In October 1991, Professor Anita Hill testified before Congress that her former supervisor, Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her in the workplace. The committee of White male senators conducting the hearings (chaired by then Sen. Joe Biden) responded to Hill, an African American woman, by disparaging her character and questioning her motives. (Thomas, also Black, portrayed himself as the victim of a “high-tech lynching” for even being questioned on the accusations.) Hill’s description of how Thomas repeatedly pressured her for dates, described pornography in detail, and once asked her who had put “pubic hair” on his Coke can triggered sharply divided reaction in the viewing audience.

Women inspired by Hill’s example—and objecting to her treatment at the hands of an all-male Senate panel—ran for office in record numbers, leading media outlets to refer to 1992 as “The Year of the Woman.” Four new female senators were elected, tripling the number of women in the Senate.Today, #MeToo, a Twitter hashtag now synonymous with the campaign to call attention to the widespread problem of sexual harassment and often name perpetrators, picks up on Hill’s legacy in bringing this issue into the national spotlight.A study analyzing the period from December 2016 to June 2018 found that hundreds of high-profile executives, employees, and celebrities accused of sexual harassment have been fired or faced other job consequences, an unprecedented change, though this represents only a drop in the bucket in dealing with the systemic problem.3 This comes after years of revitalized activism to fight sexual harassment and violence—in universities, the military, the Peace Corps, the workplace, and other spheres.

As calls for Supreme Court Justice Thomas’ impeachment are renewed,social justice advocates and researchers can benefit from understanding the other side of the impact of Hill’s testimony: a misogynist backlash to the infringement on male entitlement. 

Hostile viewers saw a lying woman scheming to take down a powerful man—or perhaps simply did not care whether her story was true or not. Right-wing media and organizations took advantage of what Mother Jones editor Jeffrey Klein called the growth of “male resentment” against “a perceived slippage of authority, a slippage of power, in an uncertain world with uncertain enemies.”A number of conservative organizations collaborated in defending Thomas against Hill’s testimony. Among them were the Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers and academics, and the Free Congress Foundation (FCF), a think-tank run by Paul Weyrich, the New Right “chief strategist” who helped found the Heritage Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Moral Majority. A new group, Women for Judge Thomas, sprouted up to provide female faces to counter feminist activists. It would later evolve into the Independent Women’s Forum: a leading anti-feminist group.6 The American Spectator, the magazine that took the lead in trashing Hill—and went on to set its sights on former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton—received millions of dollars from major conservative foundations through the 1990s. Hill and Rodham Clinton became the embodiment of female transgression against male supremacy. (And as a female Black law professor, Hill threatened White male power on two fronts.) Virulent hostility toward women became a more prominent part of conservative media, often couched as opposition to “political correctness,” from talk radio host Rush Limbaugh to publications with a prior reputation for more respectful engagement, like William F. Buckley’s The Firing Line.7

This resentment was certainly not new. It had been there in hostile responses to the campaign for women’s suffrage and to women entering the workforce in larger numbers during World War II. Susan Faludi’s bestselling 1991 book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women (published the same month as Hill’s testimony) focused on the pushback to feminist gains since the late 1960s and ‘70s. Though Faludi recognized the backlash of the 1980s as the continuation of a longer historical trend, the late 20th Century response appeared especially panicked about traditional male authority, fostering new frames claiming male victimization at the hands of powerful women.

Those arguments developed further with the 1993 publication of The Myth of Male Power, an influential text that has been referred to as the “bible” of the “men’s rights movement.” As Hill’s testimony about workplace sexual harassment threatened both male economic dominance and security in their sexual entitlement, other misogynist responses would follow, such as the “seduction” or “pickup artist” industry, which taught men to manipulate women into sexual intercourse in an upended society. All are part of a misogyny that has increasingly come to dominate the modern Right, sometimes boiling over in deadly violence.

