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MRA: Thomas Ball is no martyr

Not everyone in the MRM is hailing Thomas Ball as a martyr. Here’s what the blogger at Rise of the Zeta Male has to say on the subject:

What happened was a tragedy, and he absolutely should be honored for his fight. But at the end of the day, I still think his methods, and advocacy for violence (see the Molotov cocktail section) are wrong. The only thing violence breeds is more violence, and I am not going to excuse that, just because he proves a point I stand by. This was not an act of self defense, it was not an act of selfishness, it was an act of self destructive protest and it is a great tragedy.

I don’t often agree with what’s posted at Zeta Male – I’m not sure I’ve ever agreed with anything he’s said previously – and there are things in this comment and the rest of the post that I think are problematic. But I have to give the blogger credit for taking a principled stance on this issue, and one that is distinctly unpopular amongst MRAs online.

 

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Posted on June 28, 2011, in internal debate, MRA. Bookmark the permalink. 243 Comments.

  1. So you spend an entire post explaining how Marcotte is so mean to MRAs, and such a nasty, unpleasent person, and she really should keep her tone in check… Then say that the actual OP quotes aren’t that bad for her?

    Yeah. I guess I’m getting pretty general here. But the point is, I do understand some of the knee-jerk responses that Marcotte gets, because if you’re an asshole a lot of the time, you aren’t going to be given the benefit of the doubt the rest of the time.

    And don’t even bother talking about the OP’s links to the MRA’s responses, calling her the “beast of babylon” and “pure feminist evil?”

    I don’t like modern feminism, but at the same time I’m not about to identify in any way, shape or form with the MRAs. Those guys are fucking nuts. But they’re also something of a joke. Someone on here recently guessed that there were about 500 really active, self-identifying MRAs. I think that’s probably about right. Seriously. They’ve all just congregated on the Internet (the only place they can find like-minded people) and love obsessively making a big stink in comments sections. (“Father’s rights” I’d say are distinct from the MRAs, are slightly more prominent and much more reasonable). I’ll say I think people like me are more common, ie, those who have a general dislike of feminism but aren’t about to make a Grand Canyon-sized leap of logic and determine that men are wildly disenfranchised in society. But that’s a topic for another post.

    In contrast to the MRAs, feminism and Marcotte are not jokes. Feminism is a powerful, if fading, cultural force and Marcotte is a noted agent of that force. That means that yes, they need to hold themselves to a higher standard than the freaking men’s rights activists. Sorry. That’s the price of being taken seriously.

  2. Pecunium,

    Yeah, have you ever noticed that MRAs like to throw around the phrase ad hominem but they really have no idea what it really means, much less any sensibility that they themselves love to use it?

    (Of course you have. Rhetorical question.)

  3. A little late to the game, but look, I rated a specific response from Slavey, just for reminding everyone that he’s a lying liar who lies:

    @SallyStrange…All you ever offer is hatred, mockery and misandry. I doubt that’ll ever change.

    Mockey? Hell yes. As for the hatred and misandry… Thanks for giving me a chance to once again drag out my well-worn stock response:

    “I don’t hate men. I hate assholes. It’s not my fault if YOU think those are the same thing.”

    It pretty much distills my experiences with feminism, going all the way back to high school.

  4. Captain Bathrobe,

    it’s not just MRAs who throw “ad hominem” around as a reflexive defense every time someone accurately identifies an idiot as an idiot. In fact it’s exceedingly rare on the internet to find an accurate ad homimen accusation.

  5. That’s the price of being taken seriously.

    Oh noes, if we don’t stop making fun of MRAs, some person named “Michigan” isn’t going to take feminism seriously!

    Hmmm… something is telling me that anyone who thinks that making fun of MRAs takes away feminism’s credibility wasn’t going to take it seriously in the first place.

  6. SallyStrange: It’s exceedingly rare. It just happened to Rachel Maddow on The Today Show

  7. Hide and Seek

    Marcotte: Agent of the Force.

  8. Not to defend all of MRAdom… but

    Yeah. I guess I’m getting pretty general here. But the point is, I do understand some of the knee-jerk responses that Marcotte gets, because if you’re an asshole a lot of the time, you aren’t going to be given the benefit of the doubt the rest of the time

