So, there’s moments when one becomes utterly mystified by the state of other people’s sexual psychosis. Especially places that take a whole range of vocabulary you use or one thing and twist them into something else. One of them is the Manosphere’s absurd obsession with being Alpha and Dominant.
So, what’s the Manosphere?
To bring you up to speed with the subject of the post: as you are probably well aware, we live in a world that is full of inequalities. One way that these manifest is along the arbitrary binary of gender roles and expectations that are attached to them. This fucks over a lot of people, male and female. I’m a feminist and unapologetic about this. However another segment of the population, mostly expressing themselves online, deals with these challenges with other methods, mostly by making a damn fool out of themselves in a way that’s collectively embarrassing to men and women.
MRA, (Mens Rights Activists) take the inherent problems that come with maleness (other men trying to kill you, poor social tolerance for weakness, poor tolerance for acting in stereotypical ‘female’ ways), and, for the most part, blame feminism. They’re joined by PUA (pick up artists) who are by and large men who decided that the solution to all life’s problems are at the bottom of someone’s vagina and they need to figure out an elaborate algorithm that lets them access as many as possible in their search. As you might imagine, failing to see women as people is a criteria for both groups, so there is extensive overlap. As, for some reason, with Libertarianism, because governments are seen as the pesky enforcers of such things as welfare for single mothers and child support arbitrators. These (mostly)men generally share a strong thread of gynophobia but also intense social anxiety- not so much misogyny, as outright “get her before she gets you!” thinking that often extends to assuming everyone is out to get you and that they exist in a world of nasty inter-male competition. A side effort is put into describing men who do not buy into this system as chumps or ‘manginas’ who hurt the glorious man cause.
This is leaving aside the ones who have decided to swear off women completely (to everyone’s mutual relief, thanks MenGoingTheirOwnWay!), there is a rather absurd trend to want relationships with women but go to elaborate lengths to have the upper hand and the belief that women all want a particular kind of man who is Very Dominant. So dominant as to require an exhausting degree of emotional manipulation to maintain the facade that you rule all your relationships.
Now you say “Male Dominant” and outside of my sometimes unfair snickering about rope tops in utilikilts, I will imagine a true cross section of the male population. Well, in practice men who identify as doms are statistically more likely to identify as feminists and kinky people tend to be more likely to fit into the PolyPaganNerdy bubble, but they’re going to be all sorts of different kinds of guys, from cuddle kitten to catpiss. Ask your Manosphere wannabe dom types though, and you have something very different. Precisely speaking, the push to be Dominant-to-Women functions on the premise that there will always be someone in charge- and if you don’t take charge she will be in charge of you and use you- and, in general the MRA brigade emphasize that if she was a pre-feminist good old fashioned girl she would be a lot happier- she just has to find her inherent submissive. Take this advice from popular MRA/pickup artist subreddit, the Red Pill, on developing a long term relationship (Unicorn Hunting):
Women are as miseducated as men about what is effective and what they should want. The delusion is pervasive, and any woman won’t fully know she wishes for a strong leader until she feels this leadership first hand, and that’s your job. You are a Captain. It’s your job to inspire loyalty, trust, and devotion. The “natural Unicorn” has these things, but they can otherwise be developed in a good, reasonable woman. I’m not suggesting you snatch up an attractive feminist shrew (a sort of Unicorn in its own right) and expect good results, but I’d be stunned to see the transition and result. This would be TRP on Nightmare mode and would be worthy of… So. Many. Field reports.
At best, some of them conflate dominating a situation with simply having a strong opinion. That’s mostly harmless, other than basically encouraging people to go further down the path of jibbering crazy. Some of them cast themselves as metaphorical pet owners, who think that women need to be trained like dogs- if indeed dogs do respond best to Caesar Milano style training over other methods. It’s not uncommon to find either what boils down to femdom fantasies of evil matriarchies ruling the world or on the flip side, fantasies that if society were to collapse, all those Wicked Women Would Be Sorry.
Expect, if you spend time in the Manosphere, to be told that the occupations of women are make work that’s destroying the economy and that there is something wrong with western women that has made them all aggressive and, often treated like a sin against the social order, ugly. These chaps will fantasize about how Eastern European/Asian women are ideal and wax lustful about it at length, stickying their keyboards with heavily photo-shopped pictures of Korean or Ukranian models, or babble about the significance of hair length. That’s really popular at the moment, and many of these men are positively obsessed with the idea that women are Wrong if they do anything to change up an outward appearance that’s compliant with cultural signifies of femininity.
