It’s difficult to deny that there’s a strong conservative leaning to the manosphere. This ranges from anti-state, laissez-faire, libertarian types on the one hand, to a much uglier streak of ahistorical, quasi-scientific white-nationalist sentiment on the other. For our purposes today, we’ll concern ourselves with the former category—and its immediate ideological neighbors. Whatever the case, I can’t count the number of times I’ve read “liberal,” “left,” or “progressive” as a pejorative in a manosphere article, tweet, or forum post.
The rightward lean is thoroughly unsurprising, since much of society’s ills have successfully been pinned on the specter of the so-called liberal (monolithic) left. The capital-L “Left,” the myth goes, is responsible for feminism, for an activist state that unfairly levels the playing field between men and women by force, and who enables and apologizes for a panoply of negative behaviors from women (and indeed men), from obesity to single motherhood to sexual promiscuity. The left shelters the characters we all hold in contempt: weak, white-knighting manginas and bitchy, short-haired feminists.
Truth be told, this isn’t entirely inaccurate. Many of the supporters of those very things describe themselves as liberals or progressives. Historically speaking, feminism originated—and was advanced—by members of the political left. Today’s self-branded progressives and liberals support candidates of the ostensibly liberal faction, the Democratic Party. Despite all that, problems arise when you start to unpack that over-simplified characterization.
There are entire segments of the left that don’t support any of those movements or fit those descriptions. The left is a diverse lot—one that’s become as ideologically fragmented as the right has in recent decades. Subscribing to a feminist, permissive, or castrated brand of politics isn’t an admission requirement to the left any more than subscribing to Evangelical Christianity is one to the right. One problem is that the distinctions between socially left-leaning, fiscally left-leaning, and other three-dimensional configurations have been blurred and flattened into a dismissive cocktail of talking points.
What’s more, many of the people conventionally lumped into the left aren’t very “left” at all. Take Barack Obama—the favorite scape goat of the conservative right. His politics, like those of the Democratic Party writ-large, are anywhere from center to center-right, by almost any historical or global measure. The notions of “right” and “left” have, quite simply, steadily drifted right in the United States over the past decades. Dwight Eisenhower, the famous example goes, couldn’t even get nominated in the Democratic Party today, never mind his own party.
Yet, the average man (and member of manosphere) has, would, and will benefit from wide array of the progressive politics of an activist state. I, for one, like having my seat belts, meat, and drinking water regulated by more than the “invisible hand of the market.” Regulation, of banks and oil companies, for instance—which were steadily relaxed throughout the conservative ascendancy starting in the 1980s—would have prevented, or at least mitigated, a lot of the economic woes that have set America irretrievably back in recent years. The cynical tactic of dismantling federal apparatuses (by de-funding them), allowing them to fail, then pointing the finger at those failures to show how “government is the problem, not the solution,” has successfully convinced a lot of people of the ineptitude of the state. This ignores the idea that the state is only as good as whoever is currently running it.
I don’t like the idea that General Electric pays no income tax and that when I call my credit card a guy in India picks up. I find it increasingly difficult to buy things not made in China. These are, quite plainly, the products of libertarian- and conservative-minded policies in recent decades. Some of these, as we all know, were passed by members of the Democratic Party—like Bill Clinton—who few in the intellectual left would regard as true progressives.
Whether you agree with my politics, or I yours, is immaterial. But, to the degree that, as members of the manosphere, we’re all participating in a form of “politics,” we do need to agree on one thing: a shift away from a wholesale dismissal of the left. If Red Pill Philosophy is the latest version of manospheric thought, and that branch is to mature into a legitimate and intelligent movement—carrying the mantle of a forceful and articulate response to feminism into mainstream credibility—it will only do so by virtue of operating a big tent. Otherwise, we’ll be easily and quickly dismissed ourselves, as little more than another tin-foil-hat, reactionary movement from the extreme right. We’re doomed to a collapse under the weight of our own intellectual incoherence, exclusiveness, or oversimplified talking points. Earlier ideologies from the manosphere already carry the burden of being branded as inactive complainers or deluded bigots, by none other than men predisposed to sympathize with their general world-view.
The left, in other words, isn’t an enemy of the manosphere. Segments of it are, just like segments of the right are. Like attractive girls who push back against fat acceptance, refuse to wear pajamas in public, scorn effeminate men, and take pride in their own femininity, members of the manospheric left are invaluable allies in a war of complicated allegiances. What’s more, the left offers us a set of intellectual tools to build out our beliefs—on matters such as gender and masculinity—into a coherent ideology. Just like the libertarian impulse offers a powerful set of ideas—self-determination, accountability, and suspicion of institutional might—the left offers us protection from the worst abuses of capital, the perils of an impoverished rabble with nothing to lose, and threats to our fair shot in the marketplace. It’s time to drop the dubious catch-all that liberals-are-to-blame.
The left has long—and to a certain degree fairly—been stereotyped for the worst of its members: concave-chested, bearded, skinny-jeans wearing, bike-riding, vegan-food eating weaksters and their skrillex-cut, tatted-up, female-bodied girlfriends. But the left is much more than that. It’s filled with tough, old-school, manly cats with the balls to stand up to corporate abuse, foreign threats, and, nowadays, the corrosive delusions of feminism.
We still exist. And there are more of us than you realize.
Read More: Is Feminism Its Own Worst Enemy?