After my crit observing the ‘manosphere’s distorted vision of women, I thought I should write a searching piece about the ‘manosphere’s arch enemy – just to balance things up.
There’s a perception, among an apparently burgeoning male group, that men are being demonised by women. Excluded, purely on the basis that they were born with a penis. Made to feel that whatever they say or do, it will automatically be bad, because they’re a man, and men are bad. Faced with a choice of either being publicly ashamed of their gender, or being lambasted as “part of the problem”. Victims, of sexism. I decided I was going to explore this issue, and concisely wrap it up in a blog post.
Shouldn’t be difficult, I thought. I’m a bloke, after all. I would find a group of online misandrists (already found them, actually), and illustrate their destructive criticism of men. In pointing out the distortions of opinion promoted by their deliberately exaggerated generalisations, I’d doubtless risk accusations of Not-All-Men-ing, but what the heck. You can’t make an omelette… as the saying goes. I sat down to write a sensational article called The Demonisation of Man.
The thing was, I didn’t actually feel demonised. Or excluded, or in any way ostracised by women. Indeed, in all my years on the Internet I couldn’t remember encountering a single personal attack from a woman, and in the offline world I had never detected any greater negativity from women than I had from men.
What I did feel, was that the Internet’s choreographed, no-exceptions man-shaming was coming from a small but highly vocal collection of permanently angry women who, very much like the average ‘manosphere man’, were characteristically joyless, charmless and humourless, and actually needed something to be annoyed about. Whilst I found their interactions interesting and sometimes educational, they wouldn’t be people I’d feel drawn to approach. In fact, I wondered why any man would feel drawn to approach them.
I soon realised that this was precisely the point. The reason I didn’t feel demonised by the irate rantings of online misandrists was that I’d never solicited their approval, or any other opinion from them, and I’d never tried to force my opinion onto them. Therefore, I’d never given them the opportunity to attack me personally.
That was when I identified a major difference between the online misandrist and the online misogynist. The misogynist typically approaches women. The misandrist typically does NOT approach men. She might spend half her life trying to trend hashtags into their hot topics (and good luck to her if she sees that as a productive use of her time), but typically, she does NOT approach men. Instantly, that appears to make the misandrist less hypocritical than the misogynist, who often relentlessly pesters the females he apparently disapproves of. But there’s a more important implication…
Many women find it impossible to avoid personal abuse from a misogynist. If he approaches her looking for some kind of personal gratification, and she rejects him, he may subject her to a level of direct misogynistic abuse. We’ve all seen it. It’s a reflex rejection instinct with some men. The “Ugly bitch/slut” thing that comes after a defined “No” is inherently male, and it is misogynistic, because it’s a refusal to accept that the woman can be in control. Even though she’s already rejected him, he has to reject her with bells on, because otherwise, a woman is controlling a man, and that’s unacceptable.
Since she couldn’t prevent him from approaching, and was therefore forced to reject him, she could not avoid his abuse. But how many men are approached out of the blue by misandrists and personally attacked without any provocation? Examples are hard, if not impossible, to find. My conclusion, therefore, was that men more typically choose whether they’re exposed to online misandrists. Women more typically do not choose whether they’re exposed to online misogynists. That’s a trend, not an absolute, obviously. But it’s a real and indisputable trend.
I then began to extrapolate my own emotions across a broader section of men. If I could sense a clear hostility surrounding online misandrists, and I found that distinctly offputting, would many other men not want to stay out of their way too? And if a large proportion of men were consciously staying away from man-shamers, what would that mean for the women? Might it mean that the men who did approach them would always be the most insensitive? In projecting such hostility, is the online misandrist not repelling all but the absolute worst type of man? The man who couldn’t give a shit what she wants or doesn’t want, and will bullishly move in to “cure her of feminism”… and then, he hopes, shag her, obviously.
It did strike me that, just like misogyny, misandry was self-exacerbating. Once someone goes down that road, they can only really become more convinced that the opposite sex is evil, because indiscriminate hate is never going to be met with positivity. If you start a war against a country, the population is not going to begin sending you flowers in the hope you’ll like them more. They’re going to hate you, and retaliate. Then you’re going to hate the country more, and so on.
Another self-exacerbating dynamic I noticed was that the more the two extreme groups (misandrists and misogynists) hated on each other, the more online publicity they gave each other. The effect of that was to make both groups look bigger and more influential than they really are. Without controversy and contradiction, the topics don’t make the news sites and mega-blogs, so a lot fewer people in the mainstream get to hear about them.
On Twitter, when anti-male hashtags start to trend, it can seem like man-hating females have taken over the universe. But look at the number of actual tweets and it’s probably fewer than 2,000 – many of which are coming from protesting males. Without the male protests, would the topics even trend at all?
This set me wondering how many men actually do perceive themselves as demonised by women, and where that perception was most prevalent.
I started to focus on the men who complained about being demonised, and I quickly saw a pattern. Being a trifle nerdy (well, heavily nerdy, to be honest), I’m involved of a range of online environments where men pursue special interests – hobbies. They don’t just talk about their hobbies. They also talk about life – politics is a common sideline of commentary, for example. Some mention their wives, or girlfriends. They may have partners, and they may not, but they’re not players or predators. These are men who enthuse about musical instruments, or technology, or photography, or trains…
In these spheres of special interest, where men are evidently not indiscriminately chasing women, there’s a complete absence of complaints about man-shaming. Conversely, in environments where the men are relentlessly trying to connect with one woman after another, without any basis other than that the men want a level of personal gratification from the male/female interaction, the complaints about man-shaming or exclusion are highly prevalent.
It seemed that men who are not preoccupied with their chances with women do not complain about demonisation at the hands of online misandrists (presumably because they’ve avoided or never noticed such groups). But also, apparently, none of the women these men do encounter in the natural course of their lives, whether socially or at work, cause them to complain about demonisation either.
Exclusion and blanket man-shaming, then, are not only perpetrated by a certain type of woman – they’re also perceived as relevant and taken personally by a certain type of man. There was a definite connection between the man’s need for an automatic female welcome, and the amount of demonisation he perceived. In fact, it was the defining factor.
When I found ‘demonised’ men on social media, not only did they show a desire for a right of access to females – they also showed a distinct lack of other interests. There might (and I only say might) be one or two interests cited in their bio, but that’s where all conversation about those apparent “interests” ended. The men’s actual feeds were most typically devoid of anything but opinion, pursuit of unsolicited connections with females, and/or self-pity.
So yes, I found misandrists who are clearly very angry about men, and who do not stop to footnote any exceptions. And I found men who are clearly very angry about misandrists being angry about men. But I couldn’t find one credible way to illustrate an endemic demonisation of men in the online world – either actual or perceived.
If you’re a man to whom it matters that a minority of women want to exclude you and make you feel shame for something other men are doing (and I don’t in any way deny that those women exist), I would question why you’d ever want to be included in such a group in the first place. If the answer is that “they look pretty hot” (and I suspect it is), then you’re really only helping to prove their point.
There are millions and millions of women in the world who want men in their lives and would not dream of shaming them based on their gender. If you’re going to dismiss the balanced majority of women to focus on an angry few, because your penis said so, then you really shouldn’t be surprised if your penis ends up getting the blame.