|Voice of the voiceful|
|Lest women catch up|
|Bros before hoes|
“”Feminism is a gender ideology [that is] gynocentric and narcissistic
|—MannsForum leader Guttorm Grundt sums up the views of MannsForum|
“”Hi! My name is Rune Fardal and I was given the diagnosis PSYCHOPATH! ... moreover, I was both selfish, dominant, manipulative ... I got the diagnosis from Doctor [redacted] who works at [redacted] Medical Center in Bergen. The claim / diagnosis appeared in a report written by "specialist" in clinical psychology, [redacted], in Bergen
|—How Rune Fardal, one of MannsForum's most high-profile activists, used to introduce himself on his own website|
MannsForum[note 1] is a Norwegian fringe self-proclaimed masculinist and anti-feminist men's rights group that is increasingly associated with the alt-right. Primarily active on the Internet, it is one of the main manosphere groups in Norway. It was founded as a loose network named MannsForum – feminismekritisk nettverk for likestilling og menns rettigheter ("MannsForum – Anti-Feminist Network for Equality and Men's Rights") around 2008/2009. The group has described itself as a group for men who oppose feminism. By its own admission the group mostly consists of men who have been in conflict with "the female-dominated state apparatus, particularly the welfare services and the courts."
As the Norwegian branch of the movement described as an "army of misogynists and trolls," the group is firmly in the red pill and "feminism has gone too far" crowd, and claims that women control much of the government and government services, and that "feminism is a gender ideology [that is] gynocentric and narcissistic." It is intimately associated with extremist activism against child welfare services and has ties to other anti-government conspiracy theorists in Norway, as exemplified by one of its most high-profile activists Rune Fardal, a "celebrity [among] extremist groups;" lately the group has become known for its ardent support for Jordan Peterson and other alt-right heroes. The group frequently promotes the far-right anti-immigrant blog Resett.no.
MannsForum's response to any valid issue faced by women, such as discrimination or violence against women, is: What about men's rights? In addition to its use of this diversionary tactic MannsForum often makes false or misleading statements regarding research, typically by cherry picking, quote mining, lying by omission, misrepresenting statistics, quoting disreputable fringe sources and by sheer willful ignorance. Occasionally MannsForum speaks with two voices, presenting a slightly toned down rhetoric on their website, while the most openly extremist activity takes place on Facebook, where the group's leaders and board members continue to express misogynist views and associate with far-right conspiracy nuts.
Grumpy old men
MannsForum – feminismekritisk nettverk for likestilling og menns rettigheter ("MannsForum – Anti-Feminist Network for Equality and Men's Rights") was founded by Ragnar Næss in cooperation with Ole Texmo; Næss is a former academic (although he left academia in 1993) with some weird (or "liberal" as he calls them) views particularly on child sexual abuse (something MannsForum later acknowledged when he was booted from the group he had founded), while Texmo is a veteran anti-feminist activist. The group freely admits that most of its members are men who have been in conflict with what it calls "the female-dominated state apparatus, particularly the welfare services and the courts." The most active members have typically been septuagenarians, some of them with ties to other conspiracy theory groups; by and large its members have a particular affinity for the anti-immigrant party Fremskrittspartiet,[note 2] which is unsurprising given the close relationship between the manosphere and the far right; however the group also includes some people formerly regarded as left-wing. Reform Resource Centre for Men, the dominant (and somewhat more moderate) men's rights NGO in Norway, declined an invitation to cooperate because it questioned whether MannsForum conformed to "accepted gender equality policy objectives."
In 2015/2016 several key members, including the group's founder and first leader Ragnar Næss and another former leader of the group, Eivind Bade, were expelled from the group and banned from its Facebook page; MannsForum published a statement that accused the two former leaders of being disloyal and also of primarily being interested in discussing/justifying sexual abuse of children. Næss subsequently founded a splinter group called "Liberalt MannsForum."[note 3]
For years MannsForum consisted of about half a dozen grumpy old men and organised meetings typically with five people in attendance; by 2015 the group claimed 50 members. As of 2019 the group claimed over 800 members. This was partially the result of a cooperation with the much larger anti-feminist Facebook group Mannegruppa Ottar that had over 70,000 Facebook followers, and which featured MannsForum in podcasts; Mannegruppa Ottar was itself banned by Facebook in 2019 over a pattern of sexist and racist commentary.
Grumpy alt-right men
|Frogs, clowns, and swastikas|
|Rebuilding the Reich, one meme at a time|
|Buzzwords and dogwhistles|
MannsForum pays attention to fads on the far right and has increasingly aligned itself with the alt-right. Needless to say the group regards Jordan Peterson and Warren Farrell as the world's foremost intellectuals. MannsForum leader Kjetil Thue, a bouncer by profession, is also known for supporting Donald Trump and UKIP.
