When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy

When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy

Chapters

Every day, as virulent white supremacists make their hatred known, we immediately and rightly call them extremists. We have not been nearly as unequivocal in our condemnation when it comes to men who express violent anger toward and loathing for women.

In fact, these groups warrant a side by side examination. There is a robust symbiosis between misogyny and white supremacy; the two ideologies are powerfully intertwined. While not all misogynists are racists, and not every white supremacist is a misogynist, a deep-seated loathing of women acts as a connective tissue between many white supremacists, especially those in the alt right, and their lesser-known brothers in hate like incels (involuntary celibates), MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) and PUAs (Pick Up Artists).

This cross-pollination means the largely anonymous outrage of the men’s rights arena acts as a bridge to the white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology of the alt right. After all, it’s not a huge leap from “women’s quest for equal rights threatens my stature as a man” to “minorities’ and women’s quests for equal rights threaten my stature as a white man.”

It also means that to fully comprehend either white supremacy or misogyny, we have to attempt to understand both.

ADL considers misogyny a dangerous and underestimated component of extremism, and this report marks the start of an ongoing effort to investigate the ways in which people in the white supremacist, incel and MRA orbits feed and inform one another’s poisonous hatred of women.

The fact is, when you give women rights, they destroy absolutely everything around them, no matter what other variable is involved... Even if you become the ultimate alpha male, some stupid bitch will still ruin your life.” — Andrew Anglin, DailyStormer.com

The alt right is defined by its white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideology, but when alt righters talk about the women who are standing between them and their “rightful” position, their language is virtually indistinguishable from what you can find on misogynistic MRA or incel message boards. MRAs, or Men’s Rights Activists, believe that men are being victimized by employment and family law, among other things. Incels, or involuntary celibates, believe that all men deserve to have sex with women on demand and without regard for women’s interest or preference. Both groups are explored in more detail later in this piece.

Men who hate women – masking fear, sexual insecurity or ignorant devotion to ideological misogyny – are vocal within the alt right, which enjoys a synergetic bond with the more specifically misogynistic extremist movements like incels and MRAs. Alek Minassian, who killed 10 people, eight of whom were women, in the April 2018 Toronto van attack, and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin are among the most visible examples of this hatred — but they are far from unique.

The misogyny of the “manosphere” — the world of RooshV (the screen name of “Pick Up Artist” progenitor Daryush Valizadeh), and others who populate the “men’s rights” blogosphere and online message boards that promote a toxic iteration of masculinity, like Reddit’s RedPill forum — is very much at home in the alt right world.

One prominent case in point: Before he became one of America’s most recognizable white supremacists, Christopher Cantwell frequented men’s rights websites and posted misogynistic rants on his blog. Alt right blogger Matt Forney cross-posts some of his choicest anti-female sentiments to the MRA website “Return of Kings,” including: “The vagina is the perfect representation of the nature of females. An empty vessel, a hole, a void with no identity of its own. Without a man to fill her with his essence, she is as useless as a crabapple rotting on the sidewalk.” Alt righters and other white supremacists frequently refer to women as “thots,” which stands for “that ho over there.” Alt right women are called “tradhots” — a reference to their idealized “traditional” role and their putative “hotness.”

Perhaps no one bridges the worlds of men’s rights misogyny and alt-right racism more adeptly than F. Roger Devlin, a longtime white nationalist academic. He argues that “women’s liberation” has actively hurt (white) men’s ability to procreate, because when white women have choices, they are less likely to get married, have children, and perpetuate the white race. Devlin has spent much of his career decrying the rise of self-actualized women who threaten the existence of white people by suggesting there may be something more to life than “breeding six warriors while being a happy hausfrau,” as one poster on altright.com put it. Devlin bemoans that women have gained too much power — which has upset the natural order of things.

Where Devlin argues that women are ruined by having too many choices, Daily Stormer founder and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin wants to remind women that they’re lucky to get a man — any man at all — and are worthy of little other than male violence and contempt.

In a March 2017 rant, apparently sparked by Brad Pitt’s weight loss following the end of his marriage to Angelina Jolie, Anglin launched his full-scale attack on women — including white women, whose cooperation he presumably needs to pull off his racist master plan.

