Here are some awful Red Pill stories, but hey, did you know feminists are just as bad?


Here’s an interesting article about the Red Pill cult, focusing mostly on people who have left it. There’s a common thread: lonely young men who are socially awkward and find themselves in a group that tells them all their problems are caused by an evil, alien force, that is, women.

Jack became involved with the Red Pill when he was 23, and had been single for a “long” time. “I was numb, lonely and desperate,” he says. “It was a terrible time in my life.”

Though Jack only spent two months on the subreddit, he quickly fell in with anti-feminist and libertarian rhetoric. “An uncomfortable misogynistic streak grew within me,” he says. “At one point [I] thought that Donald Trump was a good candidate for President.”

But then, unfortunately, the article falls into bothsiderism.

Like many of the places we frequent online, the Red Pill has become an echo chamber. The psychologist I spoke to, Mike Wood, told me this can lead to people adopting more and more extreme views. “If you’re in some sort of a group that defines itself by its opinions, then people will get more and more polarised over time,” he says. “Individuals will try to conform to what the group mandates.” This is true of not just the Red Pill, but its opponents. While radical feminists on Tumblr, for example, become more extreme in their views, so too does the subreddit. In many ways, the extremes of each group justify one another’s existence in their minds.

OK, I’ll bite. You’ve just written an article that describes men who characterize half of humanity as evil parasites, who find unity in demonizing women in absurd ways, who get brainwashed into voting for Donald Trump, who advocate for murdering women and in far too many cases actually do so. They’re members of a Reddit subgroup with 200,000 members. It’s a fucking horror show.

Where’s the equivalency? The lazy shorthand of generically referring to “radical feminists on Tumblr” is not evidence and is not convincing. You’ve got incels going on murder sprees, you’ve got the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989 — misogyny has a body count. Who have the Tumblr lesbians slaughtered lately?

I agree that online tribalism can polarize and lead to in-group conformity. Those are common psychological phenomena. But the red pill cult has crystallized around ideas that dehumanize women and justify lies and hatred, and it does us no favor to synonymize that with every social group ever. Especially when Tumblr feminists seem to have a far better sense of humor than the redpillers.

Comments

  1. says

    “For every known horrible thing done by Right-leaning extremists, there is an equal and opposite horrible thing that we can just guess the other side must be up to.

    “Because we represent the Middle, and are therefore where the truth is, and there can’t be something way the hell over there that isn’t balanced by something off in that direction yonder, or else we’re either not really in the middle, or our foundational belief that the Truth must lie exactly halfway between the two extremes is flawed in some way, and if that happens, well, we’re just not ready yet to stare directly into that blind spot, thank you very much.”

  2. Gregory Greenwood says

    I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t people who exist on the spectrum of feminist thought who have attitudes that are unhelpful (I’m looking at you, all TERFs everywhere), but I have never seen anything in any form of feminism, including its most extreme expressions, that worries me even ten percent as much as things like the incels and red pillers do.

    You may get the odd trans exclusionary radical feminists who idly fantasise about ‘fixing’ all men by forcibly castrating them at the age of puberty. That is an ugly fantasy that speaks to a broken human being, though they lack the power to do more than dream their nasty, sick little dreams. The actual danger TERFs present is to transpeople, not cis men, since their blind, pathological fixation that transwomen are some kind of super secret fifth columnist male infiltrators of women’s spaces (and that transmen are ‘gender traitors’, because adopting the most hateful language of the most stupid and regressive misogynists is a mark of ‘enlightenment’, apparently…?) leads them to align themselves with dangerously violent transphobic bigots and governments that oppress transpeople.

    All that is undeniably disturbing and profoundly problematic, but by every conceivable measure the incels and their fellow travellers are far, far worse. They don’t just fantasise about harming, oppressing and killing (both cis and trans) women – they are doing it, and they are doing it on a semi-regular basis while mainstream society seems to barely even notice most of the time. Twisted movements like the red pill brigade are becoming factories that take in maladjusted, angry and entitled young men at one end and produce violent misogynists primed to kill at the other. Just as worryingly, some of their talking points are still being treated as reasonable by mainstream media outlets which helps to create conditions where the political discourse itself is warped to the point where a Presidential candidate is caught on tape admitting to being an inveterate, repeat sexual predator and yet still goes on to win the Presidency. It is a huge social issue that our society is utterly failing to address because pitifully little emphasis is being placed on dealing with this most warped of ideologies of gendered violence.

