Feminists have been writing about a “backlash” against feminism for years. Even at the height of their legislative and cultural triumph in the 1990s, they claimed there was a serious backlash against feminism.
Of course, there was nothing of the sort. Men (including so-called conservatives) went on to pass some of the most draconian anti-male legislation on earth (VAWA), male enrollment in college continued to drop, the stifling PC atmosphere in the media and on campus was at its most oppressive and children were routinely seized from fathers, as usual.
Men’s and fathers’ rights groups at the time were still so cowed and intimidated that they claimed to support feminism at every turn. They sought compromise with feminists wherever possible. For all their efforts to cooperate, feminists still called them “the abuser lobby,” “misogynists” and other related slurs. Feminists had won the culture war hands-down. My own city council at the time was 33% open lesbian (all feminists); an overrepresentation of over 6,000%. Feminists had their hands firmly on the levers of power, and they were not shy about using that power to promote the female supremacist agenda.
Although it took a while, the inevitable outrage over their excesses has started to emerge. When you beat people down for long enough, eventually they start to fight back, although not always effectively at first.
The manosphere, which really emerged in the late 2000s, was a direct response to feminists going overboard. Roissy, The Spearhead, A Voice for Men, Dalrock, and a number of other sites emerged in opposition to feminism. For some of us it was personal, for others an altruistic effort, but for most of us I’d assume a bit of both.
It seems our efforts are being noticed, and not only by aggrieved, divorced men or ultrasensitive feminists and leftists.
Anger at feminists exploded in a recent critique of video games that a feminist was preparing. Her project, one of the typical, inconsequential critiques of something boys do in their spare time, was devoted to combating gender stereotypes in video games (truly an extremely important project). The feminist, Anita Sarkeesian, decided to fund her project with kickstarter. Somehow, some gamers caught wind of the project, and launched a concerted online attack on the feminist, vandalizing her Wikipedia page and YouTube site and posting rude pictures, among other things. I suspect there was some pent up anger from John Scalzi’s recent piece that told gamers they all have white male privilege.
The immediate effect of the attacks was to convince a lot of feminists to hand Sarkeesian a lot of money (over $130,000) through kickstarter, so the attacks didn’t work exactly as planned. But they did demonstrate that there’s a lot of anger out there. As for Sarkeesian’s success, we should be happy about it, because I can’t think of a more worthless way to spend over a hundred thousand dollars than in finger-wagging over video games. For one thing, it’s sure to piss even more guys off, and the game industry is very competitive, so her documentary (now expanded to 12 parts!) will likely have zero effect on production and consumption of this form of entertainment. The feminists are simply pissing all the money away, and that’s fine, because this time they’re paying for it themselves.
Of course, juvenile online attacks are a waste of our time as well. There’s a lot more to be gained from keeping your cool and telling it straight. Giving women like Sarkeesian the opportunity to portray themselves as victims is playing right into their hands. If there’s anything men ought to know, it is that the “damsel in distress” is a trope that serves women extremely well. Nothing gives women more power than the ability to trigger protective instincts.
That said, there is definitely a different tone online. White knighting has become far less common than it was a few years ago. Men are standing up for themselves. There’s a growing awareness that feminism has gone too far, and comments on feminist articles have a tendency to skew toward men’s rights. This is a real backlash, and it’s undeniable at this point. So much so that some feminists appear be afflicted by flagging morale.
Although the tone of some of the attacks on feminism is unfortunate, it will improve as those who oppose the ideology mature and think things over. People tend to form their convictions relatively early in life, and don’t tend to change their minds so much as they learn to put things in context and achieve their goals more effectively (e.g. neocons adapted their practice more than their core ideology; feminists stopped burning bras and shooting male artists and took over college departments, etc.).
Perhaps most encouraging is that anecdotal evidence suggests that sons of feminists tend to hate the ideology with a passion. I’m pretty sure that anti-feminism is a lot more widespread amongst youths and young men than most older people realize, especially as they are reaching out and finding explanations for the frustration they feel in a world that is hostile to masculinity. I’m happy to say that I’ve helped some of these boys along, and I know I’m not the only one.
Feminists have long expected a backlash from some mysterious cabal. They have breathlessly spoken of it as a wonderful opportunity to finally finish off the hated patriarchy. Imagine their horror as they realize that this backlash they have been preparing for all these years is coming from their sons.