[Content warning: this chapter discusses some extreme political views that were expressly anti-women and also themes around sexual assault. In general, I’ll avoid direct links to extremist sites and will use links to critics, in particular, Rational Wiki and David Futrelle’s ‘We Hunted The Mammoth’ ]
By 2010, Vox Day had experimented with a number of different roles including being a musician, running a video game company, being a columnist/pundit and writing Christian fantasy novels. A new decade would take him into a new sphere: the world of Pick-Up Artistry.
As discussed in earlier chapters, Day had for some time been overtly anti-feminist and had pushed an ideological stance that argued directly against votes for women. However, this kind of overtly ideological misogyny was just one of a number of different forms of online misogyny. Others included:
- a long-running “Men’s Rights” movement that promulgated the idea that men were being discriminated against by things such as equal pay legislation or in divorce courts and custody battles.
- “involuntary celibate” or “incel” online communities of disaffected men who believed they were being denied access to sex.
- misogyny within other male-orientated online spaces including bodybuilding and martial arts.
- communities offering dating advice for men and specifically the field of “pick-up artistry” (PUA) i.e. advice and tips on how to persuade women to have sex.
In 2008, Day began to feature posts from the blog “Chateau Heartiste” run by a blogger known as Roissy (aka ‘Roissy in DC’). Among the many ideas, current within these spaces was the quasi-scientific idea of ‘alpha males’ and sexual hierarchies. In the context of these PUA spaces, the idea was (heterosexual) men who project the attitudes and appearance of alpha males would be perceived as more attractive. Roissy’s pick-up advice was to be bold and assertive like an ‘alpha’ rather than weak like a ‘beta’. Day thought he could improve upon this simple (if confused) classification.
In January 2010 in response to a post by Roissy, Day presented on his blog are more complex “sexual-social hierarchy”.
“I’m not claiming that this hierarchy is science or incontrovertible fact, it’s merely the lens through which I tend to view the current sexual-social hierarchy. I think it is a little more broadly useful from a theoretical perspective than the Game construct, even if it is less immediately applicable from a tactical point of view.”https://web.archive.org/web/20100202105039/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2010/01/roissy-and-limits-of-game.html
In Day’s scheme, there were Alphas (natural leaders), Betas (natural lieutenants), Deltas (most men), Gammas (a nerd stereotype), Lambdas (gay men), Omegas (wholly socially dysfunctional men) and also Sigmas. This additional category was one Day had carved out for himself — like Alphas but “lone wolf” types who are just too cool to get involved with the whole thing. It was, of course, nonsense — sociology based on watching American high-school shows and regarding character cliches as deep truths about human behaviour.
In 2011, Day began a new spin-off blog project dedicated to what pick-up artists call “Game” i.e. the strategies and techniques for picking up women. Despite the common theme of misogyny, it was still an odd choice for Day given his overt Christian beliefs, his apparent long-term and happy marriage and his traditionalist morals. It is reasonable to assume (although hard to establish) that this new blog (entitled “Alpha Game”) was an attempt to draw in people from the already right-leaning PUA communities.
Day led off with a revised version of his renamed “socio-sexual hierarchy” and in general, his own posts on the blog would revolve around showing how his hierarchy applied in different circumstances or more general anti-feminism and misogyny. For more specific PUA tips (including complex flow charts on how to chat up women), other bloggers would write posts. The blog content would often be highly disturbing, particularly when related to questions of consent and the topic of rape. Other times, the posts would be more cringe-inducing descriptions of supposedly effective techniques. Some posts managed to be unintentionally disturbing in whole other ways such as this account by Day that starts by a swimming pool:
“I was sitting by myself near the side of the pool the other day, safely ensconced in shadows. Everyone in my party was otherwise occupied, sliding down the water slide or splashing about in the pool. Seeing I was apparently unaccompanied, a pretty little blonde wearing a red bikini approached me, drawn insensibly to my masculine presence. I nodded to her and she was so forward as to sit down next to me, before addressing me in French.”https://web.archive.org/web/20111201013042/https://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/06/effortless-appeal.html
The ‘twist’ in the story (I assume meant to parody some of the accounts on the blog as well as make a point about jealousy) is that the ‘blonde’ is a three-year-old and the encounter is wholly innocent.
