Men’s Rights Redditor: “By giving women the right to vote without being subject to conscription, feminism has brought on wars, killing, concentration camps, starvations and endless cruelties.”

Evil women voting for starvation.

Evil womens voting for starvations.

So over on the Men’s Rights subreddit, the regulars are engaging in a bit of self-reflection. Well, that may be a bit of a generous description on my part. They’re discussing the question “Are we fanatics?” Not surprisingly, they conclude that they aren’t.

Yet this is the most upvoted comment in the thread:

linearthink

Those of you who have studied twentieth century history may have remembered Lady Hitler’s war on the Jews, the Romani people, and homosexuals; the Great Feminist Purges of Lady Stalin; the Cultural Revolution of Lady Mao. (Oh, wait, there actually was a Madame Mao, and she was a pretty evil gal, though she owed her power largely to her husband and was ousted shortly after his death.)

Moving on from all that war and starvation stuff, let’s return to that first sentence, since MRAs are so fond of blaming eeevil feminists for the draft.

The link in that sentence goes to a discussion of an organization called The Order of the White Feather. Take it away, Wikipedia:

In August 1914, at the start of the First World War, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order of the White Feather with support from the prominent author Mrs Humphrey Ward. The organization aimed to shame men into enlisting in the British Army by persuading women to present them with a white feather if they were not wearing a uniform.

It’s worth pointing out that at the start of WWI, people of all political stripes and in all the countries involved were pretty gung-ho for the war. Even the big socialist parties of the day quickly forgot their pledges of international solidarity in favor of supporting their national war efforts.

So where do the evil feminists come in? Well, a couple of the most famous British suffragettes signed onto the White Feather crusade:  Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. And yes, they supported compulsory national service — though they supported it for both men and women: men would go to war, while women would be required to work in factories.

Of course, the Order of the White Feather didn’t represent all feminists at the time. Indeed, it didn’t even represent all the Pankhursts: Christabel’s sisters Sylvia and Adela were pacifists.

Even aside from all that blather about feminists being responsible for wars and concentration camps, it’s highly misleading to present the story of the Order of the White Feather as “proof” that feminists are warmongering all-male-draft-lovers. As a quick visit to Google will demonstrate, feminism has a long history of antiwar activism, dating back to the 19th century — when feminists first organized Mother’s Day as a protest of war.

But, hey, MRAs, if you want to invent your own mythological version of history, knock yourself out. You only make yourselves look like the fanatics you are.

Thanks to this thread in the AgainstMensRights Subreddit for pointing me to this most edifying discussion.

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Posted on June 13, 2013, in a woman is always to blame, dozens of upvotes, evil women, facepalm, grandiosity, imaginary oppression, literal nazis, matriarchy, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, playing the victim, reddit, shit that never happened, straw feminists, whaaaaa?, woman's suffrage and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 291 Comments.

  1. Not exactly an adherent of either ideology, but one cannot deny that to participate in the ‘white feather campaign & then follow up with this ‘if there were no men there would be no wars’ nonsense is hypocritical. Certainly it’s telling that despite Virginia Woolf’s attempt to pretend it never happened, there was enough concern from the authorities to hand out badges to serving men as proof of their bravery. Another fact that said a lot was that the BBC asked for the voices of the white feather girls in 1922 yet only two had the courage to write in, both were deservedly ashamed of themselves.

  2. to participate in the ‘white feather campaign & then follow up with this ‘if there were no men there would be no wars’ nonsense is hypocritical.

    Can you provide even one example of someone adopting both positions?

    (I’d agree that it would be hypocritical, except people change their minds and their politics over time. You yourself said there were white feather participants who later felt ashamed of their involvement)

  3. Gee, maybe the “white feather girls” were ashamed because they remembered that a man put them up to it? And because his warmongering served as a nice distraction from the real feminist struggle at the time, which was for women to get the vote, among other rights denied to them until either late in the war or years thereafter?

    Nah…couldn’t be.

    And Virginia Woolf didn’t “pretend that it never happened”. She understated the number of feathers that were handed out, rather drastically, claiming there were “only 50 or 60″ of them. Seeing as she was a toff, I guess she was out of touch with general society and couldn’t have had an accurate count even if she sincerely believed that the campaign was less widespread than it was.

    But hey, don’t let these inconvenient facts get in the way of your pretending to be “neutral” when it’s already clear what side you are on!

  4. Gee, maybe the “white feather girls” were ashamed because they remembered that a man put them up to it?

    Well, to be fair, past membership in that “order” does sound like something one should not exactly be proud of in general, because what that “order” did was kinda shitty. But the point remains that “order” did not stand for the suffragette movement, or for feminism in general, so there simply can be no argument spun from it.

