Laura Bates takes on the manosphere

A new book has just been released which claims to take us through the dark, seedy world of the manosphere and men’s rights activism. The book has been written by Laura Bates, the founder of Everyday Sexism, a project which, according to her description on Amazon, is “an ever-increasing collection of over 100,000 testimonies of gender inequality, with branches in 25 countries worldwide.” This project allows men and women – but mainly women – an opportunity to complain about any grievance that they have faced which they believe to be because of sexism. Her new book, titled Men Who Hate Women, aims to expose the hidden online world of misogynistic men that threatens to explode into the public.

If the premise of this book fills you with a sense of dread and foreboding, it’s worth noting  that Ms. Bates’ other works include a book which shares the title of her platform, Everyday Sexism, as well as Girl Up and Misogynation, the latter of which has the subheading: ‘the true scale of sexism’. In other words, Laura Bates may have a particular viewpoint which colours her perception of those who object to feminism and activists like herself.

I was partly tempted to buy the Kindle version of this book to see how the ‘manosphere’ is perceived from a more mainstream or outsider perspective. While I knew it would be more or less a smear campaign, it is interesting to see how people unfamiliar with the subject would react to it. In the end, it was not worth paying money and spending time on something that I knew I would not agree with. Also, some of the money would have gone to Laura Bates so anything I could say to criticise her or her book would have been futile.

A short extract of the book is available to read on Amazon where the book can be bought as well as an audio sample of Bates (I think) reading her masterpiece out loud. While I can’t write a review of a book I haven’t read all the way through, I can comment on the part of the book I read and give my thoughts on it.

Bates introduces the book by asking the reader to imagine a world where “tens of thousands of women are raped, beaten, mutilated, abused or murdered every year, because of the simple fact that they are women”. She also asks us to imagine “a world in which thousands of men band together, united by a common code of vitriolic  rage” directed towards women. In case you haven’t guessed it, it turns out you don’t have to imagine – this world exists, it’s our world! I’m not trying to make light of female suffering or deny that there are men who do very bad things towards women, but it appears that Bates believes this is not something that most people are aware of. In reality, all humans regardless of their sex suffer in some way or another and there are plenty of women who have ‘vitriolic rage’ against men.

Interestingly, the book has been published by Simon and Schuster which is not exactly an obscure publishing company. If the suffering and concerns of women wasn’t taken seriously by the elites of society as Laura Bates suggests, how could this book exist in the first place? Would this same company publish a book with the title Women Who Hate Men which responded to Bates’ claims? The answer is probably not.

Bates next makes an odd claim: “we don’t like to risk offending men” – well if you say so, Laura. We’re more comfortable making jokes at the expense of men than we are of women for one thing. She also claims “We do not, as a rule, talk about male perpetrators of violence against women. We describe a woman as having been raped; we discuss the rates of women sexually assaulted or beaten. We do not speak in terms of men committing rape or being sexual assaulters and violent abusers.” Has Laura Bates read any other feminists? What about all the talk about ‘toxic masculinity’?  Bates has something to say about that as well: “Those who speak of’toxic masculinity’ are not criticising men, but rather defending them: describing an ideology and a system that pressures the boys and men in our societies, in our families to conform to unrealistic, unhealthy and unsustainable ideals.” This is the classic ‘patriarchy hurts men too’ argument, stating any problems that men have are not the result of feminism – which presumably helps men by calling them privileged oppressors – but from how societies have been organised which paradoxically benefits men as well.

There is more standard feminist fare: “Crushing gender stereotypes are damaging to men as individuals, as well as to the society in which they live.” How does Laura Bates now that? Maybe many men are comfortable with their masculinity. Maybe men who do damage to society are at fault not because of their masculinity, but because of other things like mental illness. Maybe misogynists do exist and maybe these men who really do hate women exist because of how feminism has portrayed men over the past few decades. Bates would no doubt consider that last suggestion to be an example of victim blaming. Feminists like Laura Bates think this way about men because they’ve concluded that masculinity is a bad thing and therefore it’s impossible for a man to be both masculine and a good person. You may be surprised to hear that Bates is married to a man – her husband presumably has to keep whatever masculinity he has to himself.

Bates goes on: “the real threat comes from the very forms of rigid ‘manhood’ their so-called saviours are desperate to preserve and promote.” What exactly are these ‘rigid’ forms of manhood are not elabatorated by Bates.  Predictably, Laura Bates supports a men’s movement that accepts the feminist viewpoint that women have historically been oppressed and that wants to cure men. This has been apparently: “threatened and overshadowed by other, hateful male movements.” If Bates was really concerned about issues affecting men, she would be willing to explore ways in which the feminist movement has worked against men or take some of the frustrations she observes from men seriously. For this to happen though she would have to question her own world view.

