The Manosphere

I’ve ignored the “Manosphere” here, but with a steady trickle of comments that sound like they come from the manosphere, I think it’s time to address it.

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First let me try to define the manosphere for those who haven’t run across it. The manosphere is a subset of the blogosphere where men discuss how feminism has ruined Western society. There are various streams of the manosphere, but all of them agree feminism is the cause of all sorts of problems in our society.

  • One slice of the manosphere is the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM’s). They’re clearly, openly, and even proudly misogynist. These men would say they are anti-feminist, but they seem more anti-women, or, at least, anti-Western-women.
  • Then you have the “Men’s Rights Activists” (MRA’s) who are grossly misogynistic. This group says some of the ugliest and most offensive stuff and are the kind of men who say there is no such thing as rape.
  • Another segment is the “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW’s) who seem to be against women, marriage, and Western culture. Some only date non-western women, some don’t date. These are the atheists and anarchists of the manosphere.
  • Another part of the manosphere, the pick-up artists (PUA’s), are all about bedding as many women as possible, and they discuss ways to accomplish this. These men are a subgroup of MRA’s or MGTOW’s
  • Finally, there’s the Christian segment, the group most likely to show up here. They would call themselves traditionalists or the traditional marriage camp. They want to return to what they think life was like in the past. This group is often violently angry at “feminised churches” and “castrated pastors” who they think have sold out to the feminist regime. They tell you what the Bible really says about marriage and women isn’t being preached in churches. They trumpet the manosphere as a place where they can discuss a truth too radical to be discussed in church. This group says churches teach things that cause divorces and refuse to get involved when women with no right to divorce do just that.

I’ve long said feminism was a wrong response to a real problem. I’m old enough to have seen first hand the horrible and completely unbiblical ways women were treated in the past. There was a problem, and most men and most churches (which were almost always ruled by men) chose to ignore, deny, or justify the problems. The situation was horrible, and it was only a matter of time before something happened. What happened did offer help for many, but it also created a good many new problems.

In the same way, the manosphere seems to me to be a wrong response to the real problems caused by feminism. The difference is while feminists took action, the manosphere seems to be mostly about whining to the choir. (Please note it’s no accident this post follows yesterday’s Choose to be Empowered post.

I have several problems with the “traditionalist” part of the manosphere.

  1. I don’t think they have a good understanding of the past. They see an idealised version of the past free from all the problems and failures that were an integral part of that life. Feminism was possible because so many women felt neglected or abused by the male-centric society in which they lived. This was not a few rabble-rousing college women, the problems were many, they ran deep, and most women were unhappy with some aspect of their lives. The situation was like that of any repressed group, and the “revolution” was inevitable.
  2. I don’t think they have biblically valid concepts of marriage or headship. I do think headship in marriage is God ordained, but because I don’t hold to the same radical version I’ve been accused of throwing headship under the bus. Headship is not about being a do-as-I-say-no-mater-what ruler; it’s about being a servant leader. It’s more about love than getting your way, and more about sacrifice than control.
  3. I don’t think what women want, need, or respond to is a “firm but fair” man who expects to be asked “how high” when he says “jump”. Neither do I think saying “you will have sex with me tonight, now get naked and in bed” is the solution to sexual problems. God didn’t design women to want to be bossed around;, He made them co-heirs who are supposed to be a vital and active part of the expansion of His Kingdom on earth. Our failure to understand and live this truth it is part of why the church has become so irrelevant in our world.

All that said, why am I crazy enough to strap a lighting rod on my back and go out into this storm? First because I want those of you who haven’t run across the manosphere to be warned about it. Some of them sound rational on the surface, so beware. Secondly, since we keep having men who ascribe to this making comments I figured I should address it.

The comments might get heated on this, depending who shows up. If this post gets circulated in the manosphere it could get pretty wild. I reserve the right to ignore things when I feel I’ve already addressed them or suspect my words won’t be heard.

And just for fun:

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97 Comments on “The Manosphere

  1. LynnProulx My concern here is that women ACTUALLY HAVE the option of living in safety. Options for safety are GOOD.

    I would argue your perspectives about how safe women have been in the past and because of that I am grateful that women have a voice, that we have options for safety and that the laws protect us to some degree.