    Would I like to see something done to counter the ugly, bigoted rhetoric of the worst of the TERFs? Yes, of course I would – prejudice and ideologies of unthinking gendered hatred are always to be opposed. But that simply isn’t as high a priority as dealing with the vastly more pressing threats of the incels who already have a body count that is only going to grow, and a society so inured to the horror of the exploitation and abuse of women that repeated acts of sexual assault is no bar to the most powerful democratically elected office in the world.

    It is like being stuck in a room with a wasp and a cobra – both have toxins they could harm you with, but it is pretty clear which one you should be most concerned about.

  3. says

    Gregory #2: “choosing between a wasp and a cobra”

    Well put. I’ve seen some pretty hostile feminists, but not even the penetration-is-rape or TERF crowd run around shooting (or castrating) men.

  4. Gregory Greenwood says

    Erlend Meyer @ 3;

    I’ve seen some pretty hostile feminists, but not even the penetration-is-rape or TERF crowd run around shooting (or castrating) men.

    Exactly. very few of the exponents of even the most extreme and intolerant forms of alt-feminism actually engage in violence, and even when both TERFs and incels restrict themselves to words only, society amplifies the hateful language of the incels and red pillers far more than it does the TERFS, and is more inclined to fold misogyny into daily life and the political discourse as if it is reasonable then it is to treat the pronouncements of the most extreme forms of feminism as anything other than the weird and harmful attitudes they are.

    When hard line figures from the fringes of feminism says that any sexual congress involving penetration, or any heterosexual sex act at all, is automatically rape in all circumstances irrespective of what the participants think and even in the woman not only offered enthusiastic, crystal clear consent throughout, but was the initiating party and was very much in charge of proceedings, then pretty much everyone just rolls their eyes and ignores the statement as being both ridiculous and so anti-male that it conspires to circle back around to being anti-feminist, since it denies the agency of heterosexual and bisexual women.

    However, when incels, red pillers, and the weird ‘men going their own way’ groups start spouting their nauseatingly bigoted hatred of women, up to and including really horrifically violent language and imagery, all too many people – including politicians, media outlets and other opinion formers in society – start talking about how society doesn’t have enough sympathy for these men, or going on about about how the real problem is that these men don’t have sufficient access to sex, as if access to women’s bodies is a positive right that a man is born with, and insufficient access to sex is akin to some form of dietary deficiency that brings forth a monstrous hatred of women like insufficient vitamin C consumption causes scurvy.

    So long as that gulf in how these two toxic sets of attitudes are received remains, even the most extreme fringe feminist ideologies will never be as much of a problem as even the non-violent expressions of the various misogynist movements.

  5. says

    The worst I’ve ever copped from a lesbian was when I gave one of my lesbian workmates a lift home during a transport strike. She invited me in for a cup of coffee to take a break from the resulting traffic chaos. No surprises that she shared a house with five of her lesbian friends. One of these made the coffee for us while we chatted. I didn’t mind the powdered milk in the coffee until I got to the bottom of the cup and found a lump of it congealed around a cockroach. I didn’t say anything at the time as she was a nice person and a good work colleague so I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Besides I’d had much worse done to me by the testosterone fueled jocks on my school football team.

  6. pipefighter says

    I fell in with this crowd about a decade ago. It’s painful to think how foolish I was, and I try to warn young people going down that road (mostly men but the occasional woman does as well (it might surprise most people that I’m not exclusively talking about cis people, you do get a few self hating trans people on the red pill train)). I find that most people a) don’t care, and b) don’t want to hear about it, so I generally keep it to myself.

  7. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The thing that amazes me about the Red Pill types is how utterly dependent they are on women for validation of their worth. Even with the so-called MGTOW, there’s a “See what you’ve done!!! You made me go my own way!!!” dynamic that just makes me want to look sadly away from the pathetic spectacle. It’s a little like Sam Kinnison’s cover of “Wild Thing”.

