He Took It All Too Far/But This is an Excellent Article

by Belle Waring on February 25, 2017

This is an amazing article at Medium (h/t Paul Campos) that obviates my unexpressed need to write about Gamergate or Milo Thingface. I wanted to write about the former at the time, and John said there was almost no upside (I wrote a post about dickweasels!) and infinity downside (I became the target of a random whirling roulette wheel of internet and even IRL destruction because I am a woman who wrote about dickweasels.) Compelling! Likewise he counsels me not to write about the crazy MRA bloggers with whom I have such an unfortunate obsession. I, like, have a problem. I know way too much stuff about the manosphere. I read reddit threads, you guys. But whatever, let’s just read this article about 4chan that explains everything! (And truly, if you don’t know about the rare Pepe memes, here’s your better than Vox explainer). Whenever you say something’s full of fail, you owe a debt to 4chan, you know. (Plain People of Crooked Timber: we never say that, Belle. Me: well…dang.) The author has the inside scoop.

As someone who has witnessed 4chan grow from a group of adolescent boys who could fit into a single room at my local anime convention to a worldwide coalition of right wing extremists (which is still somehow also a message board about anime), I feel I have some obligation to explain….

Again, here we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and video games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter. By consequence of their defeat, the distant, abstract concept of women in the flesh makes them feel humiliated and rejected. Yet, in the one space they feel they can escape the realities of this, the world of the video game, here (to them, it seems) women want to assert their presence and power.

If this sounds hard to believe, take for example Milo Yiannopoulos, the “Technology Editor” at Breitbart News, whose scheduled lecture this month at Berkeley spawned massive riots and protests. Yiannopoulos rose to prominence via Gamergate. He is not a “technology” editor because he compares the chip architectures of competing graphics cards. [This is the sickest of burns—BW] Rather the “tech” here is code for the fact that his audience is the vast population of sad young men who have retreated to internet communities. Likewise the mainstream press sometimes describes him as troll as a way of capturing his vague association with 4chan. This term, too, is inaccurate. He is 4chan at its most earnest, after all these men have finally discovered their issue — the thing that unites them — their failure and powerlessness literally embodied (to them) by women….

Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good. Men who have retreated to video games and internet porn can now characterize their helpless flight as an empowered conscious choice to reject women for something else. In other words, it justifies a lifestyle which in their hearts they previously regarded helplessly as a mark of shame.


Now, I could excerpt endlessly as it’s very quotable, (as here on Milo) but you should just go RTWT. It is, quite separately from its other virtues, a beautiful explanation of the rise of Trump, and his promises that we’re going to win so much we’ll be sick of winning—this being the promise of a guaranteed loser. And everything is going great riiight up until the end of the article.

By contrasting 4chan with their self-proclaimed enemy, their counter-culture counterparts, we can see that, though demographically they are so similar, the real difference is introduced here — at the thorny of issue of the girlfriend. 4chan’s self-described “beta” males are trapped in this ideology, hating their counterparts whose key difference is a willingness, like the beatniks of old, to slough off the “gender binary” and live how they please.

But rather than take this as reason to be ever more contemptuous of Anons and their misogyny, the left should regard Anon/the deplorables as a failure on its part, a terrific mangling of the left’s own arguments that has resulted in alienating the very group of people who could be the most helped by their ideas, if not the most convinced.

No. Just, no. Fuck these guys. Also, there is a slight problem. In the context of Anon attacks on artists’ spaces, Dale Beran is drawing an interesting parallel between broke artists living in warehouses to pursue some dream fundamentally at odds with the accepted norm of finding a good job etc., and broke 4channers living in their parent’s basements, pursuing inward looking dreams of video games. The difference being that artists can get laid. Now, it’s actually a good point but it requires a huge caveat which he has space for because the article is long, and that’s that some or the artists are the girlfriends themselves, if you see my point. Now, Beran’s not unaware of this, and explicitly refers to LBGTQ artists above, but there’s still something jarring about “the thorny issue of the girlfriend.” OK, whatever.

The more serious issue is: no. Which is to say, feminists can only say “the patriarchy hurts men too” so many times. The patriarchy hurts men too, guys! All these wounded manosphere commenters I read (which I should not, because it’s fundamentally negative for me, and I have it worse for them that John does for Rod Dreher) are trapped by their own ideas of masculinity, endlessly reinforced in a atmosphere of hetero male fantasies about alpha males with harems, consumed with resentment for sluts who won’t have sex with them. All of this is a toxic slurry of patriarchal, sexist attitudes about men and women, about what men should be like, about tedious madonna/whore obsessions that have them praising Amish women one quarter of the time and slavering over HB8s (HB is for hot babe) another quarter (the remaining half of their time is spent railing against fat, blue-haired feminists and white women who have sex with non-white men, a practice they call musharking and I’m sorry you know that now, that’s on me.) But that’s not the fault of feminists! These men don’t think this because we’re not trying hard enough to educate them, surely?

To the deplorables, whose central complaint is one of masculine frailty, pride, and failure — to deny their identities as men is to deny their complaint. They are a group who define themselves by their powerlessness, by being trapped into defeat. But if they are to accept the left’s viewpoint, they must accept that the problem at core of their being is all in their heads. That is to say, the left’s viewpoint of sexual-difference-as-illusion is exactly what they don’t want to hear — that they have cornered themselves into their mother’s basements.

The left does more than simply declare their opposing viewpoint wrong, the radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion denies their viewpoint an existence. To the left, a complaint stemming from being a man is null space, lying outside the realm of what it will acknowledge as true.

Wait, no. I don’t deny Beran is talking about something interesting, but this is wrong-headed. These guys have cornered themselves into their mother’s basements, a point he makes explicitly above in the section I quote. And laughing at people with dumb complaints about how chicks only want to sex up alpha males isn’t the same as denying that the patriarchy…hurts men too. Nor is their personal felt hurt unreal or null. It’s as if someone were reproaching critics of Dostoyevsky’s man of ressentiment by saying “your insistence that Lake Como isn’t in Rome is hurting him!” Lake Como isn’t in Rome. That his fantasies include ‘Lake Como being moved to Rome for the occasion’ is precisely what makes them fantasies; that he is miserable no one will deny; that it is in some important way his fault is clear; as is the fact that he will hurt others and may be unable to care. This article is brilliant right up until the point where it goes (analogously speaking) full “the Left is at fault for not convincing white Trump voters, and is wrong for labeling them racist assholes, and caring about trans people cost us the election. Also Bernie.” Because while it’s true that feminism could, in fact, save these people from this loathsome pit they are in, it doesn’t follow that it’s a failure on the part of the political Left that they are down in the pit to begin with. The kernel of a good point is that people hate to be mocked, and one is unlikely to accept a rope thrown down by someone laughing at you, but on another, more important level, no.

{ 122 comments }

1

BruceJ 02.25.17 at 2:11 am

The difference being that artists can get laid.

Well, that, and they create something tangible. And they tend to have an open attitude towards others, which always helps.

There ARE 4Channers who create things (the whole concept of ‘photoshop wars’ pretty much comes from them originally) but honestly they’ve lost the creative edge and moved into ‘echo chamber’ mode by a bunch of guys who have weirdly condemned themselves into loneliness.

I mean seriously, I resemble this guy and I have multiple girlfriends (of the tangible kind) in college and beyond.

In fact it was streak that has persisted to the current day with 30 years of married life to a fellow D&D player :-)

2

Joseph Brenner 02.25.17 at 2:17 am

I occasionally think about trying to understand what’s going on with this stuff, but I’m afraid I can’t work up the energy. Take the gamergate thing… the way the feminist-side characterizes the gamer-side it makes them sound so bug nuts crazy I have trouble believing it can be entirely fair to them…
But who in their right mind would be willing to really try to understand what went down with that? I imagine the threads of discussion are all archived somewhere, and sometimes I wish some enterprising PhD student would comb through it all and summarize it carefully, but I suspect I’d be stuck again about not being quite willing to believe the result.

Anyway, it’s commonly claimed that there’s a philosophy popular among otaku these days that “2D is better than 3D”, which is to say, they feel that they’re better off living with fantasies of anime characters than they would be with relationships with real people. It’s difficult to say how serious they are about it– the suspicion is widespread that it’s sweet lemon rationalization that would evaporate given opportunity (a line from Steins;Gate: “She is a 3D woman with a 2D soul!”)… in some respects it strikes me as an interesting, uncompromising way to try to live [1], an elevation of the world of imagination to a central place in their lives (Willie Wonka: “You can live in a world of absolute imagination…”). I can certainly see more than a hint of misogyny coming from that world (women, you see are all grasping and materialistic and they just treat the men in their lives like ATM machines, so stay away), but think about it from the other side: in the modern world, nothing is quite so crazy and desperate as a young male seeking a mate. The extant courtship customs are tenuous at best (the doctrine of romantic love requires a rejection of all such things), but men are indoctrinated with the idea that they need to take active action to solve their problems: but what? What exactly are they supposed to do? (Think about that question seriously some time: anything you *can* do is something you’re not supposed to do, at least from someone’s point of view– e.g. go to a department store, get some slick clothes? What are you, some kind of faggot?).

Where I’m going here is that any sort of pacifying philosophy that justifies inaction may very well be to the good. There isn’t too much you can say except get on with your life and hope for further developments later.

[1] I also thought the “straight-edge punk” philosophy was an interesting development. That was another one that was more “observed in the breach”,
and quickly became fodder for jokes about the hypocrisy.

3

Dave Maier 02.25.17 at 2:17 am

Thanks for this — I didn’t know all that stuff about Anonymous, so yes, everybody check this out. The key point made there (that a sizable chunk of Trump fans will not be feeling buyers’ remorse, like, ever, no matter how seriously their guy screws everything up, because this is just what they like about him) cannot be made often enough.

I also sympathize with your obsession with crazy MRA bloggers, although it is alarming to think that you have it worse for them than John does for Rod Dreher, which as we all know is pretty bad, although he seems to have moved on to Haidt now. There is hope though! I’m not really into MRAs myself (yet – don’t get me started!), but I used to have it seriously bad for Roger Kimball (and other spittle-beflecked Catholic wingnut culture-warrior guys, but he was my favorite), and I am pleased to report that nowadays I never go over there and just make do with Ross Douthat in the Times (although, like David Brooks, he is appalled enough by Trump to actually sometimes write non-nonsensical things in his columns nowadays, which can be a bit disappointing).

4

le Roi d'Ys 02.25.17 at 2:38 am

They will bury you

5

Sebastian H 02.25.17 at 2:42 am

Yes. But no. But kind of.

You’re flirting with an insight here. But you don’t quite have it (and I don’t either so I’m not sure I can help except to sort of talk it out).

The US right now is a nation where each side is deeply otherizing the other side. More so than when I was growing up and Republicans and Democrats were often friends. (No seriously, that used to be a thing). Yes they are worse, but there is a huge portion of our side also reveling in it. We seem caught in a horrible dynamic of anti empathy feeding on anti empathy. How do we break out of it? Are there things we can do to change the dynamic?