MannsForum has close ties to other conspiracy theorist groups and individuals in Norway. One of the group's most high-profile activists is Rune Fardal, one of the best known conspiracy nuts in Norway. Fardal is noted for his activism against women, child welfare services, repeated convictions for fraud and harassment, for claiming to be a psychologist despite having no such qualifications whatsoever, and for always diagnosing his opponents with personality disorders – disorders he himself has been diagnosed with by doctors and real psychologists. Fardal is also a self-proclaimed "anti-globalist;" he compares the Norwegian police to the Nazis and describes the judicial system of Norway as "lackeys" for the "elite." Fardal was part of the ensemble cast of conspiracy nuts that formed the short-lived, so-called "Norwegian Parliament's rule of law group" unilaterally appointed by far-right MP Ulf Leirstein. Didrik Søderlind, an adviser with the Norwegian Humanist Association, has described Fardal as a "celebrity" among extremists in Norway. Fardal is an active participant in MannsForum protests and social media, and apparently revered by fellow MannsForum activists; MannsForum also often promotes Fardal's Facebook posts, and the leader of MannsForum Kjetil Thue has praised Fardal in glowing (as well as hilarious, considering that Fardal is the exact opposite) terms:
“”Rune Fardal is an outstanding example of courage, perseverance and dignity – reassuring us that we are not alone and inspiring all of us fathers who seek justice for our children
|—MannsForum leader Kjetil Thue on conspiracy nut and MannsForum activist Rune Fardal|
MannsForum has close ties to the far-right blog Resett.no; several of its leaders and board members have contributed to Resett, board members of MannsForum such as Even Anderson Langseth and Henrik Hammerhei Slevigen have strongly encouraged MannsForum's members and followers to subscribe and contribute to Resett, and MannsForum often promotes Resett posts; as one of countless examples MannsForum promoted a Resett post titled "Feminism has gone too far" by far-right blogger Maria Zähler, and MannsForum board member Langseth has praised Zähler for her "commitment to fathers' human rights."
The group enthusiastically endorsed and promoted The Red Pill, supposedly a "documentary" widely condemned as misogynistic propaganda that lacks a coherent argument; the term red pill is used among the more militantly misogynistic and conspiracy theorist manosphere groups. One of their highly active members is Terje Goa, who also has his own blog "Dad's War Against the System" (Fars kamp mot systemet), which is constantly promoted by MannsForum.
"Men who hate women" objecting to being called grumpy old men
The septuagenarian, soon to be octogenarian former leader of MannsForum Guttorm Grundt – whose name literally means "Boy-Worm Shallow" in Norwegian – has complained about them wicked young women referring to grumpy, misogynistic old men's rights activists (MRAs) as "grumpy old men" and claimed it is a horrible form of discrimination perpetrated by them wicked women against him both as a man and as an old man. The same Guttorm Grundt has also written that "feminism is a gender ideology [that is] gynocentric and narcissistic." (The response "OK boomer" would have been appropriate, were it not for the fact that he is too old to actually be a boomer).
Whataboutism, false and misleading statements
MannsForum is notorious for its whataboutism; whenever some valid issue that women face is raised, MannsForum's response is always what about men's rights? In addition to its use of this diversionary tactic MannsForum often makes false or misleading statements regarding research on gender equality and related topics, typically by cherry picking, quote mining, lying by omission, misrepresenting statistics and sheer willful ignorance, and also by quoting disreputable fringe sources/fellow red pillers, or even by appointing themselves as "doctors" and "psychologists" without any qualifications. After their founder Ragnar Næss was booted from the group, MannsForum consists of people with no real qualifications to assess research in a serious manner.
True to its whataboutism, MannsForum uses international women's day to protest against women's rights and say "what about men rights?" Even members of MannsForum found this use of international women's day to be embarrassing; MannsForum's only message to women on 8 March in 2020 was that the incels and divorced men that make up MannsForum's leadership have "nothing against" women as such, which must be really reassuring for all women.
MannsForum and Fremskrittspartiet
After the far-right and anti-immigrant party Fremskrittspartiet joined the government, some politicians of the party held meetings with MannsForum. Bjørn Are Wigtil, a former adviser with the Ministry of Children and Equality, described MannsForum as part of an "organised anti-feminist movement" that does not belong to the "reasonable voices."
Speaking with two voices
Since around 2016, MannsForum's website uses a somewhat more toned down rhetoric than before in order to appear more palatable to politicians and the media; for example, unlike previous incarnations which openly admitted that MannsForum is anti-feminist, the website now claims that MannsForum has nothing against women and wheels out its handful of fMRAs (female Men's Rights Activists) in its defence.
On Facebook, the group's main platform, the same extremist rhetoric continues, including by leaders and board members, who continue to share far-right and openly anti-feminist material e.g. from Resett, associate with notorious conspiracy nuts such as Rune Fardal and make extremist hate comments against women in general and feminists in particular. Those who are not familiar with the men's rights movement, its hate ideology or language, or the group's activities in social media, may easily be deceived by the group's more toned down website.