    And, honestly, this talk about restricting women for our own good feels a bit creepy. Having fewer options may make a person “happier,” but who gets to choose which “few options” we have? Surely we are adult enough to think, pray, discuss, etc..

  2. I’d only recently heard the term “manosphere”, and to be honest, it sounded like something from one of Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck jokes.
    I’ve said for a while now that a very real difference seems to exist between what I’d call “tempered” or traditional feminism, and the “radical” variety that produces ideas like completely legalized abortion, government-sanctioned lesbian “marriages”, public school classes being geared more toward the typical “obedient and quiet” female stereotype, etc. I don’t hate women, but I do find myself embarrassed and sometimes scared by the more “forward” or “aggressive” ones. I was raised around many warped concepts like “hellfire preaching” and such, but one thing that made some level of sense was “a woman should never get in a man’s face”. Now, I’m not talking about letting abuse occur or anything foolish like that, but some women these days will try their hardest to “stare down” any man they come across, like we’re somehow inferior to them. It was wrong for the men of the past to treat women that way then, and its just as wrong for the reverse to happen now.

    I once heard it explained this way: “Women were not made to stand behind a man, but they also weren’t made to be in front of him, either. God covers the front and the back; women belong at a man’s side, equally deserving of respect and love.” I agree completely.

  3. @SexWithinMarriage.com @TheGenerousHusband  Hey Gent’s I feel like I need to chime in on this one. I started reading Athol’s blog about a year and a half ago. And honestly it saved my marriage from a continuing down a very bad road. 
    You see I grew up very much the ‘nice guy’, which led me growing up into an Average Frustrated Chump. Even after I got saved in 2006 and started to really look into what God wanted for marriage, it still didn’t make any sense to me. “Love you wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way…” 

    I was being the ‘good guy’ and I was being ‘nice’. From all appearances I was a great husband. But I was in a sexual desert…and I couldn’t understand why. I prayed to God for help, I prayed that he would grow and mature me into a Godly husband.

    He led me to MMSL. Really it was the forums and the almost 2000 members there who pour into one another with frank honesty that I realy wish we had in our churches today. I learned a lot about attraction and marriage through interacting wiht these people. And I learned that I had to take responsibility for my own marriage, that God gave me a wife as a great gift; but that it is my job as husband to steward that gift well. There is a saying in MMSL that “if you’re MAPping (following the MMSL book plan) for sex then you’re doing it wrong and you won’t get anywhere with it.” 

    And honestly I have realized that one of the biggest problems in teaching about sex and marriage and mature biblical husbandry is that you can teach the same thing to two different people and have, potentially, a positive and a negative result. 

    I believe that Christ is sufficient. I believe that the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is sufficient. I believe that once you accept and desire to ‘Love you wife as Christ loved the church…you are forced to ask the question “How do I do that practically? What attitudes do I need to shed or transform?” 
    And I find that Athol is generally correct in his thesis that men are either to much bad Alpha (domineering/brutish/a-hole) or to much bad Beta (subservient/weak/sniveling/fearful). And that they need a balance of Good Alpha (Leading well/Succeeding at work/dressing attractively/pursuing physical fitness) and Good Beta (Providing a House/Conversation/Love/Support) to make a successful marriage.

    But here is where my frustration with the church and marriage blogs comes in; teaching is usually directed at the guy who is too much bad Alpha; the guy who tends toward being domineering and controlling. And maybe it’s a matter of numbers, maybe there are more of them out there than guys like me…who grew up being the nice guy. (And yeah, Paul…I know you made a crack about being a ‘Beta Dupe’, but I’m guessing by seeing how driven and passionate you are about God, your Wife and your Marriage…and that you write many blogs. I’m guessing that this is not the case.)

    I think that most churches to a fair to poor job in teaching men what it looks like practically, and I mean in an everyday rubber meets the road kind of way what it looks like to love your wife bionically. I fear that the ‘nice guys’ in the congregation are hearing that they need to be even nicer to their wives…instead of being told that in order to shoulder the weight of marriage they need to grow a spine and stop being a doormat.

    I know that this is a very difficult and serious conversation we are all involved with, but I would urge you and your fellow bloggers to consider both types of men as you dispense advice. Athol and the MMSL form do just that, they approach each situation from both sides, and the results can be tremendous.

