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.