Roissy (sometimes named for his blog Chateau Heartiste) himself promoted a range of disturbing views on women including appearance, making them feel insecure, opposition to contraception, “ephebophilia”, as well as promoting racism and opposition to women’s suffrage. For Day, the emphasis on ‘Game’ was a pillar to his overtly ideological misogyny. He regarded the very fate of Western Civilisation to be at the mercy of women’s libido:
“The logic is impeccable. Consider:https://web.archive.org/web/20170923042123/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2012/03/roissy-tells-murray-to-man-up.html
1. IF women are permitted to have sex with whomever they please.
2. AND women show an observable preference to have sex with men who do not exhibit civilization-building or civilization-maintaining behaviors.
3. THEN men will increasingly cease to engage in civilization-building or civilization-maintaining behaviors.
After that, it’s just a matter of time before the civilization collapses and it’s back to the barbarism of mud huts, rape, and pillage. Or, alternatively, preventative action is taken regarding points (1) and (2). Which one is more feasible? Women often like to angrily demand of men of sufficient foresight if they want to control women’s sexuality. That’s the wrong and irrelevant question. The correct one is: do you like electricity, a reliable food supply, and the ability to live peaceably without having to shoot strangers on sight?”
Aside from criticising Charles “Bell Curve” Murray for not being racist enough, the central aspect of Roissy’s views that attracted Day was this idea of ‘Game’ (in the PUA sense) as a kind of rules-lawyering or psychological hack or weapon in Day’s political conflict with women. At his main blog he would quote Roissy approvingly:
“That women’s behavior can be so analyzed means that women’s actions can be predicted, and subsequently that men with this knowledge can tailor their behavior to get the most out of their interactions with women. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and knowing what’s up does, in fact, shift the balance of sexual power in men’s direction by removing the inscrutability and whimsy that has been the prerogative of women since time immemorial. Game means that it is no longer simply a matter of dumb luck when men get sex and love.“Day quoting Roissy https://web.archive.org/web/20160113182630/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2011/03/patient-explanation.html
And would go on to say:
“Game is no more limited to use by pick-up artists in night clubs than a screwdriver is limited to use by murderers in stabbing someone to death. Unless you seriously wish to deny that a) female behavior falls into patterns and is predictable to some degree, or b) knowledge of those patterns can be useful to men in a variety of applications, logic dictates that Game will be of use to nearly every man on the planet.”https://web.archive.org/web/20160113182630/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2011/03/patient-explanation.html
Day even applied this notion in his fiction. His 2012 epic fantasy (Romans meet elves & orcs) Throne of Bones was also intended to demonstrate his stance that the unfettered sexuality of women would lead to social collapse:
“In Selenoth, human women have even less power over the world and themselves than they do in Westeros. This is because in Roman society, women had one primary role, which was to produce heirs for the noble families and soldiers for the legions. And they benefited greatly from being kept to that role, since Rome became vastly wealthy and featured lifespans that were not again witnessed until the last 50 years of the modern scientific era. By contrast, elven women have considerable autonomy and their societies are demographically dying as a result. Their long lives and powerful magic help mitigate this, to a degree, but the historical trend is readily apparent to Man and Elf alike.”https://web.archive.org/web/20121211082412/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2012/12/its-not-historical-if-its-not-sexist.html
Day went on to claim that sexism isn’t cultural but a kind of logical inevitability, almost (but never quite) grasping the idea that economic and social conditions impact culture.