  8. doubtthat says

    I’m always surprised by how young these red pillers/incels are. Not that anything justifies the hardcore, violent misogyny, but I would have some sympathy for a person in the late 40’s or 50’s whose life went by without any meaningful relationships. The answer is not to blame women, but I can at least agree that this is unfortunate.
    But 16, 17, 18? They just have a head full of bullshit expectations and lash out. Such disgusting entitlement, but also, you want to just say, “chill out, man. Just, you know, join a softball team and hang out with some folks at the bar afterwords and you’ll be fine in a year or two.”

  9. asteraceae says

    The “real” world is the mundane, quotidian, unjust world, where people get stuck in traffic or run over by buses. Take the blue pill and you wake up back in that world. It’s a placebo. The red pill is a drug that lets insignificant man-babies believe in their own hero arc, that there is meaning in the universe, that there is justice. You can be the hero of their own Ayn Rand novel! But it’s a hallucinogenic fiction.

    Morpheus was nothing but a troll.

  10. unclefrogy says

    “Because we represent the Middle, and are therefore where the truth is, and there can’t be something way the hell over there that isn’t balanced by something off in that direction yonder, or else we’re either not really in the middle, or our foundational belief that the Truth must lie exactly halfway between the two extremes is flawed in some way, and if that happens, well, we’re just not ready yet to stare directly into that blind spot, thank you very much.”

    very good description the only thing I would add is that the defensive rationalization that is concocted by these apologists is missing the observation that there defense is motivated by the desire to keep those they feel the need to protect from the worst forms of sanction as allies and supporters as well as holding many of the same attitudes especially seeing the differences in sex and sexual relations as competition and relationships as dominance and submission.
    it is all such a toxic pile of shit
    uncle frogy

  11. Curious Digressions says

    When ever I come across these guys, I always want to ask, “Have you tired not being horrible?”

    The closest the feminist movement came to some of this nonsense is with the feminist separatist movement in the 1970’s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminist_separatism It looks superficially similar to MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way). However, it appears that the way these men are going is to the internets to whine about women. Whereas feminist separatists tended to be more involved in community building, with varying degrees of success.

  12. pipefighter says

    @10 doubtthat the fact that that surprises you means you don’t know anything about extremism and manipulation. When I fell in with those people I was 19, in a job I hated with no way out, had just gone through my first real break up, I was lonely, had no confidence, and I had never encountered any of these conspiracy theories before and I was hanging out with a man twenty years older than me who was extremely manipulative. These things overwhelmingly happen to disaffected young people, rarely do they happen to older people. I’d rather not go into explicit detail, but I can tell you that they specificly target the young, uninformed and vulnerable.

  13. nomdeplume says

    Arguable that false equivalence is the most damaging of all the damaging features of modern media behaviour.

  14. Hj Hornbeck says

    Gregory Greenwood @4:

    When hard line figures from the fringes of feminism says that any sexual congress involving penetration, or any heterosexual sex act at all, is automatically rape in all circumstances irrespective of what the participants think and even in the woman not only offered enthusiastic, crystal clear consent throughout, but was the initiating party and was very much in charge of proceedings, then pretty much everyone just rolls their eyes and ignores the statement as being both ridiculous and so anti-male that it conspires to circle back around to being anti-feminist, since it denies the agency of heterosexual and bisexual women.

    Er? I had a look into that one a while ago, and found it was a myth. In my experience, that’s pretty typical of “extreme” feminism; someone with a large platform misunderstands or misrepresents a reasonable idea, and the warped version echos around our culture instead. Can you point to a specific source?

    Speaking of castration, though, while writing that post I did manage to find a feminist who was fine with it.

    Chemical castration can cut recidivism rates dramatically – in one study, from 46 percent to 3 percent. Use of the drug certainly raises serious constitutional issues about privacy and punishment, which biology alone cannot decide. But the issues become cloudier, not clearer, when commentators declare a priori that “castration will not work because rape is not a crime about sex, but rather a crime about power and violence.”

    [Owen] Jones is not advocating for chemical castration (and neither am I). He is asking people to look at all the options for reducing rape and to evaluate them carefully and with an open mind. … If a policy is rejected out of hand that can reduce rape by a factor of fifteen, then many women will be raped who otherwise might not have been. People may have to decide which they value more, an ideology that claims to advance the interests of the female gender or what actually happens in the world to real women.

    Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, pg. 371.

    To be fair, Pinker explicitly states he isn’t advocating for sex offenders be castrated, he merely thinks it’s a good idea and that other people should take it seriously.

