A friend of mine posted an unimpressed commentary on Facebook last night, linking to a “returnofkings.com” article titled “Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged”. She was seriously not amused, especially considering that she has short hair and has had for as long as I’ve known her (and doubtlessly far longer than that.) Her specific comment was along the lines of “Kiss my ass, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe just called: you lose.” This triggered a long discussion on her Facebook page section about the completely asinine nature of the article and the webpage which published it.

I’ve run across “Return of Kings” before, and I’m not going to bother linking it to my blog. They bill themselves as a web-magazine “for masculine men” and then proceed to publish a never-ending shit-faucet of sexism, misogyny and homophobia; they’re so far over the top that the first time I ran across it I thought I was looking at a satirical website. Sadly, it isn’t satire: A quick browse of article titles include such gems as “Three Tools of the Predatory Female“, “How the Pardon of Alan Turing is an Attack Against Male Heterosexuality“, “Why Feminists Did Not Cause Feminism” and my personal favourite “How A Man With Pride Handles the Modern Bitch.”

The Wife™, hearing my chortling about some of the comments in the impromptu Facebook discussion, looked up the article and then browsed through some of the linked articles on offer. She was, thankfully, amused. We spent a happy couple of hours mocking the kind of idiot who would think that a website publishing an article on “How to Seduce a Lesbian as a Straight Man” actually included practical advice (the subtitle of the article “And not just the ugly bull dykes” pretty sums up the whole tone of the website, BTW.)

We laughed, we mocked, we went to bed. I woke up this morning and thought about it, and it’s not that funny anymore. It’s just sad.

I’m a large, bearded man, and one could be forgiven for thinking that I represent these idiots’ ideal of the “masculine man”: My hobby is getting dressed up in medieval armour and hitting other large bearded men with sticks; I wear flannel shirts; I own a very comprehensive workshop; I’m married to a breath-stoppingly gorgeous woman; I drink my whiskey neat.

For the record, and as a large, bearded man in a flannel shirt (it’s cold today) I would like to say that returnofkings.com neither represents nor particularly impresses me. I don’t need some misogynstic neckbeard telling me what to find attractive or acceptable, and I laugh at the notion that their homophobic insecurity somehow represents the pinnacle of masculinity. On the surface I might appear to be the epitome of manly manhood, but I’m exactly the type of man that they’d turn on in fear and rage as soon as they realized that not only did I fail to conform to their ideal of hyper-heterosexuality, but I also treat women as (gasp!) equals — or in many proven cases my betters.

What I find particularly sad about the whole thing, and in fact the whole “Men’s Rights”, women-bashing, pickup-game culture that these guys advocate, is how grimly self-important they are. How stridently they assert that they’re right, that they’re the real men. Nobody else can be a real man, those guys are just betas and bisexuals and faggots. We’re the alpha males, the playas, and women will want us and men will want to be us as long as we follow these precisely defined rules and never, ever so much as concede that anyone else might possibly deserve respect as a fellow human being. Code words like “beta male”, “friendzoning” and above all the capital-G “Game” are all pretty much giveaways that these guys, rather than being the suave, debonair super-males they claim to be are in fact deeply insecure about their masculinity.

A real man doesn’t need to put women down to prove that he’s masculine. A real man doesn’t need to put other men to prove that he’s masculine. A real man doesn’t need to prove anything.

You want to be a real man? Be confident. Treat others with respect. Treat women in particular with respect — and that respect includes the acknowledgement that women have traditionally had a shitty time in the world that men built, and are entitled to a re-balancing of the scales. Understand that a level playing field is just that, and not an attack on masculinity. Understand that the same thing applies to LGBT people.

Test yourself. Push yourself. Learn to be strong. Match your strength against other willing men (chivalrous medieval combat is a pretty good way to do that, FYI). Challenge yourself physically and mentally.

Stop being obsessed about getting laid. Nobody is keeping score but you (if your friends are keeping a score on you then they’re not worth being friends with.) Women are not vending machines which will give out sex in exchange for enough “nice”: if a woman says she’d rather be friends, then just be friends (if you can’t accept that, then you’re the one not worth being friends with.)

And as for “Game”, that bag of psychologically damaging trickery which is used to manipulate emotionally vulnerable women into sexual situations, let me make it very clear: Real men don’t Game. A real man doesn’t shoot the wounded. A real man doesn’t manipulate the vulnerable. A real man’s strength is not to be used to hurt.

There’s a lot of shit that men need to deal with in this world; there are many legitimate male issues that need to be addressed in order to create a post-patriarchy society. Being pissed off that women and gays have rights is not even remotely helpful; treating other human beings as nothing more than an easier way to masturbate is just pathetic. I’ve touched on the failings of the alleged “mens rights movement” on this blog before, but this sort of bullshit only reinforces my belief that scum rises to the top.

Maybe that’s what I find so frustrating about that website and the whole culture which spawned it: rather than taking on the burden of the real work, of addressing the real issues, these guys are allowing themselves to get caught up in adolescent bullshit. There’s work to be done, and we need men to do it; rather than man up (literally!) they’ve chosen instead to lock themselves into high-school posturing forever.

The last thing this world needs is more thirty-year-old boys in fedoras.