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Men’s Rights Bronies, Part 2: The Piggening

Oy vey.

Hot on the heels of my recent discovery of Men’s Rights Bronies, a new controversy about My Little Pony has erupted in the Men’s Rights subreddit. Though, to be honest, I might have provoked most of the actual controversy there by wading into the muck and pointing out a few facts.

The discussion centers around a rather obtuse post by Kathleen Richter on the Ms. Blog from two years ago accusing the show’s creators of racism and homophobia, among other things. The post couldn’t be more wrong about everything, and, unsurprisingly, was torn apart by commenters on the site – and by Lauren Faust, then the show’s “creative steward” and executive producer, who was given the opportunity to write a rebuttal on the Ms. Blog.

So why are the dudes on the Men’s Rights subreddit getting worked up by this dead controversy today? Because an MRA who calls himself ThePigman – we took a look at one of his terrible, terrible comic strips here – decided to post Richter’s original post (but not Faust’s rebuttal) to r/mensrights under the title “My Little Pony FIM attacked by nuts at Ms Magazine Blog. NOT, repeat, NOT a satire.”

Perhaps inadvisedly, I posted a comment pointing out that the Richter’s blog post had not exactly been well-received.  And this happened. (Click on the pic for a full-sized version.)

The whole discussion is rather surreal. Some highlights.

ThePigman responding to a rather straightforward and factual comment of mine with:

You are a disgusting animal. Go and talk to someone else, just having you on the same planet makes me want to puke.

Ullere repeatedly misrepresenting my recent post on Men’s Rights Bronies.

The dude who regularly posts on r/mensrights as “Manzboobz” makes an appearance.

And this barely coherent little masterpiece of sarcasm from our old friend Eoghan (who posts on r/mensrights as Sigil1):

As someone who speaks fluent Eoghan, let me translate: he is suggesting that the women discussing the issue of MLP on the Ms. Blog are all a bunch of layabouts living off of their hard-working husbands. He’s also making a snide reference to feminism as being an “astro-turf” movement (rather than a true grassroots movement) because, in his mind, feminism is all a big plot created and funded by the CIA and the evil elitists who run the world.

Eoghan aside, this whole episode suggests how difficult it is for a feminist to have any kind of discussion with MRAs even on the Men’s Rights subreddit, probably the most moderate MRA forum out there. (Several other people posted references to Faust’s rebuttal, but weren’t downvoted, because they aren’t the dreaded, more-evil-than-evil-itself “manboobz.”)

A couple of days ago, one poster to r/mr asked “Why are there not more feminists here” debating the issues with MRAs. Here’s your answer.

EDITED TO ADD:  ThePigman has responded to this and my previous Brony post in his typically calm and reasonable manner on his blog. By which I mean he spewed forth a bunch of angry nonsense.

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Posted on May 8, 2012, in $MONEY$, antifeminism, bronies, douchebaggery, misogyny, MRA, reddit. Bookmark the permalink. 115 Comments.

  1. * heterotropic eyes

    Hypotonia is decreased muscle tone.

  2. * heterotopic–no “r”

  3. @Manjaw the Mighty

    I think they either had to change the voice or change the scene, because if they had her as a minor character who just happened to have some sort of disability (and who wasnt just ditzy or distracted) then the way Rainbow Dash treated her comes across as over-the-line mean. Or at least I imagine it could easily be percieved that way. But you have the best argument I’ve seen for keeping her voice as is.

  4. The voice made me cringe so hard… to me it sounded like a fifth-grader making fun of the kid with Down’s Syndrome in his class. It fucked up the entire episode for me.

    But yeah. I understand the argument for having a positive representation of disability in the show.

    BTW, does anyone have thoughts on whether “derpy” is ableist? I’ve heard conflicting reports (some people say it was originally used to make fun of people with mental disabilities, other people say it’s pretty much always just meant neurotypical and kinda stupid). I don’t use the term myself because I want to avoid causing hurt to people with mental disabilities, but I’m not sure whether I should be correcting people who use it or not, the way I do with people who use the term “retarded.”