  4. SexWithinMarriage.com  I think I need to start reading your blog, it’s one of the few Christian Marriage Blogs I’ve yet to follow…

  5. ForgivenWife SexWithinMarriage.com  This is what I was talking about in my earlier post, we use words like “Strong Biblical Leader”, and we address where the desire to do that comes from (God’s call vs. Feminism). But who is teaching the men in the church what this looks like in daily life? Sorry, this fit too perfectly with what I just posted above and wanted to add my 2cents. Thanks!

  6. mrdaver911  I get the whole “nice guy” thing, and I have seen plenty of proof women do not want a man who is a wimp. 
    However, I think we are working with a false dichotomy. A mix of alpha and beta is no doubt better than all of either, but is it totally missing a third option? I find it difficult to describe Jesus as alpha or beta, or really a mix of the two. Sure, you can find things that look like one or the other, but I think He was something else completely – and we are to follow His example.
    It is kind of like our two political parties in the USofA – each embraces some part of what Jesus taught, while both ignore other parts. 
    Being like Jesus does not mean picking some from column A and some from column B. Some of what is in A is right, as is some of what is in B, but some of what we should be is missing from both A and B, so we will never get to what we should be by picking between the two.

  7. TheGenerousHusband mrdaver911  I was going to answer similar to Paul: Follow Biblical principles and the same thing occurs.

    Here’s the issue, while a lot of things Athol Kay teaches are Biblical (Objective Independence = Being content in all things, Good Alpha = Being a Leader, Being Confident in who you are, Beta = Being Sacrificial, Loving your wife, etc., these aren’t new concepts), there are a lot of things he teaches that go against scripture (like intentionally seeking the attention of other women (IOIs), divorce if you aren’t happy, the whole “war” between the genders).

    I think you can attain all the things he promises by using the Bible as your guide, without sacrificing what his system requires you to.

    I think the problem is that Christians are too lazy to read their Bible and actually study it, so we look for shortcuts in the world to find our answers, being content to find something that is 50% of the truth and 50% damaging, just so we don’t have to spend time with God.

  8. SexWithinMarriage.com TheGenerousHusband mrdaver911  

    I think you are totally right; and to be honest as I read Athol’s books and blogs I had some hard praying to do and maybe didn’t progress as quickly as some people who were ‘All in’ with the MMSL program. I ran into many things that were for me simply never going to be an option (divorce). And I did what many there would consider the ultimate evil; I told my wife that I didn’t like the passive guy I had become and that I needed to change to love her well. I talked to her about things I read and things I started changing about myself. I also prayed about it, A LOT. 

    See, I got saved at 36; I had 36 years of The World telling me what it meant to ‘love’, the same World that questions how can God be a ‘loving’ God. I had a lot to relearn. So I found MMSL and started reading the forum posts. I learned a lot, and had to bypass a lot. But I started dieting, losing weight, working out, did better at work, got a raise, bought a house and started addressing my wife’s medical problems. 

    And one thing I do appreciate the central thesis of MMSL is to “become the best version of you”. I think this is an earthly parallel to 2Cor3:18, except in the MMSL version the ‘work’ is on you, not the Spirit of God.

    Galatians 5 talks about the fruit of the Spirit, One fruit, singular. So when I want to talk about how I wasn’t very good at ‘self control’ that also means I wasn’t having ‘joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, faithfulness or gentleness’. They are inextricably linked, because they are one fruit. And one of the big takeaways for me from this blog/forum was how to learn self control practically, not being told ‘control yourself’ but really how to learn and grow into it.

    Honestly, I wish that there was a culture within the church that was a bit more like MMSL. Where people poured into one another, where you could ask a brother or sister how they would handle a given situation. And where their answer would always be pointing back to God the father,  Christ and him crucified, and the Holy Spirit and his work in our lives and hearts fellowshiping with us daily.

    In the end, it has been good for me. But I have had to separate the wheat from the chaff as I went along. I like where I am headed, and that my wife and I have a better marriage by the grace of God alone.

  9. mrdaver911 After reading the first book and perusing the boards, I would argue that while they say their central thesis is “become the best version of you”, it seemed that the real central thesis was “get more sex at any cost”.  A lot of the things they suggest/prescribe, I would argue, severely impinges on your ethics and values, and by doing so, devaluing yourself: not quite “becoming the best version of you”.

