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Sorry, MRAs, You’re Kleenex: Why Men’s Rights Activists have lost control of their brand

Cat enjoying genuine Kleenex brand facial tissues.
Cat enjoying genuine Kleenex brand facial tissues.

While Men’s Rights Activists are quick to label virtually any woman that they disagree with a feminist, they react with outrage when anyone who is not a self-admitted MRA is described as one.

The folks at A Voice for Men are still fuming about what they consider a “trust-shattering” media scandal: the fact that a bunch of news outlets wrote about a supposed Men’s Rights boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road, when in fact the virulently antifeminist Youtube blabber calling for the boycott wasn’t technically a Men’s Rights activist at all.

Meanwhile, there’s a dude cluttering up my Twitter mentions with demands I take some sort of action against a tiny handful of commenters on this blog who have referred to the woman-hating mass killer Elliot Rodger as an MRA, even though, as far as we know, he wasn’t one.

To which I can only say: Sorry, guys. You’re Kleenex. And you’d better get used to it.

I don’t mean to imply that MRAs are thin sheets of paper best suited to being used as disposable snot-collectors. What I mean is that MRAs, like the makers of Kleenex, have lost control of their brand name.

Just as the word “Kleenex,” a brand name designating the product of one manufacturer, has become, in popular usage, a generic term for disposable snot-rags, so “MRA” has, in popular usage, become a catchall term used to designate any and all varieties of woman-hating nitwits who think “misandry” is a bigger problem than misogyny. 

So why have Manospherians, Pickup Artists, Incels, MGTOWs, GamerGaters, “slut haters,” Dark Enlightenment “thinkers,” and assorted other types of woman-hating nitwits all found themselves labelled MRAs, much to the chagrin of some self-declared MRAs?

Well, dudes, it’s actually pretty simple: because no one but you — and close followers of the New Misogyny, like the readers of this blog — can tell the difference between any of these groups of people. Because 90% of the backwards beliefs you espouse are exactly the same. 

Take the idea of female “hypergamy” — that is, the notion that women are perpetually obsessed with finding a “better” guy, and will happily desert or cheat on “beta” partners whenever they get a whiff of a nearby “alpha.” This particular redefinition of a term that used to simply mean “marrying up” originated with White Nationalist F. Roger Devlin; now it’s a central belief of Red Pillers everywhere, from the reactionary plate-spinning PUAs of the Red Pill subreddit (where Devlin’s, er, seminal work on the subject is listed in the sidebar) to the “Men’s Human Rights Activists” of A Voice for Men (where no less than 35 articles have mentioned the subject, including 7 in their headlines, and where one writer declared Devlin’s writing “supremely indispensable.”)

MRAs aren’t PUAs aren’t White Nationalists, but there are a lot of people whose identity straddles two or more of these labels, and they all love talking about hypergamy.

As for Elliot Rodger, he wasn’t an MRA or a PUA or a White Nationalist, but he hung out on a website, PUAhate, whose participants were immersed in the same misogynistic ideology that drives so many MRAs; indeed, one of the site’s mods was a regular contributor to AVFM. If you read through book-length manifesto left behind, as I have, you’ll find a lot of anti-woman rhetoric that is virtually identical to the hateful nonsense you can find posted all over the broader “manosphere.”. He also was a believer in female “hypergamy,” offering his own chilling take on one “meme” depicting the alleged unfairness of women’s sexual tastes that you can find all over the manosphere.

This isn’t the same sort of mislabeling that happens when, say, someone calls Margaret Thatcher a feminist, or when MGTOWs describe contemporary marriage as a feminist plot to enslave men, or when some particularly confused commenter in the Men’s Rights subreddit, say, declares far-right Norwegian MRA Elvind Berge to be some sort of feminist because he has suggested that teen boys raped by female teachers are “lucky.” (Never mind that this is not exactly a feminist belief in the first place.)

No, it’s much closer to identifying a Puffs facial tissue as a Kleenex.

Or, to fall back on the classic Monty Python bit, mixing up the Judean People’s Front with the People’s Front of Judea.

The outrage over the Men’s-Rights-boycott-of-Mad Max: Fury-Road-That-Wasn’t has gotten nearly as silly as that Monty Python bit. Over on AVFM, the site’s excitable managing editor, Dean Esmay, has been posting furious post after furious post attacking the “bigoted hatemonger[s]” and “hate-filled bigots” who in his mind are promoting “fabricated bullshit” claiming that Men’s Rights activists were boycotting the film.

