Matt Forney
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“You’re Just a Troll”: The Manosphere vs. the Narcissistic Left


Didja hear? Everyone in the manosphere is a troll, including me. We don’t actually believe in any of the stuff we say, we just do it to get attention and make money. Hell, I published a book called Trolling for a Living; there’s all the evidence you need. We’re just a bunch of performance artists making shit up because our mommies didn’t give us enough hugs.


In the past few months, as the ‘sphere has gained popularity and our ideas have penetrated the mainstream, I’ve noticed this new line of attack from the left. Whereas before they tried denouncing us with the fury of a born-again preacher railing against sin, now they’re trying to dismiss us as “trolls” or otherwise people not worthy of serious consideration. Take this recent article from Thought Catalog, “The Real Leader of the Trolling Revolution,” a broadside attack on Return of Kings:

In order to keep my out faith in humanity alive, I really do have to believe this is just a collective of trolls. I shudder at the thought that there actually are people who believe the ridiculous, sexist, delusional things that get posted to that site.

It’s extremely tempting to engage people like this on a logical level. For example, as I mentioned, I frequently get dismissed as a troll based on my book Trolling for a Living even though I’ve repeatedly stated that the title of that book was a joke. About a year ago, when one of my articles went viral on Tumblr, some social justice warrior remarked about how I was “high-fiving my bros on Twitter” and said that I “troll[ed] for a living.” I thought it was funny enough to make into a book title. I’m planning to title my next best-of compilation I’m Sorry, But You Might Just Be Evil; I imagine I’ll get people thinking I’m the Antichrist or something based off that.

But engaging these people logically is a waste because they aren’t thinking logically, but reframing reality out of narcissism.

I’ve written about how most leftists, or at least the most prominent ones, are narcissists who construct a false identity and constantly fudge the facts to maintain that identity. When a narcissist is at risk of his world caving in, he has to eliminate the threat to his ego by any means necessary. The most visible response is by physically attacking or killing whatever is causing him narcissistic injury, known as “narcissistic rage.” All the feminists who went berserk at my article on self-esteem, threatening to murder or castrate me, were in the throes of narcissistic rage.

Thing is, rage is a response of last resort for most sophisticated narcissists. The girls openly sending me death threats were disproportionately young (teenagers/college students) and not mature enough to realize that saying those things online could potentially ruin their lives. If you’re a little older and more mature, it takes more effort to push you to the brink.

Hence why the ‘sphere is now being accused of being “trolls”; it’s a mass narcissistic coping mechanism on the part of the left.

Destroying a threat is an option for the narcissist, but so is pretending that the threat doesn’t exist to begin with. The idea that men want to be men, women want to be women and people would be happier in their traditional roles is incomprehensible to leftists, sheltered as they are. By dismissing the manosphere as being attention-seeking trolls, they can maintain their false identities and realities while still looking (relatively) sane.

This ego defense mechanism is made possible by the crabbed, parochial worldview that leftists and feminists adhere to. One of the fundamental underpinnings of progressivism is the belief in its inevitability, which goes all the way back to Marx; I recently re-read The Communist Manifesto and Marx’s arrogance in believing that humanity would eventually be united under the socialist banner is nauseating. Progressives also fetishize formal education, elevating it above actually acquiring knowledge, hence why the most common insult anti-feminists get is that they’re “ignorant” or “uneducated.”

The thing is that when some 19-year old pre-law student at a third tier toilet in Minnesota calls me “uneducated,” it’s not merely a convenient insult: she really does believe it. Leftists are so convinced that worldliness and knowledge makes people progressive that they’ve caricaturized their opponents as being mouth-breathing, Bible-beating, illiterate hicks from the sticks. When a leftist who has internalized this worldview comes across someone like me, they can’t handle it. Let’s recap:

  • I’m educated: I not only went to college, I went to one of the most prestigious private high schools in my hometown, the one all the doctors, lawyers and other rich people send their kids too. Additionally, I attended both junior high/high school and college on academic scholarships.
  • I grew up in New York, one of the most liberal states in the U.S., in a heavily Democratic city. Most of my extended family are Democrats. I’ve also lived most of my life in liberal states (Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon).
  • I’m articulate. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I do think I’m a good writer. My articles and books are compelling, I have a big vocabulary, and my writing is largely free of typos. I’m not some angry guy writing from my mom’s basement; everyone who knows me can attest (and has attested) to the fact that I’m a cool, copacetic guy in real life.
  • I’m well-read and I’ve traveled extensively, as the book reviews I publish on a regular basis (and the hitchhiking trip I took last year) show.

