by Matt Forney
Recently, I was interviewed by someone from a major news outlet, working on a story about the manosphere. It went better than I expected, but midway through, the reporter asked me about the level of “hatred” and “vitriol” in the manosphere and what I think of it. My answer ran along the lines of the Private Man’s recent arguments that masculine anger is a necessary and transitional aspect of the manosphere; men who have been screwed over in more ways than one over the course of their lives have every right to be angry, and that with the exception of the MRA/MGTOW permavirgins, men get over their anger eventually and move on.
But from a more practical standpoint, what do men have to lose from being angry and confrontational?
The answer is nothing, because in the past three decades, any man who so much as deviates from the accepted script of eternal female victimhood and eternal male oppressiveness is tarred and feathered as a irredeemable misogynist. It doesn’t matter how conciliatory or polite they are, how carefully they phrase their arguments so as not to offend anyone, or even how much legitimate work they’ve done on behalf of women’s rights: they are automatically kicked out of the club.
My personal favorite examples of this are Warren Farrell and Robert Bly. Farrell’s masterwork, The Myth of Male Power, is easily one of the most influential books in the manosphere and modern masculine thought; even if you haven’t read it, you’ve read its ideas regurgitated on the Internet somewhere. Published back in 1993, The Myth of Male Power was one of the first books to confront the feminist idea that men are a monolithic oppressor class by showing the many spheres of society in which men are disadvantaged, from education to homelessness to the military.
And it was written by a lifelong feminist.
How did feminists react to the book? By giving Farrell the Night of the Long Knives treatment.
When The Myth of Male Power was published, Farrell’s former friends and allies kicked him out into the cold without a second thought, despite the fact that he wrote the book from a feminist, egalitarian perspective. To this day, his speeches at college campuses and other locales are marked by throngs of feminist protesters calling him a misogynist, a woman-hater and every other name under the sun.
As for Robert Bly, he came to fame around roughly the same time that Farrell did, as the head of the “mythopoetic men’s movement.” Bly’s philosophy, as detailed in his book Iron John, is about re-imagining masculinity to be less violent, less macho, and more sensitive, a bizarrely selective reading of history married with a New Age mindset.
Bly understood some of the problems men and boys were facing as they stood in the rubble of patriarchy, looking up to rising women. However, his solutions were forced and his New Agey tone had limited appeal. The idea of grown men going out into the woods to sit in drum circles, read poetry and talk about their feelings was cringe-worthy. It also seemed spoiled and self indulgent. But the biggest problem with Bly’s reimagining of masculinity was that it lacked balls.
You know what’s coming next.
When Iron John was published in 1990, it inspired a hysterical feminist response in the form of The Politics of Manhood: Pro-Feminist Men Respond to the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement (and the Mythopoetic Leaders Answer). As Jack Donovan writes in No Man’s Land, the book accused Bly of being homophobic and misogynistic, among other ridiculous claims. Michael Kimmel, the editor of The Politics of Manhood, would later go on to write his own book attacking mythopoetic men.
In his 1996 magnum opus, Manhood in America, Michael Kimmel hypocritically employed the script of traditional strength-based masculinity to shame Bly and Keen in his chapter on “Wimps, Whiners and Weekend Warriors.” Their attempts to nurture some meaningful connection to the myth and history of men—however carefully edited, pacified and conciliatory to feminists in spirit—were still perceived as too much of a threat to the agendas of feminist activists and academics.
As an alternative, Kimmel offered what he called a “democratic manhood.” He defined this as “a gender politics of inclusion, of standing up against injustice based on difference,” and suggested that men should embrace feminism, gay liberation, and multiculturalism as a blue-print for the reconstruction of masculinity.
Kimmel decorates his democratic manhood with a sense of struggle against adversity and vague feel of heroism, but calling this “manhood” is a crass and condescending manipulation. Kimmel’s profeminist man is a no-man. His masculinity is defined by the rejection of traditional definitions of masculinity, save for its reliance on a narrative of self-sacrifice. This democratic no-man must renounce his own sense of identity and devote his energies to helping others attain a “sure and confident” sense of themselves and “their rightful share of the sun.” He must commit himself to selfless toil on behalf of others, and he must do so without question or complaint. Kimmel assures men that somehow, by giving up the struggle to “prove manhood,” men will finally be free, and be able to “breathe a collective sigh of relief.”
And this was back in the nineties, back when people were still relatively sane and before the Internet gave every maladjusted whiner a bullhorn to organize virtual lynch mobs. Is there any benefit to being conciliatory or even nice to people who think nothing of gang-stalking their enemies and trying to destroy their lives?
Give the feminists an inch, and they’ll take the whole yardstick, beat you to death with it, then claim it was your fault.
This is why the manosphere is harsh, confrontational and provocative: because being provocative is the only way to get our message heard. It’s because the feminists treat guys like me and their supposed allies like Warren Farrell—guys who spent the better part of their lives fighting for women’s rights—with the same cruelty and amorality. It’s because waving a flag of truce at an enemy who doesn’t want to compromise is a waste of time.
Trying to find common ground with feminists and the left in general is pointless because they will always throw you overboard for being insufficiently progressive. Be angry, and take pride in your anger; despite what you’ve been told, it’s a perfectly normal reaction to how you’ve been treated in life, and it’s one of the best ways to get your point across.
Originally published at Mattforney.com