At one point, he even suggested that these stories might be the result of “an actual coordinated plan by corrupt journalists who want to inject slander of human rights activists into supposedly straight news.”

In case you’re wondering, when Esmay talks about “human rights activists” he’s referring to MRAs. No, really.

Esmay is right about two things: Aaron Clarey, who called for the boycott, isn’t an MRA, nor is Roosh V, on whose site Clarey’s post was posted.

But it’s not hard to see how Clarey might have been mistaken for an MRA, given that in his post he sounds exactly like one. Indeed, he sounds enough like an MRA that AVFM has posted a number of articles and videos by Clarey on its site, the most recent of which, posted last month, was an excerpt of the white writer’s rather presumptuous self-published book “The Black Man’s Guide Out of Poverty.”

The whole fake controversy reached new heights of silliness today, when AVFM posted a piece denouncing a Forbes writer for talking about the supposed “Men’s Rights” boycott of Mad Max: Fury Road alongside a piece … decrying a supposed “feminist takeover of Hollywood.” No, really.

How Dave Thier rationalized lying to Forbes readers about a nonexistent boycott  Why are reporters like Dave Thier of Forbes standing by their fake reporting of a nonexistent boycott of Max Max Fury Road?  Female Friends Watching A Scary Movie Together Why a feminist takeover of Hollywood is a problem and why it’s happening  The feminist takeover of Hollywood will not satisfy their hunger for power. Rachael Lefler attacks the subversion of art for feminist panderers.

I’m going to post five quotes below. One or more is/are from Aaron Clarey’s non-MRA call for a boycott; the other or others are from Rachael Lefler’s AVFM attack on Hollywood feminism. Can you guess which are which?

  1. “[T]his maddening obsession with a distorted concept of egalitarianism and fairness is never going to end … and Hollywood will keep trying to make films that meet their demands which are never able to be met, because the feminists will still find shit to complain about.”
  2. “[F]eminism has infiltrated and co-opted Hollywood, ruining nearly every potentially-good action flick with a forced female character or an unnecessary romance sub-plot to eek out that extra 3 million in female attendees.”
  3. “[Feminists are] totally fine with a movie that perpetuates negative stereotypes about men, since we all know men are just dumb oppressive shitlords who can’t keep their rape-sticks in their pants for five minutes.”
  4. “This is the vehicle by which they are guaranteed to force a lecture on feminism down your throat. This is the Trojan Horse feminists and Hollywood leftists will use to (vainly) insist on the trope women are equal to men in all things, including physique, strength, and logic.”
  5. “Feminists will never be satisfied by any work of fiction, no matter how in line it is with feminist principles. They can always demand more, and they always will. Their whole idea of “activism” is to cry about how they are being oppressed by the latest blockbuster and to angrily denounce the next one on Twitter.”

So which of the quote(s) above is/are from the NON-MRA article by NON-MRA Aaron Clarey, posted on the NON-MRA “Return of Kings” website, and which is/are from the post by MRA (or at least MRA-sympathizer) Rachael Lefler on AVFM, the most influential site of the Men’s Rights movement?

.

1, 3, and 5 are from Lefler (Team MRA); 2 and 4 are from Clarey (Team Don’t Even Dare Call Him an MRA You Hatemongering Bigots). Don’t beat yourself up if you got some wrong: I had to doublecheck the origin of a couple of them, even though I’d cut and pasted them into this post only moments earlier.

So yeah, MRAs, you’re Kleenex.

Now, I’m a stickler for details, so I will personally continue to draw distinctions between MRAs and the various other sects of New Misogynists out there. But not everyone else will. Some because they don’t know all the details, others because they don’t care to distinguish between 31 flavors of terrible.

EDIT: Rewrote the conclusion.

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Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

Excellent to see I’m not the only one who saw Aaron’s time travelling and immediately thought of Wayne’s World. =P

cupisnique
5 years ago

Aaron is kind of just making our argument for us. You’re right, there’s a bunch of groups that all fall under the label of “feminism”, we haven’t denied that. But, we actually take the time to define how our positions differ from each other to have meaningful, productive conversations about the issues. MRAs and all their ilk want to quibble that they aren’t the same but do nothing to actually try to clarify how they differ from each other and get upset that they’re all labelled under the same banner.

