The Swamp is powered by Vocal creators. You support Ben Kharakh by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

The Swamp is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Understanding Men's Rights Activists and Their Lingo

The dangerous ideology of men's rights activists is alive and well in America.

Men's Rights Activists (MRA) think that they're taking arms against a world that's changing for the worse but, in reality, they're dragging their feet in the face of much-needed progressive evolution. Rather than representing a marginalized group on the edge of oppression, MRAs are actually the ones doing the oppressing and benefiting from a system rigged in their favor.

America is a patriarchy. And one of the benefits of being a man in a patriarchy is that you get to have views as abhorrent as an MRA and still enjoy the benefit of the doubt. "Maybe he doesn't mean to be misogynist!" Men even passively benefit from the patriarchy, which makes any group of men not consciously deconstructing systemic sexism functionally a collection of men's rights activists. A baseball team is a collection of men's rights activists! They're just passive about it.

Active MRAs represent the worst of the worst. They're men whose conception of masculinity depends on controlling and denigrating women. And, thanks to the internet, these men have been able to find each other, swell in size, and even make some unsuccessful forays into the already sexist mainstream of America. You've got to have a truly repugnant ideology to be denied the platform to speak that every many gets simply by virtue of being a man in a patriarchy.

Pills! Pills! Pills!

Men's rights activists reject the idea of gender equality between men and women. They think feminism was actually made up by women to trick men, even though there are so many things women are expected to do at work but shouldn't. "Female lives are actually valued more than male lives," says the MRA. Accepting that claim as true is what it means to take the Red Pill. That's right: men's rights activists have figured out a global conspiracy of immense consequence, but they talk about it using references to The Matrix

A spoonful of resentment makes the Red Pill go down! Once you see the truth about how society values women more than men, you can't unsee it. That truth is why men work higher risk jobs, which is the theory of male disposability popularized by Warren Farrell, an ex-feminist who became an intellectual grandfather of the contemporary MRA movement. That truth is also what leads to "divorce rape," the term MRAs use to describe divorce settlements that unfairly favor women thanks to systemic sexism against men. It's feelings like these that drive men into the welcoming arms of The Red Pill.

You might be asking, "Is anyone trying to stop The Red Pill phenomenon from further spreading?" In juxtaposition to The Red Pill, which is also the name of a popular subreddit, there's The Blue Pill, a subreddit that seeks to satirize The Red Pill while also educating people about the dangers and hypocrisies of The Red Pill movement. Blue Pillers refer to someone who's taken the Red Pill as a "Terper," derived from the phonetic pronunciation of the acronym TRP.

Lastly, there's The Black Pill; that's what it's called when taking The Red Pill reveals such a pessimistic reality that there's no hope at all. It's a Terper's less hopeful version of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. But unlike The Road, Terpers who've taken the Black Pill aren't a rag-tag father and son duo scavenging to survive, serving as a testament to the power of love. A lot of Terpers are just misogynist edgelords.


An edgelord is someone who gets off issuing controversial opinions for the purpose of getting attention. Edgelords do things for "the lulz," which is the sense of giddiness one receives from riling someone up. Edgelords are protected from the consequences of their actions by anonymity or social privilege.

President Sex Criminal is actually a great example of an edgelord. The things Orange Julius says amplify oppressive and regressive ideologies, cause pain in and of themselves, and are a part of a process that at times culminates in physical violence. Men's rights activists and white supremacists are two common examples of edgelords. 


Men's rights activists who ingest the Black Pill are more likely to find themselves as incels. That's a portmanteau derived from the term "involuntarily celibate." You might be thinking someone's an incel because it's just so hard for them to talk to women, but the incel subreddit wasn't shut down because it was a bunch of men trading Spotify lists of songs that make them cry; it was shut down because of how often it was an unabashed expression of misogyny. 

Incels accuse women of hamstering, which is their way of calling attention to the rationalizations women have to make to convince themselves that they're good people and everything's OK. Incels (and Terpers) call women HBs (hot bodies), dismiss them for their hypergamy (their need to always date up), make generalizations using the acronym AWALT (all women are like that), and hate on Chads (men who HBs actually date). Incels also complain about "alpha fux," which is their cute way of saying that young women date men out of their league (alphas) before settling with betas who will financially support their lifestyles. 

