Manosphere Madness: YouTube’s Antifeminist Pipeline Recruiting Youth Into The Right-Wing 


It is hard to scroll through YouTube and not be bombarded with videos and recommendations that push a right-wing agenda. This is something that a lot of people online have observed, and right-wing talking heads themselves have celebrated. The spread of right-wing sentiments is not limited to video creators but also exists in the wider YouTube community, something which can often be seen in comment sections. YouTube and social media in general have come under the glare for the kind of content that is recommended to users and the effects that this has on ‘offline’ or ‘real world’ individuals and communities. I started off by talking about YouTube because it is the world’s largest video hosting platform and a place where people from a variety of backgrounds come together across many intersecting interests.

 YouTube therefore has a very broad and generalized audience and the dominance of reactionary content on the platform means that such views have the potential to reach even those who may not consider themselves actively political nor have much of an interest or knowledge about contentious social and political subjects of the day.

While progressive, left-of-centre, and left-wing positions (socialist, Marxist, anarchist, etc.) struggle to reach the masses due to the accrued resistance of social norms, ingrained education, and lack of resources, the well-funded rightwing propaganda machine can muscle its way to the top of algorithmic recommendations and insulate its potential recruits against discourses that advocate for changing the status-quo, misdirecting them down a path which has often been labelled as a far-right ‘rabbit hole’.


One of the most common types of right-wing and conservative content on YouTube promotes the agenda of the manosphere, a loose collection of related ideologies that are antifeminist and patriarchal at their core. The YouTube manosphere includes the following trends:

·      Red Pill culture: Derived from a scene from the famous movie The Matrix, ‘red pill’ ideology posits ‘waking up’ to the reality of gender relations and how they are unfavourably tilted against men. It plays upon the central plot device of the film in which humans awaken from a simulated life into the reality of being plugged into the Matrix.

·      Sigma male cult: The ‘sigma’ male is a supposed upgrade from (the discredited) notion of an ‘alpha male’. This imagined male archetype is stoic, contemptuous of women and immune to their corrupting influence, physically strong, rich, and a lone-wolf figure with a clique of close confidants. This archetype has been inscribed onto figures from cinema like Christian Bale (in his role as Patrick Bateman and Bruce Wayne), Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders, Oppenheimer), Toby Maguire as ‘Bully Maguire’ in Spider-Man 3, and many more. The sigma aesthetic is reinforced by certain set pieces of music and visual effects that add up to performances of unbothered machoism and charismatic masculinity.

·      Antifeminism: Manosphere ideologies are predicated on male supremacy which makes feminism(s) their arch-nemesis. Frequent points of attack are gender equality, women’s refusal of traditional gender roles like caregiving, and homemaking, and the insistence on sexual and reproductive autonomy. This antifeminism seeks to isolate and contain dissenting women while setting up ‘traditional’ and anti-modern women as legitimate representatives exclusively deserving of male validation. Another prominent trend is to undercut the intellectual underpinnings of feminism by claiming to ‘debunk’ well-established women’s issues such as denial of justice for sexual violence survivors, the gender pay gap, negative representation in popular culture, and others.  

·      Men’s Rights Activism (MRA): MRA is to genuine women’s struggles what ‘All Lives Matter’ or ‘Blue Lives Matter’ is to the black liberation movement, or what EWS is to the reservation policy. It attempts to paint men as victims of power structures and justify the consolidation of male power as self-defence. For example, MRAs respond to legitimate calls for criminalizing marital rape by attempting to foil it with the bogey of ‘false’ rape or dowry cases or cynically bringing up cases of men being raped by women while ignoring facts of sexual violence committed by men against other men by police and militaries.

·      Homophobia and transphobia: Manosphere ideologies insist on strict gender binaries and wish away the existence of gender and sexual diversity. The mocking and denigrating of LGBTQ+ people and their lifestyles has become disturbingly common both by video uploaders and commenters on YouTube. Manosphere ideology sees cisgender heterosexuality as normal and ‘natural’ while a narrowly defined femininity is seen as its lesser complement. Any challenge to this dichotomy is considered unnatural and a sign of the modern corruption of society. State repression of gender and sexuality is celebrated and members of the community are baselessly derided as paedophiles and ‘groomers’ of children.

·      Glorifying capitalism and entrepreneurship: Manosphere ideology deludes its followers into a dream of one day joining the ruling classes in their penthouses and sports cars by peddling individual ‘improvement’ and change of mindset as an alternative to workers’ solidarity and communal action. They push a culture of hyper-individualism, alienation from the community, and unfeeling consumerism. Men are taught to become ‘high-value’ by commodifying themselves and objectifying women.

·      Fitness culture and gym bros: Fitness is sold as the de-facto route to establish one’s masculinity and separate oneself from the stain of femininity. The gym becomes a site of male solidarity and upliftment, and the trope of ‘overcoming’ the self-righteous feelings of betrayal and hurt caused by a woman through working out is common. In this subculture, women are portrayed as a force of emasculation and distraction that are out to stop you from becoming the physically desirable man that they will themselves chase: the kind that they choose over your present self because you are weak.


As said earlier, YouTube is an important resource and repository for all kinds of internet users and the prevalence of the ideology of the organized Right is harmful to the cause of socio-economic progress and transformation. The influence of YouTubers and their content is getting increasingly significant in today’s changing media landscape. The male-supremacist manosphere ideology is but one of the many portals into a reactionary pipeline that serves to confuse and frustrate individuals suffering from alienation, loneliness, and extreme financial pressure as capitalism squeezes us harder and hinges all its bets on the reaction against lasting change. YouTube and other platforms are incentivized only to increase our watch time and to keep us hooked onto screens by shaping what we see and feeding us more of it: all other concerns are secondary. It is, after all, a corporation for whom the bottom line is the final word. How we choose to use it or be influenced by it is our move.


Here are some useful links to articles, videos, and podcasts that explain the phenomenon of online right-wing misinformation and its linkages to the male-grievance-based manosphere ideology.

1. Right-Wing YouTube: A Supply and Demand Perspective [Journal article]

2. As U.S. Supreme Court weighs YouTube’s algorithms, ‘litigation minefield’ looms [Article]

The Red-Pill Lie by DarkMatter2525

3. Debunking Red Pill TikTok

4. For the New Far Right, YouTube Has Become the New Talk Radio [Article]

5.  Isolation, conservatism and buzzwords: What drives the lucrative market for right-wing influencers [Article in the Indian context]

6. Joe Rogan Is Mainstreaming Right-Wing Misinformation [Podcast]

7. Rise of the Grifters: How Joe Rogan Creates Space for the Right [Article]

Arjun Banerjee is a political commentator

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