyDalek recommends avoiding women completely on the
grounds that they are hardwired not to care about men:
12
Women’s nature is procreation oriented because it is their bodies that carry the wombs
to gestate and deliver the next generation ...In this paradigm of things, there is no
incentive for the women to actually give a damn about the well-being of the man/men
providing for her; in fact, it is in her best interest to not be attached to a single man in
particular, but keep monkey branching to a stronger, better provider.
12 Men and Masculinities XX(X)
This turbocharged genetic determinism is most blatantly and consistently mani-
fested, however, in the manosphere’s confused and contradictory theories about alpha,
beta, omega, and zeta masculinity. The most prevalent of these is “alpha fux beta
bux,” a key MRA and PUA argument positing that women seek alpha males for sex—
or, as one commenter on Sluthate.com puts it, “They want the bad boy thugs who
make their pussy tingle”
13
—but, due to scarcity, will settle for and financially exploit
beta males. A version of this logic operates on the TradCon sites but is referred to as
the “alpha widow” phenomenon, whereby women who have had sex outside of
marriage will always be haunted by fantasies of their previous alpha male lovers and
will never be satisfied by a beta male husband.
14
It is frequently argued by TradCons
such as Dalrock that this is the main reason for marriage failure and divorce.
Responses to the alpha–beta conundrum are confused and contradictory. Some
argue that men, having swallowed the red pill, should reject their beta status and strive
to achieve alpha masculinity. Ironwood (2013), for example, claims that the mano-
sphere is the key space in which alpha masculinity will be collectively revalorized,
enthusiastically positing that, “The process has already begun. The Revolt of the Betas
is at hand.” According to AVFM’s Paul Elam, however, alpha masculinity has been
hijacked by feminists and is now part of the “gynocentric establishment.” There is
nothing to be gained, therefore, in aspiring to become “beta enforcers masquerading as
alpha controllers.” Paradoxically, he argues that feminism is the natural articulation of
women’s “raw, biological power,” since women’s choices determine the survival of
the species. He calls on men to transcend biology by becoming zeta males, who do not
fit into the current hierarchy. The zeta male is a sociosexual warrior, who “is emergent
and unpolished and struggling to find his legs, but is doing so thanks to the fertile, safe
ground, provided by, of all things, other emerging zetas on the Internet.”
15
The geek and gamer elements of the men’s rights community have adopted a
significantly different strategy regarding beta masculinity. These cultures rail
against rather than aspire to the alpha males of jock culture, whom they refer to
as chads, normies, and frat boys (Nagle 2015), and instead embrace self-deprecating
identifiers such as “incel” (involuntarily celebate) and “betafag.” This language of
victimhood and aggrieved entitlement (Kimmel 2015) became especially pro-
nounced in the rhetoric of the “beta uprising” and has been linked almost exclusively
with 4/chan/. However, although the beta factions of the manosphere consider them-
selves to be subcultural and perform complex linguistic and memetic boundary work
(Miltner 2014) to establish their difference and to exclude women, “n00bs” and
chads, their discourse of beta victimhood has spread back into the manosphere’s
mainstream MRA and MGTOW spaces. On most platforms, confused debates about
alpha and beta masculinity prevail. As one Reddit commenter resignedly put it:
Bringing red pill to the masses isn’t going to fix society because every man can’t be the
“alpha” and just like feminists can’t force men to be attracted to tattooed hambeasts
with rainbow hair, TRP can’t force women to be attracted to omegas and beta orbiters.
TRP is about dealing with what is, not what we wish it was.
16
Ging 13
It is difficult to take beta male claims to subordinated and marginalized mascu-
linity seriously. Their extreme expressions of misogyny and racism and frequent
engagement in hacking and doxing are clearly indicative of a desire to establish male
hegemony in the online spaces they inhabit, even if they may lack such claims to
power in off-line contexts. It seems more accurate, therefore, to describe them as
hybrid masculinities, whose self-positioning as victims of feminism and political
correctness enables them to strategically distance themselves from hegemonic mas-
culinity, while simultaneously compounding existing hierarchies of power and
inequality online (Bridges and Pascoe 2014). The concept of hybrid masculinity
thus seems especially well suited to explaining the ways in which geek masculinity
“both repudiates and reifies elements of hegemonic masculinity” (Connell and
Messerschmidt 2005) and, in particular, to how beta males may position themselves
through radically different discursive practices in their online and offline lives.
