Note: This is one of those posts you really want to read all the way through before commenting on or characterizing.
I think this question is mostly a thing of the past, but at one point, it was a favorite of those who didn’t like to see the atheist movement criticized were all over wanting to know how we could knew that the harassment and anti-feminism coming our way was coming from atheists. Typically, we pointed to the communities from which the bulk of the harassment came. Now, we can point to some numbers in yet another community that suggest we’re on the right track.
Or at least they make me laugh.
The Men’s Rights subreddits ran a demographic survey of their members recently. Courtney pointed me to the results. They’re listed here. The survey is still open, but as of the time I loaded it, there were just over 3,000 responses. While that is a self-selecting sample, 3,000 responses from 88,000 subscribers isn’t a bad return.
So what does the survey tell us about Men’s Rights redditors?
What is your gender?
Male: 2,941 or 98%
Female: 34 or 1%
Other: 13 or 0%
Not much in the way of surprises there, though I’m curious about the non-binary responses.
Which best describes your race?
White: 2,911 or 98%
Black: 6 or 0%
Hispanic: 9 or 0%
Asian: 19 or 1%
Other: 17 or 1%
Again, no surprises. It’s a common critique that MRAs ignore issues that predominantly affect non-white men except when they can use those numbers to say we shouldn’t talk about women. It is difficult to tell which comes first, though. Does the lack of concern reflect the overwhelming whiteness, or does it drive men of color away?
What age range do you fall in?
13-16: 102 or 3%
17-20: 2,605 or 87%
21-25: 178 or 6%
26-30: 44 or 1%
31-35: 26 or 1%
35-40: 13 or 0%
41-45: 6 or 0%
45-50: 2 or 0%
51+: 11 or 0%
I laughed. I laughed a lot. For comparison, here are some general Reddit demographics (pdf) from Pew Research.
Which religion do you most closely identify with?
Christianity: 145 or 5%
Islam: 6 or 0%
Buddhism: 1 or 0%
Hinduism: 1 or 0%
Judaism: 6 or 0%
Taoism: 0 or 0%
Shinto: 3 or 0%
No religion (atheist/agnostic/indifferent): 2,811 or 94%
Other: 14 or 0%
When you think about this, it isn’t that surprising. Religious men don’t need to look to the state to give them dominance. They can just claim it comes from the bible and talk about women’s holy duties.
Which best describes your political affiliation?
Strong liberal: 51 or 2%
Liberal: 62 or 2%
Independent: 314 or 11%
Conservative: 59 or 2%
Strong conservative: 2,497 or 84%
Welp. Now I guess we know where the conservative atheists are.
Which of the following issues do you support?
Marijuana legalization: 2,895 or 94%
Homosexual marriage: 218 or 7%
Trans peoples’ rights: 204 or 7%
Abortion remaining legal: 260 or 8%
Socialized medicine: 322 or 10%
Minimum wage increase: 296 or 10%
Increased gun control: 160 or 5%
If you look at the survey, the percentages listed for these are wrong. Because the survey was set up with this as one question rather than many, it’s reporting the percentage of total responses to this question, which includes multiple responses. I’ve corrected that here. Then I laughed.
How SOCIALLY disadvantaged do you think men are compared to women?
Men are largely more disadvantaged than women: 2,620 or 88%
Men are slightly more disadvantaged than women: 198 or 7%
Men and women are equally disadvantaged: 70 or 2%
Women are slightly more disadvantaged than men: 45 or 2%
Women are largely more disadvantaged than men: 49 or 2%
I’ll just leave this one here.
How LEGALLY disadvantaged do you think men are compared to women?
Men are largely more disadvantaged than women: 2,770 or 93%
Men are slightly more disadvantaged than women: 127 or 4%
Men and women are equally disadvantaged: 31 or 1%
Women are slightly more disadvantaged than men: 23 or 1%
Women are largely more disadvantaged than men: 31 or 1%
There are three possibilities when looking at this data. The first is that the average Men’s Rights subredditor is a very young, white, irreligious man who leans libertarian to conservative. The second is that the Men’s Rights subreddit got trolled hard. There are certainly people in the subreddit who think that’s the case. The third possibility is that this was trolled but that the trends, if not the numbers still stand up. That looks to be the case if you compare these results to results obtained about nine months ago.
If we carve out 2,400 responses from the most popular answers and 100 responses for people who didn’t fill in the form (who presumably clicked through to see the results), that brings us down to 590 surveys, close to the same number as in the prior survey. That’s a lower response rate than in the prior survey, but the new survey is only a few days old. More importantly, that puts the numbers for “nonreligious”/”no religion” plus “other” very close in the two surveys, as well as race and gender percentages. (The wording is different between the two surveys because it was suggested in response to the old survey that “nonreligious” might be pushing people toward choosing “other”.) That’s as close as we’re going to get to estimating the valid responses to the survey.
So where does that put us for most popular answers?
- 92% male
- 87% white
- 35% aged 17-20 (estimated overall median age 20)
- 70% no religion
- 53% politically independent (the only most-popular answer that changed; 26% any degree conservative)
- 84% favoring marijuana legalization (only other issues with bare majority support: socialized medicine, minimum wage increase)
- 37% men largely socially disadvantaged compared to women (71% any degree disadvantaged)
- 63% men largely legally disadvantaged compared to women (84% any degree disadvantaged)
So the average Men’s Rights subredditor is a very young, white, irreligious man who leans libertarian to conservative except as the law affects him directly. Do we actually know that they’re atheists when they show up from there to try to shut us down? No, we don’t know, per se. But we can do the math.