Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Ben was bred to hate the way some women are bred to be victims
Ben scowled in his profile photo and oozed contempt for all things female with every word. He targeted every new woman on the social media platform like an estrogen-seeking guided missile.
He left snarky misogynist comments, hoping to spark fights with feminists. His spelling and grammar were pretty good for an Angry White Man but his thoughts so jumbled they often weren’t coherent.
The moment I strayed from business topics like ‘But What Are You SELLING?’ and ‘Who Really Needs A Company Blog?’ and ‘Hamlet For Goldfish’, (okay, worst business article title ever) to a call for more forgiveness for others, he emerged to leave an irrelevant rant about gun rights. I hadn’t mentioned guns or rights. I ignored him.
When I wrote a female-centered middle-of-the-road article about LinkedIn women complaining about sexism, Ben introduced me to the acronym MGTOW — Men Going Their Own Way.
He loved to go on about MGTOW. His goal was to put women back in our place, threatening us with what he claimed were our ever-decreasing value to men.
The new platform skewed toward older members rather than easily-triggered younger women, so us dumb feminist broads, as he saw us, weren’t much threatened by a powerless dumpy dipstick who claimed a VP role in healthcare systems and had chosen a ratbag Third World country to live in. He wanted us to understand he’d removed himself from the dating scene and he was one more man you’ll never ensnare in your dirty little clutches, you ungrateful man-hating broads!!!
To which we digitally glanced at each other, shrugged, and said, “Thank you!”
His transparent, tissue-thin armor revealed a man broken by his own perceived lack of power. There’s nothing new about Men Who Go Their Own Way; real MGTOWs just do it without alerting CNN.
Women Who Go Their Own Way (I am one) do the same. We just live our lives without an ostentatious publicity campaign. Because M/WGTOWs don’t care what the rest of you do. We’ve got shit to do of our own.
Ben was a lone Angry White Man on a new blogging platform, with about ten million users. He was the only one who needed a warning label. He had a story, and I guessed it wasn’t pretty.
His monothematic articles reiterated how awful women were, how we were gold-diggers, only wanted rich good-looking tall men, how love and romance and marriage were a sham, how we mistreated men and made them feel like nothing.
The last seemed directly related to a devastating event when a partner banished him to the couch. I felt sympathy for his clear pain, but I wondered what life with him must have been like.
Emerging from my own Angry Drunken Bitch phase, I couldn’t fault the guy for being angry if he’d been disappointed in love. Hey, that’s how it often starts, bad treatment by the opposite sex.
Plus, I recognize today’s feminism manifests a toxic antagonism to men including stereotype man-haters (La plus ça change…). Good, decent men are being driven into the arms of misogynist MRAs, an initially-sound movement which had long since been hijacked by haters.
I have a personal mandate to reach out to those men who haven’t yet given themselves over to the Dark Side. They are our brothers in sensible, rational gender relations. We need to befriend and de-Ben them.
There was no engaging on any adult level with him, though I tried.
Ben was too angry to reach. He kept insulting me and trying to pick fights, the Lone Angry White Man most regarded more with pity than anger, including the other male subscribers.
How to breed a misogynist
Little details began to emerge.
Ben ran away from home, joined the military, and made it clear his life lesson was his utter worthlessness to others.
He moved to one of the most misogynist countries in the world. Big surprise.
Now he’s a Rich American in a desperate country where ‘bride napping’ is a huge human rights issue. I wonder how that plays out for his sex life.
He says he’s ‘training’ the future generations of men for the ‘realities’ of dating in the Western world, once again hoping to scare us gals into thinking guys like him have us figured out, soon the gravy train’s going to end and men like him will be back in charge to undo everything feminism ruined.
I regard him as a public service filter, removing the most toxic men from the singles world.
He’s clear he doesn’t meet Western women’s exacting standards. That anger toward purple squirrel daters is somewhat justified. Although who would want to be with someone that angry?
He reminds me of women who complain about all the bad men in the world but never ask what they themselves have to offer, or why they’re attracted to bad men, and vice versa.
Ben noted when the family homestead got leveled he couldn’t imagine a more fitting end for the scene of the ‘shitshow’ he grew up in.
More details emerged.
His father left when he was small. He never knew him.
His mother told Ben he was a mistake and his father was worthless.
She had a real thing for ‘worthless’. She remarried, and Ben and his siblings suffered numerous cruelties. He witnessed his stepfather murder his mother while he was still in grade school. Ben felt responsible because he’d mentioned she was looking to replace Stepdad after she divorced him.
Her murderer got off, Ben claims, by buying the courts off.
Hubby #3 wouldn’t have been an improvement as Ben claimed Mom was shopping in the prison systems.
He says he attempted suicide many times when he was younger.
He was one angry mofo.
When speaking of abused women you often hear, “She was raised in an abusive family; it’s the only thing she knows! She doesn’t understand love doesn’t have to come with abuse! That there’s such a thing as healthy, functional relationships! Don’t blame the victim!”
No argument here. 110% agreement.
Feminists and anti-violence activists too often forget the other victims of violence — the men trained to be violent in horrible environments.
I didn’t like Ben much but I couldn’t hate him. He wasn’t wrong about everything, and I recognized a fellow psychological miscreant. Sure, there was a level of romantic entitlement thwarted in his posts. I could relate.
