The manosphere is a heterogeneous collection of websites, blogs, and online forums promoting masculinity, misogyny, and opposition to feminism. Communities within the manosphere include men's rights activists, incels (involuntary celibates), Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), pick-up artists (PUA), and fathers' rights groups. While the specifics of each group's beliefs sometimes conflict, they are generally united in the belief that society is biased against men due to the influence of feminism, and that feminists promote misandry, or hatred of men. Acceptance of these ideas is described as "taking the red pill", a metaphor borrowed from the film The Matrix.
The manosphere overlaps with the far-right and alt-right communities. It has also been associated with online harassment and has been implicated in radicalizing men into misogynist beliefs and the glorification of violence against women. Some sources have associated manosphere-based radicalization with mass shootings motivated by misogyny. The manosphere received significant media coverage following the 2014 Isla Vista killings in California, the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, and the 2018 Toronto van attack, as well as the online harassment campaign against women in the video game industry known as GamerGate.
The roots of the manosphere lie in the men's liberation movement of the 1970s and 80s, which began as a critique of the limiting nature of traditional male gender roles. However, in the 1970s the nascent men's rights movement began to attribute men's problems to feminism and female empowerment. Media scholar Debbie Ging posits that the growth of the World Wide Web has enabled the spread of "virulent" anti-feminism, misogyny, and associated violent rhetoric. Groups now considered to be a part of the manosphere, such as the men's rights movement, predate the term "manosphere".[verification needed] The term, a play on the word "blogosphere", is believed to have first appeared on Blogspot in 2009. It was subsequently popularized by Ian Ironwood, a pornography marketer who collected a variety of blogs and forums in book form as The Manosphere: A New Hope For Masculinity. The term entered the popular lexicon when news media began to use it in stories about men who had committed acts of misogynist violence, sexual assault, and online harassment.
Emma A. Jane identifies the late 2000s–early 2010s as a "tipping point" when manosphere communities moved from the fringes of the Internet towards the mainstream. She hypothesizes this was related to the advent of Web 2.0 and the rise of social media, in combination with ongoing systemic misogyny within a patriarchal culture. Jane writes that the manosphere was well established by the time of the GamerGate controversy in 2014, and misogynistic language such as graphic rape threats against women had entered mainstream discourse, being deployed by men not necessarily identified with any specific manosphere group.
Themes and ideology
The manosphere is a heterogeneous group of online communities that includes men's-rights activists (MRAs), incels (involuntary celibates), Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), pick-up artists (PUAs), and fathers' rights groups. Some groups within the manosphere have adversarial relationships with one another. Ging writes that subgroups such as MRAs and PUAs "exaggerate their differences in displays of infight posturing, in spite of the fact that their philosophies are almost identical".
While the specifics of each group's beliefs sometimes conflict, the general ideology of manosphere groups centers on the promotion of masculinity, antifeminism, and misogyny. In particular, feminists are portrayed as ignoring male victims of sexual assault and encouraging false rape accusations against men. Journalist Caitlin Dewey argues that the main tenets of the manosphere can be reduced to (1) the corruption of modern society by feminism, in violation of inherent sex differences between men and women; and (2) the ability of men to save society or achieve sexual prowess by adopting a hyper-masculine role and forcing women to submit to them. Criminologist Lisa Sugiura writes that disparate groups within the manosphere are "united by the central belief that feminine values, propelled by feminism, dominate society and promote a 'misandrist' ideology that needs to be overthrown".
The manosphere has its own distinct jargon. The idea of misandry (hatred of or prejudice against men) is commonly invoked, both as an equivalent to misogyny and a way to deny the existence of institutionalized sexism. However, Sugiura writes that "there is little evidence to show that misandry is an issue affecting men's lives". Both male and female homicide victims are more likely to have been killed by a man, rather than by a woman. Although feminism is described within the manosphere as misandrist movement, there are no significant feminist groups dedicated to espousing hatred of men or encouraging female violence against men.
