More than five years ago, the MeToo movement exploded and our culture shifted. But what actually changed? This project seeks to reexamine the era by asking how it will alter the lives of the next generation.


One of the consequences of the revelations that many prominent men behaved poorly in private was a very public effort to grapple with the whole concept of masculinity. Boys have long been mired in a well-publicized and seemingly endless “crisis.” But MeToo raised another question: Who would speak to these men?

Over the last five years, the answer has become clear: influencers. These micro-celebrities have positioned themself as guidance givers to struggling boys. Often, they pose the problem as not men’s fault and instead blame the usual suspects, feminists. Many are part of, or adjacent to, what has become known as the “manosphere”—a loose-knit network of hyper-online masculinists who see the undermining of traditional gender norms as the reason for the decline of, well, everything.

Trump’s ascendency in some ways helped push this along. One of the early news-making moments of his 2016 campaign was during the first Republican primary debate when Megyn Kelly asked him about his past comments in which he referred to women as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” He answered, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” (He would later say that Kelly asked the question because she was menstruating.) But to focus solely on him ignores the unique ways young men have found their way to right-wing politics through a backlash to MeToo, rather than the other way around.

“If you look at the history of antifeminist movements, they have always positioned themselves as responding to an overreach,” says Annie Kelly, a postdoctoral researcher at King’s College London, who studied the impact of digital culture on antifeminism and hosts the podcast Manclan. Recently “lots of antifeminist [rhetoric] used MeToo as the [current] moment when things went too far.”

Here is a guide to a few of the bold-face names in the manosphere influencer galaxy, who rose to fame, and power, telling men that women were asking for too much while offering a uniquely politicized brand of male self-help.


Jordan Peterson, Daddy

Jordan Peterson rose to fame in 2016. A psychology professor at the University of Toronto and follower of Carl Jung, Peterson publicly objected to proposed legislation called Bill C-16—a law that would require teachers in Canada to adhere to their students’ preferred gender pronouns. Videos of his campus protest went viral. In the eyes of many, Peterson was a sensible, brilliant man under siege by social justice warriors. This amplified his fame. After gaining clout as a free speech martyr, he began releasing lectures aimed at helping troubled young men with topics as varied as “The Psychology of Pinocchio” and “The Marxist Lie of White Privilege.” His video lectures notched millions of views. He went on speaking tours throughout North America. And he wrote a book, 12 Rules for Life, that was a bestseller.

Peterson was an important forerunner in male-coded self-help. He is adept at giving practical, anodyne advice coded as a culture war. Like the parent these men wanted but maybe never had, he told them: Clean your room, stand up straight with your shoulders back, treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping, and compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. Ideologically, Peterson is a social Darwinist who relies on just-so stories from the animal kingdom—see his fascination with lobsters—to justify hierarchies in human society. This combination of inoffensive personal advice and self-reliant right-wing politics is key to the overall ethos of the manosphere—a world he does not endorse or consider himself part of, calling manosphere types “deceptive narcissists.” (Peterson is, however, in conversation with people like Warren Farrell, a godfather of the “Men’s Rights Movement” that preceded the manosphere.) 

While Peterson has helped mainstream the manosphere, he still remains an outsider. Because of his supposed political moderation, he is loathed by many. Still, his academic credentials and stern fatherly demeanor have provided a respectable, intellectual sheen to a foundational idea of the manosphere: Gender hierarchy is rigid and fixed and those who want to change it are rebelling against nature.

Mike Cernovich, The Pick-Up Artist Blogger Turned MAGA Digital Soldier

The rise of Donald Trump and the meme-warfare of the online right changed the political dynamics of men’s rights movements online. Around 2016, groups were migrating from disparate forums onto social media platforms. Kelly, the researcher, began to notice a more coherent, right-wing nationalist style of politics forming in antifeminist spaces.

This shift is typified by Mike Cernovich, an attorney turned conservative media star from Southern California who won a seven-figure divorce settlement from his ex-wife, an attorney who he’d met at Pepperdine law school, and became a “pick-up artist” with a blog called Danger & Play: An Online Magazine for Alpha Males. On the site, Cernovich wrote posts with titles like “How to Choke a Woman;” he penned another on how he did not believe in the concept of date rape. He went on to write the bestselling 2015 male self-help book Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions, Improve Your Health and Fitness, Make More Money and Live Life on Your Terms. If the book wasn’t enough to change your mindset, you could fast-track it with his Gorilla Mind supplements.

Beyond this niche fame, Cernovich rose to mainstream prominence for his role in the targeted harassment campaigns toward women during the Gamergate saga. From there, he got on the MAGA train and became an internet shit-kicker. He even played a role in breaking the story of sexual misconduct allegations that led Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to resign in 2017. As Andrew Marantz noted in a 2016 New Yorker profile, before this Cernovich was a self-identified libertarian who rejected both major political parties. Trump changed this, even if Cernovich is no longer a fan. In July 2015, Cernovich tweeted, “I said if a Republican acted like me and ran for office, it’d be a movement. Donald Trump has proven me right. People are tired of pussies.”