  5. But the point remains that “order” did not stand for the suffragette movement, or for feminism in general, so there simply can be no argument spun from it.

    Exactly. A couple of suffragists got sucked in as prominent spokespersons for an “order” started by a war-hungry admiral.

    And then there’s the whole class aspect of it, too…conscription was an idea popular with the upper classes, to which the Pankhursts and Woolf belonged. It was massively unpopular with those who would have been conscripted, namely the working classes. Not coincidentally, that’s where the anti-war movement was strongest, too. They may not have had Oxbridge educations, but they weren’t stupid. They were already agitating for socialism, anarchism and communism at that time, working conditions in factories were deplorable, and they could smell a desperate effort on the part of the higher-ups to “keep everyone in their proper stations”. So aside from the rah-rah machos who were gung-ho for war, there was this growing movement of restless peons to be contained. How best to do it? Well, why not shame them into enlisting by impugning their manhood…and using pretty young women to do it?

    But I don’t suppose any of that makes it into an MRA’s anti-woman syllabus.

  6. Not exactly an adherent of either ideology

    Pull the other one, it’s got bells.

  7. “I’m not exactly an adherent of either ideology, I just go on feminist blogs and spout highly detailed decisions of favorite MRS talking points.”

  8. I’m always impressed when MRAs ignore the male creator of the “White Feather” campaign.

    Typical male hypoagency. /r/penispass

  9. I’m confused.

    What does the White Feather thing (shitty as it is) have to do with the right to vote? And how does it prove that women voting brings on all the horrors of war, concentration camps, starvation and endless cruelties? And is any of that even connected to the “if there were no men, there’s be no wars (which I agree is nonsense)?”

    None of this makes sense.

  10. Not exactly an adherent of either ideology,

    Like that matters.

    but one cannot deny that to participate in the ‘white feather campaign & then follow up with this ‘if there were no men there would be no wars’ nonsense is hypocritical. Certainly it’s telling that despite Virginia Woolf’s attempt to pretend it never happened, there was enough concern from the authorities to hand out badges to serving men as proof of their bravery.

    You’re assuming that feminism has a perfect history and that everyone holds every feminist talking point out there. The white feather campaign – which, by the way, was fiercely opposed by some feminists – is an example of feminism joining forces with a militarist agenda. You won’t find anyone sympathizing with that agenda here.

    The thing is, only the most naive feminists assert that feminism has a entirely clean, sinless history. Even today, many white feminists speak over women of color and erase their unique experiences of misogyny intersecting with racism e.g. misogynoir, and many cis feminists speak over us trans women and erase our unique experiences of transmisogyny (and, in some cases, making it even harder to access transition-related healthcare). There are also plenty of feminists who still perpetuate ableism (you folks know what I mean) and even feminists who still perpetuate heterosexism via centering het women’s voices, bi/pan erasure, etc.

    Another fact that said a lot was that the BBC asked for the voices of the white feather girls in 1922 yet only two had the courage to write in, both were deservedly ashamed of themselves.

    And this is simply additional evidence that feminism is not in the same boat as the MRM. Feminism has an ugly history of passively – and even sometimes actively – reinforcing oppression; by contrast, the MRM not only has a bigoted history, but it also lacks any initiative to learn from mistakes. Countless times I have tried to nicely talk to MRAs (not that they deserve that) about the importance of not being racist, misogynistic, ableist, etc. but they don’t give a shit. They gloat about being “politically incorrect” instead, seeing overt bigotry and insensitivity as a virtue – much inline with patriarchal expectations of men.

    Even the ones who express displeasure with the bigotry from their MRA brothers sweep it under the rug and scream about the freedom of speech, as if speech exists in a vacuum. They continue to fail to learn from their mistakes because they lack any analysis of power that takes into consideration sociocultural context. The white MRAs feel it’s entirely appropriate to use the n-word for themselves “ironically” despite that words status as a slur reclaimed by black people of color only. On top of that, perhaps it is even a mistake to see MRAs as failing to learn from their mistakes. Rather, it makes more sense to argue that MRAs don’t even care about learning about their mistakes because, in their view, what serious social justice advocates recognize as mistakes are really just revolutionary acts. This is exactly how all major MRA groups and organizations have defended themselves from the charge of bigotry.

    If you don’t identify with either ideology, that’s your business. But don’t try to pretend that feminism and the MRM are equally flawed and bigoted.

  11. Wait, wait. Brz isn’t pulling a Poe?

    I’ve been reading all of zir comments and adding invisible giant sarcasm tags… and laughing.

    They are being serious?

    Poe’s Corollary… 0_0

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