Extraordinary delusions and why gamers need to grow up


A belated addition to the Malestrom series, exploring male anger online.

I was away for a couple of weeks in late August and returned to find the blogs and social media aflame with two related arguments dubbed #Gamergate and #Quinnspiracy. The former, centring around Anita Sarkeesian and the release of the latest Tropes vs Women in Videogames series, was a flare-up of a long-running saga; the latter an ugly story that saw the personal life and character of a obscure female games developer being dragged open, raked over and exposed across a billion internet connections.

As I read more and deeper into the affairs, several things became apparent to me. The first is that there is real and quite extreme anger on both sides. I don’t think Laurie Penny is far wide of the mark in dubbing this a culture war.

My second observation is that the gamers’ side to the dispute does not just comprise straight white males, and that one particular sub-plot within this drama – the hashtag #NotYourShield – actually makes a good and important point about feminists and others bolstering their arguments by co-opting the identity and opinions of other women and members of other populations to which they often do not belong. I’ll try to return to this point another day. Nonetheless I think it is true that the vast majority of those most involved have been men and I don’t think it is inaccurate to see this as primarily a dispute between feminist women and gamer men. [Read more…]

This week’s witterings at large

A couple of things building on familiar HetPat themes elsewhere this week.

On Comment is Free I mused a little on my initial reactions to Angry White Men, the new book by Michael Kimmel, which has pretty strong links to some of what I’ve been discussing in the Malestrom series. I plan to post a bit more of a full review here sometime shortly. In the meantime here’s an extract from my Guardian piece.

However if those attitudes are at least partially stoked by very real and profound economic and social changes that have left some men feeling disempowered, marginalised, maligned and neglected, is it enough to simply demand that they suck it up and deal with it? I’m not sure.

Our newly egalitarian culture has belatedly accepted (in theory if not always practice) that men do not have a monopoly on power and authority, whether financial, political or physical. The man is no longer the master of his household, but an equal partner in a domestic project.

The gender script for women has been largely torn up – a young girl has unprecedented freedom to grow into a doctor or a nurse, a soldier or a solicitor and/or a wife and mother while men, to a large extent, are stuck with a script for a role that barely exists. To be a real man, our culture still insists, is to be the protector and provider within a society that no longer guarantees to deliver that opportunity, and where male protector-providers are not entirely necessary. It is not much of a stretch to assume that this causes immense stress and psychological conflict, which is sometimes directed inward in despair and depression, sometimes outward in anger and violence.


Over at the Independent, I have expanded a little on my recent piece about Chris Brown and his child sex revelations. I was mostly prompted by the hideous tabloid cliche “sex romp” when referring to inappropriate and abusive relationships between female adults and male juveniles, but (not surprisingly) the Indie subs picked up on the sleb angle, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

The slavering, salacious tone is not unique to this story, of course. An unscientific but revealing search on Google News archives produces hundreds of returns for the phrase “Sex romp teacher” and of the first dozen different stories, eleven referred to a female teacher with a male pupil, only once were the genders reversed. As a broad rule of thumb for tabloid terminology, a male teacher has “seedy, sordid sex” with a girl, but “abuses” a boy. A female teacher has “an illicit lesbian affair” with a girl, and “sex romps” with a boy.  It goes without saying that the extent of verbal salivation in stories featuring a female offender directly correlates with her youth and conventional prettiness.

It would be tempting to dismiss this as just another manifestation of our exploitative, sexist, tabloid culture, but it speaks to a deeper and more worrying tendency for our culture to trivialise the sexual exploitation of boys by women. Relationships between teachers and young adults happen within the hazy boundaries of consent and coercion. They may not always be experienced as exploitative or traumatising for the juvenile, but they are rightly forbidden by both teachers’ ethics and the law – such relationships are always an abuse of position, an abuse of trust and have enormous potential to be psychologically harmful. That is true irrespective of the genders involved. And yet with a female perpetrator and male victim, they are described with the playful, jokey word “romp” – a journalistic cliché normally reserved for gossipy intrusions into the lives of adulterous footballers and strippers.