I’ll pause here for a moment to touch on a deeper issue about ideological racism and sexism. There are two fallacies that will come into play when looking at political extremism. The first is one I associate with libertarianism which is that all political extremism is indistinguishable or can be judged primarily by the outcomes of regimes based on extreme ideologies (e.g. comparing body counts for Stalin versus Hitler). The second is similar but one I associate with liberalism and is rooted in the Whig view of history as remorselessly progressive, which sees extreme views as objectionable but essentially harmless. For example, in Chapter 8 Day’s expressed views on women were seen as appalling but essentially laughable — after all, in modern America, nobody was going to successfully turn back the clock on women’s suffrage. Drawing a false equivalence or dismissing some extremism as objectionable crankery runs the very real danger of ignoring the immediate harm and danger within the views — the harm that occurs within the existing social and political structures.
Day’s cranky positions on women not cutting their hair might be dismissed as a kind of historical throwback but they were part and parcel of views that portrayed women as the main cause of sexual violence and which portrayed women as people who habitually lied about sexual violence. As early as 2008, Day was saying:
“I don’t think it has occurred to many young women that the not uncommon act of saying one thing and doing another not only has the potential to turn would-be Nice Guys into Sexual Predators as is described in the linked article, it not infrequently has the effect of teaching young men to ignore absolutely everything that comes out of a woman’s mouth.”https://web.archive.org/web/20160112232137/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2008/11/circle-of-bitterness.html
And by 2010 was saying on his own blog:
“And what did you expect the male reaction would be to the feminist attempt to transform every form of sex that falls short of explicit written consent confirmed by ex post facto notarization by a third party into rape anyway? If rape has become a joke to men; it is only because women, specifically feminist women, have made it so. For example, it would take a heart of stone not to find vast amusement in Amynda’s tale of her terrifying “near-rape” experience that involved neither rape nor actual sex.https://web.archive.org/web/20160113180216/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2010/01/mailvox-in-fairness-you-do-prefer-bad.html
It is simply absurd to pretend that no doesn’t often mean yes. There is an abundance of evidence proving otherwise. And there’s a word for men who take women at their collective word with regards to matters of sex, romance, and love. The word is “lonely”. Or, if you prefer, “loser”. Women aren’t particularly attracted to nice men who treat them well, they’re primarily attracted to bastards who don’t give a damn about them, who simply want to nail them and nail them hard.”
Day would actively promote the idea that women had essentially alien thinking and that most claims of rape were untrue as well as claiming that in general women respond in a “sexually positive manner” to violent male dominance. Day and Day’s AlphaGame blog would repeatedly portray men as blameless victims of false accusations of sexual and physical assault while portraying women as duplicitous and manipulative people who have to be dominated and manipulated both for a man’s own self worth and for the sake of civilisation.
Day’s gender-essentialism dovetailed with his racial essentialism mixing America’s old fears of miscegenation with modern internet culture. His socio-sexual hierarchy also led him to his trademark insult: “gamma” i.e. a weak, insufficiently masculine man who is easily dominated by women and other men but who (as a consequence) is resentful and whiny (Day, once again, substituting a lazy character cliche for a psychological theory). Added to “gamma” was Day’s interest in the outdated “r/K” biological model of animal reproductive strategy. In Day’s version, some men are wolves (linking back to the discredited notion of alpha-male wolves) and some men are rabbits (in various ways inferior).
Meanwhile, Day was still pushing forward with his role as a presence within the science-fiction & fantasy writing community. John Scalzi’s blog remained a very popular site and many established and would-be authors (as well as fans in general) would comment on posts. Frequently, the comment sections would be much longer and more involved discussions than the posts themselves — particularly as Scalzi was busy with an active writing career and as President of the SFWA. With lengthy comment threads needing active moderation, Scalzi would often have to deploy the metaphorical “ban hammer” and with Vox Day often posting provocative comments, Scalzi was forced to deal with him.
Day was also finding allies within the SFWA. John Scalzi and Vice-President Mary Robinette Kowal were pressing forward with structural reforms as well as looking at issues such as institutional sexism. We’ll look at this in more detail in later chapters but for the moment what is relevant is that Day’s extreme views were seen by some as an anti-feminist bulwark against encroaching “political correctness”. Day was gaining attention as well as some kudos by baiting John Scalzi on Scalzi’s own blog.