Men’s Entitlement and Mass Violence

An unemployed former Merchant Marine living in Belton, Texas, began to scream and rant when Anita Hill appeared on the television screen in the restaurant where he sat on October 15, 1991, his 35th birthday. “You dumb bitch!” he shouted. “You bastards opened the door for all the women!”8 The next day, he opened fire at a different restaurant, in Killeen, Texas, largely passing over men to target women, killing 23 in all before killing himself once police arrived. Survivors reported him shouting, “All women of Killeen and Belton are vipers! See what you’ve done to me and my family! … It’s payback time. It’s payback time. Is it worth it? Is it worth it?”9

Earlier that year, the Texas restaurant shooter had been reported to the police for stalking two young women—sisters who lived in his neighborhood. He sent them a letter in June, praising them as on “one side” of a moral divide, with “the abundance of evil women that make up the worst on the other side.” He continued, “I would like to personally remind all those vipers that I have civil rights too.” A short time before sending his letter, the Texas restaurant shooter had tried to file a civil rights complaint with the FBI against the “white women of the world” for a conspiracy against him. Although a psychiatrist had analyzed the letter as demonstrating troubling “Pent up anger” and a “Grandiose sense of power,” the police failed to take the letter or report of stalking and harassment seriously.10

The Texas restaurant shooter’s attack came amid a rise of mass killings, perpetrated primarily by White men, in the 1990s—an escalation that was an anomaly at the time, as other types of homicide were decreasing.11 In Montreal, Canada, two years prior, a young man killed 14 women at an engineering school in the name of “fighting feminism.” The 1990s also saw a rise in attacks against reproductive health clinics in the United States, similarly at the hands of mostly White men, as the anti-abortion movement met with legislative failures.12

Writing about school shootings—yet again an epidemic dominated by White males—sociologist of masculinities Michael Kimmel and co-author Rachel Kalish rejected the popular narrative that bullying was to blame. While perpetrators often feel victimized by their peers (justly or not), Kimmel and Kalish write in Health Sociology Review, it is a “sense of entitlement” and superiority that “transforms the aggrieved into mass murderers.”

In a commentary on a 2014 attack targeting sorority women, Kimmel explains, “Aggrieved entitlement” is the belief “that [mass shooters] are entitled to certain things—power, wealth, sex—and that they are entitled to use violence to restore what they believe is rightfully theirs.”13 In his book, Angry White Men, Kimmel analyzes the Texas restaurant shooter and the 48-year-old Collier Township gym shooter, who, before opening fire at a Pennsylvania fitness class in 2009—killing three women and injuring nine more—seethed in an online journal about being rejected by “30 million women” and expressed intense jealousy toward sexually active teenage girls. This type of mass violence, tied to hatred of women or feminism, is only one manifestation of misogynist violence. Kimmel also describes the far more common phenomenon of “everyday” perpetrators—men who physically and sexually abuse individual women in their lives, sometimes ending in murder.

The Conservative Movement’s Attack on Hill

While the Texas restaurant shooter expressed his rage against Anita Hill and other women through extreme violence, the same male resentment coursed throughout the broader Right, which sought recompense for the perceived mass violation of male entitlement that followed Second Wave feminism. Although Clarence Thomas was confirmed, many on the Right found their victory insufficient. Republicans nursed bitter resentment over the 1987 defeat of Robert Bork’s nomination for Supreme Court, thanks to his vocal opposition to civil rights progress with regards to race and gender.14 (The opinion page of the conservative Wall Street Journal responded by popularizing15 the term “to bork,” as a synonym for systematic defamation.16) An African American woman’s role in nearly derailing another nominee, and in the process spotlighting the problem of sexual harassment and encouraging a wave of liberal female political candidates, infuriated conservatives. At the 1992 Republican National Convention, some delegates followed Nina Totenberg, one of the NPR journalists who broke Hill’s story, around the convention floor, calling her a “whore.”17

According to author David Brock, Elizabeth Brady Lurie, president of the conservative W.H. Brady Foundation, financed a “special investigation” into Hill18 that would be published by The American Spectator. Started as a student publication in 1967 at Indiana University (under the name The Alternative), the magazine ridiculed Leftist “student radicalism” from antiwar protests to feminism.

