Reporting for duty

Poster for The Three Stooges in Woman Haters

TRIGGER WARNING: Many of the links below lead to articles commenting on and quoting some pretty extreme misogyny.

So hey, Feministes. Jill has generously invited me to guest blog here, and I thought I’d introduce myself.

I’m a longtime journalist, writing about everything from gender and sexuality to money. (It’s the latter kind of writing that actually pays the bills.) You can see an assortment of my articles and book reviews here.

For the past seven months or so I’ve been writing about misogyny on my blog Man Boobz. It’s been a highly educational experience, to say the least. I started the blog initially intending it to offer a critique of the Men’s Rights movement, but the more I delved into the MR movement the more misogyny I found, and the more I became convinced that for a considerable number of Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) it was misogyny, not a deep concern for men’s issues, that drove their online activism. (I suppose I should put “activism” in quotes here; as I have pointed out before, MRAs are some of the least activist activists I’ve ever run across, and mostly spend their time kvetching about feminism and/or women in general online.)

Now I focus mostly on tracking down and critiquing – or, in many cases, simply mocking — misogyny online, much of it found on MRA and related sites. I devote a lot of time to one sort-of bastard child of the MR movement that refers to itself by the ungraceful acronym MGTOW, which stands for Men Going Their Own Way. What this little formulation means for individual MGTOWers varies – not all of them are literally male separatists who try to avoid women altogether – but for most of them, it seems to involve posting a shit-ton of misogynistic crap on the Internet.

Some of what I write about is truly vile and disturbing, and tough to read, but much of it is so over-the-top that it’s impossible to do anything but point and laugh at its absurdities. Given that the people I’m writing about tend to be mostly inconsequential idiots, I try to keep the tone as light as possible, given the subject matter. But a word of warning: much of what I write about – and quote from extensively – on my blog is fairly vile, and my posts should probably come with an assortment of trigger warnings. Also, the comments section of my blog is pretty much overrun with angry and often misogynistic guys, and many of their comments are pretty obnoxious. It’s a pretty lively place, but not a “safe space.”

So there’s my somewhat long-winded intro. This week I will be posting reworked versions of some posts on my site that I think will be especially interesting to the Feministe crowd, as well as some new pieces. We’ll be discussing everything from the geeky misogyny of Dilbert creator Scott Adams to the notion, strongly held by some MRAs and MGTOWers, that sexbots will destroy feminism and put women “in their place.”

One post that might be useful for newcomers to my blog is this one, explaining some of the weird terminology that crops up.

And here is a general overview of misogyny in the Men’s Rights movement that I wrote for the Good Men Project Magazine.

33 comments for “Reporting for duty

  1. March 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm


  2. March 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Hello David. *waves* :D

  3. junk
    March 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    OMG, David Futrelle, I love you. You make Chicago proud.

  4. Bushfire
    March 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    David, I don’t know how you can stand reading that stuff! You must have nerves of steel.

  5. JetGirl
    March 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I don’t know how you do it. The hatred is overwhelming. And depressing. And so many of these guys are anonymous. It makes me paranoid about dudes I work with, see in stores, serve on juries with, do business with. Is that guy on the motorbike Chris in Oregon? Is my dry cleaner a MGTOW who is telling himself all I am is a smelly orifice?
    These horrible individuals make me want to live on a nice desert island.

  6. David Futrelle
    March 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks for the welcome, everyone!

    The hatred on these sites is pretty overwhelming, but I have to think that these guys are only a tiny minority outside of their own self-contained little world online. There’s certainly a lot of casual misogyny out there, but this sort of extreme, angry, ideological misogyny I think is relatively rare. On reddit, for example, where casual misogyny is rather common, most of the guys on the site seem to regard the men’s rights subreddit as a joke.

  7. karak
    March 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you for going through these websites so I don’t have too. Much love.

  8. March 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Been reading your blog ‘n lynx. Wow, what an education. Also , ewww.