  10. mrdaver911 SexWithinMarriage.com TheGenerousHusband  I hear you on the church doing something similar. I see it in places, but we have a long way to go. (The Marriage Bed Boards – http://bit.ly/143dDBi does this fairly well at times.)

    Trying to extract the good from something of the world is sometimes a good idea. It is also risky if we do not have a good solid walk with the Lord. It sounds like you have done well with that – hopefully you can share what you have learned with others.

  11. SexWithinMarriage.com mrdaver911  I have certainly seen things there which are more about manipulation than love. Is that so central there is nothing left without it?

  12. Nice discussion over here. It really compelled me to leave a comment here.

  13. Nice discussion over here. It really compelled me to leave a comment here.

  14. Nowhere in the New Testament are men commanded to rule, govern, or lead their wives.

  15. AARoberts Oh, I think Titus 2:5 might contend with that, implicitly if not explicitly. 1 Peter 3:7 as well.

    I don’t understand these “New Testament Christians” who don’t believe the Old Testament is inspired…as if the New Testament would be worth anything without the Old Testament…

  16. SexWithinMarriage.com AARoberts I do not see how either of those scriptures says what AARoberts said the NT does not say.

    As to your other comment, Romans 7:1-4 tells us the Law is like a dead husband, and we are no longer bound by it. Of course it is part of our history, but we have a new husband now, and we submit to Jesus, not the Law.

  17. TheGenerousHusband Well, why be subject to your husband if he’s not to rule, govern or lead?

    Sorry, the 1 Peter 3:7 I think still applies, but I meant Eph 5:23 “Husband is the head of the wife”.  And I know someone will say “but Eph 5:21 says be subject ot one another”, but you can’t use that.  Christ wasn’t subject to the church.  These have to be different contexts.

    As for your killing of the law, I disagree on how you interpret that.  While it is true that when we surrender to Christ, we are no longer judged by the law, the law still has a very valid place in our lives. 

    1 John 3:4 says “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness and sin is lawlessness.”  Thus, you are sinning if you do away with the law, because you are not following it.

    In fact, if you continue reading Romans 7, it goes on to say (in verse 7) “I would not have come to know sin except through the law.”  The law continues to tell us when we are sinning, so that we might submit more fully to Jesus.  The purpose is not to judge us anymore, the purpose is now to convict us.  This is evident due to Romans 3:20 which tells us “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin”.  

    After all, we are not saved through adhering to the law, but through Jesus (I don’t think I need to quote scripture on this one, we all agree to that).  However, Jesus clearly states “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).  So, we show our love by keeping the law.  

    Revelation also points to this in chapter 14:12 speaking of those who would endure and not fall to the beasts deceptions: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”  

    Jesus was pretty clear on how important the law was:  “Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 20:19) this is right after the verse talking about how the Law will not be done away with until Heaven and Earth disappear.

    And while Christians love to say that the only two commands are “Love one another and Love God”, Jesus clearly states that these are merely a summation of the full law.  (Matthew 22:40)  The rest is to teach how HOW to love.  He spent his whole ministry trying to reiterate the law, to show us how to observe it.  Instead, we mistakenly think he threw it out the window…  Even after Paul reiterates the same so many times “What counts is keeping the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19).    

    It’s no wonder that 1 John 2:4 is so strong “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

    That’s how I see it anyways.  I understand it’s not a popular view.  It’s much easier to modify Christianity to fit a post-modern view of no absolutes, no accountability, and no rules. (Rev 3:16)

    I’m sorry if this seems harsh and judgmental.  It’s not my intent.  In fact, I’ve attempted to use the Bible as much as I can.  God is judgmental…it’s His right….and sometimes that can appear harsh…but I believe that it’s given in love…

    My views may sound legalistic…but they aren’t.  I believe we are saved by grace, through Christ’s death…and that we show our appreciation through works.

  18. SexWithinMarriage.com

    I’m astonished that you think the Gospel and the writings of the apostles could be worthless under any circumstances. I certainly do believe in the inspiration of the Old Testament, but I don’t import Hegelian ideas of the absolute into that faith.
    Hebrews 7:18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.  NASB
    Nowhere in the Old Testament, strictly speaking, are men commanded to rule their wives, either. However, I didn’t really want to get into that because Old Testament interpretation is fraught. The Law certainly did make many provisions for the day-to-day life of God’s people, but Jesus himself did not believe that all of these represented an absolute and timeless morality.