Although Clarence Thomas was confirmed, the Right still nursed bitter resentment over the 1987 defeat of Robert Bork’s SCOTUSnomination, thanks to his vocal opposition to civil and women’s rights.

Support from wealthy conservative philanthropists Ruth Lilly/the Lilly Endowment and Richard Mellon Scaife enabled the magazine to make the unusual transition from campus to national stage. There, it established a reputation for sexist and anti-gay content. Historian Daniel Spillman points to a piece by Spectator founder and editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, “Call It Women’s Glib,” which argues, “Women’s liberation is probably the most successful pestilence since Prohibition… What passed for ideas in the women’s movement were some of the scrawniest specimens of cognition ever spied.”19 The piece, included in Tyrrell’s 1979 book, Public Nuisances, was reprinted in The New York Times, indicating his was not a fringe voice. The book also helped to land him a syndicated column at The Washington Post, which in 1979 referred to him as “one of the most luminous young gadflies now singing in the American wilderness.”20 (The Post dropped the column a few years later, when Tyrrell’s loyal support for the Reagan administration made for dull writing.)

Spillman emphasizes that the Spectator was primarily enlisted in the “secular culture wars,” writing in his dissertation on the magazine that, “it considered its gay and feminist opposition an extension of its war against student radicals… The magazine saw itself as fighting a culture war, not for religious values, but against what it considered the values of 1960s student radicalism.” This approach helped the magazine appeal to a wider swath of the conservative movement, including neoconservatives alienated by explicitly religious organizations, while still appealing to the sexism and homophobia integral to the Christian Right.

This version of misogyny diverges from traditional conservative Christian ideology in focusing less on moral outrage against abortion and contraception (in fact it sometimes supports access to such reproductive services, though not necessarily as an aspect of women’s rights). It eschews patriarchal frameworks that put “good” women on a pedestal or portray sexist policies as “protecting” women. Instead, those operating out of a secular misogynist ideology dedicate themselves more to directly maligning feminists, objectifying women or calling them “ugly,” and mocking the concept of equality. While the Religious Right is often treated as having a monopoly on opposing gender justice, misogyny, as with racism or xenophobia, need not be directly religiously motivated.

While the Religious Right is often treated as having a monopoly on opposing gender justice, misogyny, as with racism or xenophobia, need not be directly religiously motivated. 

The American Spectator hired Brock, a former Heritage Foundation fellow then working for The Washington Times (a right-wing publication established by Unification Church authoritarian leader Sun Myung Moon), to write its “investigative” expose on Hill. Brock’s article, “The Real Anita Hill,” published in 1992, portrayed Hill as a liar, incompetent, and vengeful—infamously labeling her “a bit nutty, and a bit slutty”—as well as a pawn of a liberal conspiracy against Thomas.21 Brock later recalled that his managing editor, Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, commented in okaying the piece that, “All women were ‘emotional’ and thus prone to fabrication.” (More recently, President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly has repeatedly told aides that women are emotional.22) Stereotypes hyper-sexualizing Black women also played a part in selling the story. The Spectator issue with Brock’s cover story featured a caricature of Hill, African-American features heavily exaggerated. It sold out in a record two days.23 

“[T]he Thomas-Hill hearing was more than a shocking media spectacle; it was part of a broader struggle for political power between conservatism and liberalism,” Brock writes in his 2002 tell-all, Blinded by the Right. “I hoped to turn back this feminist tide, exposing the treachery of what we saw as a liberal cabal that leaked Hill’s uncorroborated charges into the public domain and forced her public testimony.”