  9. Bushfire
    March 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    but this sort of extreme, angry, ideological misogyny I think is relatively rare

    What optimism!

  10. Kali
    March 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    David! I love man-boobz. I only lurk because some of your frequent commenters (Cold, Eoghan, etc) are weird and seem to be very stubborn in their views. I am not enough of an intellectual masochist to go head to head with their fallacy-ridden arguments. I think you do an excellent job of combining humor with logical rebuttals.

    I am happy that you posted on Feministe. :)

  11. David Futrelle
    March 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I hope I’m not being too optimistic. There are certainly a lot of misogynist assholes out there in the world, but I haven’t run across many who as truly *dedicated* to their misogyny as the guys I write about.

  12. March 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Looking forward to you taking on the sex-bot issue. I can’t believe some of the things I’ve heard said about it on MRA blogs. (For the record, this feminist is all for them if it keeps misogynists away from actual women.)

  13. March 24, 2011 at 12:56 am

    “that sexbots will destroy feminism and put women ‘in their place.'”

    ZOMG!!! Just like separatists all believed the sex strike would put men in their place!

    Where do people get this anyway? I mean, yeah, it’s all fueled by some kind of trauma and/or a conviction that the opposite sex is icky or offensive. (For instance I get the impression at least as many separatist men are gay as separatist women were lesbians.) So that part isn’t the mystery. The mystery is that anyone thinks that the opposite sex is so dependent on heterosexuality that they’ll just collapse and capitulate to all demands if their “needs” aren’t met (in the sex-strike scenario) or aren’t needed (in the MGTOW scenario.)

    Real people, as opposed to straw men and straw women or, conversely, imagined gender-monsters under the bed, are more resilient than that, more flexible than that, and also, y’know, more human-beings that that.


  14. Lis
    March 24, 2011 at 3:28 am

    If sexbots will take these gentlemen off the market, I’ll start contributing to robotics research funds!

    It’ll be interesting to have you at Feministe, David. Good to see you.

  15. Joe
    March 24, 2011 at 5:45 am

    I’m a little uncomfortable with making fun of the extreme MRA set. Their misogyny doesn’t even resemble real-world misogyny anymore and is so overboard that it sounds more indicative of deep-seated emotional problems than anything else.

    I guess it just feels like making fun of the mentally ill.

  16. March 24, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Sorry, Joe, but I’m not buying that.
    Firstly, because of the implications regarding mental illness of what you say. It’s equating mental illness with violent misogyny and, more generally, with violence. These kind of assumptions are incredibly harmful to people with mental illnesses. They’re the kind of assumptions that underpin a lot of stereotyping of mental illness, and thereby a lot of the crap that people with mental illnesses have to deal with.

    Also, by saying this you’re giving MRAs a ‘free pass’. Yes, these MRA guys are incredibly messed-up, and their worldviews are inaccurate at best. That’s not a mental illness thing as much as it’s a symptom of an ill society, and of people who are so invested in their privilege that they’ll go to any lengths to preserve it.

    Thirdly, though, is this:

    Their misogyny doesn’t even resemble real-world misogyny anymore

    Sorry, but no. This misogyny is real-world misogyny. It appears extreme, but it rests on a bedrock of more ‘everyday’ and common misogyny. It every bit a consequence of a sexist society as any of the rest of it. And it couldn’t exist without a thousand little incidences of everyday misogyny propping it up.

  17. March 24, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I guess it just feels like making fun of the mentally ill.

    Mental illness ≠ Universal Asshole Pass.

    And anyway, the online medium allows a LOT of different people to spew stuff they wouldn’t necessarily spew to anyone’s face. So there’s nothing that surprising about the internet MRAs.

  18. March 24, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Thanks for bringing us this information without our actually having to visit these sites for ourselves! Honestly, each time I do I become so mad that I’m incapable of typing a legible response (not that it would matter if I did).

  19. PrettyAmiable
    March 24, 2011 at 9:48 am

    …Do you think yohan will follow you here?