Anthony “Dream” Johnson, “President” of the Manosphere

Anthony “Dream” Johnson is the self-proclaimed president of the manosphere. He hosts the premier in-person gathering of the scene in Orlando, called the 21 Convention, and is the founder of “the world’s #1 school for men,” 21 University—which sounds more impressive than what it is: a YouTube channel. On his online store, he sells ripoff $37 MAGA hats: “Make Women Cook Again,” “Make Women Virgins Again,” “Make Women Thin Again,” and “100% Toxic Masculinity.” An hour consultation with “Coach Dream” runs $500.

Other than that, Johnson is straightforward, even boring. He started the 21 Convention in 2006 when he was 21 years old, and now he’s decades into it. Because of his fulcrum-like role in the manosphere, he is best thought of as a stand-in for the type of young man who may become enamored by this subculture. Over the years he has become more overtly political and MAGA-aligned. He’s said that the Access Hollywood tapes were the moment “when it became clear to me what kind of man Donald Trump was and what potential he represented for America”—which, unlike most reactions to those tapes, meant something positive. 

Johnson acts as a sort of gatekeeper of the manosphere, and he’s a useful bellwether for the state of the scene. Last year, he sent a newsletter to his followers celebrating Andrew Tate’s meteoric rise, and his own interview with Piers Morgan, as proof that 2022 was “the year the manosphere broke through.”

“The manosphere is unstoppable. Our culture is too fucked up, and the hunger for authentic masculinity runs too deep,” he wrote. “Feminism—a hate and supremacist movement—has caused far too much damage in young men and women. People need answers, and there is nowhere else to go.”

Jack Murphy, The Canceled Liberal

Jack Murphy, whose real name is John Goldman, was fired from his job in 2018 after it was revealed he operated an alt-right-affiliated blog that documented his political transformation from “Democrat to Deplorable.”

“The cult left must destroy masculinity to destroy the family to destroy the patriarchy and end male supremacy,” he wrote in a 2017 post about James Damore’s infamous Google Memo, in which the former Google employee argued that there were biological reasons why women were underrepresented in tech. 

Now, Murphy hosts a popular podcast where he’s interviewed fellow “New Right” luminaries like Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance and failed Arizona Senate Candidate Blake Masters. He is also the leader of “Liminal Order,” an anonymous network of men helping each other “survive and thrive amid the long march of woke.” A speaker at Johnson’s 21 Convention, last year, he had a falling out with the manosphere after it was discovered that Murphy had a side hustle starring in pornographic “cuckold” films.

Bronze Age Pervert, Anonymous Ubermensch of the Alt-Right

Concealing your identity and operating under a pseudonym as Murphy did has become a trend among the hard-right edge of masculinity influencers. The most well-known “anon” is Bronze Age Pervert (BAP). (He has been identified as Costin Alamariu, a Yale University political science PhD originally from Romania who wrote his dissertation on one of the right’s favorite theorists: Leo Strauss.) BAP is the author of the self-published manifesto Bronze Age Mindset, which has become a cult classic among young right-wing men, with prominent fans like former Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie. Nate Hochman, a celebrated young right-wing intellectual who works for Ron DeSantis, told the New York Times that “every junior staffer in the Trump administration read ‘Bronze Age Mindset.'”

In esoteric and internet slang-laden prose, BAP extolls the beauty of the male physique and ancient European architecture. (This has become a meme: the so-called “Retvrn Guys,” who are likely to have Greek statues for their avatar and talk about the glory of “Western civilization.”) BAP laments that most of his male peers have become degenerate weaklings. He calls them “bug men.” He blames women for draining men of their “vital essence,” and has likened immigrants to “zombi hordes.” As essayist John Ganz wrote in his review of BAP’s book, the rhetoric is overtly racist and nakedly fascistic.

In 2021, an aspiring manosphere influencer who wrote books under the name Roman McClay, and who was greatly inspired by BAP’s writing, went on to murder five people in a mass shooting in Denver. McClay was also a self-declared member of Murphy’s “Liminal Order,” and was under consideration for a speaking slot at Anthony “Dream” Johnson’s 21 Convention.

BAP has contributed writing to a new manosphere-adjacent magazine called Man’s World, which is published and edited by the “anon” far-right fitness and nutrition influencer named Raw Egg Nationalist (REN). REN was introduced in Tucker Carlson’s “documentary” The End of Men as a “spiritual leader” of “bro-science”— the health-advice wing of the manosphere, which prizes meat-eating and lifting heavy weights in an atavistic search for an era of unimpeded masculinity. Think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, if the point was to feel like a Roman conqueror.

Elliott Hulse, Fitness YouTuber Who Got Lost in the Rabbit Hole

“Traditional masculinity” is what Elliott Hulse and the manosphere offers anyone who wishes to partake. Testicles are a recurring theme—whether it’s eating animals’ balls for health benefits or, as in The End of Men, tanning your own to increase testosterone levels. Hulse has recommended breathing into them as a way to smooth over anxiety and gain the confidence to speak to women.