My read of history is that maybe the 70s was sort of like this. How did we break out of it then?

6

Layman 02.25.17 at 3:08 am

Sebastian H: “The US right now is a nation where each side is deeply otherizing the other side.”

…only one side is doing the otherizing with baseball bats. Will you never learn?

7

Alan White 02.25.17 at 4:07 am

Now that 8 men own as much as 3.6 billion people, the old Deep Throat advice seems apt–follow the money. Drives everything–which makes the questionable foundations of current economics particularly unsettling.

8

ozma 02.25.17 at 4:21 am

MRA-obsessed represent! For some reason, I remember many weird details from the original blog posts that started gamergate.

(For you normal people, what started gamergate was a long, throughly documented story complete with text messages about a woman who appeared to lie to her boyfriend in order to cheat on him. That’s all it was! For the gaters it was much, much more, though– a view into the very heart of human corruption. The absolutism generated by this compelling story will make no sense to most of us, but it all started with a story vividly told, trust me.)

I found the economic part of this piece interesting:

“Recall the central themes of Gamergate: women represent Anon’s “beta” failure in capitalism. Anons have achieved neither of these ideological ideals; they are not playboys with bachelor pads or wage earners with families. If the U.S. were in fact what it pretended to be, that is to say, the best way to become either the playboy or the family man, Anon would not exist. But it is this gap between ideological expectation and cruel reality which created him.”

This seems pretty plausible. The decommissioned labor aspect of the Current Resentment is notable. Why do techies find Trump compelling? Is it pure nihilism all the way down? Not entirely. They do stand to benefit for a little while if Trump drives international competition for labor away from the USA–at least until many of the tech companies relocate to a place with more open immigration policies.

It’s hard to deny that the idea ‘I’ve been cheated by…[fill in whomever here]’ is a key to so much that is happening. Trump is revenge. Trump is gamergate because power under any guise is better than no power at all. He is referred power, much like the power of trolling and threatening women in gaming. Maybe you will get something, maybe not. But if you don’t, at least you’ve deprived someone else of something. It’s better to watch everything burn to the ground than watch others move forward with their lives when you can’t seem to.

The psychology of being cheated is not so different than the psychology of being cheated on, then. Sometimes revenge is all you’ve got left. Kathy Cramer argues that’s what Trump is about resentment for many of his supporters. It makes as much sense as any other explanation when we’re talking about something that might not make actual sense.

I also think Beran is correct that it’s an identity set-up because, depending on what you identify with, or how you identify yourself, anything but winning [insert whatever here–money, success, power, chicks, respect] is shameful and threatening. And given the things we’re taught about how the brilliant and talented only count as brilliant or talented if they get their due, and the only thing that matters is being brilliant and talented, you have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t win. Or do you? Why not blame feminism, women, immigrants, or whomever? Done collectively, it appears to be a healing process. Now all you have to do is go out and injure someone else. Hey, maybe Donald Trump will do that for you.

I admit to hoping that maybe the fever will run its course but my guess is that this is a bottomless resentment, and fairly free-floating as well, so I doubt anything but full scale annihilation of most of humanity can satisfy it.

These supporters are now irrelevant in most respects since Trumpism turns out to be that usual thing–a giveaway to corporations with some terrifying twists on how they’ll make the money. But many still get to enjoy the spectacle and maybe for certain people, that’s worth the price they’ll pay.

9

Val 02.25.17 at 4:35 am

@ 5
“The US right now is a nation where each side is deeply otherizing the other side.”

A very famous Australian author of children’s books has been detained at the US border on her way to a conference. This is from her account of the experience:

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox said.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I’m 70 years old.”

She has received a formal apology from the US, but she may never go back. This has nothing to do with both sides “otherizing” the other.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-25/mem-fox-detained-at-los-angeles-airport-by-us-officials/8303366

10

rm 02.25.17 at 4:38 am

This is more or less the rant that’s been playing in my head since I read that article, except 1000x more eloquent, because Belle Waring.

On one hand, only someone who had witnessed the evolution of this subculture from the start could have explained it this well.

On the other, he skims over serious criminal abuse, credible death amd rape threats, threats against their targets’ children, doxxing, ending careers, SWATing, campaigns of comstant harassment.

He still identifies, sympathizes, even if he says his values have changed. He’s missing some basic fundamental understanding of how gender has gotten fucked up. I hear the same mistake all the time — men are unhappy, feminism must be the cause, when in fact it is our toxic patriarchal culture that makes men unhappy. It discomforts men and kills women.

11

mjfgates 02.25.17 at 4:49 am

> Because while it’s true that feminism could, in fact, save these people from this loathsome pit they are in, it doesn’t follow that it’s a failure on the part of the political Left that they are down in the pit to begin with.

I’ve seen this in so many contexts. Trump voters voted for Trump because leftists didn’t try to understand them enough. Conservatives fall for nonsense like “Pizzagate” because we don’t listen to them hard enough. Racists and authoritarians and and damn fools, all our fault because… something. The idea distresses me two different ways: first because it assumes that I have control over the thoughts of every lunatic on Earth, and second because if these people are QUITE so easily influenced as that we can’t possibly think of them as adults.

12

Pavel 02.25.17 at 4:56 am

Modern youth radicalization doesn’t take place in Universities and on the picket lines anymore. It takes place on Twitter (gamergate, Tracer’s ass), 4chan (/pol/, pepe memes), YouTube (“new atheist/rationalist” shitlord channels) and Reddit (r/the_donald, r/redpill). Except it’s not the radicalization that you want.

Remember the Cambridge Five? I mean, they were traitors, but their place of origin matters.

What this implies is that no matter how smart or accurate the old media is (and it’s not always either of these things), no one gives a shit about it. That Guardian thinkpiece we all read last week (let’s say we read one for the sake of argument)? The 16-year old white dude who’s watching a video telling him about the rape epidemic caused by migrants in Sweden (hint: there isn’t one), hasn’t even heard of the Guardian, except perhaps by way of Guardians of the Galaxy. Those views are going by largely unchallenged.

It’s also part of my frustration with America’s current intellectual class (that would be you people). Perhaps this is just typical moaning about the inevitable generation gap, but there is a pretty serious disconnect between the what the literati think modern culture resembles, and what most people actually consume (maybe there always was, but the gulf seems bigger now somehow). There is a concerted effort in academia to produce reams and reams of infinitesimally more specific research on fifth-rate philosophers with a total publication circuit of about ten people (how many people besides your adviser and editor read your thesis?), while a 30-minute video about why feminism is teh cancer will have half a million to a million eyeballs. Why doesn’t someone here make a damn video critiquing Capitalism using poorly-drawn animations and fast cuts? I mean that quite seriously. If you want engagement, stop writing things on dead trees (ok, continue writing things on dead trees, but then figure out how to make an entertaining video out it afterwards). Knowing how to engage is in some ways more important than having something to say.

@Sebastian H.
I too would like more empathy, it’s just hard to convince people to empathize with someone who is figuratively throwing feces and trying to dox them. I mean, you get enough death threats and verbal abuse, and you’ll think about retiring pretty early from the scene (cf. any comments section ever). The kinds of people who can go toe to toe with the shitlords of the internet are amazing and special. To wit, contrapoints (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsdaLqAZ9hA&ab_channel=ContraPoints) and hbomberguy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahuj1B0ow4U&t=620s&ab_channel=hbomberguy)

@Joseph Brenner
#GG started out as a bunch of frustrated male gamers doxxing some women developers/critics they didn’t like. Innocent enough, I suppose. The movement did get immediately co-opted by MRAs and white supremacists though… and nerd culture in general (which is quite sad, because I still consider myself to be a part of that culture). Certainly, the feminist side ascribes more sinister motivations to that movement, but they’re only off by a bit. The reality is that while most #GG people are probably just frustrated and merely sexist, the people who co-opted those movements are significantly worse and have actual agendas in mind.

Also, Dr. Nerdlove has you covered on the internal inconsistencies of toxic masculinity, and how to get laid with these 5 tips (http://www.doctornerdlove.com/).

P.S. I strongly suggest watching some hbomberguy and contrapoints (see links above) to get a sense of how to engage with the other side in our post-post-post-reality world. Saying “the patriarchy hurts men too” may be accurate, but it’s the performance that’s key.

13

nnyhav 02.25.17 at 5:14 am

Sorry but Beran’s a potted history with an agenda (slatepitch fail). Better is David Auerbach on Anonymosity (2012, link to case studies at end) (or for that matter, elsewhere, on Gamergate [yes even tho on Slate]).

14

Alex SL 02.25.17 at 5:35 am

Thanks for the link; I immediately went over and read it. The end, the “what to do about it”, indeed seems the weakest part.

But another thought occurred to me, and of course it has already been articulated in comments under the piece: When the explanation for their nihilistic rightwingdom and harming vulnerable people is that the economy has failed them, it is implicitly assumed that nihilistic rightwingdom and hurting the vulnerable is the logical response to a precarious economic situation. It just isn’t. The logical, rational response is fighting for a more equal distribution of wealth. You only get to nihilistic right-wing views as the response if you are also an a-hole.

(The same goes for justifying why the disgruntled traditional “working class” goes xenophobic, or for justifying why “colonialism” causes suicide attacks on innocents and calls for women to be veiled. In other times and places people in the exact same situations have often found less harmful ways of responding, ways that actually work towards improving the situation instead of merely spreading misery around.)

15

Sebastian H 02.25.17 at 6:11 am

Pavel, “I too would like more empathy, it’s just hard to convince people to empathize with someone who is figuratively throwing feces and trying to dox them. I mean, you get enough death threats and verbal abuse, and you’ll think about retiring pretty early from the scene (cf. any comments section ever).”

A couple of thoughts on that. Like everything in life it is a continuum. There are the doxers and feces throwers (who are the loudest and most scary) but for each of them there are probably 100 other guys (as described in the referenced post) who are far less than that but in the same or similar milieu. It seems that these discussions get bogged down in a left wing version “we can’t deal with those Islamist terrorists” kind of box. The right-wingers are correct. You can’t deal the Islamist terrorists, but there aren’t nearly as many of them as they try to make it look like, and the way to sap their power is to drain support away from them.

Isn’t it exactly the same analysis for the worst actors in our own country?

We can’t just write off half the country and expect things to go well.

16

Sebastian H 02.25.17 at 6:33 am

Pavel, Contrapoints is good.

17

bad Jim 02.25.17 at 7:31 am

A gamergate is a mated worker ant that is able to reproduce sexually, i.e. lay fertilized eggs that will develop as females. Gamergates are restricted to taxa where the workers have a functional sperm reservoir (‘spermatheca’). In various species, gamergates reproduce in addition to winged queens (usually upon the death of the original foundress), while in other species the queen caste has been completely replaced by gamergates.