It would be easier to hate him without knowing his story. Social media’s global hatefest offers fatuous explanations and a Manichaean view of humanity: Simplistic cartoon comprehension of evil, people suck, white people are privileged, black people are racist and in denial, feminism ruined everything and The Patriarchy ruins humanity. Trumpies are all stupid. SJWs hate everybody.
Less do we ask, “How did that person get to be the way s/he is?”
Do feminists ever look ‘under the misogynist hood’?
Abuse breeds abusers
Some have told me they feel like robots or zombies, that they feel their bodies are empty or filled with straw, not flesh and blood, that instead of having veins and nerves they have ropes or cords. One inmate told me he feels like “food that is decomposing.” — James Gilligan
James Gilligan detailed his career as a prison psychologist in his now-classic book Violence: Reflection On A National Epidemic.
He describes some of the horrible physical, sexual and psychological abuse these former innocent boys underwent by parents and caretakers. His summary of them as the ‘living dead’ describes their own subjective experience.
Gilligan felt he was living in “cloud-cuckoo-land” when “…I hear people suggesting that capital punishment will deter murder and induce more ‘reverence for life’. The men I know already feel so spiritually dead that they long for physical death as well.”
Ben’s vicious work drew me like that proverbial moth. I wanted to know more. Not out of a prurient interest but to understand the Making of the Misogynist the way I seek to understand what creates and perpetuates female victimhood.
He reminded me of me.
I used to be that angry. It made me abusive for awhile, too. Not physically, but emotionally and psychologically.
My head wasn’t a fun place to live, either.
The plot sickens
Ben claimed he was molested by an aunt.
Was he telling the truth?
BELIEVE THE VICTIM!
We can’t focus on the problems of young girls growing up with abuse who become serial victims, yet ignore the very same conditions that turn out the men who become misogynist abusers.
Let’s remember: Women also respond to abuse by becoming abusers themselves. Some men become chronic victims.
Men commit violent physical abuse more than women because they can. Women do it in defense or when they think they can get away with it. We see the latter dynamic in the mutually abusive Johnny Depp-Amber Heard divorce. In audio tapes it’s clear she’s also an abuser, and his response was often to leave the room.
I make no excuses for physical abuse, ever. I ask we consider both sides of the coin, and condemn it equally.
Women are no angels either. We’re masters of psychological/emotional abuse, because we’re wired for it. Some of it’s neurological; those parts of our brain are larger and more bridged than men’s. It may also be evolutionary; this is how women have survived to get what we wanted or needed where men possessed an outsized amount of power.
The beauty of forgiveness
“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” — The Dalai Lama
Put aside ‘The Patriarchy’ for a moment.
As we debate misogyny, privilege, and entitlement we need to stop looking at men as a cohesive group (they’re not) and begin looking at individuals.
The focus on this all-encompassing ‘patriarchy’ has become a fatuous feminist shortcut for not thinking too hard about what contributes to the other side of abuse.
Forgiveness has become a dirty little virtue. It’s not even cool for many Christians anymore, who think the only person worthy of forgiveness is Donald Trump.
Forgiving doesn’t excuse; it’s about letting go of your anger towards others who have wronged you. Why? Because you suffer, not the ones who wronged you, when you don’t let go, and because, get real, you’ve wronged others as well. You have much in common with your adversaries.
You’ve forgotten about it, but they haven’t.
Part of the forgiveness process is looking at things from a different point of view, and most importantly, asking what things look like from another’s perspective.
It’s NOT the same as giving your transgressors a free pass. You forgive, but you don’t forget. You’re under no obligation to ever have contact with them again, if you choose. After all, you want to avoid this transgression against you in the future.
So when we judge others, however deserved, I ask: What do you have in common with them?
Plenty of hateful feminists are no better than the misogynists they condemn.
Maybe, if you dislike hateful men that much, you don’t look under your own hood any more than anti-feminist misogynists do.
Where feminism hurts us all
Today’s angry MGTOWs may be juiced by an unhealthy dollop of male entitlement, but there’s genuine hurt underneath. Ben’s tragic life was marred by bad relationships with women. You think abused women don’t know any other way? Neither do their brothers. Ben never had a chance at a healthy, functional relationship because he has no idea what one looks like.
Feminists and misogynists need to stop blanket-blaming and start regarding each other as unique, often-tragic individuals.
Misogynists need to stop thinking about their own pain for a moment and ask why some women believe in a patriarchy, why they think men still have too much power, why manspreading drives some nuts.
Misogynists should try talking to us for a change. And listening. They don’t have to agree with everything.
Feminists and activists who blanket-blame men and ‘patriarchy’ need to do the same. No one is born a misogynist or a victim. While there are certain ways the brain can develop that might predispose certain individuals toward one or the other, environment plays a huge role. Male entitlement and privilege do, too.
Prisons are filled with violent men, most of whom were made, not born. We need to show as much compassion for men who grew up with violent abuse as we do for women.
I rail against victimhood, but I acknowledge real victimhood exists. It often starts in childhood.
The only way to stop damaged adults is to better protect children. Why don’t we yet understand that?
This post first appeared on Medium in 2020.