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One of the themes of this blog is the impact of massive and fast-paced cultural and technological change on values. Another theme is the ways in which causes popularized by the Baby Boomers during the 1960s and 1970s have played out today. Today's post focuses on the Millennial masculine backlash against the Boomer-led feminist movement.
Too much change, too quickly, results in social confusion (aporia) and normlessness (anomie). One reaction that restores a quick sense of direction is victimhood as a means for self-definition. This activity depends upon a violent emotional backlash against perceived abuse by groups with whom self-appointed victims do not identify. Opponents can be defined in many ways: by religion, by gender, by class, by culture or ethnicity, by politics, by institutional affiliation - or in terms of the beleaguered individual who confronts evil corporations, banks or governments. This mindset finds expression in conspiracy theories, racism, and weirdly inverted moral systems. As a mode of behaviour, it is also evident across the political spectrum, among Preppers, in the hacker culture, and in the Occupy Movement.
Some backlashes are obviously justified. Activists usually start at a point with which nearly anyone could agree. Disturbing social inequalities, unemployment and power gaps appeared during the Great Recession as the productive capacity of developed and developing societies outstripped traditional means of production. And business and government interests are clearly using older, conventional forms of power to consolidate control of new online arenas.
Nevertheless, new brands of populist politics offer oversimplified explanations for overcomplicated realities. These meta-victim ideologies rest on blame-casting, guilt-tripping, malevolent labeling and social division.
One trend that follows this pattern is the men's rights movement (MRM). Men's rights grew in opposition to some of the most ill-conceived feminist agendas. A good example of the latter was the depiction of men in advertisements as bumbling, dishonest and useless idiots over the past three decades. These consciously-implemented formulas were meant to counter the sexist depiction of females in advertising.
Other oft-cited male concerns have been unfair judgements in divorce courts and women's double standards over money and workforce roles. The Futurist summarizes the basic Millennial MRM idea:
The Western World has quietly become a civilization that undervalues men and overvalues women, where the state forcibly transfers resources from men to women creating various perverse incentives for otherwise good women to conduct great evil against men and children, and where male nature is vilified but female nature is celebrated. This is unfair to both genders, and is a recipe for a rapid civilizational decline and displacement, the costs of which will ultimately be borne by a subsequent generation of innocent women, rather than men, as soon as 2020.
The MRM mentality also arose from the absurd marketing mantras of the late 1970s and 1980s, namely, that everyone is uniquely special, gifted and destined for a high-flying lifestyle. This idea was seemingly democratic - we were somehow innately deserving of equal luxuries and privileges (rather than equal opportunities, and equal rights and basic standards of living) for all. In fact, this message of entitlement was not democratic and offered only a culture of material enslavement. No one can blame men and women alike for falling for this message, even if they did not understand that the marketing industry and educational sectors stroked their egos to enforce their passivity as consumers and voters.
In the case of the MRM, this promise of entitled lifestyles found form in the notion that every man has an inner alpha male who is being viciously sapped, caged and suppressed by a feminist-dominated society. It wasn't hard for men to reach this conclusion, considering false promises from a capital world that they would have it all. There had to be someone to blame when they discovered that they would never have it as easy as their fathers did. They did not stop to consider that their female contemporaries would never have it as easy as their mothers did, either.
From marketing myths grew player dating strategies for pickup artists (PUAs), fostered by the seduction community in the 1990s and 2000s (see examples of dating advice for players here, here and here). The cultural history of the early Web is bound up with the masculine re-purposing of dating women. Early techniques developed by computer hackers to get people to unwittingly divulge personal information online - such as psychological subversion - became capitalized as dating advice for already-alienated males.
Founded in the 1990s by self-help dating gurus such as Ross Jeffries and Lewis De Payne (a convicted computer hacker who ended up working for the feds), the seduction community organized itself, Fight-Club-like, into local clubs called 'lairs.' It used a pseudo-scientific cocktail of psych theory and cultishness to encourage brotherhood through mutual coaching. The underlying impetus for organization stemmed from the Internet and the earliest forums and chat groups. Other early PUA gurus include Clifford Lee, with his Cliff's List Seduction Letter and Tariq Nasheed, author of books such as The Art of Mackin (2000).
The PUA community was described in Neil Strauss's 2005 book, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which inspired an American reality TV show, The Pickup Artist (2007-2008). Incidentally, Gen Xer Strauss is listed among the world's 25 greatest PUAs, a narcissists' gallery if ever there was one, here.