I strongly feel that any subject engendering strong emotions, especially those with sexual themes, demands an absurd or surreal perspective, preferably provided by history or science.

18

Raven Onthill 02.25.17 at 7:32 am

I think (now, and I may think something different tomorrow) that this type of misogyny is a failure mode of male human psychosexual development. It is depressingly common, and was so even before modern communications technology made it so much more visible.

You discuss “patriarchy” causing this; I do not think that is exactly correct. Rather, this thing-I-have-no-name-for is patriarchy.

We (not liberals, we-as-a-society) fail miserably in providing a way for boys to grow up into men without falling into this trap. It ought to be avoidable, and it ought to be possible to catch it before it turns virulent and expresses itself in a fascist movement.

19

Raven Onthill 02.25.17 at 7:33 am

My, I seem to be radical tonight. In another blog, I suggested that health insurance company managers and employees be prosecuted for human death and misery as a matter of policy.

20

Gareth Wilson 02.25.17 at 8:29 am

OK, is just me who thinks of The Phantom Toolbooth whenever that guy is referred to as just “Milo”?

21

Joseph Brenner 02.25.17 at 8:41 am

I wouldn’t go as far as nnyhav@13– I have to have at least some tentative respect for an account of a scene I wasn’t paying any attention to– but there are indeed several things here that raise some flags with me. The stuff, for example, about how 4chan invented this-or-that– my experience is that everyone involved with an on-line forum is inclined to believe that anything they saw there for the first time must’ve been invented there. There are almost invariably predecessors that the young enthusiast knows not of.

The connection between 4chan and the rise of Trump seems a bit of a stretch. The numbers of 4chan denizens, even if in the millions, don’t amount to a big chunk of the electorate. You could possibly get away with a thesis that the rise of 4chan is based on the same cultural factors that led to the rise of Trump, but myself, I’d want to see the details checked out. Like, what if, it turned out that the average 4channelist was not in fact unemployed and living in their parent’s basement? It could be that they tend to go along with that story as yet-another in-joke, and after all you wouldn’t want your boss to realize you spend half of the working day hitting 4chan via the tor browser.

22

Guy Harris 02.25.17 at 8:49 am

Sebastian H:

We can’t just write off half the country and expect things to go well.

By “half the country” you presumably mean “the approximately half of the US voting population that voted for Trump”, not “the probably quite less than half of the US, or even of the voting population of the US, that are 4channers”. (Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex guesses that there might be “about 25,000 – 50,000 American alt-rightists on 4Chan” based on some assumptions.)

23

Guy Harris 02.25.17 at 9:02 am

Gareth Wilson:

OK, is just me who thinks of The Phantom Toolbooth whenever that guy is referred to as just “Milo”?

Dunno, but I think “Minderbinder”, although Milo M. was a fairly straightforward profiteer; Milo Y. may be doing it mostly for the lulz, with potential $$$ from speaking fees and the book a secondary motivation at most.

24

robotslave 02.25.17 at 9:07 am

If we’re looking for a way to be more compassionate towards these alt-right cretins, we might start by recognizing the fact that a great many of them have turned to video games and internet chat-rooms not because they’ve lost their jobs at the plant (good lord, how old would they have to be for that?) but because they have chronic depression, or suffer from crippling anxiety attacks, or tilt a little too far into the wrong end of the autism spectrum, or are otherwise neurochemically aberrant in ways that compromise their capacity for everyday, culturally acceptable face-to-face social behavior.

Now, you can go ahead and blame the culture for this– after all, that’s what they do, too. They just find different faults with it than you do. So this seems unlikely to help us out of the mess we’re in.

The thing they don’t like about socialism is the “social” part. They don’t merely find a General Assembly a bit tedious, they find it painful. When they express contempt for “the front row kids,” it’s because to them, the front row kids seem to glide through life effortlessly without being good at anything at all, other than socializing.

They hate “the liberal elite” and the establishment and the political class because to them, the world seems to be owned and ruled by those who are good at small talk, gossip, and brunch– things they find difficult, painful, or impossible.

They’re not going to thank you for noticing this, of course. Not unless you learn how to talk about it in the peculiar language they’ve constructed for themselves. Very carefully. Like, you don’t open with “Why is Pepe so sad?”

And maybe hold off on trying to explain why social skill is a real skill and we all need to have people around who are good at it. And also when you encounter the ones that have borderline personality disorder or other, erm, louder sorts of neurological aberration… well, just try to remember that only a fraction of them are like this.

25

Guy Harris 02.25.17 at 9:31 am

OK, so Beran proclaims that

In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:

1) Generally older people who naively believe Trump will “make America great again”, that is to say, return it to its 1950s ideal evoked by both Trump and Clinton.

2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.

3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.

without any indication of the sizes of any of those three groups. Based on what? Hopefully more than just spending a lot of time reading 4chan, which I suspect runs the risk of causing one to overemphasize the importance of 4chan.

So why are we to take this seriously as an analysis of the 2016 United States Presidential election? It might be interesting as an analysis of a particular subgroup of people, but is there any data to suggest that this particular group of people is of any interest to the election?

(And then there’s his repeated use of “the left” as a term that refers to something. To what does it refer? To that group that supports “the radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion”? Is support for that notion a sine qua non of being a leftist?

Sorry, but his essay didn’t particularly impress me the first time I read it; it didn’t improve on re-reading. It reads as if somebody discovered a Big Idea and wants to tell the world about it. That’s nice, but just make sure it doesn’t all amount to just this.)

26

J-D 02.25.17 at 9:53 am

Gareth Wilson
Is the reference to ‘The Phantom Toolbooth’ intentional, or was it just a felicitous typo?

27

Chet Murthy 02.25.17 at 9:55 am

@Sebastian H: Like others, I also believe that your statement

The US right now is a nation where each side is deeply otherizing the other side.

is wrong. And I find your defense argument

A couple of thoughts on that. Like everything in life it is a continuum. There are the doxers and feces throwers (who are the loudest and most scary) but for each of them there are probably 100 other guys (as described in the referenced post) who are far less than that but in the same or similar milieu.

to be wholly inadequate. To wit, your first statement is about the US as a whole, but in your second, you retreat to only commenting on 4channers. That’s …. a little weasel-y, no?

To return to your original point, the evidence that Trumpism is deeply rooted in white supremacy (and incidentally misogyny, but that was always true of white supremacy) is pretty incontrovertible. I’m not going to unnecessarily lard this comment with support, but truly, if you aren’t already convinced, then I think you should examine your conscience very carefully.

Now, there *is* one point that *could* be made about Trump voters, that isn’t about white supremacy: that some of them have suffered in this modern economy we have here. And they’re angry about it. But again, it is *abundantly clear* that every time — EVERY FRICKEN TIME — the Dems have tried to do things to help these voters, they’ve been cut off at the knees by the Rs. EVERY TIME. The most recent example that comes to mind is the JOBS act (remember Obama’s SOTU address where he proposed it?), but another one is the entire ARRA, which was smaller than it chould/should have been — and could have put many blue-collar workers back to work (I hear construction and infrastructure projects are heavy on manual labor even today). I will stop here, but there are many other points to be made about this argument (e.g., only WWC voters seem to be Trumpists — not PoC). This comment is long enough.

28

Chet Murthy 02.25.17 at 10:01 am

@Sebastian H: Forgot to add, regarding your comment

We can’t just write off half the country and expect things to go well.

the Dems DO NOT write off half the country. Many, many of the policies the Dems promote, help all poor people, including white ones. And let’s remember, that black and latino Americans live more poverty-stricken, precarious, low-health lives, than whites of the same socioeconomic class. Again, there is a simple way to discern this: go look up maternal and infant mortality. You’ll find that this scourge disproportionately affects black and latino mothers/children).

Again: as @Layman said above, one side’s demand is simple: kick those others over there. Kick them hard, and over and over. Kick some of them out of the country now.

And again, if you don’t believe, this, then I suggest you examine your conscience.

29

Michael Drew 02.25.17 at 10:24 am

Are you that compelled by people being that clearly wrong?

Or what keeps you reading the manosphere?

30

Faustusnotes 02.25.17 at 10:30 am

I also read this and it was very interesting and good to read on the origins of anonymous but there is something missing in the whole thing. As others mentioned it completely overlooks the violent and repressive aspects of gamergate, treating it more like a cry for help or a movement in nihilistic self expression than the vicious exercise in repression that it actually was. It also gives way to much credit to 4chan for trumps rise and ignores two crucial components of his success – middle and old aged white males (who were the majority of his visible supporters over his entire campaign) and the republican mainstream, who did nothing to neutralize him. For example, no amount of 4chan lulz would have protected trump if Billy bush had released the pussy grabbing tapes early in the primary when trump was still vulnerable to an evengelical insurrection.

Yes 4chan and the mra had a role to play in trumps rise and in the validation of trumpism as an ideal but they weren’t all that. And blaming it on feminists is dumb. How can feminists ever reason with a bunch of guys who think “chivalry” (guys paying for the dinner on the first date, guys holding doors for girls, etc) is a feminist invention? These dudes have gone deranged from too many years of blue balls, and the only way to fix them is for them to get laid. It’s not feminists fault that no woman will touch them!

31

Phil 02.25.17 at 11:00 am

Gareth @20 – haven’t up to now, now will forever.

Alex SL: When the explanation for their nihilistic rightwingdom and harming vulnerable people is that the economy has failed them, it is implicitly assumed that nihilistic rightwingdom and hurting the vulnerable is the logical response to a precarious economic situation. It just isn’t. The logical, rational response is fighting for a more equal distribution of wealth. You only get to nihilistic right-wing views as the response if you are also an a-hole.

This… apart from the final sentence. Pinning down what these people are (pinning down what anyone is) isn’t very interesting or productive, I don’t think, and it’s bound to produce defensive reactions (even people who make rape threats don’t look in the mirror and say “hey, evil scumbag!”). The nihilistic right-wing outlook is… wrong: it’s a wrong turning, a set of ideas that those people chose to adopt, a worldview that they chose not to challenge. What this article misses, like so much commentary on these people – there was a horrific example recently from Laurie Penny – is that word ‘chose’: they made that choice, most of them are still actively and repeatedly making it, and it’s on them.

32

Phil 02.25.17 at 11:03 am

Site people – is there any chance I could be taken out of automod? I made one comment, months ago, that I didn’t want to be traced back to me (it was about university stuff) and I used a pseudonym and left the email address blank. Ever since then, everything goes into moderation. My IP’s obviously greylisted, or something – could you sort it?

33

Layman 02.25.17 at 11:29 am

It’s a well-written piece, and I can grasp why it might be that these people cast their votes for Trump; but several things don’t work.

Consider this from part 6:

‘In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:
1) Generally older people who naively believe Trump will “make America great again”, that is to say, return it to its 1950s ideal evoked by both Trump and Clinton.
2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.
3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.’