    Michigan does have a point there. Tho whether it’s fair for what she’s said in the past and how they’ve interpreted it, is I guess a discussion for other ppl. xD I mean there are lots of ppl that ppl here prolly would take harsher said by some than others… simply b/c we know of what they generally have been like in the past so there’s a way we read it, even if in a vacuum or to their supporters it might seem just great… :\ As I said before, I dun like Marcotte either (for different reasons, tho maybe historically they might be similar? I dunno xD I dun keep track of who finds Marcotte’s stuff problematic xD ) and so when I read stuff of hers, while I try to be fair, I still have that history there. And it’s not just even that, there’s also that the mindset that I found problematic before i still there, or maybe I just THINK it’s still there xD Either way, it does colour the way I read it and I’m less likely to give the benefit of the doubt… and maybe that’s not fair, but I get it :] (just in the same way we’re more likely to give leeway to like.. ME… rather than Roissy, b/c ppl know what he generally thinks and what I do, so context is added in)

    but I do get that they are reacting to the whole of Amanda and how they see her… :\ (as I said, fair or unfair)

  9. Since I went to bed, here’s a bit on patents. Under the British common law rules that states applied until the federal law in 1790, women could not hold patents. After that, women were not barred by the federal law, but women in states without property rights were legally barred from owning the patent and often from having the patent in their own name. When married women’s property rights increased, the number of women’s patents exploded. http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/womeninventors.html

  10. Think I might have posted that last one on the wrong thread….

  11. I am finally reading the screed that Ball wrote and the man really was not taking responsibility for his actions.

    He admitted he hit his child to the point of drawing blood and got lucky because the state charged the wrong thing. No concept as to why a person would be less trusting in the future with him and the kids in the future.
    He admitted he did nothing to save his marriage. So his ire at the family court is because he refused to do anything that could have kept him out of family court.
    The family court judge gave him a way to see his kids unfettered-he refused because apparently sticking it to “the man” mattered more.

    He probably could have avoided most of his pain and suffering had he been willing to be more of an adult and actually tried to work with his (ex) wife instead of being so petulant.

  12. The ERA! Hah, Rachel Maddow had a great bit about that last night, talking about all of the objections to it back in the 70s… the ERA would outlaw single sex bathrooms!! OMG!! This is a bad thing why exactly? Personally I think single sex bathrooms are one of the stupidest ideas ever.

  13. Like PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth, just got around to reading this crapsack’s nauseating screed. And I have zero sympathy for him.

    Busted a kid in the face hard enough to give her a split lip, refused to even negotiate with the system to reduce his payments, plus pretty much outright endorsing terrorist violence. And all those people agreeing with him, saying that it’s time to put down the keyboard and pick up the gun.

    But I have to wonder, what precisely is it that makes him and them believe us quislings and collaborators have a problem defending ourselves? Because last time I purchased a firearm, there wasn’t a question on the background check form that disqualified “manginas” from owning guns. Just something our would-be insurrectionists might want to think about before they start trying to line people up against a wall.

  14. Yeah… Having been a soldier… I have some familiarity with both the use of them (and the principle of application, there’s a reason the Lybian rebels need outside support, an it’s not that they lack fervor) and the attitudes of other soldiers toward the idea of insurrection.

    They suffer from the common belief among fringe movements, that there is a vast wellspring of support, just waiting for the signal to rise up and throw off the chains of oppression. This is usually not the case.

  15. Plymouth, yep, I remember the omg single sex bathroom debates (graduated high school in 1973). It’s….it was the 70s. This was before family bathrooms, before bathrooms were made accessible (even to the limited amount they have been!) to people with disabilities, before “handicap parking” (a lot of places in this country–where I lived, anyway, rural Idaho). The 1960s had started changes, but it wasn’t overnight, it wasn’t fast, and in fact some of the most vicious gender policing is still done in bathrooms in public.

    THe other big argument was it would force women to be drafted! Of course, US no longer has draft, and women do serve in the military, so that one has sort of lost its force.

    But somehow equal rights would lead to a terrible feminist dystopia that all REAL men and women (and there were a lot of women against it) would hate and loathe and be killed by. Sort of like the MRA prophecies of doom which they claim already exist…

    I fucking hated the 70s!

  16. Pecunium, the main problem I see is that they’d be going for an effect similar to anti-choice terrorists. They don’t actually need a successful revolution or what have you if they can just terrify enough of the right people. After the École Polytechnique shooting, I remember there were more than a few of those MRA fuckwits talking about how now women should be scared to turn them down or ignore them, similar to the commentary from them after George Sodini’s cowardly actions. I don’t think they actually want an armed conflict. I think they want to keep putting this idea of violent action out there enough that someone unbalanced enough will act on it. That’s what really worries me.

  17. Mertvaya-one reason I never believe the US will be conquered is because not only are we 3,000 miles from countries with the resources to fight a long war making logistics a nightmare for any army trying to invade (they would have to conquer Mexico or Canada or talk them into betraying their bigger neighbor and yeah, no) we also have a heavily armed populace who really really really really like their guns.

