The Proud Boys Are What Happens When Boys In A Sexual Wasteland Try To Become Men

The Proud Boys Are What Happens When Boys In A Sexual Wasteland Try To Become Men

'This American Life' ran a report on the Proud Boys, a self-described 'fraternal organization" that promotes 'alt-light' political ideas centered on an odd combination of post-sexual-revolution mores.
Joy Pullmann
By

Editor’s note: Some unavoidable vulgar sexual language appears in this article.

“This American Life” included a segment on a recent show focusing on the Proud Boys, a self-described “fraternal organization like the Elk’s Lodge” that promotes “alt-light” political ideas centered on an odd combination of post-sexual-revolution sexual mores. Core ideas of the group include abjuring pornography and masturbation and celebrating fatherhood, but they also support LGBT sexuality and look positively on hookups because at least then the guy is banging a real girl instead of himself.

The group commandeered by “punk libertarian” Gavin McInnes, a cofounder of Vice Media who veered into fringe Right politics afterward, has chapters across the country. “Fraternity” appears to be an accurate designation, as at their gatherings they drink, read, and punch each other. A guy sampled on “This American Life’s” segment appears to suggest they may also do cocaine sometimes; it’s unclear if he’s joking. A “Proud Boys” tattoo is required for achieving “third degree” membership.

“What interested me in these guys was this thing they believed…that they were feeling marginalized and oppressed,” says segment producer Zoe Chace, linking their malaise to support for President Trump. She quotes a series of men presumably in this group reeling off all the reasons especially white men are slighted in modern Western society. You’ve probably heard them: Men are obtaining fewer degrees at all levels; more are dropping out of the workforce; they are legally discriminated against, particularly in family courts; a lack of a specific social function for men as men; and popular media depicts them as a laughingstock, if not a threat to restrain and even eliminate.

This cultural stew appears to have inflamed personal frustrations. Chief among them was difficulty snagging a woman, to address which these guys began listening to local relationship consultant Dante Nero, a former male stripper. McInnes hosted Nero on his online show, where they made a deal to stop masturbating and looking at porn for a month: “It mutes my masculinity, to a certain extent,” Nero explained to McInnes in explaining why he stopped and recommends other men follow suit to up their relationships game.

My husband says many men use similar descriptions, which surprised me like it did Zoe: “Demasculating,” “embarrassing,” “shameful,” “inhuman.” This type of experience persists regardless of religious affiliation, as many secular no-porn groups have sprung up in recent years, such as NoFap.

“That focus on the screen and masturbating and watching porn gave an unrealistic idea of what intimacy is, what it is to be a woman, and then when they got the rejection they started to withdraw from the whole idea of social interaction. These are guys who don’t even want to date, and it’s insane,” Nero explained further to Zoe.

To become a “second-degree” Proud Boys member, men have to commit to no masturbation, “except once a month, if you want,” says Proud Boys staff writer Franklin Wright, although he personally swore off it completely. “And if you do you have to be within ten yards of a lady and it has to be with her consent.” They call it “no wanks.” This became a coalescing commitment for founding the Proud Boys. Because it was Nero’s idea, he became “the pope of no wanks.”

For McInnes, “it was more than just helping guys pick up chicks,” Zoe narrates. “Gavin wanted the guys to stop masturbating, go out, talk to women, and then marry them, procreate, be strong American family men, help restore the natural order of things that had been knocked out of wack by feminism.” For Nero, the purpose of swearing off porn seems to be getting in bed with more women, not necessarily making a commitment to anyone. It’s unclear which way the Proud Boys themselves lean.

The fraternity could be easily seen as McInnes’s attempt to have other young men not make the same mistakes he did, spending one’s twenties and thirties in aimless partying rather than establishing his place in the world with a young family as an anchor. McInnes says he realized too late the sense of fulfillment and purpose, as well as the formation of personal character and identity, that springs deeply from marriage and fatherhood. He feels our post-sexual-revolution society robbed him of the kids he would have if he and his wife weren’t so old, as well as years of time with them had he begun his family sooner. For decades this robbed him of a sense of place and belonging, and boundaries for his behavior.

