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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  72 reviews
A disturbing exposé of how today's alt-right men's groups use ancient sources to promote a new brand of toxic masculinity online.

A virulent strain of antifeminism is thriving online that treats women's empowerment as a mortal threat to men and to the integrity of Western civilization. Its proponents cite ancient Greek and Latin texts to support their claims--arguing that t
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2018 by Harvard University Press
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Myke Cole
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First class analysis of the “Red Pill” (alt-right misogynist) community and how it misappropriates the classics to achieve its propagandistic ends. Zuckerberg not only hits the topic dispassionately (which isn’t easy for a feminist to do. I was red-faced angry reading this book) and eviscerates with unimpeachable analysis, she also highlights the real danger of this kind of thinking - illustrating how it underpins the propagation of disregard for women's consent, promotes sexual violence, and is ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A highly disturbing read about white men who appropriate Classics - stoicism, Ovid, and the myth of Phaedra - to prove that we live in a gynocentric society biased against men and that autonomous women will be the downfall of Western civilization. These assertions justify their vitriolic attacks against women online and their manipulation or sexual assault of women in person. Although many feminists are aware of the Red Pill and Pick-up Artist communities, many may not be aware of the misuse of ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars -- This book earnestly tries to examine and document how alt-right men's movements (Red Pillers, MGTOWers, The Game followers, etc.) co-opt ancient texts to promote specific ideas about "the west," gender, and race, and I think insofar as that is the aim, this is an interesting book that meets that project's goals. That said, I wish this had grappled a little bit more with basically reader-response theory... there's a lot of energy devoted to determining how faithful or good of a readi ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I was excited by the description of this book, which explores the relationship between some works in the classic canon and misogynists on the internet. Sadly, this book is a 200 page slog that simultaneously takes on too many topics, but doesn't pause enough at any of them to make compelling arguments.

There are 3 major ideas explored here. Zuckerberg links first the work of the stoics to the general Red Pill community. Then she examines Ovid's Ars Amatoria and how it connects to pick up artist
Ryan Mishap
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
First, I have little interest in Greek or Roman authors, thought, history, and only a passing knowledge of their myths. That said, I was way into this book as she lifts up the internet rock these toxic grubs have been hiding under and exposes not only their venality and misogyny, but there misuse of ancient texts and schools of thought to justify their loathsome beliefs and behavior.

Whew! That was a long sentence. You should go read this.
Ryan Denson
This book is part of a larger movement among classicists in recent years to combat the misappropriation of classics and ancient works by the alt-right. It catalogs and responds to some of the ways that the misogynistic ‘red pill’ online forums misinterpret and twist ancient concepts and ideas to try to legitimize their own ideas. Zuckerberg particularly focuses on the way the different factions of the alt-right has appealed to Stoicism and Ovid’s Ars Amatoria. She convincingly shows that what th ...more
[warning: nerdy classicist review comin up]
highly recommend this for my classicist and non classicist friends alike! it’s a great study of how to (and why we should!) navigate feminism in classical studies & actually, for those who are interested in the classical world but don’t know where to start, i think this is more worth a read than a mary beard book or an ‘introduction to the ancient greeks’ type of book because it’s politically relevant to today and is a perfect example of how we can use
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Donna Zuckerberg has provided us with a succinct look at the ways the Red Pill community uses the works of Stoic philosophers to justify their worldview. The book is accessible - I had no issue understanding anything, and I came to the book without any knowledge of Stoic philosophy - and Zuckerberg is an insightful guide. She skillfully illustrates the contradictions of Red Pill arguments, that they use little more than the intellectual brand-name recognition of Marcus Aurelius, Ovid, and others ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's hard to believe that in the late 2010s Harvard University press decided to publish something about the "manosphere" and how they can't read Seneca or Ovid, but here we are. The simulation is breaking down.