A central tenet of the manosphere is the concept of the red pill, a metaphor borrowed from the film The Matrix. It concerns awakening men to the supposed reality that society is dominated by feminism and biased against men. Manospherians believe that feminists and political correctness obscure this reality, and that men are victims who must fight to protect themselves. Accepting the manosphere's ideology is equated with "taking the red pill", and those who do not are seen as "blue pilled" or as having "taken the blue pill". Such terminology originated on the antifeminist subreddit /r/TheRedPill and was later taken up by men's rights and MGTOW sites. Donna Zuckerberg writes, "The Red Pill represents a new phase in online misogyny. Its members not only mock and belittle women; they also believe that in our society, men are oppressed by women."
Men are commonly divided into "alpha" and "beta" males within an evolutionary-psychology framework, where "alphas" are seen as sexually dominant and attractive to women, who are hardwired to want sex with alphas but will pair with "beta" males for financial benefits. Among MRAs and PUAs this argument is known as "alpha fux beta bux".
The manosphere overlaps with white-supremacist and far-right ideologies, including the neoreactionary, white-nationalist alt-right movement. Zuckerberg writes that many alt-right members are either pick-up artists or MGTOW, and "the policing of white female sexuality is a major concern" of the alt-right. The severity of the antifeminism espoused within these communities varies, with some espousing fairly mild sexism and others glorifying extreme misogyny. Racism and xenophobia are also common among groups in the manosphere, and perceived threats against Western civilization are a popular topic.Tracie Farrell of Open University and colleagues write that in addition to the "angry white men" associated with the alt-right, the manosphere also contains "men of colour, struggling with systemic racism that extends to beauty ideals and status".
Radicalization and violence
The manosphere has been associated with online harassment, radicalizing men into misogynist beliefs and the glorification of violence against women. Some sources have associated manosphere-based radicalization with mass shootings motivated by misogyny. Robin Mamié of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and colleagues associate radicalization into far-right ideologies via the manosphere with the idea of the alt-right pipeline.
The manosphere comprises various websites, blogs, and online forums. Noted sites include /r/TheRedPill, Return of Kings, and A Voice for Men, as well as (the now-defunct) PUAHate and SlutHate.
Reddit has been a popular gathering place for manosphere supporters, and several forums on the site are geared toward its ideas. However, in the late 2010s and 2020s Reddit began to take steps to discourage more extreme manosphere subreddits. Some were banned, such as /r/incels (banned in 2017), its successor /r/braincels (banned in 2018), and /r/MGTOW (banned in August 2021); other subreddits such as /r/TheRedPill have been "quarantined", meaning that a warning is displayed to users about the content of the subreddit and users must sign in before they're allowed to enter. As a result, some of these communities have found new homes on websites that are more welcoming of extreme content, such as Gab.
This section contains too many or overly lengthy quotations. (September 2022)
The manosphere has received significant coverage in the media from its association with high-profile violent attacks including the 2014 Isla Vista killings in California, the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, and the 2018 Toronto van attack, as well as phenomena such as the sustained online abuse towards female members of the video game community that came to be known as GamerGate. Following the Isla Vista shooting, the killer Elliot Rodger was found to have been an active participant on the PUAHate manosphere forum. Following the attack, Dewey wrote that, while the manosphere was not to blame for Rodger's attack, "Rodger's misogynistic rhetoric seems undeniably influenced by the manosphere". The sociologist Michael Kimmel argued "it would be facile to argue the manosphere ... urged [Rodger] to do this. I think those places are kind of a solace ... They provide a kind of locker room, a place where guys can gripe about all the bad things that are being done to them by women".
Arthur Goldwag described the manosphere in the Spring 2012 edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report as an "underworld of misogynists, woman-haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws, and false rape accusations... [who are] devoted to attacking virtually all women (or, at least, Westernized ones)." He added a caveat later that year, saying, "It should be mentioned that the SPLC did not label MRAs as members of a hate movement; nor did our article claim that the grievances they air on their websites – false rape accusations, ruinous divorce settlements and the like – are all without merit. But we did call out specific examples of misogyny and the threat, overt or implicit, of violence." In 2018, the SPLC added male supremacy as a category they track on their list of hate groups. The British anti-extremism group Hope not Hate included the manosphere in its 2019 State of Hate report.