I’d be intrigued by your responses to either or both of the above, or feel free to use this as your weekend open thread, to chip in on whatever else has caught your attention lately.




Malestrom pt 4: Male anger and the forces of conservatism.

This is part of a series asking why (some) men are so angry. For the introduction and links to other posts in the series as they appear, go here


As any website administrator can tell you, people rarely like change.  Redesign your front page or your comment section, or just change the colour scheme and you will spend weeks or even months fielding angry complaints that you have utterly RUINED everything that was great about the site. In other words people, generally, have a natural tendency towards conservatism.

The yang to this yin is that human beings also have an urge to tinker, to change, to reform, to revolutionize. It would be reasonable to summarise the whole of human history as a conflict between radicalism and conservatism. The tensions created are perhaps why we as a species have evolved far enough to be able to create a button that could destroy the world in a flash, and also evolved enough restraint to keep us (at time of writing) from pressing it to see what happens.

It’s tempting to see the angry exchanges between many modern men and feminism as largely a battle between radical progress and conservative resistance. The standard set-text on anti-feminism remains Susan Faludi’s Backlash. She was writing around 1990, after a decade in which the radicalism had come overwhelmingly from the political right – the economic radicals of neoliberalism, Thatcherism and Reagonomics and the Christian fundamentalism of the New Right. Back then, the forces of conservatism were those clinging to the postwar social democratic consensus.  As Faludi wrote:

“In times when feminism is at a low ebb, women assume the reactive role – privately and most often covertly struggling to assert themselves against the dominant cultural tide. But when feminism itself becomes the tide, the opposition doesn’t simply go along with the reversal, it digs in its heels, brandishes its fists, builds walls and dams. And its resistance creates countercurrents and treacherous undertows.”

Does the anger we now see expressed against feminism fit this pattern? To an extent, it probably does. I’d guess men’s rights activists would be quick to agree with Faludi that feminism has ‘become the tide’ and would probably be quite flattered to think they are digging heels, brandishing fists, building walls and dams against the tide and indeed creating countercurrents and treacherous undertows. To adapt the awful cliché about Orwell’s 1984, MRAs should perhaps realise that Backlash was meant to be a warning and not an instruction manual.

It is also easy to characterise male anger online as a reaction to threatened loss of entitlement, which is of course the top marker of conservatism. “You’ll take it from my cold, dead hands” – whether ‘it’ is a pair of boobs on Page 3, the right to sexually proposition or harass women at any time of one’s choosing or even property rights over one’s own children.   In more general terms, there may be reactive anger to a perceived loss of status – witness the reaction of one ‘social conservative’ on Twitter to my suggestion that men and women take equal roles at home and work.

So I don’t doubt there is a lot of truth to the theories above, but I don’t think it is the whole story. One thing many people fail to notice about the so-called manosphere is its political diversity. Casual observers might see little distinction between Men’s Rights Activists, the extreme traditionalists at sites like The Spearhead, the disciples of pick-up artistry or the separatists of the Men Going Their Own Way boards. Dig a little deeper and you soon find they despise each other almost as much as they despise feminists.

A little while ago I had a diverting exchange with the editor of the conservative magazine The Spectator, Fraser Nelson. He’d written a piece in the Telegraph making a rather by-the-numbers rehash of the End Of Men narrative. I argued in the Guardian that conservatism of the type offered up by Nelson or his pal Boris Johnson offers no solutions to the problems faced by men today. I expected that to be the end of it, but Nelson responded to my piece in his own Spectator blog.

