Roy Den Hollander was entrenched in 'anti-feminist' male supremacy movement

The suspect in an ambush on a judge's family was a member of Men Going Their Own Way, who seek to avoid "the negative influence of women entirely.”
A New York State Trooper stands guard outside the home where attorney Roy Den Hollander was found dead after allegedly killing the son of federal judge Esther Salas and wounding her husband, in Catskills, N.Y., on July 20, 2020.
Roy Den Hollander was found dead inside this house in the Catskills, N.Y., hours after he allegedly killed the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas and wounded her husband in New Jersey.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

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By Safia Samee Ali

The men’s rights lawyer suspected of killing the son of a federal judge and wounding her husband was a self-described “anti-feminist” who wrote thousands of online posts and self-published a 1,700-word book describing his unabashed hatred of women.

The lawyer, Roy Den Hollander, left behind scores of online screeds, legal filings, a memoir and a website that experts say are reflective of a particularly virulent strain of misogynistic ideology and that has shined a light on the larger anti-feminist movement he was an active and proud member of.

“All of this misogynism is fundamentally about repressing women and subjugating women against their will," said John Horgan, a professor of global studies and psychology at Georgia State University who studies violent extremist groups. "These men are so deeply insecure and are fueled by this fundamental inability to cope with women progressing in today’s world.”

Den Hollander was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound hours after he allegedly ambushed the family of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, killing her 20-year-old son, Daniel Anderl, and seriously wounding her husband, Mark Anderl, at their home in New Jersey on Sunday. Salas was in the basement during the attack and was unhurt.

Although the birth of the men’s rights movement began in the 1970s as a backlash to women's equality, it gained steam in the 1990s and peaked after 2007 when groups started moving more toward web-based forums.

Over its evolution the men’s rights universe — or "manosphere" — has largely separated into a few camps while maintaining a shared core value of male supremacy and entitlement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Red Pillers, who claim to be the only ones aware of the existence of a feminist conspiracy running society; pick-up artists, whose goal is to lure women into sleeping with them, while constantly debasing them; involuntary celibates (or incels), who, having failed to find women either willing to have or to be coerced into sex, turn their anger into calls of violence; and men going their own way (MGTOW), who present themselves as male separatists and have chosen to remove themselves from the negative influence of women entirely.”

These groups collectively hail in the low hundreds of thousands, said Alex DiBranco, founder and executive director of the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism.

DiBranco added that there has been growth among all platforms, but the largest has been among the most extreme, the incels and the MGTOW, of which Den Hollander was a member. According to accounts linked to him, Den Hollander was also a member of the anti-feminist Facebook group Humanity Vs. Feminism.

The men’s rights movement has a particularly large disdain of the legal system, which they feel is rigged in favor of feminism, said DiBranco, a doctoral candidate at Yale University who is studying right wing extremism.

“A number of people in the men's rights movement have showed anger with female judges but also male judges who they feel are 'feminist collaborators,'” she said. “Hostility towards judges has been a big part of the men's rights movement for decades.”

Within his writings, Den Hollander attacked Salas, who presided over a civil case he filed in 2015, calling her "a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.” He also said he "wanted to ask the Judge out, but thought she might hold me in contempt."

He scorned a “feminist infested American judicial system," "feminarchy" and "Obamite bigots," referring to judges appointed by Barack Obama.

Den Hollander fantasized the rape of another female judge who presided over his divorce case, and expressed rage against his mother and ex-wife.

One of the rants posted on Den Hollander's website included scathing criticism of the judiciary, which he said was “useless for men,” adding that “the courts support the violation of the rights of men whenever it benefits females.”

Despite those criticisms, the movement frequently uses the legal system to further their cause by filing cases that challenge gender equality, DiBranco said, “most with very little merit.”

This is one of the crucial areas where Den Hollander positioned himself within the movement. He filed several unsuccessful lawsuits including challenging the constitutionality of “ladies night” promotions at bars and nightclubs, and sued Columbia University for providing women’s studies classes, saying they were “a bastion of bigotry against men.”

Many of these lawsuits brought him media coverage on Fox News and MSNBC. In a 2008 Fox News appearance, Den Hollander said women were “the real oppressors,” according to The New York Times.

But when it comes to violence, the movement treads differently.

The men’s rights groups publicly try to steer clear of decrying violence in an effort to appear legitimate, said Ashley Mattheis, a researcher at the University of North Carolina who studies far/alt-right extremism.

“They don't overtly promote violence, they don't say go kill people, but they do use it in a subtle almost satirical manner so they can disavow it at any point,” she said.

But it’s also not surprising based on their rhetoric and ideology that eventually such people will take up violence, she said. “An ideology that tells you all day long that more than half the world is out to get you, feminism has rigged the government and everything is rigged against you — that's an ideology that's ripe for promoting violent reactions.”

Most of the violent acts tied to the men’s rights movement have been from the incel arm, which have been responsible for at least 50 deaths in the United States and Canada, according to researchers at the Council on Foreign relations.

The most notable attack was in 2014, when self-professed incel Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14 in Isla Vista, California, near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself.

“Misogyny is probably the most overlooked ideology that fuels men’s violence, '' Horgan said. “This ideology is out there, it's pervasive, and we are barely paying attention to it outside dramatic acts of violence like this."