The Manosphere is a newly theorized online anti-feminist space that has been implicated in the execution of several violent attacks. Social digitization has facilitated a ‘viral’ form of anti-feminism in subdivisions of online networks such as Twitter, Reddit and 4Chan (Ging, 2017). The cluster of interconnected, alt-right affiliated online communities that propagate anti-feminist rhetoric and misogyny, is collectively known as the Manosphere. This qualitative thematic analysis adds to conceptualizations of the space through the exploration of prevalent narratives of women and society. The research examined how the unique characteristics of online spaces facilitate anti-feminist sentiment.
Whilst a substantial body of literature and research exists exploring online abuse against women and digital misogyny, studies have been limited, failing to assess or discuss the unique mechanisms of online spaces and digital networks that allow for misogynistic rhetoric and the creation of ‘niche’ digital hegemonies. Previous research has addressed specific and singular aspects of the Manosphere, such as isolated reddit communities or ‘flashpoint’ case-studies such as mass killings or toxic techno-cultures. The literature points to a significant knowledge gap in establishing an understanding of the Manosphere and how technological landscapes contribute to propagating such digital hegemonies. The objective of this research is to address this knowledge gap, exploring how women are portrayed across the Manosphere and establishing the facets of online networks that facilitate this.
The research explores the primary questions;
1. What recurrent narratives of women are prevalent in the Manosphere?
2.How characteristics of online spaces influence these narratives.
Eight primary themes were produced through the condensation and inductive coding of 80 Reddit threads from 8 communities, representing the ideologies of the Manosphere. Publicly embedded community documents such as rules, guidelines and recommended reading were included in the analysis. The thematic analysis generated eight primary themes describing overarching environmental conditions, narratives of society and narratives of women. The asserted themes comprised governance, intellectual texts as ideological fortification, specialized language, gynocentrism, gendered hierarchies, depictions of women as pathological, depictions of women as the object of violence and depictions of women.
The research concludes that the Manosphere represents a collective anti-feminist movement and an exemplar of ideological violence with a tangible impact on women’s lives. The rising instances of mass attacks illuminates the urgent need for adequate policy intervention and securitisation to prevent further violence.