To people who have been paying attention to the world, none of this is at all surprising. People have known since time began that women and children civilize and productively direct men’s strength, sex drives, and quest for meaning. Modern social science has given myriad supporting data points to what human civilizations have always known: marriage is good for men, women, and children, in almost countless ways. Since approximately the 1960s, however, our society has chosen to lie en masse to young men and women about what people have forever known would help them feel fulfilled, accomplished, and purposeful in their personal and sexual lives. And that’s horribly wrong and has hurt countless people deeply.

So there are real reasons for these men and other victims of the sexual revolution to lay our legitimate grievances before a candid world. There’s a grave danger, however, in nursing rather than resolving and channeling this resentment. It risks turning these men into what they hate.

How long are men genuinely injured by the abject rudeness and lies of the matriarchy going to use that as an excuse for their mediocrity? At what point is it time to grow up, accept that you are responsible for your own life and decisions despite obstacles that every human being faces, and woo the girl for good rather than substituting hookups for porn because it better soothes your insecurities? When is it time to leave aside the politics and postures of resentment in favor of rebuilding a better life for yourself and those closest to you?

McInnes seems likely to say that’s his whole point. They’re working on it. And they may well be — I don’t attend these meetings, after all, and NPR isn’t entirely reliable source material. I wish them all the best in that pursuit. But I’m not seeing a lot of mature manhood in social groups obsessively focused on their own disadvantages and insecurely projecting a form of conjured-up masculinity through fratty behaviors like getting drunk, screwing real women they haven’t committed to instead of jerking off alone at home in front of a screen, and making rituals out of punching each other.

While McInnes tries to police these behaviors of his crew and seems to be trying to find a better line for his behavior, he and his Proud Boys are still known for crudity, provoking fights, and general chest-beating, online and off. It may indeed be a step up to be looking for real women to screw and promising to end fights rather than start them, but in a less puerile society these men would have gotten most of that out of their systems by age 20, not 29 and beyond.

The real way to express one’s freedom is not to say rude things to prove political correctness can’t control you. That’s a way to prove political correctness still controls you, through its power to provoke you into an adult-sized tantrum merely by spewing the right trigger words: “racist,” “homophobic,” “hedgemonic,” “mansplaining,” etc. Feminists, et. al, are still living inside these guys’ head to the extent these men’s reactions are predictably determined by outrage at “that stupid matriarchy.” So many of the alt-light types love to complain about the “social justice warrior snowflakes” while somehow being entirely unable to see they’re basically a political mirror image with the same immature impulses.

Expressing self-control through verbal and physical politeness due to genuine love of others, putting their highest good first, is not being a “cuck.” It’s being a real man. That is why sexual relationships find their highest expression in marriage and children. Political correctness has exploited these customs and traits of a civilized society, but that doesn’t invalidate self-restraint and courtesy. It just means we need to re-establish an objective measure of what actions constitute genuine regard for others’ best interests and what do not. Sometimes the right thing makes people feel bad, I get that. But self-restraint is also an emblem of manhood. Like not jerking off when you want to — not just sexually, but socially.

In “This American Life,” Nero makes an insightful comment about how the Proud Boys’ obsession with boasting about the West, and therefore themselves merely for being born into it, is kind of like social masturbation. Just as physical masturbation is lonely, shameful, selfish, and impotent, so is social and political masturbation. A culture is not revived by cucked men standing up to beat on their chests and yell in pain and anger. It’s revived by those men taking effective, strategic action to serve and protect something far greater and more worthwhile than themselves.

That’s why a fruitful marriage has always been a just source of pride available to almost every man out there willing to become strong and good enough to initiate and sustain one. This is the part of McInnes’s vision that is the most substantive and compelling, not the anti-PC bull sessions, bizarre comments, and public altercations that get him and his crew the most attention. Do more creating social capital for others and our society through being a good husband and father, and less whining about your lack of social esteem from people you claim you don’t like anyway.

Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," out from Encounter Books this spring. Get it on Amazon.

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