Before he became obsessed with filming himself talking about his balls, Hulse was a Florida-based strength coach and fitness YouTuber who rarely delved into sex, gender, or politics. But through interactions with his followers, Hulse got turned onto the manosphere and thus began a long, strange journey.

Ever the curious autodidact, Hulse has flirted with occult rituals, practiced semen retention, and embraced “bioenergetic” grounding exercises (throwing a full body tantrum in a dark room). He came to believe that feminism was a scourge and that Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, and Satan were to blame. Eventually, Hulse started to “recognize the value of the West and how it’s being destroyed.” So he dumped the occult rituals and became a devout Catholic, Christian Nationalist.

In doing so, he’s following in the footsteps of a manosphere godfather, the former pick-up artist Daryush Valizadeh, or Roosh V, who has renounced his libertine past for “the God pill.” Religion is a trend. In 2022, Tate announced he was converting to Islam. (His spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that it “aligned with his worldview.”) Hulse has advocated for “weaponized chastity,” and a “movement away from all the titillating, sensual, sexy, deviant, degenerate, deleterious effects of our postmodern culture.”

As Kelly pointed out on her podcast, Hulse is an example of how online radicalization can operate as a two-way street between audience and influencer. Fifteen years ago, Hulse was flipping tires for a Tampa Fox 13 news segment on his men’s fitness boot camps. This year, Hulse spoke at Johnson’s 21 Convention with his wife for a talk titled “Dominate Your Wife. Dominate Life.”  

Kevin Samuels, Fresh&Fit, and the Black Manosphere

As the rise of Trump made the men’s rights movement more likely to embrace racism, Black men within the community began to form their own “Black manosphere.” Both Hulse and Tate are half-Black. But Kevin Samuels came to typify the new scene.

A men’s image consultant, Samuels became the first to break into the mainstream at the tail end of 2020. Writer and historian Aaron Fountain Jr.—whose Youtube channel Exposing the Manosphere paid specific attention to the Black manosphere—first encountered Samuels reviewing new cologne fragrances. But Samuels didn’t become popular until “he started switching his content to giving women advice and, more importantly, degrading them. His appeal was largely about just tearing down women’s self-esteem,” said Fountain Jr. Samuels would directly speak to women on his channel. One clip, where he told a woman that she “was average at best,” led to an explosion in popularity.

Engaging directly with women on their platforms was not typically done in the manosphere, but it has proved to be a successful viral strategy. Fresh&Fit is a popular new YouTube show and podcast hosted by Myron Gaines and Walter Weekes, two Black fitness and dating coaches based in Miami. Their goal, in Gaines’ words, is to teach men “How to go from a basic SIMP that turns women off to a badass PIMP that women can’t resist.” Apparently, the best way for them to help men is to invite panels of conventionally attractive women from South Florida onto their program, and then cruelly ridicule them.

Samuels’ rise to fame included a cameo on Donald Glover’s television show Atlanta and a promotional video with the rapper Future. In some ways, his tailored suits and air of respectable authority mirrored the appeal of Jordan Peterson. “He used a lot of manosphere talking points but he did it in a much more polished way and a much more respectable way that wasn’t as extreme or divisive,” says Fountain Jr. Samuels unexpectedly passed away in May 2022 at age 57 from hypertension.

Fountain Jr. says it’s important to keep in mind that the Black manosphere is responding to a different male experience with a very different set of grievances. “The white manosphere is trying to reverse the hands of time to regain a patriarchy that they felt that they lost,” he said. “[The Black manosphere], on the other hand, are trying to gain a sense of patriarchy that they never were entitled to.”

Andrew Tate, Top G

Andrew Tate is a former professional kickboxer and reality television show contestant turned social media influencer. Known for his ostentatious lifestyle—sports cars, cigars, mansions, muscles—and his aggressive male chauvinism, he is a gratingly sophomoric expression of the male “playboy” that seems to resonate deeply with teenagers and sexists. For instance, he sold a video course on how to sleep with more women, called a PhD (“Pimpin’ Hoes Degree”)

Tate’s TikTok videos have been viewed more than 12 billion times, making him one of the most popular posters on the platform. In 2022, he was the eighth-most googled person in the world, according to Google Trends. (Ahead of Donald Trump, but behind Vladimir Putin.) In England, schools have started to hold special assemblies hoping to combat what they see as his pervasive and toxic influence on a generation of impressionable young men. 

In August 2022, Tate was banned from Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Then in December, Tate was arrested by Romanian authorities on allegations of human trafficking and rape. He is accused of targeting and grooming women and coercing them into online sex work. According to reporting by Vice, the “PhD” courses he sold to his followers were based on how to do just this: target and recruit women to set up webcam businesses and pocket a portion of their earnings. In April, Tate was released from jail and placed under house arrest. His attorney has argued that Tate’s performance of masculinity is just an act: make-believe satire.

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LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

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