A quick look at exit polling data shows that Trump got exactly the same percentage of the young vote as did Mitt Romney, while Clinton underperformed Obama by about 5 points. So it is not the case, apparently, that young bitter slackers elected Trump for the lulz.

https://ww2.kqed.org/lowdown/2016/11/14/how-millennials-voted/

It may be that the stayed home in mom’s basement on Election Day, which leads to this question: What are the sizes of these 3 constituencies? More importantly, how does (1) compare to (3)? In light of that, why isn’t the article about naive older people and how their desire to return to what they (wrongly) remember as a more white, more fair, more affluent time has led to Trump?

34

Bill Benzon 02.25.17 at 12:04 pm

I’m thinking MRA is more likely to mean “men’s rights activist” than “mandibular repositioning appliance”, “Microcredit Regulatory Authority”, “Moral Re-Armament”, or “Myanmar Restaurant Association”. Right?

35

Sam Bradford 02.25.17 at 12:43 pm

Hey, I’m a young man! Maybe I’m qualified to comment. I’ve met similar people.

I agree with BW and the original article that this mode of thinking is a response to failure. Specifically failure to get laid, but also a more general failure to engage with society. The limited extent to which I have any sympathy for these guys is that engaging with real society (and therefore women) is quite difficult if you’ve grown up on the Internet. These are middle-class Americans, so they will have been kept well clear of threatening minorities, poor people etc, and basically raised in an atmosphere of fear. They’re children, really, in that they’ve never had to extend empathy to people who are different. Much the same as they turn their inability to get laid into a virtue (‘women are just gold-digging sluts anyway’) they turn their own fear of empathy into a nihilist political line, ie. ’empathy is for losers’ and ‘your PC is just virtue signalling, you couldn’t possibly actually care about the feelings of others’.

Like the OP, I found more and more to disagree with as the article went on. I thought the internet-warrior mission to shut down DIY music spaces was interesting — the messages did seem to be phrased as an out-and-out authoritarian ‘get the weirdos’ rather than even pretending to have an ethical basis. I think the author was wrong about their dislike of artists coming primarily from sexual jealousy; I think it’s more resentment of people who have a sense of purpose that can’t easily be belittled, who care deeply and obviously about something. They’re scared of caring. It’s fear all the way down. I can remember being a teenager and being intimidated by what are now very normal social interactions; if I’d never got over that and entered the world, maybe I’d be one of them…

36

engels 02.25.17 at 12:54 pm

Patriarchy hurts men too

If you believe this you might also consider possibility it structures their experiences of the world and freedom of action as individuals (as I expect you hold it does for women). Then the ‘their pain is real but self-inflicted’ line on Reddit jerks etc looks more doubtful… (nb. not saying they’re not jerks or have no responsibility for how they ended up)

37

bob mcmanus 02.25.17 at 1:48 pm

On one hand, only someone who had witnessed the evolution of this subculture from the start could have explained it this well.

Among current open books: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture …September 2, 2016. Whitney Phillips, she spent something like ten+ years interacting with 4chan and anonymous. It is more about the trolling than trollers. Here’s maybe her thesis:

“In this provocative book, Whitney Phillips argues that trolling, widely condemned as obscene and deviant, actually fits comfortably within the contemporary media landscape. Trolling may be obscene, but, Phillips argues, it isn’t all that deviant. Trolls’ actions are born of and fueled by culturally sanctioned impulses — which are just as damaging as the trolls’ most disruptive behaviors.

Phillips describes, for example, the relationship between trolling and sensationalist corporate media — pointing out that for trolls, exploitation is a leisure activity; for media, it’s a business strategy.”

Sebastian H:We seem caught in a horrible dynamic of anti empathy feeding on anti empathy.

And it’s all the other guy’s fault, the bastards or bitches. It’s is like, nah couldn’t be, that a neoliberal culture of rapacious individualism and instrumental tribalism generates a theatre of cruelty and a simultaneous virtue of victimhood? Hypersentimentalization.

Anybody notice the liberals waving the little Russian flags at CPAC? That was good trolling. Liberals liked it almost as much as the viral sucker-punching. But we have nuthin in common with anonymous trolls. Nuthin.

38

Dave Maier 02.25.17 at 2:46 pm

nnyhav: David Auerbach is great — thanks for the link!

39

Mandos 02.25.17 at 3:07 pm

/delurk after long time

Belle’s point here is all true and valid …

Nor is their personal felt hurt unreal or null. It’s as if someone were reproaching critics of Dostoyevsky’s man of ressentiment by saying “your insistence that Lake Como isn’t in Rome is hurting him!” Lake Como isn’t in Rome. That his fantasies include ‘Lake Como being moved to Rome for the occasion’ is precisely what makes them fantasies; that he is miserable no one will deny; that it is in some important way his fault is clear; as is the fact that he will hurt others and may be unable to care. This article is brilliant right up until the point where it goes (analogously speaking) full “the Left is at fault for not convincing white Trump voters, and is wrong for labeling them racist assholes, and caring about trans people cost us the election. Also Bernie.” Because while it’s true that feminism could, in fact, save these people from this loathsome pit they are in, it doesn’t follow that it’s a failure on the part of the political Left that they are down in the pit to begin with. The kernel of a good point is that people hate to be mocked, and one is unlikely to accept a rope thrown down by someone laughing at you, but on another, more important level, no.

… but, the problem is, that these people have now shown that they can exercise power, that they can influence events, and that their desire to move Lake Como to Rome matters, and that they’ll do things that hurt themselves as long as it hurts the people who mock them for feeling hurt that people are telling them that Lake Como isn’t in Rome.

So, no matter where responsibility for this problem really resides, well, that’s where it’s at: how to talk to someone who has discovered that there are ways to prevent his own marginalization, even if that marginalization is earned or deserved. How to talk them down from doing harm to others in order to show that they are not marginal.

It may not be fair that this matters, but it does seem to matter. They don’t feel they owe anything to a feminist analysis of their situation, and they’ve proven to themselves that they can help elect a president whose victory came partly via a frontal attack on certain aspects of feminism and the glorification of vulgar machoism. So maybe there are ways to pat them on the head and hand them a map of Italy where Lake Como is in Rome, and then get on with other business?

40

engels 02.25.17 at 3:16 pm

Basically agree with Sebastian’s #15.

41

Abby 02.25.17 at 3:35 pm

@2 “I imagine the threads of discussion are all archived somewhere….”

One archive:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Gamergate_controversy/Archive_1

42

Andy Lowry 02.25.17 at 5:08 pm

“We can’t just write off half the country and expect things to go well.”

But it’s not half of the country, is it? By what measure is half of the country racist, homophobic, misogynist, & anti-Muslim?

About 1/4 of the US voting-age population voted for Trump. The crazification factor is holding up pretty well.

43

chris s 02.25.17 at 5:41 pm

” The 16-year old white dude who’s watching a video telling him about the rape epidemic caused by migrants in Sweden (hint: there isn’t one), hasn’t even heard of the Guardian, except perhaps by way of Guardians of the Galaxy. Those views are going by largely unchallenged.”

I suspect a large part of it is that these days watching one of those videos is probably enough to fill your recommends with a bunch of similar videos – and down the rabbit hole goes the 16 year old.

44

Mark Engleson 02.25.17 at 6:56 pm

I was one of those guys in those basement. (I was never conservative.) In grad school, my body fell apart, and I moved back in with my parents. I was unemployed, then marginally unemployed for several years. And I basically didn’t date for those years. But I always had the goal of moving out and dating. And I never blamed women. And last year, got a job and moved to DC, and I’m dating again.

I think how you’re raised makes a big difference. I was always raised to respect women.

45

Gareth Wilson 02.25.17 at 7:29 pm

Is the reference to ‘The Phantom Toolbooth’ intentional, or was it just a felicitous typo?

Typo. I couldn’t think of a Tollbooth joke. Maybe “…I think I’ll continue to see things as a child.”

46

engels 02.25.17 at 7:56 pm

Just a FYI: 40% of Americans aged 18-34 (more than 20 million people) are now living with their parents. Maybe the fact that so many ostensibly progressive-minded people can blithely dismiss such a large swathe of their fellow citizens being denied the means to live a normal adult life as ‘failures’ who ‘deserve to be marginalised’ might have something to with why America is in the catastrophic mess it is?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/percentage-of-young-americans-living-with-parents-rises-to-75-year-high-1482316203

47

Matt 02.25.17 at 8:59 pm

“Explaining” Trump’s victory by way of coal miners, incels, /b/tards, and other tiny groups seems premature. The only tiny groups that matter in national elections are those with enough money to buy persuasion in bulk. The null hypothesis: Trump’s victory came from the EC’s amplification of rural voter preferences, same old as delivered GWB’s first term, not some terrifying new thing that happened in the last 4 years. Trump was the Republican nominee so Republicans tended to vote for him. (I don’t think that “how Trump won the primary” is something well-explained by way of 4chan either.)

After Presidential elections writers use current events as a mirror they can point at a topic they can use to exercise their craft and draw readers. Most of it seems superficial and poorly quantified, like people evangelizing the latest fad diet. Remember the 2012 hype about how Silicon Valley software developers drove Obama’s re-election with their skillz? Different election, similarly questionable: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/when-the-nerds-go-marching-in/265325/

In my teens and early twenties I was an active user on Slashdot, kuro5hin, and Something Awful. Later I was sometimes a lurker on 4chan. I’ve occasionally fallen down the rabbit hole of horrified fascination with several different internet subcultures. I think that the author linked in the OP is mostly on target in explaining some of these subcultures. I just don’t think that Trump’s election leaves a large residual in need of explanation after you’ve taken into account the same factors that led to GWB’s first term.

48

RichardM 02.25.17 at 9:05 pm

> Many, many of the policies the Dems promote, help all poor people, including white ones.

Except that these people may well be white, but they aren’t poor.

The core of their complaint is being unable to exchange excess money for other things (social status, companionship) in the way their grandparent’s generation could. Which means providing money to poor people is, by interfering in that exchange, in effect making their complaint worse. Unsurprisingly it is seen as a direct attack on them.

Note that they don’t have to actually _have_ that excess money to make that their complaint; it is enough to believe they could get it if they tried. For example, by doing something other than playing video games all day.

It’s no coincidence that Trump is more or less the only US public figure with a visible wife meaningfully financially dependent on him.

49

Manta 02.25.17 at 9:27 pm

While the article is an interesting exercise in ethnography, the larger point seems to me much ado about nothing.

50

Manta 02.25.17 at 9:33 pm

About @5 Sebastian H 02.25.17 at 2:42 am

I am worried that US is going towards a civil war (the real thing, not a metaphorical one).
When, no matter who wins elections, the losing side regards the winner as illegitimate (not simply as “bad” or “evil”), the possibility of violence seems quite high.