It was a fairly polite ding dong overall, fairly accurately characterised by one CIF commenter as a ‘prat spat.’ What I found fascinating though, is that Nelson went to great length to address our more minor disagreements. However my point in the piece, as usual, was that men’s problems are rooted in archaic gender roles and our assumptions about, and expectations of masculinity. Nelson’s only response to this was:

“I shall not comment on his plans for a “a social project to reinvent masculinity and gender roles in keeping with the world we have built” – although I do love the idea of Ed Balls ended up as the Minister for Redefining Masculinity. Lasagne for everyone!”      .

In other words, I proposed one realistic (if challenging) path out of the current sticky bog in which men now appear to be stuck, and the Spectator editor did not even attempt to address it, preferring to chuck it aside with a (slightly bizarre) joke. In that one line he proved my point absolutely perfectly: conservatism has no solution to men’s problems.

If there’s one point upon which feminists, MRAs and myself all agree, it is that society needs to change the nature of its gender dynamics. We are, all of us, gender radicals of one sort or another. Witness MRA hostility to notions of chivalry, for example, which are pretty much the ultimate in traditional patriarchal values.

There is, I think, a contradiction at the very heart of the anti-feminist men’s movement. On the one hand there are those such as Mike Buchanan of Justice for Men and Boys who yearns for a return to traditional values and the nuclear family. He sits amongst those such as Dean Esmay of A Voice For Men, who writes: “Most men’s human rights advocates love seeing strong, capable, and independent women as part of society. But they are disappointed to see the rise of idealized, infantilized, sheltered, and fearful women.” The principle feminist objection to patriarchal marriage and traditional values has always been precisely that they infantilise and shelter women, preventing them from being strong, capable and independent.

You can’t have it both ways, so which is it?

Malestrom pt 2: When anger is justified

In her 1970 book Sexual Politics, widely considered a cornerstone of radical feminism, Kate Millett wrote:

Excepting a social license to physical abuse among certain class and ethnic groups, force is diffuse and generalized in most contemporary patriarchies. Significantly, force itself is restricted to the male who alone is psychologically and technically equipped to perpetrate physical violence. Where differences in physical strength have become immaterial through the use of arms, the female is rendered innocuous by her socialization. Before assault she is almost universally defenceless both by her physical and emotional training. Needless to say, this has the most far-reaching effects on the social and psychological behaviour of both sexes.

Like most early feminists, Millett was not a social scientist, a psychologist or a criminologist. She was a literary theorist and sculptor. [She was also a relatively privileged, middle-class white woman, as reflected in the astonishingly frank othering of working classes and people of colour in the first few words of that extract, but I’ll skip over that here]. Millett genuinely believed that women were entirely incapable of inflicting physical violence.

There was no evidence for her assertion, but to be fair there were no evidence to the contrary either, at the time. As John O’Brien pointed out in a 1971 paper, the academic Journal of Marriage and the Family ran for 30 years, between 1939 and 1969, before they published a single title mentioning the word ‘violence.’  It wasn’t just that social scientists didn’t know the extent of violence in the family, they didn’t even think it possible to find out.

Around the same time as Millett’s book was helping to spark feminist activism, a small group of feminist social scientists were beginning the process of developing tools to objectively measure the extent and nature of violence in the family home. Suzanne Steinmentz, Murray Straus and Richard Gelles spent the first half of the seventies piloting and testing survey methods which would eventually become known as the Conflict Tactics Scale. When the results started coming through, they surprised everyone – not least the authors. It appeared that there were previously unimagined levels of violent conflict in a high proportion of US homes and, most remarkably, a significant proportion of it was being committed and instigated by women. Steinmetz coined the (then laughable) phrase “battered husband.” They concluded that much family violence was a consequence not of patriarchy, but of the interpersonal stress created by the systems of the family unit.

There was a theoretical response from pro-feminist writers, notably from Dobash & Dobash (1979) arguing that violence against women is different in extent, cause, effect and societal function to violence against men. It is important to note that many feminist objections to Straus, Steinmetz et al have come from a place of good faith and sincere interpretation of the evidence. Other academic responses, both at the time and ever since, have been anything but honest and ethical.