Gay Brahs
17
and the Manosphere’s Ideological Elasticity
This “dialectical pragmatism” (Demetriou 2001) is arguably at its most sophisticated
in the deeply contradictory discourses around homosexuality that characterize the
geek and gamer factions of the manosphere. While homophobic language is rife, the
culture is generally accepting of homosexuality, as it is of any sexual expressions
that are perceived to be transgressive. On a lengthy /r/TheRedPill thread entitled
“Gay Men vs Feminism: An Unexpected Ally,” both gay and heterosexual men
profess antifeminist sentiments, frequently engaging both misogynistic and homo-
phobic language that goes unchecked. The following comments are typical:
A: Anytime you have 2 or more gay guys, they either have or will attract some
histrionic, overly dramatic fag hag orbiter that they will try to unload on your
cock ASAP just to get her to leave them alone.
Easiest pussy ever or I’ll eat crow.
B: RP gay men are truly our greatest allies. Your established victim status means
that you can say shit that we couldn’t say in a million years. You won’t just get
away with it; people will love you for it.
C: A gay man’s ability to resist the lure of pussy has allowed us many of us to
become wealthy and politically active. I truly believe gay people will play a
pivotal role in resisting the feminist movement, just as lesbians played a key role
in getting it started.
D: Hey. I’m gay too and I am a man first and foremost. I’m just glad to see that I’m
not the only one here swallowing the red pill.
18
According to Nagle (2015, 2016), beta males cannot be theorized as hegemonic on
the basis that they are anticonservative, queer-friendly, and nonathletic. However, here
we see masculinities conventionally described as subordinated (homosexuals) and
14 Men and Masculinities XX(X)
marginalized (geeks) mobilizing progay discourse in a bid to establish internal hege-
mony (Demetriou 2001) over women. Moreover, as Nagle (2016) herself argues, geek
culture is on an upward trajectory in terms of its external hegemonic status:
In the information age, the tastes and values of geeks are elevated above the masculine
virtues of physical strength and material productivity that preceded them. Today, the
market ideology of the information society is ascendant ...and it is immensely com-
fortable with its cultural power, which means that it happily accommodates transgres-
sion, gender fluidity, self-expression, and an abundant choice of niche online
subcultural identities.
Thus, while they may reject the conventional signifiers of more traditional var-
iants of hegemonic masculinity, such as homophobia, physical prowess, and wealth-
based status, it appears that these men are no less invested in achieving hegemony
over women than their jock predecessors.
Significantly, this gay positivity among MRAs is not restricted to 4/chan and
Reddit. The mainstream American men right’s group AVFM boasts A Voice for Gay
Men page, in which Paul Elam claims that gay men “are the original ‘MGTOW,’
which has always made them the object of ire in a culture where men are supposed to
be indentured, not free to pursue life without the typical biological chains.” These
progay antifeminist discourses thus discredit Anderson’s (2009) claim that a less
homohysterical culture engenders more inclusive masculinities. On the contrary, gay
positivity functions here to unite white, middle-class men, irrespective of sexual
orientation, against feminism and other forms of “political correctness” that are
perceived as threats to freedom of expression and, ultimately, to their social privi-
lege. The ideological machinations of the manosphere serve as a stark demonstra-
tion, therefore, of how reduced homohysteria can happily coexist with extreme
expressions of misogyny and racism, indicating that inclusive masculinity theory’s
concept of inclusivity is limited to white, middle-class men.
Conclusion
It is difficult to determine the extent to which the expressions of aggrieved entitle-
ment that characterize the manosphere are genuinely felt and/or strategically
motivated. Certainly, white male privilege has been disturbed by a number of
well-documented factors; destabilization of the labor market and the alleged
“feminization” of the postindustrial workplace (Messner and Montez de Oca
2005); downward mobility, wage stagnation, and underemployment (Kimmel
2015); and a growing recognition of the rights of women, lesbian, gay, bisexual,
queer, transgender people, and people of color. What is clear from this analysis,
however, is that these hybrid masculinities are increasingly adept at confounding
certain gender expectations in their attempts to defeat feminism and secure various
online spaces as homosocial. Their capacity for hybridization is enhanced not only
by the transnational nature and technological affordances of social media, whereby
Ging 15
interest groups with similar agendas can more easily find one another though polar-
izing tropes such as the red pill, but also by the intense personalization of men’s
rights politics. Freed from older models of political consensus and rational debate, a
new politics of emotion and individualism facilitates ever greater creativity, ideo-
logical fluidity, and strategic performativity. While the manosphere is by no means
an ideologically homogenous bloc, accommodating much infighting between Chris-
tian and atheist, homophobic and progay, and pro- and anti-MGTOW and PUA
elements, what is perhaps most striking is the way in which ostensibly contradictory
masculine formulations—alpha, beta, jock, geek, straight, gay, Christian, and athe-
ist—can coalesce around any number of contentious issues or flash point events
when the common goal is to defeat feminism or keep women out of the space. What
unites these multiple masculinities, then, is a common preoccupation with male
hegemony as it relates to heterosexual—not homosexual—gender relations, whether
that relationship is one of wishful identification with or strategic disavowal of the
alpha male ideal.
