by Mary Harrington
Thursday, 30
December 2021
Dark Web
14:46

The Online Right cancels one of its own

Masculinity influencer Jack Murphy has been brutally banished for being a 'cuck'
by Mary Harrington
A perturbed Jack Murphy

So-called ‘cancel culture’ is often conflated with the Left, as though mass online pile-ons are a moral failing of one worldview exclusively. But while it may be appealing to blame this phenomenon on The Other Guys (intersectional feminists, for example) the sad tale of ‘masculinity influencer’ Jack Murphy suggests something deeper is at work.

Murphy runs an online men-only membership group called The Liminal Order, whose remit is cultivating ‘positive masculinity’. He is (or was, until very recently) a prolific Twitter presence and regular guest on Right-wing and manosphere podcasts.

He incurred the wrath of the Online Right when he responded rudely to podcaster Sydney Watson asking him about ‘the cuck article’. The article in question was a 2018 piece Murphy wrote on ‘Cultivating Erotic Energy From A Surprising Source’, that source being sending his girlfriend to have sex with other men.

From the perspective of the ‘manosphere’, letting other men have sex with your girlfriend is a definite no-no, and will earn you the ultimate put-down: ‘cuck’, which is to say ‘cuckold’, an ultimately un-masculine man. Murphy’s defensiveness poured petrol on the flames: aggrieved fans combed the internet for other historic Murphy content, turning up pornographic videos depicting Murphy inserting objects into an orifice where, in the view of the majority of the manosphere, the sun of machismo should never be permitted to shine.

The ensuing memes have been brutal. It’s difficult to see how Murphy can persist as a beacon of masculinity among the online Right, a group for whom cuckoldry and anal penetration are perhaps the most potent symbols of emasculation possible. This, then, is a vintage instance of ‘cancellation’, a breach of in-group moral codes, outside the Left.

Rather than treating this as an instance of ‘both sides’, though, it’s worth considering how the whole squalid episode illuminates a paradoxical feature of social media ‘masculinity’ as such. That is, the very structures of social media force even the most anti-feminist of communities into feminised styles of conflict.

In a 2013 paper, Harvard psychologist Joyce Benenson examined female-typical intrasexual competition. Where male competition tends to be overt, hierarchical and sometimes violent, women are — Benenson argued — as competitive as men but more indirectly so, preferring approaches such as covert aggression, group pile-ons and social exclusion.

What’s striking is how much this looks like so-called ‘cancel culture’, which on the face of it might seem to support the theory that this is somehow all the fault of women, or perhaps feminism. But what if it’s literally just the technology?

Moving most of our public life online effectively forecloses the possibility of physical violence, while radically amplifying the potential for mob bullying and indirect competition. In that context, the kinds of conflict Benenson describes become the only possible ones.

In this neutered battlefield, even a masculinity influencer found himself ruined, by masculinity fans, in cancel culture’s feminised key. In other words: ‘cancel culture’ isn’t a phenomenon only of the Left, and certainly not only of women. Rather, we should conclude from this that what the manosphere calls being ‘cucked’ is in truth an effect of the media we all now use to conduct our public life. And that the idea of a ‘social media masculinity influencer’ was always, inescapably, a contradiction in terms.

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Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
11 months ago

Was he actually cancelled? By which I mean, was his Twitter account locked, is he banned off Facebook and all the other social media platforms, or was it just that people decided he was full of you know what and stopped listening to him? Because there’s a big difference. On the right, you don’t have to listen; on the left, you’re not allowed to listen and that’s not the same thing at all.

David Batlle
David Batlle
11 months ago

Exactly. He was not cancelled, merely exposed. There’s a diff.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
10 months ago

I think you are taking the term ‘cancel’ in the literal sense – i.e. blocking of social media accounts. The popular use is exactly what has happened here: he has been ‘cancelled’ by his cohort.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

Well, in the future will he be blocked from talking in public or participating in panels? Will any venue or organisation or shop that gives him space be targeted by demonstrators and scared into uninviting him? Will his past good work (if any) be banned from use because of what he said later? Or will people just not bother to turn up and listen to him?