All of this is well trodden ground, but I revisit it here to make the point that in this debate, those who have argued for the significance of female perpetration are often portrayed as proponents of a whacky theory that flies in the face of the evidence. The truth is the exact opposite. Straus, Steinmetz and Gelles were producing evidence that flew in the face of a whacky theory – that the male alone is psychologically and technically equipped to perpetrate physical violence.

Away from the journals, the attacks on the academics were less subtle. Feminist activists embarked on a campaign of harassment against the pioneers of family conflict theory. Steinmetz was subject to a lobbying campaign to have her tenure and research funding removed. Hate mail and death threats culminated in a hoax bomb threat being called in to her daughter’s wedding. Murray Straus had his lectures and meetings disrupted, and he was falsely accused of beating his wife and sexually exploiting his students by the chairperson of the Canadian Commission on Violence Against Women, no less.

If the atmosphere was hostile within academia, on the frontline of activism and service delivery things were little better.  I’ve often had feminists say to me that feminism is not hostile to male victims, that if men wanted to set up services for abused men, there would be no complaints. This claim is simply untrue. Many efforts to acknowledge and address female on male violence, even just to provide support to victims, has been actively opposed and disrupted by feminist activists.

For many years there were systematic attempts to all but deny the existence of male victims. In 1999, Julie Bindel wrote “there are a few cases each year of women battering their partners.” The BCS estimate for male victims that year was 253,000. Worse still, victims, either individually or collectively, have been widely smeared as probable abusers themselves, under the assumption that any attack against them was an act of self-defence. The defamation has even stretched to murder victims.

I’ve long abandoned arguing about the exact proportions and numbers of male and female victims or the nonsensical concept of symmetry. My own broad position is that there is no such thing as domestic violence – there is a range of abusive and violent behaviours that can happen for different reasons and with different consequences, and contradictory findings are largely explained by differing definitions. Whether you agree, it is a fair and important ongoing debate. But what is now beyond any reasonable debate is that male victims are not uncommon and that at least some of them are suffering, at risk of serious harm, and in need of support and assistance. Kate Millett’s assertion that women are incapable of violence has been proved grotesquely wrong.

This series is about widespread male anger towards feminism online. The politics of domestic violence are a vivid illustration that sometimes anger is justified. It is a topic about which I am passionate, and have become downright irate at times. It is also an example of where anger can be effective.

It’s rarely admitted by anyone, but the past few years have seen a significant shift in policy, media narratives and public attitudes. The 2010 Equality Act made it increasingly difficult for service providers to deny help on the basis of gender. The 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act clarified that it could apply to men too. Last year, Respect – the organisation which accredits and supervises intervention programmes in the UK – published information aimed at female perpetrators for the first time. The issue has even crossed the ultimate threshold of “issue politics” – becoming a long-running (and generally well-handled) plot on Coronation Street.

From my own experience, five or more years ago it would prove almost impossible to persuade an editor to run a piece addressing male victimisation. Now they occasionally approach me first. Even Julie Bindel has toned down her rhetoric considerably. Yes there is a long way to go. Resources for male victims in most places are woefully inadequate (as they often are for female victims, it must be said.) Judicial and arrest policies not only create injustices such as male victims being arrested, but may also endanger women (especially those who are not white and middle class) by prescribing solutions that match the ideology, not their circumstances. (Linda G. Mills is brilliant on this point.)

What has brought on these changes? I suspect there are two reasons. The first is that the radical feminist case has simply collapsed under weight of evidence of male victimisation and violence in gay and lesbian relationships. The second is that the counter-arguments, for so long sidelined and dismissed, could be easily and widely disseminated online. (Witness the comment thread on the Libby Brooks piece linked above for an example)

In the long term, anger is usually only as effective as it is just, and on this topic feminist ideology, as applied in policy, has been demonstrably unjust. Men’s anger has won the day. This does not, of course, mean that all expressions of anger are justified. My contempt for the feminists who have actively obstructed efforts to help men is matched by my contempt for those men who seek to actively undermine women’s services with sneering, paranoid references to a ‘domestic violence industry’, or violently misogynistic reactions to any perceived provovation. Two wrongs do not make a right.  My own experience has also been that it has been much harder to raise these issues and champion the cause precisely because of the hateful behaviour of some of those who would appear to argue from my side.

