Internet Age Misogyny
The internet has transformed all of our lives in ways that no one could have expected or anticipated even just a decade ago, but it’s also been more than a little bit of a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, the internet has given rise to tremendous opportunities that never existed before. Today it’s possible to instantly communicate with millions – if not billions – of people from all over the world, opening up previously closed off communities like no other technology has been able to.
On the other hand, the internet has also allowed smaller “subcommunities” to band together in a way that wasn’t possible previously, either – allowing individuals to find other like-minded individuals that share radical beliefs not held by the mainstream.
These groups are able to create their own echo chambers, bouncing their own beliefs back and forth between one another without any pushback from outsiders. This allows these groups to become even more radicalized, particularly when they begin to feel that their ideas aren’t just understood but embraced by the majority of people that they interact with.
We are seeing these echo chambers pop up across all areas of life, from politics to business, from hobbies to sports teams, and every other area of day-to-day living.
But there’s a certain group of men that are bonding together over a shared anger, rage, and often times hatred of women that are becoming more vocal and more confident. These internet age misogynists are starting to spill out from their dark corners of the internet and into the “real world” with sometimes disastrous results.
The Rise of Internet Age Misogynists
It’s difficult to determine whether or not misogyny and sexism is truly on the rise because of the internet or if it is simply more visible because of the internet.
Researchers around the world have been trying to dive deep into a major cultural shift that is starting to be exposed to the mainstream, showing groups of men – not all men, but certainly groups of men from around the world – that are banding together online with a little more in common other than their disdain, anger, and sometimes open hatred of women that they feel have done them wrong.
A lot of young people will not remember an attack at Montréal University in 1989 led by a man armed with a hunting rifle and a knife, who walked throughout the halls of this Canadian university while systematically killing 14 different women before inevitably turning the weapons on himself and committing suicide.
A note was found on his body explaining the attack, and he (in no uncertain terms whatsoever) stated that this was a message to feminists around the world that “always ruined his life” and that he wanted nothing more than to push back against the feminist movement that had been sweeping through North America at that point in time.
Obviously, the internet as it exists today wasn’t available in 1989, but this illustrates the fact that there have always been men – mentally unwell and emotionally stunted man – that have been angry and upset with women, particularly when their advances are rejected out of hand.
The media at large condemned this viewpoint (for obvious reasons) and men around the world – the overwhelming majority of men around the world – echoed the sentiments that this was the activity of a wild card, a whack job, and a man that certainly did not speak for them.
Just 25 years later (in 2014) a man who described himself as a “kiss less virgin” – and a man that had been incredibly active in online communities fostering a misogynist viewpoint of women – drove to a sorority house in Santa Barbara, California and started shooting up the place.
In a YouTube video that he posted before the attack, he stated “I don’t know why all of you girls have never been attracted to me. I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime. I’m a perfect guy”.
Again, the media at large condemned this attack – but in corners of the internet (including social media, particularly on Facebook) men were popping up left and right applauding the behavior of this heinous crime.
One individual posted that this was the “Incel Rebellion”, praised the behavior of Elliott Rodger (the man behind the Santa Barbara attack), and then drove a panel van into a crowd of pedestrians in Toronto, eventually killing 10 people before being arrested.
A deeper dive into the online activity and behavior of this individual, a man named Alek Minassian, showed that he was a regular member of internet communities that fostered an idea of “involuntary celibacy” – the idea that these men weren’t able to have sex with women not because they didn’t want to, but because women were withholding this “right” from them.
The internet is certainly helping men with this kind of mindset find one another, helping to reinforce this attitude amongst themselves, and is helping to recruit and radicalize other men that have been wronged by women – and even the slightest or smallest way possible – in a very unhealthy way.
In 2018, Monica Lewinsky wrote about how she was very possibly the first woman in the world that had to withstand global humiliation by men (and women) because of the internet.
After she was sexually abused by then President Clinton and had the courage to come forward with her story she was torn down not only by the press but also on message boards all over the internet, ridiculed, and called a liar – even after she produced the famous stain on her dress.
Researchers in the United Kingdom argue that sexism has always existed and will always exist as long as there is still social currency with this kind of mindset. A UK researcher, Nina Power, also went on to highlight the fact that since the majority of the global population still does not have access to the internet – particularly in developing nations where misogyny and misogynist cultures certainly exist – it would be disingenuous to say that the internet has given rise to misogyny.
At the same time, Power does go on to say that sexism looks a lot different on the internet for a variety of different reasons. Anonymity, the ability to dive into these “echo chambers”, and the ability to hide behind a digital persona without being confronted in person emboldens misogynists (and trolls) to take more controversial approaches to their attitude than they might “in the real world”.
These Men Are Meeting Online and Radicalizing
These Involuntary Celibate (Incel) men meet one another in online groups all over the internet, but are particularly active in a number of different groups on Reddit, the so called “front page of the internet.”
One of the most popular websites on the planet, and a community developed to foster communication between anyone and everyone – regardless of their interests – there are plenty online and off that have pushed back against Reddit for allowing these kinds of groups to foster in the first place.
Subreddits (splinter groups from the “main” Reddit”) like r/TheRedPill (as of writing this article, the subreddit has been quarantined by reddit admins) and r/MGTOW are just a couple of the groups online that not only allow these kinds of conversations to take place but also encourage this type of behavior, this kind of mindset, and act as echo chambers for these men to bounce their rotten ideas back off of one another.