In October 2012 John Scalzi wrote a powerfully disturbing post entitled “A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians” which was written from the perspective of a rapist who was celebrating the rhetoric and policies of some Republican politicians. Scalzi would later explain his thinking behind the post:
“The predicate cause, I think clearly to most people who are following politics these days, was Indiana senatorial candidate Richard Mourdoch opening his mouth wide enough to stuff in everything below his belt regarding abortion and rape during his debate the other night. It was the cherry on top of a whole summer of general stupidity regarding rape emanating from (as I delicately put it) certain conservative candidates, and I’d pretty much had enough of it at this point.”https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/10/28/a-few-process-notes-on-fan-letter/
Scalzi deploying irony and satire to criticise conservative attitudes towards sexual violence inevitably drew a reaction from Vox Day. However, the use of satire appears to have caused some confusion for Day with him initially appearing to take Scalzi literally. The subsequent amendments to Day’s response as people explained Scalzi’s post to him were captured by another blogger Joe McKen:
“Yes, it appears that ol’ Vox found it perfectly unexceptional that a minor celebrity and a prominent icon in the sci-fi realm would out and announce his love of sexual assault on his well-trafficked website. Methinks Mensa needs to reconsider its membership criteria. But after having the eye-searingly obvious pointed out to him by some commenters, Vox rushed to revamp his post about half-a-dozen times (according to the number of times I refreshed my browser to see it had again changed)”http://preliatorcausa.blogspot.com/2012/10/27-vox-day-co-dont-get-satire-or-basic-decency-3892.html
We can’t know Day’s internal state of mind but he would then post about (to varying degrees) John Scalzi on October 28, November 19, November 23 (twice – at Vox Populi and at Alpha Game), November 27, December 10 (again twice – at Vox Populi and at Alpha Game), December 13 and so on. The complaints were numerous about Scalzi being a “gamma” (or in Roissy’s scheme a “Beta”) about their relative web traffic, about Scalzi’s work being derivative or mediocre, about “rabbit people”. As we will see, this carried on for long after 2012, revealing in itself the dangers of declaring one man a “gamma” whilst placing yourself near or at the top of a hierarchy of masculinity and then finding yourself with an apparent idée fixe on the supposed “gamma”.
December would bring a different explanation (or outcome, depending on how we see cause and effect in these events) for Day’s frequent Scalzi-themed posts.
“Yesterday, I sent a notice to the SFWA’s head of the election committee, announcing that I am running for the office of president of the organization. It is highly unlikely that I will win, of course, but I would like to be able to say that I at least attempted to do my part to salvage an organization that is speeding rapidly into irrelevance.https://web.archive.org/web/20130103033420/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-candidacy-is-announced.html
One reason I am running is to restore the independence of what appears to have become a captive house award that Tor Books authors give themselves on an annual basis. This may not be the case, but the statistical evidence suggests that there has been considerable corruption in the awards process in the past and that the 2010 rules changes have actually made the problem worse.
The other reason can be seen in these two quotes by its current president, the Tor Books author John Scalzi. He condemned himself in the very words with which he criticized his predecessor, Michael Capobianco back in 2007.”
Was the feud simply a means to get attention for a Presidential bid or was the Presidential bid just an extension of Day’s increasingly one-sided feud? It is hard to tell but among the reasons Day cited for running was that John Scalzi moderates his own personal blog:
“Scalzi is also a fascist ideologue who actively attempts to shut down all debate he personally finds distressing at every opportunity. Consider the way in which he proudly declared that in 2012, he managed to avoid permitting anyone to present facts or arguments that might have disturbed the tender sensitivities of the rabbity readers at Whatever.”ibid
Of the twelve paragraphs in Day’s post, nine were either about, referred to or were quotes from John Scalzi. So whatever Day’s actual motives his post had many of the features of a personal grudge. However, Day also presented a kind of ideological call to arms:
“Now, it should be made clear that John Scalzi is not the problem with the SFWA, he is merely one of the symptoms of the ideological disease that has been gradually killing science fiction and fantasy in the print world for the last thirty years. Thanks to technology, SF/F will survive, but not in its traditional form if its self-appointed gatekeepers continue to stress mediocrity and ideological conformity over the dangerous new visions that once characterized it.”ibid
Day had appointed himself the champion to fight the left and save science fiction. It was a declaration of a war that would last nearly five years.