  15. says

    Pinker a feminist?

    Let’s try a quote:

    But it is crucial to distinguish the moral proposition that people should not be discriminated against on account of their sex — which I take to be the core of feminism — and the empirical claim that males and females are biologically indistinguishable. They are not the same thing. Indeed, distinguishing them is essential to protecting the core of feminism. Anyone who takes an honest interest in science has to be prepared for the facts on a given issue to come out either way. And that makes it essential that we not hold the ideals of feminism hostage to the latest findings from the lab or field.

    Nobody claims that males and females are biologically indistinguishable. The mere fact that he tries to tar contemporary feminism by association with this stupid and nonsensical view shows him to be far, far from feminist.

  16. doubtthat says

    @pipefighter

    Sure, I get that (and I’m sorry you had to deal with that). The people I’ve known who get into that pickup artist shit were younger, 20ish dudes who were pissed about women not giving them the attention they deserve. A bunch suffered from the sort of depression and lack of self-esteem that you mention.

    More specifically, it’s the incels whose age always surprises me. Resentment and anger are obviously the domain of the young, disaffected male, but when you read these guys’ posts, they have this sense of hopelessness and utter defeat that sounds like it’s coming from a 65 year old whose life amounted to nothing.

    You can go to anyplace they hang out and find post after post lamenting that their life is over and there’s no point to going on because they’re 18 and still a virgin. It’s that sort of thing that I’m baffled by.

  17. Gregory Greenwood says

    Hj Hornbeck @ 16;

    I have personally seen an article, which PZ posted on Pharyngula a few years ago, that I believe was titled something like ‘TERFs are upside down MRAs’, which linked to trans exclusionary radical feminists making several very strange arguments ranging from a hypothesis that the mandatory castration of boys at puberty would enable the creation of some kind of Utopian society without war or violence (with an option to keep some intact men around as ‘studs’), to claims that men aren’t actually human at all, instead being a species of non-human (possibly alien) ‘gyn-energy vampires’ (supposedly parasites that need to steal ‘gyn-energy’ – whatever that is – from women to survive), and that women (who are the only true humans) are naturally capable of parthenogenesis, but this ability is suppressed by the aforementioned gyn-energy vampires. Since all heterosexual sex is actually doing harm to women and enabling the men/vampires to sustain their existence by ‘feeding’ on them, all such sex is supposedly rape even if the woman in question ‘thinks’ she has consented. I only wish I was joking about this. I can’t find the article in the archives on this site anymore, but plenty of other people here saw it and commented on how very, very weird it was at the time. Does anyone else remember that profoundly odd episode?

  18. Gregory Greenwood says

    @Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden,

    It was a few years ago now, so I imagine the post was lost when all the older post got purged. Either way, the point that the incels and red pillers are far worse than any feminist position out there still stands, and it just goes double if the worst of the spectrum of feminist thought isn’t even as bad as I thought it was.

  19. pipefighter says

    @doubtthat I will start by admitting that I suffer from “didnotreadthearticleitis” and am speaking purely from my own experience. I’ll post more on it in a few hours. I’m a bit busy.

  20. says

    Now, I will occasionally claim that if men are those uncontrollable violent beings who just can’t help themselves when they beat or rape people, we should use the time tested method of reducing aggression in male animals.
    Now, if you wanted to claim that I was seriously advocating for neutering men, you’d have to believe that I seriously thought men were uncontrollable beasts, slaves to their biology. Yet usually that more accurately describes MRAs and assorted misogynists who simply want to have their cake and eat it, aka being able to behave like bastards and not facing any consequences.

  21. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I remember that “Red Queen” kook who showed up in the Lounge thread, back when it existed, and was vividly musing about a terrorist campaign against cis men building up to actual genocide.

    I remember her getting some pushback, albeit “pushback” in the sense of being gently disagreed with while being treated with really laughably blatant kid gloves.

    I remember that she threw a tantrum and screeched that we were all TRANSPHOBIC! for not agreeing with her on the genocide thing.

    I also remember that this was one person, one time.

  22. says

    Yes. I remember as well. It was “sleepingwytch”, though she had some writing on other sites that was under the name “Red Queen” IIRC. Apparently she was known for having significant mental illness and justified (to herself, anyway) her angry advocacy of violence based on a history of being bullied/ harassed/ violated/ attacked/ etc. I wonder if she ever got any healing or wholeness, and I hope to hell she stopped advocating violence. That shit was super fucked up.