You also get a lot of debating about straw feminists, usually with a misquote or two from Dworkin, which is like trying to argue against neurobiology by referencing Jungian archetypes… incorrectly. Most MRA would not know what a feminist was if they walked into one, which is part of what makes the whole thing so unbelievably embarrassing.
As far as MRA behaving badly, at the extreme end of things, you get Mark Lepine and the guy who shot up an women’s exercise class because younger women didn’t want to date him, or for that matter, Breivik, who was generally anti-left but included the idea that women should be barred from access to graduate studies as part of his vision for the future- being Scandinavian I suppose even he couldn’t imagine anyone not getting at least some higher education. Because of unfortunate associations, this also means that much more issues focused lobby groups, such as those looking to increase custodial rights for fathers, often need to distance themselves from the cuckoo groups.
On the other hand, long term reading of MRA and PUA generally causes me to over emphasize the value of their voice in popular discourse and I occasionally have to take a step back and remind myself that while what you have is people who hate everything about me that makes me who I am and call for what is a reduction of my civil liberties and my enslavement, they are a minority of voices. And yet…
It also makes me wonder what, among men so desperate to be Dominant, they would make of my dominance, or really any kinky dominance. Some of them make a concession that there’s a small bubble of “Lantern Jawed Lesbians”, women who are unfortunate men-trapped-in-the-bodies-of-women, in their estimation. In this context that means that they also tend to accuse women who embrace feminist theory of being ugly and trying to rework the social order to avoid their just punishment for this failure to conform with how the MRA wish women were like. This also generally involves a lot of flailing about claiming that say, women of the past were much happier than modern women. Well, I mean asides from the massive infant mortality, dying early of preventable diseases, over work and malnutrition- but don’t worry, men are natural providers and protectors. 😛
It’s pretty much the same drum that’s been banged since the ancient Greeks:
The tribes of women
come in four breeds: bee, bitch, and savage-looking sow,
and mare with long flowing mane. The mare
is sprightly, swift, gadabout and most lovely in form.
The savage-looking sow is neither good nor rotten,
and the bitch is troublesome and fierce-tempered.
Yes, the bee is best: a good housekeeper
who knows how to work. Dear friend, I tell you,
to win a desirable marriage, pray for a bee.
Phocylides (Greek, ca. 600 B.C.)
But, what precisely, does the world view of someone who sees women in charge as either mentally ill or being tricked by society into being led astray stack up against sexual kinks?
I know guys who ID as sub men, who are equally proudly anti-feminist. When I say ‘know’, I mean avoid- but my point holds that D/s is hardly a perfect unassailable bastion of humanism. And yet on the flip side, these MRA focused communities will simultaneously hold up sexual behaviour that’s right out of a kink playbook (rough, degrading), while swearing up and down that they ain’t kinky. The women who buy into this are particularly bizarre, kind of like the Christian Domestic Discipline quadrant who want their spankings while claiming it isn’t sexy- these women obsess over being ‘submissive’, but get offended if people pigeonhole them into kinky.
So does it follow that you could be a MRA and sexually submissive? I posed that question on the reddit debate forum, The Purple Pill with mixed results.
Mostly, other than a shy man who sees himself as super Alpha in his relationship except for the whole humiliation via sissification thing, I got a lot of people doing things like explaining to me that since dominant women were scarce, I effectively didn’t exist. Some argued that male submission violated some sort of natural law (like gravity, guess?) and got hung up on explaining BIO TROOFS.
One thing that’s particularly striking is the habit of the guys to justify themselves based on the fact that it’s not that they really value all of the Alpha-as-fuck aspects personally, but it’s what women want… so clearly they can’t help but give women what they crave, right? Or women will never let them use them as a penis cozy!
But I’m A Nice Guy from Scott Benson on Vimeo.
10 thoughts on “MRA, PUA and Weird Male Dominance Fixations”
Interestingly enough, a related column from Dr. NerdLove landed in my inbox a almost the same time this did.
Yes, and I really noticed there’s a thread running all throughout this that “I don’t know how to be a man!”
