Masculinities in Cyberspace – Schmitz & Kazyak – Part 2 (Methodology)

Following on from last week’s methodology, the time has come to talk about findings! I’m really excited to talk about the findings here as they are attempting to bucket the methods and strategies that Men’s Rights Activists are using online both to create their own identities and to convince others by progressing their arguments. Their research questions were;

  • ” are the sampled MRA groups antithetical to feminism and the goals of gender equality?”
  • ” what strategies do online MRA groups utilize to delegitimize feminism and the goals of gender equality?”

Lets dive back in!

Schmitz, R. M., & Kazyak, E. (2016). Masculinities in Cyberspace: An Analysis of Portrayals of Manhood in Men’s Rights Activist Websites. Social Sciences5(2), 18.

If we recap, Schmitz and Kazyak were aiming to perform content analysis on 50 pieces of content from the the top 12 blogs that are returned when searching for MRA websites. This corpus would then be run through the tool QDA Miner that would allow the authors to collect subpatterns into broader topics that would then be put into context with the content and the wider aims of Men’s Rights Activism.

Firstly, the authors position the MRA movement as something augmented strongly by the anonymous context of the internet. They write;

It is critical to study groups through their online identities as the Internet is highly accessible to people of all social backgrounds and its anonymous nature promotes the sharing of prejudiced beliefs within supportive virtual communities

This observation lays the foundations for the understanding that online context as something that is separate from the offline context and is potentially inherently more likely to be taboo in the content that is shared by nature of the anonymous nature. Whilst there are always trolls, it may be noted that this could be the underlying reason for the resurgence of extremist identity and traditional politics.

The strategies that the authors identify are grouped under two headings; “Cyberlads in search of masculinity” and “Virtual victims in search of equality”. These are written of as two sides of the same coin despite their differing heritages from hyper-masculinity and from the historical men’s liberation movement respectively. These groups have separate techniques and aims within their content and the way they interact with their audiences. The audiences are assumed to be men with similar ideology and perspectives but I feel that there might be a difference here but I might come on to this later.

Fathers for justice… pre-capes

The techniques that the Cyberlads use are

  • Homosocial Policing of Masculinity [through prescription]: offering self-help to allow readers to ‘take control of their life’ through ‘enacting what scholars would refer to as a hegemonic version of masculinity’. This entails a use of in-out group, potentially entailing hurting already vulnerable with a “rigid framework of acceptable manhood, so ideological conversion will be most likely among men who already feel disempowered”.
  • The Evils of Feminism: through selective summarization of articles Cyberlads demonise feminism as the reason for the disempowerment of men’
  • Women as Sexual Commodities:  ” sexual relationships with women are exalted as the primary marker of idealized masculinity” with an interesting concept that I haven’t come across before called the ‘Madonna-Whore Dichotomy” where women are presented as both the ideal, the object of desire and also detestable. It fails to take into account the identification of feminism as the detestable element but is an interesting model to work with.
Objectification is compulsory.

The techniques that the Virtual Victims use are:

  • Men In Crisis: Using the crisis of masculinity to criticise feminism for its correlated rise, while using the same terminology as feminism. In my dissertation, I remember the distinction used by TRP of gender-studies and feminism that may be a fruitful research avenue in future.
  • Combating Institutional Misandry: The victims cite statistics and examples that demonstrate disadvantages of men and link them to a discrimination against men. I’d be really interested to see this drilled into as the links to the methodology and cannon of feminism might bring to light some selective blind spots.
  • Delegitimizing women’s issues: The victims then counter feminists thinking and question core tenants such as the rape epidemic on campus’ and the gender pay gap through questioning the statistics and methodology used.

In conclusion, the article uses an interesting technique to analyse data in ways that correlate with other research done in the field. I’d be interested to see further insight into the field and the paper offers a wide variety of further reading:

Messner, Michael A. “The Limits of ‘The Male Sex Role’: An Analysis of the Men’s Liberation and Men’s Rights Movements’ Discourse.” Gender & Society 12 (1998): 255–76
Coston, Bethany M., and Michael Kimmel. “White Men as the New Victims: Reverse Discrimination Cases and the Men’s Rights Movement.
Dragiewicz, Molly. Equality with a Vengeance: Men’s Rights Groups, Battered Women, and Antifeminist Backlash. Lebanon: University Press of New England, 2011.
Southern Poverty Law Center. “Misogyny: The Sites.” 1 March 2012. Available online: http://www.splcenter. org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/misogyny-the-sites (accessed on 1 April 2015).
Evans, Tony. “Spiritual Purity.” In The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper. Edited by A. L. Jenssen. Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family, 1994
Goldwag, Arthur. “Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement.” Southern Poverty Law Center, 1 March 2012. Available online: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligencereport/2012/leader%E2%80%99s-suicide-brings-attention-men%E2%80%99s-rights-movement (accessed on 1 April 2015).
Light, Ben. “Networked Masculinities and Social Networking Sites: A Call for the Analysis of Men and Contemporary Digital Media.” Masculinities and Social Change 2 (2013): 245–65.
Salter, Anastasia, and Bridget Blodgett. “Hypermasculinity & Dickwolves: The Contentious Role of Women in the New Gaming Public.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56 (2012): 401–16.
Menzies, Robert. “Virtual Backlash: Representations of Men’s ‘Rights’ and Feminist ‘Wrongs’ in Cyberspace.” In Reaction and Resistance: Feminism, Law, and Social Change. Edited by Dorothy E. Chunn, Susan B. Boyd and Hester Lessard. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007, pp. 65–97.
Krippendorff, Klaus. Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology. Beverly Hills: Sage, 2012.
Anderson, Kristin L., and Debra Umberson. “Gendering Violence: Masculinity and Power in Men’s Accounts of Domestic Violence.” Gender & Society 15 (2001): 358–80. [CrossRef]
Lee, Elissa, and Laura Leets. “Persuasive Storytelling by Hate Groups Online: Examining Its Effects on Adolescents.” American Behavioral Scientist 45 (2002): 927–57. [CrossRef]


Next week might be some research I’ve been doing into the use of machine learning and computational linguistics in corpus and research questions similar to those within this work. On the other hand, I might also write about a really interesting analysis of media content analysis by a computer science professor:

Macnamara, J. R. (2005). Media content analysis: Its uses, benefits and best practice methodology. Asia-Pacific Public Relations Journal6(1), 1.

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