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
11 months ago

I’m not sure becoming popular for something, or things, you say and do, and then becoming unpopular for other things you say or do, that might, in some peoples minds, go against their perception of who, or what, you represent, is the same as cancel culture.

M. Gatt
M. Gatt
11 months ago

Was he banned from Twitter? Booted from YouTube? Terminated from his job? Hounded by the mob? You dont actually say. I get the impression that his views were not aligning with his audience and he became unpopular. That is not ‘cancelled’

Last edited 11 months ago by M. Gatt
Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
11 months ago
Reply to  M. Gatt

Is it just me or is it a sad state of affairs that men today need a masculinity influencer at all, and to promote “positive masculinity” which implies it recognises toxic masculinity.
admittedly I seem to out man most of the guys I work with and I do wish that beards were earned not easily grown as so many men today dont deserve the manly visage they produce. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m married and not having to choose from todays offerings!

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
11 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay Snoman

“masculinity influencer” is a bizarre and incomprehensible concept to me for sure. I guess if you’re a guy and you’re looking to such a person, you’re just hopelessly lost.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
11 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay Snoman

Fair call. IMHO, the demonisation of men has been going on for rather a long time. It’s hardly surprising that the boys growing into men post 2000 are in need of guidance as to how to be a man.

Whilst there were some issues attaching to masculinity that were at best unevolved, there is much that should be admired about the characteristics of men just as for women: we are not the same and trying to make us such demeans both.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
11 months ago

The sooner these “personalities” and “influencer” social media types fade into obscurity the better. The internet really does drag up the dregs of society, especially in anything to do with the culture wars.
On the left you have overprivileged middle class uni students, whose life is that easy and empty they have to invent problems that aren’t there simply to give themselves something to rebel against while blissfully unaware they are in fact the establishment.
On the right you have 25 year old virgins angry at the world and blaming everybody but themselves for the fact they can’t get a girlfriend, not realising that their views on women wouldn’t look out of place in some of the more backward Muslim countries where wives are little more than possessions.
It really is tiresome.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Yup.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
11 months ago

I couldn’t find any actual cancelling in this article. Rather, a false equivalence.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
11 months ago

Never heard of him and don’t give a toss.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Never heard of him either, and from what I have just read I shan’t be inviting him home for tea.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
11 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Not in touch with your inner man?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
11 months ago

I’m not really into all that going into the woods and sniffing each other’s bottoms malarkey.

Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Happy New Year to Drahcir and every Unherd commentator 🙂

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
11 months ago

And a happy New Year to you Madeleine.

Richard Branczik
Richard Branczik
11 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I’ll say ay to that

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
11 months ago

Sorry, but Jack wasn’t “canceled”. Let’s stop throwing this term around so carelessly.
Cancellation: a whiny vocal minority (typically authoritarian progressives) make a hysterical moral appeal to power brokers like tech giants or institutions to banish someone.
It’s when someone else dictates who or what you’re allowed to listen to.
What happened with Jack is just good ol’ fashioned freedom of association.
He was exposed as living inconsistently with his espoused principles. People spread the word. Then many individuals decided to stop associating with him.
There was no collective appeal to the overlords to remove Jack from any platform or institution.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jordan Flower
David Batlle
David Batlle
11 months ago

He was not cancelled, merely exposed. There’s a diff. He is still free to live his life and make a living as he chooses, only now his clients can make a more informed decision.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
11 months ago

Y’all really should read the great Joyce Berenson article linked to above. It gives a sensible explanation for consistent differences between male and female behaviour (female equality and intimacy v. male status and competition). There are the well known points that males are stronger and do more damage, and that high status males can have a disproportionate number of offspring, making it worth considerable risk to get that status. But in addition this article makes the point that males tend to work in (hunting) groups where having many strong mates contribute to everybody’s success, which females do not. Of course one should remember not to adopt evolutionary arguments uncritically just because the conclusions seem right, but still… Anyway, read the article.