The "manosphere", as it is called, is a loose affiliation of anti-feminists who gather on Reddit, 4chan, and other smaller forums. Chapter 1 divides them roughly into three groups - Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), or 'separatists', Pick-Up Artists (PUA) who try to seduce women, and the '
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book examines the Red Pill communities online (with a helpful chapter distinguishing differences in the numerous factions of antifeminists) and their use of classics to justify their opinions. The three major sections of the book deal with different issues -- broadly: rationality and emotions, the objectification of women, and sexual assault -- which are each connected to different classic texts by Red Pill members. Definitely worth a read to understand what arguments and tactics these comm ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved and sorely needed this book. As a woman classicist, I've seen first-hand the disgusting misogyny Zuckerberg documents in the field. It was so helpful to understand what the online conversations look like and how ancient authors are weaponized to affirm white supremacists online. Yuck! It's a book to read with your nose pinched, but so well written and essential reading for anyone in the field. My only concern with it is that it's too awful to be believed, so I worry people wil ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Prescient and thorough exploration of how the alt right / MRA movements co-opt and reduce classics to serve their own warped ideas about gender and sexuality.
Kitty Jay
Ooh, with a title like that, who could resist?

Not All Dead White Men takes a look at how the manosphere, particularly the Red Pill-ers use classic philosophy and literature rhetorically to legitimize their claims. The book is divided into distinct parts: a bastardized version of Stoic philosophy meant to establish men as the more rational, logical gender; Ovid's Ars Amatoria being praised as the original pick-up artist; and finally, how these groups view the heavily patriarchal society of the G
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
This is a carefully written, thoroughly researched look into how ideas are disseminated (and around them communities formed) on social media. Zuckerberg discusses a specific—though hardly harmonious—community: the manosphere. Many subgroups fall under this umbrella: men’s rights activists (MRAs), pickup artists (PUAs), Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), incels, the Alt-Right, etc.

Within in the manosphere there is much overlap, but also much conflict. Zuckerberg argues that the strongest commonali
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is pure brilliance. Zuckerberg tears down misconceptions of the classics by the alt-right manosphere. The author tears down their supposed intelligible interpretations of the classics by providing the evidence all the while humiliating them in the process. I'll be honest. This is a hard one to read, especially if you're a woman. Be prepared for discussions about rape and discrimination against women and POC. She really gets deep into the alt-right. It's a necessary read, though. I lear ...more
Phi Beta Kappa Authors
Donna Zuckerberg
ΦBK, University of Chicago, 2007

From the publisher: A disturbing exposé of how today's alt-right men's groups use ancient sources to promote a new brand of toxic masculinity online.

A virulent strain of antifeminism is thriving online that treats women's empowerment as a mortal threat to men and to the integrity of Western civilization. Its proponents cite ancient Greek and Latin texts to support their claims--arguing that they articulate a model of masculinity that sustaine
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A rather difficult four stars. Certainly I wish more than most--as a young AFAB classicist, and a reception theorist, at that--that I could give this important and groundbreaking work five stars. It is undeniable that the recently-resurgent fascist far right, and the misogynist hangers-on that typically share the same online spaces and the same ideologies, find authority and validation in classical texts and the classical world. That is a dangerous situation indeed. In Not All Dead White Men, Zu ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not All Dead White Men is an interesting, well written, and most of all, accessible book about classics and the Red Pill community. Zuckerberg always gives the reader enough information to follow her argument without overwhelming the reader with details, while at the same time elaborating in the footnotes for those who want to go more in-depth. She manages to present the diversity of opinion in Classics and feminist scholarship without giving the reader a sense that the uncertainty is too great ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it liked it
An in-depth examination of how members of the "Red Pill" (also termed "meninist") community appropriate and misinterpret classical ancient literature (namely of Greek and Roman origin) to support their own misogynistic beliefs.

Pointing out various logical errors and rhetorical tactics, Donna Zuckerberg dismantles the ideology and belief system of these Alt-Right communities through rational, insightful investigation. It's honestly a horrifying read in the sense that it includes some of the most
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
My one criticism of this book is that it struggles to find the middle ground between scholarly and popular tone, so that it is, perhaps, a hair too intellectually-structured for a general audience and, most certainly, too pitched to a general audience for academic purposes. That said, it is a book that everyone working in premodern studies and modern receptions of the classics, and every woman in America regardless of their political affiliations, ought to read, if only to be aware of the pseudo ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally finished this book! At roughly 190 pages, this is a pretty short book. However, it took me more than a month to get through (though I have been reading other books). Zuckerberg’s writing reads between blog post and PhD thesis; it is a compelling mixture of analytical and accessible.

