When the “Unite the Right” Nazi-style rally was held in Charlottesville last weekend (August 15/16), on Friday night, as the event kicked off, people all over the world saw on their TV screens a suprisingly well-organized and disciplined demonstration of 500 men (and a few women) wearing identical uniforms and carrying torches as they marched in double file, chanting in unison their white supremacist and anti-semitic slogans. It was a scene reminiscent of, and no doubt inspired by, the tradition of “spectacle” that was used as a tool of building the Nazi Party in Germany. Many watching, taken by surprise at the level of organization, asked “Who are these people? Where did they come from?”
On this show, we will explore what some writers and researchers are claiming to be a causal relationship between the current “Men’s Rights Movement,” or “manosphere” (on the internet) and the rise of White Nationalism in this country over the last few years.
MGTOW (figure on left, above) stands for “Men Going Their Own Way”, one of the prominent groups in the “manosphere”
Our guests will be Loretta Ross, a founder of Sistersong: A Woman of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and a co-creator of the concept of “reproductive justice”. She is also a long-time analyst of White Nationalism. We will also interview Matthew Lyons, who recently wrote “The Alt Right Hates Women as As Much as it Hates People of Colour” (The Guardian), who will break down for us the how the strain of misogyny of the alt right differs from that of the Christian right. We’ll also be reading from a number of texts exploring these ideas.
In addition we’ll have our international feminst news segment, which wil cover domestic stories such as the recent Texas law mandating insurance no longer cover abortion and international stories on advances for women in Nepal, Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
The recruitment of young men into the White Nationalist cause over the internet has been going on for at least a decade. Many men were attracted, at first, to the transgressive culture of sites like 4chan, where “anything goes” and the most sadistic fantasies could be shared and joined in by other men. Often self-described “beta males”–those who could not get women to have sex with them–nurtured a hatred of women that festered and interacted with other strands of misogyny, such as the PUA (pick up artist) “movement” that sees women as inferior prey to be tricked or raped into sex. Such sites became incubators of no-holds-barred misogyny and often their internet talk moved off-screen to terrorize specific “offending” women (usually feminist writers)–outing their addresses, threatening them with rape or other violence and even stalking them. Manosphere participants in these outrages justified them by portraying feminism as the cause of the misery in men’s lives!
Journalist Aja Romano wrote in a Vox article in 2016 (just after the election): “While it’s true that the (alt right) movement is most frequently described in terms of explicit white supremacy… for many of its members, the “gateway drug” that led them to join it in the first place wasn’t racist rhetoric but rather sexism: extreme misogyny evolving from male bonding gone haywire.”
In the anonymous world of the internet, any fantasy, no matter how ugly or sadistic could be shared without consequence. A toxic mixture of insecurity, misogyny, racism and anti-semitic conspiracy theory, along with a need for rebellion, excitement and a sense of power in a society of shrinking possibilities and tightening controls, combined with the never-absent core of racism and sexism in U.S. society, to form a toxic stew that was ripe for manipulation by a rising right wing.
The “Men’s Rights Movement,” which, decades earlier, had had both anti- and pro-feminist wings, cohered into a vehemently misogynist movement, where “beta men” fumed about the “bitches” who wouldn’t sleep with them. It was’t much of a stretch to go from this virulent anti-feminism to a world view in which feminism was seen as a “threat to Western Civilization.”
Angela Nagle, in her underground best-seller, “Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and tumblr to Trump and the alt-Right,” cites “cross-pollination between the “manosphere” and the alt-right”. She is backed up by others who trace this history:
Siyanda Mohutsima has written: “Young men came to these online groups for tips on picking up girls andme out believing that it was up to them to save Western civilization.”
David Futrelle, who hosts the manosphere-critical site We Hunted the Wooley Mammoth, writes: “They weren’t fighting for the right to look at boobs in videogames any more, but fighting against ‘white genocide.” and “They came to learn to pick up girls and wound up feeling they were going to save civilization itself.”
Many of the leaders of Unite the Right, such as Christopher Cantwell and Kevin McGinnis were active in “men’s rights” before they became figures on the white nationalist scene.
We will explore this recent history in more detail on our Sunday’s show. Please join us for a thought-provoking hour.