  5. They wouldn’t have to come out and say “This character is disabled,” they could have left her just coded as such. Kind of like quintessential “stupid” characters like Patrick Starr or Ed from Ed, Edd, and Eddy, which actually seems to be the direction they were originally taking her. But instead of staying on that tack or censoring her, they could have taken a third option.

    I think Rainbow Dash actually does have a tendency to be quite mean sometimes, so harsh behavior like that wasn’t out of character for her. If they had left the scene as is (or just edited out Derpy’s name, which is indeed offensive, given the connotations of “derp”) the writers could have given us a season 3 episode in which Rainbow Dash learns to be patient and accepting of Derpy, or something. Not in an ableist “I’ve learned so much just by spending time with this tragically disabled but ‘special’ person” kind of way, but in a “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and it’s generally not cool to be mean to people” kind of way.

  6. Even though I personally will always think of the character as “Derpy,” the word is offensive because it totally does make fun of people with intellectual disabilities. I wouldn’t say it’s as bad as the r-word, but it’s not appropriate for a children’s show. “Ditzy Doo” is honestly just as bad. Derpy’s canon name should be innocuous. Something to do with bubbles, perhaps. If the writers actually made her the “mail mare” as bronies imagine her, and call her Bubble Wrap, I feel like that could be a compromise to make everyone happy.

    And in case anyone is inclined to question why a might Amazon warrior is a brony, I’ll have you know that the show does a wonderful job of introducing little girls to the joys of a matriarchal society.

  7. * mighty

    Goodness, my massive dyke fingers are just making it especially difficult to type today.

  8. A lot of the the 2nd season has been disappointing, they changed the animation too much, there were too many kinda ‘hey, lets pander to the bronies’ moments, and the Derpy thing was just crap (that they made her like that in the first place, I still can’t watch that episode…anyone know where to get the fixed version?)

    Firstly it was offensive, and mainly it just wasnt right for the character, (there was a fan made audio series about Doctor Whoof where Derpy was his assistant, which had the kind of voice they should have used, even the voice in a video trying to defend the original voice was much much better than the original voice – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg-_HeVNYOk )

  9. @Manjaw the Mighty: I’ve heard people use an alternate name for her that I quite like: Bubblecup.

    And yeah, I think Rainbow Dash has kind of gone from “sometimes kind of brusque” to “downright mean” this season, and I hope that they eventually address it and have her learn a lesson.

  10. I would be all for MLP introducing a disabled character, but a character named “Derpy” whose main appearance is breaking things and getting yelled at and talking in a schoolyard-bully “idiot voice”? Yeah no. That’s not exactly a humanizing (er… equinizing?) portrayal.

  11. Why didn’t they just make Derpy named Ditzy Dee? That was what people originally thought it was going to be, and it sounds more like a Ponyville name.

  12. First Time Poster

    @ Rutee

    I agree with you about Zecora and the buffalo, but the thing is, I feel like those are actual criticisms about real stereotypes. Same with the Derpy Hooves stuff. The original article made no mention of any of that stuff though iirc and just said stuff like “the ponies who guard Princess Celestia are gray and she’s white so they must be slaves!” which is… seriously reaching, imo.

    Basically, there are definitely legitimate criticisms you could make of how MLP: FiM handles things like race and gender, but the original article didn’t really touch on them and just made a lot of really strange, flimsy assertions, and it came across like the writer hadn’t seen more than a couple of episodes.

  13. According to Amy Keating, writer of that particular episode, Derpy was originally called Ditzy Dee, and was supposed to be just clumsy. The name change was a tip to the fans, one she regretted as soon as she found out what derpy meant (apart from clumsy, that’s the context she was using it in). The name was changed back to Ditzy, and that is now the official name.

    Source: http://www.mylittleponynews.com/2012/03/amy-keating-responds-to-derpy.html

  14. It would have been really awesome if they had used that as an opportunity to explore disability in the show, by changing the name and using a voice actor with a relevant disability. At first I heard that was what happened, and I was saddened by finding out the truth (in looking for the source for my previous post). However, potential and regret does not do away with the ableism that is inherent in the word derp(y).