- Hodapp (2017), p. xv; Lumsden (2019), pp. 98–99; Jane (2017), p. 662; Marwick & Lewis (2017), pp. 9, 13
- Hodapp (2017), p. xv; Sugiura (2021), p. 23; Nagle (2017), pp. 86–87; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Ging (2019), pp. 639, 644; Van Valkenburgh (2018), pp. 1–2
- Sugiura (2021), p. 23; Nagle (2017), pp. 92–93; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Zuckerberg (2018), p. 15
- Sugiura (2021), p. 23; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Nagle (2017), p. 93; Ging (2019), p. 644; Zuckerberg (2018), p. 18
- Hodapp (2017), p. xv; Sugiura (2021), p. 23; Nagle (2017), pp. 92–93; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Ging (2019), p. 644; Van Valkenburgh (2018), pp. 1–2; Zuckerberg (2018), p. 17
- Hodapp (2017), p. xv; Sugiura (2021), p. 23; Marwick & Caplan (2018), p. 546; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Nicholas & Agius (2018), pp. 30, 34
- Sugiura (2021), p. 23; Winter (2019), pp. 51–54; Lumsden (2019), p. 99; Ging (2019), p. 640; Marche (2016)
- Winter (2019), pp. 51–54; Lumsden (2019), p. 99; Ging (2019), p. 640; Marche (2016)
- Nicholas & Agius (2018), p. 36; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 11, 18–19; Nagle (2017), pp. 86–87
- Farrell et al. (2019), p. 87; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Van Valkenburgh (2018), pp. 1–2; Ging (2019), p. 640; Marwick & Lewis (2017), p. 29
- Lewis (2019); Dewey (2014); Tye (2021)
- Ging (2019), p. 640; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), pp. 1–2; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 20–21
- Ging (2019), p. 639; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 14; Horta Ribeiro et al. (2021), pp. 197–198
- Horta Ribeiro et al. (2021), pp. 197–198.
- Messner (1998).
- Horta Ribeiro et al. (2021), pp. 197–198; Nagle (2017), p. 15; Ging (2019), pp. 639–640
- Sugiura (2021), p. 23.
- Ging (2019), p. 640.
- Jane (2017), p. 667.
- Marwick & Caplan (2018), p. 553.
- Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 13–16; Nagle (2017), pp. 15–19
- Ging (2019), p. 644.
- Hodapp (2017), p. 8; Jane (2017), p. 662; Marwick & Lewis (2017), pp. 9, 13
- Marwick & Caplan (2018), p. 546.
- Dewey (2014), quoted in Hodapp (2017, p. xv)
- Hodapp (2017), p. xv.
- Marwick & Caplan (2018), pp. 553–554.
- Sugiura (2021), p. 21.
- Winter (2019), pp. 51–54; Lumsden (2019), p. 99; Ging (2019), p. 640; Marche (2016)
- Marwick & Caplan (2018), p. 546; Lumsden (2019), p. 99; Lewis (2019)
- Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 1–2, 12–13; Nagle (2017), pp. 93–94; Friedland (2018), pp. 126–127; Ging (2019), p. 640
- Ging (2019), p. 645.
- Zuckerberg (2018), p. 15.
- Ging (2019), pp. 650–651; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 109–110; Nagle (2017), pp. 88–89
- Ging (2019), p. 650.
- Zuckerberg (2018), p. 20.
- Lewis (2019).
- Lewis (2019); Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 2–9, 46; Nicholas & Agius (2018), p. 52
- Farrell et al. (2020), p. 229.
- Mamié, Horta Ribeiro & West (2021).
- Hodapp (2017), p. xv; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 2, 16, 140; Nagle (2017), pp. 88–100; Ging (2019)
- Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), pp. 2–3; Ging (2019), pp. 645–646
- Thalen (2021).
- Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), p. 2; Van Valkenburgh (2018), pp. 17–18; Farrell et al. (2019), p. 92; Basu (2020)
- Basu (2020).