51

Gonzalo 02.25.17 at 9:38 pm

Disaffected youth is pretty much a pleonasm. Imagine for a second what’d happen if these armies of tadpoles & snowflakes were not properly tucked & contained in college campuses and their moms’ suburban basements: they’d be joining gangs or, worse, terrorist groups, as was the case not too long ago and still is in many less fortunate, affluent &/or developed parts of the world. Could be worse, much worse. We used to draft them and send them to invented wars (don’t rule out this scenario). Just trying to see the glass half full here despite the the fact that the Trump presidency is certainly a travesty.

52

Joseph Brenner 02.25.17 at 10:47 pm

By the way, back on December 1st, there was one of those thinkish pieces in the Guardian UK on the same subject:

Matt Lees, “What Gamergate should have taught us about the ‘alt-right'”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/01/gamergate-alt-right-hate-trump

“Prominent supporters on Twitter, in subreddits and on
forums like 8Chan, developed a range of pernicious
rhetorical devices and defences to distance themselves from
threats to women and minorities in the industry: the
targets were lying or exaggerating, they were too precious;
a language of dismissal and belittlement was formed against
them. Safe spaces, snowflakes, unicorns, cry bullies. Even
when abuse was proven, the usual response was that people
on their side were being abused too. These techniques,
forged in Gamergate, have become the standard toolset of
far-right voices online.”

When I read this it struck me as completely nutty That poor-whittle-conservative schtick (whining about those liberal whiners) has been around for quite some time, and long preceeded the Gamergate business. The “but you guys do it too!” counter-accusation has been around at least as long as the 2004 election (but that’s just when I remember noticing it out in force).

This Gamergate-Trump connection looks a lot like just assuming there must be a deep connection between two things you don’t like.

“We have no idea where this will lead, but our continued
insistence on shrugging off the problems of the internet as
‘not real’ — as something we can just log out of — is
increasingly misled. 2016 has presented us with a world in
which our reality is being wilfully manipulated.”

What it is we were all supposed to learn from Gamergate to prevent tRump escapes me. Something about doing better language policing? Maybe concentration camps?

And once again: *2016* is when he first noticed this? What kind of reality warp do you have to live in to not get that something was wrong before this? The global warming issue, the iraq war… none of this tipped him off?

A few miscellanious thoughts:

(1) There’s been something broken about our collective intelligence for some time– this isn’t some new development.

(2) Hillary could have won if any of a half-dozen things were slightly differently, and she did in fact win the popular vote. The fundamental, underlying issues are not bigger or smaller because of tRump.

(3) Everyone is in actually in remarkable agreement about the significance of tRump. The common conclusion is: “See, I was right all along!”

53

Lee A. Arnold 02.25.17 at 10:57 pm

“In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:
1) Generally older people who naively believe Trump will ‘make America great again’…”

Important to understand that few of them “naively believe” this. Their vote was a desperate shot in the dark. They have a limited understanding of how the economy works, and so they are using a rule of thumb, a heuristic, to cope with their uncertainty: you vote for the most radical message of the available choices, the one who is going to tear the system down. And Trump could have a very short window of opportunity to make good, with them. Many of them don’t like him personally; he is one of the few U.S. politicians with higher “personal dislike” poll numbers than Hillary. A few began to turn as soon as he began giving away the candy store to Wall Street. Trump has a fairly steady negative 5 point spread in his job approval number, remarkably bad for a new President. Bannon’s idea seems to be to keep the heat on Those Who are to Blame, and whoop up a new movement out of his voters, now by blaming and banning some of the mainstream press. I am guessing it is going to blow up in his face.

54

Alex SL 02.25.17 at 11:21 pm

Phil,

I think figuring out why people do something is a crucial first step before being able to decide how to deal with it.

55

Mario 02.25.17 at 11:55 pm

Someone mentioned the Guardian above, and that the people Beran portrayed don’t know it, so they never get to hear that alternative position. As far as I can tell, the opposite is true: they know the Guardian very well and find it a great showcase of how ‘liberals’ are utterly crazy. I have that theory that the Guardian, and other, similar publications, have probably moved about four times as many people to the right than Breitbart and co.

For example, the ‘radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion’ is much more toxic than Dale Beran suggests, as it takes actual effort to not consider it utter rubbish on the face of it. To many, you could as well claim the earth is flat. Which would make you the kind of person that claims the earth is flat, and thus automatically disqualify you for office.

(Beyond that, it doesn’t really look helpful at all. To elaborate on the image Belle used above, those allegedly throwing the rope to you, who are marooned down in a pit, don’t really look like they are just mocking you – they look like members of a crazy sect out to cut your white male organ off.)

56

Jake Gibson 02.26.17 at 12:09 am

Let me get this straight. MRAs think traditional marriage is disadvantageous to men, but Feminism is worse. Hard to believe they have trouble developing relationships with women.
Wonder how many would identify with Christian Grey, if there were to read FSOG.

57

nastywoman 02.26.17 at 12:09 am

– it’s still mind boggling to read a ‘serious’ -(kind of) review of an article – which gave a serious -(kind of) review of 4chaners.

and as said in the Holbo post about the normality of Trump it’s another proof ‘why so many (older?) and ‘wiser’ people are so helpless in checking out if F…face von Clownstick -(or a 4chaner) is ‘normal’ (or what?) or not?

58

JimV 02.26.17 at 12:17 am

I realize it’s not as easy to discuss, but I think we need more analysis of the fact (according to the Pew post-election survey) that the biggest faction which went overwhelmingly for Trump were: white, evangelical Christians. Until we address that, misogynists who play video games in their parents’ basements seems like a less-important faction to me. albeit a troubling one – whose importance it seems to me evolution will limit. (But then I accept the Theory of Evolution.)

Ironically, the ToE explains why birth-control and abortion are instinctively such visceral issues, whereas the Bible does not.

59

nastywoman 02.26.17 at 12:22 am

– or how can I say it more like a ‘nastywoman’?

The 4chaner I know – who fit the stereotype are actually NOT:
‘No. Just, no. Fuck these guys.’

They are very, very… how should we say?… Perhaps… ‘Sad Sacks’?
And then there are 4chaner who are actually:
‘Yes, just, no Fuck these guys – and they might – in an absurd way – not be the stereotypical ‘insecure’ and sad sack 4chaners?

But rather than take this as reason to be ever more contemptuous of Anons and their misogyny, the left should regard Anon/the deplorables as a failure on its part, a terrific mangling of the left’s own arguments that has resulted in alienating the very group of people who could be the most helped by their ideas, if not the most convinced.

No. Just, no. Fuck these guys. Also, there is a slight problem. In the context of Anon attacks on artists’ spaces, Dale Beran is drawing an interesting parallel between broke artists living in warehouses to pursue some dream fundamentally at odds with the accepted norm of finding a good job etc., and broke 4channers living in their parent’s basements, pursuing inward looking dreams of video games. The difference being that artists can get laid.

60

Belle Waring 02.26.17 at 12:26 am

4chan is interesting even if it’s totally fucked up; why not write articles about it that explain it to those who don’t have a perverse fascination with people being wrong on the internet? Also, I don’t think this explains why Trump won the election; I just think it’s a persuasive explanation of why a certain kind of internet denizen is a Trump supporter almost to the exclusion of caring about any policies other than “wreck some shit.” engels you’re being a bit silly; 4channers use ‘living in your mom’s basement’ as a twisted point of pride, and everybody knows people who live at their parents’ home and are perfectly lovely–I don’t think it makes you some kind of deadbeat loser. My own siblings have lived/live at my mom’s house for various good reasons like not having a job or being disabled or caring for my mother, and I don’t go around thinking they suck, and they were never violent trolls who cheered others on as they swatted the guy from the “damn, daniel” vine, or whatever the aughts equivalent of that would have been.

61

Belle Waring 02.26.17 at 12:29 am

Also re: moderation: I’m on the other side of the world so I can’t manually approve posts during the time most are made. If our comments section hadn’t become exactly like your local newspaper’s but everyone has a PhD we wouldn’t have this problem now, you know. Collectively you have no one but yourselves to blame even as individually you are each probably unusually intelligent and considerate. Perhaps having banned some of the more bannable we could open things up a bit, but I think we all know how we got here.

62

J-D 02.26.17 at 12:42 am

Phil
It’s nothing specific to you or your IP. There was a change across the board a few months (?) ago, since when all commenters have their posts go into moderation until approved by the blog owners.

This means, among other things, that by the time you read this there may be other comments above it explaining the same thing, but which I wasn’t aware of when I wrote this because they were in moderation.

63

J-D 02.26.17 at 12:51 am

… After Presidential elections writers use current events as a mirror they can point at a topic they can use to exercise their craft and draw readers. Most of it seems superficial and poorly quantified, like people evangelizing the latest fad diet. … I just don’t think that Trump’s election leaves a large residual in need of explanation …

Obviously some things must have changed between 2012 and 2016 to produce a different Presidential election result. Some things must have changed between 2008 and 2012, between 2004 and 2008, and so on, because in each case the Presidential election results were not identical. On the relevant comparison scales, though, the changes must have been small ones. In the last seven US Presidential elections, fifteen States have been carried by the Democrats every time and thirteen States by the Republicans every time, leaving only twenty-two States (44% of the total) that have voted Democrat at least once and Republican at least once over that period. There has never in all of preceding US history been a run of seven Presidential elections with results so similar, without any big swing from one side to the other (‘big’ by the standard of past big swings). From that historical perspective, the question suggested is what the big change was between 1988 and 1992 and why there haven’t been any more changes on the same scale since.

64

nastywoman 02.26.17 at 1:31 am

@60
‘4chan is interesting even if it’s totally fucked up’

Yes it’s ‘fucked up’ (now?) – but as Dale Berans writes – in the beginning it was ‘a bulletin board, but its system of navigation was opaque. Counter intuitively, you had to hit “reply” to read a thread. Moreover, the content was bizarre nonsense.’

And for everybody who had an interest in ‘bizarre nonsense’ -(or historical art movements which dealt with ‘bizarre’ nonsense) it was a real interesting and fascinating ‘fucked up’ site – and as it evolved it (still) has a lot of the ‘original nonsensical spirit’ – which seems to be very hard to digest for ‘normal’ readers.

And perhaps there could be an (nonsensical?) article be written about it?

65

Val 02.26.17 at 2:18 am

Mario @ 55
You are arguing that the Guardian (and like “liberal” voices) may move people to the right because they seem to talk nonsense. You give as an example:

“For example, the ‘radical idea of sex/gender-as-illusion’ is much more toxic than Dale Beran suggests, as it takes actual effort to not consider it utter rubbish on the face of it. “

I’m not sure that the Guardian has a clear line that sex/gender is an illusion (I’ve never seen evidence of that and I read the Guardian quite a lot). However I have at times seen people on CT suggesting that the ‘answer’ to gender problems is to do away with gender, so maybe it is a kind of left/liberal position amongst some people that gender is an illusion and we can easily get rid of it.