Some of these groups describe themselves as “men’s rights activists”, driving themselves in a misguided attempt to push back against the mainstream narrative that they are nothing more than radicals with an anything but healthy idea of and approach to women in the real world.
They see themselves as men that have been wronged by women their entire lives, are frequently describing themselves as unsuccessful only because of the interference of women, and have no problem sharing often times embarrassing and very much private details about their lives in an effort to show “just how far women will go” to bring them down.
Men belonging to the involuntary celibate (incel) groups are some of the most vocal online about how all women are evil, about how all women need to be “taught a lesson”, and about how “all women are unable or refused to see them for the Prince Charming that they are”.
These obviously misguided and unwell individuals routinely refer to men that have success with women as well as men that respect women as “Brad and Chad”. They describe these kinds of men as part of the problem, the kinds of men that are “constantly groveling at the feet of women” just to “get some” – whereas the involuntary celibate are upholding some mantle of masculinity that is anything but, never taking a look in the mirror and realizing that they themselves are the biggest problem in their lives.
The Mainstream Media Isn’t Doing Enough To Push Back Against These Groups
To say that we have become even more tribal because of the internet would be the understatement of the century, and all of us – ALL of us – are constantly overloaded with more information, more controversies (real and imagined), and more “breaking news” than at any other point in human history.
People today are more paranoid, more fearful, and more anxious than maybe any other point in human history and a lot of that has to do with mainstream media coverage and the internet communities/social media that so many of us are involved in.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, mainstream media has taken a dive off the deep end in promoting controversies and stories that have the widest appeal possible – ignoring true controversies and dangerous situations that are boiling just beneath the surface, like the misogyny communities that are bubbling up all over the internet today.
The fact that people are not exposing to the light of justice groups that openly promote rape, are more than happy to talk about someone’s “rape count”, feel entitled to and deserving of a woman’s body just because they are a man, and are reaching out to other men around the world that feel the same way – and empower them to fight back against women who aren’t willing to “obey them” further highlights just how much our mainstream media is letting us down.
The New York Times, when speaking about the attack led by Minassian that killed 10 people in Toronto, stated that he “displayed extreme social awkwardness” and then later went on to say that “he had seemed harmless”.
Think about that for just a moment.
A man that posted every single day on social media and in these echo chambers of misogyny that he wanted to hurt women, rape women, and kill women was somehow seen as just a little bit socially awkward but generally not harmless – right up until the day that he decided to climb into a van and killed 10 people because of imaginary wrongs he believed he experienced at the hands of women around the world, many of whom he never met and now never will meet.
What kind of nonsense is that?
These Echo Chambers Are Getting Worse
Perhaps the most unsettling thing about these disgusting and dark corners of the internet where these misogynists collect with one another is the fact that they aren’t even open or willing to conceive of the fact that they might be wrong, that their worldview may not be all that accurate, and that they themselves may be the ones that are responsible for the feelings that they have towards women – and not the women that they encounter likely aren’t paying any attention whatsoever.
In one of the Reddit groups where these misogynists hide out in anonymous member was obviously starting to feel a little bit of guilt about the Rogers shooting in Santa Barbara. Rogers had been an active participant in this group right up until his attack and his arrest, and had been boasting and bragging about “finally taking action against these women” in the days leading up to his evil and disgusting behavior.
The anonymous member posted a thread to this Reddit group wanting to know what the group could do to avoid these kinds of attacks in the future and how they should go about alerting the police if these kinds of behaviors were detected in the future.
Instead of coming together to find ways to prevent potential murders, rapes, and attacks against women in the future, the overwhelming majority of comments flooded in against this anonymous member and told him that they didn’t do anything wrong in the first place and that there’s no reason to take any proactive steps in the future, either.
One man responded “Don’t say anything at all. Whatever happens. We didn’t do anything to these women, so just let it happen if it does in the future”.
The anonymous man was shouted down by this kind of evil groupthink, and a quick surface digging of his activity on Reddit shows that he remains active not only in this misogynist group but in a handful of others.
This kind of behavior is indicative of the approach ALL of these groups take when a single man, maybe not entirely convinced of this misogynist mindset, dares to speak out against men who are obviously unwell, who obviously have emotional damage, and that are projecting their own inadequacies and shortcomings on women rather than holding themselves accountable.
In these situations, the echo chamber wins in the group becomes stronger and more emboldened to continue on down the same set of tracks. They gain steam, they win followers, and all of the little lemmings continue to bob their head up and down while embracing a very toxic form of masculinity with each and every second they spend in these awful groups.
Reddit at least took the first pushing back against this kind of behavior by completely banning the r/Incels group from their platform completely.
However, the group merely pivoted and created a new subreddit at r/Braincels (quarantined) where the same kinds of discussions and the same kind of behavior are encouraged. Groups like r/TheRedPill and r/MGTOW continue to move forward without any admonishment whatsoever, and both have seen their membership rates grow over the last year – especially in the wake of the #MeToo Movement.
It’s impossible to kill a cockroach even after you remove its head from its body. The legs will continue to push and skitter around – for days, if not a week or more – with the body only dying because it cannot drink without a mouth.
Reddit and other organizations have been trying to separate the head from the body of these online misogynist groups it appears as though more mouths pop up to feed to these groups at every turn. We’ll never likely be able to eradicate these groups completely, with the internet always providing them a platform to communicate with one another.
It falls to us as individuals to challenge these people on their beliefs, to raise a generation of men to not only push back but to totally reject these kinds of crazy ideals, and to do all that we can to make sure that this behavior NEVER become a mainstream concept or part of our global culture as a whole.