  23. says

    Oh yes, I remember her. She was obviously someone who had suffered terrible trauma, which was for me personally the reason for not unleashing my usual self on her. I hope she got help.

  24. Gregory Greenwood says

    The thing is that someone like sleepingwytch/Red Queen clearly needs help and might be able to get it and heal, but I honestly think that many of even the more ‘middle of the road’ (by the standard of the various stripes of anti-feminists) MRAs are essentially beyond help, and indeed would be unlikely to ever be able to accept that their horrifying view of the world could be wrong.

    I hesitate to use a loaded phrase with may too much theistic baggage like ‘evil’, but suffice to say that many of the nastiest types among the misogynists groups (people like John the Other – remember him?) will always present issues in society because of the ideology they are wedded to.

  25. says

    Giliell @ 26.

    “uncontrollable violent beings who just can’t help themselves”
    That’s too close to some whites’ view of non white men for my comfort. Especially after Trump calling Mexicans rapists.

  26. Gregory Greenwood says

    robertbaden @ 31;

    That’s too close to some whites’ view of non white men for my comfort. Especially after Trump calling Mexicans rapists.

    But Giliell @ 26 did go on to say;

    Now, if you wanted to claim that I was seriously advocating for neutering men, you’d have to believe that I seriously thought men were uncontrollable beasts, slaves to their biology.

    So Giliell was saying that if men were uncontrollably violent and couldn’t help themselves then society would have to do something drastic to reduce the male tendency to violence, but Giliell goes on to say that men aren’t like that because we of the male persuasion are not uncontrollable beasts who are slaves to our biology – if we were, we couldn’t be held morally accountable for our actions any more than a lion can be held accountable for killing and eating a gazelle.

    We as humans all have a choice to be decent human beings and to control our behaviour, irrespective of our birth sex or gender identity and sexuality. It is MRAs and other misogynists who believe they should be able to behave monstrously toward women and get away with it without consequences, and they are not a problem because of the brute biological fact of their birth sex or because their brains are structured in a manner that makes them cis-sexual or heterosexual, but because they subscribe to an ideology that treats women as disposable sex objects and not people.

    When Trump demonises Mexicans he is demonising people because of the country of their birth and the colour of their skin, both things they have no control over, and that is what makes Trump’s statements racist and bigoted. When Giliell expressed disdain for MRAs, the situation is different. While those MRAs are likely all men, there are also any number of men who aren’t MRAs. Being an MRA is not something you are born to and cannot control – associating yourself with such a nauseating ideology is a choice, and it is an ugly choice to dehumanise and objectify women. A person who aligns themselves of their own free will with such a mindset is deserving of all the opprobrium they receive. It is in no way, shape or form comparable to racism.

  27. Hj Hornbeck says

    Crip Dyke @21:

    HJ, you have my apologies.

    No prob, it was terribly easy to miss the sarcasm there.

    And my blog post feeds into something Gregory Greenwood brought up, that the worst parts of feminism tend to be over-exaggerated while the worst parts of anti-feminism tend to be underplayed. Since writing that, for instance, I managed to track down and read the “men should be 10% of the population” essay, and it matches my sleuthing in that blog post: it was voluntary, was done solely through a still-hypothetical in-vitro fertilization technique, and would not have killed a single man. The author was quite open to criticism, and I can find nobody beyond the author who took the idea seriously. That’s what the most extreme feminist looks like.

  28. says

    @HJ

    The SCUM manifesto was, as Al Franken coined, “Kidding on the square”. Solanas always was ragingly out there, and it’s clear that she wasn’t proposing something that even she thought might be put into place/practice. On the other hand, when abusive men joke in men’s spaces about rape and gauge the reactions before going on to sexually harass women who frequent overlapping/adjacent spaces, I think it’s reasonably possible that their behavior is analogous to Solanas’ behavior. We know she ended up violent. It’s possible that her “joke” in the SCUM manifesto (and it was intended to be taken by others as a joke) contained similar elements of testing the waters.