I’m doing current research on gender issues, and I don’t think that is the current position in a lot of contemporary research, but I do find when I talk about feminist theory on CT, a lot of people don’t seem to understand what I’m talking about, so I think current theory is not well understood amongst “liberals”, if CT readership can be said to be (US) liberals. So maybe it “sex/gender-as-illusion” common position amongst ‘the left’, or ‘liberals’ (I’m not trying to suggest they’re the same thing – outside the US they usually have quite different meanings but they do seem to be used a bit interchangeably in the US) – but not necessarily amongst feminists.

To put what I think is a more current position – firstly the distinction between ‘biological’ sex and ‘social’ gender is not seen as a clear demarcation or dichotomy, and similarly there is not held to be a clear demarcation or dichotomy between ‘biological’ and ‘social’. I use, and I think increasingly more people in my field (feminist public health) are also using, “socioecological” as a key term.

So we would suggest that sex and gender are intertwined, and both change over time, but gender (being more socially constructed) can change faster than sex (being more biologically constructed). I am of course talking here at the social or socioecological level, not the individual level, of course, where I guess surgery can change ‘sex’ relatively quickly.

Another part of this of course is changes in the way we understand evolution. Most people have probably heard of epigenetics, so probably have some idea how this field is changing, but I won’t go into that further.

66

Val 02.26.17 at 2:22 am

Sorry – my post above was in need of the wished-for editing facility a bit – hopefully it isn’t too confusing.

67

engels 02.26.17 at 3:09 am

I have a vague memory that Thorstein Veblen used to live in a friend’s house, which he was obliged enter and exit through a window.

68

Kurt Schuler 02.26.17 at 3:28 am

Yes, Belle, your obsession is unfortunate for you, but it is beneficial to those of us who know little about 4chan, and your casually tossed-off blog post is nearly as stylish as Dale Beran’s carefully crafted story.

69

Guy Harris 02.26.17 at 8:10 am

engels:

Just a FYI: 40% of Americans aged 18-34 (more than 20 million people) are now living with their parents. Maybe the fact that so many ostensibly progressive-minded people can blithely dismiss such a large swathe of their fellow citizens being denied the means to live a normal adult life as ‘failures’ who ‘deserve to be marginalised’ might have something to with why America is in the catastrophic mess it is?

There’s the 40% of Americans aged 18-34 who are now living with their parents, and there’s the whatever% of Americans who are 4channers, and there’s the other-whatever% (other-whatever < whatever) who are 4channers of the type being described in Beran's article. There may be some overlap between the first group and the other two groups, but I suspect there are a lot of people in the first group who are not in the second group (and thus not in the third group, as it's a subset of the second group), and there may even be members of the second or third groups who are not members of the first group.

Which of those three groups are being dismissed in that fashion? If the first group is not one of them, what are the sizes of the groups being so dismissed?

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RichardM 02.26.17 at 11:02 am

> You are arguing that the Guardian (and like “liberal” voices) may move people to the right because they seem to talk nonsense.

Approximately 0% of the group in question will have seen a Guardian as a physical object and read it front to back, with news separated from comment and lifestyle, and a little heading over any article that literally is an advert. And probably a little standalone sponsored section about how Dubai is great, which no-one in the history of ever has ever read.

Many more will have seen individual Guardian articles. Commonly a curated selection, in the form of links, titled something like ‘crazy lies all liberals believe’. Each link prefixed with an explanation of why it is nonsense, and suffixed with vigorous commentary on how bad it is that all liberals believe it.

These are very different experiences, approximately equivalent to reading the Bible versus reading an atheist tract that quotes the Bible a lot.

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engels 02.26.17 at 12:58 pm

“A is a loser, he has to travel everywhere by bus.”
“Actually for millions of people, bus travel is their only option…”
“I never said they’re all losers, just A.”

Maybe someone with Guy Harris’s grasp of logic and set theory could explain what is wrong with this exchange…

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engels 02.26.17 at 2:16 pm

73

engels 02.26.17 at 2:20 pm

(Off-the-wall opinion: unemployment and lack of housing are serious structural injustices and don’t delegitimise the anger of their victims…)

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nastywoman 02.26.17 at 2:43 pm

@72
‘Here’s the same meme being used to bash the Left:’

That’s why it might be so important to differentiate… between somebody on ‘the Left’ -(or ‘the Right’) – and somebody who is just: ‘No. Just, no. Fuck these guys.’

– just like with F…face von Clownstick? –
As if there would be an international conspiracy of F…faces – a united front of ‘assholes’ whose only purpose is to destroy ‘politics’ in any direction and form?

Then what do we do?

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nastywoman 02.26.17 at 2:52 pm

Then what do we do?

Do what a 4chaner did in Berlin?
Telling a so called ‘Left’ F…face that he isn’t ‘on the Left’ – he is just an ‘asshole’!

76

Phil 02.26.17 at 3:22 pm

Alex SL – it depends how complete you need your reasons why to be, and how comfortable you are with damning people for who or what they are. Three possibilities:

A: “These boys turned into nasty trolling misogynists in response to various horrible stuff that happened to them, individually and as a class/age group. Poor boys! These are not our enemies, they’re poor little sheep that have lost their way!”
B: “These men turned into nasty trolling misogynists in response to various horrible stuff that happened to them, but it was only one possible response. We don’t know why they chose this response, but they did choose it, as adults, and it’s on them.”
C: “These men turned into nasty trolling misogynists in response to various horrible stuff that happened to them, but it was only one possible response. Presumably they chose it because they were, at best, assholes already.”

I don’t care about who these people are or what they’ve been through; I care about what they do, and about stopping them doing it. So it comes down to the tactical question of the best way to wake a troll. A and C have complementary flaws – A says “if you’re a nice young lad with legitimate grievances, why are you acting like a Fascist wannabe?”, C says “hey, asshole, why are you such a Fascist asshole?”. In both cases the hearer is likely to snag on to the personal part of the message and respond accordingly (“don’t be horrible, I’m a nice young lad with legitimate grievances!” or “who you calling an asshole, asshole?”). B says “you’re acting like a Fascist wannabe, and that’s not really on”; that’ll probably bounce off as well nine times out of ten, but at least it focuses on the behaviour, not the person.

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Yankee 02.26.17 at 5:05 pm

4chan is interesting even if it’s totally fucked up

Things that almost work are the most interesting of all. Like the Orrery in Little, Big. 4chan is Frankenstein’s Monster’s brain.

OT, @The Plain People: when the 2yo spreads their dinner around the room, somebody has to clean it up. Who’ s the grownups hereabouts?

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Guy Harris 02.26.17 at 5:49 pm

engels:

Maybe someone with Guy Harris’s grasp of logic and set theory could explain what is wrong with this exchange…

If A refers to a young person who has a lousy job and can’t afford a car, and “loser” refers to the fact that he has to take a bus, it’s suggests, by use of the pejorative “loser”, that this is somehow his fault when that isn’t necessarily the case.

If, however, A is being designated a “loser” based on being, as per Phil, a nasty trolling misogynist, I don’t consider nasty trolling misogyny a legitimate response to having a crap job that means you can’t afford a car. If that’s deemed “delegitimizing their anger”, so be it.

So can we all agree to distinguish between “young people in crap economic straits” and “manosphere assholes”? Perhaps a lot of the latter are also the former, but I tend to doubt that most of the former are also the latter. Given that, whilst improving the conditions of young people in general would be a Good Thing from both a moral/ethical and a preserving-the-social-peace point of view, independent of some fraction of the assholosphere being young men with crap jobs and no girlfriends, improving the conditions of young people in general may neither be necessary nor sufficient to cure the alt-right/manosphere/etc. types.

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engels 02.26.17 at 6:09 pm

Then what do we do?

Fight Nazis and fight the hyper-meritocratic/social Darwinist mainstream ideologies and policies which have made America and similar countries such a fertile ground for Nazism and other forms of violent extremism.

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engels 02.26.17 at 9:17 pm

Maybe I should be clearer. The surface of the earth isn’t anyone’s property and housing, meaningful work and the level of respect and participation in society that permit friendship, love and parenthood are basic human rights. Those to whom society forcefully denies those rights aren’t ‘losers’, the society that denies them to them is a ‘loser’, at the game of having any right to a continued existence that doesn’t end in fire and blood, and the hard-working, home-owning citizens who benefit from and sustain that society are ‘losers’ at the game of being anything other than thugs and leeches.

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Layman 02.26.17 at 10:42 pm

@ engels, I agree with Guy Harris. Not all young people have shit jobs (or no jobs). Of those young people who have shit jobs or no jobs, not all of them live with their parents. Of those that live with their parents, not all of them spent their lives playing video games or in chat rooms. Of those that do spend their lives playing video games and in chat rooms, not all of them hang out on 4chan. Of those that do hang out on 4chan, not all of them are hopeless narcissistic mysogynous racist nihilistic creeps. Of those that are hopeless narcissistic mysogynous racist nihilistic creeps, fuck them, without at the same time fucking all the rest. Clear enough?

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engels 02.26.17 at 11:05 pm

Clear enough

It’s perfectly clear, and imo correct, and afaics it has nothing to do with anything I said.

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Belle Waring 02.26.17 at 11:26 pm

PREACH. Also, some of them have ditched 4chan because it’s too politically correct; that’s why there’s 8chan now. lololol

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engels 02.26.17 at 11:51 pm

(For the avoidance of doubt, I wasn’t objecting to the ‘fuck them’ part but the ‘losers’ part. It’s a Trumpism, adds nothing to calling them violent misogynists and isn’t always true, cf.)

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engels 02.26.17 at 11:53 pm

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Z 02.26.17 at 11:56 pm

Once, as I was reading the saner part of these corners of the Intertubes (the only one I can tolerate), namely in that case the comment section of Slate Star Codex (but I read similar things @Shtetl-Optimized), I stumbled on the following exchange.

-I am nice, and I don’t get nearly a tenth of the dates awful guys get. Women are awful.
-Dude, you don’t deserve any date from anyone.
-I am not saying I deserve a date, I am saying that I deserve to be treated better than awful guys. Or at least not worse. Otherwise women are awful.
-Dude, you don’t deserve any affection from anyone. It’s everybody for oneself, and if you don’t get shit, tough on you.
-Well, if you really believe so, then why should my taxes help poor people. How come suddenly some people deserve something?

