Last week, as electoral returns began strongly favoring Joe Biden, commenters on a political discussion board for members of Reddit’s notoriously misogynistic The Red Pill sounded the alarm over the inevitability of a woman president. “Biden will either step down, be killed, or be unfit to serve within 2 years of his term in which case Kamala will be president,” wrote one commenter. Another user described Biden as “the Trojan horse of Kamala’s technocracy.” This analogy was parroted on a forum for involuntary celibates, or incels, where a poster invoked an unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory: “Biden is a creepy pedo and he’s obviously a trojan horse for Kamala to take over which would fuck America over like you’d never seen before.” On a MGTOW forum, a commenter wrote: “Biden won’t be in charge though, Kamala will be.”
A storyline is gaining traction in the manosphere, one that seems likely to explode once Biden is sworn in: that Democrats are calculatedly sneaking in our first woman president. The theory holds that either Biden will die and Harris will take over power, or she will be his puppet master from behind the scenes. It is all part of a paranoid fantasy about gynocentric “pinkout” of “femoid” political control, which will usher in matriarchy and feminist control.
This anti-feminist conspiracy theory is only buoyed by the baseless claims of mail-in voter fraud that currently dominate the manosphere. This loose network of anti-feminist online communities, known for its divisive fractures, is now overwhelmingly united in the false claim of a stolen election. Of course, it’s the same plotline seeded many months ago by President Donald Trump, one that’s perfectly tailored for the manosphere’s conspiratorial, disenfranchised mindset—a world where mainstream “illusions” are punctured, turning the oppressed into oppressors, losers into winners. Even those who consider themselves apolitical—because all politicians are “manginas,” because real men make their own reality, because a new POTUS shouldn’t hurt your chances of getting laid, bro—are now railing against the legitimacy of a Biden presidency.
Here, in the pairing of these two conspiracy theories, is the alternate reality in which the manosphere will be living for the next four years: a stolen election that brings men under a woman’s rule. Four years ago, the Red Pill forum, and the broader manosphere, identified the presidential runoff between Trump and Hillary Clinton as a “war on men” and celebrated the former candidate as “an alpha male who would fight for men’s political fortune,” as scholars have put it. Now, as Trump contests the election results, a more extreme version of that narrative is taking hold, one in which the war on men has been fought and unfairly won. It’s probable that a Biden/Harris administration will only fuel this conviction.
“Kamala Harris is going to be the president, it’s not going to be Joe Biden,” Rollo Tomassi, the so-called “godfather of the manosphere” and author of The Rational Male, speculated during a recent YouTube show responding to the election. He claimed, without evidence, that Biden has dementia. “Kamala Harris will be the president. We will have the first female president in… I would say, 2021.” He added, later, “It’s the only way they could do it.” (It isn’t the first time Tomassi has speculated like this.) One of his co-hosts, a dating coach, ventured, “Six months in, Joe Biden is gonna get the coronavirus.” (Covid conspiracy theories run rampant in the manosphere.) None of the six panelists appeared to believe that Biden has legitimately won the presidency.
This thinking perfectly aligns with the manosphere’s pre-existing rhetoric, which centers around a supposed feminist conspiracy to disenfranchise men. “They’ve stolen the election from trump already and now we’re going to see the acceleration of the domination of the matriarchy and feminism,” writes a user on a forum for Men Going Their Own Way, or MGTOW, who in anti-feminist backlash renounce women. Harris, of course, is seen as part of that plan.
Within the manosphere, Harris represents something worse than the general threat of democratic liberalism. On a popular forum for “incels,” or involuntary celibates, one commenter wrote, “President Kamala Harris is even scarier than Biden. Imagine a woke tyranny run on an international scale by HR ladies (a.k.a. cops working for management).” Another commenter lamented, “So long, MAGA land. Hello law-enforced gender pronouns and Kamala as the first black woman president within 2 years. It’s so over it’s not even funny.” Biden himself is rendered as “one of the biggest misandrists ever,” due to his introduction of the Violence Against Women Act, and “one of the top mangina in the USA.”
This kind of reactionary bluster is utterly predictable. “Any time you see discourses change around masculinity or women making gains, we can expect this pushback of traditional masculinity,” said Deana A. Rohlinger, a sociology professor who has studied the politicization of Reddit’s Red Pill community in the lead up to the 2016 election. “We’re going to see this in the political realm now, this pushback against progressive women, particularly women of color. This is a huge challenge for white masculinity.” How the manosphere itself responds over the next four years will depend on Harris’s visibility during Biden’s presidency. “It could keep this narrative fueled—‘See, look, we were right, this is about trying to sneak in women through the backdoor,” she said.
Beyond Harris, the manosphere appears disturbed by the growing power of women within the GOP, or “twice as many femoids amongst House Republicans,” as one poster on a popular incel forum put it. This outrage over women taking power is consistent with the “red pill” mentality, says Rohlinger. “Women can have their jobs but they still have to know their place,” she said. “Women that are taking these visible positions don’t know their place in this gender order.” There is the evident belief in the manosphere that women are politically dominating men, as opposed to slowly chipping away at deeply entrenched power imbalances. Late last week, Tomassi shared a Politico article about the rise of women politicians in the GOP and called it, “The Sisterhood Über Alles.” This, he wrote, “is the real problem.” Tomassi referred to reporting on the all-women Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as evidence of “a #genderwar” and scoffed at the idea of a post-Roe America, saying that no such day would ever come “in a Gynocentric social order.”
Others spent last week questioning women’s right to vote. Anthony “Dream” Johnson, an antagonist of Tomassi, a vocal Trump supporter, and the self-described “president of the manosphere,” RTed a tweet suggesting that women voting goes against “God’s ordained order of men being the leaders” and “has only caused chaos in our country.” (Previously, Johnson has suggested that “all women should vote how their husbands tell them.”) The popular narrative, though, isn’t that women’s votes have caused “chaos” in this election, but rather that the vote was stolen. On this, there is agreement from pickup artists to incels.
Rohlinger notes that Trump helped to create the alt-right movement by unifying disparate groups using a “big tent narrative” to “glide over pretty profound differences.” Enough unity, even around a single theme, can have a real impact. “Four years ago, that was getting Trump into office,” she says. Now Rohlinger notes that the narrative of a stolen election is similarly unifying, and not just for the most conspiratorially online facets of Trump’s base. In recent days, she’s seen “stop the steal” language being used by CPAC and anti-choice organizations. In the manosphere, the purported theft is not just of an election, but of their manhood—and by a woman, no less.