In typically self-aggrandizing style, Anglin referred to himself as the “tip of the spear against the feminist menace,” writing: “The fact is, when you give women rights, they destroy absolutely everything around them, no matter what other variable is involved. Even if you become the ultimate alpha male, some stupid bitch will still ruin your life.”

Worried about losing a wife or a girlfriend once you express these opinions? There’s no need for that, Anglin writes. “Women crave men who call them stupid and claim they shouldn’t have any rights. They also crave being tied up, beaten and raped.” In case there were any lingering doubts about his misogyny, Anglin returns to this trifecta of abuse in July 2018, writing: “Look, I hate women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.”

Anglin attempts to proactively deflect any criticism by maintaining that anyone who suggests that men who are this angry with women might not be very popular with women is ignoring the fact that women should be grateful to be with any man.

“What I am talking about is a social phenomenon where men are told that if they are unsuccessful with women, it is their fault. And it isn’t just the whores themselves who support this particular bit of nonsense — other men will back them up.”

This is a common refrain among MRA, incels and alt right misogynists: A woman should be obviously and profoundly grateful for any man’s attention, and if she’s not, she deserves to be kicked (sometimes literally) to the curb.

The link between racist, anti-Semitic ideology and misogyny is also apparent via the cases of many alt righters and other white supremacists who have been charged with or explicitly advocate for domestic violence. White supremacists Richard Poplowski, JT Ready, Matthew Heimbach and William Fears II have all been implicated in domestic violence-related crimes. In 2017, Anglin told readers on Gab that he’s in favor of “wife beating.”

Anglin has apparently been wooing MRA crossover support for some time. In 2015, he posted a diatribe on the Daily Stormer in which he expressed his “great respect” for women in the white supremacist movement, but also announced that he was turning the website into a “boys’ club,” and would no longer post women’s writing or radio shows. He cited the large number of young men he’d encountered on Men’s Rights message boards who were desperate for a male-focused ideology, and figured he’d have a better chance of attracting them to the site if he ditched any pretense of gender inclusion.

This is the moment when Anglin began to fully adopt the language of the manosphere: Women’s biological imperative is to seek out and attach emotionally to men in power, he writes, until a “better” man comes along. Women are too emotional to make decisions, and are incapable of controlling their own behavior. Anglin argued, “When both individual male and institutionalized male morality are absent, as they usually are in our present society, the woman will tend to revert to a state of amorality.”

In 2017, famously publicity-averse white supremacist and alt right figure Greg Johnson was caught on tape airing his views on women’s reproductive rights and bodily agency. “Get rid of all voluntary birth control,” he told Patrik Hermansson, who spent a year undercover with (and often recording) members of the alt right.

“Voluntary birth control means that people who are far-sighted and responsible restrict their fertility,” Johnson went on, “and people who are impulsive and stupid don’t. So you can’t leave birth control up to the individual.” He decried the trend of women having children later in life, and offered a solution to maintain the viability of the white race.

“Women are postponing childbearing because of education and their careers. Say you give a woman a free year of education for every child she bears and takes care of in the home up to the age of six. Okay, so maybe by the time she’s 30 she’s ready to go off to college or something.”

Johnson’s opinion is fairly prevalent in alt right circles. Richard Spencer told Newsweek he’s not sure women should have the right to vote. Matt Forney wrote, “As men, it is our responsibility to bring girls back to their proper place. To lead them into their natural roles as wives and mothers. We men do not choose or reward girls for their clown college degrees, their meaningless cubicle jobs, or their supposed ‘intelligence.’ We reward them for their willingness to please us and make us happy, and in doing so make themselves happy. No amount of phony education or career ‘success’ will scratch that deep itch in a girl’s soul: the desire to serve a man.”

In June 2017, the white supremacist group Vanguard America promoted their “women’s division,” tweeting, “The woman has her own battlefield. With every child that she brings into the world, she fights her battle for the nation. Strong nations grow from strong families.”

A recent exchange on the altright.com message board, headlined “The Woman Question,” (an echo of the ubiquitous white supremacist “Jewish Question”) asked participants to weigh in on women’s functionality. One poster responded, “Seriously, the only role women play in this movement is donating their husband’s money.”

