In my last piece, I critiqued our national narrative about “young men behaving badly.” These are the young men who make headlines for mass murders. Later, when the dust settles, we find that these men are struggling with social isolation and rejection by women. Internet sleuths almost inevitably find that they participated in forums trafficking in misogyny and bigotry.
The narrative that explains young men behaving badly goes like this:
The inability to achieve what you think you should have.
Gravitating towards ideologies that scapegoat groups, blaming them for why you are not getting what you think should have
Committing acts of violence against scapegoated groups.
I found the first step in the causal chain - feeling entitled, to be highly problematic. I suggested that we are all entitled. We are all acculturated to expectations in life, and the inability to achieve them will frustrate us. These “young men behaving badly” cannot achieve their goals because of cultural and economic changes in society.
The current piece is about the third step.
Why do young men go down these rabbit holes? If presumably we are all entitled, as I believe we are, why do young men gravitate to misogynistic and racist internet spaces?
I have a theory. They were seeking meaning and dignity, and we as a society could not give it to them.
Where are all the men?
I grew up in an environment that was almost male-free. After my parents split, it was my mom and me, and then a bit later, my sister. Aunts and grandaunts and grandmothers surrounded me. The schools were no different, as all the teachers until junior high were female. For all sorts of reasons, I did not play many organized sports, so I had few interactions with male coaches.
In other words, I did not see many examples of how to navigate the world successfully as a man. I can see what I lost now, in retrospect. But it took me many years to realize that this was detrimental to my growth.
While I cannot say how many boys grow up in environments lacking as much testosterone as mine, several statistics can give us a picture in broad strokes. According to the Single Parent Project, about 19 million children are in single-mother homes. If we assume a 50/50 ratio of boys and girls, then a safe bet is about 9.5 million young men are growing up without a father in the home. Those boys won’t see many male role models until junior high. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, males made up 11% of school teachers in pre-K through 6th grade and 36% of teachers in grades 7 - 12. Many young boys may go through their most formative years with little to no meaningful interactions with a positive male role model.
Not all boys who grow up without male role models crash and burn. Even without the guidance and reassurance of an older male, they make it. Some boys are naturally attractive or have athletic and physical talents that allow them to find friends and develop intimate relationships. Some boys are not so blessed, struggle mightily, but eventually right the ship in college. I believe I fall into the latter category.
But what about the rest? What happens to the kid who, well into his twenties and thirties, struggles to find his footing in the world? As I mentioned in my previous piece, societal and economic trends do not favor many young men. How do they make sense of the fact that they are losing?
The Search for Meaning and Dignity
Young, disaffected men - especially if they are heterosexual and white, will not find their stories told with sympathy in the mainstream media. They do not have a beloved avatar like Oprah Winfrey is for black women. They don't have someone with that kind of visibility who can urge them to speak their truth. No one is clamoring for them to talk about their lived experiences. Instead, that socially awkward, disaffected young man is either ignored or told that he is “entitled.”
Society needs to do better by these young men, and sociologists should be in the vanguard. Almost all of the qualitative sociological research I have read - on poor black men, youth gangs, MAGA voters, kids in poor schools, and single mothers - start with the assumption that individuals are trying to make sense of their world. You will rarely find a piece of sociological research that doesn’t assume the decisions made by that young man that eventually led him to criminality were not about trying to have dignity and purpose and a sense of place. For example, here is a short piece I often assign to my students, where the sociologist explains why stealing a bag of potato chips is about dignity more than petty theft.
So, where does that young man go to find meaning and dignity? He never developed a relationship offline with a positive male role model. He won’t find meaning in the narratives generated by the mainstream media.
He can find that meaning and dignity in a manosphere. Here is that story of meaning and dignity:
You aren’t the problem. Instead, it is a “gynocentric” culture that creates double standards where women are placed on pedestals, even if we men build the things that matter in society. Women waste time taking out student loans and getting useless degrees in human services and gender studies.
You may be getting snubbed by women right now. You can’t get laid because you were never taught “female nature.” But once you are “red-pilled,” you will never be plugged into the gynocentric matrix anymore.
You see, women are shallow and will ride the “cock carousel” of “alpha males.” Even if you manage to develop a relationship with a woman, you must always be mindful that they practice “hypergamy” and are always looking for a better deal. That is why that girl you liked so much eventually left you for someone else.
But we have gone through this situation and know how to handle it. We can be the male role models you never had. Follow our lead, and you can cultivate your masculinity, become more desirable to women, and be a man that people will take seriously. Take care of your body, build a business, and hold “masculine frame” at all times. Women will become attracted to you. You may even become an alpha male yourself! And before you know it, women will be riding your cock.
Your value in the “sexual marketplace” will continue to rise well into your 40s. You have a lot to look forward to. And remember those women who snubbed you in your pre-alpha male days? Well, they hit “the wall” at around 35, will likely have one or two kids from a few “Chads” and will be saddled in student loan debt. Meanwhile, you will be financially independent and married to a beautiful, chaste woman who respects you.
No Country for Young Men
As you can see, I have spent a lot of time listening to manosphere thought leaders! I understand the argot (words in quotations) and the basic belief structure of that space. This is a very compelling message. I would be lying if I had not occasionally wished someone would have offered me advice along these lines when I was younger. Would I have started working out earlier and more seriously? Would I have built up the courage to start a business?
I do not have the same experience in incel or white supremacist spaces, but I believe they all trade in the same currency - dignity and meaning.
Now, can you really blame those young men who have been spending years in a female-dominated environment with few positive male role models, struggling at life and love, for being attracted to this message?
We have created a country where these young men are not wanted. They find a space online where they are. It is as simple as that.
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Great piece. I can relate. Something I found late in life, and which healed my last wounds was BJJ. I think this club is near you and looks good and the head instructor legit. Hope you find time to drop in and check it out. https://diegobispoacademy.com/contact/ Your students might know a good place. Helps if its close. If time is tight skip the gym and go roll BJJ. Your fitness will improve.
Fantastic article! Why do you think there are so few male primary education teachers? It looks like the percent male is going down over time as well: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/teachergender.png