- Ging (2019), p. 640; Jones, Trott & Wright (2020), pp. 1–2; Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 20–21
- Zuckerberg (2018), pp. 139–140; Nagle (2017), pp. 99–100
- Dewey (2014).
- Nelson (2014).
- Goldwag (2012a).
- Goldwag (2012b).
- Janik (2018).
General and cited references
- Basu, Tanya (February 7, 2020). "The 'manosphere' is getting more toxic as angry men join the incels". MIT Technology Review.
- Dewey, Caitlin (May 27, 2014). "Inside the 'manosphere' that inspired Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- Farrell, Tracie; Fernandez, Miriam; Novotny, Jakub; Alani, Harith (2019). "Exploring Misogyny across the Manosphere in Reddit" (PDF). WebSci '19: Proceedings of the 10th ACM Conference on Web Science. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 87–96. doi:10.1145/3292522.3326045. ISBN 978-1-4503-6202-3. S2CID 195776677.
- Farrell, Tracie; Araque, Oscar; Fernandez, Miriam; Alani, Harith (2020). "On the use of Jargon and Word Embeddings to Explore Subculture within the Reddit's Manosphere" (PDF). WebSci '20: Proceedings of the 12th ACM Conference on Web Science. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 221–230. doi:10.1145/3394231.3397912. ISBN 978-1-4503-7989-2. S2CID 219980233.
- Friedland, Roger (2018). "Donald's Dick: A Man Against the Institutions". In Mast, Jason L.; Alexander, Jeffrey C. (eds.). Politics of Meaning/Meaning of Politics: Cultural Sociology of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 115–133. doi:10.1111/soin.12328. ISBN 978-3-319-95944-3. S2CID 210440082.
- Ging, Debbie (2019). "Alphas, Betas, and Incels: Theorizing the Masculinities of the Manosphere". Men and Masculinities. 22 (4): 638–657. doi:10.1177/1097184x17706401. ISSN 1097-184X. S2CID 149239953.
- Goldwag, Arthur (March 1, 2012a). "Leader's Suicide Brings Attention to Men's Rights Movement". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center (Spring 2012).
- Goldwag, Arthur (May 15, 2012b). "Intelligence Report Article Provokes Fury Among Men's Rights Activists". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- Hodapp, Christa (2017). Men's Rights, Gender, and Social Media. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. p. xv. ISBN 978-1-49-852617-3.
The manosphere is a group of loosely associated websites, blogs, and forums all concerned with masculinity and men's issues, and includes input from the MRM, pick-up artists, anti-feminists, and fathers' rights activists.
- Horta Ribeiro, M.; Blackburn, J.; Bradlyn, B.; De Cristofaro, E.; Stringhini, G.; Long, S.; Greenberg, S.; Zannettou, S. (2021). "The Evolution of the Manosphere Across the Web" (PDF). Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. 15 (1): 196–207. doi:10.1609/icwsm.v15i1.18053. ISSN 2334-0770.
- Jane, Emma A. (2017). "Systemic misogyny exposed: Translating Rapeglish from the Manosphere with a Random Rape Threat Generator". International Journal of Cultural Studies. 21 (6): 661–680. doi:10.1177/1367877917734042. ISSN 1367-8779. S2CID 149078033.
Despite some conflicting agendas and tribalism, [manosphere] groups are united by an antagonism towards women, a vehement opposition to feminism, and the production of hyperbolic misogynist discourse ...
- Janik, Rachel (April 24, 2018). "'I laugh at the death of normies': How incels are celebrating the Toronto mass killing". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
- Jones, Callum; Trott, Verity; Wright, Scott (2020). "Sluts and soyboys: MGTOW and the production of misogynistic online harassment". New Media & Society. 22 (10): 1903–1921. doi:10.1177/1461444819887141. ISSN 1461-4448. S2CID 210530415.
The Manosphere is now home to several different groups, including pickup artists, the more radical 'Incels', father's groups, Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) and the Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) group and each has important differences that need to be unpacked.