The ultimate goal for us all, I hope, is to build policies and social values that provide protection for victims, or better, prevent them becoming victims in the first place. Anger is an energy. Use it well.

Malestrom pt 1: The rights and wrongs of anger

This is part of a series asking why (some) men are so angry. For the introduction and links to other posts in the series as they appear, go here

As I’ve said before, anger is not the enemy of empathy and compassion, it is often their offspring. Anyone who can survey the global landscape of injustice, suffering, oppression and environmental vandalism and not feel a surge of anger is, in my view, somehow lacking. It is essential to be angry. It is also essential to ensure that the anger is not cut adrift from its parents. Anger is an unruly child and like any child it is prone to stupidity and self-destructive tendencies. It needs the guiding hands of compassion and empathy to keep it in check and occasionally banish it to the naughty step to calm down.

In beginning this series on men’s anger, it was important to me to stress from the outset that there are good reasons to be angry at some of the issues that specifically affect men. Not only to be angry at those issues, but to include them in a very heavy bundle of things in the world one could be legitimately angry about.

Society treats men and boys in many ways that are unfair, unjust and harmful. Some of these are institutionalised and formal: the workings of the family courts (especially their inability to enforce contact arrangements for fathers); male-only military conscription in 40% of countries on earth; or the legality of male genital mutilation. Others are consequential – the (usually unintended) results of broader policy decisions which impact negatively and disproportionately upon men and boys – educational underachievement; provision of physical and mental health services; vastly disproportionate workplace deaths and so on.  Yet more are cultural – formally unwritten but woven through our beliefs, assumptions, prejudices and the way we socialise each generation: the belief that male victims of violence and abuse are less deserving of sympathy; the ‘man-up’ policing of emotional expression; enforced conformity of gender performance; the oppressive imposition of violence and aggression and so much more.

All of these problems disproportionately (or even exclusively) affect men and boys. That’s not to say they all affect all of us of course, but only a lucky few will dodge every one.  These are not the only problems in the world, and I am certainly not arguing that they are more significant or urgent than the problems created by racism, class or homophobia or the problems created by our society for women. However I do acknowledge that the problems are real and I respect and salute those who are angry enough about them to try to make them better – providing they don’t trample over the rights to justice, welfare and wellbeing of others in the process.

Anger needs to be tempered and focused by empathy and compassion, because without them, the monstrous child will smash the nearest object to hand. This is when the angry dispossessed will grab for easy answers in fascism or religious fundamentalism, and where gender warriors often reach for the claw hammers of abuse and disdain.

Whenever I write about male gender issues such as men’s mental health or educational underachievement, I can guarantee a smattering of emails, comments and messages from a few feminists saying something like “Oh cry me a river” or simply “LOL”. I have nothing but contempt for such attitudes, just as I have nothing for contempt for those men’s activists who become so wrapped up in their own concerns around male victims of false accusations that they will dismiss, downplay or mock the extent and profound trauma of rape. Oppression and suffering are not zero sum games, and compassion is not a finite resource. If your anger is obscuring your humanity, you are doing it wrong.

I’m not one who argues that just because a men’s rights activist says something, it must be wrong. That is a logical fallacy of the first degree.  I try to be open to ideas whatever their origin, and when I disagree with MRAs (which is often) I’ll still look for strands of common ground that we can build upon. However there is one fundamental tenet of the movement which is so grotesquely, monumentally wrong that I can barely even begin to express it. It holds that those who are angry about the injustices and problems facing men should target their anger upon feminism.

