What Does Male Evil Look Like?

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. wellokaythen says:

    I think there is such a thing as evil. Of course it’s somewhat subjective, but at the end of the day there are some things that just are. The way people respond to the evil that they and others do is a fundamental question for everyone.

    I’m wondering, though, at the concept of “male evil.” I don’t hear the article saying that men are especially evil, and I don’t see the article saying that the evil men do is worse, so I’m not jumping to that conclusion. But, I wonder what the phrase means. Are there forms of evil that are particularly “male” by definition? (Peeing on the wall of a sacred site as a hate crime?) Or, is it just a reference to some evil actions that tend to be committed more by males than by others?

  2. Tom Matlack says:

    Yeah I don’t know about male evil separate and apart from human evil either, since I admit in the piece that evil in general is a subject I shy away from on purpose. I will say that I can think of more notorious criminals that are men than women. And the topic of this site is men, so just as we are talking about what it means to be a good man I think we ought to consider what it means to be an evil man.

  3. I’ve just recently found this site, and so I don’t have much reading history or much of a sample size, but it seems the article and blog titles here are not meant to inform so much as provoke. In my case they provoke less thought than irritation. I’m thinking of “are men lazy” hanging above a discussion of what women want and need in a long term relationship, or “witholding sex” attached to a reasonable take on the issue of and possible solutions to mismatched libidos, and now this piece that doesn’t really make an argument that evil is particularly male or that there is a male flavor to some evil. So the title seems to belong on a different entry.

    Being done nitpicking, I don’t think evil exists as some force seperate from the people who indulge in or witness it. Same for goodness. People do evil things and people do good things, and often over a lifetime the same person does some of each. Whatever the case I see evil as behavior, and not something that motivates the behavior.

  4. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    Look for tribes of evil, not one isolated soul. One madman’s spark of psychosis unleashes waves of flame on society, insidious destruction. Generations past bore evil tribes in our suburbs and cities.

    Denial and alcohol can’t fight evil. Men need a safe place to expose the damage, grow strong. Rally. In global crisis, men fight to protect women and children, elderly from damage by evil tribes. They blame themselves. They suffer. Women suffer with them in unspoken struggle.

    Men need safe place to break ice, talk through it. Solutions come with cooperation.
    Admire your work. Here to support.

  5. The problem with the concept of evil as described is that in the very near future, we will be in a position to provide drugs to curb and/or eliminate egregious antisocial behavior of the worst kind (i.e. serial killers with no remorse or empathy). The technological bottleneck is the clear identification of the target consumer for the anti-evil drug dose.

  6. I don’t think there is male evil vs. female evil. There is just evil. There were many women in Hitler’s Germany who were rabid Nazis and who assisted Nazi crimes against humanity. Female sociopaths certainly exist, who lack empathy and remorse, who engage in criminal behavior (often financial, but sometimes violent) and who exploit others for their own gain. Men may commit more violent crimes, statistically, but that doesn’t mean there is “male evil” fundamentally different than “female evil.”

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    It’s not the “threat of evil”, but the actuality of evil that causes people to prepare for and to take action against it.
    Pacifists–the real, honest ones–think that there is no excuse, not self-defense, not defense of others, that excuses violence.
    Fortunately for pacifists, there are the rest of us.

  8. Hunter @Green Detective says:


    Porn industry? Sex fantasy alive and kicking, one generation after the next. Bizarre or evil? Comments?

  9. John Anderson says:

    “never considering whether in fact in some cases there is no coming back from the dark side.”

    That’s why I rejected masculism. One of the tenets was every man is redeemable. I don’t want to redeem every man. Mass killers should fry.

  10. Heisenberg says:

    “But I just cannot wrap my head around state sponsored killing of even the most despicable prisoner. Maybe that makes me weak or unmanly…”
    Not at all. Although I do understand and accept killing for utilitarian purposes, I don’t think this makes me any more of a man or equates to any heightened level of fortitude. I don’t think we need to frame our manliness around our reactions to violence and death.

    And, sorry to burst your bubble: I did have the opportunity to work with Heath Ledger for three months. He never struck me as someone who would be impacted so greatly by a role. Rather, he seemed to love the opportunity to inhabit another psyche whilst working. For him, it seemed a rush to be able to do things and act in a way that he never would.

  11. Hank Vandeburgh says:

    Many of them have women helping them. I always think of prople like Ann Coulter. I run a couple of veteran’s pages. The other day, I learned that, as a Democrat, I was also an Islamic communist. When I told her that Islamists hate communists, it shorted her out and she quit the page.

    I sometimes think women can get much crazier when they go bad than men can. I admit that they don’t kill as often.

  12. The Wet One says:

    First of all, is evil gendered? Is there such a thing as “male evil”? I have a problem with that idea. Yeah males do more evil, but it seems to me that males do more of everything other than mothering that any attention is paid to. However, evil is rather more widespread than that and if 1/2 the human race stood up in opposition, there is almost no way that things like the Holocaust could have been perpetrated by men.

    As for the “Some men just want to watch the world burn,” I can sympathize with that and have wondedered about it many times in my days. I have judged the world and found it wanting. I have long considered the question, “If i had the power, would I destroy the world?” I have since found that the question is irrelevant because in the long run, the world of humans will pass away and die. I still stand by my judgment on humanity all the same. Plus, the fact is fire, explosions, destruction and so forth are pretty frickin’ awesome! Could you imagine a supernova in the sky so bright that it lights up the night sky? Now imagine the worlds around that supernova which have been totatally and utterly blasted away. In the energetic death of a solar system, a beautiful thing is created. Let there be light!