  15. I’m getting really tired of how they’re treating Rainbow Dash in the show. Seriously. She started out as the tomboy who was always really skilled physically and knew it, but in the second season (except for the episode where she ends up in the hospital reading), the writers really went out of the way to make her look like a straight-up asshole, and that’s just not cool (especially since Fluttershy is basically always perfect all the time except for maybe two situations, one being when she was taken over by Discord’s magic).

    I’m a huge fan of Rainbow Dash’s up-and-at-‘em loyalty, although I’m also a bit like Applejack as well, and both of their characters seem kind to display qualities that MRAs constantly bitch and moan and complain about when they occur in actual women.

    In fact, other than Fluttershy (who, granted, does display some “crazy cat/animal lady” tendencies), all of the ponies basically display character traits that would make most MRA’s froth at the mouth if they were actually done by real women.

    I mean, think about it- Rarity likes pretty fine dresses and other high-quality royal things (which is totally ok if she makes them herself and pays for them herself, but I would guess that these guys would see her as an “expensive bitch” and hence not worthy of “providing for”). Then you have Applejack, who has a tendency to work hard and get all muddy and messed up and never wants to look pretty (ie: “the Ugly Bitch”). Then you have Rainbow Dash, whose career aims are so all-encompassing, that she rarely thinks of anything else (ie: “The career bitch”). Then there’s Pinkie Pie, who is constantly hyper and can’t stop talking a mile a minute and is rabidly social (ie: the “social bitch who won’t shut up”). Then you have Twilight Sparkle, who would rather read a book most of the time than go have fun or do much else. She also seems to kind of have a vulcan-esque way of seeing things (“I read a book about slumber parties and these are the proper procedures!”), hence making her a “nerdy bookish bitch” who doesn’t spend enough time stroking the ego and cock of the average MRA for him to want to give her the time of day.

    It’s annoying that if you turned the ponies into women, the MRA’s would hate them. But if you keep them multi-colored cartoon ponies, suddenly they’re totally….like….HUMAN or something!

    The cognitive disconnect is massive.

  16. Grinner: Thanks for linking to that. It seems like a gracious handling of a difficult situation. I like the new version of the scene; her new voice communicates ditzy/clumsy much better.

  17. all of the ponies basically display character traits that would make most MRA’s froth at the mouth if they were actually done by real women.

    Is there such a thing as a character trait that doesn’t make MRAs froth at the mouth when done by women?

    I mean, maybe if “is literally a robot programmed to do nothing but exactly what you want at any given moment” counts as a “character trait,” that might qualify, but at this point I’m unconvinced that MRAs wouldn’t find a way to complain about how that robot bitch won’t run properly unless you buy the expensive batteries, which is MISANDRY.

  18. Crumbelievable

    That “Why aren`t there more feminists here?” thread was painful to read. I particularly enjoyed hearing them complain about how feminists use “shame and scorn” as tactics.

    Whereas calling people manginas and white knights is…what?

  19. I agree with you about Zecora and the buffalo, but the thing is, I feel like those are actual criticisms about real stereotypes. Same with the Derpy Hooves stuff. The original article made no mention of any of that stuff though iirc and just said stuff like “the ponies who guard Princess Celestia are black and she’s white so they must be slaves!” which is… seriously reaching, imo.

    Let’s not mince words here. Also, it’s not really reaching to not assume white people aren’t being racist at any given time. The original writer was wrong, yes, but on matters of implementation. not on the basic facts.

    Basically, there are definitely legitimate criticisms you could make of how MLP: FiM handles things like race and gender, but the original article didn’t really touch on them and just made a lot of really strange, flimsy assertions, and it came across like the writer hadn’t seen more than a couple of episodes.

    At the time of writing, only the pilot and a couple of episodes existed, so yeah, that’s about right. You do realize that the fact that the writer was only wrong on the specifics of implementation is *Why* the writer was so certain that the show would end up racist, yes? That’s the most she could be wrong *on*.