This idea is so mind-shrivelingly stupid I rarely bother to engage with it, but this seems an appropriate opportunity. Not a single one of the real male problems I identify above originates with feminism, is supported by feminism or even significantly added to by feminism.  There. I said it.

Family courts are one of the most patriarchal institutions in the UK (and I suspect the same applies in most other countries). They routinely presume that women are more natural and competent carers and men, not women, should be in full time work. Those are not feminist ideas. The laws, procedures and precedents they follow have been laid down not by feminists, but by generation upon generation of (primarily) crusty old men with sexist attitudes.

Feminists did not invent male-only conscription or circumcision. Feminists didn’t mould the hegemonic cultures of violent masculinity and male disposability. It wasn’t feminists ordering women and children first onto the lifeboats (if that did indeed ever happen.)  It isn’t feminists who decide that teachers and child carers should be predominantly women, and it wasn’t feminists who designed the national curriculum. It certainly isn’t feminists running the banks, the IMF and the policies of globalisation that devastated the industries upon which working class men once depended.

Most controversially of all, it is not primarily feminists who mock, revile and dismiss male victims of violence and abuse. There certainly have been occasions when some, even most feminists have made it much harder to address the issue (something I will return to in my next post in this series) – but it is simple fact that it was very largely feminism that identified and popularised the issue of domestic violence and sexual abuse as a problem in the first place. It was feminism that created the language and the concepts, the support systems and the resources for victims that have since been adopted and replicated by supporters of male victims since. It was feminist analysis of sexual violence that began to show up the barbarity of our (lingering) attitudes towards prison rape, and it is not feminists that I see making the ubiquitous jokes on that topic. There were just as many male victims of domestic violence before feminism, but they were mocked as henpecked husbands, the pathetic butts of jokes that decorated greetings cards, cowering in fear beneath a raised rolling pin. It wasn’t feminists drawing those cartoons, but they may have helped to kill them off.

I applaud those who are angry that so many men sleep rough, so many men take their own lives, so many men have to face unnecessary physical harm, so many men and boys suffer in one way or another. I see many men who are angry for the right reasons, but at the wrong targets. When the anger such issues generate is aimed at feminism, it is misdirected and therefore wasted. Every hour spent angrily obsessing over the words and deeds of feminism, past or present, is an hour that could be spent making a positive difference. That so many men waste so much anger is, I believe, something to get angry about.

Malestrom: Ten reasons why (some) men are so angry

Another week, more putrid pongs wafting from the trenches of the online gender wars. I started the week doing a little BBC breakfast TV thing alongside Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism project. Laura explained why she started the project and described its success and impact over the past year; I explained why I fully support what they do and that I’d like men to acknowledge the problems and be part of the solutions. It was all very friendly, and neither of us disagreed on a word from the other.  A few hours later Laura tweeted. “Wonder if [Ally Fogg] who I spoke with on BBC this morning has had as many “stupid bitch” comments/emails as I have since….”  The answer, of course, was no. I had received precisely none. Not so much as a token “dick.”

On Tuesday I read Lindy West’s Jezebel piece which recounted the stomach-churning responses she’d received after arguing against rape jokes as a lazy vein of comedy.  Then yesterday Rebecca Watson shared the latest volleys from a two-year barrage of hate and abuse. Now it is Thursday morning. If I were to look, I do not doubt I would find another example of it starting all over with someone else. Meanwhile, across the internet, pretty much every feminist article or blog on a high-profile platform, irrespective of its truth or merit, will attract either a smattering or a deluge of abuse, mockery, fury and hate. The broad realm of the manosphere will publish yet more screeds about the iniquity of women and the evil of feminism.

Among the more common search terms that brings people to my blog are phrases like “angry men” “why men are angry” or sometimes the almost plaintive “why are men so angry?” I believe it is an important question, and one to which my thoughts keep returning. This week has prompted me to begin a series of posts that I have been considering for some time. There is no doubt that many men are angry, and specifically they are angry with feminism and/or women. But why?

