Reader Audrey makes a wonderful comment, one which I think embodies quite well how the average person reacts when they stumble upon the manosphere:
I really don’t understand the manosphere. I came across a blog article one of my FB friends posted and then discovered that there was this whole “manosphere” on the internet. I’ve been reading a bunch of blog entries, and haven’t read anything on this blog other than this one entry. I figured it’d be a nice place to ask some of the stuff that I am wondering.
What I don’t understand is why there is so much backlash against women on these blogs. How does someone hurt you guys so badly?
I don’t know, I think at one point in my life (in high school), I was one of the girls you guys would have been hurt by. I wasn’t sleeping around, but I was the attractive girl who was friends with all the nerdy guys (who all had crushes on me) and dated the self-confident jerks.
The thing is, after I was hurt a couple of times by these jerks and went to college, I realized that that’s not something I want out of a partner. I now date a completely different type of man. I guess maybe y’all would call my current type a beta, but I don’t think that’s true at all. I think that a real man doesn’t have to flaunt that he is one in such an obvious way. And yes, a real man takes care of his significant other.
Maybe what I’m saying won’t register to any of you, but all of my friends have undergone the same transformation (we’re all 22 at this point) and started dating kind and caring men at some point during college. The whole shtick advocated by the manosphere (be dominant, alpha male, whatever) doesn’t work on us. I don’t wan to be dominated. Maybe that’s because my friends and I are looking for real, meaningful relationships with guys.
For example, my current boyfriend was a super shy, gamer engineer whom I brought out of his shell because I saw something special in him and was attracted to his brain, personality, and looks. To me, he is the whole package. He is manly, but also gentle and kind to me. He takes care of me when I’m sick and I do the same with him. I don’t notice other guys much because I love my boyfriend so much.
Sure, everyone makes mistakes (and I have admitted to passing over quality guys for jerks in high school, but I was young and didn’t know better), but all I see on these blogs is a bunch of guys who are letting their high school insecurities dictate how they will behave for the rest of their lives. You’re trying to become the jerks. I don’t understand that. if you don’t like something, sure you can change it, but don’t turn into a jerk and try to manipulate women into getting with you in that way. What kind of a person does that make you? That’s not what relationships are built on.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Audrey. It’s very heartfelt and you have some great points. I consider myself a moderate in the manosphere. I don’t have a superhigh partner count, and I am young but not actively gaming–I’m in a monogamous relationship with a girl I love. I think you’ve come to the right place for an even opinion on why people get drawn into it.
First, to answer your question ‘Why do guys get hurt so badly?’ I will direct you to the story I wrote about my own college roommate:
To sum up, my roommate, “Dan,” had a girlfriend for four years who refused to have sex with him even as he was the nicest boyfriend on the face of the earth. He would do anything for this girl, and she didn’t reciprocate with sex because he was such a pushover. Dan is an example of someone who has been over-feminized by today’s society and cannot man up and take control of his relationships as a result, especially the sexual side. He feels demonized by his own human (sexual) desires.
There is a large population of guys like him these days who have never been able to find a willing partner because they have been LGBF’d (let’s just be friends-ed) by lots of girls. They watch the girls they know hook up with the very guys they complain about. Nice guys get very sexually frustrated, this can lead to frustration in other areas of life as well. In the case of my roommate Dan, after four years of blue balls he finally broke up with his college GF and then went and had a one night stand with some random. Sad, I know. Not long after, he had a breakdown and ended up in a mental hospital (true story).
It is often hard for girls, especially attractive ones, to relate to a guy like Dan. This is because it has always been incredibly easy for a young female to find a willing mate if she decides she wants sex. For example, even my own gf, who is awesome, hot, and down-to-earth, has trouble emphathizing when I tell her how hard guys actually have to work for sex. Yea, the guys that get it a lot make it look easy, but that’s about 1/10 of the male population. The other 9/10 are working their asses off.