She later gives the reader a description of the apparent abuse she’s received online: “men have sent me daily messages, often in their hundreds, outlining their hatred of me, fantasising about my brutal rape and murder, detailing which weapons they would use to slide my body open and disembowel me…” Perhaps courting our sympathy, Bates asks: “Why are these men so angry? Why do they hate me so much?” Would it be incredibly harsh to consider that Bates may like the idea of being a victim? The amount of detail she goes into suggests that Bates has thought quite vividly about it. Of course, I don’t condone any threats of violence against anybody and if Bates was ever in any danger I would condemn it, However, while there are many genuine victims of violent crime there are also people who want to be seen as victims in order to garner attention and sympathy from others. To suggest such people exist however, is now a sign you’re a heartless person. Bates continues to describe the threats she’s faced which include somebody describing “using my hair as handlebars and raping me until I die”. These are all unpleasant examples of online abuse if they are true, but Bates could have simply stated she’s received abuse without giving so many graphic examples.  Unless of course she wanted the give the expression that hordes of men are lurking in the dark ready to pounce on her at any moment. We could take Bates’ claims more seriously if she had described experiences of stalking by men or serious threats to her that warranted the police getting involved. It’s not that online abuse is harmless, but many people, whether they are men or women, have experienced it. Does Bates think that the abuse she’s received by online trolls is far worse than that targeted towards other people in the public eye? Maybe.

Bates tells us she has spoken to many schools across the UK over the years about sexism and makes an interesting observation: “over the past two years, boys’ responses started changing. They were angry, resistant to the very idea of a conversation about sexism. Men themselves were the real victims…” If true, this might indicate a backlash to the current state of feminist overrule and younger people attacking the conventional wisdom of female victimisation. There may be hope in the future yet. Laura Bates may be worried that the jig is up: she’s made a comfortable career talking about how bad things are for women and their status as victims of society that now may increasingly fall on deaf ears. Who will buy her wonderful books then? Will people stop listening to her and all the insightful things she has to say? Judging by the attention this book has received from the mainstream media, she has nothing to fear at the moment.

Following the introduction, Bates describes the world of involuntary celibates or ‘Incels’ in the first chapter. Incels are defined in this book as “the most violent corner of the so-called manosphere. It is a community devoted to violent hatred of women.” Basically, it is a group of men who for whatever reason cannot get relationship and/or sexually satisfaction from women and so express anger and hate towards them.  Although I’ve followed men’s issues for a number of years, I’ve never read or encountered anyone who identifies themselves with this label which makes me wonder how big of a problem they really are. We are told that “over 100 people, mostly women, have been murdered or injured in the past ten years” in the name of Incels. Elliot Rodger, who murdered six people (four of whom were men), was said to have been an Incel because one of his motivations for killing was rejection by women. The implication here of course it that anybody associated with the manosphere is directly or indirectly linked to people like Rodger. Whether you are interested in men’s issues or not, we can surely all agree Rodger was a loser and be appalled by his actions.

Bates reveals that she explored an Incel forum under the guise of a lonely young man called Alex. Under this name, Bates imagines what Alex would think upon learning that men were discriminated against: “he’d pictured himself as an underwhelming, very average man. But now he realised that he was a survivor. Part of a team of underdogs, fighting evil forces against the odds. Alex could be a wronged, avenging hero”. The metaphor of the  ‘red pill’ from the Matrix movies is mentioned which is used to describe the change in perception that a lot of people experience when they become interested in the manosphere but it can be applied to other political topics as well. Bates argues that the red pill metaphor “is immediately attractive to those with any kind of grudge or grievance. Lost your job? What could be more appealing than a whole new worldview in which isn’t your fault” – Laura and Alex may be more alike than she would like to think.

Bates does concede that not all of the manosphere is extreme: “this sprawling web of communities encompasses well-meaning groups that tackle genuine problems affecting men, not just groups deliberately and systematically promoting physical and sexual violence against women. Its adherents range from naive teenagers to advocates of rape, vulnerable recluses to violent misogynists, non-violent ideologues to grieving fathers,” etc. etc. That a similar observation could be made towards feminism is again not something contemplated here. Since the manosphere is such a diverse and sprawling group, should all groups within it be tarred with the same brush? Is this blog post part of the manosphere? Despite being a nobody whose blog has only been viewed by a handful of people I’ve written about MGTOWs and mentioned other anti-feminist figures. I’m also critical of feminism even though I don’t consider myself to be an Incel, pick-up artist, MRA or MGTOW. Furthermore, I’ve never harmed any women and I have no desire to. The fact that some men who use one or more of those labels will be extremist or mentally unstable does not mean that there aren’t legitimate reasons for men to be angry about how they are treated by society and individual women. Should a book that explored feminism mention Valerie Solanas – the publisher of the SCUM Manifesto who once shot the artist Andy Warhol – and conclude that it’s a hateful extremist movement?

Inevitably, there is a connection made between the manosphere and the alt-right and ultimately Donald Trump, the usual boogie-men of SJWs and woke people: “Much has been written about the alt-right, and particularly its links to the rise of Donald Trump. But the deeply misogynistic beliefs that run through the movement, and their role in many of its foundational tenets, often go overlooked and unreported.” By now you probably get the gist of the book. The extract provided doesn’t include the chapters that explore Men’s Rights Activists and Men Going Their Own Way but Laura Bates probably has a lot of fascinating things to say about them as well.

There is the potential for an interesting, objective book to be written about the manosphere by somebody in the mainstream media who has no particular affiliation with feminism or men’s rights but has explored identity politics before (someone like Douglas Murray for example) not unlike Cassie Jaye’s documentary The Red Pill. Unfortunately, although this book will probably shape many people’s view of the manosphere, for people immune to feminist propaganda this is probably only useful to get an insight into how modern feminists think.

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