This behaviour galvanized further online in the manosphere, host to MRAs (Men's Rights Activists) and MGTOWs (Men Going Their Own Way). In its mode of reaction, the manosphere forms a crude mirror of second wave activist feminism. Yet there is a huge difference between the virtual realities MRAs have concocted for themselves and the realities on the ground.
Firstly, discrimination against women endures. For example, in the American higher education sector, which MRAs believe was captured by feminist interests, a pay gap persists between males and females of equal ability, experience and training. More worryingly, what are we to make of the savage 2012 rape in India, which revealed endemic sexist violence and sexism in that country? Subsequent reports confirm that that crime was just the tip of the iceberg and this problem is now negatively affecting Indian tourism. And the boom in Asian economies may well be doomed, due to one intractable cultural problem, the unceasing abortion of female foetuses. It is estimated that 100 million women are missing from Asian populations due to sex-selective infanticides and abortions over the past generation. One might even call it the worst genocide in history. China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan and India all suffer from terribly skewed male-to-female ratios.
That said, MRAs do address serious social problems. Men are under terrible stress. In the UK, there has been a sharp increase in suicides of middle-aged Gen X and younger Boomer men, surpassing the rate for their female contemporaries since the recession began:
[During the recession s]uicides rose among both men and women but the problem was most acute among men in their early 40s, where the rate rose to its highest level in almost two decades. Among men in their late 40s and 50s, the suicide rate increased faster than at any point for 25 years.
The manosphere additionally stresses that feminism has caused problems for men:
[The Atlantic's Stephanie] Fairyington [in reporting on MRAs] did concede one point:
But I wonder if feminism’s assumption that being male necessarily situates men at an advantage makes it harder for feminism to address the struggles unique to men. By diminishing male-specific challenges, feminists fail to recognize that women’s progress hinges on understanding that antiquated standards of masculinity hurt both sexes and are linked to men’s unstable relationship with the family.However, that view fails to note feminism’s impact on how society treats men. After 40 years of feminism at the forefront of culture, no feminist can claim that feminism plays no role in the current state of our culture. Many of the negative responses in the comments on the article are tried and true feminist talking points. They are routinely seen in feminist spaces whenever men’s rights are mentioned.
As much as Fairyington and other feminists want to avoid it, the simple truth is that feminism has had a negative impact on how we view and treat men, and that in turn created or worsened things for some men in some areas.
The confusion between the virtually-assured causes of men's distress and the actual sources of that distress could not be clearer than in the 26 April 2013 suicide note of the late men's rights activist Earl Silverman. In his note, Silverman blamed the Canadian government for not helping male victims of domestic violence and for the funding-cut-related closure of an abused men's shelter. What is curious here is not that the "default narrative of male-as-abuser" should be questioned, or that women can be a source of trouble - but rather Silverman's assumption that infinitely politicized gender perspectives are the ongoing natural and ever-expanding responsibility of the state. Where will this stop? At what point do people take responsibility for their own lives, families and communities? We should not be surprised by emergent police states when we have spent decades demanding that the state have increasing legal authority over the most private aspects of existence.
The arguments about whether or not men suffer from discrimination go back and forth. At one point, this blog was spammed by a men's rights blogger who decided my post about the Ark of the Covenant was a good place to leave a message about how he is boycotting American women:
Oddly, in other remarks the commenter appeared to think that Histories of Things to Come was devoted to cultivating an anti-male environment, when it is actually dedicated to discussing Millennial realities. This blog is equally friendly to male and female readers. But the commenter felt that basic accounts of Millennial life were anathemas to whatever men's rights activists want or need to hear.I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.
Tens of millions of American men have had their lives completely destroyed by American women through the following crimes:
1. False rape accusations (it has been proven that up to 80 percent of rape accusations are FALSE)
2. False domestic violence (DV) charges (same as above)
3. False sexual harassment charges (men are now afraid to even talk to women in the office because all it takes is one woman to make up a false sexual harassment charge and then the man's career is finished)
4. Financial destruction of men in divorce courts through alimony and support payments (women get up to 95 percent of their ex-husband's income and savings, as well as the house, car, etc)
5. Emotional destruction of men by ex-wives who have stolen their children from them and forbidden the fathers from having custody or contact with their own children
6. Divorced dads who commit suicide as a result
99.9 percent of American and western women are liars, hypocrities, and criminals, who support women committing crimes against men. Women refuse to condemn their fellow women who destroy men's lives. Silence means consent. Therefore, American women support and enjoy destroying men's lives and causing men to commit suicide. Apparently, American women think it is okay to be a criminal, just as long as you are a woman. Therefore, is it any surprise that a huge percent of American men no longer want anything to do with American women, other than using them for easy sex and then throwing them away?