Incels don't resent women because women reject their advances as much as incels resent women because they cannot control them. Incels envision a future where a growing number of men become incels or join the larger movement of Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), which is an online collective that discourages relationships in general, particularly with women. 

Many incels are edgelords, but one of the most famous incels is not. In 2014, Elliot Rodger committed a mass shooting that was the culmination of a hateful ideology that mixed misogyny and racism. Incels don't have to be racist, but the connection between men's rights activists and other far-right groups has been well documented.

Pickup Artists

2007 was a more innocent time. We could watch The Pickup Artist on VH1 and laugh at Mystery and his big hat. You could have a copy of Neil Strauss's tome The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick Up Artists, with its black leather cover and gold inked letters, sitting comfortably between your copy of Infinite Jest and something by Ernest Hemmingway (this is obviously a dude's bookshelf I'm describing). Back then, I guess, there weren't as many think pieces about men's rights activists. 

The connection between Terpers and PUAs is that Terpers, despite having misogynistic views of women, also believe in a biological and psychological determinism that can be understood and manipulated toward the end of achieving sexual domination. And since sexual domination figures so heavily into the Terper's general evaluative framework, it's something they must seek out in their pursuit of "the good life." In the MRA's case: being an alpha. 

Pickup artists think they have access to a particular set of skills that basically allow them to hack the female mind in order to have sex. PUAs think that women are ruining the world, but rather than use their PUA skills to change women into good people, PUAs just use those skills to enrich themselves. Regardless, the tricks of a PUA aren't actual mindhacks; they're just bullying tactics (known as negging), lying, emotional manipulation, and gaslighting. President Sex Criminal is basically a PUA who negged his supporters into voting for him with his slogan "Make America Great Again." 

Return of Kings

Return of Kings is the home base of Roosh V, a PUA who has self-published many books, which is not uncommon for well-known PUAs. You'd think, though,  that since PUAs have discovered a system that allows them to sleep with Cleopatra as easily as it would allow them to bed any woman they meet at a bar that they'd just PUA their way into a publishing deal with Penguin. If only it wasn't for systemic sexism that favors women! 

"I know, I'll just Red Pill one of the many guys who work in publishing! Hmm, it just occurred to me that there are more men in positions of power in publishing than women. OMG, it's that way everywhere! Society isn't sexist against men; it's sexist against women! Too bad I can only come to this realization as a figment of somebody else's imagination!" 

Roosh V articulates an ideology known as "Neomasculinity," which is a mix of "traditional beliefs, masculinity, and animal biology." Neomasculinity can be briefly summarized as the belief that women are manipulative and untrustworthy, and that they must be subservient to men in all ways. Nonetheless, Roosh considers himself "pro-woman" because he wants to create an environment where women are able to fulfill their biological imperative: breeding and raising children. In a way, Roosh thinks of himself as a farmer and women are his livestock. That somehow sounds less gross than what Roosh actually believes.

Ironically, Roosh rejects the men's rights activist label even though he agrees with much of what they have to say. He thinks they're "sexual losers." An edgelord among edgelords! Some of Roosh's blogs include "5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder" and his article "How to Stop Rape" suggested legalizing rape to encourage women to take arms against their attackers. Roosh then walked back his suggestion, claiming it was a joke, a move often pulled by men who say hateful things and then receive a tremendous amount of flak. Classic gaslighting.

Along with his readers, Roosh has harassed women, amplified hateful voices, encouraged sexual violence, and given out the personal information of women he wanted threatened (known as doxxing). He's also been accused of rape.

Mike Cernovich

Mike Cernovich is another edgelord Terper. See how fun it is to speak dismissively of men's rights activists! With the rise of Trump, Cernovich began to embrace the rhetoric of the alt-right, although he rejects the label because he believes it's damaging to his brand. This white supremacist misogynist thinks that the label of "alt-right" hurts his brand?! What's he pushing other than #PizzaGate?! 

Oh, what's PizzaGate? It's just a conspiracy Cernovich helped popularize that Hillary Clinton and her former campaign chair John Podesta were wrapped up in a child sex trafficking ring run out of the basement of a popular DC pizzeria. PizzaGate is a YouTube rabbit hole for sure!

Cerenovich, however, has accumulated enough influence that he was able to get the television personality Sam Seder temporarily fired from the MSNBC network. Not bad for a hateful online personality who was only able to launch his writing career because of a hefty divorce settlement from his rich first wife! Also, Cernovich has been accused of rape. 