As another a poster put it, “[Women] should be building their own cells and collaborating to relearn the noble art of motherhood and only as a secondary activity, spread the gospel of femininity over feminism to a female audience.”

Others are slightly less genteel in their assessment of women’s biological value: “I would vigorously bone the living hell out of my English teacher, like holy f***. I don’t care if it’s miscegenation. That babe would be pregnant as f*** year after year, around the clock, acting as a hub of genetic imperialism…” That’s from Sam Woodward, the 20-year-old Atomwaffen Division member who is accused of the brutal 2018 murder of 19-year old Blaze Bernstein, who was likely targeted for being Jewish and gay. Homophobia – which very often overlaps with misogyny – is also rampant within the alt right.

While women’s place in the alt right remains a hot button issue, the terms of the debate are narrow, to put it mildly, and would undoubtedly please any MRA: One side argues that women need to focus on their “natural” duties of childbearing and supporting their husbands, while the other maintains that while women should be mothers and housekeepers first, women may use any additional time to advance the cause of the white race — in appropriately “feminine” ways, in the company of other women.

The latter group — which includes Red Ice broadcaster Lana Lokteff, and presumably her husband, fellow white supremacist Henrik Palmgren — believe that as long as white women are having children, being dutiful housekeepers and making sure their husbands are happy, they should be encouraged to use their “free time” for pro-white activism. “Deserving” white women should feel free to dabble in white supremacy, in other words.

In a 2017 interview with white supremacist and American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor, Lokteff opined, “Women want to be beautiful, they want a lovely home, they want to attract a mate, and they want to be provided for and taken care of. That’s what the alt right can provide, what nationalism can provide.” She continues, “As long as [alt right] men are providing a nice home, women will fall in line.”

Political engagement isn’t the answer for women, Lokteff contends. “Women aren’t that interested in politics. They are easily influenced; they go with the trends. I find I can easily bring them to our side. I just challenge them a little bit.” And feminism is, of course, a huge turn-off. “The left is pushing this beauty ideal of the purple-haired, overweight feminist. No truly attractive women want to be associated with that.”

When Taylor asks Lokteff to define the “ideal” alt right woman and wife, she responds: “She’s well-rounded, reads, is interested fighting back against anti-white politics, keeps a nice home, raises the kids well, teaches them about their tribal ethnic consciousness, has a good marriage. But then she might have time to do a blog post, or a video, or produce something here and there, to fight back against anti-white politics.”

Lokteff is peddling retrograde, demonstrably oppressive gender roles as “empowerment.” And women who embrace the alt right are buying it. It’s not an accident that Lokteff, whose blonde-haired, blue-eyed look embodies the female physical ideal of the alt right, couches her argument against feminism as an appeal of one “attractive” woman to another.

This is another common thread between misogynistic extremist movements: Men who subscribe to this ideology feel ownership of women, or feel they are owed deference and/or sex, and consider conventionally attractive women “assets” or “prizes” to be paraded in photographs on Facebook and Twitter. Their value is even higher because they have chosen to attach themselves to “worthy” men — i.e. fellow white supremacists or incels.

In the alt right world, white women who date or are friends with non-white men are dismissed and derided — or worse. In 2017, Andrew Anglin accused alt right personality Lauren Southern of sleeping with a black man, and told her she should commit suicide. This is an extremely common response to any suggestion that a white woman is “betraying” her race; she’s considered “damaged” and generally useless.

The over-the-top bullying targeting Southern and Tara McCarthy, among other alt right women, did prompt some women in the movement to call out their male counterparts. In 2017, “ethno nationalist” McCarthy chided “low status anonymous trolls trying to put us in our place” after the alt right sphere attacked Southern when she suggested she wasn’t ready to have children at age 22. This kind of defense only emerges when the vitriol is directed at a fellow alt righter. Generally speaking, alt right women seem content to perpetuate the movement’s misogyny — under the guise of protecting “traditional” gender roles.

On April 23, 2018, 25-year-old tech expert Alek Minassian murdered ten people and injured 15 others when he repeatedly drove his van up onto the sidewalks of a Toronto business district. Minassian identified with the “incel” or “involuntary celibate” movement, which holds that men intrinsically deserve to have sex with women, but whose adherents are generally not having sex with women.

