So Parks and Recreation had its Men’s Rights episode last night.
Well, sort of: A gaggle of MRAs made a few appearances in the ep, as one of the obstacles that Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) has to contend with as the wife of a political candidate.
There were a few great moments:
The leader of the “Male Men” – as the fictional MRAs called themselves – announcing to the world that “men have had a very rough go of it for… just recently. And it ends now!”
The MRA leader on a local news show, asking plaintively “can we have ONE conversation about feminism where men get to be in charge?”
The magnificent Ms. Knope finally getting a chance to tell the MRAs what she (and no doubt Poehler herself) really thinks of them:
But in some ways the episode fell a bit flat, because, as wrong, and cranky and, yes, ridiculous as the “Male Men” were, they were nowhere near as wrong and cranky and ridiculous as MRAs in the real world.
Take a look again at the fictional MRAs in the pic above. Then look at the real MRAs at their only real rally so far, this poorly attended soiree in Toronto in 2013.
Yes, that’s A Voice for Men’s’s Dean Esmay, sans fake Twitter followers, at the mic, and AVFM head cheese Paul Elam in the back, with an unreadable sign and an I HEART FTSU t-shirt. (FTSU stands for “Fuck Their Shit Up,” a good slogan for a movement of bullies whose emotional development stopped at the age of 15 or so.)
Then compare the signs of Parks and Rec’s fake MRAs with the actual graphics work of the real Men’s Rights Movement. Like these classic A Voice for Men posters, which I can assure you I am not making up:
On the Parks and Rec ep, the “Woman Against Feminism” representative was a somewhat dowdy and deferential middle-aged woman – a bit of a stereotype, really.
In real life, the woman who was the public face of last year’s #WomenAgainstFeminism campaign calls herself “JudgyBitch.” She’s a proudly dishonest ideologue who has attacked the teenage victim in the Steubenville rape case as a “dumb fucking whore,” described the late British entertainer and serial child sexual abuser Jimmy Savile as the victim of conniving teenage girls, and gotten herself permanently kicked off of Twitter (no small feat) for her “targeted abuse” of feminist writer Jessica Valenti (some of which is detailed here).
On Parks and Rec, the Men’s Rights leader embarrassed himself with a few foolish outbursts on a local TV chat show.
But if you want to see a real-life public relations disaster for the Men’s Rights movement, well, take a look at Esmay’s appearance on a Fox affiliate in Detroit.
Or JudgyBitch aka Janet Boomfield’s hoarse-voiced and overly animated appearance on the Today Show, seemingly reporting live from some sort of underground bunker. (Her appearance starts 38 seconds in, if you’re in a hurry.)
In a way, though, I feel a bit sorry for the writers of Parks and Rec. If they had portrayed the Men’s Rights Movement as it really is, it would have been dismissed by most viewers as ludicrously over-the-top. Unless you’ve encountered the real Men’s Rights movement up close and personal, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s as ridiculous and terrible as it really is.
Oh, the other thing wrong with the show? The MRAs actually showed up for a demonstration. In real life they would have simply swarmed news articles about Lesley Knope’s campaign appearances with a thousand incoherently angry comments, then doxxed her.
Hell, they’ll probably spend most of today swarming articles about the Parks and Rec episode, showing the world with each new comment just how hard they are to parody. (Happily, they won’t be able to dox Ms. Knope, as she is a fictional character.)
In any case, any sitcom writers in search of more embarrassing details about the real Men’s Rights movement are invited to take a stroll through the archives.
H/T — Jaclyn Friedman, for alerting me to the episode; nothing safe is worth the drive for the Knope pics.