With the appointment of Breitbart Newss chair to Trumps staff we need to be clear about the links between misogyny, racism and neofascism on alt-right websites
For several years now, Ive had a dark and fairly unusual hobby. When Im alone and bored and the mood strikes me, Ill open up my laptop and head for a particularly unsavoury corner of the internet.
No, not the bit youre thinking of. Somewhere far worse. That loose network of blogs, forums, subreddits and alternative media publications colloquially known as the manosphere. An online subculture centred around hatred, anger and resentment of feminism specifically, and women more broadly. Its grimly fascinating and now troubling relevant.
In modern parlance, this is part of the phenomenon known as the alt-right. More sympathetic commentators portray it as a backlash to PC culture and critics call it out as neofascism. Over the past year, it has been strange to see the disturbing internet subculture Ive followed for so long enter the mainstream. The executive chairman of one of its most popular media outlets, Breitbart, has just been appointed Donald Trumps chief of strategy, and their UK bureau chief was among the first Brits to have a meeting with the president-elect. Their figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos toured the country stumping for him during the campaign on his Dangerous Faggot tour. These people are now part of the political landscape.
On their forums Ive read long, furious manifestos claiming that women are all sluts who ride the cock carousel and sleep with a series of alpha males until they reach the end of their sexual prime, at which point they seek out a beta cuck to settle down with for financial security. Ive lurked silently on blogs dedicated to pick-up artistry as men argue that uppity, opinionated, feminist women women like myself need to be put in their place through corrective rape.
I know about the men going their own way movement, which is based around the idea that men should avoid any sort of romantic or sexual relationship with women. Im aware of traditional marriage advocates, who often argue that you should aim to marry a very young woman as shes likely to be easier to control. I also learned the difference between an incel who is involuntarily celibate, and a volcel who makes a deliberate choice to avoid sexual activity, and sometimes also masturbation, often in the belief that ejaculation depletes their testosterone and saps them of masculine power.
Its hard to know whether pseudonymous online posters are telling the truth about their offline identity: the individuals making up the manosphere seem to skew younger on average, but be drawn from all walks of life. There are socially awkward, video game-loving teenagers, bitter divorcees and Ivy League-educated millennials who feel women dont afford them the respect and admiration they deserve. There are men who claim to be highly successful at attracting sexual partners, but hate women all the same.
One thing I noticed early on is that the community seems to be largely white. And thats evident because race comes up, a lot. Sometimes, in the form of a kind of racial pseudo-science that advocates use to explain the dynamics of heterosexual relations. The age-old racist argument that black men are taking our women is made regularly. Racist slurs are chucked around casually. There seems to be a significant overlap with organised white supremacy.