Columnist discusses feminism and the men’s rights movement.
BY SAFIA MALHOTRA ’24
“I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated,” the American women’s rights activist Alice Paul once said. “But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.”
I often see the word feminism defined incorrectly. So let me establish one thing: feminism is the belief in the equality of all genders. Not the belief in females being the superior gender.
I believe that this misinterpretation is what has led to the stigma surrounding feminism. If that is so, I can understand why men fear the word feminism. I can understand their apprehensiveness and their resistance to pursue feminism if they fear that female rights come at the cost of their own. At least, I choose to believe that this is why people are reluctant to embrace feminism, because otherwise would mean that humanity possesses an amount of cruelty that far surpasses my imagination.
For men, feminism is a privilege. For everybody else? Feminism is a necessity.
I am not a feminist out of choice, but rather out of need. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be fighting for the ability to have the same quality of life as my male counterparts. If I had a choice, I would not choose a life of inferiority.
However, not all understand this. There has always been pushback against feminism — for as long as women have fought for equality, there have been others to fight against them. Recently, however, that pushback has gained traction with the advancements of technology and online anonymity. I present to you: the manosphere.
The manosphere is an umbrella term that refers to a number of interconnected misogynistic communities. It encompasses multiple types and severities of misogyny – from broader male supremacist discourse to men’s rights activism and other violent factions.
The Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) movement, Pick up Artists (PUAs), and “involuntary celibates” (incels) are three subcategories of the manosphere that I feel deserve their own explanations.
First: the MGTOW. The MGTOW is a misogynistic and anti-feminist movement that believes feminism makes women dangerous to men, and therefore, male self-preservation calls for complete disengagement from women. There are four different levels for MGTOW involvement; the men in level four have shunned all involvement with women and thus are believed to comprise the most actualized members.
Secondly: PUAs. PUAs are a community of men that study seduction in the hopes of improving their success with women. The PUA community often views women as one-dimensional and easily manipulated, and their tactics range from emotional abuse to sexual assault.
And finally: incels. Incels are heterosexual men who blame women and society for their lack of romantic success. The incel ideology is rooted in the belief that women have too much power in the sexual/romantic sphere and ruin incels’ lives by rejecting them. They are the most violent sector of the manosphere, and have perpetrated a range of deadly attacks against women.
One of the central tenants of the manosphere is that there is a red pill/blue pill dichotomy permeating the world. This theory was borne from The Matrix in which Morpheus states: “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
This was adopted by the manosphere to state that the red-pill truth is that men have been victimized by a contemporary culture that is biased towards women, and has conspired to destroy Western civilization and culture.
The manosphere believes that women are inferior to men: their subordinates. But in reality, women are not responsible for, nor do they need to be victims to, a man’s self-entitlement. Feminism is the equality of genders, and the manosphere threatens to not permit that equality. The identity of feminism exists because of things such as the manosphere, and the notion of feminism needs to exist to counteract that of the manosphere.
So, in the purest form of its meaning, take the red pill: feminism is not dangerous. What is dangerous are men who are afraid of feminism. When it comes down to it, they are afraid of women being their equals. People act rashly out of cowardice, and what is more cowardly than being afraid of equality?