    We know she ended up violent. We know that feminists of the day took the SCUM manifesto as a joke. What we can’t be quite sure of is whether Solanas’ was using the “plausible deniability” that attaches to certain forms of humor in certain communities to explore a violent side of which she was consciously aware, in an effort at least half-intentional to explore the range of possible reactions amongst her peers.

    Though there’s no proof, I tend to believe Solanas was doing this.

    Two of the much analyzed aspects of the SCUM Manifesto supporting this interpretation are the frequent use of sexist slurs against women turned back against men in a way that might be considered humorous, While much of the essay is taken up with reverse-Aristotelianism, this is perhaps more obvious in the anti-Freudian

    Women, in other words, don’t have penis envy; men have pussy envy. When the male accepts his passivity, defines himself as a woman (males as well as females thing men are women and women are men), and becomes a transvestite he loses his desire to screw (or to do anything else, for that matter; he fulfills himself as a drag queen) and gets his dick chopped off. He then achieves a continuous diffuse sexual feeling from `being a woman’. Screwing is, for a man, a defense against his desire to be female.

    This combines with elements of violence played for laughs. Laughter, as we are frequently told, is the subversion of expectations. Examine the second bolded section. In the midst of analysis with deliberate reference to ideas seen as scholarly (chromosomes, genes, psychoanalytic theories of “penis envy”) and to men seen as brilliant thinkers (Freud, Aristotle), we get not the word “penis” but the word “dick”. The language here is truncated and abrupt, paralleling the image of the truncated, abruptly ending “chopped off” dick.

    This back and forth I think shows clearly that she always intended to be humorous in how she was perceived, yet also shows a violence and a desire to shockingly provoke that, while easily dismissed in the 1960s when sexism still cut short the ability to see a propensity for violence in women, fits well with her attack on Warhol which was both violent and intended to shock the public.

    What’s important for the analysis of feminism of the time, however, is that no one other than Solanas took the violent implications of the SCUM Manifesto seriously. The “locker room talk” of Trump may form an analog to Solanas’ manifesto in form, but in social context there’s every reason to believe that men groping women was a serious problem that should not be taken lightly. On the other hand, there is no reason to take the SCUM Manifesto seriously to be found in the social context of Solanas’ USA or even Solanas’ feminist subculture and community. The industrial murder or penectomy of even the most sexist adult men was not being practiced in isolated but significant pockets that we might have reason to fear would spread. It certainly wasn’t practiced with the frequency of casual, sexualized assaults on women referenced in Trump’s speech.

    So there’s good reason to be outraged by Trump’s speech while not being outraged by the content of the SCUM Manifesto. Sure, I’d prefer people who know about it condemn it than treat is as entirely innocent, but that is also affected by the hindsight made possible by living in a time after her violent attack on Warhol. Had she lived a peaceful life doing stand-up at women’s music festivals and teaching creative writing at some college somewhere then condemning the SCUM Manifesto would make just as much sense as condemning Swift’s Modest Proposal. The obvious rhetorical aim of the piece is the subversion of sexist myths and stereotypes that have been incredibly damaging to women over hundreds to thousands of years. If Solanas herself had not committed violence, we would have no more reason to believe the SCUM Manifesto was infected with a malicious, violent intent than we do that Swift really, truly, intended not merely to undermine the unjust attitudes of the Brits toward their conquered Irish subjects, but also to stir up the Irish to kill Britons.

    in both cases there is an obvious, reasonable, and even laudable effort to undermine fucked up attitudes through deeply twisted mockery. Yet, the people who condemn feminists for enjoying the wit and appreciating the obvious and apparent goal of the SCUM Manifesto would not seek to condemn Swift’s readers, though each audience had exactly the same insight into the respective author’s state of mind. To hold 1960s feminists to some negative account for publishing, distributing, or just reading the SCUM Manifesto is to employ an obvious (and, in practice, sexist) double standard.

    Fuck that double standard and fuck the double standard bearers.

  29. Gregory Greenwood says

    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden @ 34;

    I don’t think HJ Hornbeck was referring to the SCUM manifesto here, but rather to Sally Miller Gearhart’s 1981 paper ‘The Future – if there is one – is Female’, which does not appear to be in the same vein of comedic satire, and in which she proposes that a human civilisation with prospects for long term survival should reduce men to no more than 10 percent of the population, since she believed that male homo-social bonding and competition behaviours were the root cause of almost all violence and dysfunction in society, and she further argued that it would be essentially impossible to counter these behaviours by any other means than pretty drastic population manipulation based social engineering.