    I mean to the point I was eating lunch by myself today and the guys behind me were discussing in disturbing detail their firearms. The idea that someone could get Mexico/Canada first for resupply, beat our military and then beat the populace? Not even China has that many people (or nukes.)

    Personally though, I like swords and knives.

  18. MertvayaRuka

    Elizabeth, the whole right-wing idea of foreign invasion or subjugation by foreign troops (like their much-hated boogeyman, the United Nations) is pure fantasy for the most part. The militia-types aren’t training to fight foreign occupiers. They’re training to kill people they don’t like. They’re training to fight a war of fear and intimidation against their fellow Americans over ideological and personal differences. If we’re going to end up as a totalitarian state of some kind, it will be the totalitarian state they want and all those guns of theirs won’t be pointed at law enforcement or the military, they’ll be pointed at everyone they feel doesn’t belong in THEIR country and they will gladly hunt those same people down at the behest of a totalitarian state. A government in this country that’s sliding towards fascism won’t confiscate their guns because it won’t need to, all it needs to do is give them a minority enemy to focus on. Their biggest subversion of history is the claim that Nazi Germany confiscated all privately-held firearms, thereby preventing any major resistance from the population. That never happened. The only people that weren’t allowed to own guns were Jews and other “enemies of the state”, all the other “good” Germans got to keep theirs and it still didn’t stop over six million people from being systematically murdered. That’s the real lesson of that period of history, not their nonsense about an armed populace being a guarantee against tyranny. And I’m pretty sure they know that even if they won’t admit it.

  19. I, uh, was born in the 70s. My Cadillac is from the 70s. Pretty much I think the good things to come out of the 70s were… me and my car and a bunch of my friends? I dunno, I think I was pretty much larval until the 80s so… :)

    Every once in a while someone tells me I’m not a “REAL woman” and I’m like, uh, well, I’m not any kind of woman, so what’s your point? The alternative to being a REAL woman is, what, being a fake woman? I thought real women were kind fake anyway? In order to be considered a real woman you have to wear special clothes and makeup and do things that don’t necessarily come naturally? In other words, fake things? I don’t understand gender. I really just… don’t.

  20. p.s. – this is my 1972 Cadillac:

    Syren in Italian Cemetery

    Her name is Syren. which you might have been able to discern from the windshield banner :). Also known as; Beastillac, Sweetheart, Carbureted Lady, and CARB (short for Classic American Road Boat).

  21. MertvayaRuka: The risk of terrorism is the real worry, but all in all, the MRAs don’t have what it takes.

    The Anti-Choice crowd can’t even make it work. With the persuasive element of having God on their side the Eric Rudolphs and the Scott Roeder’s are thin on the ground. To get an MRA off his duff and out the door in a way that risks the power of the Evil State coming after his ass to deal with the amorphous horror of the feminist state is even less likely.

    They don’t have the promise of eternal bliss. They can’t tell themselves they are going to Paradise for waging war. These are guys who are bent out of shape that they might go to jail for violating a court order; I don’t think they are willing to risk life in prison (much less a death sentence) on the off chance The Revolution will be sparked by their actions.

  22. I tried to find this article about the actual consideration of the idea of fighting the government-since the average Joe knows at least one person who works for one of the different levels of government, does that average Joe understand this is the person he is thinking of shooting in the event he thinks it is necessary to take out the government? This is not a situation of some nameless/faceless behemoth-it is about Cindy who watched your kids last week. Or Bob who helped you build your porch. Or it is about Javier’s kid who joined the military to get a chance to go to college-can you shoot this child you saw in diapers just the other day?

    So that whole idea of “we need the guns to stand up to the government” fails once you start pointing that out to these guys. Then again, since when can a handgun stand up to um, whatever latest toy the military just bought?

  23. Plymouth: SOOOOOOOOO cute (your car).

    Maybe my problem was being a teenager/young adult in the 70s–I was born in 1955, and in rural Idaho, so the 60s never quite came to my part of the state (or possibly any part until recently), and was in high school and college during the 70s (the Kent State shootings in May 1970 was my radicalizing moment), and, well, I like the 80s better!

  24. Beth: A small-arm (which is to say any individual weapon, usable by one person, and not meant to be used in an anti-personnel capacity) is very effective weapon. The widespread availability of them (see, The Gun C J. Cheever, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2010) has had more direct effect on the overthrow of gov’ts than any other thing. Yes, it’s hard for a polity to rise up in an organised manner and directly overthrow a state with an army, but absolute chaos can be achieved.

    And it’s not just tin-pot dictators like Samoza, or corrupt sorts like Chiang-Kai Shek, but the US Army which can’t really wipe out people who have little more than rifles (see the VietCong, and the various insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, to say nothing of the events in Somalia).

