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Who Are the Women of the Manosphere?

Groups like incels, men’s rights and MGTOW appear to be dominated by white men. But there’s a surprising number of women among them — people whose lives and beliefs we know very little about. This is our weeklong investigation into their world

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the explosion of the “manosphere,” a collection of online spaces that have been effective in radicalizing men. Against what, you ask? Oh, you know: the dangers of feminism violating the natural order; that marriage is social and financial suicide (you’ll face false abuse allegations in the divorce and end up paying her alimony for the rest of your life, bankrupting yourself in the process); and the women who keep them sexless and involuntarily celibate.

The media, MEL included, has been obsessed with analyzing the psychology and broader aims of the myriad factions of these men — from incels to MGTOWS to men’s rights activists. Not just because they seem to be an entirely new phenomena closely tied to the rise of right-wing extremism, but because their members have already committed acts of mass violence as well as murdered their girlfriends in the name of their ideology. In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified two “male supremacy” organizations as hate groups. “Progress for men will not be gained by debate, reason or typical channels of grievance available to segments of the population that the world actually gives a damn about,” wrote Paul Elam, the founder of A Voice for Men (one of those two groups cited by the SPLC), in 2011. “The progress we need will only be realized by inflicting enough pain on the agents of hate, in public view, that it literally shocks society out of its current coma.”

While we want to believe these online spaces are exclusively the domain of miserable white men, they can be surprisingly diverse (there are, for example, Blackcels and Currycels, too), and even include women themselves. As such, for the past six months, female reporters at MEL have attempted to learn more about the Women of the Manosphere. To start, we went deep into the femcel community, women who claim their “inferior” looks and personality make them completely unfuckable and have doomed them to a life of misery. We also flew to rural Canada to meet with the founders of the Honey Badgers, a group of females who are fighting for the rights of men, who they believe are the truly oppressed. Meanwhile, we made numerous stops in-between — from the female fans of Joe Rogan, to nurses inspired by the intactivist movement, to an attempt to understand the psychology of the “he was nothing but good to me defense” and why women feel compelled to defend known abusers.

Publishing daily throughout this week, we will present you with six features that explore the lives and beliefs of these women: Who are they? What have they experienced in life to end up cavorting with men who — to varying degrees — deny their humanity? And why do we know so little about them?