A few more reasons to stay away from American women?
-25 percent of American women take psychiatric drugs for mental illnesses.-25 percent of women under the age of 30 have at least one STD.-85 percent of divorces in America are INITIATED by women, thus women are responsible for the vast majority of divorces.-70 percent of criminals in America were raised by single mothers, thus feminism is responsible for most crime in America.-The majority of child molestation, child abuse, and child murder in America is done by WOMEN.
So what is about Millennial life that is hostile to men? Lately, elements of the MRM online community have grown as toxic as the ultra-radical feminism they criticize. I was reminded of this trend a couple of days ago when a friend, T., sent me a link to an article, On Women as 'Chattel' at The Spearhead, a men's rights site. Here are some comments which show how far the movement has 'progressed':
- "Women clearly are the female part of the primate Homo Sapiens, but males took a step further and created civilisation with a set of rules to regulate male interaction. Women are not part of this and thus 'outside' the rules!"
- "I believe you are giving women far too much credit. Much of the financing and push for “equality” is coming from men — the elite one percent who are using women to hold down wages, much like big and small businesses want to see illegal aliens continue to stream across the border. In private industry, women are scabs, union busters, who are easier to control and are far less likely than men to challenge decisions from the executive suites. This produces short term profits, but here we have the seeds of a potential economic collapse of the USA. The job losses in the past several years have been mostly in manufacturing, construction and engineering. The decline in manufacturing is most critical because there are fewer and fewer products to export, thereby increasing the trade imbalance.A significant majority of jobs in government, healthcare and services are held by women. Which is to say that women largely are not producing anything to sell to other countries. Those container ships bringing loads of crap from China are sent back empty. I’m an American, but I’ve been living in Europe and Latin America for the past dozen years. It has been a great learning experience. I don’t want to dash the hopes of single American men who have dreams of finding the perfect foreign wife, but in the absence of cultural and family pressures to behave differently, women are about the same all over the world. However, the women in some countries are definitely better than others — particularly better than American women."
- "There are still men out there who believe in the gender equality myth and the benevolence of the feminist movement. We can call them many things, the one most suitable and a favorite of mine is ‘mangina’."
- "Make no mistake, guys. Anything with a vagina is either a slaveowner or a potential slaveowner. If any woman tries to make you agree to anything not of your own free will, she is trying to make you a beast of burden.The “woman as chattel” femi-myth is yet another case of projection by the parasitic gender."
- "Of course a girlfriend is there to service a man’s sexual NEEDS. Why do you think men even expand the energy to find and maintain girlfriends, effort and time that they would much rather use developing genuine friendships with other men. Do you think we have girlfriends for companionship and deep, thought-provoking superfragilisticexpialidocious conversation ? Please tell me how your friend is sleeping with your sister’s ex-boyfriend and how you don’t want her to find out. I am sooooooooo fascinated /sarcasm/. What a clueless bitch LOL."
- "To build a fuctional society we can’t have any government on top of a man in his private affairs. The government a man bows to only secures the law between himself and other men. A lot of you guys are way too ‘democratic’ (for lack of better word) in your way of thinking."
- "Men are expected to treat women with deferential respect no matter how unlady-like her behavior is. It is men who are disposable chattel and taken for granted. A woman can reap the benefits of being born a female no matter how vindictive, unpleasant or out of control her behavior and attitude is. In contrast, a man has to prove, through his actions and character, that he is worthy of being treated like a man."
This is misogyny recast as apocalyptic eschatology and civil rights enjoyed as an Internet subculture. A glance at the repugnant credo of so-called 'alpha females' shows that these gender-based ideologies are no different than other online Millennial cults. According to How To Split an Atom, the 3.0 Web is defined in terms of:
Highly specialized information silos, moderated by a cult of personality, validated by the community, and put into context with the inclusion of meta-data through widgets.
- We Went to a Men's Rights Lecture in Toronto and Discovered That They're a Bunch of Losers
- A Voice for Men: Take the Red Pill
- Men's Rights Movement Sees Resurgence Among Millennial Males
- Register Her
- From Misogyny to Misandry (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Student union brands men’s rights groups as ‘hateful’ clubs that ‘justify sexual assault’
- A Burgeoning Men's Rights Movement in British Universities?
- Men's Rights Activists Fight for Their Freedom to Make Rape Jokes on Facebook
- A Semi-Balanced Look at Men's Rights
- The Lonely Existence of Mel Feit, Men's Rights Advocate
For all my posts on 60s Legacies, go here.