Now, think what you want of the exchange, but if you try overthinking it (as I did) it seems to me that maybe “the patriarchy hurts men too” is not quite what’s going on. The way I see it, the saner part of these guys perceive extreme imbalance in a distribution of a fundamental good (human affection), they believe that systemic factors put them on the wrong side of this imbalance, they wonder why this systemic injustice is never addressed alongside other ones (for instance systemic injustices in the distribution of material wealth alongside racial or gender characteristics) and why, in that particular case and not others, it is OK to blame it completely on personal choices (“Of course you don’t have a girlfriend, you spend all you time playing stupid video games”), to never even contemplate redistributive schemes (whatever that could mean) and to attack (what they see as) the victims. That systemic imbalance is not the patriarchy (or else the patriarchy can mean everything), it is in fact (or so they believe) the inverse of the patriarchy: it is the outcome (so they believe) of a system in which love, sex and human affection circulate freely in the absence of patriarchal control of the flows. That’s what the author of the piece means when he says that when feminists fight the patriarchy, this is experienced by these guys as a further attack on them.

If this analysis is correct, then we (“the Left”) are faced with a choice: either we argue that this systemic injustice they perceive actually does not exist outside of their mind and we can try to convince them that if they just started to pay a little attention to anyone else they would get plenty of affection (that would be my position), or we can argue that the imbalance maybe does exist and that maybe some young American men really are miserable because they feel deprived of affection but that there are essential differences between healthcare, welfare, education and affection that warrants redistributive schemes in the three former cases but not the latter. Whatever the reality, blaming the patriarchy is not going to convince them; quite the contrary.

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Z 02.27.17 at 12:10 am

Or, in slogan form, I don’t think the rallying cry should be “Guys, the patriarchy is hurting you too, join us to build the feminist utopia where everybody freely loves everybody”-they believe that in this utopia, they will be tormented by oversexed feminist overlords who will mock them cruelly for being awkward virgins-but “Guys, the utopia where everybody freely loves everybody already exists and in fact a good deal of us love you already (as you would notice as soon as you open your eyes; just try not to imply too heavily that the girl you’re dating has a different opinion on free-college tuition because of her genome, will you?).”

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robotslave 02.27.17 at 12:19 am

Phil @76

D: “These men turned into nasty trolling misogynists in response to various horrible stuff that happened to them, possibly exacerbated by chronic untreated mental health problems, but their response was only one possible response. We as a society have removed responses that used to be available, and/or failed to provide outlets or opportunities for other possible responses, so maybe we should at least hesitate bit before absolving ourselves of any blame and putting it all back on these guys.”

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Pavel 02.27.17 at 4:21 am

Addendum:
I understand that the original article was about whether 4channers and their ilk brought Trump to power. It is true that they probably did not (based on voting demographics, etc). However, my point about the radicalization of future generations still stands. I know it’s easy to ignore this seemingly remote collection of people now, but small, radically intransigent groups have outsized levels of influence on public discourse: https://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/2902

If there is any arithmetic to be performed about the size of these kinds of groups, please don’t forget to include the redditors, twitter users, youtubers and (some) goons. These aren’t all overlapping circles.

Also, PewDiePie has ~54 million subscribers and ~14 billion views (!), so his opinions about “burning the jews” shouldn’t be seen as affecting a very small subsection of the population. These are your future voters.

@Belle Waring
I know this has been mentioned elsewhere, but I’d like to reiterate the claim that one of the bigger failings of feminism has been the rejection of the traditional roles of masculinity without proffering a suitable replacement (perhaps that’s not the job of feminist thinkers, but it still has serious negative side effects). Part of the vulnerability of the modern man is a combination of the loss of social status through economic immiseration and loss of cultural cache (as discussed above). It’s possible to argue that both of these are self-deceptions from the perspective of anyone who has never had cultural or economic dominance, but I would say that from the perspective of men, there has indeed been severe defeats on both fronts (for some groups, like male millenials, this recession has been more stark, and therefore they are somewhat more at risk).

Feminism offers men roughly the following guidelines: “don’t treat women/others poorly” and “be aware of your own advantages”. This isn’t bad advice by any means, but it’s a poor tradeoff for “man the breadwinner” (no longer possible due to late-stage Capitalism), “man the warrior” (feminism is pacifist in most cases) and “man the rational(-est) animal” (education has levelled that playing field). Putting aside for a second how throughly unjust these roles were, feminism doesn’t appear to offer men any positive modalities of being except as either neutral standby, enemy or an ally in a cause that doesn’t seem to be their own. It’s true that any such replacement would be potentially trading in one form of exceptionalism for another, but it may be worthwhile considering a replacement strategy instead of one that simply undermines all current standing definitions of masculinity.

@Phil
You’re rarely going to be arguing or convincing the troll themselves (regardless of which of the three interpretations you use). You’ll be arguing for the sake of a third party. See here: http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/2/19/1634327/-How-to-turn-trolls-into-your-best-friends#read-more

@Sebastian H
I agree with regard to the dangers of dismissing a sizeable portion of the current/future electorate. However, most of the time you will be arguing for the sake of a third party, not the troll themselves. I would strongly suggest throwing contrapoints/hbomberguy some money on Patreon (full disclosure, I support them on Patreon as well). They’re part of the culture wars now (sorry for pimping, just need people to support the front lines a bit more).

@nastywoman
Trolling isn’t the answer to trolling. Modern authoritarian regimes thrive on chaos and nihilism (and trolling raises the overall state of confusion and apathy). You need better culture warriors who live and work in those spaces and who can offer alternatives within that set of narratives.

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Guy Harris 02.27.17 at 4:37 am

robotslave:

These men turned into nasty trolling misogynists in response to various horrible stuff that happened to them, possibly exacerbated by chronic untreated mental health problems, but their response was only one possible response. We as a society have removed responses that used to be available, and/or failed to provide outlets or opportunities for other possible responses…

So what are the responses that used to be available and what are the other possible responses? (Responses to, presumably, having no job or having only crap jobs at an age where you’re “expected” to have done better. I’m guessing these are not teenage boys in high school, who may well have crap jobs, but that’s kind of what’s expected for them.)

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 6:39 am

Pavel: in a way the present situation is also a poor tradeoff for “you are the undisputed ruler of your home, and inside it you may beat your wife and children like dogs, and your dog to death, and no one will hinder you in the slightest, though they will judge you a bit harshly for the last. Because of this you can demand a kind of obedience unknown to all but slaves and masters.” Would it make any sense to say “boo hoo, because of the advances of feminism and its protection of the weak I am no longer a despot? And no alternative kingdom in which I hold absolute sway has been offered to replace the tiny one my father ruled, be it cruelly or benevolently by his own choice! I have been wronged!” Nnnnot so much, I think?

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 6:42 am

Having said which IME men turn to intimate violence when denied the breadwinner position, such that the advances do not move continuously forward.

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 6:47 am

And “we’ve just been told to be decent human beings, but haven’t been given any further direction”; is this a problem unique to men, or rather something we all face in life? And must feminists of all people draw up some grand new distinctly male role as a kind of sop to the losers of history? No, because advances in protecting the physically weak against the violence and dominance of the strong, and in overturning entrenched hierarchies so that those previously discounted can achieve great things benefit everyone except bullies whose opinions we rightly devalue. WE ALL WIN, BROS.

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Guy Harris 02.27.17 at 7:49 am

Pavel:

However, my point about the radicalization of future generations still stands. I know it’s easy to ignore this seemingly remote collection of people now, but small, radically intransigent groups have outsized levels of influence on public discourse: https://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/2902

An article that goes on to say

The researchers are now looking for partners within the social sciences and other fields to compare their computational models to historical examples. They are also looking to study how the percentage might change when input into a model where the society is polarized. Instead of simply holding one traditional view, the society would instead hold two opposing viewpoints. An example of this polarization would be Democrat versus Republican.

(emphasis mine) so the simulation in question might not necessarily match the real world – their next study might say something different.

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Pavel 02.27.17 at 7:50 am

@Belle Waring

This is all well and good, and is pretty much the response I was expecting. However, it still leaves the question of what a positive masculinity looks like going forward. I think it’s a bit more complicated than simply saying, “you have wronged us, go sit in the corner”. If feminism were “winning” (and pumped full of tiger blood and 7-gram rocks), this wouldn’t be a terrible strategy. However, the rise of anti-fem reactionaries, and the way that that has dovetailed with the radicalization of young, white men into white supremacists hasn’t really played out the way anyone (here) would have hoped. There are certainly lots of pitfalls in attempting to craft a new masculinity (note that I mentioned some of these), but few movements succeed without offering powerful alternatives of some kind (Capitalism replaced faith in God with faith in the markets, Communism replaced faith in God with faith in class politics, etc).

“is this a problem unique to men, or rather something we all face in life?”
Not inherently, no. But given that men are cast in the current role as villains in need of reform, then yes, it applies very specifically to them at this moment in time.

“And must feminists of all people draw up some grand new distinctly male role as a kind of sop to the losers of history?” If you want to win? Yes!

In essence, what I’m saying is that you can’t tear people down without building them back up in a different way. The military knows this only too well. Counter-radicalization doesn’t work without a powerful new identity and role to assume.

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bad Jim 02.27.17 at 7:51 am

The main threat to traditional masculinity is progress.

On my one visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, there were only boys of various ages in the hall devoted to Arms and Armor. I have guns and swords and know how to use them, but they’ve never been of practical use to me.

My principal professional tools have been pencil and paper, keyboard and mouse, oscilloscope and soldering iron, plier and screwdriver, things even a girl can use. The first new forklift my company bought was specced by a fiery redhead who complained that going from its multi-dimensional operation to her two-dimensional car was a let-down.

Once upon a time there were jobs only a young, strong man could do. (We Hunted The Mammoths.) Eventually we figured out better ways to do them, more efficient, more effective. Farmers now have air-conditioned tractors and use GPS for guidance. The best place for bygone traditions of masculinity are perhaps now to be found in renfaire cosplay.

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Pavel 02.27.17 at 8:21 am

@Belle Waring

I guess another way to look at it is that I’m asking for your* help because I can’t do it on my own. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

*meaning the femosphere

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PW 02.27.17 at 9:10 am

I’ve interacted with 4chan types a lot in my life. I’m of a similar enough age, and I spent way too much time in my teens/early 20s playing online games. It was impossible to play these games and not interact with them- they were the community that was present.

Prior to the growth of mainstream social media and the wide use of smartphones to access it, I had maybe taken for granted that this would all stay in the dark online corners where it was born and took shape. GamerGate made me realize that, rather than go away or stay buried, this particular culture (for lack of a better word) would at least partially define an entire generation or more of young people in the US.

It’s a lot more than 4chan or r/thedonald or things like that – those are just outlets where the more vitriolic and/or dedicated among these guys congregate solely to congregate. Their language and their memes are ubiquitous in most games (other than mobile games – and many of those too, I’m sure) and the popular online venues derived from games like twitch.tv. At this point, most young people who play games online (which is quite a large number of young people, and not just the white and male ones) or watch other people play games on twitch or youtube (again, quite a large number -see recent Pewdiepie situation) get a significant portion of their socialization within this milieu.

If you know someone between the age of, say, 11 and 20 who spends much time playing games or watching videos online, then you probably know someone who thinks “PC culture” has gone too far – an idea treated as received wisdom by most within this community – and you might know someone who thinks “normies” don’t understand anything related to any of this. They are socializing in a community where the surest way to gain standing is to have the most ‘savage’ burns. Where a great achievement would be to make a meme that everyone uses for a week before moving on to the next one.