I’d say if you have a problem with your particular branch being labelled as MRA, or others being included under that label with you, there’s a fundamental problem with your beliefs you need to sort out.

fromafar2013
5 years ago

LMAO @ the Wayne’s World comments! I love you guys :3
comment image

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Okay, I’m a bit late to this idiotfest, but I just couldn’t let this nugget lie there collecting flies:

I find this whole Feminist-MRA feud to be tiring and foolish. MRAs & Feminists are natural allies as we are both devoted to smashing the Gender roles demanded by the Patriarchy.

The Patriarchy wants Women to be at home, subservient, quiet, and always obsessed with pleasing their men. You fight it by refusing to play along with those rules.

The Patriarchy wants men to work hard and take care of their families. We MRAs fight it by refusing to do any of those things. Every child support payment I don’t send is another blow against the Patriarchy. Every hour my ex is forced to work just to feed my kids is another strike against restrictive Gender roles.

Think of what we could accomplish if we worked together.

Ugh, I’d rather not.

And deadbeat daddydom is NOT “another strike against restrictive Gender roles”. (BTW, why the capital on “gender”? Is this more of that MRAsshat Random Capitalization that you ultramaroons so love?) It’s just you, being lazy and irresponsible for the kid you spawned, and claiming the mantle of radical feminism. Which your position does not in the least resemble.

Parenthood isn’t a “restrictive Gender [sic] role”, it’s a responsibility which you embarked upon as an adult, and which is your adult duty to fulfill until your kids don’t need you anymore. (Or until they get sick of the sight of your fuck face, which I’m sure they already are, as your argumentation here is utterly insufferable.)

Catalpa
Catalpa
5 years ago

@dvbrnk

the guy she shot kinda deserved it, lol

Please do not say things like that here. Even if it’s ‘ just ‘ a joke, that sort of sentiment is not acceptable. No one deserves to be shot.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
5 years ago

‘Pandapoop’? Really, Aaron?

Eh, I’ve been called worse by my own mother. My sister also calls me “Poopy”, so, pfff, not an insult.

Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
Pandapool -- The Species that Endangers YOU (aka Banana Jackie Cake, for those who still want to call me "Banana", "Jackie" or whatever)
5 years ago

In fact, it’s real…shitty…

She says after hitting submit and must make a second post to tell this fact.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

If movement MRAs ever did any true activism, they’d have a difference worth noticing… But that’s never happened.

If PUAs ever had fully consensual sex with an enthusiastic, sober, legally of-age partner, they’d have a difference worth noticing… But that’s never happened.

If MGTOWs ever went their own way, they’d have a difference worth noticing… But that’s never happened.

If incels ever accepted friendship as a good thing instead of viewing it as a “Failure,” they’d have a difference worth noticing… But that’s never happened.

If #GamerGaters ever lobbied against bribery by AAA companies such as IGN and EA, they’d have a difference worth noticing… But that’s never happened.

Mariana Pedroso
Mariana Pedroso
5 years ago

@Aaron
“But you do accept that radfems are feminists, thus they are part of your Kleenex family. If you don’t, you are a hypocrite no matter how fast the hamster runs.
Now use some of that Kleenex to dry your eyes.”
“based on Dave’s Kleenex analogy, you must accept being grouped with them.”

Dude, the “kleenex” concept isn’t about a “family”. It’s about being so freaking the same you can’t differentiate them, even if they aren’t necessarily of the same “family”. And you, super dumb dude on the internet, have already proved that most everyone, even an ignorant person like you, can see radfems are very different from many other feminists – so even if they are of the same “family”, we can’t say “feminists are all kleenex”. Jesus
I mean, I’m not good at drawing at all, but if you can’t get it this time maybe someone else could help?
Or maybe you should just feel ashamed of being so stupid and gtfo? I mean, I’m just trying to help you out with choosing what is the best next step.

And I know you wrote that last phrase (“Now use some of that Kleenex to dry your eyes”) because you believe what you said is something oh so smart and that you just got us being hypocriteees and illogicaaal and all of that… but you just basically ended up saying that we should go and use some of “that Kleenex” (our kleenex family, that is) do dry our eyes… which doesn’t make any sense at all… should we use other feminists do dry our eyes? Or feminism itself? I mean, wtf dude. There you failed very hard.

