Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Proud Boys

Are proud.  Of being boyz. They are also an extreme right society for men, and only men, who believe in the superiority of the Western Civilization.  Here's a picture from their magazine (1):

And here's a short summary of the goals of Proud Boys (2):

McInnes calls the Proud Boys a “fraternal order” dedicated to a concept he calls “Western chauvinism,” which is roughly spelled out in the Proud Boys’ list of “tenets,” published in the official Proud Boys magazine.
They include closed borders, free speech, gun rights, and “venerating the housewife.” Proud Boys also abide by a “no wanks” rule, which is a loose prohibition on masturbation, because, they say, it is better to have sex and produce babies.
“Though these are our central tenets, all that is required to become a Proud Boy is that a man declare he is ‘a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world’,” according to the Proud Boy Magazine.

A closer examination of those rules suggests that Proud Boys are a society of men (you have to be declared biologically male at birth to be allowed in) who want, among other things,  a certain kind of patriarchy to return.


They vow that they are only benevolent sexists, wanting to protect women and women's frailty by strongly advising them to stay at home and keep giving birth to children (3).  They promise to "venerate" housewives, which suggests that they won't venerate the rest of the American women who are in the labor force.

Whether they are more than a male supremacist society, perhaps even as much as a white male supremacist society,  is something several recent articles, audios and videos have tried to clarify.

The general conclusion appears to be that they are  at least Alt Right Lite:  They declare themselves to be Western Chauvinists, i.e., believers in the supremacy of the Western Civilization.  Which, by the way, only the menz appear to have created.  Other men can join,  as long as they accept that the Western Civilization is superior to other civilizations.  Thus, they argue, they are not racists.  Only sexists, I guess.

But critics argue that they are slowly merging with the even more extremist white supremacist framework, and that their approval of violence falls better within that classification (4).  This could be an interesting example of the recent coming-together of misogynists and racists under the new title Alt Right.

The Proud Boys movement is fascinating, even though it's not terribly large.  Note how it uses the false generalizations I wrote about before to claim that all the glory for Western Civilization belongs to them as Western men, even though most of the Proud Boy members probably haven't done anything themselves to further any kind of civilization.

Note, also, how it insists on the segregation of the sexes, both by keeping women out of the moment and also by strongly suggesting that women shouldn't be working for money.

Neither of those latter ideas has anything to do with what is commonly defined as the Western Civilization.  Rather, they are ideas shared by the misogyny boyz from the Eastern Civilizations, too.  Indeed, women's earlier emancipation, higher education and greater labor force participation are part of the reasons which explain the higher living standards in Western liberal democracies, and, in my opinion, should be seen as part of Western Civilization.

There's nothing particularly unique about the Proud Boys.  The manosphere teems with movements which hunt and capture troubled and wounded men for similar purposes,  by pointing their fingers at the supposed Real Enemy: women, and, in particular, feminist women.  They do this by using the same type of false generalizations that I described above and in my earlier post:

If one woman has hurt you in your divorce, that is the fault of the feminist secret power cabal, the real nexus of all power in this country.  If you lost your job to a woman, that is a clear sign that the cabal is out to get you, and an equally clear sign that it's men who are now the main objects of discrimination in the labor market.  Because no woman ever lost a job to a man, naturally.  If you can't find or keep a girlfriend, it's because feminism has ruined women, made the too slutty and too uppity.

But I wanted to take a closer look at the Proud Boys society because the Media Matters for America suggests that they are being mainstreamed: that the NBC video argues they are simply standing up for all the guys who get a tough deal or are lonely, that they are just defending traditional masculinity from those who use terms such as "toxic masculinity."

And two things struck me right away.  The first is that the Proud Boys employ the subtractive definition of masculinity:  Masculinity is what men do and women don't. (5)  The two add up to a constant sum, so whatever benefits women will hurt men and vice versa.

If women enter into previously male-dominated areas, masculinity is, by that definition, immediately threatened, reduced and made smaller.  The solution, then, is to push women back into the only part where they clearly cannot threaten that definition of masculinity:  the bedroom, the nursery and the kitchen at home.  Thus, given the subtractive definition of masculinity, any advances women make toward gender equality is bad news for men.  The possibility that masculinity may be defined in those terms is something mainstream journalists should be aware of.

The second point that struck me was this:  The online history of the Proud Boys' leader,  Gavin McInnes, suggests that his main interest has never been to defend men but to attack women and feminism.