    As for the morality of war and the evils perpetrated therein, the moral weight lies with the leaders. Soldiers are mere cogs in the wheel. Due to the nature of war and its uncertainty, collateral damage and friendly fire are inevitable. There is no evil, per se, in this. The evil lies in the reason for unleashing war. Iraq is near, but consider WWII. WWII wasn’t entirely a good war, but it’s a lot more “good” than most. Hitler et. al. were most certainly evil and needed to be stopped. However, consider that the Allies couldn’t be bothered to help the Jews long before the war when Hitler’s evil was well known. Such is the morality of states.

    As far as the morality of war, consider this (you liberal pro Obama types), Obama has murdered U.S. citizens. He has called for their deaths and had them killed without the due process of law. Was this evil? It most certainly was. No matter how bad a bad guy he ordered killed, none of those bad guys have the power of the state. States have killed and will kill more people (rightly or wrongly) than anything else on earth. Obama unleashed the Leviathan in a manner that it ought not be unleashed and contrary to the rule of law. As a result, we are all in greater peril than we were before. His act was unquestionably an evil one. Now, does anyone care? Nope, not a peep. Who’s responsible for that? All I can say is thank god I don’t have to vote for the man or the other idiot who’s running against him.

    As for your son Tom, I would worry less about him being put in harms way and worry about him becoming a tool of evil. I’m lucky to live in a small state with relatively little power. As such, we don’t go around sticking our nose into other people’s business and killing other people for our national interests. The U.S., as a great power, does not have that luxury. The evil committed by the U.S. military are many and many of its actions are done for reasons that have nothing to do with “good” as it is commonly understood. I once wanted to join the military too at age 16, I decided that it would be wiser not to be subject to the whims of the men in office when they have, time and time again, shown themselves to have something other than “good” in mind. Of course, as leaders of countries, “good” is not their highest priority, or even a priority. Interests are. Soldiers aren’t involved in that decision though. They do as they are told, which is their duty.

    I suggest that your son learn more about the politics behind wars. Have him learn the reasons behind every U.S. war in the 20th century (from both sides, not just the American point of view). Then have him decide if he can say “My country right or wrong” or whether he will take a more nuanced approach to joining the military. I have no disrespect for soldiers. Theirs is an honourable profession. However, they are so often ill used by their masters, that I could not be a soldier in good conscience. Others will die by the very nature of my profession. When I know that I will be so poorly used in giving my service, I, for my part, had to decline serving in uniform.

    As for the whole good vs. evil thing, or your last paragraph, just be glad that the whole problem will one day go away. With the end of humanity, evil, more likely than not, goes away. Good probably does too. I suspect that much of the “good” and “evil” that we see in the world is more a product of our minds than a concrete reality of substantive meaning. Some of the evils are mere products of the world we live in and the fact of our material being (rather like a wolf eating a deer. Wolf’s gotta eat and it doesn’t eat grass. People need liebensraum to live). Other aspects of evil I’m not so sure. While it’s always been the case that land was pretty important for people to live and worth fighting over, it’s not clear to me that it was necessary in the fighting to be a cruel and sadistic bastard when committing genocide on your neighbours. Just slit their throats and burn their corpses. No need to inflict terror, cruelty and agony into the mess. See the difference? See the irrelevance of morality? For my part, I do. Thus the world can burn for all I care. It was f**ked from the word go.

    • John Anderson says:

      “First of all, is evil gendered? Is there such a thing as “male evil”? I have a problem with that idea. Yeah males do more evil, but it seems to me that males do more of everything other than mothering that any attention is paid to.”

      I don’t think evil is gendered either. I would hesitate to say that even “types” of evil is gendered. Women rape and kill also. If you look at the DOJ stats, about half of the prison rape is perpetrated by women. Male prisoner on prisoner rape is a third of the rate of women on women prisoner rape. Staff prison rape is almost 80% female staff on male prisoner. Prisoners and staff each perpetrate about half the rapes. The only reason male perpetrated sexual assault in prison is even close is because the overwhelming majority of prisoners are male.

      Do women have a much larger propensity than men to abuse those weaker than themselves? In a discussion on gender, I remember pointing out that public spaces are no more hospitable to men than women. Men are killed at 4 times the rate of women. Men simply partake of public spaces despite the risk. I think you see this in the incidence of violent crime and mass killings. When someone commits a violent crime, there is the possibility of getting a violent response from law enforcement. The perpetrator can die in a shootout. A mass killing will ultimately result in death in the overwhelming number of cases whether the perpetrator is killed at the scene or after the trial.

      You see the value placed on one’s personal life in the rates of suicide. Men commit suicide at 4 times the rate of women. When women commit sexual violence in prison, they have no expectation that their victim can reciprocate violently. They also have a strong expectation that they won’t get caught and punished and their punishment if caught would not be severe at least not resulting in death.

  13. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Well, I’m not voting for Obama, just so you know. And not Romney either. He’s an even bigger liar. Obama doesn’t get my vote for deserting troops under fire. I, for one, am not a liberal. I’m some combination of libetarian (micro) and socialist (macro.)

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