Incels – like Minassian — believe women owe them sex, and if they’re not having sex, they blame women — all women. The term “incel” initially had no association with violence against or hatred for women. It was actually coined in 1993 by a young Canadian woman as a label for her own perpetually single status.

It eventually became a short-hand for the kind of violence perpetrated by Minassian and other young men. It was attached retroactively to Marc Lepine, who massacred of 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, leaving behind a suicide note in which he blamed feminists for destroying his life. It was also used to describe Chris Harper Mercer, who warned fellow posters on an incel message board and complained in a “manifesto” about being a virgin before killing nine people at his Oregon community college. He later committed suicide.

In the days before his Toronto massacre, Minassian posted admiring comments about Elliot Rodger, his fellow incel, who murdered six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2014. Rodger left behind a series of YouTube videos and an online manifesto, blaming women for his lack of sexual prospects: “I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman,” he wrote.

The underlying theme on incel message boards (readily found on 4Chan and Reddit) is that the current sexual “marketplace” gives women too much freedom to choose their partners, which leaves some men being cheated out of their sexual birthright. Some incels believe that by denying them sex, women are committing “reverse rape” – which they argue is just as damaging and harmful as actual rape, and should be included in the #MeToo conversation.

Incels, MRAs and white supremacists all share a sense of entitlement — their online comments reflect a belief they are owed jobs, racial/socioeconomic status and/or sex, simply because they exist. Based on their message board exchanges, they don’t appear spend much or any time considering the humanity of the people on the other side of the equation — the better-qualified minority candidate, the more entrepreneurial immigrant, or the woman who’s just not interested.

They seem to feel they’re being left behind in their careers and humiliated on a daily basis, thanks to the relentless efforts of angry, vindictive feminists and other women who have clearly forgotten their place.

These angry men have found one another online: Incel message boards are littered with casual misogyny, with highly trafficked threads on topics along the lines of “Why women are the embodiment of evil” and “All women are sluts.”

Feminism — and its promise of incremental advancements toward female agency and full legal protections — is anathema to incels, MRAs and white supremacists. Incels and MRAs, whose ranks include members of Gavin McInnes’s alt lite Proud Boys, a self-described fraternal group whose members “venerate the housewife,” celebrate “Western chauvinism” and, perhaps most famously, eschew masturbation, target feminism as an easy scapegoat for the theoretical ills they believe have befallen white men. Not getting dates? It’s a lot easier to blame feminism than your own terrible personality.

While incels are focused almost primarily on sex, MRAs’ concerns are broader — they believe men are being railroaded daily by the scourges of feminism: false rape accusations, alimony settlements, demands for equal pay. McInnes neatly encapsulated the paternalism of the MRA philosophy when he bragged that he was helping women understand the “dangers” of feminism.

It’s not unusual to find MRA and incel language on alt right message boards. Here, an anonymous poster berates white women for their selfish choices. (“Chad” is the incel term for a man who is attractive to women):

“Your ‘freedom’ has brought white people and our land nothing but hardship. You whores [are]… sieving our entire race just because you want to sleep with Chad for a night and have one of his criminal bastard genes, and then pretend to have a career, instead of going for a breadwinner and breeding 6 warriors while being a happy hausfrau.” — alt right.com message board

Meanwhile, PUAs (Pick Up Artists) are longtime players in the misogynist manosphere, and their putative leader, RooshV (aka Daryush Valizadeh), has dedicated himself to decrying feminism, belittling women and teaching men how to “date” — or, more accurately, how to be the most effective sexual predator you can be.

Incels and PUAs (pick-up artists) believe that date rape is not only defensible, but is a skill that can and should be taught. The underlying belief — that women should be sexually available to men at all times, for any reason, without argument — is what presumably led RooshV to argue for the legalization of rape.

RooshV has defended violent incel tendencies, posting this the day after Minassian’s attack in Toronto:

The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy

RooshV is a poster child for the crossover potential between MRAs and the alt right. In 2015, he published an admiring review of anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald’s “The Damaging Effects of Jewish Intellectualism and Activism on Western Culture,” which led to an invitation to speak at a conference organized by the white supremacist National Policy Institute. In 2016, RooshV posted a defense of Richard Spencer — and the alt right generally — on his website.