    Matthew 19:8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. NASB

    The divorce provisions he speaks of are part of the Law. He bettered women’s condition by saying that the Law, which allowed men to divorce their wives for any reason at all, was simply a temporary restraint on men’s hardness of heart. Among Christians, it’s considered just as wrong for a man to abandon his wife as for a wife to be unfaithful to her husband. (Not so in the Law.)
    Given this precedent it’s not hard for me to imagine that many other provisions of the Law were also given not as an expression of timeless, absolute morality, but rather as a “thus far and no farther” to man’s sinfulness.
    If nothing else, I wish that OT enthusiasts would stop beating their children as per Proverbs. Christ has shown us a better way. Coercion and force have nothing at all to say to Love.

  19. AARoberts I don’t recall ever saying or thinking that the Gospel and the writings of the apostles could be worthless under any circumstance.  I’m not sure what you are referring to, so I’ll ignore that for now.

    As for Hebrews 7:18, in context, this seems to be talking about the system of the Levites that did not work.  Not dismissing the entire body of the old testament.

    As for your argument about men being able to commit adultery in the law…You should reread Leviticus.  Check out 20:10.  Punishment was death.  It is later that the sentence is commuted to divorce for the wife…but divorce allowed for remarriage to the same husband again.  It seems it was intended more as a separation than as we see divorce today.  Seems like the other party still got death though…  So much for the husbands getting off easy.

    And as for Proverbs telling people to beat their children.  That, I believe, is a gross misinterpretation.  I’m guessing you are referencing Proverbs 13:24.  The word shebet can be used to describe a physical tool, but it can also be used to describe authority.  Nowhere in the Bible does it mention striking a child.  However, the Bible constantly advises exerting your authority over them to raise them in a proper way.

    This is one “OT enthusiast” who does not spank, beat or otherwise use violence against my 4 (soon to be 5) children.  

    I will reiterate.  I believe Christ is in sync with the Old Testament.  His better way, was the way all along.  Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  How could He create a law, and then change it later.  That would not be in keeping with his character.

  20. SexWithinMarriage.com TheGenerousHusband The issue here is the meaning of words. AARoberts said “Nowhere in the New Testament are men commanded to rule, govern, or lead their wives.”
    I agree on rule and govern. On lead I would disagree, but it depends on how we define the word. 

    On the other issue, I fear we are never going to get close enough to even agree. I would however suggest your Bible says something rather different in Mt 20:19 than mine does. Mine does, however say that in 5:19. It then goes on to say “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” which sort of suggests there is more to what Jesus is saying. Either that, or we are all going to hell. If nothing can be relaxed, then we are all doomed, but no one can keep the law, and even those who claim the do fall short in many areas.

  21. TheGenerousHusband Thank you for the Matthew correction.  A typo.

    As for the next verse (20), continuing on, you see the pattern, he is explaining just how deep these commands run, not just to patterns of behaviors, but to governing your heart.  And He’s right, our righteousness must surpass the Pharisees.  But our righteousness is ultimately through faith and acceptance of grace, understanding we can never fully follow the law, and so we need Jesus.  But, once we have received Jesus and his forgiveness…how can we then turn around and say “well, I guess I don’t need to follow God’s guidance anymore”.

    I see it as similar to our relationships with our children.  We have rules in our house.  Yes, they will break them from time to time, because they are children.  They will never be perfect.  And we forgive them of it, and continue to love them.  But the child never thinks (and neither does the parent) that “Oh…well, they forgive me….I guess their rules are useless and flawed…There must be a new system, I guess I can go color on the walls now, after all, I’ll be forgiven.”  And this is what Romans 6 reiterates.  That we cannot continue in sin, even after we have been freed from the law.  

    It is not that the rules have been relaxed…its that we have been pardoned from our transgression of it….therefor go and sin no more. (John 8:11)

  22. SexWithinMarriage.com TheGenerousHusband I understand your perspective, I simply do not agree it is what Jesus, Paul, or any of the rest said. I do not see us agreeing on this, so I will let it go.

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