Masculinity, sexuality and gender roles in the alternative right

The international Alternative Right has, at its core, the explicit rejection of equality and the pursuit of identity and status for white men who feel aggrieved. A primary thread uniting the alt-right and alt-light is their virulent antagonism to feminism and the belief that men and women – and the world more generally – should be ordered into strict hierarchies.

This worldview has fermented in the manosphere, the online den for men “red pilled” (awoken) to their supposed emasculation by feminists. The powerful currents of resentment flowing from the manosphere has provided an energy from which movements rejecting the current liberal milieu more generally have been able to draw.

Over time, the boundaries between the alt-right and manosphere have blurred, and a general consensus has emerged that decades of identity politics have left white men devoid of any identity other than feelings of guilt and humiliation. The hated “SJW” (social justice warrior) is now almost interchangeable with the “feminist”.

The manosphere, alt-light and alt-right rallied together during the 2014 Gamergate scandal to protect the male safe space of gaming from the supposed encroachment of feminist values. The torrent of invective unleashed acted as a springboard for the alt-light and alt-right and made Milo “feminism is cancer” Yiannopoulos a star.

The second great mobiliser of the Alternative Right was Donald Trump’s candidacy in opposition to Hillary Clinton, a woman who, in their eyes, embodied the liberal “feminist” establishment. Informed by the manosphere, the Alternative Right has indulged in highly idealised visions for the role of men and women in a world free from what Arktos Media’s Daniel Friberg calls “the Leftist myth of the absolute equality and sameness of the sexes”.

These visions are, like their (primarily young and male) visionaries, at their core confused and conflicted, and, crucially, utterly unrealisable.

Marcus Follin (aka The Golden One)

Attitudes to men

“The patriarchy, to put it simply, is Western Civilisation.”

In a piece for, writer Dan Beran is right in noting that the anti-feminist ramblings of the likes of Yiannopoulos function less as arguments but rather as pep talks that help empower men who feel disempowered.

For some men who feel bereft of identity, the message that European men are strong and intelligent, capable of prodigious artistic achievement and carving great civilisations, is extremely attractive.

“The patriarchy, to put it simply, is Western Civilisation”, said Yiannopoulos in 2016. Gavin McInnes’ “Western Chauvinist” Proud Boys fraternity takes a stand against “weak, immoral culture of feminised failure” and tells men that they should “no longer apologise for creating the modern world”.

The alt-light and alt-right teaches men to protect male-only enclaves that allow them to affirm this message to each other and afford them a sense of comradeship. As academic Angela Nagle has pointed out in her book Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, the 4chan culture from which the Alternative Right has drawn has always regarded the internet to be a male-space that should be inoculated from female influence. Gamergate was, in the words of Matt Forney, sparked when “the white men of gaming saw the left trying to subvert their favourite hobby, one they retreated to after society rejected them, and they said “No more. Enough. This line you shall not cross”. The nazi website Daily Stormer blocks women from contributing.

Active offline are male-only fraternities such as Proud Boys and at the extreme end the disciples of male tribalist Jack Donovan who advocates the retreat of men into ethnic tribal “Brotherhoods”. Online or offline, the sense of camaraderie fostered in male spaces allows men to validate each other as men; incredibly powerful for those who would otherwise be isolated.

Men are, however, ranked in a strict hierarchy that entails the persecution of other men regarded as lacking masculine qualities. Both the alt-light and alt-right share an angst-ridden obsession with “alphas” destined for success and “betas” destined for failure, a manospherian concept explained in tedious detail through inaccurate evolutionary theory.

The alt-right sometimes refers to male-only groups organised in these hierarchies as “the Männerbund”. Lowest are men that reject the terms of their hierarchies, ubiquitously labelled “cucks”. The insult has, through online porn featuring the white wives of submissive husbands having sex with (usually) black men, become filled with racial meaning and overtones of sexual humiliation.

These hierarchies compel the men to constantly compete for status and prove their manhood to each other. This often translates into a heavy focus on “re-masculinising” through lifting weights, sometimes attempting to boost testosterone through abstention from masturbation.

