The woke mind virus | HBR Talk 222


On previous episodes of HBR Talk, we’ve discussed Woke Ideology as mental pathology; the mental disease of a victim identity cult mentality which robs the infected of their ability to recognize and rationally assess personal agency when considering people’s choices and any consequences that may arise from them. 

The woke assign or deny personal agency and its opposite, personal vulnerability, to all demographic groups primarily on the basis of gender, with a secondary caveat to things like race or ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexuality, gender identity, and political outlook… a sorting tool known as the Progressive Stack, where agency and vulnerability are placed at opposite ends of a mental measuring stick. Woke ideology assigns moral values to your position in the progressive stack, imposing guilty dirty oppressor status to the high agency end, and clean, virtuous victim status to the high vulnerability end. If this sounds a lot like Alison Tieman’s threat narrative series, which we’ve also referenced quite a bit on HBR Talk, it’s because the phenomenon this describes is the same thing, but without the idea of personal choice, because it describes identity instead of actions. Woke ideology presumes identity to be mostly immutable, but judges you for it anyway.

So… how does this moral measuring stick work?
The primary factor is gender. Men are always assigned significant agency, but their vulnerability receives little or no acknowledgement… women are assigned significant vulnerability but their agency receives little or no acknowledgement. This position in the stack – “male oppressor” vs “female victim” will be the individual’s primary assigned identity. As a result, no matter what other demographic details they possess, men are always placed one step closer to the oppressor/agency end of the stack than women with the same demographic details as themselves.

Once that label is assigned we get a subheading based the combination of other demographic boxes the subject can or must tick from the aforementioned list. You can think of this as their demographic matrix, because this constitutes a data structure for organizing information to create a shortcut from “hello” to conclusions about the person. The ideologue doesn’t have to view you as a complex human being with whom nuanced interaction is possible and right. Depending on its components, your demographic matrix identifies you to the woke as either more of an oppressor, or more of a victim.

In a nutshell, this is one reason behind social media profile virtue signaling with pronouns, flags, and politically loaded emojis. It’s political identity disclosure intended to communicate a level of social authority possessed by the profile owner as a result of their position in the progressive stack; a short means of establishing their pecking order within the woke borg.

And yes, just as we described when discussing Bureaucracy in HBR Talk 103, this manner of thinking is a mind virus. Longtime viewers may remember we discussed two subtypes by example. 

The Game is an intrusive thought generator, which undermines the infected mind’s natural ability to control the focus of attention by using its own tools for the job against it, because you cannot focus on not thinking about a thing without thinking about it. We all just lost, and my apologies to everyone who knows what I’m referencing.

The other type we discussed was the subject of that video and the subsequent livestream: The Bureaucratic Mind virus is an adaptability inhibitor, which undermines a key element of the infected mind’s problem-solving apparatus. This one is caused the reliance on standardization of procedure and policy in a bureaucratic workplace to create guidance that can be applied to the broadest spectrum of tasks or workload considerations. That usually involves creating a ruleset that works like one of those shape-sorting toys for infants with holes in standard shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle) and blocks that are cut to fit through those holes. 

Nonstandard circumstances will activate the program’s defenses, resulting in one of two directions that harken back to the days of infancy when one played with such toys: The bureaucrat will either try to stuff the problematic individual through the the hole whose shape is the closest approximation to his circumstances, no matter how badly he fits, or, finding no standard procedure for this instance, retaliate against him as one would against an attack. In practical application to the cases of men and boys, the latter comes out as overzealous imposition of restrictions and penalties, while the former tends to be an attempt to sort male-shaped problems into female-shaped categories. Anything that doesn’t fit must be wrong, and has to be folded, crushed, or removed.

Both of these dysfunctional thought patterns exist because, in order to be able to process epic levels of information quickly and conclusively without spending equally epic levels of energy, the human mind has evolved to take a lot of short cuts. We’re aware of how some of these can misfire. One example is rhetorical fallacies like assuming an outcome must be due to a particular cause because you know it can be, such as assuming a person is poor due to poor choices because you know that poor choices can lead to poverty, or assuming he is poor because he is oppressed, because you know that oppression inhibits his potential for financial growth. Another is phobic thinking that leads the thinker to counterintuitively focus more the perfectly ordinary subject of his aversion (like the existence of microbes, mostly benign, on every surface on Earth,) and to alter his behavior even to the inconvenience or detriment of himself or others in an effort to protect against contact.

When such mistakes and patterns of dysfunction combine, what happens?
Imagine a person with a tendency to jump to conclusions based on rhetorical fallacies, then react emotionally and judgmentally without any further analysis. What happens when you seed that person’s mind with an intrusive thought generator and an adaptability inhibitor with protocols that impose morality on involuntary characteristics like the particulars of human population demographics? It would run through it like malware, wouldn’t it? It would run through those with the same vulnerability like a worm, and then it would set them up to develop a phobia of anyone who was not infected, like you… the wrongthink boogeymen of the Men’s RIghts movement. 

This week, A Voice For Men’s Grossness in Human Relations Editor Jewel Eldora joins HBR Talk to discuss the woke mind virus and its implications for men’s rights advocacy. You can find a link to the stream, running at 7:30PM EST on several platforms, at

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About the author

Hannah Wallen

Hannah has witnessed women's use of criminal and family courts to abuse men in five different counties, and began writing after she saw one man's ordeal drag on for seven years, continuing even when authorities had substantial evidence that the accuser was gaming the system. She is the author of Breaking the Glasses, written from an anti-feminist perspective, with a focus on men's rights and sometimes social issues. Breaking the Glasses refers to breaking down the "ism" filters through which people view the world, replacing thought in terms of political rhetoric with an exploration of the human condition and human interactions without regard to dogmatic belief systems. She has a youtube channel (also called Breaking the Glasses), and has also written for A Voice For Men and Genderratic. Hannah's work can be supported at

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