There’s some interesting developments in the “manosphere,” a sometimes seedy, always lively corner of the Internet. The manosphere grew out of the pickup artist (PUA) phenomenon of the early 2000s, then morphed into a catch-all philosphical, cultural, and lifestyle movement that encapsulated all manner of ideas about relations between the genders. While not necessarily “conservative,” the manosphere broadly occupied a space on the fringe of the Right, overlapping with Dissident or Alt-Right thinkers.
It also promoted strongly the idea of the “red pill” and “red pill awareness”: its leading lights and most avid followers purported to see things as they really are, not the fantasy realm of blue pill NPCs. That came with a number of time-tested insights about the nature of male-female relationships, along with some unfortunate detours down the dark by-ways of discourse: anti-Semitism, racism, libertine sexual mores, and the like.
Ultimately, though, it was a beautifully messy example of what free speech should be: free-flowing, raucous, even unsettling discussions about every conceivable topic. We like to imagine the public square as some kind of sanitized, lofty forum of David French-ian gentlemen debating arid abstractions. In the world of the Internet, it’s more of a mud-flecked, bloody arena.
The 2015-2016 election cycle probably witnessed the greatest growth in this movement. Donald Trump—a man known for his success in business and with beauties—captured the imagination of the manosphere the same way he won over the Silent Majority: he was tough, brash, and unpredictable. More importantly, he challenged a stagnant, ossified establishment and status quo.
The manosphere glommed onto Trump like herbal supplements on an Alex Jones live-stream. Until the implosion of the Alt-Right at Charlottesville, the ‘sphere was going strong.
There are many strains of thought within the broad Red-Pill/manosphere movement, and I can’t do justice to them in a short blog post. What I found interesting while reading some of these authors—the “Big Three” are Rollo Tomassi, Roissy, and Roosh V—was their gradual transition from PUAs to snake-oil sophists to political theorists. One might scoff at the idea of a dude teaching guys how to pick up chicks formulating political and cultural ideas, but, hey, they did it.
What’s even more fascinating was watching the probing into the foundations of political systems. On the old Return of Kings website, controversial founder Roosh V wrote a series of articles examining the different world religions, weighing their perceived pros and cons. He also seemed to grow increasingly disgusting with a life of meaningless sex (I’ll provide some actual links when I write a longer treatment of this transition).
Now, Roosh has done a dramatic turnaround, after he has undergone—he claims—a profound religious conversion. Consistent with that conversion, he’s banned posts on his popular forum about “pre-marital sexual activity,” to great scorn from his readers. He’s also removed eleven of his Bang guides from his website (books for hooking up with women at home and abroad).
Some of his readers are accusing him of engaging in censorship, a la big tech companies shutting down InfoWars. This comparison is absurd. Roosh is a single entity, maintaining a server with his own funds and for his own purposes. He’s not crushing political discourse or criticism of a regime.
Other comments accuse Roosh of “selling out”—as if telling people not to talk about sex is somehow going to sell more books. Maybe the eleven books he’s removed from his website weren’t selling well anymore, but it does seem like a sincere example of “putting your money where your mouth is.” Sure, maybe he’ll parlay his newfound faith into giving talks to churches, but that’s a pretty big transition to swing. He’s not tapped into that market at all.
I could be naive, but this doesn’t seem like a case of “conversion-for-cash.” There was a distinct undertone of disgust with his former lifestyle in Roosh’s recent writing, and a subtle repudiation of the West’s culture of sexual license.
Even before his conversion, I noted the Augustinian quality of the path Roosh trod. He gave himself fully to the pursuit of earthly pleasures, only to find that pursuit was fruitless: no amount of casual encounters could give him meaning. Indeed, a theme that was beginning to emerge on sites like Return of Kings was a call to return to traditional gender and sexual roles, including a renewed embrace of Christianity in the West.
“Game” practitioners like Roosh were researchers in the dark field of dating and relationships in the twenty-first-century West. They developed some useful techniques and stratagems for navigating those murky, painful waters, but their experiences also led them to Truth. Roosh might have been a dime-store Sophist, but he’s come to realize that only Christ can fill the void.
I do hope his conversion is sincere. If it is, his moves to remove potentially damaging books from his website is commendable, and a show of good faith.
If you’re not a believer, it is unlikely you will understand the nature of these decisions and similar ones that will come in the future.
Amen, brother. God bless.