- Lewis, Helen (August 7, 2019). "To Learn About the Far Right, Start With the 'Manosphere'". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- Lumsden, Karen (2019). "'"I Want to Kill You in Front of Your Children" Is Not a Threat. It's an Expression of a Desire': Discourses of Online Abuse, Trolling, and Violence on r/MensRights". In Lumsden, Karen; Harmer, Emily (eds.). Online Othering: Exploring Digital Violence and Discrimination on the Web. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 91–115. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-12633-9_4. ISBN 978-3-03-012632-2. S2CID 182589139 – via Researchgate.
- Mamié, Robin; Horta Ribeiro, Manoel; West, Robert (2021). "Are Anti-Feminist Communities Gateways to the Far Right? Evidence from Reddit and YouTube". WebSci '21: 13th ACM Web Science Conference 2021. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 139–147. arXiv:2102.12837. doi:10.1145/3447535.3462504. ISBN 978-1-4503-8330-1. S2CID 232045966.
- Marche, Stephen (April 14, 2016). "Swallowing the Red Pill: a journey to the heart of modern misogyny". The Guardian. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
- Marwick, Alice E.; Caplan, Robyn (2018). "Drinking male tears: language, the manosphere, and networked harassment". Feminist Media Studies. 18 (4): 543–559. doi:10.1080/14680777.2018.1450568. ISSN 1468-0777. S2CID 149246142.
The manosphere is an aggregate of diverse communities brought together by a common language that orients them in opposition to the discourse and rhetoric of feminism.
- Marwick, Alice; Lewis, Rebecca (May 15, 2017). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online (Report). New York: Data & Society Research Institute. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
The 'manosphere' is a loose collection of blogs and forums devoted to men's rights, sexual strategy, and misogyny.
- Messner, Michael A. (1998). "The Limits of 'The Male Sex Role': An Analysis of the Men's Liberation and Men's Rights Movements' Discourse". Gender and Society. 12 (3): 255–276. doi:10.1177/0891243298012003002. ISSN 0891-2432. JSTOR 190285. S2CID 143890298.
- Nagle, Angela (2017). Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right. Alresford, UK: Zero Books. ISBN 978-1-78535-543-1.
- Nelson, Libby (May 29, 2014). "'Aggrieved entitlement' in the Isla Vista shooting". Vox. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- Nicholas, Lucy; Agius, Christine (2018). The Persistence of Global Masculinism: Discourse, Gender and Neo-Colonial Re-Articulations of Violence. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-319-68360-7.
- Sugiura, Lisa (2021). "The Emergence and Development of the Manosphere". The Incel Rebellion: The Rise of the Manosphere and the Virtual War Against Women. Bingley, England: Emerald Publishing Limited. pp. 15–36. doi:10.1108/978-1-83982-254-420211004. ISBN 978-1-83982-257-5.
- Thalen, Mikael (August 3, 2021). "Reddit bans notorious anti-feminist subreddit 'Men Going Their Own Way'". The Daily Dot. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
- Tye, Charlie (August 16, 2021). "Inside the warped world of incel extremists". The Conversation. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
- Van Valkenburgh, Shawn P. (2018). "Digesting the Red Pill: Masculinity and Neoliberalism in the Manosphere". Men and Masculinities. 24: 84–103. doi:10.1177/1097184X18816118. ISSN 1097-184X.
- Winter, Aaron (2019). "Online Hate: From the Far-Right to the 'Alt-Right' and from the Margins to the Mainstream". In Lumsden, Karen; Harmer, Emily (eds.). Online Othering: Exploring Digital Violence and Discrimination on the Web. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 39–64. ISBN 978-3-03-012632-2.
- Zuckerberg, Donna (2018). Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-97555-2. OCLC 1020311558.
- Baker, Peter C. (June 13, 2017). "Hunting the Manosphere". The New York Times Magazine. ISSN 0028-7822.
- Ellis, Emma Grey (July 10, 2019). "Reddit's 'Manosphere' and the Challenge of Quantifying Hate". Wired.
- Fountain, Aaron Jr. (December 28, 2018). "It's not just white incels. We need to talk about the Black Manosphere, too". The Black Youth Project. University of Chicago; Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.
- H.C. (July 25, 2016). "What is the manosphere?". The Economist.