One of the strangest things about the Men’s Rights Movement is how little actual debate there is within it. Oh there’s plenty of discussion, to be sure, and plenty of arguments about what sort of strategy is most effective in dealing with MRA opponents and the rest of the world in general (see, for example, “Pansygate” and the ongoing sniping between Manhood101 ubermilitants and pretty much everyone else in the MRM). But actual substantive disagreements over major issues? Very few. With most key issues the MRM deals with, there’s a party line, and few within the MRM fold deviate very far from it.
This sort of ideological conformity is far less common outside the insular world of the MRM. Among leftist political groups, of course, internecine battles are so common that Monty Python satirized them in Life of Brian — you no doubt remember the bits about the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea. And such battles are hardly confined to the left: just consider the battles between the teabaggers and the Republican party, not to mention the much more substantive battles you see between the various factions that make up the contemporary right, like those between Ayn Randian libertarians and bible-thumping social conservatives.
Among feminists, of course, there have been giant, bloody battles between anti-porn and sex-positive feminists, battles over “difference” feminism, over race and class, and on and on. (For a quick look at a dizzying array of different ideological tendencies within feminism, see here.) I’ve participated in these battles myself: see this piece of mine critiquing anti-porn feminism in general and Andrea Dworkin in particular.
These kinds of battles are inevitably frustrating, sometimes massively silly, and often distract activists from “real” political work. But they’re also necessary, a way to work out and work through issues that are inevitably more complicated than the political slogans with which most movements make their case to the world at large. Within feminism, for example, the “sex wars” have pushed anti-porn feminism from the center of the movement to the margins — a good thing for feminists, and for everyone else. Debates challenge dogmas; they’re symptoms of political health, not signs of weakness.
Indeed, if the Men’s Rights Movement is to have even a small chance of transforming itself from an insular, largely reactionary movement that’s actually harmful to men, into one that actually does men, and the world at large, some good, it’s going to have to have these kinds of debates. Right now the Men’s Rights Movement turns legitimate concern and legitimate anger at real problems faced by men into bitterness aimed at feminist bogey-women and women at large; it’s as destructive for the real cause of men’s rights, and for the world at large, as the Dworkinite branch of feminism was for feminists and for everyone else.
So it’s always interesting to me to see an actual substantive debate break out in the angry-manosophere. The latest: an honest-to-goodness debate over the notion of a “marriage strike” that has recently become an MRA shibboleth. In a series of posts, the blogger who calls himself Dalrock asks
whether or not there really is, or will be, a marriage strike. My first answer is that it depends on how we define the term. If those using it are thinking of a classical strike where men would eschew marriage out of a sense of male solidarity in an effort to extract a better social bargain, this isn’t happening and won’t happen any time in the near future.
that the metric published by The National Marriage Project is being widely misinterpreted, and show[s] that the vast majority of current white men and women in the us in their mid 30s have married at some time. … We may yet see a marriage strike by white men in the US, but the data simply isn’t in yet.
As a result of his posts, Dalrock has gotten a lot of what he calls “push-back” from the MRM community, some of it quite personal, so much so that he felt he had to clarify that
For those of you who are refusing to marry, I’m not denying your existence or equating you with UFO conspiracy theorists. As I’ve said before, we won’t see men banding together against their immediate interests to form a better social bargain longer term. But this doesn’t mean individual men won’t decide that marriage isn’t a risk they want to take.
This kind of “push-back” from your ideological allies is actually a sign that you’re moving forward.
I’ll weigh in on the whole marriage debate in a future post or few, but in the meantime I’m just going to watch how this plays out.