I can’t say I have overly extensive sympathy, because it feels like a lot of the being a man script that is broken is the ones that cause men to be able to pull rank. There also tends to be a lot of wishful thinking about how back in the day their masculinity system somehow was more anxiety free or ‘worked’. Which is ahistorical, to say the least.
Do you think, in this context, that it’s worth making a distinction between maleness (being anatomically and endochrinologically male) and ‘masculinity’ which is culture-bound and riddled with contradictions?
Also, it’s clear from what you say that patriarchal tropes still rule in vast swathes of Western culture, and that despite, or perhaps because of 50 years of feminism there continues to be significant pushback against the gains that have been made by a relatively small number of women.
Finally, you write:
“I know guys who ID as sub men, who are equally proudly anti-feminist. When I say ‘know’, I mean avoid- but my point holds that D/s is hardly a perfect unassailable bastion of humanism.”
I’m currently working on a project that started with the assumption that male submission is necessarily subversive of patriarchal ‘masculinity’. The deeper I have got into my research, the more I have had to modify my original position.
I find a lot of tropes of F/m renenforce the gender dichotomy. Doms are depicted as hyper-femme, but m-sub fixates easily on how much of a “man” the sub is, and a lot of fetishes including cuckolding, cross dressing and forced bi prey on classically masculine anxieties.
Earlier, feminist femdom critiques of these generally point to the paradox that the dom is called upon to deride the very same things that make up part of her gender identity- ie the humiliation of wearing panties or doing culturally female associated domestic work. Of course some cross dressers just like panties, or pegging, but then these things lose any association with dominance- if I’m not forcing him to do it, it becomes an indulgence for him. If there is no anxiety related to how masculinity is policed, than if I ‘force’ him to wear panties, it carries about the impact of if I force him to wear red pants. Granted some guys simply use a dom as a beard “she made me do it!” But if they weren’t uncomfortable with it then it doesn’t really need a guiding hand to get there.
Femdom, for the most part, is like Saturnalia when the dominance is powered by her gender- it’s a holiday from the power hiearchy that only underlines it. When it stops being F/m other than that only one half of a couple is opposite sex identifying and the female half is incidentally the dominant, half the vocabulary falls off- eg we say “female led relationship” but use other terms like “traditional” or “taken in hand” for M/f.
In essence, femdom as it exists today is a biproduct of an inherently imbalanced system. I don’t think a lot of it could exist without the patriarchal bogeyman effecting both genders.
Now as far as the masculine VS maleness, I do make a distinction- physical, biological sex is not the same thing as arbitrary cultural tropes (and even the relationship with the physical is governed by the cultural -IE my choices in grooming and adornment VS that of a male IDing person VS a person IDing somewhere in the juncture of “fuck gender!”) However I don’t think just me being dominant is transgressive if I just perform according to the paradigm of kink as it is easily taught. Taking ownership of how dominance is defined, particularly for my gender, is part of the mission going on here.
As a former male submissive that was in a functionally 24/7 relationship with a Domme, I am an “anti-feminist”.
Or rather, I’m an egalitarian, because people are PEOPLE. The shitty MRA’s aren’t any better than the vocal RadFems that try to stifle any and all discussion of the intersectionality of SOME issues for both genders. I don’t dispute that there are issues that are clearly more imperative to one gender or the other, but I find it objectionable that the narrative of some elements of BOTH groups clearly indicates that only 1 group has any right to speak.
Franky, the reason I refuse to self-label (or be labeled) a feminist/ally is because there are absolutely terrible, misanthropic people that astroturf the label, just like there’s terrible, misanthropic people that populate the MRA movement. So here I am, stuck in the middle, being called a ‘simp’ by one group, and a misogynist by the other.
And honestly, my submission to my former Domme in no way impacted my masculinity; she claimed that my masculinity made my submission all the more exciting. To be honest, I’m typically a social dominant, or a Type-A personality, so far as those terms are relevant.
(I know I’m late to this particular party, but maybe I can get away with claiming ‘fashionably late-ness’ 🙂 )
I can’t necessarily disagree 100% with any points you make, I did feel reading your post that there is (or perhaps was–once upon a time) a dimension of both the MRA and PUA communities/movements/whateveritspropernomenclatureis that was omitted from your analysis; one that might paint them in slightly more sympathetic light…although, personally speaking, I readily admit that a lot of it and them DO come off as insufferable douchebags and I’m not necessarily defending the enclaves of them on the internet (i.e., Reddit and the like) and I completely understand WHY you feel as you do.