Max Price
Max Price
11 months ago

What Francis MacGabhann said. I’ll just add that I don’t believe for a second that the author doesn’t understand the difference. I truely bizarre article.

falconstreet15
falconstreet15
11 months ago

“From the perspective of the ‘manosphere’,” – I think enjoying having some dude destroy your wife is weird in more circles than that.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
11 months ago

There is a world of difference between the current phenomenon of the ‘cancel culture’ (as we see it happening all over the place) and a group, club, association or other band of merry men or women objecting to the behaviour of one of its number. The former, cancel culture, is idealogical fascistic warfare controlling thought and speech. The latter is predicated on the subject once being solid and then being told to go away because of a breach of ‘in group of moral codes’. To equate the treatment of J K Rowling with the treatment of Jack Murphy (who he? ed) and so bounce down the road of the right is as bad as the left is ridiculous. The article reads like a slow day in the newsroom.

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
11 months ago

Sorry, but I missed the parts where his social media accounts were deleted, his employer was harassed into firing him and people showed up at his house to harass his family.

Joy Bailey
Joy Bailey
11 months ago

I’m sorry but I’m having trouble imagining how he had an “adoring, hot young girlfriend “. Perhaps the photo doesn’t do him justice.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
11 months ago

Mary, you are really trying to hoodwink people into believing an apple is an avocado here.

This man has been exposed as a sissy boy having lectured men on how to be men – or at least, an unevolved version thereof – and is rightly being ridiculed for his hypocrisy.

This isn’t a right/left male/female issue, this fool is simply a blow hard that has been exposed and is now the object of well earned derision and humour.

He hasn’t been cancelled as the left has it: removed from Twitter/LinkedIn/FacePlant. He doesn’t have legions of nutters threatening to kill him for telling the truth like JK Rowling.

You are a better writer than this, please don’t let yourself down with such piffle again.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
11 months ago

That is, the very structures of social media force even the most anti-feminist of communities into feminised styles of conflict.
Jordan Peterson has spoken about something similar occurring outside of social media with respect to a predominant form of female aggression. IIRC, there were three modes of expression to it – gossip, innuendo and career/reputation destruction. Perhaps in the context of social media technology that context is a limiting factor that constricts male behaviour toward female modes of aggression? But are they, at base, female preferred modes of aggression also seen outside of social media?

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago

The author appears not to appreciate the distinction between being rediculed and being cancelled. Either that or she’s dishonest.

William Shaw
William Shaw
11 months ago

Obviously the pertinent observation here is that the cancer of toxic feminism is spreading and infecting society in general.
Who says women never contribute anything of significance to the world!

Last edited 11 months ago by William Shaw
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
11 months ago

The media then IS the message… who knew?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
11 months ago

HaHaa, what a stupid ‘Cuck’.

ralph bell
ralph bell
11 months ago

Another fascinating and topical article from Mary.

David McDowell
David McDowell
11 months ago

How frightfully funny.

Toby Webster
Toby Webster
10 months ago

I’m confused. Was it his own backside he was sticking things into, or was it someone else’s, and if so was that someone else girl or boy (am I allowed to say that?).

I suspect there is ample documentation to prove that the discovery of infidelity can lead to terrific, if doomed, sex, so it doesn’t take any great stretch of the imagination that packing your girlfriend off to shag someone else might have the same effect.

Do I know or care who this dude is, or what his problems are?

I’m trying, but there’s this gremlin yelling in my ear ‘self-inflicted’.

Who is he again?

Last edited 10 months ago by Toby Webster
Anton van der Merwe
Anton van der Merwe
11 months ago

He was cancelled in the sense that he broke a taboo. That is why people get cancelled by the woke crowd. Essentially many progressive movement have adopted a ‘religious’ element and become woke religions. See this useful taxonomic guide.