Leader's Suicide Reveals Frightening, Violent, Organized Misogyny Movement
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On July 22, Breivik slaughtered 77 of his countrymen, most of them teenagers, in Oslo and at a summer camp on the island of Utøya, because he thought they or their parents were the kinds of “politically correct” liberals who were enabling Muslim immigration. But Breivik was almost as voluble on the subjects of feminism, the family, and fathers’ rights as he was on Islam. “The most direct threat to the family is ‘divorce on demand,’” he wrote in the manifesto he posted just before he began his deadly spree. “The system must be reformed so that the father will be awarded custody rights by default.”
The manosphere lit up. Said one approving poster at The Spearhead, an online men’s rights magazine for the “defense of ourselves, our families and our fellow men”: “What could be more ‘an eye for an eye’ than to kill the children of those who were so willing to destroy men’s families and destroy the homeland of men?”
‘The Homeland of Men’
The men’s rights movement, also referred to as the fathers’ rights movement, is made up of a number of disparate, often overlapping, types of groups and individuals. Some most certainly do have legitimate grievances, having endured prison, impoverishment or heartrending separations from genuinely loved children.
Jocelyn Crowley, a Rutgers political scientist and the author of Defiant Dads: Fathers’ Rights Activists in America, says that most men who join real (as opposed to virtual) men’s rights groups aren’t seeking to attack the family court system so much as they are simply struggling to navigate it. What they talk most about when they meet face to face, she says, are strategies to deal with their ex-partners and have better relationships with their children.
But Molly Dragiewicz, a criminologist at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the author of Equality With a Vengeance: Men’s Rights Groups, Battered Women, and Antifeminist Backlash, argues that cases in which fathers are badly treated by courts and other officials are not remotely the norm. The small percentage of divorces that end up in litigation are disproportionately those where abuse and other issues make joint custody a dubious proposition. Even when a woman can satisfactorily document her ex-husband’s abuse, Dragiewicz says, she is no more likely to receive full custody of her children than if she couldn’t.
The men’s movement also includes mail-order-bride shoppers, unregenerate batterers, and wannabe pickup artists who are eager to learn the secrets of “game”—the psychological tricks that supposedly make it easy to seduce women. George Sodini, who confided his seething rage at women to his blog before shooting 12 women, three of them fatally, was one of the latter. Before his 2009 murder spree at a Pittsburgh-area gym, he was a student — though clearly not a very apt one — of R. Don Steele, the author of How to Date Young Women: For Men Over 35. “I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women rejected me over an 18 or 25-year period,” Sodini wrote with the kind of pathos presumably typical of Steele’s readers.
Other movement adherents have forsworn sex altogether, or at least romantic relationships and marriage; the acronym they use for themselves is MGTOW, for “Men Going Their Own Way.” “If you are willing to marry a woman — any woman — in the West then you must also be willing to become the next murder-suicide story when she threatens to file for divorce, steal your kids out of your life and extort you for every current and future dollar you will ever earn,” wrote one commenter at The Spearhead. “If a man kidnapped your children, stole your home, your wallet and your bank account, you’d be more than willing to kill him in self defense. Why is it any different when ex-wives do it with the full force of the law behind them?”