I’m not sure if I should go on to expound exactly what particular dimension I’m referring to in the previous statement or not, as I hate folks that just slather their unasked-for opinions in comments sections; suffice it to say, if you are interested, I can.
All that said, I dig your writing and look forward to more 🙂
Even later to the party, but it’s an interesting discussion.
In my opinion MRAs are simply the other side of the coin to feminism. The “he said” to feminism’s “she said”.
And I believe that MRA’s are necessary in the way that feminists were necessary 2 or 3 decades ago.
I get that a lot of what MRA’s and PUA’s have to say may be triggering to you as a dominant woman.
I also get that, being a woman, you don’t understand how different it is for a man, how most men find it much harder to get the sex they want with the women they want, compared to any reasonably attractive woman who is spoiled for choice. I get how being a woman you would find that hard to sympathize with because you have not and cannot know what it is like to be a man. And respectfully, the tone of this article does suggest that you have a certain amount of animosity towards men.
You say, in as many words, that you would avoid submissive men if they had any interest in Men’s rights. Fair enough, but how do you feel when men avoid you for being a feminist? Are they any more bigoted than you?
Why would you discriminate against a man who believes that men should have equal rights to women? That a man should have a right to vote without being required to register for the draft? That they should not have to spend more time in jail, be more likely to be arrested or charged with the same crime a woman commits simply because they’re a man. That men should have recourse to the same kind of resources as women if their partner batters them. That men should not be seen as “violence objects”. Think back to any action movie you’ve ever seen. What is the inevitable gender of the faceless people that are killed, the henchmen that Bond blows away. Always men. So many other
“On the other hand, long term reading of MRA and PUA generally causes me to over emphasize the value of their voice in popular discourse and I occasionally have to take a step back and remind myself that while what you have is people who hate everything about me that makes me who I am and call for what is a reduction of my civil liberties and my enslavement, they are a minority of voices. And yet…”
You know this reminds me of how reading too many feminist sites makes me feel.
Just curious do you ever visit feminist sites and shake your head about the appalling things women on those sites say about men? Or is all that ok? Or don’t you notice it?
If this all sounds a bit confrontational, well I guess it is, however I do respect your intelligence and enjoy reading what you have say; you have such a good way with words you should be an author! (Joking – I know you’ve been published)
I’ll leave this half way through as it’s far too early in the morning and I have not yet been to bed and my mind is not working at its best right now!
PS – I don’t think most PUA guides are specifically geared towards picking up dominant women. That’s a whole ‘nother ball game, and one that gets more adequately covered on kink sites and sites like your own. So the advice about being alpha, etc; is geared towards picking up vanilla women. It doesn’t mean you don’t exist, it just means you’re kind of out of scope.
I think it’s fundamentally offensive. Triggering implies tripping PTSD symptoms, where as in this case, have considerable experience talking with TRPs and other manosphere residents, I really have no patience with people who are still disputing my personhood.
These people are, to the overall concept of broader gender rights,what TERFs are to feminism.
So that’s all you have to say on my post? No comments on anything I wrote below my triggering” comment.
I actually read through some of the dialog you had with the people on Reddit, and I thought they were pretty polite with you.
I didn’t see any evidence of them refuting your personhood. In the context of the red pill forums, the focus is on men increasing their dominance, which would be at odds with what you prefer in your men. So rather than you being a non-person to them, it’s more like you are less relevant. Most of the guys on that forum, are looking to improve their vanilla relationships, they’re not looking for a relationship in which they are completely submissive to a woman. These guys need to find their own power, so they’re on a different journey to the submissive men who visit, and perhaps worship you on this site.
MRA’s may not be perfect in the same way that feminists are not perfect. I see them as the other side of the feminist coin.
They should be respected as much as feminists. Why should issues for women be taken seriously and men’s issues discarded and mocked?
I didn’t know what a TERF was, but looked it up. It would be fairer to say that __extreme __ MRAs – i.e. those who truly hate women (and they exist, as do feminists who hate men) are the equivalent of TERFs.
MRAs in general are the equivalent of moderate feminists.
If only people were more open minded!
One other thing. Why is it ok for you to want to be be dominant, but not ok for men to want the same thing?