This also often involves a capacity for violence. Donovan, for whom “masculinity is a religion”, argues that “the ability to use violence effectively is the highest value of masters”. Donovan has, alongside Marcus Follin (aka The Golden One), become popular in part for uploading highly homoerotic pictures of their powerful, muscular frames on social media.Both the emphasis on intense male camaraderie and the worship of the male form are common far-right tropes and echo 1930s fascism. 

Those less physically inclined have sought status through intellectual domination. Despite a penchant for conspiracy, many on the alt-light are fixated with their own self-proclaimed “logic” and “rationality”, fashioning themselves as dispassionate men of reason making fact based arguments in the face of an irrational mainstream media, a politically-correct feminist liberal consensus and emotional, oversensitive left-wing “SJWs” (commonly derided as “snowflakes” to be “triggered”).

The off-putting intellectual snobbishness and obsession with IQ of many leaders of the alt-right is rooted in a Nietzschean elitism and disdain for mass culture. This allows the likes of the NPI’s Richard Spencer to inhabit the role of pseudo-aristocratic, intellectual “higher-men”.

There are multiple layers of self-deception at work here. A New Yorker article on Mike Cernovich, the testosterone-obsessed author of How to Develop the Game of an Alpha Male, revealed him filming from his partner’s parents’ home, allowing his following to assume that he is the owner of the pool in the background. Pick up artist Daryush Valizadeh (aka Roosh V), a self-proclaimed “alpha-male”, was revealed by the Daily Mail to live in his mother’s basement at the age of 36. According to Rolling Stone, Richard Spencer has claimed that women secretly desire alt-right boyfriends due to their “alpha sperm”. This is despite the fact that – by his own estimates – women only constitute around one-fifth of the movement’s followers.

The exclusion of women from male-only enclaves functions, in part, as convenient cover for the fact that women largely appear disinterested in their movement, and it is possible that groups on the Alternative Right have simply reframed their rejection by women as a positive choice on their part. Whatever the cause, these enclaves of disaffected men effectively create echo chambers within which ever more extreme ideas can take seed.

Gavin McInnes. founder of the Proud Boys

The alt-light/alt-right preoccupation with hierarchy and male-only spaces has led to a complicated relationship to sexuality. Drawing on the ideas of counter-jihadists, sections of the alt-light have embraced the freedom to be gay as a core Western value that can be held in opposition to Islamic and “Third World” cultures. “Liberals; Either you support Islam or gay rights. Pick one. You can’t have both”, tweeted Paul Joseph Watson in 2017. 

This allows the alt-light to embrace openly gay figureheads, for example Yiannopoulos of “The Dangerous Faggot” college tour fame and Lucian Wintrich of “Twinks4Trump”.

This is, however, accompanied by a scornful derision of modern gay rights movements, broadly associated with societal decline. Yiannopoulos has written that the “genteel, camp rightists of the 1950s” have been transformed into “brash, glitter-drenched Pride queens” who he implores to “get back in the closet”. Caolan Robertson, also openly gay, encapsulated alt-light attitudes with his coverage of a London Gay Pride March for Rebel Media, which simultaneously focused on Islamic oppression of gay men while calling attendees of the march “degenerates”.

Sections of the alt-right have tolerated gay figures. James O’Meara, writer for The Occidental Observer and Counter-Currents Publishing, argues in The Homo and the Negro that gay white men have played prominent role in conserving Western civilisation (while the “negro” is incapable of achievement). Donovan, a friend of Richard Spencer, has a long-term male partner, although he describes himself as an “androphile” due to the “leftist” effeminacy denoted by the word “gay” and believes that the “reproductive sexuality” of straight people entitles them to more privilege and power.

Donovan and O’Meara are notable exceptions to the alt-right’s general perception of gay men as morally lacking deviants. Colin Robertson (aka Millennial Woes) was once part of a gay youth group but has since decried Yiannopoulos as a “gay, race-mixing half Jew”. Alt-right manospherian Francis Roger Devlin has written that “the homosexual bathhouse view of sex… attacks our race from within and at its source”. Spencer, who has invited Donovan to speak at multiple NPI events, has pondered whether homosexuality can be eradicated in a eugenic society by giving foetuses “testosterone baths”. Jez Turner, writing for The Daily Stormer, has celebrated the internment of gay men in concentration camps in Chechnya.