    She rejected violence to achieve such a goal entirely, arguing instead that such an end should be achieved by a programme of education and inculcating in women a mindset of refusing to birth sons because they supposedly had a significant likelihood of growing up to be rapists or otherwise violent toward women as a result of their biological maleness in a society with too many other men.

    She is a controversial figure among many feminists who feel that she goes too far and effectively dehumanises men as lesser on the basis of a gender-essentialist perspective that posits that men are toxic to society due to inescapable aspects of their biology.

    While I think her reading of social gender relations and the impact of biological maleness on the psychology of gender and sexuality in cismen are all profoundly wrong headed, she is by no means as extreme as even the more middle of the road MRAs who often are quite prepared to countenance violence against women.

    Apparently, the T-shirts you sometimes see bearing the legend ‘The Future is Female’ refer to an abbreviation of the title of this essay, though I wonder how many of the people who wear such garb are aware of the true origin of the slogan. I suppose it doesn’t matter – the contemporary meaning of that phrase is now pretty much entirely divorced from the content of the essay in any case, simply being a harmless assertion of the social, political and economic agency of women.

  30. says

    @‘the commenter who sometimes almost makes sense formerly known as’ Gregory Greenwood:
    I think that your comment

    I don’t think HJ Hornbeck was referring to the SCUM manifesto here

    is based on a misunderstanding, which in turn is based on missing something in HJ that was not at all obvious.

    In the very last sentence of HJ’s comment #33 there is rollover/mouseover text which is easy to miss that reads:

    TERFs are not feminists and the SCUM manifesto looks satiric to me.

    So I was responding to this, not the body of the comment.

    By advancing the idea that the SCUM manifesto constitutes “kidding on the square” and/or an analog of Trump’s boundary-testing “locker room talk” I am largely in agreement with HJ, but with an important caveat that Solanas’ later violence can change (and can be reasonably argued “should” change) our perception of the manifesto as pure satire. It is my conviction (though yours may differ) that we cannot, post-Solanas’ violence, treat the SCUM Manifesto in exactly the same way we might treat Gulliver’s Travels or A Modest Proposal that motivated me to write some thoughts on the distinctions.

    I agree with you that the obvious reference in HJ’s main text was to the Sally Miller Gearhart essay. I actually thank you for reminding me of some of the details. It’s been ages since I read (or even thought about) that essay since it is, as you say, basically irrelevant to any actual politics or activism of recent times. To the extent it was ever relevant, it was largely so only in the Lesbian Separatist movement where one found discussions of creating a world without daily contact with men, and, importantly, without economic activity that enriches men more than it adds to the Separatist community. If it was ever relevant anywhere else, I’m not aware of it.

    Speaking of which, though I was never a lesbian separatist (it would have been difficult for me to join the movement even had I wanted to, being trans), I might some of the nicest people ever through friends that lived part-time on separatist land. Those friends would occasionally bring back full-time separatists to the city for a visit and I was almost – though not quite – universally impressed with just how friendly they were. Despite a tendency to overuse lentils in their cuisine, I shared a kitchen with separatists quite a number of times in the 1990s and had many wonderful meals with them.

    Of course, it’s also possible that the presence of a trans person at a particular home might have been a reason for people I might not have liked to decline an invitation to accompany my friends, but I’m still struck by just how often the people of the We’Moon and other separatist communities/collectives were simply nice.

    I did meet Miller Gearhart herself during a conference at SFSU, but it was a fleeting interaction, barely an introduction. She seemed very pleasant, but I really can’t say how she treated people generally (or men as a class) in her everyday interactions. I didn’t know her that well and didn’t know well anyone who spent a lot of time with her. While marking that ignorance, your statement

    While I think her reading of social gender relations and the impact of biological maleness on the psychology of gender and sexuality in cismen are all profoundly wrong headed, she is by no means as extreme as even the more middle of the road MRAs who often are quite prepared to countenance violence against women.

    at least “rings true” to me and is certainly true of the “Future is Female” essay. I’d be at least mildly surprised if she wasn’t generous with food and thoughtful in conversation. Now I need to go back and read that piece.

    Thanks again, GG.

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