As it happens, RooshV is not white, which means he will never be embraced by the alt right, no matter how enthusiastically he stands for their racist, sexist ideology.

Make no mistake that this is a war against heterosexual men. This is the war of our generation. This is a war against men who are presumed guilty at birth, and whose innocence is mere purgatory until a newly devised outrage sends them to hell. You are the enemy and you will be denounced in the form of “misogynist,” “creep,” and “sexist,” and this denouncement will stay with you and affect your livelihood in ways that modern technology allow. You will be prosecuted by the fattest and ugliest cunts of the land, with no hope of appeal. – RooshV, “The War Against Men.”

One of the most powerful inspirations to violent misogyny across all of these movements – alt right, MRA, incel – is the baseless charge that white men are victims who are falling prey to feminism, changing social norms, progressive thought and politics.

This phobia is older than most of the men who populate the alt right. It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment that this anxiety took hold, but plenty of men in the early 20th century found the suffrage movement to be frankly insulting and possibly dangerous. In the ‘40s, a lot of men felt threatened when they returned from fighting in World War II to find their jobs had been (very ably) taken over by women. The women were of course immediately dismissed from the jobs, of course, and men went on to enjoy another 20 years or so of largely unchallenged entitlement.

Since the 1960s, women’s activism for social change and equality has increased, bringing feminism to the masses. Progress has been slow and sporadic, but it’s still happening far too quickly for misogynists, who worry that every step women take towards equality is an attack on men’s status and power.

In many ways, Donald Trump’s 2016 victory – secured after a recording of the candidate bragging about sexually assaulting women was made public – was a glorious vindication of misogynists’ worldview. In a Radix podcast following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, Richard Spencer said referring to Trump’s behavior as sexual assault was “ridiculous” and “puritanical.” The white supremacist added, “At some part of every woman’s soul, they want to be taken by a strong man.”

“I’m in a state of exuberance that we have a President who rates women on a 1-10 scale in the same way that we do and evaluates women by their appearance and feminine attitude,” RooshV wrote on his website a week after the election. “We may have to institute a new feature called “Would Trump bang?’ to signify the importance of feminine beauty ideals….”

Just as white supremacists, anti-Semites and Islamophobes have been undeniably emboldened by the Trump administration’s rhetoric and policies, it seems clear that misogynist extremists feel validated and empowered by the ascendance of a man who they believe views women through the same reductive lens: as sex objects without agency and humanity, as faithful but lesser helpmeets, or as harpies coming to steal their power.

As revealed in an April 2018 analysis published by the National Academies of Science, [1] Trump’s election was also a reflection of the dread that some white men seem to feel about their place in the world. In the wake of eight years of relatively progressive social policies under America’s first black president and faced with the prospect of the first female president, white men voted overwhelmingly for Trump – someone who has made no secret of his disdain for non-whites and women. At least some of these voters presumably saw Trump as a corrective, a bulwark against the fear that their privileged status – as men, as white people – is at risk.

You can see this same fear reflected in white supremacists’ attitudes towards minority advancements – if a black person is doing well, it must mean a white person is suffering. Bigots of all stripes view justice as a zero-sum game.

We saw echoes of this fear at Unite the Right rally in 2017, where white supremacists took to the streets of Charlottesville to recount their many grievances as white men, and to announce to a horrified nation that “Jews will not replace us.” In the wake of Unite the Right, the alt right trumpeted a new era of “white civil rights,” appealing to white men’s sense of encroaching disenfranchisement. A similar paranoia underpins MRA claims that feminism is a ploy to render men irrelevant.

These (entirely imaginary) threats are ideal recruiting tools for the unholy alliance of incels, MRAs, PUAs and white supremacists. The rhetoric also serves as a combustible prologue to violence – against Jewish, Muslim and black communities, and against women. We’ve witnessed the deadly consequences far too many times.

Citation

[1] Mutz, Diana. “Status Threat, Not Economic Hardship, Explains the 2016 Presidential Vote.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, April 23, 2018.

