Monday, June 24, 2013

New Mixed Review Of The Manosphere Book By Matt Forney

As I promised, I point out bad reviews as well as good ones.  This one at the venerable Matt Forney's site is mixed, but doesn't recommend the book for reasons he points out in the review.  Essentially, sloppy scholarship (particularly in the MGTOW section).

As I said in the comments section, I'll cop to that.  If I could have, I would have spent another year on the book and refined it, annotated it properly, and had it meticulously fact-checked . . . but when your choice is "publish it now or abandon it altogether", you go to print with the book you have, not the book you want.

That being said, Matt's criticisms are well-taken.  The biggest one (besides sloppy scholarship and some editing issues) is the supposed failed take over of The Spearhead by white supremacists, and I do feel this needs some note of explanation: after I'd written the MGTOW section, it became clear that the Southern Poverty Law Center was investigating various Manosphere sites, and ultimately listed Roosh as some sort of thought criminal because, well, his kung-fu works.  But they apparently (from what I understand) became aware of the whole 'sphere while tracking white supremacist trolling, and that's what led them to The Spearhead.  And that much activity was enough, apparently, to rationalize a full-scale "investigation" of the Manosphere.  So from the interior perspective I can see how this would be a glaring error, but as I was examining the movement from an exterior perspective and this alleged fact was used to attack the movement, I felt it was worthy of inclusion.  A second edition may see the section re-written as events unfold.

And that brings me to the other point I have in response to Matt's cogent review: as he says, trying to define the Manosphere is a big task.  What he doesn't emphasize is just how fast the Manosphere changes, and how difficult it is to pin down a "history" or even a helpful survey of something that is evolving so rapidly and in so many different directions.  A book is a static thing, just as a blog is a plastic one.  Worse, you can be focused on one section and miss important developments in others.

For example, when I started the book In Mala Fide was the ex officio New York Times of the Manosphere, and Return of Kings hadn't been launched.  My first version of the MGTOW and MRA sections was based on that.  By the time I came back around to a re-write, I had to include RoK because of its obvious importance in the 'sphere . . . but my editor thought we'd covered MGTOW and MRA exhaustively and didn't think we needed to include "every new blog that pops up".  In fact, it was one of the issues leading up to the decision to publish on my own, instead of abandoning the effort.

When a writer tackles a subject like this it can be difficult to separate his personal perspective from the objectivity needed to do a subject credit; while Matt's criticism is well-taken and deserved, his perspective is skewed in the sense that he is part of the thing I was attempting to describe; I'm guessing that being at the center of it, he doesn't see the popular reaction to the idea the way I do, or how the basics of the MGTOW movement have been co-opted and mixed with other ideas and sprouted new hybrids.  That's perfectly understandable, from Matt's position.  I'm not arguing I got some of the facts wrong (or didn't relay them well), but the fact is that MGTOW has grown beyond the ideals of the original movement, it has influenced a lot of other ideologies and responses, and it has inspired thousands of men to do things with their lives that perhaps the originators of the ideal hadn't considered.  

Other issues:

I know there are gay men lurking in the Manosphere because they have written to me, ostensibly because I'm less homophobic and judgmental than other areas in the Manosphere.  In fact I'm working on a post about the nature of masculinity and homosexuality, and the role gay men can and should play in the Manosphere, but as that subject is still fairly nascent I may wait until it develops further.

I chose the term PUA because terms like "Game Artist" or "Game Theorist" get confusing.  The common perception of Game bloggers is that they are "PUAs", and since that's how they are commonly (if erroneously) referred to, that's the term I used.  I can see Matt's point, but I can see my own as well.

Yeah, politics always comes into it, and it could be argued that mine have gone more conservative over the years.  On the other hand, I'm still just as pro-2nd Amm, as I was when I started, and I'm no less enamored of the corporate ruling elite, the tax system, the federal bureaucracy, and all sorts of other issues.  I am one of those surprisingly common dudes who fits into neither Left or Right when my aggregate politics are examined.  While I'll be the first to insist that the Democrats are the Party of Women and Women's Issues, for example, I cannot in good conscience say that the Republicans are the Party of Men and Men's Issues, because the fact is they really aren't.

All in all, it's a good, thoughtful, intelligent review that ultimately doesn't recommend the book for dudes in the Manosphere.  Hell, I can live with that.  I wrote this book to be an introduction, a survey, a place for the man ignorant of the Manosphere to get an idea of where to go to find what he needs.  Dudes who are already neck-deep in the Manosphere know most of this stuff already, as Matt points out.  This is for the guy who heard the term, was curious, and wants to know more.

7 comments:

  1. THere is a thread on this review of your book here:

    http://www.mgtowforums.com/forums/mens-general-discussion/16376-matt-forney-ferdinand-bardamus-review-ian-underwoods-manosphere.html

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  2. Wow, an author who actually accepts valid, constructive criticism! You are a rarity indeed, sir.

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