Keep Your Hands Off Our Kids


Courtesy of CodePink

Ty Benedict, Senior Staff Writer

*Author’s note: This article will freely discuss the world of the manosphere, and will not shy away from heavy topics such as rape or vulgar discussion*

With the explosion of the #MeToo movement in 2017 to the rise of Andrew Tate’s advocacy for “traditional masculinity”, many of you have probably heard the word misogyny at some point. Oxford Dictionary defines misogyny as the “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”. But that definition doesn’t tell the whole story. It is missing the human element. And if anyone has ever spent even an hour out of their house, it’s easy to say that people are very complicated. Here the aim is to lay out the history of the incel and anti-feminist movements, and what can be done about it.

First of all, let’s define some terms:

Incels – Short for involuntary celibate. A primarily online community of men that feel like they are unfairly rejected by women due to their looks. They often claim that women are “shallow” or “bitchy”

Manosphere – The larger group of men and women who advocate for rigid gender roles and for men to “be men”, which often means that men should be the provider, be stoic, etc.

Redpill – A reference to the red pill in The Matrix, which gave Neo the ability to see the truth. Incels use it to refer to being “woken up” to the reality of how they believe the world works.

Blackpill – A riff off of the red pill, the black pill is a more extreme and nihilistic version of incel thinking that posits that your worth is determined by your genetic looks, and women will go after solely the “chads” (muscular, tall, good jawline, aka the average Hollywood ), discarding less conventionally attractive men.

Rape culture – The belief held in many liberal/progressive circles that society covers up and defends rapists and sexual predators.

Now that we have shared knowledge of internet slang, let’s get started.

One of the most blatant inciting events that started the ball rolling was Gamergate, a campaign to oppose progressive and inclusive influences in video game communities that began in 2014. Their primary target was Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist commentator on the video game industry that often talked about implicit sexism in games (e.g. the difference between male and female armor in fantasy games). Sarkeesian was seen as a threat to gaming communities by those who opposed her, as she was very direct in her critiques of the industry. Some of the more prominent anti-feminist content creators at the time only added fuel to the fire, creating this hatred of the so-called “feminazis”: depicted as whiny emotional young people who will cancel you for speaking the truth. Then due to Youtube and social media algorithms, the people who watched that content were groomed, and then recruited, into the manosphere, most of these people being relatively young cis straight men, around 13-16 years old.

All of that being said, there is a more complex current underneath all of that. These people did get one thing right, in a way: There is a crisis of masculinity. Just not in the way they say. The 21st century is an unprecedented time of deconstructing long-standing social norms, and gender roles are no different. There are whole communities—both online and in person—dedicated to people exploring what it means to be them. That has led to some young men being in a rather concerning predicament. Now that there is no concrete way to be a man or woman, they’re left without a clear identity. And not knowing who you are or what you should be is very scary. 

That is where the manosphere comes in. They swoop in and sell these young boys what it means to be a man and how to get there. It may seem innocuous, as these snake oil salesmen often use self-help as a guise. But it’s simply a tool to get their foot in the door. Once they have the attention of these impressionable men, they will slowly spoon-feed them increasingly dangerous ideas about the world around them, corrupting their perception of reality, which is how we end up with people who will openly deny objective truth.

Which leads us to the modern day. What should be done about this worrying trend? These people may be horrible people and in some cases monsters, but at the end of the day, they’re still people. Nobody exists in a vacuum, and there is always a reason for what they do. They were held by the hand as they were led into a self-destructive ideology based solely on hate, and pushing them away will only shove them deeper into darkness. Somebody has to meet them where they’re at and reach a handout because oftentimes, nobody will. 

So to those that are watching their friends, brothers, and sons falling into this trap: love them and care about them. Or otherwise, people who don’t will say they do, and will coach them into darkness. You can still love them while standing against their ideas and defending the people they’re hurting. It is incredibly tough to manage, but it is a necessary step we need to take in order to save our loved ones from these predators.