  • Build understanding among law enforcement leaders and organizations about the nature of misogynist hate: Law enforcement agencies need to understand how misogynist attitudes are used to bolster extremist ideologies and violent behaviors. At times, the precursors to misogynist hate or violence could seem like harmless “locker room” talk. It is not. Law enforcement organizations need to take these incidents seriously and learn how to address both gender-based violence and online incidents, including how to collect and store electronic evidence. Law enforcement officials must be educated about the real dangers misogynist extremist groups pose to public safety, because online activities can have a serious real-world impact. Since local law enforcement are often the first responders to these incidents, it is especially important to have victim-witness coordinators understand the full range of supportive services for victims of gender-based violence and harassment. Policymakers should prioritize an increase in law enforcement capacity to address misogynist incidents, including increased funding and training at the local level.
  • Encourage legal and policy mechanisms to ensure gender equality: Specific laws that promote protection against gender-based violence, and general legislative and educational initiatives to promote gender equality should be encouraged, as part of a larger effort to address societal expressions of misogyny. These should include efforts to ensure hate crime laws include gender-based crimes, modernize stalking laws to effectively combat cyber-related content, efforts to elevate the importance of effective sexual assault legislation and victim services by federal and state legislatures.
  • Include gender-based content in anti-bias education and conversation about civil rights: Historic and continuing bias and discrimination faced by women must be included in public conversations about equality. Education programs to decrease bias and discrimination should make students understand that injustice against one group in society — including hate targeting women — hurts our society as a whole.
  • Bolster community resilience to hate, and fund education and prevention programming: Congress and state legislatures should authorize and appropriate grants for research and services to better understand the drivers of gender-based hate and fund evidence-based programming to counter it. Some opportunities are available for research, but far from enough; there is no comprehensive strategy and program to counter the trends we are seeing online and in our communities. State, local, and community leaders must create opportunities throughout the lifecycle of hate — from awareness to intervention to rehabilitation and victims services — in support of comprehensive, evidence-based, whole-of-society programs that counter all facets of hate and extremism.
  • Create an ongoing dialogue between civil society and the technology sector: In the last several years, civil society and the technology sector have partnered on a range of projects to ensure public sector approaches adapt for the digital era. Governmental efforts to address hate and misogyny have been little more than opportunities to hold joint events, and are far from collaborative partnerships. Policymakers should pursue genuine partnerships with the technology sector to ensure the government can better counter misogyny online, and to help technology companies find solutions to emerging challenges.
  • Ensure tech platforms have inclusive comprehensive Terms of Service — and that they are broadly, appropriately enforced: Tech companies must continue to improve their terms of service, especially in relation to misogyny. This commitment should include creating strong and robust prohibitions on such content that reflects its role in broader extremist movements. Platforms should fine tune their approaches to dealing with such extremism on their platforms, and take explicit stances against misogynist behavior as a form of targeted cyberhate. In addition to having clear and transparent terms of services, platforms must vigorously enforce these guidelines for the benefit of their users.
  • Increase efforts to filter out offensive content: Google’s “safe search” function filters out offensive content for children and other audiences. While Twitter’s offensive content filter is a start, it typically applies to violent imagery, and should be expanded to recognize misogynist extremist propaganda.
  • Create specifically-tailored solutions to combat misogyny, depending on the nature of the platform and the harassment: Social media companies should take a close look at the misogynist content on their platform and generate solutions, based on how victims are being targeted. Terms of service should be simple to understand and enforced, so users understand there is no tolerance for this type of abuse. However, this should be done in a way that complements other criminal justice system services, education, and outreach for victims
  • Consider the ramifications of account removal on the victims of harassment: Activists and journalists often lament that reporting or retweeting harassment for awareness has resulted in them being penalized or suspended from platforms. Companies need to be aware of this common complaint, which unduly places more burdens on victims of harassment. Additionally, removing perpetrators may not get at the root of the problem of accountability for misogynist content. If removals do not preserve metadata and account information for accountability-related purposes, companies should consider permanently locking these types of accounts, rather than deleting them. Information like timestamps and retweets are useful tools for researchers and law enforcement, and suspending abusing accounts can interfere with that kind of work.