Deep-rooted angst at their own masculine ranking, exacerbated by the homoeroticism prevelant in male spaces, has led to a virulent homophobia in the alt-right, with gay men placed at the very bottom of the male hierarchy. The hosts of the Daily Shoah podcast have revealingly complained that gay rights have made all male gatherings, or even a loving embrace between friends, vulnerable to being interpreted as “suspect”. 

The Right Stuff later posted an article stating that “in order to counter this acute paranoia about being perceived ‘effeminate’ […] mocking and ridicule must be accompanied by a total shunning of anyone homosexual, advocating homosexuality or even tolerance for homosexuality”.

Milo Yiannopoulos

Attitudes to women


The subordination of women is central to the Alternative Right project of restoring male pride. An argument common on both the alt-right and alt-light is that feminist inroads into the public sphere have selfishly prioritised women’s autonomy over their duties to the family, and has led women to neglect their biological desire to become the “trad wives” of alphas. Echoing traditional far right groups, both men and women of the Alternative Right tend to agree that women, often presented both physically and intellectually inferior to men, should return to traditional patriarchal domestic structures.

Within the alt-light, Stefan Molyneux exhorts his followers to become “alpha providers” for their family, and a central tenet of the Proud Boys is to “venerate the housewife”. While the alt-light has embraced several prominent female commentators, such as Lauren Southern, they too tend to argue for traditional gender roles in the private sphere. Southern, for example, has argued for the “return of the traditional woman”, claiming that feminism has misled women about their “sexual market value” and that “there is no purpose more valuable than motherhood”.

The alt-right take this much further, commonly arguing that women should not just be denied the freedoms of the sexual revolution but also the vote. Such a radical withdrawal from the public sphere means women can concentrate on establishing tightly knit communities of white families and focus on boosting white birth rate. “Make sure you have at least three children and raise them well” Friberg writes to his female readers; “in this regard, the future of Europe rests squarely in your hands”.

To Lana Lokteff, the alt-right’s most visible female figure, women are “too emotional” for leading roles in politics and “beauty, family and home” are ingrained into the female psyche. A motto of vlogger Wife With A Purpose, a white nationalist mother of six, is “Trad wife, happy life”. These ultra-conservative values are sometimes celebrated with Nazi propaganda images, featuring men at the head of Aryan families, shared on alt-right forums.

The trad marriage framework allows men to embody the masculine “protector” role rooted in archaic notions of chivalry. The hyper-sexualised black/Muslim rapist – an enduring figure in far right thinking and propaganda – is therefore invoked to the point that every sexual assault by a non-white perpetrator is portrayed as the rape of every white woman and the “cucking” of all Western men. Men can, in turn, adopt the mission of defending the women of the homeland.

Alt-light outlets such as Breitbart News Network have relied heavily on misrepresenting rape statistics and claims about Sweden, presented as a once-idyllic European utopia brought to its knees by the influx of Middle Eastern sexual predators. Paul Joseph Watson has decried “The Rape of Europe” and Yiannopoulos and  Cernovich have thrown around the term “rape-fugee”. 

The alt-right fixates on “white genocide” through miscegenation (“race-mongrelizing”). Specific instances of rape cases are spoken about in terms reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan “Swarthy foreigners […] stare at our sisters, wives and girlfriends the way lions stare at gazelles” in the words of Matt Forney. The title of an episode of Lokteff’s Radio 3Fourteen, featuring American singer Nicole Jorgenson reads: “How the Migrant Invasion Made Me Become a Trad Wife”.

Male tribalist, Jack Donovan, who advocates the retreat of men into ethnic tribal “Brotherhoods”.

Appeals to traditional marriage are totally undercut by the predatory sexuality of the manosphere, which has spilled into the Alternative Right. Cernovich, married with an infant daughter, has written articles such as “Misogyny Gets You Laid” and “How To Cheat On Your Girlfriend”. Valizadeh’s Return of Kings (RoK) blog both exhorts men to find “trad wives” while posting articles such as “8 Essential Rules for Banging Married Chicks”. Watson has complained that “neomasculine men now need to deploy all kinds of mind games and techniques as a way of re-orienting women back towards the natural attractive male traits that feminism has brainwashed them into thinking are brutish, arcane and misogynistic”.