Let me be clear that I realise there are many expressions of hate and anger in the world, and especially online. Many women are angry with men or other women (including feminists), many men are angry with other men, many people are angry with politics, religion, the economic system or whatever. The extent and causes of those angers are perfectly legitimate topics, but they are not what I am interested in at the moment.  This series will be about men’s anger with feminism and I make no apologies for that.

There is no single answer to the question above. In trying to make sense of the broad tide, I’ve so far narrowed it down to ten discrete strands of male anger, and I plan to discuss each of them in a separate post. Of course any one man may be angry for several (even all) of the reasons listed, and they will often interact, but I would argue that one could be angry for any one of those reasons without sharing any of the others. I also make no distinctions (yet) between legitimate and illegitimate anger, whether or not complaints are reasonable and justified, and whether they should be dismissed, challenged or attended to. That will come in due course.

For now, I’d be really interested to know from readers whether you think this list is comprehensive? Are there other possible reasons for anger that I’ve missed? Which do you think are the most significant? Are any of the reasons I suggest completely spurious? (In other words, would you deny that anyone, anywhere falls into such a category?) Should any be merged together (ie, do they describe exactly the same thing?)

If you’ve ever been angry with feminists, which categories would you recognise yourself in? If you’ve been on the receiving end of male anger, where do you mostly attribute it? Depending upon your comments and feedback, I may revise the schedule or add to the list as appropriate. To get the conversation started, here are my ten suggestions for possible reasons why some men are so angry. Please help me think them through.


  1. Compassion and concern? – From fathers’ rights to men as victims of violence and abuse; from educational underachievement to economic redundancy to judicial policies to men’s physical and mental health, there are many real causes for anger about male gender-specific issues. The real question, perhaps, is not whether men should be angry, but who we should be angry with.
  2. The feminist stranglehold? It is often argued that by controlling the reins of gender issues, feminism actively works against the gender-specific interests of men and prevents issues like those outlined above being adequately addressed.   Is this true or fair?
  3. Backlash – political and social conservatism?Some people are conservative and reactionary. They think society was better as it was than as it is, and are resistant to further social change. That applies to gender roles more than anything. Is hostility to feminism because it represents a challenge to the existing social and political order, and specifically to male privilege?
  4. Misogyny? There is no escaping the fact that some men simply hate women or hold them in contempt.  Is anti-feminism always misogyny, as Dworkin argued? How truly endemic is misogyny online and in society?
  5. Bitterness? There’s a cruel stereotype of the antifeminist keyboard warrior as a bitter geek, unlucky in love, sitting in his underwear in his mum’s basement complaining about the friend zone.  Is it fair? Is it relevant?
  6. Men as success objects? – Many complaints from men address issues like hypergamy. There is a palpable resentment at being expected to be the higher earner, provider etc in an era of female economic independence. Are complaints about men as “success objects” justified?  
  7. Someone on the internet is wrong? – Anyone who expresses an opinion must be prepared to be told “I think you are wrong” by others. It may be on a point of verifiable fact, or it may be a rational argument, but if we accept the possibility that feminists can sometimes be wrong about things, we must accept the corollary of disagreement and argument, which may often breed anger.   
  8. Imps and trolls? Some people like to make mischief. Some people like to be rude, threatening or downright cruel. How much online abuse is truly heartfelt and how much is disingenuous trolling, and ultimately does it matter, given the impacts on the victim?
  9. Bruised egos and male identity pride? Human beings take pride in their collective identities. For some it is nationalism or sports tribalism, religion or race, for many it is gender. Is feminism taken as a personal attack that makes men bristle?
  10. You’re not the boss of me now? People don’t like being told what to do, and since much feminism is perceived to be focussed on personal behaviour (do this, don’t do that) there is a kneejerk hostility. Could it be true that men particularly don’t like being told what to do by women?

Blue touch paper lit, standing well back, over to you for now.