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It is possible to parse complicated realities without wallowing in the despair of dichotomous thinking.
Seven years ago, when I started thinking and writing about sex and politics, the dominant ideology — the one that had inflicted the most harm upon men and women and the relationships we formed and forwent — was liberal feminism.
I grew up under the fluorescent tyranny of “female empowerment,” so-called. For a girl who left home at 15, girlboss feminism offered a superficially strong sense of self where confidence, let alone purpose, was otherwise illusory.
The problem wasn’t that the “girl power” stuff encouraged the virtue of diligence; it was that it encouraged selfishness and status-seeking to the exclusion and detriment of human relationships, men, and, dare I say, female happiness.
At its zenith, liberal feminism was more a lifestyle than philosophy. And it was cheap.
Emerging bleary-eyed from the haze almost a decade later, I didn’t know God and I didn’t know myself. I felt lonely in many of the circumstantial female friendships I’d stumbled into and frustrated by my unfathomable ignorance about men.
What roused me initially was, in fact, the “red pill.” I always preferred YouTube to any other platform, and in 2015, I stumbled upon Stefan Molyneux, who presented a critique of the vices of modern women as an exercise in radical objectivity. It wasn’t all “boss babes and body count.” However flawed, he had a particular axe to grind on the topic of divorce, emotional neglect, and abandonment.
Upon reflection, it was the first time I’d heard any political-adjacent type speak in detail about the practical, personal externalities of an unstable home life, which for better or worse is usually reflected in the quality of the mother. Molyneux wanted to get beyond the hackneyed villains of the feminist imagination ... the angry father in “Dead Poets Society” or whatever.
If the old guard of red-pilled writers were quietly resentful of their mothers — and women in general — the new guys spat venom without pretense. The subtlety was lost.
It was interesting. I appreciated what I perceived as a devotion to the now meme-worthy “facts and logic” libertarianism, as well as his willingness to say the unsayable, holding space for uncomfortable conversations, the type I’d always craved. That rabbit hole led to Chateau Heartiste, Roosh V, Dalrock. I was looking for the truth about life and my place in it as a woman. They had data. They were narrative breakers, destroyers of pretty lies, slayers of sacred cows.
There is something intoxicating in that.
As I write this, I know how cringeworthy it sounds. It’s hard to describe a zeitgeist once it passes. Yesterday’s thought leaders are today’s broken toys in the giveaway pile. I’ll always be grateful, regardless of what the movement became; those years felt like a splash of cold water to the face after a lifetime of restless sleep. Perhaps a season of self-deprecation was the penance I deserved following a stuporous youth.
The rise of a new guard
Around 2020, a new cohort of meninist influencers rose on social media. At the very same time Roosh V repented for his promiscuity and self-admitted abuse of women, converting to Orthodox Christianity and dedicating himself to a new life of penitential hermeticism, Andrew Tate rose to replace him and others, riding a wave of updated technology: TikTok, as well as algorithmic engagement farming.
The texture of the content followed the form of its delivery. Ideas once elaborated in 1,500-word blog posts were shortened and flattened to their lowest common denominator. Rather than “female doctors tend to retire earlier and take more time off than their male counterparts,” bringing into question the broader costs of educating women for medicine, we got “female doctors are stupid and evil.”
Maybe they both came to the same conclusion. But if the old guard of red-pilled writers were quietly resentful of their mothers — and women in general — and could be read and taken with a certain grain of salt in order to consider important questions about women’s role in society, the new guys spat venom without pretense. The subtlety was lost.
As the new meninists ascended, I gave birth to my first child, a daughter. I think it’s rare that we ever have specific moments to which we can refer as true catalysts in life, but approaching that veil between life and death through a traumatic childbirth changed me profoundly. I could no longer reconcile the manosphere’s suggestions about womanhood — as something slightly subhuman, helplessly irrational, slavish, doomed to a life of passive ornamentalism — with my recent memory of very nearly bleeding out for her sake. And happily so! How could, and why would, a rational God shower such grace over the kind of subject I had convinced myself that I was?
And, of course, my daughter wasn’t any of those things, either. And how could I ever think so? She was — and is — precious beyond words. A gift from God. And she belongs to Him. The idea that she could end up with a man who regarded her dignity with such callous indifference inspires the most dreadful nausea.
Beware of brain-dead misogyny
Accusations of “misogyny” have been abused by liberal feminists to the extent that many people stopped believing misogyny could ever be real. Activists focused on “manspreading” while men and boys were imbibing pornography. The former was “misogyny,” the latter “sex positivity.” The incoherence of it all undermined any claim women were trying to make for public respect.
So I fully understand how annoying and potentially counterproductive it’s going to sound when I use that word. But it needs saying. The brain-dead misogyny of the manosphere 2.0 is as myopic an ideological narrative as the liberal feminism from which they – and I – initially recoiled. Its denizens have begun selling to men the very same flavor of false confidence, superiority, and entitlement that girlboss feminism sold to women, and it’s only a little mysterious that they reach the same conclusions: Remain single forever. Maximize profit. Freeze your eggs. Get a vasectomy. Keep everyone at arm's length while you pursue diversionary pleasure for the rest of your life.
Whether a sex-positive boss babe or a warlord pimp, trust no one. Become your own god.
I’m embarrassed to admit how much of my life story comes down to picking up and brushing the dust from the pieces of my soul I neglected, pieces flattened by liberal feminism’s plastic notion of a good life, then perverted by what I once saw as its only alternative, something that has become a haven for men and women who hate themselves to make sense of their misery.
It’s not hard to get swept away by ideology once you’ve forgotten who made you — and for what.
Stand up! Look up! If I could communicate anything to my past self, and anyone else who has faced similar intellectual temptations, it’s that. There is another way, one that accounts for the full dignity of (and differences between) both sexes without indulging comparisons of essential worth. It is possible to parse complicated realities without wallowing in the despair of dichotomous thinking. If we are ever going to make it out this hell alive, we need to start there.
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Helen Roy is an opinion contributor for Blaze News and a staff writer for Align.