When people have problems, they search for answers. They question their worldview. The manosphere is made up of lots of guys like Dan questioning “Why am I so bad at managing my sexual relationships while for other guys it doesn’t even seem to be something on their radar? It just ‘happens’ for them?” “Why have I been whacking it to porn on every night but I can’t ever have a real, meaningful sexual relationship with an actual girl?”
The answer to Dan’s connudrum lies in the fact that he has never been taught relationship skills. But where is he to learn those skills? They are not taught to him by his father, nor his mother, nor his high school teacher. No, instead he is afraid to initiate sex with his girlfriend because he is afraid that he might not have consent, even with his longterm girlfriend, since he’s read too many articles like this one and follows them to the ‘T’:
What Dan NEEDS is to overcome approach anxiety and gain some basic relationship and social skills. Sometimes, though, he might become bitter and the result would be what you wrote here:
Sure, everyone makes mistakes (and I have admitted to passing over quality guys for jerks in high school, but I was young and didn’t know better), but all I see on these blogs is a bunch of guys who are letting their high school insecurities dictate how they will behave for the rest of their lives. You’re trying to become the jerks. I don’t understand that. if you don’t like something, sure you can change it, but don’t turn into a jerk and try to manipulate women into getting with you in that way. What kind of a person does that make you? That’s not what relationships are built on. (emphasis mine)
I can see where you are going here, and there is some definite truth to this statement. Some guys are manipulative in the sphere. But the manosphere is about more than revenge of the nerds (in most cases).
Now I’ll get specific. There are a few different categories of guys to whom the manosphere especially appeals. Below I have provided examples of typical blogs:
1) Guys who have been burned, badly, in divorces, or watched their wives get fat in marriage and thus stopped having a sex life are on the manosphere. Some of them lost a bunch of their stuff to their wife (I’m stereotyping here!). These are the comments you will see from guys on manosphere blogs saying ‘never get married! It’s the end of your life!’ Many of them probably fall into the mainstream category of ‘misogynist.’
2) “Nice guys” who have been seriously over-feminized (read: they are afraid to take initiative) by our culture and have had trouble getting quality girls to sleep with them or be their gf. Meanwhile, they watch “asshole” masculine dudes who are the antithesis of them sleep with loads of women. Thus, they seek to become more proactive in relationships as opposed to reactive.
3) Guys, (and some girls) who recognize the hyperfeminization of men and the masculinization of women in our culture, away from their natural state, and don’t like it. Some of these guys are married with families and just want to improve their sex lives. They might comment on the skewedness of our legal system towards women in reality, while the mainstream media tells you otherwise. Or they might just give other guys advice on how to have sex with their wife more than once per month by giving real, as opposed to mainstream sex advice:
4) I’m giving JB her own category because I love her so much. This is the best place to go if you want to find out about why the manosphere exists. JB has a son and two daughters and stays at home with them right now, but will undoubtedly write a famous book sometime in the near future, mark my words (you read it here first, JB!) She deconstructs examples of feminist arguments with a flair and logic that I simply don’t see elsewhere. She has really been coming into her own as of late.
5) And me, you ask? Why do I put energy into this blog? I spent two years in the Peace Corps immersed in a culture in which the masculine-feminine roles were clearly defined, and both men and women embraced them. When I got back to the states, I realized how far away we have swung on the pendulum as a result of feminism. And that while feminism has had some benefits, it has also caused some problems. Guys are told not to be men, and women are told not to be ladies. There are more personal reasons too, that I won’t go into, but let’s just say I decided to join the manosphere conversation because I believe I see value in the intellectual conversation being had about why men find it hard to be manly these days.
The cultural movements of history swing on a pendulum. For example, the counter-culture of the 1960s was mainly a reaction against the social norms of the 1940s and 1950s. What we are seeing in the manosphere is the manifestation of a counter-culture rebelling against a super-pro-feminist society. Men and women in the ‘sphere don’t like the current cultural status quo. So…they blog about it.
I hope I didn’t get too much off on a rant there, but I really thought your comment was sincere and I wanted to respond as fully as I could. Thanks Audrey, and I hope this post will help you as well as anyone who is curious about the manosphere to understand it better.