gender equality

[Dash of SAS] Slater Young and the dangers of creating ‘manospheres’

Ana P. Santos

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[Dash of SAS] Slater Young and the dangers of creating ‘manospheres’

Nico Villarete/Rappler

'Healthy, self-indulgent fantasy crosses over into objectification when you ignore consent'

Let’s talk about Slater Young and our fantasies. A few weeks ago, Young’s comment about fantasizing about women and sharing photos of women in a group chat with, “for example, a group of 10 friends” and fantasizing about it being “very, very normal” made the headlines. Netizens, rightfully, called out the former Pinoy Big Brother contestant and content creator for normalizing the objectification of women. 

First of all, let’s talk about purpose and intent. Of course, it is common to fantasize about people you find attractive. But what happens in your head and whatever part of your body that you would like to involve in your fantasies in private is your prerogative. 

It is not okay to post photos of women, people who identify as women, or people with vulvas – or of anyone in general – in group chats without their consent. 

Healthy, self-indulgent fantasy crosses over into objectification when you ignore consent. When you send photos into a ring of other men, you create a locker room atmosphere and open the doors to objectification and amplification, or boosting comments that objectify, mock, and degrade. The setting of being in a “crowd” creates a false sense of normalization and a bandwagon effect where everyone wants to join in, or as Young stated, “Siyempre as part of that group, sakayan mo na lang (Of course, as part of that group, you just go along with it).”

The subtext is that to be part of the group, to be accepted, you must go along with it. 

Young has just described the dynamics of what goes on in the “manosphere.”

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Manosphere: A world of misogyny

The manosphere is a network of online communities of men that promote anti-feminist (and by this, I mean, promoting gender inequality) and sexist beliefs. 

In its extreme, the manosphere can look like a group of men’s rights activists (MRAs) whose idea of advocating for political changes that will benefit men consists of harassing feminists and leaders with progressive feminist views. Or incel groups (involuntary celibates), the group of mostly young men who believe that they are entitled to sex and are angry at women for “withholding” sex from them. Multiple killings have been traced back to incel groups.

Elliot Rodger was an incel who killed six people in the United States before turning the gun on himself. Rodger posted a “retribution” video attributing his killing spree to women who deny men sex.

Not as extreme, but not less harmful and dangerous, are pick up-artist groups that teach men duplicitous seduction strategies like insulting women (negging) and pushing the boundaries of consent. 

Then there are friend group chats like Slater’s. 

The binding factor of all these groups is the objectification of women. There is evidence that correlates online hate speech and violence to real-life violence. Vigilant consciousness is needed to prevent the escalation of online talk to real-life harm. 

Men want and need a space to do better

A while back, I interviewed young men for an article about the state of feminism in the Philippines. The men I talked to candidly shared that they want to do better and be better gender rights allies, but are confused. Mostly because they don’t have other “models” for positive male behavior. 

Duterte’s blatant objectification of women showed them how shameful and harmful it is to be a misogynist. Duterte’s personification of toxic masculinity showed them what it looks like to be caged in expectations where masculinity means only emotions of violence, anger, and sexual dominance are permissible. 

The old adage and all-access pass “boys will be boys” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

These young men were left looking for an answer to the question: how can I be a better man and a better person?

The men joined a group called Usapang Lalaki where, together with women, they could have a safe space to better understand how words and actions impact women.

We need to keep having these conversations and safe spaces like this because unlearning locker room sexism and misogyny involves unpacking negative attitudes towards women and other gender-diverse people that were modeled for us and normalized in wider society. Women and other people who have their own internalized misogyny also need to recognize and unlearn their toxic belief systems.

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Netizens can take an active role in this by respectfully calling out sexism and objectification when they see it. Influencers like Young can take a step back and reframe their behavior and really mean it when they say they will do better. (Young has since apologized for his statement after facing backlash.)

Having these conversations like this is the beginning of re-imagining and creating new concepts of masculinity and figuring out how we can all exist in a more equitable and respectful world. –

Ana P. Santos writes about the intersections of sexuality, sexual health, and female migrant labor. She has a postgraduate degree in Gender (Sexuality) from the London School of Economics as a Chevening Scholar. Follow her on and Twitter: @iamAnaSantos 

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Ana P. Santos

Ana P. Santos is an investigative journalist who specializes in reporting on the intersections of gender, sexuality, and migrant worker rights.