Recently a Meet Up invitation arrived in my mailbox with just one word as a descriptor – Fight Club. Intrigued, I wondered if this was just a direct reference to the 1999 movie Fight Club or was this a symbolic invitation to join the hyper masculine “manosphere.” After further research I came across two other online communities who also worship the gospel of Fight Club. The Red Pill, which describes itself as a place for “discussion of sexual strategy in a culture lacking a positive identity for men,” and the more hard line group Men Going Their Own Way(MGTOW), which refuses to engage in any relationship with women whatsoever. Members from both groups see Fight Club as a story of redemption, the tale of a beta male achieving his true alpha potential. The manosphere’s affinity for Fight Club stems from a common central, biologically deterministic claim: ” Men are naturally predisposed to being violent, dominant hunter gatherers, who, having found themselves domesticated by modern civilization, are now in a state of crisis”.
My sense is that increased attention to the “manosphere” is a result of the perception that the “Me Too” movement is an attack on men and masculinity. Men are on the defensive and many feel they have to apologize not so much for their own behavior but for the gender in general. My concern is that the unintended consequence of “Me Too” will push more men into to seek refuge in the manosphere which will only bring more polarization and less of the constructive dialogue that is desperately needed to restore common sense in the workplace. It is crucial that the same mistakes made by many of the diversity programs adopted by corporate America will not be repeated by sexual harassment programs. The data suggests that overly prescriptive trainings focusing on do’s and dont’s have actually impeded workplace diversity. Introspection and constructive dialogue between men and women in the work environment is needed and will only happen if we lower the temperature of the most strident voices and avoid the inevitable gender wars with casualties on both sides.