Proud Boys

The Proud Boys were founded by Gavin McInnes, a one time contributor to and co-founder of Vice Media (as well as the single worst monologist I've ever seen at the Upright Citizen Brigade Theater's signature improv show ASSSCAT). Proud Boys call themselves a Western chauvinist men's fraternity and are staunchly anti-feminist. 

These men's rights activists derived the name of their group from the song "Proud of Your Boy" from the 2011 Aladdin musical. There are four hoops to jump through before becoming an official Proud Boy. First, you have to say, "I am a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.” Second, a bunch of Proud Boys have to beat you up while you try to say the name of four breakfast cereals as fast as possible. Additionally, at this step, you commit to abstaining from pornography and can only masturbate once a month (if you please). Third, you need to get a Proud Boy tattoo somewhere on your body. And the fourth degree is getting into a fight with the Antifa (anti-fascists). 

They're considered Alt-lite by some (a play on the term "alt-right", which is the umbrella term for groups like neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, etc). However, the Proud B proximity to other far-right groups has made them a breeding ground for hate. 

McInnes is guilty of a lot of hamstering. He's known to say that if someone shows up to a protest and is themselves committing racially motivated hate that they are imitations of rather than real Proud Boys. The Proud Boy's version of the "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy! McInnes has deployed this fallacy in reference to Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally that ended with James Alex Fields Jr committing an act of white supremacist terrorism when he drove his car into a crowd of protestors. 

Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos is as famous as men's rights activists get. He's even been talked about in the monologues of late night talk show hosts! And why not? He was one of the first people to get behind #GamerGate, he launched a campaign of targeted harassment against Leslie Jones on Twitter, he collaborated with Nazis on his pieces for Breitbart (many of which he didn't even write himself), and he's a provocateur who uses people's rage to generate publicity for himself. The only edgelord bigger than Milo is President Sex Criminal himself!

And what's #GamerGate? It's a hashtag used by a bunch of misogynist gamers who targeted female game designers and commentators with harassment and threats of rape and death. Why? Because these misogynist gamers perceived that there was unethical collusion between feminists and video game journalists. Hence the call and response, "What is GamerGate about? Ethics in video game journalism!"

Toxic Masculinity

The constellation of personality traits shared by Terpers is known to sociologists as "toxic masculinity." And sociologists are known to Terpers as "manginas." Toxic masculinity is the internalizations of a limited emotional spectrum such that the only feelings that are truly permitted to be experienced are, as comedian Dana Gould jokes, "rage and suppressed rage." Because of toxic masculinity's fixation with domination, it's a personality archetype associated with far-right ideologies. Men's rights activists, in turn, often mingle with or are themselves white supremacists, neo-Confederates, Nazis, or any of the other groups that fall under the alt-right umbrella. 

Ex-Red Pillers

Plenty of people spit out the Red Pill and liken their experience with the movement or any of its associated groups as being cult-like in nature. Cults prey on people who are vulnerable, much like con-artists do. This is because cult leaders and scammers use their influence to enrich themselves rather than to help the group in general. Think of it as The Music Man but for misogynists. "Right here in the U.S.: trouble with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'B' and that stands for 'betas'!"

The tactics of the cult leader are actually not much different from that of a pickup artist because they both employ forms of emotional manipulation. These figures make use of propaganda, and propaganda only works when it expresses how its target audience already feels at the time of consumption. That's how come a feminist can't just read a Red Pill manifesto and become a Terper. 

MRA leaders exploit a dangerous predisposition toward domination and violence that is itself the expression of a tumultuous and/or exploitative childhood. Afterall, what are these men discovering in their ideology if not a worldview that reveals a dog eat dog human condition where man's best friend is more of a Chad in your way of an HB than a brother-in-arms.

There are cult-deprogramming tactics that can be deployed to rescue men's rights activists from the grips of their ideologies and collectives, but, given the choice, I'd rather humanize the groups who are disenfranchised by men's rights activists rather than the men's rights activists themselves. Afterall, our whole culture is more or less the humanization of men. It's important to be aware of the danger posed by MRAs and to steer clear of them but to not let MRAs distract from the important goal of helping our culture evolve to a point that makes men's rights activists irrelevant.

Now Reading
Understanding Men's Rights Activists and Their Lingo
Read Next
Reading Between the Political Lines