Brock’s article fed an eager right-wing media infrastructure, and went on to benefit from mainstream media’s own problematic willingness to accept misogynist rhetoric. His 1993 follow-up book, The Real Anita Hill, received positive reviews even in publications condemned by the Right as liberal (mostly by male reviewers, Brock recalls), such as The New York Times.24Journalist Jane Mayer, whose book Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas was published in 1994, recalled, “After [the Spectator’s] charges were broadcast repeatedly on the growing right-wing talk-radio circuit, and then picked up by the mainstream press and television, Brock’s long article convinced many open-minded Americans to reassess their thinking.”25 Of chief influence in the talk-radio world in the early 1990s was Rush Limbaugh, who seized on Brock’s article, quoting long sections on the air to his estimated audience of 14 million listeners26 (adding his own degrading speculations about Hill).27 Limbaugh—who like Tyrell came of age in the late 1960s with a deep hostility to Leftist youth activism—shared the Spectator’s vitriolic and mocking style in his own attacks on “feminazis,” LGBTQ people, and liberals.28 (Thomas himself listened regularly and approvingly to Limbaugh’s show, and after meeting the radio star in 1994, officiated at his third wedding.)

Between January and December of 1992, the Spectator’s circulation jumped from 30,000 to 114,000 subscribers.29 (Other publications, like Reason, a libertarian magazine founded in 1968, shared in its good fortune by advertising to its expanded reader base.) Pleszcynski opined to the National Journal that:

the magazine has tapped into “the phenomenon that created Rush Limbaugh”—which the editor views as a long-overdue cultural response to liberal political correctness. This is the main theme of a Spectator TV ad that has run on Limbaugh’s television show; a young, well-dressed, professional-looking woman declares of the magazine: “It’s so incorrect. I like that.”30

The frame of opposing political correctness was used by purveyors of misogynist and racist content in the 1990s including the Spectator, Limbaugh, and bestselling rightist books that came out over the next couple years—such as Dinesh D’Souza’s 1991 Illiberal Education: The Politics of Sex and Race on Campus and Katie Roiphe’s 1993 The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus.

Despite the young woman in the advertisement, the Spectator’s misogyny appealed to very few women: its readership was 91 percent male.31 The magazine’s leadership continued to cater to aggrieved male readers throughout its heyday in the 1990s, when the magazine also received millions of dollars from conservative foundations. Its disparagement of Hill was so successful that Brock reports that Spectator publisher Ron Burr asked him jokingly, “Can’t you find any more women to attack?”32 They found their target in Hillary Clinton—half of a couple whom the Spectator considered the 1960s generation of student radicals all grown up. By 1994, the Spectator was outselling the conservative intellectual heavyweight journal, National Review, and observers took note of its path to success.33 “Is it a coincidence that the Spectator rocketed in popularity by targeting first a woman who accused a man of sexual harassment and secondly a woman who has made the First Lady post an unprecedented seat of policy-making power?” asked the centrist National Journal.  

Looking back on his work, Brock informs readers that the quotes in his article on Hill were suspect—not explicitly made up, but rumor and spite published as fact. (Among them, Brock’s false implication that multiple sources had corroborated the claim that Hill had left pubic hairs in the assignments of her male law students—a charge lobbed after Hill accused Thomas of making his own comment regarding pubic hair.) However, even Brock’s mea culpa failed to consider how her identity made her a particular target of resentful men (especially former students) willing to lie to put a Black woman with the audacity to become a law professor in Oklahoma in the 1980s and ‘90s in her place.

Date Rape and Date Robbery: The World of Warren Farrell

Since the 1990s, this sense of male hostility and aggrieved entitlement has been promoted by Dr. Warren Farrell, once a 1970s feminist and “men’s liberation” activist who took a hard turn toward misogyny as he began to believe that men were the truly oppressed class. The shift began to be visible in his 1986 book, Why Men Are the Way They Are, but it was his 1993 The Myth of Male Power that laid the foundation for a new ideology of “men’s rights” and inspired a movement based on the notion of male victimhood to balance out the women’s movement’s gains. (While ostensibly race-neutral, Farrell’s audience has been primarily White men.)

Rejecting the existence of a male-dominated society, Farrell instead claims men and women have been equally harmed by sex roles: “Both sexes made themselves ‘slaves’ to the other sex in different ways.” But, Farrell writes, women were still better off. Under the traditional system of sex roles, he explains in an analogy that trivializes the history of slavery, “[t]he male role (out in the field) is akin to the field slave—or the second-class slave,” while he views “the traditional female role (homemaker) [as] akin to the house slave—the first-class slave.”

