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My first interaction with the “manosphere” was a long time ago.
As a child of the internet age, I was introduced to anti-feminist ideas way too young. Like a lot of young boys, I went through a period of one or two years tacitly endorsing these ideas, because I liked the loud personalities of their proponents. Looking back, I’m not sure I actually believed them, but I consumed this content nonetheless. But as I got a bit older, and made female friends, my opinion shifted. I was utterly turned off by Donald Trump in 2016, ending my brief flirtation with misogyny.
It was thus with a bit of levity that I dismissed the misogynistic content creators that started to flood social media a year or two ago. They were, in my mind, just loud personalities that boys would reject once they, you know, started talking to women.
So I was a bit horrified when I realized the staying power of people like Andrew Tate and Sneako. They didn’t go away in a week, like I thought they would. They were popular with not just preteens, but with fully grown men. And they made me realize that we’re dealing with a serious societal problem of male resentment.
Men hold the majority of power within society. But there are many ways in which men are left behind, hurt by the patriarchy that usually props them up. Men are less likely to seek help for both physical and mental health problems, and this lack of preventative care has impacts down the road: Men make up nearly 80 percent of all suicides in America. And just as women are often reduced to mothers or girlfriends, men are often reduced to their careers, and made to feel like failures if they cannot be successful breadwinners.
Perhaps the most insidious effect the patriarchy has on men is promoting the dehumanization of women. Now that women are beginning to occupy traditionally male spaces, men are forced to acknowledge their talents, their ability, their humanity. Men have given up a bit of privilege, and that can often cause resentment.
This resentment has, in recent years, combined itself with another related problem pertaining to men’s perceptions of masculinity. In the words of journalist Caitlin Moran, “Feminism has a stated objective, which is the political, social, sexual and economic equality of women. With men, there isn’t an objective or an aim.” Unlike women entering male-dominated careers, men often refuse to enter traditionally female spaces, because those jobs are paid less and generally carry less prestige.
To purportedly fight back, influencers encourage men to see women as distinctly different from themselves. These influencers make up the “manosphere,” and they have, at times, called for the end of no-fault divorce and the end of women’s suffrage, among other things.
Undoubtedly the movement’s figurehead is Andrew Tate, a former kickboxing world champion who is currently on trial in Romania for rape, sex trafficking, and organized crime. Tate preaches a rhetoric that has been described as “extreme male gospel.” He says that men should have “authority” over women like they do over children and dogs. He talks endlessly about “The Matrix,” an amalgamation of legitimate societal problems like wage slavery with attacks on feminism. And he has a huge audience: He’s become one of the most popular influencers in the world, with his name being searched on TikTok a staggering 22 billion times as of the end of 2022.
This problem is a rot. It has its roots throughout American society, and it will take generations of intentional effort to fix.
One part of the solution lies in education.
Recently, we’ve seen women begin to outnumber men in higher education. However, in focusing on college, we are ignoring a more fundamental problem: Our educational system is disproportionately failing young boys.
According to a 2021 study by the Brookings Institute, young men in America graduate high school at a meaningfully lower rate than young women. It has also been consistently shown that women, on average, achieve more success than men during K-12 education. And, perhaps most importantly, there are far too few men working as teachers, often leaving boys without male role models outside their homes.
Education is critically important. It is not, as Tate argues, “insidious propaganda” that will turn you into a “slave.” It will make you a better-educated and more well-rounded member of society.
But we need to make sure that boys believe this.
Harvard, specifically, should be strongly encouraging more students — especially more male students — to pursue the Education Studies secondary field. Instead, in recent years, Harvard has shut down many opportunities for students to pursue education as a career. They must reverse course fast, investing both in the Ed secondary and related endeavors, such as programs that encourage students to go into teaching.
I worry about the world that kids around me are being born into. I worry about the world that I, later in my life, might bring kids into. The position of men is not just a men’s issue, just as feminism is not just a women’s issue. And education serves as the foundation upon which change is built. It’s time Harvard invested in it.
Vander O. B. Ritchie ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a double concentrator in Philosophy and History in Leverett House.
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