    What the MRA don’t have isn’t weapons, it’s the needed support which would make it possible for them to carry out more than the sort of short-lived spree of “The Order

  25. PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth

    Not without doing a lot more damage then is usually accepted.

  26. @Pecunium:

    Yeah, they absolutely don’t have what it takes for any kind of large-scale terror, but as I said my worry is the George Sodinis of the world who drink MRA rageohol up like lemonade in summertime. I think that’s what their hope is really focused on, not on sparking a revolution but inspiring angry and unbalanced people to violence on their behalf. Make people afraid to stick up for themselves, more specifically afraid to turn down aggressive guys (which is one of the things they’ve repeatedly wished for in the aftermath of such violence).

    I also can’t entirely agree that folks like the Army of God haven’t been successful. Before his death, Dr. George Tiller was one of the last few doctors who was qualified to perform late-term abortions. There hasn’t exactly been a stampede of doctors to replace him. Medical providers that offer abortion do business behind bullet-resistant glass and armed security guards and usually require people to escort patients into and out of the building. I think the only reason we haven’t seen as much violence from them lately is that they’re having so much luck using political solutions to restrict and even eliminate abortion service providers from doing business.

    @Plymouth:

    Am I seeing things, or is that shibari on the hood of that amazing car? Because if it is, I <3 that so very much. :)

  27. I know not all MRAs are like this or even MOST, but whenever I see the posts where ppl warn women that our judgement day is coming, or that Lepine and Sodini will happen more and more… or suggesting ways to hurt us and then saying “I’m not saying we should, but somebody will” or etc etc.. the whole “Not ME, butyou know if you keep this up SOMEBODY WILL” it always is like.. they’re HOPING for somebody unstable to do it.. so their hands can be clean but they can say SEE SEE WOMEN THIS IS WHAT YOU’VE DONE… those particular posters seem to rly WANT to see women killed and terrorize but they also keep saying that they dun want it… which is conveinent, they just want others, and I can’t help but think (esp when they suggest ways to do it) that they want somebody unstable to pick it up and “take one for the team” (and for some random women to take one for some weird collective crime of ours -_-) :\

  28. MertvayaRuka

    Ami, the “We don’t really mean that. But we don’t. Just joking. Or are we.” routine is their weasely way to allow themselves to claim no responsibility when something does happen. Even though it’s pretty damn obvious that that’s exactly what they want. And yes, they do want someone else to “take one for the team”. The vast majority of them may be pretty angry but not angry enough to go to prison (or the morgue) for it. So, they have to hope for some other person to do what they fantasize about.

    So, thanks to them and other men like them we live in a world where my wife and our partner don’t feel safe without at least carrying a folding knife, where they’ve had to learn that some guys are so fucking entitled that even the slightest friendly physical contact makes said guy think they’re owed sex and they’re going to get really nasty if they don’t get it. And we’re all way past tired of dealing with that situation.

  29. PosterformerlyknownasElizabeth

    now I wonder what help a working bacon AK-47 would be.

  30. ami: That is exactly what those (specific) posters are aiming for (that and the intimidation aspects of the lurking menace).

    Beth: I don’t argue that the effect of the anti-choice terrorists has been chilling. I think (actually) it has been chilling because it can be seen as aberrant. The majority of anti-choice people aren’t going to do anything violent, but it only takes a small percentage to make it hard to be visibly pro-choice.

    The violent rhetoriticians in the MRA community are using the language of the failed state/severely oppressed. It would take a significant chunk of the fantasies they think have come to pass in the world, actually, coming to pass to get anywhere near a condition where systematic violence was even possible.

    But the system isn’t inherently unfair. People aren’t that upset about it. If they were, the structural means of redress would have to fail (i.e. the ability to change the laws would have to be seen, buy a large plurality of the people) before steady violence was something which could be done without active condemnation.

    So yes, it’s possible for a few of them to slip into violence but women aren’t abortion providors, it’s not possible to target a small handful of them. That’s not even (despite the ranting about, ‘Feminist Leaders’) possible to do with feminism.

    So yes, I worry that the deniable cheerleading will induce a few lone wolves, but they will need something more concrete than “feminism” as a target, and some reward greater than the vague, “freedom to be real men” that is being blathered about. Individuals who decide to do that aren’t going to be held up as serving a cause, unless they are explicit in their reasons. If they are explicit, the MRA movement will be discredited, in pretty short order.

    If they aren’t (in the way Ball hasn’t been), then there isn’t the traction needed to snowball the violence.

  31. MertvayaRuka – Yup, it’s supposed to suggest a classic diamond-pattern body harness but I didn’t want to actually tie the hood shut so I used drawer handles as tie points. I have plans to add some more attachment points so I can make other patterns.

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