The founder of the Everyday Sexism Project and author of a number of other books about misogyny spent a year immersed in what's called the 'manosphere,' a vast online world in which incels rub elbows with an assortment of other misogynists — from 'pickup artists' with little respect for the concept of consent, to the male separatists who call themselves Men Going Their Own Way (but who can't seem to stop talking about women). The book she has extracted from this experience, Men Who Hate Women , which hit U.S. shelves this month but published earlier in the UK, is an often harrowing read; an uncompromising guide to the misogynistic backlash of the past decade or so ... Bates is deft in sorting through the angry, hostile, and self-pitying rhetoric of the incels, who manage, as she notes, to be both victims of and purveyors of hate ... The weakest part of Bates' book is, unfortunately, the section devoted to solutions. But that's not altogether her fault ... there are few out there willing or able to do this important work — at least at this moment in history. Perhaps Bates' book can help to inspire more men to try.
For this brilliantly fierce and eye-opening book, Bates has descended into the vast underworld sewage system of online misogyny, and brought back a persuasive and alarming thesis. But first she guides the reader through the various hellish circles of what she terms the 'manosphere' ... It is tempting to dismiss the sites of the manosphere as mere sad little cesspools, but what Bates’s patient, thorough approach reveals is much worse. They are a breeding ground for what she rightly calls the 'radicalisation' of young men online ... As Bates shows, moreover, sexism and anti-immigrant rhetoric often go hand in hand, via the conspiracy theory that foreigners challenge the rightful supremacy of the white male ... Bates agrees that the phrase is problematic, but, as she wryly asks towards the end of her book, why should she and her sisters have to do all the work of detoxifying language, and men themselves? Perhaps we men who don’t hate women can make a small start by replacing talk of 'toxic masculinity' with something more appropriate to Johnson, Trump, and their acolytes – perhaps, say, 'pathetic man-babyism'?
It’s uncomfortable to know that a violent hatred of women isn’t confined to the tame cliche of spittle-flecked keyboard warriors in greying Y-fronts, and that there are swathes of men in all layers of society who hold views that frankly make Margaret Atwood’s Gilead look progressive. Bates is best known for running the Everyday Sexism Project, a website predating the #MeToo movement that lets women share their dispiritingly commonplace experiences of prejudice and harassment. For her new book, she set out to find the source of an increasingly fanatical wave of misogyny ... as Bates makes devastatingly clear, misogyny hasn’t gone, it’s just gone underground and online. This in a world where police ask her what a Twitter handle is as she reports a flood of graphic rape and death threats, where parents are unlikely to realise that the YouTube algorithm is sending their kids down a rabbit hole of extreme content. Page after page rings with eloquent outrage at a society almost deliberately deaf to the toxic threat of the manosphere ... While Bates goes out of her way to fill in the nuances, documenting the decent men and lost boys who pop up in the most unsavoury chatrooms, her focus is unequivocally on women ... Let’s hope this book stirs a reaction of a different kind, opening our eyes to the threat of extreme misogyny and prodding officialdom into action. We all know that we shouldn’t feed the trolls, but tempting as it is, nor can we pretend they don’t exist.