From the July-August 2021 issue of News & Letters
This important book, Men Who Hate Women: From Incels to Pickup Artists: The Truth About Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects Us All by Laura Bates, exposes the extreme damage caused to society by online misogynist communities, or the “manosphere.”
The involuntary celibate community of “incels” is an echo chamber attracting lonely young men, trapping them in a cycle of self-hatred. Its simplistic self-contradicting philosophy is that women are evil, disgusting, and promiscuous, choosing successful men over incels, who should rape them. It connects with white supremacism, stating that white women destroy civilization by procreating with other races.
HATRED OF WOMEN LEADS TO MASS MURDERS
Incels committed many mass murders in recent decades, writing in manifestos or online comments that they wanted revenge on society, especially women. Online incels encouraged them and gave them “sainthood,” but law enforcement and the media ignore the connection. Men committing domestic violence and rape have also committed mass murder. In both cases, openly misogynist motives are ignored, and the crime is not called terrorism, although it fits that legal definition. The media pities white terrorists but not Muslim men committing the same crime.
Pick Up Artists (PUA) also believe that women only exist to be men’s property. They sell lucrative courses and hold conventions on how to “manipulate and control all of your women” and “create a state of obedience.” The general public thinks PUAs encourage casual, consenting sex, but they actually teach sexual harassment and rape. Bates points out that young men wanting to learn how to connect with women will instead learn to put up barriers.
Men Going Their Own Way avoid relationships with women, viewed as intellectually inferior parasites (although all of these groups are also homophobic). Believing all accomplishments of civilization were by men, they say ours is in decline because women don’t know their place and “feminized” it. They popularized the term “red pilled,” meaning realizing society is controlled by women, who lie about economic and sexual oppression. They use debunked studies, influencing men to push women out of careers and to disbelieve the #MeToo movement. Famous academics using unsound logic give an appearance of respectability.
Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) split from the 1970s men’s liberation movement, which continues supporting feminism and fights men’s problems caused by patriarchy and capitalism. This is more effective than the MRAs blaming feminists for men’s job loss, dangerous and low-paying jobs, mental illness, suicidality, and relationship problems.
WOMEN ATTACKED ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Bates describes “trolls” targeting female politicians and women speaking out about sexism and racism. They send thousands of vulgar social media messages threatening rape and murder, causing women to cancel speaking events and leave careers. The mainstream media and politicians, including past President Donald Trump, repeat manosphere propaganda uncritically, blaming victims for violence and trivializing feminism. Candidates have run for office on platforms with manosphere goals such as legalizing rape.
Bates describes solutions for government, tech companies, media, and especially education. She explains that the manosphere reached out to propagandize boys with misogynist extremism (unfortunately, she incorrectly uses the term “radicalize”). Pro-feminist men and boys’ groups like Promundo, the Good Lad Initiative, and the White Ribbon Campaign equip boys to resist sexism. They teach healthy relationship skills, questioning of masculine stereotypes, and critical thinking to question any propaganda.
Bates says it’s a slow process but describes positive change in high schools where she has lectured. She previously observed boys imitating behavior they had learned online. This book aims to alert readers to the roots of many social problems and guides us towards solutions.