But despite all this, I’ve rejected the leftist/feminist cant. A normal person would look at me and figure that my ideas and beliefs are at least worth considering, seeing as I’m an intelligent, well-traveled man. But because leftists and feminists are narcissists, a simple admission like this would result in narcissistic injury. Hence the constant refrains from the pantshitters:

“He’s just a troll looking to rile people up. No educated, intelligent person would ever believe something like that.”

“I can’t tell whether this article is satire or real. It’s got to be satire, right? Because if it’s not satire…”

“Um, Mr. Forney, I read your article and I have to ask, do you actually believe these things or do you just say them to get attention?”

Leftists and feminists construct their false identities in part around the idea that they’re more enlightened and intelligent (usually conflating intelligence and education; the two are not the same) than conservatives. The problem is that the manosphere is not the haven of angry illiterate rednecks they desperately want it to be; we’re at least as educated and intelligent as them, and in most cases more so.

Since they can’t attack us by saying we’re ignorant, their only option is to reframe us out of existence.

Just look at the Thought Catalog piece I quoted above. The girl writing it all but admitted that she’s a narcissist and her very worldview depends on articulate anti-feminists like myself, Roosh and the Return of Kings crew being trolls. If she were to admit that it’s not only possible but probable for intelligent, observant, cosmopolitan men to reject leftism and feminism, a crucial part of her false identity would be destroyed.

Dismissing the manosphere/anti-feminists as “trolls” will likely be the dominant line of attack the left uses on us for the next few months. Since it’s clear we’re not going away anytime soon—and since they can’t scare guys like me away by threatening to “out” us—the next option is to pretend that we aren’t serious, that we’re a group of rodeo clowns who will eventually get bored and go home. Once that line no longer becomes viable, the claws will come out.

To all my detractors, I’m sorry to tell you, but I’m dead serious about everything I write. I joke and kid around (and if you can’t tell the difference between when I’m being serious and when I’m kidding, you’re an idiot), but I wouldn’t advocate these ideas if I didn’t believe in them. I have changed my opinions on some things and I’ve made lots of mistakes in the past, but what I’m writing today is what I sincerely advocate.

Yes, an educated, articulate, well-traveled copacetic guy from a blue state actually believes all this stuff.

I hope that keeps you up at night.

Read Next: Rob Fedders Retires: Paying Tribute to One of the Godfathers of the Manosphere

  • docillusion

    I may not be illiterate, but I am an angry redneck. It doesn’t matter that I’m intelligent, educated and articulate….I’m still a redneck and proud of it. Salt of the earth, and all that rot.

  • I have never actually liked the term and 99% of people just use it to call someone who disagrees with them.

  • Hah man. wtf. I just read that post on female self esteem.

    A non narcissistic person would try to see reality from your point view – would want more, instead of wanting to shut you down – before telling you you’re full of shit. And would tell you why you’re full of shit instead of simply telling you that you’re shit yourself.

    Which means most people are narcissists. Most people just react and defend their tribe automatically, without any reasoning or curiosity involved. Their ego is a social construction, just like feminism says. It was and still is.

  • I think their are anti-feminist trolls and feminist trolls. That’s the reality of putting your thoughts out on the internet. You just have to weed through those and find the people that want to engage in true dialogue. You must know that your opinions will be met with opposition, so why be surprised when it happens?

    Unfortunately, many people don’t get satire, so naming your book as such doesn’t help your case.

  • I don’t think it keeps them up at night. I think it wakes them up at night. There is a difference. One is a result of cognitive processes that can’t be easily stopped in order to sleep. The other is sheer panic from worldview collapse.

    These people have internalized the cream on top of a worldview that they never considered deeply, and one that has rotted out from underneath them.

  • “these people have internalized the cream on top of a worldview that they never considered deeply””

    True. But who hasnt?

  • The problem is there are people out there who do not or can’t think for themselves. Who think that everyone thinks like them and when finally some one comes out and challenges their ideals they become 5 year olds and get a tantrum. If you feel the need to say something then say it. If you don’t believe in something say it! Why pretend differences do not exist because they do.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions and ideas whether good or bad. I do not like these so called “Majesties” trying to control the why i think!

  • Fred Flange, PsychoD.

    There’s so much straw-manning there I’m sneezing from the dried grass. So the writer of Fight Club is gay? Great: so from now on you can’t criticize it, you heterosexist woman-person! And what does Lana Wachowski’s trans-journey have to do with the price of rice, let alone the Red Pill/Blue Pill metaphor of the Matrix?