The loose networks of the manosphere thus materialize and disband around con-
nective conduits of sentiment (Papacharissi 2016), by mobilizing and reifying narra-
tives of personal suffering to build affective consensus about an allegedly collective,
gendered experience, namely men’s position in the social hierarchy as a result of
feminism. Given the ways in which these echo chambers function, most notably to
exclude, intimidate, and spectacularly punish some women with a view to warning off
all women (Siapera 2015), the issue is not whether there is a direct or meaningful
correlation between the manosphere’s articulations of antifeminism and the actual
people who produce them. Rather it is inunderstandingthe manosphere as a discursive
system or network of systems and in seeking to determine the extent of the ideological,
psychological, and material power it exerts. In 2005, Connell and Messerschmidt
believed there was little reason to think that hybridization had become hegemonic
at the regional or global level. However, the manosphere’s transcendence of local,
regional, and global categories and its capacity for discursive aggregation and ampli-
fication complicate this picture considerably: notwithstanding the Internet’s consid-
erable limitations as a functioning public sphere (Dean 2003), if women cannot work,
represent themselves, or articulate gender-political opinion online without fear of hate
speech or harassment, the outlook for gender equality and democracy generally is
bleak. Unlike earlier, geographically specific formulations, the hegemony of hybrid
masculinities in the manosphere cannot be contained or localized: they travel to
whichever spaces they perceive as threatening male privilege and thus also exert a
powerful chilling effect on the Internet’s nonmanosphere spaces (Jane 2017, 4). In this
sense, they at least threaten to become digitally hegemonic. Further ethnographic
research is needed to explore this claim, both with adherents of these groups and with
women whose online and offline lives and careers have been adversely affected. At
present, however, it appears that masculinity politics have reached a deeply affective
and toxic juncture, representing a significant threat to the capacity of digital feminisms
and women generally to operate online.
16 Men and Masculinities XX(X)
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Research Fellowship Programme
2015–2016 at Dublin City University.
Notes
1. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/manosphere
2. The Gamergate video game controversy began in August 2014 when game developer Zoe
Quinn’s former boyfriend published a blog post naming a list of men she’d allegedly slept
with to promote her game Depression Quest. Although his allegations were false, this
sparked a movement that continues to be framed as an ethical stance against corruption in
the gaming media. Female gamers, journalists, and game developers are still receiving
rape and death threats.
3. These were /r/KotakuInAction, /r/TheRedPill, /r/MensRights, /r/MensRants, 4/chan/b,
Sluthate, Thunderf00t, PUAHate, Chateau Heartiste aka Roissy, Roosh V, Mystery, RSD
Nation, Julien Blanc, Return of Kings, A Voice for Men, MensRights, MensRightsMove-
ment, Stand Your Ground, Fathers 4 Justice, AngryHarry.com, Vox Day, Red Pill Phi-
losophy, manosphere, MensActivism, TheAntifeminist, VivaLaManosphere, Puerarchy,
The Rational Male, Illimitable Men, The Red Pill Room, MGTOW, Vox Day, Male
Defender, Dalrock, Alpha Game, The Cydonian Signal, Things That We Have Heard
and Known, and Masculine by Design.
4. This is a necessarily imperfect process as content is always changing and samples vary in
both format (blog posts, videos, and discussion threads) and size.
5. Accessed October 30, 2014, http://voxday.blogspot.ie/2014/10/brad-wardell-sets-record-
straight.html.
6. The /r/MensRights subreddit was included in a list of twelve websites in the spring 2012
issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report in a section called
“Misogyny: The Sites.”
7. http://www.technewstoday.com/28193-tropes-vs-women-on-the-verge-of-close-down/,
posted on /r/KokatuInAction, “Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women series is “looking
forward to its last few days,” January 23, 2016.