Paradoxical Intention
5 years ago

Policy of Madness | May 29, 2015 at 6:24 am
It’s like it’s turtles all the way down.

Alicia
Alicia
5 years ago

So I’ve read around here for a bit and haven’t figured out entirely where this site stands on various issues. Obviously large swaths of wounded male dignity deserve at least a face-palm if not simple outrage. But I hope you won’t let the fact that some men worried about the problems of men and boys are douchebags blind you to the fact that there men and boys have problems, and that no on is liberated until everyone is liberated. Until boys can cry without being called girls, until men can take off time to be dads without being told they are not committed, until boys can play with dolls and wear decent colored clothes without someone panicking that they are going to “grow up funny,” until boys aren’t made to feel like failures for not being able to sit for hours, until boys do not drop out of high school at massively higher rates than girls, the world is not perfected. The fact that certain things suck for women does not preclude other things sucking for men, and it makes me batty when people seem to think that justice is a zero-sum game. Besides, there’s only so liberated women can get when they have to do all the child care because men can’t ask for time off work, and there’s only so much better that (heterosexual) relationships can get when men are brought up being told that emotion and needing others is emasculating. Women’s liberation from patriarchy is contingent on men’s liberation from patriarchy.
My parents left me and my gender alone until I was 12, at which point I was old enough and feminist enough to tell them to jump in a lake and that if they’d wanted me to be a Young Lady they needed to have started way earlier. The little boy I nannied – from a very liberal family – the boom came down at age 2. It was horrible, watching his little face trying to figure out what he’d done wrong.
So please. Say all the bad things you want to about blow hard rich men with over developed grievance centers. But do it at least partly because they make it harder to fix the things that actually hold men back from being fully developed human beings. The fact that 90 whatever percent of CEOs are men doesn’t help a two year old being told he can’t play dress up, or a seven year old being beaten on the playground for crying.
Keep a distinction between the blowhard douchebags who deeply deserve all the skewering they get, and the decent people of all genders who want to expand the feminist project to include men and boys. Otherwise, you’ll just be adding another douchebag to the pile.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

@Alicia

You may want to read around a bit more, because nobody denies that the things you list are problems, or that they are not important.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

Hmm, I sort of meant that nobody denies that they are important.

Asterose
Asterose
5 years ago

Alicia, seriously read more comment threads. 99% of the posters here believe and are concerned about male issues, from “men should be Tough/not cry/not care about their appearance/etc” to battered or raped men and how they aren’t helped enough, to the draft, crime, suicide, and imprisonment rates, and so on. We often mock Manospherians alright, but we also comment on how exactly the solution (if the original screed even offered one) isn’t actually going to help, not really. Sadly, 95+% of the Manosphere seem to think returning to old gender and social roles would solve their problems, rather than looking to free men from the tough, stoic, violent, sexual, powerful, wealthy alpha manly man ideal.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

Alicia, paragraphs, dude. Use paragraphs. I’m legally blind and literally cannot read that wall o’ wut even with the magnifier on.

… Going by PoM and Asterose’s responses, though, I have a feeling I’m not missing much.

Nerdigirl
Nerdigirl
5 years ago

Hi David.

Some depressing news. I posted this article to the twoxchromosomes subreddit and was told by the mods that it was trash. I’ve been hearing that people are getting banned from twox for calling MRAs misogynists.

I asked the blue pill subreddit what they thought of twox.

https://www.reddit.com/r/TheBluePill/comments/37z2mq/what_is_the_twox_sub_now/

It used to be a woman’s sub. And it seems the mods don’t want that anymore, and are looking for a happy medium to accommodate MRAs and red pill types for a “balanced ” discussion.

Have you heard anything about this?

Thought it should be on your radar.

katz
5 years ago

Oh, another once-feminist subreddit has turned into a men’s rights place? What a surprise.

Stace
Stace
5 years ago

This is a really well constructed article. I’m not sure what your original conclusion was, but I very much like the edited version here. The timing of me finding this was great. I was thinking about the topic today.

Tir
Tir
4 years ago

They all have the thing in common that unites them…a hatred and fear of women. There are even women who are brainwashed by their reactionary fear who join them in their nonsense, therefore the MRA title fits because they believe they have the right to oppress and control women.