    All of which is besides why I mentioned it: MLP:FIM, which I do legitimately love, had some racist shit, which is why I thought it was inaccurate to say that the article couldn’t be more wrong about everything; its central premise is correct, the show does really racist stuff sometimes. I would actually argue that it would be kinder to Faust for the article writer to be correct. Ponies of different skin colors being discriminated against is arguably a smaller difference from making non-white people not be ponies (like everyone else). Given Sapphire Shores, I suspect they learned this after people correctly pointed out, that shit was racist as hell.

  20. Then again, that’s arguable, Sapphire Shores preceded the buffalo episode…

  21. Reason #4957292 I love Manboobz:

    In depth discussions about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in the comments.

    And I’m not even a brony.

  22. Ruby Hypatia

    Wow, Feminism is a CIA conspiracy? I’d laugh at that guy for believing in such ridiculous nonsense, but it makes me a bit sad. Schools need to teach more about reason, then maybe we’d have fewer believers of silly conspiracy theories.

  23. I heard a really funny conspiracy theory the other day. It was something to do with how the only thing that gets women’s knickers wet is $CASHMONIEZ$ because, science.

  24. SSSSHHH!!! She’s a feminist! Feminists are allowed to have misogynistic ideas about how women are gold-digging evolutionary robots!

    And if you disagree she’ll post more professors’ resumes!

    I think we all know there’s a certain type of resume that means a person can’t ever be wrong.

  25. I’m just bitter because my partner’s quitting his job next week, so I will have to leave him and take my vagina a’roaming. It sucks because I’m quite fond of him, but what can you do? That’s evolution for ya.

  26. You’re bitter? My partner just got a promotion, so I have to become 15% more beautiful or he’ll dump me and upgrade! The pressure is ridiculous. I’m only 3% more beautiful so far.

  27. Oh wait – that’s a great idea! I’ll just wear a troll mask until he gets paid for his freelance stuff. Cliff, you’ve saved my relationship!

  28. Yeah, MLP is ableist and racist as fuck, and some of the episodes have serious Boundary Issues (seriously, Cranky Doodle Donkey, aaaaaaaaaaaaaah). :/ This whole thing where it’s okay to use the literal genocide of the Native Americans to make a point about compromise… seriously? STFU.

    Would it be that hard to make the zebras and the buffalos not obvious stereotypes of real-world cultures? FFS.

  29. Cliff: how about buying clothes and make-up 15% more expensive? With your partner’s money, of course.

  30. Yeah, coding black or darker as evil or inferior and white or lighter as good or superior is really, really common, and it is racist and does reinforce racist idealogies. I mean, as a fantasy fan, I didn’t realize just how pervasive it was to use ‘black’ to mean evil and ‘white’ to mean good until I started paying attention to it. While it’s not the overt ‘black people are evil”, hearing “black=evil, white=good” five million times growing up does reinforce white supremacy.

  31. @ozymandias42

    How about the fact that the cows are enslaved in the Ponyville barn and are “raped” for their milk in the Trixie episode? And that all of them are stereotypical representations of Midwestern white folks complete with “hokey” accent and herd mentality?

    Basically everyone but the ponies are treated as the best, and even the unicorns are considered “better” than the pegasi or the earth ponies because they tend to be royalty/rich while the earth ponies are stuck tending to the earth and the pegasi are basically stuck caring for the sky, but at least the pegasi can fly. Basically the hierarchy for the pony universe seems to be Alicorns > unicorns > pegasi > earth ponies > zebras > donkeys > buffalo > cows

    But then again, thinking about all this shit makes my brain hurt- I just try to watch the nice ponies and enjoy the story without thinking about it too much because otherwise, I’m just going to smash my TV.

  32. Antz: The same thing happens to me if I don’t get eough sleep, and try to write something coherent.

    Is this a confession that you are chronically underslept?

  33. They’re pretty much spelling out “it’s okay to cherrypick feminists for one silly quote from months ago, but MRAs must be judged only by our most reasonable and moderate members,” too.

    Don’t you see? All the radical MRAs are just TROLLS trying to make MRAs look bad. But all off color comments by feminists are proof that all feminists really think that way and are EVIL I tell you, EVIL!