The influence of the right-wing portrayal of Anita Hill’s testimony on Farrell’s thinking is visible in a section primarily drawn from Brock’s work, where 10 footnotes in a row cite “The Real Anita Hill.” Farrell regurgitated the worst elements of the article, pointing to allegations that “Anita,” as he referred to Hill, was “untrustworthy, selfish, and extremely bitter,” and an incompetent employee covering her inadequacy by falsely claiming sexual harassment. He repeats the “pubic hair” accusation, and although Brock has since admitted that this was merely one aggrieved former student’s unverified claim, Farrell let it, and the debunked assertion that “many students have confirmed” it, remain in the 2014 ebook edition (which was elsewhere updated to include changes to the text like a reference to Fifty Shades of Grey).34

Farrell writes that as the definition of sexual harassment expanded—in his words, “to anything a woman defined as a ‘hostile work environment’”—“Men were oblivious until the Clarence Thomas hearings pulled their heads out of the sand: they saw that the definition of harassment had expanded to include discussing pornography, telling a dirty joke, calling an employee ‘honey,’ or taking a longer look at a short skirt.” Warning that “One woman’s accusation of sexual harassment can stop the government in its tracks (a la Anita Hill),” Farrell promised his book would outline “the steps we can take before we paint ourselves into a corner.”

In everyday interactions as well as grand political battles, Farrell saw women as wielding enormous power over men. What kind of power? To Farrell it was a women’s “sex power” or “beauty power,” including the “secretary’s miniskirt power, cleavage power, and flirtation power”—something he saw as equivalent to (or greater than) that of the secretary’s male boss. He approvingly quotes one of Hill’s colleagues saying, “Her flirtatiousness, her provocative manner of dress, was not sweet or sexy, it’s sort of angry, almost a weapon.” In his chapter on “The Politics of Rape,” Farrell claims that rape occurs because of men’s “addiction to female sexual beauty,” which women reap the rewards of in getting men to pay for and pursue them. Rejecting the feminist analysis of rape as a crime of power, Farrell’s addiction framework lets men off the hook for making their own decisions when it comes to sexual violence, and relocates the blame onto women for cultivating this disease.

In another segment, Farrell blames women’s “date passivity”—a phrase used to describe women’s expectation that men initiate physical intimacy—for sexual violence. “If we want to stop date rape by men, we have to also stop ‘date passivity’ by women,” Farrell argues, deftly drawing upon half of a feminist critique of gender roles—that men are expected to initiate romantic and sexual behavior—while ignoring vital issues of consent and assuring men they aren’t responsible for their actions. In this way, Farrell weaves a twisted version of feminist ideology throughout his book, strengthening its appeal for readers unfamiliar with feminism who sense a ring of truth.

In other places, he’s blunter, consistently trivializing rape and comparing it to male disappointment, claiming that paying for a woman on a date—something Farrell suggests calling “date robbery”—and then being “rejected [for sex] can feel like the male version of date rape.” “Feminism has taught women to sue men for sexual harassment or date rape when men initiate with the wrong timing,” he writes, but “no one has taught men to sue for sexual trauma for saying ‘yes,’ then ‘no,’ then ‘yes,’ then ‘no.’” Elsewhere in the book, he continues the theme: “A man being sued after a woman has more sex than intended is like Lay’s being sued after someone has more potato chips than intended. In brief, date rape can be a crime, a misunderstanding, or buyer’s remorse.” (Representative of secular misogyny, Farrell’s ideology pays little attention to abortion; the most attention he gives to this occurs in section on “The Social Incentives for False Accusations,” in which he critiques laws that only allow abortion in case of rape or incest as pressuring women to make false accusations.)

