Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age

Donna Zuckerberg. Harvard Univ, $27.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-674-97555-2
Classicist Zuckerberg, the editor-in-chief of Eidolon, aims to take back the writings of the ancients from misogynist online communities where men claiming to be the “defenders of the cultural legacy of Western Civilization... weaponize Greece and Rome in the service of their agenda.” Hoping to promote broader understanding of the classics, Zuckerberg analyzes the subdivisions of the online “manosphere” or “red pill” community, identifying three main factions—men’s rights activists (MRAs), members of the pick-up artist community (PUAs), and “men going their own way” (MGTOW)—and looking at their claims that classical texts affirm a long, idealized tradition for their “reactionary gender politics.” For example, she writes, some assert that Ovid’s Ars Amatoria is a straightforward model for PUA techniques, and some MGTOW look to Stoic philosophy to justify a belief that women are unreliable because they are supposedly more emotional than men. Contradicting these readings, she gives nuanced context about the texts in their own times. Ultimately, though Zuckerberg’s profile of the red pill community is uncomplimentary and potentially alarmist, her detailed analysis and reasoned tone inadvertently give some credence to the red pillers’ textual analyses, being thoughtful and balanced (including in an admission that “Misogyny appears early in Greek literature”) where her opponents are facile and extreme. This work may be of more interest to those concerned about the manosphere than those seeking feminist readings of classical texts. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/22/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-674-24141-1
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