Friday, August 9, 2013

The voice of men, the voices of despair

I spent the sunny afternoon at a public pool near my home.  Not surprisingly, given that it was an exceptionally warm day in Seattle, the pool was filled with families.  The density of splashing, shrieking youngsters frustrated my effort to swim laps, but I enjoyed observing the kids nevertheless.  Although I don't have a family and children myself, I sometimes find a kind of vicarious pleasure in watching other families enjoying themselves together.  I was especially moved by several affectionate, attentive fathers interacting with their little ones.  It gives me a kind of hope.  After all, one does not need to be a biological parent in order to feel invested in the youngest generation.

When I got home, I thought about the men of the manosphere, who are so angry and hateful towards women.  Although I frequent manboobz, the site which delights in mocking misogyny, I sometimes feel at odds with the prevailing tone of dominant commenters.  The more I follow the manosphere (Voice for Men, Heartiste, Roosh), the more compassion I feel for the young misogynists.  It's easy to ridicule them, because most of what they say is ridiculous.  It's easy to be outraged by them, because most of what they say is outrageous.  It's easy to be frightened by them, because they are simmering with anger.  And then it's comforting to reassure myself that their ideas are, well, after all, pretty silly.  They pretend they are a movement, but they spend so much of their energy squabbling with one another that it's evident that they couldn't organize themselves out of a paper bag. 

But more and more, what I hear behind their hateful words, their virulent disdain for all women (and most other men), is despair.  Roosh and his ilk (Matt Forney, Paul Elam, "Roissy," et al.) are men who have pretty much given up on the one thing -- other than engaging work -- which makes life meaningful: intimate, committed relationships with others.

A couple of weeks ago, Roosh was positively distraught when Mark Minter abandoned the manosphere ship to marry a gal he'd met online.  His sense of betrayal was palpable.  Even his followers were a bit baffled that he took it so much to heart.

But someone like Roosh has nothing else except his convictions, as delusional and self-destructive as they are.  He has no relationships beyond his tenuous online connection with the men and boys who echo his nihilistic philosophy.  He is so out of sync with the cultural tide that he must seek refuge in ancient texts, to constantly imagine that the way it was is the way it should be now.  

Today he posted, in his typically self-aggrandizing and melodramatic fashion, that "every man dies by his own ideas."  He views himself as a martyr to his own ideals.  But relentless, inchoate rage is not a "cause."  It is a symptom of a personality disorder. 

I reflect on the mothers and fathers I watched frolicking in the pool today.  Whether they are "happy" in their marriages I have no idea.  I have never been convinced that "happiness" should be a person's primary aim.  I'm not sure even what "happiness" means.  I can say that they all looked thoroughly engaged with one another.  I thought, "This is Real Life."  And by merely observing from the sidelines, I felt myself part of it:  the Family of Man.  And I pity the men of the manosphere, who have learned to hate what they have come to believe they cannot have: intimate connection, a sense of purpose, community membership, an investment in the world around them.


  1. Speaking of ancient texts ... I like Chuang Tzu's take on happiness:

    What ordinary people do and what they find happiness in -I don't know whether such happiness is in the end really happiness or not. I look at what ordinary people find happiness in, what they all make a mad dash for, racing around as though they couldn't stop-they all say they're happy with it. I'm not happy with it and I'm not unhappy with it. In the end is there really happiness or isn't there?

    I take inaction to be true happiness, but ordinary people think it is a bitter thing. I say: the highest happiness has no happiness, the highest praise has no praise. The world can't decide what is right and what is wrong. And yet inaction can decide this. The highest happiness, keeping alive only inaction gets you close to this!

    Let me try putting it this way. The inaction of Heaven is its purity, the inaction of earth is its peace. So the two inactions combine and all things are transformed and brought to birth. Wonderfully, mysteriously, there is no place they come out of. Mysteriously, wonderfully, they have no sign. Each thing minds its business and all grow up out of inaction. So I say, Heaven and earth do nothing and there is nothing that is not done. Among men, who can get hold of this inaction?

  2. This may be too deep for me to wrap my head around, but I can say that the older I get, the more I value peace of mind, which to a great extent requires letting go of desires, expectations, ego, and ambition. Hopefully, by the time I am a very old lady, I will have "gotten over myself."

  3. Getting over yourself is the general idea alright; I think it's an essential part of maturity. I think a big problem with the manosphere guys is how seriously they take themselves.

  4. FWIW, I think it's clear a lot of the men in the manospheres are people who are economically sinking. They're enraged about the hands that life have dealt them, so they're displacing a lot of that anger onto women, believing that if only the 'proper' order was restored, then all the old goodies would come back - good wages, respect etc etc

  5. Bodycrimes, I think you're right. So many reactionary movements are a product of financial despair. And since we know Mark Minter was in actuality a broke, perpetually jobless loser, it makes me wonder how many other MRA/PUA "luminaries" are lying about their status in life to draw in readers.

  6. I think I got a little taste of this "despair" a couple days ago.

    I was looking into the comments section on a CNN article about Martin MacNeill, the doctor-slash-lawyer who allegedly murdered his wife so that he could carry on an affair with another woman. You know, a prime place for a misogynist to start bleating about how women are evil harpies, young girls are "crazy" and automatically untrustworthy, women lose their value as human beings at around 40, and so on.

    Being kind of idiotically outspoken as I am, I started calling the guy out on his brazen lack of empathy in exploiting a murder victim to make vile, disparaging remarks about half of the human population. When I asked him, "What in the world happened to make you hate women so much?" he buckled and -- to my surprise! -- got honest. He said he hated women "out of the frustration and anger of never having been in a loving relationship," that he had no idea what love felt like, and that this anger had been building in side of him during his decades of loneliness.

    I tried to give him good advice -- get counseling, stop reading manosphere blogs, develop hobbies and interests, learn to enjoy your life as it is and stop obsessing over your loneliness -- but he only said he was not a young man and that his time to find a meaningful relationship was at an end. Then he stopped responding.

    I wonder if this guy was representative of much of the manosphere's followers. I hate to make the generalization that they're all awkward, lonely guys that turn to men's rights due to their failures with the opposite sex, because those are the exact potshots people make about feminists. But when one of them outright admits his hatred of women has nothing to do with facts or reason...well. Hmm.

    Maybe I planted a seed.

    1. I realize that I made a number of grammatical mistakes just then, but, in my defense, I was in a rush to get back to work.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. Yes. I suspect that most of them are very wounded and isolated except insofar as their "online" community. I feel an element of compassion for many of them. (That isn't a popular stance over on manboobz, BTW, where the purpose is to verbally eviscerate the worst misogyny, so if you take your milk of human kindness over there, you are liable to be sharply corrected.)

    4. Oh, I think kindness and compassion are wasted on the majority of them. What this one specific guy said, though, I could only see as a cry for help. Why else would he open up in such a way to someone who had, up until then, been viciously berating him?

      Appealing to someone's better nature only works when that person has a better nature. I suspect some MRA's, and I can't take a stab at how many, do not.


Thanks for commenting!