After falling out with the feminist movement by the 1980s, following his divorce from his first wife, Farrell returned to the media spotlight with The Myth of Male Power.35 In The Washington Post, Camille Paglia praised the book as “the kind of original, abrasive, heretical text that is desperately needed to restore fairness and balance to the present ideology-sodden curriculum of women’s studies courses.”36Publishers Weekly added, “While some feminists may assert that it is an attack on women, the book attempts to show areas in which males operate at a disadvantage without claiming that women are responsible for their plight.”37

Simon & Schuster, Myth’s publisher, followed up the next year with Christina Hoff Sommers’ Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. Like The Real Anita Hill, Sommers’ book was written with support from right-wing foundations (including the John M. Olin Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation).38 In it, Sommers coined the term “equity feminist” (also used by Paglia) to describe an ideological stance that claims to support equal gender rights but rejects the existence of structural oppression, aligning it with the men’s rights position and other libertarian philosophies.39 (The Independent Women’s Forum, which emerged out of female support for Clarence Thomas, displays this type of ideological thinking.) Similarly to Farrell, Sommers challenges statistics regarding the extent of sexual and physical violence against women, emphasizes the specter of false accusations, and denies the existence of continuing structural inequalities against women.

Trump, the Alt Right, and Contemporary Misogyny

The Myth of Male Power was not the only book telling men what they want to hear: that ignoring a woman’s verbal “no” is acceptable because her “body language” tells them differently. The “seduction” or “pickup artist” industry, which also developed following the advances of the feminist movement, in its present form teaches men to use coercive behavior and sexual assault (under other names) as a form of “game.”

In her book on right-wing media in the United States, historian Nicole Hemmer writes that “Rush Limbaugh topped polls as the de facto leader of the Republican Party” in 2009—propelled there by his virulent rants against women, queer people, and liberals. Though The American Spectator and Limbaugh are no longer as prominent, the misogyny they trafficked in has only grown stronger. Since the 1990s, this type of misogyny has substantially influenced the conservative movement and proliferated through online forums that together boast hundreds of thousands of followers. Men’s rights and pickup artist ideologies combined in another community started in 2012 on Reddit, The Red Pill, a thriving forum that promotes conspiracy theories about feminist control of society; a smaller and recently banned forum, r/incels, catered to “involuntarily celibate” men who felt wronged by their lack of sexual access to attractive women.

Since the 1990s, this type of misogyny has substantially influenced the conservative movement and proliferated through online forums that together boast hundreds of thousands of followers.

The founder of The Red Pill, who went by the pseudonym “pk_atheist,” was revealed last year by The Daily Beast to be Republican New Hampshire state representative Robert Fisher, who used his political position to fight to undermine bills addressing violence against women. Misogyny was a defining feature of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, in which he regularly insulted and objectified women, and wherein his past boasts about grabbing women by their genitals without consent didn’t cost him the election. And the same misogyny, once again frequently defended as opposition to political correctness, is a foundational part of the White supremacist Alt Right.

Though influenced by right-wing misogynist ideology, the men’s rights movement appeals across party lines. Farrell considers himself a liberal Democrat, and supported Clinton in 2016 despite being turned off by her feminist rhetoric and drawn to Trump’s comments about her playing the “woman card.”40 In this way, Farrell, seen today as a more moderate element of the movement, differed from communities like The Red Pill that became politicized in Trump’s favor and saw support for Clinton as antithetical to their ideology. However, Farrell has also appeared on Alt Right White nationalist Lana Lokteff’s radio show, as have Christina Hoff Sommers and Paul Elam, a protégé of Farrell and founder of the men’s rights website A Voice for Men (AVFM).

In a major step toward recognizing the threat posed by misogynist groups, earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center for the first time recognized two male supremacist organizations as hate groups: AVFM and Return of Kings (ROK). AVFM founder Paul Elam has encouraged violence against women, launched another website to facilitate harassment of women, and engaged in virulent victim blaming and disparagement of women. ROK, founded by Daryush Valizadeh (known as “Roosh V.”), has called for repealing women’s suffrage and the legalization of rape on private property.41