8. Comments in response to YouTube Video “Thoughts on Cologne Germany” posted on
subreddit https://www.reddit.com/r/MensRants on January 12, 2016 by MRMRising
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v¼wCEupFTYKG8, uploaded January 7, 2016).
9. http://www.returnofkings.com/78093/top-10-worstfemale-role-models-in-the-entire-world
10. Max Chalmers, New Matilda.com, https://newmatilda.com/2015/11/30/man-who-called-
feminist-writer-clementine-ford-a-slut-on-facebook-loses-job/, November 30, 2015.
Ging 17
11. Accessed October 21, 2015, https://www.reddit.com/r/TheRedPill/comments/3pltm2/
humansockpuppets_guide_to_managing_your_bitches/
12. Accessed November 29, 2015, https://www.reddit.com/r/MGTOW/comments/3urya2/
men_are_the_primary_victims_of_female_nature/.
13. December 25, 2015 on thread “The reason we’re INCEL” on Sluthate.com (http://
sluthate.com/viewtopic.php?f¼2&t¼1007032).
14. https://dalrock.wordpress.com/?s¼alphawidow
15. http://www.avoiceformen.com/men/the-plague-ofmodern-masculinity/
16. Thread entitled “I’m sick and fucking tired of men who enable women and their ‘it’s not
my fault’ bullshit victim complex,” /r/TheRedPill, December 5, 2014.
17. Brah is a variant of bro, a now mainstreamed term for man or male friend, which has
given rise to multiple neologisms (bromance, brojob, broner, etc.).
18. Gay Men vs. Feminism: An Unexpected Ally, /r/TheRedPill, January 30, 2015.
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http://www.salon.com/2015/10/05/the_beta_rebellion_has_begun_4chan_warnings_
about_more_school_shootings_arent_satire_theyre_sick/.
Author Biography
Debbie Ging is a senior lecturer in media studies at Dublin City University, Ireland, and the author
of Men and Masculinities in Irish Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Her current research is
concerned with articulations of gender in social media and addresses issues such as cyberbullying,
online misogyny, men’s rights politics, eating disorders, and the sexualization of children.
20 Men and Masculinities XX(X)
... This expression in academic literature usually refers to the network of online communities and platforms that, on a global basis, are diffusing misogynistic and antifeminist positions [2,3]. Contesting gender and men's studies, the manosphere's groups, despite their internal differences and even conflicts, elaborate alternative explanations of contemporary gender relations and masculinities. ...
... Other research has shown that this theory interprets heterosexual sexual relationships as a marketplace where every human being has a sexual market value (SMV) [5]. Men's discourses about sexuality in the manosphere posit a hypergamic vision of sex and the existence of a hierarchy among men based on their success in having sex with women: at the top lie Alpha males (also named Chads), followed by Betas and Omegas [2,6]. According to the Red Pill philosophy, women are inherently promiscuous because of the evolutionary need to find the most fit mate. ...
... This digital subculture mainly includes young males without a partner, often virgins, who have great difficulty interacting with the opposite sex, and who blame women and their conquest of sexual freedom for their uneasiness. The current Incel community is composed of many online groups and platforms sharing certain beliefs, values, codes and in-group jargon, engendering and supporting a sense of unity and emotional closeness among its members [2,7]. Moreover, the language, emotional tone and contents of Incel discourses is resentfully misogynist and racist [2,4,7]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Academic research is dedicating growing attention to the phenomenon known as the manosphere, where genders and (hetero)sexual relations are explained according to the so-called Red Pill philosophy and LMS theory. In this article, we critically analyze these theories and their pseudoscientific assumptions using a Bourdieusian framework, and we analyze the empirical effects they have in the Incel and Red Pill Italian communities through the example of the “Aranzulla case”. By exploring the “Redpiller” blog and two Incel forums (“Forum of the uglies” and “Forum of the Incel”), we found that, on one hand, the Red Pill and LMS theories are strongly contradictory in themselves because, even if they combine socio-economic and biological theories to explain sexual relations, they assume a fixed vision of gender based on (supposedly) natural inclinations. On the other hand, our results show that these theories promote misogynistic content blaming women for men’s unsatisfaction, but they actually unveil intragender dynamics. Indeed, they produce tensions inside the manosphere, by creating hierarchies of masculinities, and around the possibility of escaping the biological destiny linked to the Incel condition.