What to do about this? I really have no idea. What we’re talking about here is life for a lot of these people. I think it’s too late to undo that, and we’re only starting to see what that might mean. I promise you most of the people I’m talking about didn’t vote. Many of them aren’t even old enough to. But it’s a wider thing than you probably think.

I saw it alleged earlier in this thread that 4chan users number some few thousand. That might be true, but the culture that they’ve created encompasses many more than that. Here’s a video of 50,000 twitch chatters spamming jokes and memes to an old Bob Ross video. Vid is only 10 minutes, but this probably went on for 12 hours…a day.

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 9:17 am

Pavel: you know who makes boring, accessible, anodyne, basic videos about feminism? Anita Sarkeesian. That doesn’t seem to be working out that well. Also, I wish feminism were “winning” and pumped full of tiger blood and 7-gram rocks because that sounds baller. On the whole isn’t it winning rather slowly, though?

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 9:20 am

I’ve watched so much Pewdiepie guys. My now-12-year-old was part of the bro army, which for the most part is little girls and not older teen male gamers.

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 9:23 am

PW: BUNS.

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Z 02.27.17 at 9:45 am

On the whole isn’t [Feminism] winning rather slowly, though?

About that, a point that should be kept in mind is that the American society is really quite singular in the history of anthropological structures of societies.
-It has exceptionally weak family ties.
-It is extremely unequal in its values and practices.
-It gives an extremely high status to women and is extremely low on the patriarchy scale in the anthropological sense (patrilinearity, for instance, is minimal).
-The race divide between “whites” and “blacks” is extreme.
-Said racial divide, which in practice has historically been one the key component of shared American identity, is socially repressed.

All the key factors which have historically been promoting a sense of community among men in most societies (we are all brothers, we are all proletarians or nobles or chosen, we are all men, we are all whites) are set exceptionally low. Anyone who believes that anthropology has something to say about political movements would observe with very close attention the political behavior of young white American men, because we shouldn’t expect them to be normal.

Notice incidentally that a good deal of the appeal of radical Sunni Islam relies on the exact anthropological mirror image of the US system and that seen from this perspective, the debate “White men voted for Trump because of economic anxiety ! No, they voted for Trump because they are racist and misogynistic” seems slightly off: white men would feel included in a community either if there were a sense of social equality to rely on or if they could feel superior to Black people or if they were given a powerful patriarchal role (and as two and three are horrible, let us do one).

Needless to say, the fact that extreme anthropological conditions lead to extreme anthropological behaviors and extreme political mobilizations should only be construed as an explanation, not an excuse.

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engels 02.27.17 at 12:11 pm

👏 Fascism 👏 is 👏 capitalism 👏 in 👏 decay 👏

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engels 02.27.17 at 12:29 pm

White men voted for Trump because of economic anxiety ! No, they voted for Trump because they are racist and misogynistic” seems slightly off

I hate to mention this but 53% of white American women voters voted for Trump.

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engels 02.27.17 at 1:30 pm

The main threat to traditional masculinity is progress. … On my one visit to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, there were only boys of various ages in the hall devoted to Arms and Armor. I have guns and swords and know how to use them, but they’ve never been of practical use to me. … The best place for bygone traditions of masculinity are perhaps now to be found in renfaire cosplay.

I wouldn’t write off 85% of your country’s 1.4 million strong military just yet

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/24/us/military-women-glance/index.html

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Ben Almassi 02.27.17 at 4:34 pm

Pavel, you might be interested in work by bell hooks (especially her 2004 books We Real Cool and The Will to Change) and others who seek to give positive accounts that “reclaim” masculinity from avowedly feminist or pro-feminist perspectives.

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Yankee 02.27.17 at 5:53 pm

Belle: must feminists of all people draw up some grand new distinctly male role

Well, all the men who basically agree with The Program insist to call themselves Feminists, so I guess yes, unless you agree with me that feminism should be among and about the womenfolk, and the men should quit tailgating and organize there own somethingorother. Not drum circles, and not the MRA privilege fetishists. A new thing.

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Philip 02.27.17 at 9:15 pm

Pavel, no I’m not seeing it. Women have a load of social pressure and contradictory messages about being a woman. Now men are confused about their gender roles women are expected to help them with that, it just seems to be asking women to do more emotional work for men. In Belle’s analogy there are three possible responses from men 1) cool, I never liked being expected to be undisputed ruler of the house and being able to beat my wife and children and now I can do something else 2) shit, I really like being undisputed ruler of the household and being able to beat people 3) I never thought about doing anything else, what now? The response to 1 is great, 2: you are a complete dick, 3: think about it now and figure something out. Or, where you see someone being torn down with the need to be built up again maybe they are just being freed from restrictive gender roles. If feminists went about telling men how they should now be men they would then be accused of being feminazis in some kind of weird reverse mansplaining scenario.

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Z 02.27.17 at 11:23 pm

@Engels I hate to mention this but 53% of white American women voters voted for Trump.

I was pointing at what I believe to be a false dichotomy (explanation through perceived economic opportunity/explanation through discrimination) so the fact that 53% of white American women voted for Trump rather bolster my case, does it not?

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Belle Waring 02.27.17 at 11:58 pm

OK not unreasonable

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Ogden Wernstrom 02.28.17 at 12:46 am

@103 engels 02.27.17 at 12:29 pm:

I hate to mention this but 53% of white American women voters voted for Trump.

I think that is misstated. That is probably 53% of white American women who voted in the 2016 Presidential election.

But I may be trying to confirm my own preconceived notion: Ms. Clinton’s campaign failed to inspire her voters to show up and vote. (It may have inspired deplorables and other Trump voters to vote.)

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Pavel 02.28.17 at 8:06 am

@Philip
Not women, feminists. If you’re a male feminist, you should end up on the front lines to reclaim and rehabilitate masculinity. Also, the argument of “we have freed you from your power structures” doesn’t really work in the short term when those power structures were often the only source of stability.

@Belle Waring
Unfortunately, Anita is a terrible culture warrior. It’s impossible to provide a valid or honest-sounding critiques of a medium that you utterly despise. Also, I wouldn’t count the global rise of reactionary white supremacism as a “win”.

@Wernstrom(!)
You are correct, the 53% of white women *voters* voted for Trump. The breakdown is, predictably enough, around education (51% college educated went for Clinton, 62% non-college educated went for Trump).
Source: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/clinton-couldnt-win-over-white-women/

@engels
Because women (especially non-college educated white women from the exurbs) can’t be misogynistic or racist, right? I mean, I don’t want to get into the incredibly questionable concept of false consciousness, but I’m sure you can see the parallels.

@bad Jim
I agree to a certain extent. However, progress has also been entangled with economic and social emasculation, so it is difficult to convince men that the loss of their roles is obviously for the best.

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ThM 02.28.17 at 11:16 am

Houellebecq’s first novel, “Whatever”, was more or less about that stuff, only he saw it as an extension of economic liberalism to the private sphere – i.e. before, with a high nuptiality rate, everyone had a fair chance at getting a partner, no matter how they looked or what social graces they lacked. The rationing days are over, and inequality rules : the french title (“Extension du domaine de la lutte”) made the economic argument explicit.

From memory, that was partly earnest, partly tongue-in-cheek, but it made for good discussions at the café.

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Belle Waring 02.28.17 at 1:22 pm

Manosphere nutcases fucking love Houellebecq. Not that they read him, I imagine, but they have a professed love.

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engels 02.28.17 at 1:34 pm

@Wernstrom(!) You are correct, the 53% of white women *voters* voted for Trump.

Umm that’s exactly what I said…

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engels 02.28.17 at 1:55 pm

Houellebecq’s first novel, “Whatever”, was more or less about that stuff

Right—I knew I’d heard it somewhere before.

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ThM 02.28.17 at 4:18 pm

Before becoming a published writer, he was a lowly techie – and definitely is a provocateur, so I can see why.

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AcademicLurker 02.28.17 at 5:48 pm

Manosphere nutcases fucking love Houellebecq.

I’d never heard that. Houellebecq’s schtick seems to be a combination of sexual angst and generalized misanthropy, so I guess it makes sense.

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Collin Street 02.28.17 at 8:13 pm

I guess another way to look at it is that I’m asking for your* help because I can’t do it on my own.

Working out your own identity is, fundamentally, something you have to do. Other people can’t do it for you: gender stereotypes — and “positive masculinity” to have any content can only have stereotyped content — are not your friend.

Go and watch Revolutionary Girl Utena.

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Collin Street 02.28.17 at 8:26 pm

If you’re a male feminist, you should end up on the front lines to reclaim and rehabilitate masculinity.

See, if we attribute any distinctive content to masculinity we’re telling people how to be a “proper” man. And in so doing we’re casting a shadow of improper masculinity and that’s, you know, exactly the fucking thing we’re trying to stop? We want labels like “masculinity” or “whiteness” or “queerness” or what-have-you to be as empty as possible, to be as inclusive as possible.

How to be a man? Is the same as how to be any other sort of human. That, we got advice on. If you want to be a better person, we can help: if you want to link your betterness to your masculinity… that’s really not something we want, now, is it? For you or for us.

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lemmy caution 02.28.17 at 9:44 pm

Angela Nagle was on “chapo trap house” this week and had smart things to say on this topic. her book should be good

geek culture is very bad:

https://thebaffler.com/salvos/new-man-4chan-nagle

“But how, exactly, does “hegemonic masculinity” accurately sum up a scene explicitly identifying as beta male? And can “traditional ideas about gender” really be bursting forth from an Internet culture that also features gender-bending pornography, discussions about bisexual curiosity, and a male My Little Pony fandom? What’s more, can a retreat from the traditional authority of the nuclear family into an extended adolescence of videogames, porn, and pranks really be described as patriarchal?

Those seeking to defend their ideological turf will say that the killers are measuring themselves against a damaging masculine ideal, but at what point is this stretching the hegemonic masculinity theory so far that it becomes tautological—and a rote explanation for all bad male behavior?

In fact, a great deal about the beta-male rebellion runs counter to theories of masculinity advanced by scholars like R. W. Connell and Michael Kimmel. In her 2005 book Masculinities, Connell lists the words “nerd” and “geek” among the terms that stigmatize marginal masculinities. The beta style draws from a countercultural genealogy and identifies itself against feminism but also against social conservatism, political correctness, mainstream consumer culture, and most important, against hegemonic masculinity itself.”

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Z 02.28.17 at 10:26 pm

Manosphere nutcases fucking love Houellebecq.

Why am I not surprised? (Houellebecq is an interesting guy: twenty years ago, he wrote perceptive novels about modern sexual dysphoria; since then, his literary qualities have continually improved while he turned himself and his books in manifesto for the reactionary right).

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