  34. To be honest, reading all of the discussion of MLP does ruin the show for me. I mean, on one hand, there are episodes like “Mmmmystery on the Friendship Express” which is funny AND has a nice aesop…on the other hand, Zecora REALLY bothers me, and I haven’t even watched that episode…or any of the other episodes mentioned here. I’ve been on and off of the show while I’ve been probing for other, older stuff on Boomerang/The Hub.

    It’s disappointing that such a colorful show gets so…fucked. Maybe that’s a consequence of having a show worked on by multiple people instead of being helmed by a single creator like, say, Babylon 5 or Avatar: The Last Airbender (mostly).

  35. Nanasha: Um, they’re cows. For all we know they’re really happy to live in the barn, you know? I mean, humans wouldn’t want to live in a barn, but maybe the cows love it. And for all we know they’re employees! It’s a bit much to say they’re necessarily enslaved, given that we have no textual evidence of such.

    Fair about the caste system of Equestria, though…

  36. FTR, I’m not sure MLP does worse than most kids shows. We’re just actually watching it.

  37. RE: darksidecat

    THAT ANNOYS ME SO MUCH. Enough that I’ve started writing a fantasy story where there are literally powers of dark and light that are COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO MORALITY. The light witch tries to use is to claim she’s morally superior, when really she and the darkness witch are actually as equally dangerous.

    And then the gray girl kicks everyone’s ass, because pure light and darkness are actually extremely rare while shades of gray are everywhere.

    It doesn’t make up for the sheer amount of obnoxious light-white-good, black-dark-bad, but at least it helps vent my damned spleen.

  38. ThePigman has responded to this post on his blog

    Manjabber the Lame is my brother*, and he was born with the limp. I get that this Pig guy gets his jollies by…doing whatever it is he does (I wouldn’t call it trolling; trolling is supposed to be lulzy and I think he might actually be serious) but it’s still a little outrageous to me that he’s apparently okay with mocking and using slurs against disabled people.

    * Sometimes Amazons give birth to boys, and in the past few centuries we’ve evolved beyond leaving them on non-Amazon doorsteps. They take care of household tasks while we go about our women’s work.

  39. Yeah, coding black or darker as evil or inferior and white or lighter as good or superior is really, really common, and it is racist and does reinforce racist idealogies. I mean, as a fantasy fan, I didn’t realize just how pervasive it was to use ‘black’ to mean evil and ‘white’ to mean good until I started paying attention to it. While it’s not the overt ‘black people are evil”, hearing “black=evil, white=good” five million times growing up does reinforce white supremacy.
    …that’s kind of reaching. I’m pretty sure those associations go back way further than the concept of “race”.

  40. Somewhere out there in the dark underbelly of the internet lurks a large, slug-like creature whose integrity, intellectual honesty and connection to reality make Glenn Beck look like Noam Chomsky. Who is this creature, this stalker that bedevils the men’s rights movement on an almost daily basis with his irrational and unjustified attacks on those of us who dare to speak up on behalf of The Second Sex ?

    seriously, is there a single fucking mra who can actually write?

  41. I like how MRAs keep trying to appropriate feminist theory and terminology. And failing miserably, as they haven’t bothered to learn what any of the theory actually means.

  42. Argenti Aertheri

    “…that’s kind of reaching. I’m pretty sure those associations go back way further than the concept of “race”.”

    Pecunium will be able to confirm this, but I’m pretty sure the Greeks and Romans thought of each other as difference races…unless you’d like to claim that the light/good dark/evil thing predates Christianity?

  43. The answer to “why are there not more feminists here?” is far simpler than that. “We have better things to do and don’t give a small furry mammal’s hindquarters about your self-centered obsessive failure to look beyond your own noses.”

    It’s not hard to understand. I have 0 desire to “argue” about whether some dude’s fear of being accused of rape is more important than people who are actually raped, given that the odds of a given man being a rapist are between 6% and 13% while the chance of them being convicted of a sex crime is 0.14%. The only thing that can happen is that they get super-defensive because I don’t care about their deep and totally unfounded fear, and I can despair for the universe that their lives are so easy they have time to obsess over self-centered crap.

  44. timetravellingfool

    Happy Canadian thanksgiving, Schtick!!

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