  20. March 24, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Natalia: Mental illness ≠ Universal Asshole Pass.


    I have mental illness. It doesn’t give me a free pass to say or do hurtful shit to other people.

    Plus what Consider The Tea Cosy said above.

  21. Alison
    March 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Glad to see you guest blogging here, David. I just hope your posts will have *heavy* comment moderation since I have a feeling some of those vile mendacious shitbags will find their way here…

  22. March 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Really a pleasure seeing you writing here, David! I don’t envy folks who are doing the moderation for any MRA analysis posts you might do!

  23. PrettyAmiable
    March 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Alison: I just hope your posts will have *heavy* comment moderation


    Also, re: GG, Natalia, et al.: FACT.

  24. David Futrelle
    March 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Alison, yeah, I and the other folks here will be be monitoring the comments carefully here; I’ve talked about this with Chally. On Man Boobz I’m pretty hands-off, but I’ll moderate a lot more aggressively here.

    I don’t think Yohan will be stopping by; he hasn’t been on my blog for a while. (And I ended up banning Eoghan some time ago, the only regular poster I’ve ever banned, and for good reason.)

    As for the issue of mental illness, I agree with Tea Cosy and Natalia et al on this. Clearly a lot of the guys I write about have anger management issues, to put it mildly, and I suspect (though this is speculation on my part) that more than a few of them may have personality disorders. But I criticize what they say, and what they believe, not who they are.

  25. March 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Woohoo! Looking forward to reading your posts! And yeah, add me to the list of those tired of equating assholness with mental illness. MRAs are just that assholes…although I wouldn’t be suprised if some of the more extreme ones had severe personality disorders like Narcissism

  26. sabrina
    March 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    hey david, I’m glad to see you coming back to the right side of the world for a while :) I love your site (when I can stand dealing with some of your more vile commenters that is) and glad to see you here. Good luck on your time here :)

  27. randomosity
    March 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Just got back from checking out your site. I like the commentary and calling out the assholes. They seem to be angry that they missed the privilege bus of the old days. Not there isn’t a pile of privilege, but these guys seem to long for the days when women couldn’t vote or own property and instead were property.

  28. Eoghan
    March 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Ah the glen beck end of the gender debate has found a new audience. The men that Frutrelle tends to quote are a minority and are often abuse victims that have have been overlooked by the system.

    Btw, the girl in the feministe logo, who is she pointing that shot gun at out of frame?

  29. March 24, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Except, Eoghan, you have zero evidence that any of the men David features are anything other than the misogynist creeps they appear to be. Do you really not have anything better to do than follow this one blogger around the internet?

  30. March 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Natalia: Mental illness ≠ Universal Asshole Pass.

    And anyway, the online medium allows a LOT of different people to spew stuff they wouldn’t necessarily spew to anyone’s face. So there’s nothing that surprising about the internet MRAs.

    This, this, this. I have a mental illness, and you’ll never hear me say anything nearly as fucked as what passes for civil discussion on MRA boards. If I ever *did* start to say awful shit like that, I’d want to be called on it, immediately and without sympathy.

    Mental illness doesn’t make you an asshole, and being an asshole doesn’t make you mentally ill.

  31. March 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Wow, I guess I should have read the rest of the comments before repeating exactly what everyone else has said.

    Anyway, it’s good to have you here, David. I’ve followed your blog on and off (don’t always have the stomach for that much misogyny, sadly), and you do some really great work.

  32. Rare Vos
    March 25, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Beck is a demonstrable liar. Futrelle reports what MRAs are posting.

    equating Futrelle to Beck is not even a clever insult comparsion. Its just an extremely fucking stupid – and transparently desperate – mistake.

  33. rengeko
    March 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    i would actually more refer to these guys as having personality disorders rather than mental illness, which are apparently being broken up in the next DSM. with the idea that mental illness can be treated and personality disorders cannot, i guess. and regrettably, i would have to say that while this serious degree of misogyny appears rare, i suspect that a lot of men just don’t admit to the levels they feel.

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