- Ragnar Næss, founder and leader, the group's academic alibi (although he left academia in 1993), but booted from the group in 2015/2016
- Eivind Bade, former leader, booted from the group in 2015/2016
- Ole Texmo, co-founder, with 30 years of experience as an anti-feminist activist and an activist against child welfare services
- Guttorm Grundt aka "Boy-Worm", former leader, notable for accusing them wicked young women of discriminating against him by calling MRA's "grumpy old men"
- Kjetil Thue, leader, professional bouncer and avid Donald Trump and Rune Fardal fan
- Rune Fardal, notorious conspiracy nut and self-appointed "psychologist" whose Facebook posts are frequently promoted by MannsForum, regarded by MannsForum as an authority on child welfare services and psychology
- Even Anderson Langseth, board member and Resett fan
- Henrik Hammerhei Slevigen, board member, anti-feminist and Resett fan, with a goatee
- Arne Børke, leader and Resett fan
- Terje Goa, notable for his blog "Dad's War Against the System"
- Yup, that's how they spell it
- Former MannsForum leader Eivind Bade was a local politician for Fremskrittspartiet; MannsForum also frequently meets with Fremskrittspartiet politicians, and very frequently shares issues promoted by Fremskrittspartiet in social media
- The term "liberal" in Norway is not generally associated with the political left; for instance Norway's most right-wing, anti-immigrant party calls itself "liberal".
- "Feminism is a gender ideology [that is] gynocentric and narcissistic" (Comment by Guttorm Grundt, former leader of MannsForum, 22 February 2020)
- Klassekampen, 6 October 2010
- Background (as described by the founders)
- "Mannsforum," Klassekampen, 30 April 2009
- Om MannsForum
- Mariah Blake (2015): Mad Men: Inside the Men’s Rights Movement—and the Army of Misogynists and Trolls It Spawned", Mother Jones
- Twitter thread on Rune Fardal (archived) by Didrik Søderlind (Norwegian Humanist Association)
- Announcement from MannsForum
- Audhild Skoglund, "Væpna mannsrevolusjon!," Humanist (journal of the Norwegian Humanist Association), 9 April 2015
- Comment by Eivind Bade on his expulsion from the group
- "For og mot, på ordentlig?," Klassekampen, 16 February 2018
- Mannegruppa Ottars Facebook-gruppe nedlagt, Aftenposten, 24 October 2019
- Thue regularly voices his support of Trump and UKIP on Facebook
- "Rune (58) har jobbet mot barnevernet i over ti år" [Rune (58) has fought the child welfare services for over ten years]. Dagbladet. 27 April 2017
- "PDK-politiker dømt for hets" [PDK politician convicted of harassment]. Bergensavisen. 6 september 2019
- Screenshot of Fardal tweet
- "Konspirasjonsgruppe på Tinget" [Conspiracy group in parliament]. Vepsen (magazine affiliated with the skeptical movement in Norway).
- Gunnar Tjomlid: "Ulf Leirstein og Rettssikkerhetsgruppen - ikke så uskyldig". 14 October 2014
- Øivind Bergh: "En trussel mot rettssikkerheten". 21 December 2017.
- Kjetil Thue/MannsForum (26 November 2016): "Rune Fardal er et fremragende eksempel på mot, utholdenhet og verdighet – som gir vissheten om at du ikke er alene, og inspirasjon til alle oss fedre som søker rettferdighet for våre barn" [Rune Fardal is an outstanding example of courage, perseverance and dignity - reassuring us that we are not alone and inspiring all of us fathers who seek justice for our children]
- Even Anderson Langseth/MannsForum (30 April 2018): "Anbefaler å abonnere på Resett" [I encourage people to subscribe to Resett]
- Henrik Hammerhei Slevigen/MannsForum (7 October 2017): "Send inn til den nye avisen Resett" [Contribute to Resett]
- MannsForum (17 October 2019): "(MannsForum sharing a Resett post titled "Feminism has gone too far") by far-right blogger Maria Zähler
- Even Anderson Langseth/MannsForum (1 May 2018): "Merk dere navnet Maria Zähler. I sitt virke for Resett, har hun engasjert seg for barns og fedres menneskerettigheter"
- Kjetil Thue (leader of MannsForum) on The Red Pill
- Kjære menn som føler feminismen har gått for langt ("Dear men who think 'feminism has gone too far'"), BT.no, 14 January 2020
- Comment ("Dere strekker dere til å hilse verdens kvinner med at Mannsforum ' ... har ingenting i mot kvinner'. Jeg vet ikke om jeg skal le eller gråte. Det er veldig plumpt.")
- Bjørn Are Wigtil (23 October 2015): Mannlige feminister trenger en støttende hånd. Maddam.