For instance, in 2013 McInnes argued that the vast majority of women don't want to be in the labor force:

Women are forced to pretend to be men. They’re feigning this toughness. They’re miserable. Study after study has shown that feminism has made women less happy. They’re not happy in the work force, for the most part. I would guess 7 percent [of women] like not having kids, they want to be CEOs, they like staying at the office all night working on a proposal, and all power to them. But by enforcing that as the norm, you’re pulling these women away from what they naturally want to do, and you’re making them miserable.

The reference for women being forced to pretend to be men sheds some light on McInnes' views about gender inequality:  He sees it as innate, as biological and in some weird way as meaning that women are naturally not suitable for working, despite the fact that women have worked everywhere throughout the recorded history.  This has zero to do with Western Civilization, by the way, unless we limit it to some study of the American middle classes during the 1950s, and even then many more women were working for money than the myths tell us. 

McInnes is also  sour on feminism, despite feminism clearly belonging to the history of the Western liberal democracies.  The next comment is of interest not only because it shows that he believes feminism is destroying masculinity, but because he uses the vocabulary (6) of the manosphere:  Beta males, indeed!

"I think men are becoming beta males because feminists have told them to, but you’ll notice feminists don’t f*ck those guys."

Then there are all the YouTube videos our Gavin has made.  One explains, in great detail, how women are too weak and frail to be fire fighters, police officers or in the military.  Another argues, in a comic way, that feminism makes women ugly.  A third addresses the problem of fat women.  And a fourth one argues that millennials are not having enough sex because of — you guessed it, feminism.  Finally, one video puts together the many times Gavin has been on Fox News, opining on what women really are like and what women really want, in his view (7).

Now,  that history makes the creation of the Proud Boys movement look quite a bit different than the impression one gets if one just dives into the most recent material.  It looks a lot like McInnes is much more interested in what might be wrong with women than with what might be right with men.

Put into a historical context, Proud Boys are nothing new.  Almost all right-wing populist movements have among their first tasks the clear segregation of women from those who are viewed as actives in the movement: men,  and the placement of women's proper or only roles inside the home.  This is true of radical extremist Islam, it was true of Hitler's Germany (Kirche, Kinder und Küche), it was true of the 1990s Promise Keepers and it is true of the Proud Boyz.

But if for nothing else than the other goals such movements have historically had, ignoring the Proud Boys as just Alt Right Lite would be a serious mistake and so would be mainstreaming them.


(1)  The text below the picture states: On November 8th, 2016 Proud Boy Magazine had our official launch party….  That could be what the picture shows.  The x'd out female symbols are pretty clear indicators of the intent of the society, whatever the actual setting where the picture was taken.

(2)  The weird reference to masturbation seems to be linked with porn consumption and the idea that excessive porn consumption makes men unable to relate to real women, which they have to learn if they are to find girlfriends that can be married and turned into mothers with many children.  Whether the Proud Boys society helps men learn to relate to "real" women is anyone's guess. 

This is one of the links of the movement to such well known movements as the Pickup Artists and other manosphere groups telling men how to get dates, for various purposes, though the Pickup Artists just want to have predatory sex with many women while the Proud Boys want wives. 

(3)  That conclusion is derived from the YouTube videos of the Proud Boys' Leader, Gavin McInnes, and also from the individual members' comments in the NBC video and the This American Life transcript.  One member argues that women were placed on a pedestal before feminism and that Proud Boys just want to put us back up on one, teetering there.

(4)  Proud Boys have at least some participation in the recent white nationalist marches, and they seem to be moving more in the direction of approving violence.  The last link, by the way, defines McInnes's movement as:

The political aspect of the group was meant to mirror Gavin’s; support of the Trump agenda, male chauvinism, and hatred of Islam, trans people, and leftists.
(5)  You can see this easily by noting that masculinity depends on what women do.  Thus, women are to be venerated as housewives, because that is the one field of activity manly men do not desire for themselves.

(6)  Indeed, because I'm well versed with the misogynistic theories about women that are common in the manosphere I can tell that McInnes got his views from that place: 

Women "choose" not to earn as much as men, because women "choose" family over work.  But women are also by nature forced to choose family over work.  Women are unhappy in the labor force and feminism has made women unhappy.

So there's your Catch-22, common in the right-wing manosphere.  Likewise, men have evolved to spread their seed all over the place and to think about sex all the time, women are evolved to be coy, so sons should be allowed to go out and enjoy mad orgies during Spring Break, but daughters should be kept at home.  Nature has created those double standards feminists whine about!

(7)  What he says on Fox News is pretty shocking, by the way.  That he is a regular guest there tells us all sorts of stuff about Fox.