In her book, Zuckerberg talks about the Red Pill community’s alarming appropriation of the Classics as justification for their belief that society is unfair to men, particularly heterosexual white men, and is
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A flawed but enlightening peek into contemporary American right-wing online bigotry, Classical Greek and Roman texts and thinkers, and the intersection between these themes.

The text was a little bothersome to read at times: there are awkward segues, sections that repeat or drag, and there is often the feeling that the balance between lay accessibility and academic rigor is a little off-kilter. I came away with the feeling, too, that the content is more sparse than the (hardback) book's heft sugg
Dana M
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society, feminism, quit
This book was had too much over-explaining and was rather repetitive. I didn't finish it. ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very disturbing but brave and well-written book. Zuckerberg's analysis of the alt-right Reddit forums is always lucid, and remarkably patient and calm. If I had to spend hours wading through the thrash these people write, I would have gone starking mad by now. It's a momentous sacrifice on the part of the writer for which she may certainly be commended.

She has her small pleasures though, tiny revenges in the forms of all the scattered [sic]'s throughout all the quotes in the book. This must be
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read this book for a while., which is written by the editor of one of my favourite online Classics journal, Eidolon (Classics without fragility- I love that slogan). Zuckerberg presents an interesting hybrid of a book- both commentary on Graeco-Roman literature and on contemporary culture. It is a book which is looking at the reception of the Graeco-Roman world and literature. In this case, she is looking at the reception of the Graeco-Roman world in a corner of the internet ...more
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this on a whim, thought it might be interesting given my onetime study of Latin and my current hatred of internet misogyny. It's a bit dry and academic at times, but it goes by pretty quick and there are interesting lessons to be learned.

At its core, this is an analysis of how the creeps of the "manosphere" use the Classics to give their misogyny a veneer of historical legitimacy. By citing Greek & Roman literature and philosophy, they indicate that they are the heirs of that legacy and pro
Leah Dooley
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a self-defined feminist who loves Latin and Shakespeare, this book felt like it was written for me. Zuckerberg does an excellent job explaining not only dangerous online Red Pill communities but also the logic behind their philosophies and behaviors. What I really appreciated is how she goes beyond just correcting their usages of classics. At a certain point, trying to correct their grammar is unhelpful, so instead Zuckerburg dissects how and why the alt-right (and many others) weaponize the ...more
Moira Downey
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I truly have no clue why I keep subjecting myself to this kind of reading.

While I have no background in Classics and am therefore a poor judge of much of her scholarly analysis, and Zuckerberg's (yes, that Zuckerberg family; boy, there's a lot going on with this book) dispassionate dismantling of the men she adopts as an object of study is an intellectual exercise in shooting misogynist fish in a barrel (the sheer number of [sic]s in this book alone!)[1], I'm definitively pleased to see this par
Anne Holst-Dyrnes
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have to admit, I struggled with getting through this book at times. The topics that Zuckerberg has chosen to focus on in this book are actually quite interesting, but the way the book is written made it a difficult read.
The book is quite short, around 200 pages, and Zuckerberg has jammed quite a lot of information into those pages. There are so many terms and definitions to keep track of, that don’t actually end up being used to further the arguments or «story». In addition to this, stuff lik
Michael Lever
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is very good. In content and construction. But it is not at all what I had expected - a critique of misogyny in the academic classic world. Rather it is an unpleasantly informative journey through the muck-heaps of Red Pill and Pick-up-artist thinking, demonstrating their appropriation and implementation of concepts, particularly Stoicism, in their war against feminism. In fact against anything that isn't them.
That the classics can be so used is hardly surprising - they are broad enough th
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8 likes · 4 comments
“These Red Pill analyses of ancient texts may seem simplistic and misguided to us. In fact, they are not really producing analyses at all. Their interpretations of the Classics should be approached not as readings of the ancient world, but rather as aspirational representations of the world they wish we inhabited.” 1 likes
“As colleges move to replace some of the dead white men of the literary canon with writers who are not dead, not white, and not men, the living white men of the Red Pill have appeared as the self-appointed guardians and defenders of the cultural legacy of Western civilization.” 1 likes
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