    Fred Flange’s two rules of comment-trolling: (1) anyone using the word “narcissist” more than once a paragraph, or in speech more than once every three minutes, IS ONE; and (2) outside of womens/gender studies and psych majors, no one, and I mean NO ONE, in college or grad school, knows or cares what “cis-gendered” means.

  • RX-78 Alex

    To be blunt, I’m starting to see the manosphere vs. radfem war as being a narcisstic bum fight unto itself.

    Radfems have been fed feminist bullshit, and are willing to buy into a “men are the devil!” worldview, because they themselves have shame and self-esteem issues due to such things as having trouble getting with men because of looks and/or personality; absent father figures, etc. Thus, Feminism/”The PATRIARCHY!” allows them an external force to project their feelings of shame and inadequacy onto.

    Manospherans are usually guys who have their own problems getting with the opposite sex due to shame and self-esteem issues (as well as the aforementioned father issues), and then snap and are willing to buy into a “women are the devil!” worldview (i.e. they become perma-stuck in the “whore” phase of the Madonna-Whore complex, precisely because being stuck in the “Madonna” phase was the source of their woes in the first place.) in order to project their shame and inadequacy issues outside of themselves (just like radfems.)

    Both parties also see themselves as a noble band of rebels against an EVIIIIIIIL establishment, and only THEY know the ultimate True Truest Truthy TRUTH that can save the world! (“Smash the Matri- I mean Patriarchy!” “Take the Red Pill!” etc.) LIke attracts like; birds of a feather…

    Hell, Matt, when you, yourself, were challenged on the legitimacy of Anonymous Conservative’s book awhile back, your response in one of your podcasts was, roughly paraphrased: “If you are a leftist, or left leaning, and you enjoy open debate and the manosphere, you are a conservative at heart.”

    In other words, you wanted to believe that book and the “right = good; left = evil” dichotomy that you’ve been pushing lately, bad enough to resort to the logical fallacy of “No True Scotsman”; which specifically takes the form of a reframe (i.e. the fallacy itself is metaphorically the product of a Scotsman’s narcisstic view of Scottish people being challenged to the point of said Scotsman pulling a reframe.)

  • Days of Broken Arrows

    A group of people who use words like “cisgendered” without irony are the real trolls.

  • Anna

    I’ll admit, when I first started reading your blog I kinda thought you were a troll too. But after reading a couple it’s obvious that you’re not. You don’t spend as much thought an effort creating a point of view and consistent blog just to make people mad.

    I don’t agree with a lot of what you say. In fact, I don’t completely agree with anything that I’ve read from you. But it’s obvious that you’re an intelligent individual who has a reason for every opinion you have. I’m smart enough to acknowledge that without having to agree with you.

    I will say, because you are intelligent and a very intentional writer, I can see how others might perceive you as a troll. You’re brash, you’re opinionated, you’re not afraid to offend. Again, reading one post I might’ve written you off. But anyone who’s actually intelligent and gives you’re writing some real though would realize not only are you mostly serious, but that the points you make have merit. I may not agree with you, but all of your posts have made me think, which is more than I can say for most blog writers.

    So kudos for you. Keep pushing boundaries, keep questioning. If I don’t like it, I’ll fucking ignore it. I wish everyone were so rational. But I always welcome food for thought, and I can’t say that you don’t provide that.

  • All the feminists who went berserk at my article on self-esteem, threatening to murder or castrate me, were in the throes of narcissistic rage.

    Ah, you’ve cleared up something I’ve been wondering about for awhile. I have noticed the same thing when feminists have engaged at my site – they become hysterical and began making wild (and sometimes violent) threats. I would wonder to myself Why are feminists so emotionally volatile and prone to making threats? Your explanation makes a lot of sense.

  • Shenpen

    Here is a European – someone writing from a “sophisticated social-democrtic progressive” place (Vienna, Austria, although just recently moved here from Hungary) – actually believing this stuff, too. I speak 3 languages if I don’t count Latin (because that’s for reading, not speaking).

    I was for a long time infuriated how some leftie idiot would reflect to a fairly well written three paragraph rant of mine with something like (bad grammar intended) “lol can’t believe your serious”. The infurating part was the utter lack of respect, or the utter lack of proportionality – someone obviously dumber and less well read than me thinks my opinion can’t be real just because my opinion does not happen to be popular? Damn, it infuriated me so much, I get worked up just by remembering it.

