I’ve just been looking through your yahoo answers profile (and your incredible 76% best answers from 58 answers) and I can only salute your sterling work. That’s an incredible amount of direct 1-to-1 good work you are doing. While I am an atheist I do believe biblical marriage is the best model for civilised society and personal happiness so I commend you on promoting it.
I generally shy away from focusing on definitions due to their tendency to take us into intractable ratholes, but the fact remains that definitions are important. In the case of the term manosphere this is especially important because there is a tendency outside the sphere to mistake the manosphere for a collection of readers and writers who are in general intellectual agreement. There is a kernel of truth to that belief, but it misses the truly profound differences in worldviews held by the main schools of thought in the manosphere. With the breadth of opinions within the sphere in mind, I can only offer my own definition and allow an opportunity in the comments for those who have a different take to offer their own.
One way to look at the manosphere is historically, and since the sphere itself is quite new this only means a few years back. This isn’t to say that those in the sphere have only been active for a few years, but the concept of the manosphere only goes back a few years (to my knowledge). Just a year or two back I would have offered a very simple definition of the sphere. If you were somewhat regularly included in Ferdinand Bardamu’s weekly link roundup, I would argue that this made you a de facto member of the manosphere. This is a very broad definition because Ferdinand drew from an incredible breadth of perspectives in his link roundup. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to state that his link roundups played a central role in knitting together extremely different groups into a common conversation.
And a conversation is what I would argue the manosphere really is. Perhaps more accurately the manosphere is the place where the conversation occurs, not unlike the broader term blogosphere. By this definition being a member of the manosphere doesn’t suggest much about your point of view, but it identifies you as engaging in the discussion.
However, while there is no such thing as a common manosphere orthodoxy, there are a set of core ideas held by nearly everyone in the manosphere. Interestingly these aren’t the ideas the sphere is commonly accused of being an “echo chamber” for. In fact, the ideas claimed to be manosphere orthodoxy are where the biggest active faults exist within the sphere. Game is the most prominent example of this. There is significant disagreement on whether Game works, and if it works whether it is moral. I offer the 599 comment discussion in response to Cane Caldo’s guest post on the topic and the heated semi formal debates on the topic hosted by A Voice For Men. Likewise the Social Pathologist has challenged the concept of the feminine imperative, as have Cane Caldo and many of my readers.
Unlike Game and the concept of the Feminine Imperative, what nearly everyone in the manosphere agrees on is the extensive tearing of the social contract by decades of feminist tinkering. For me this is mostly about marriage and our adoption of a radically new model of the family. Interestingly you can frame all of the main “factions” of the manosphere based on how they respond to the debasement of marriage. While I point out the debasement of marriage in order to try to restore something precious, Roissy makes it his life’s goal to enjoy all of the young sluts our society is sending his way while they postpone their search for a husband. In my post Dating Stanton’s Heroes I showed how Professor Mentu similarly chooses to respond to the glut of mothers who eject their children’s father(s) from the home. Even here though, Roissy and Mentu understand how foolish the larger society is for allowing and encouraging all of this to happen. This paradox is exemplified by the very kind comment from KrauserPUA quoted in the beginning of the post. A third group looks at the destruction of traditional marriage and basically says “good riddance” (MRA & MGTOW).
As with any simplification these descriptions of the categories aren’t perfect, and not everyone in the manosphere fits neatly into any one category. Also, even within each category there can be a significant breadth of perspectives. Still, I think this description of the main “camps” of the sphere is roughly accurate and helps conceptualize the main differences between them.
So we have three main groups which all acknowledge feminism’s radical change in the social contract while strongly disagreeing on how to respond to this reality. My own camp might be called the traditionalist segment of the manosphere, and we mourn the loss of marriage and are working to find solutions to shore up the culture, laws, and the church as well as specific steps individual men can take to reduce their exposure to the risk of frivolous divorce (going all the way back to the choice of whom to marry). At any given time and depending on the topic at hand two of the three groups (traditional marriage, Roissy’s group, and MRA/MGTOW) tend to be in agreement in disagreeing with the third group. However this is very fluid, and the alliances are intellectual and topic specific. There is generally a baseline respect for the fact that these fault lines exist, which can initially make it shocking to read say an Orthodox Christian and a pickup artist reinforcing each other’s intellectual arguments. They absolutely aren’t in agreement with each other on the question of sexual morality, but there will be times they are in agreement on the facts, etc. of any given issue. Since these core fault lines are so intractable between the three groups, there is generally some effort not to make them the focus of discussion and agree to disagree. These dormant fault lines are always there, but some care is taken to avoid perpetually getting locked in the same discussions over core values*. This doesn’t mean the question is off the table, it just means that after so many rounds everyone has already made their case.
The closest there is to a manosphere orthodoxy involves acknowledging the reality of the new order and responding with something other than “Man up and marry those sluts!” Cross either of those two lines and all three groups are in sudden agreement. You won’t be run out of town on a rail, but I would offer that the manosphere is well prepared to engage in those discussions and I’ve never seen anyone make a solid case either for “Nothing to see here folks, move along…” or “Man up and marry those sluts”.
There is a reason such divergent groups are participating together in a common conversation which goes beyond the previous uniting effect of Ferdinand’s link roundup. Feminism has been so completely successful in changing the culture and taking over all of our social institutions that opposing feminism has become one of the great taboos of our society. Making this worse, very few are even aware of this because the lion’s share of feminist thinking is no longer thought of as feminist thinking; it is simply thought of as normal thinking, or more accurately right thinking. Opposing feminism has become the heresy of our age, a thought crime few dare to even contemplate. The sickness of feminism is everywhere, but it is most striking in our churches. The cultural transformation has been so swift and so profound that most of what the Bible teaches on the topics of marriage and men and women is now quite literally unthinkable and unspeakable in nearly all of polite Christian company. The biblical frame of marriage is simply too radical for all but a handful of pastors to preach. As a result, the conversations Christians have in the manosphere today can’t occur anywhere else.
The basic misunderstanding of what the manosphere is becomes most visible when bloggers or commenters from outside the sphere are engaging someone from the manosphere either on a manosphere blog or especially an off sphere blog. Part of the misunderstanding comes from how foreign and radical even politely offered moderately anti-feminist thinking is to those outside the sphere. Because opposing the new feminist order even moderately is now so radical and there are multiple “camps” participating in the conversation, those from outside the manosphere very often initially badly misread whom they are interacting with. For example, it isn’t uncommon for very solid traditional members of the manosphere to be misidentified as either PUA or MGTOW even when their arguments are clearly traditional. For those who are new to the manosphere I would suggest being aware of how different the participants tend to be in any given discussion, and not to mistake agreement by two individuals on a point of fact to necessarily indicate broader agreement than is really there.
Note: This post is an adaptation of a comment I originally made on Zippy Catholic’s post How should the orthosphere engage the manosphere?
*Since this post is about the fault lines it is more likely than most to draw out heated disagreement in the comments section over the fundamental differences those fault lines represent.