... Ao usufruírem dos privilégios masculinos, os incels contribuem para perpetuar o domínio sobre as mulheres no contexto on-line. Há indícios, recolhidos no formato de posts e manifestações on-line, de que essas masculinidades estão associadas a homens jovens, brancos, heterossexuais e dotados de alto capital cultural, isso é, homens que de certa forma ocupam espaços privilegiados na hierarquia de prestígio social (Ging, 2019;Kendall, 2011;Massanari, 2017). Nagle (2016) problematiza o uso do conceito de "masculinidade hegemônica" para descrever esse fenômeno, ao afirmar que interpretar a misoginia on-line como mais uma de suas manifestações seria totalmente descabido, uma vez que Connell (2005), ao descrever o construto em seu livro Masculinities, argumenta que as palavras nerd e geek são identificadas como atributos de masculinidades subalternas. ...
... Por outro lado, as masculinidades que se veem como subalternas e excluídas dos relacionamentos amorosos, e de toda uma gramática social-afetiva, isso é, uma expectativa social acerca dos relacionamentos amorosos, são as mesmas que instauram um regime de dominação e exclusão no ambiente on-line. É dessa aparente contradição que emerge o conceito de "masculinidade híbrida" (Connell, 2005;Ging, 2019), que sustenta a possibilidade de as masculinidades se apropriarem de características tidas como subalternas em relação à masculinidade hegemônica, mas garantindo ainda a dominação em oposição às mulheres. ...
... Partimos da pergunta: seria a misoginia on-line distinta da misoginia off-line? Inspirados em Ging (2019), constatamos que os efeitos da misoginia são reais independentemente do meio por onde germina e toma forma esse tipo de pensamento. A superação de barreiras territoriais e limitações geográficas favorece as condições para que tais eventos ocorram e explica a capilaridade e amplificação desses discursos que excedem as práticas misóginas do mundo off-line. ...
Article
Este estudo teórico tem como objetivo problematizar como os discursos misóginos e antifeministas são produzidos e disseminados contemporaneamente no mundo digital. O conceito de masculinidade hegemônica é trazido à baila para problematizar as formações discursivas que se materializam através de ideias importadas de sites estrangeiros em plataformas digitais brasileiras. Destacamos o discurso misógino corrente em fóruns alinhados à nova Direita (alt-right), que tem se abrigado sob o termo guarda-chuva manosphere ("esfera masculina"), um conjunto de páginas on-line e redes sociais conectadas entre si por seu teor "ultramasculino". Identificamos um artifício alegórico - a RedPill (pílula vermelha), adotado na manosphere para nomear o processo pelo qual os homens/usuários finalmente tomam consciência da "realidade" da "ditadura feminista" que subjuga a masculinidade heterossexual. Com apoio do marco teórico dos estudos de gênero e estudos culturais propomos compreender esse fenômeno a partir da análise de mensagens de texto e posts extraídos do universo digital que buscam delimitar o "homem-de-verdade" em detrimento das masculinidades submissas (beta, como são chamadas as não dominantes). Conclui-se que no cenário digital os fluxos discursivos misóginos encontram um terreno fértil para proliferarem, engendrando práticas discursivas que convergem para o reforço da dominação masculina.
... With this work, we are building on prior research that has explored the types of social gendered engagement that social media and new technologies afford, promote and reproduce (Cirucci, 2017;Nagy and Neff, 2015;Schwartz and Neff, 2019;Semenzin and Bainotti, 2020). We are advancing knowledge on the performance of masculinity in online settings (Ging, 2019;Trott, 2020), paying attention to the ways in which digital (trolling) masculinity are embedded in a complex and mutually forming relationship with gendered affordances and online border politics (Graham, 2019;Hodge and Hallgrimsdottir, 2020). ...
... In this work, we are approaching Forocoches taking into account previous research that has focused on how online spaces have evolved into masculine spaces (Schaap, 2006). Considering this, we view the manosphere as a conglomerate of online masculine spaces (Ging, 2019) among which we locate Forocoches. We draw on the work of cultural and virtual geography to conceptualise Forocoches as a place inside the manosphere. ...