Next Time: America goes to the polls again and this time Obama must fight Mitt Romney
-  see the second chapter 5 of Debarkle https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2021/02/18/debarkle-second-chapter-5-dramatis-personae-vox-day/
-  see the RationalWiki article for an overview of the ‘Manosphere’ https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Manosphere
-  https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Chateau_Heartiste. As the RationalWiki article notes, the name ‘Roissy’ is a likely reference to the French novel The Story of O https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story_of_O
-  https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/07/12/heartiste-funny-like-a-clown/
-  a full discussion of the use of the term is not feasible in this chapter. The use of the term for wolves is largely discredited but is still used in describing some primates. The application of the term within the manosphere is nonsense https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_(ethology) . See also https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/08/22/yo-dudes-alpha-males-are-a-myth-according-to-actual-experts-on-wolves/
-  the TV Tropes hierarchy actually has more nuance than Vox Day’s https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PopularityFoodChain
-  I had to read it, so you all get to read it.
-  https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/08/20/heartiste-women-athletes-are-mannish-uggos-because-womens-natural-bodies-are-not-evolutionarily-designed-to-run-throw-fight-or-lift-optimally/#more-6051, https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/08/14/heartiste-chris-brown-is-a-great-role-model-for-wannabe-alpha-males/, https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/12/05/on-popes-pills-and-the-alpha-asshole-cock-carousel/, https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Chateau_Heartiste#Ephebophilia, https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/11/13/as-men-force-is-the-greatest-weapon-we-have-we-must-use-it-says-racist-manosphere-asshat/, https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/10/05/heartiste-on-the-evils-of-womens-suffrage-and-why-single-women-tingle-for-obama-or-maybe-dont/
-  “I had two objectives of modest ambition. The first was to write a better epic fantasy than George R. R. Martin, or at least a better one than “A Dance with Dragons” turned out to be. The second is to demonstrate that by relying upon historical verisimilitude, conventional literary archetypes and traditional patterns of human behaviour instead of modern secular ideologies and the current assumptions of the cultural zeitgeist, an author can expect to produce a work of literary quality that is observably superior to the vast quantity of sewage being published today.” https://www.wnd.com/2012/12/a-throne-of-bones/. For a detailed review consider Steve J Wright’s 2017 read through https://stevejwright.com/2017/08/23/a-throne-of-bones-by-vox-day-preamble-on-managing-expectations/
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_history
-  https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2021/02/24/debarkle-chapter-8-electrolite-2005-03-01/
-  https://web.archive.org/web/20110411202950/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/04/women-dont-cut-your-damn-hair.html and https://web.archive.org/web/20111107002340/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/11/hair-equivalent-of-obese.html
-  https://web.archive.org/web/20160113181502/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2010/09/never-be-nice.html
-  https://web.archive.org/web/20210122184824/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2013/10/rape-is-ex-post-facto-regret.html
-  https://web.archive.org/web/20201112024640/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2013/01/that-would-explain-fantasies.html, https://web.archive.org/web/20210301091020/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/05/rapebait.html, https://web.archive.org/web/20201027072009/http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/09/killer-game.html
-  my own longer discussion of Day’s interest in this https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/weird-internet-ideas-rk-and-the-far-right/
-  https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/10/25/a-fan-letter-to-certain-conservative-politicians/
-  the irony here of me writing yet another post on Vox Day hasn’t escaped me but them I’m not claiming to be a superior specimen of masculinity, have a genius-level IQ or to have mastered the arts of social dominance
-  Vox Day also actively moderates the comment sections of his blog