Valizadeh has further blamed feminists and progressives for recent acts of mass violence perpetrated by “incels,” arguing that these mass murders could have been prevented by “encouraging [men] to learn game, seek out a Thai wife, or engage in legalized prostitution.”42 Among these attacks is that committed by 22-year-old Santa Barbara perpetrator, who killed six people in 2014, claiming to seek “retribution” against “evil and sadistic” women for not dating him. While his words echo the rants of the Texas restaurant shooter, who slaughtered 23 people amid the Anita Hill controversy, the Santa Barbara perpetrator’s lengthy autobiographical manifesto describes being influenced by the online misogynist forums that have popularized this hateful ideology. The Santa Barbara perpetrator in turn influenced subsequent mass murderers, including the Umpqua college shooter, who killed nine people in Oregon in 2015, and the Toronto van attacker, who in 2018 cited the Santa Barbara perpetrator and the “Incel Rebellion” in a Facebook post before plowing his vehicle into over two dozen people in Toronto, killing 10.43

Although new and disturbing revelations about prominent men keep surfacing as part of #MeToo, that hasn’t stopped suggestions that the movement might be going “too far” and courting a backlash. When the concept of “backlash” is used in this way, it is with little understanding of how journalist Susan Faludi and academics define the term: as an acknowledgment of how hostile reactions can come in response to progress for justice and equality—even when that progress does not go as far as needed. At the same time, hard-fought gains achieved by campus anti-rape advocates under the Obama administration have been rolled back by the Trump administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, undermining survivors’ ability to pursue justice at their universities.44 The top Department of Education civil rights official, Candice Jackson, operated as a mouthpiece for misogynist talking points last year, defaming women en masse as reckless liars out to destroy men, in her statement claiming that “90 percent” of campus sexual violence accusations “fall into the category of, ‘We were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”

From David Brock to Betsy DeVos, the mainstream media has regularly proven willing to accept right-wing framing on social justice issues and turn against victims. The expanded organization and development of misogynist ideology in the 1990s in response to Anita Hill and feminist challenges is integral to the results we’re seeing today: in the mobilization of predominantly White men in the Alt Right; the agenda of an administration deeply sympathetic to White and male supremacism; and the mindset of perpetrators of mass violence driven by resentment and anger toward women.

This article was originally published by Political Research Associates on August 13, 2018. This article has been edited from its original version to meet the No Notoriety campaign’s recommendation not to give a spotlight to perpetrators of mass violence.


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  28. Daniel Spillman, The Conservative Baby Boomers’ Magazine: A History of The American Spectator and the Conservative Intellectual Movement, 1967-2001, (Dissertation: Emory University, 2013), p.8988 224.
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  30. “Washington Update—They’re Bashing Libs for Fun and Profit,” National Journal, September 18, 1993,….
  31. “Washington Update—They’re Bashing Libs for Fun and Profit,” National Journal,  September 18, 1993,….
  32. David Brock, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, (New York: Broadway Books, 2003).
  33. Dinitia Smith, “Spectator Sport; R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.,” The New York Times, July 3, 1994,….
  34. Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex, (Warren Farrell: 1993, 2014 ebook edition.)
  35. Pamela Warrick, “A New Role for Men,” LA Times, August 9, 1993,….
  36. Camille Paglia, “Challenging the Male Mystique,” The Washington Post, July 25, 1993,…
  37. Publishers Weekly, “The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex,” August 2, 1993.
  38. Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995).
  39. Alex DiBranco, “Who Speaks For Conservative Women,” The Public Eye, Spring 2015 Issue,….
  40. Liz Goodwin, “The ‘men’s rights’ pioneer who backs Hillary Clinton,” Yahoo News, May 18, 2016,….
  41. “Male Supremacy,” Southern Poverty Law Center,….
  42. Roosh Valizadeh, “No One Would Have Died if PUAHATE Killer Elliot Rodger Learned Game,” Return of Kings, May 25, 2014,….
  43. Alex DiBranco, “’The Incel Rebellion’: Movement Misogyny Delivers Another Massacre,” The Public Eye,Spring 2018,
  44. Lauren Camera, “Trump Administration Rescinds Obama-Era Campus Sexual Assault Guidance,” U.S. News & World Report, September 22, 2017,…