Article
Forocoches is an underexplored online forum, part of the Spanish manosphere, notorious for its misogynistic and trolling content. In this work, we understand Forocoches, through the metaphor of the bar, as a distinct (online) place where men go to talk and joke around. The interaction of very specific affordances enables the creation of a particular masculinist online culture. The data in this article are drawn from a combination of the walkthrough method with a qualitative content analysis of the forum. Results show that Forocoches' affordances facilitate the reproduction of masculinist digital practices, particularly trolling-based. The performance of trolling masculinities thus emerges, afforded by the functionalities and diverse uses of the platform, configuring itself as a socially acceptable archetype of digital (hegemonic) masculinity. As a result of this afforded masculinist engagement, the online borders of Forocoches are delineated, clearly distinguishing among insiders and others, which could lead to further reinforcing of hegemonic masculinity.
... En conjunto, destacamos los siguientes ejes argumentales sobre los que se sostienen dichos discursos: una crítica al feminismo de cuarta generación, una crítica a los conceptos de sexo y género, el discurso sobre las subvenciones públicas, y, por último, la asociación del feminismo con el comunismo. Algunos de los otros discursos que aparecen en estas obras son la cuestión sobre la ley contra la violencia de género en España, las violaciones y ataques sexuales, la brecha salarial y las condiciones laborales, la maternidad, las "falsas denuncias" por violencia de género, el debate sobre la ley trans, etc.En gran parte, se reproducen en estas obras los discursos antifeministas que encontramos en la manosphera(Ging, 2019; Gotell y Dutton, 2016) y que enlazan de forma directa con la reacción de miedo protagonizada por los hombres blancos heterosexuales frente a la posibilidad de perder sus privilegios, y en parte, también encontramos la idea de que las feministas son víctimas privadas de agencia por su propio discurso, lo que resulta negativo para que un amplio espectro de mujeres se sienta identificado con los logros y luchas de dicho movimiento. En dicho contexto, y dentro de este período de mayor visibilización de las reclamaciones por la igualdad de género, es necesario prestar atención a las reacciones que éstas tienen. ...
Article
Full-text available
Todo período de fortalecimiento en la consecución de hitos sociales comporta una reacción paralela de un sector conservador de la sociedad, en este sentido, los recientes hitos feministas alcanzados concretamente en el Estado español, también han sido acompañadas de reacciones diversas que esgrimen discursos de oposición a dicho movimiento. Frente a las exigencias sociales de una mayor igualdad de género, estos discursos reactivos han acabado encontrando lugar en los medios de comunicación y en la esfera social, convirtiéndose en parte del imaginario social sobre el feminismo. En este artículo tratamos de aportar luz sobre cuáles son los ejes argumentales sobre los que se sostienen los discursos sociales de oposición al movimiento feminista vigentes en el Estado español en la actualidad. Para desarrollar dicha labor analizaremos el contenido de dos obras de reciente publicación, editadas en dicho territorio, donde se pueden rastrear los discursos sociales críticos con el feminismo.
... Another group of research studies have analyzed sex buyer online forums (Alves & Cafighliere 2020;Blevins and Holt, 2009;Rosario Sanchez, 2016;Ging, 2017). On the forums, information is exchanged about women who are prostituted and new sex buyers learn tips about becoming a freier. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This research was a 6-country study (Germany, Cambodia, USA, Scotland, UK, India) with 1.5-hour in-person interviews of 763 sex buyers, including 96 freiers in Germany. In these anonymous interviews, sex buyers provided candid information about prostitution and trafficking that mirrored decades of testimony from exited prostitution survivors. Using the extensive quantitative and qualitative data collected for this research, we want to shed light on some crucial questions about prostitution. Does legal prostitution make prostitution safer? Does legal prostitution reduce violence against women in prostitution? Does legal prostitution reduce sex trafficking? Does legal prostitution reduce organized crime control of the sex trade? Are sex buyers more likely to report trafficking if prostitution is legal? Does legal prostitution prevent or reduce rape?
... Belső konfliktusok és ellentmondások ellenére ezeket a változatos csoportosulásokat egyesíti a "redpill" filozófia (erről bővebben később), mely célja a férfiak felszabadítása a feminista téveszme alól. Az érdekcsoportok e laza konföderációja a manoszféra (manosphere) (Ging, 2019). A manoszféra virágzott az olyan online fórumokon, mint a 4/chan és Reddit, de miután a fő incel Reddit kommentszálat (thread-et), az r/incels-t 2017-ben tiltották, az incelek kisebb és rejtettebb fórumokra vándoroltak (URL2). ...