    I was taught that the worst thing in the world, ever, is violence. But at some point I just wanted to punch every single one of them in the nose. And not even just out of hate. Partially because for many of them this would be the first contact with reality, with stuff that are made of real things, not words, that can hurt, 10000 years of human history can be demonstrated with a punch because it DID hurt, and partially because there I can sense a kind of smug impertinence in them, knowing that online writing is safe. They would behave with more respect in real life, because real life is not so safe.

    But look! I am an intellectual, and I almost letting them turn me into a wannabee criminal who dreams about committing assault? Isn’t it a way of letting them win?

    How should I handle this?

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  • @RX-78 Alex: A fundamental difference between the manosphere and radical fems is that we don’t want to be victims, they relish in it.

    @ Shenpen: Bemused mastery. Never give in to your anger, restrain it, keep it in the back of your mind somewhere, and unleash it ONLY if it’s going to benefit you tactically. They love getting you angry, so don’t get angry. Instead, USE your anger after you’ve properly framed yourself in such a way as to make it HURT.

    Online, I don’t get many trolls, but those I get leave quickly without my banning them. Those I do get I handle harshly, but less out of anger but more out of sheer condescension. My attitude is akin to “You’re a degenerate who’s shown me no reason to believe you can make a coherent argument without name-calling or getting hysterical. If you attempt to grow up and make a decent case, I’ll listen, but if you want to make this an insult-contest, I won’t have to tell you to leave because you’ll WANT to.”

    Those aren’t the words I use, but that’s the attitude I have. I’ll engage anybody, but I’ll take crap from no one.

  • I’ve never changed my mind before. Does it hurt?

  • @Shenpen
    Your ideas are independant from you. If what you write is good, it is good despite the fact that you wrote it. If it is bad, it is bad despite the fact that you wrote it.

    And good writing basically always stands on it’s own. People try and dismiss and censor MF because his writing has a ring of truth to it. They know that as others read it some will identify with it, and others will be persuaded, so they try and limit the visibility.

    So honestly, if all the interaction you’re getting is “lol can’t believe your serious”, you probably didn’t write anything particularly profound.

  • RX-78 Alex

    @Martel: I definitely agree that the manosphere is hands down, the lesser of the two evils; and is a necessary evil due to Radical Feminism having controlled the social dialogue on the sexes to the point of basically being a monologue against men for roughly 50 years.

    Nevertheless, I’d like to see the manosphere eventually move past the current phase it’s mired in (i.e. being a the opposite extreme to Radical Feminism for the sake of being a natural counterbalance.) As I’ve said before, I’ve seen enough narcissistic elements in the manosphere, that the ‘sphere could stand to wipe off a bit of the dirt on the tip of its finger that its pointing in RadFem’s direction.

  • ..Mad bro?

  • Is a truthful troll a real troll? One can say something in a sugar-coated manner, or say something as provocatively as possible. Both will be honest, but one gets attention.
    To the question “Do you actually believe this stuff, or are you doing it for attention?”, should one ever answer “Both”, and elabortate the reasons?

  • Jimbo

    I love this quote:

    “Um, Mr. Forney, I read your article and I have to ask, do you actually believe these things or do you just say them to get attention?”

    The word “Um” is a liberal supremacist tic.

    In translation, it means: “I need to break this down to a level that a RIGHTWING MOUTH-BREATHING MORON LIKE MATT FORNEY can handle. Preferably in words of no more than one syllable. I need a few seconds of thought here, because it isn’t easy to DUMB THINGS DOWN to his MICROCEPHALIC INTELLIGENCE (sic).”

    That is the true meaning of the “Umm” or the “Err” that lefties love to use.

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  • Jones

    Shenpen —

    I embrace the wisdom of the great Dancing Wu Li Master named Charlie Sheen.
    Obviously the masses are not ready for your Great Tiger Wisdom either.
    Let them suffer.


  • baguazhang

    The average person believes that trolling is disagreeing with them, or just “being mean”.

    More egregious is the idea that anyone who doesn’t put up with feminist bullshit is an MRA, despite MRAs being a small (and rather weak) segment of anti-feminists. It’s a caricature they simply cannot shake.

  • I wanna sink my dick into a fat girl’s gunt.

    [CensorBot sez: Don’t lose it.]

  • Bo Jangles

    Logic has never been a strong aspect of feminsim. Emotional manipulation and spin are.

  • Bo Jangles

    Its ironic too considering how worried they are about male violence and rape.