The central rallying point of the Alternative Right was Trump, a candidate who called for “for traditional marriage”, and also bragged about his ability to grab women “by the pussy” and his attempt to sleep with a married woman.

The seething resentment that has percolated in the manosphere has also infected the Alternative Right and regularly boils over into stark misogyny and the degradation of women as manipulative, vengeful sluts. Valizadeh has claimed that all women should be considered “worthless dirty whores until proven otherwise”. During the first presidential debate, Spencer tweeted: “Women should never be allowed to make foreign policy. It’s not that they’re ‘weak’; to the contrary, their vindictiveness knows no bounds”.

The sexual assault of women by non-whites is sometimes fantasised over by the alt-right as “learning experiences” for liberal white women, portrayed as having “betrayed” their race. This resentment sometimes manifests as a cruel 4chanstyle harassment of women that totally undercuts any pretences of “chivalry”.

Again undercutting any genuine concern for “protecting” women is the frequent denial or dismissal of the existence of white rapists. Yiannopoulos, Watson and Southern have denied the existence of a rape culture in the West. “A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?” wrote Cernovich, who has also claimed that “date rape does not exist”.

Theodore “immigration is rape culture” Beale (aka Vox Day) has also stated that “'Marital rape’ does not, and cannot, exist”. The Daily Stormer has sections dedicated to “Black Rape” and “Rape Jihad”, yet on May 2017 published an article encouraging men to “stealth” women (secretly removing condoms during sex to forcefully impregnate, and then subsequently blackmail, women in order to boost the white birth rate). In light of the alt-right's frequent posting of images of battered white women with black partners, consider the Matt Forney article “How To Beat Your Wife and Get Away With It”.

This galling contradiction was brought into sharp focus when Valizadeh was roundly condemned in the press for a 2015 article advocating the legalisation of rape on private property (subsequently dismissed as satire by Valizadeh) and for the following passage in Bang Iceland (2011): “While walking to my place, I realized how drunk she was. In America, having sex with her would have been rape, since she legally couldn’t give her consent. It didn’t help matters that I was sober, but I can’t say I cared or even hesitated. I won’t rationalize my actions, but having sex is what I do. If a girl is willing to walk home with me, she’s going to get the dick no matter how much she has drunk.”

While alt-lightists such as McInnes and Cernovich defended some of Valizadeh's comments, he was exiled by many on the alt-right, not because of any genuine concern for an abused woman, but because Valizadeh, the sexual predator in question, has Persian heritage. One of the few alt-righters to come to his defence was Lana Lokteff.

The alt-light and alt-right are movements steeped in male feelings of political and sexual disempowerment, and their maladapted attitudes towards women ultimately constitute a long, protracted wail of frustrated male yearning.

Young men are indulging in fantasies in which they are paternalistic protectors of wholesome families; dominance over women cloaked with notions of loving duty and “natural order”. However, the fact that many of them are so far removed from any opportunity to satiate their desires in ways they deem emotionally or morally acceptable provokes them to lash out at women with great anger.

The men of the Alternative Right often treat women as tools or currency in an economy of honour. It is worth remembering that the blizzard of abuse, including rape and death threats, hurled at women during the 2014 Gamergate scandal was triggered when a spurned boyfriend ranted online about his allegedly unfaithful ex-girlfriend who happened to be a female game developer. It is also notable that LD50, the alt-rightart gallery in London (run by Lucia Diego, a woman) had a shrine to Elliot Rodgers, a manospherian who murdered six people in an attempt to punish women for not sleeping with him.

A formula for unhappiness

The unsettled internet-dwelling males of the alt-right and alt-light have rejected the liberal consensus in order to address a wounded pride.

Free from any kind of restraint they have assembled codes, hierarchies and ideals that rely on achieving a cartoonish maleness that is unobtainable for most aspiring “alphas” hunched behind their keyboards.

This angst and resentment causes men to subjugate each other and allows that contradictory male edict, to both protect and to exploit women, to be taken to extremes. The answers the Alternative Right have found to their longing is not an answer at all, but rather an exact formula for unhappiness.