Article
Cél: A tanulmány célja az incel mozgalom keletkezésének, ideológiájának, tagjai pszichéjének, a közösséghez fűződő relevánsabb elkövetéseknek és a köztük lévő összefüggéseknek, valamint a koronavírus mozgalomra gyakorolt hatásának bemutatása, végül lehetséges fellépési irányok megfogalmazása.Módszertan: Kutatásom során a témához fűződő, főleg angol nyelvű szakirodalmat tekintettem át, elemeztem, értékeltem és vetettem össze.Megállapítások: Mivel az incel ideológia az arra fogékony egyéneket hatékonyan képes radikalizálni, és az általa inspirált egyes támadások halálos áldozatainak száma magas, ezért a tanulmány arra a megállapításra jut, hogy a mozgalom szélsőséges tagjainak fenyegetése a szalafita dzsihádistákéhoz mérhető.Érték: A magyar szakirodalomban az incel mozgalom fenyegetése erősen alulkutatott, jelen tanulmány ezt pótolja, miközben a vizsgált fenyegetés elleni fellépést illetően javaslatokat is megfogalmaz.
... En conjunto, destacamos los siguientes ejes argumentales sobre los que se sostienen dichos discursos: una crítica al feminismo de cuarta generación, una crítica a los conceptos de sexo y género, el discurso sobre las subvenciones públicas, y, por último, la asociación del feminismo con el comunismo. Algunos de los otros discursos que aparecen en estas obras son la cuestión sobre la ley contra la violencia de género en España, las violaciones y ataques sexuales, la brecha salarial y las condiciones laborales, la maternidad, las "falsas denuncias" por violencia de género, el debate sobre la ley trans, etc.En gran parte, se reproducen en estas obras los discursos antifeministas que encontramos en la manosphera(Ging, 2019; Gotell y Dutton, 2016) y que enlazan de forma directa con la reacción de miedo protagonizada por los hombres blancos heterosexuales frente a la posibilidad de perder sus privilegios, y en parte, también encontramos la idea de que las feministas son víctimas privadas de agencia por su propio discurso, lo que resulta negativo para que un amplio espectro de mujeres se sienta identificado con los logros y luchas de dicho movimiento. En dicho contexto, y dentro de este período de mayor visibilización de las reclamaciones por la igualdad de género, es necesario prestar atención a las reacciones que éstas tienen. ...
Article
Full-text available
Todo período de fortalecimiento en la consecución de hitos sociales comporta una reacción paralela de un sector conservador de la sociedad, en este sentido, los recientes hitos feministas alcanzados concretamente en el Estado español, también han sido acompañadas de reacciones diversas que esgrimen discursos de oposición a dicho movimiento. Frente a las exigencias sociales de una mayor igualdad de género, estos discursos reactivos han acabado encontrando lugar en los medios de comunicación y en la esfera social, convirtiéndose en parte del imaginario social sobre el feminismo. En este artículo tratamos de aportar luz sobre cuáles son los ejes argumentales sobre los que se sostienen los discursos sociales de oposición al movimiento feminista vigentes en el Estado español en la actualidad. Para desarrollar dicha labor analizaremos el contenido de dos obras de reciente publicación, editadas en dicho territorio, donde se pueden rastrear los discursos sociales críticos con el feminismo.
... Indeed, a strand of misogyny is clearly visible in libertarianism; Okin (1989) argued that libertarian principles have been developed based on the needs and experiences of men. Sociological studies have shown libertarianism to be strongly linked to misogyny in alt-right online spaces (Ging, 2019;Salter, 2016Salter, , 2018, and antifeminist Reddit groups have been found to express right-libertarian policy preferences (Rensin, 2015). Scholars have not noted such a connection to the warm but patronizing attitudes to women encapsulated by benevolent sexism. ...
Article
Libertarianism enshrines individual autonomy as its central political principle, but it has been criticized for applying this principle selectively. Reproductive decisions can stress the concept of individual autonomy by placing into conflict the claimed rights of each biological parent to choose. Two studies (N1 = 296; N2 = 580) show that among U.S. participants, libertarianism is associated with opposition to women's reproductive autonomy and support for men's. Libertarianism was associated with opposition to abortion rights and support for men's right both to prevent women from having abortions (male veto) and to withdraw financial support for a child when women refuse to terminate the pregnancy (financial abortion). Adjusting for the association between libertarianism and conservatism, only the relationship with opposition to abortion rights was rendered nonsignificant. Mediation analyses suggest that hostile sexism may account for libertarians' selective support for men's and not women's reproductive autonomy.
Article
Involuntarily celibate men (‘incels’) commonly advocate for societal disruption, including violence toward women. Their anger can make them susceptible to radicalization, revolution, or reactionary hostility. Research efforts aimed at identifying the causes and consequences of incels’ beliefs are needed to address this growing problem.
Article
Forocoches is an underexplored online forum, part of the Spanish manosphere, notorious for its misogynistic and trolling content. In this work, we understand Forocoches, through the metaphor of the bar, as a distinct (online) place where men go to talk and joke around. The interaction of very specific affordances enables the creation of a particular masculinist online culture. The data in this article are drawn from a combination of the walkthrough method with a qualitative content analysis of the forum. Results show that Forocoches’ affordances facilitate the reproduction of masculinist digital practices, particularly trolling-based. The performance of trolling masculinities thus emerges, afforded by the functionalities and diverse uses of the platform, configuring itself as a socially acceptable archetype of digital (hegemonic) masculinity. As a result of this afforded masculinist engagement, the online borders of Forocoches are delineated, clearly distinguishing among insiders and others, which could lead to further reinforcing of hegemonic masculinity.
Book
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Misogyny Online explores the worldwide phenomenon of gendered cyberhate as a significant discourse which has been overlooked and marginalised. The rapid growth of the internet has led to numerous opportunities and benefits; however, the architecture of the cybersphere offers users unprecedented opportunities to engage in hate speech. This book weaves together data and theory from multiple disciplines. Its data sources include a meticulously archived collection of cyberhate that I received over the course of two decades working as a journalist – has already been recognised by scholars and public figures as providing a powerful, original, and timely statement about the rapidly escalating international gendered cyberhate problem and its harms. It has also been commended for offering a major contribution to the interdisciplinary study of emerging communication technologies, contemporary manifestations of hate speech, digital citizenship, internet governance, and digital divides.
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Launching in September 2012, Tinder has become a popular phenomenon in the world of online dating and hookup culture. Simultaneously, it carries notorious reputation for being home to hypersexual and toxic masculine expressions. This analysis examines Tinder Nightmares, an Instagram page featuring failed attempts at hooking up, as a site that promotes counter-disciplining the deliberate toxic masculine performances on Tinder. Through a Foucauldian lens, we argue that this page delimits the toxic masculine performances through the outward display of crude performances, the showcasing of witty responses from Tinder users, and the extension of counter-discipline through digital circulation practices on the page. Given that Tinder is a location-aware app, the discipline offered through Tinder Nightmares surfaces in interpersonal, physical, and networked spaces, as Tinder users become multiply implicated public subjects of shame across media platforms.
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How do men respond to feminist movements and to shifts in the gender order? In this paper, I introduce the concept of historical gender formation to show how shifting social conditions over the past forty years shaped a range of men's organized responses to feminism. Focusing on the US, I show how progressive men reacted to feminism in the 1970s by forming an internally contradictory 'men's liberation' movement that soon split into opposing anti‐ feminist and pro‐feminist factions. Three large transformations of the 1980s and 1990s – the professional institutionalization of feminism, the rise of a postfeminist sensibility, and shifts in the political economy (especially deindustrialization and the rise of the neoliberal state) – generated new possibilities. I end by pointing to an emergent moderate men's rights discourse that appeals to a postfeminist sensibility, and to an increasingly diverse base for men's work to prevent violence against women.
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This paper argues that the power of evolutionary psychology (EP) and the challenge it poses for feminists reside less in any new scientific knowledge EP has produced, and more in the meta-narrative it has provided for scientists whose work is not directly concerned with evolution. Using the study of sex/gender differences in language as a case study, the paper shows how EP's meta-narrative has been taken up in both expert and popular scientific discourse. It considers what gives the meta-narrative its appeal, and how feminists have contested it. It also locates the argument within the longer history of feminist responses to evolutionary science, comparing current debates with those that took place in the late nineteenth century.
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This Section of Australian Feminist Studies is the product of an event that took place at King’s College London in January 2015, hosted as part of the UK-based ‘Critical Sexology’ seminar series. Participants at this event – feminist scholars working across the fields of lin- guistics, cultural studies, sociology, and psychology – were invited to reflect on their encounters with evolutionary psychology (EP). As the event organiser, I was interested to prompt a discussion about how EP shapes the contours of contemporary feminist scholarship, insofar as arguments from EP are something feminist scholars continually find ourselves coming across and coming up against both within and outside the academy. Conversely, I was interested in thinking about how encounters with EP might illuminate certain limit-points in contemporary feminist theorising.