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His Sister’s Keeper: Allegedly loving brother tries to mansplain his sister’s feminism away

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So there’s a young woman who attends a “a small liberal arts school.” She majors in Philosophy, and minors in Women’s Studies. And she has a job as an aide for one of her feminist professors.

Her big brother disapproves of her academic choices and the fact that she’s a — wait for it — feminist. And apparently he expresses his disapproval to her at every opportunity.  He’s a Men’s Rights Activist, you see, and arguing with his sister is evidently an important form of activism for him. He writes:

I cannot have a discussion with her without it turning into a huge fight. I try to debate, discuss and challenge her to at least entertain ideas that oppose her own – and I get accused of ‘mocking her principles’ and ‘not taking her career choices seriously’ – because apparently I am not allowed to take men’s rights seriously, it could only be a joke with the sole purpose of pissing her off.

So she writes him a note asking him to stop:

‘men’s rights activists’ as I have experienced them not only oppose everything I think, hope for, and fundamentally believe, they hinder the progress of it. They take examples of injustice where men are the victims (of which I will never deny there are plentiful) and they take quotes of some mostly second wave feminists (of which most modern feminists disagree with) and conflate it to fight against feminist agendas. They seem to see that as male oppression.

This seems to me to be a pretty accurate summation of Men’s Rights Activism as I have experienced it too. She continues:

Everything I want to do with my life, my passions, my academic pursuits, my role models, etc. are all put in jeopardy by the ‘men’s rights activism’ I have seen. And when you send me these articles to try to… I don’t know, explain your position, show me why I might be wrong, etc. it hurts me and deeply saddens me because it makes me feel like you’ve never given much thought to my life.

Now, if I were having constant arguments with someone in my family about an issue close to their hearts, and about which we had major disagreements, and this person sent me a note like this, I would, you know, stop arguing with them about it. Because whatever disagreements I had with them would matter less than my relationship with them. And because people who are not assholes generally try to avoid doing things that hurt and sadden those they care about.

I mean, there are limits. If someone in my family became a literal Nazi, I might react differently. But someone in my family majoring in something I think is a dumb thing to major in? Not really any of my fucking business.

So what does MRA Brother do after getting this note?

He goes to the Men’s Rights subreddit to moan about what a terrible ideologue his sister has become, and to get advice on more effective ways to, well, keep doing the things he’s doing that she’s explicitly told him make her feel like shit.

Naturally, the Men’s Rights regulars support him in his quest to be an ongoing asshole to his sister.

One thoughtful fellow going by the name IHaveALargePenis responds directly to the sister’s comment about how her brother’s actions are “hurting and sadden[ing] her,” saying:

Glad we’re making a difference, but what really strikes me is that she can’t deal with being questioned/criticized and this usually applies to a lot of feminists. If their points had merit, then why the fuss? I honestly think it’s because for 50 years or so they were completely unchallenged and were able to get away with insane claims like 1 in 4 women are raped, etc. Now all of a sudden people are asking for sources or stating that yes, women make less, but it’s not due to sexism.

I honestly think you should keep challenging her. She’s been in an echo chamber full of people constantly agreeing with those feminist ideals for far too long and is now convinced everything is true without even questioning it.

Irony alert! Code RED!

Tim8080 is even more blunt:

You may still love her but she almost certainly doesn’t love you anymore. I’ve seen this type of transformation before with one of my friends from highschool. Trust me its only going to get worse.

The creatively named SarcastiCock adds:

Aside from her opinions, she’s completely fucking useless and unemployable. … She’ll be looking for a sugar daddy some day.

JabCross vaguely remembers that some famous philosophers were themselves misogynists:

If she studied Kant at all in Philosophy then she should be shaking her head at the Womyn’s Studies bullshit.

But frankly, a lot of women love to feel like the victim and will subvert their own intelligence to believe it’s true.

MRAMoment suggests that a young woman like the sister in question is unlikely to respond to reason, and suggests that the brother instead try to, well, trick her into seeing the world his way:

I would hazard a guess that she’s currently living in a bubble. She’s on campus, completely enveloped in the ideology without any outside force acting on it. You are her brother, likely her older brother so she views you as some sort of fuddy-duddy who’s opinions don’t matter.

Rather than use reason, expose her bubble to the needles it needs to pop it. Bring her to places where her ideology clashes with reality. If you ever have time to mutually consume entertainment, watch a movie that will bait her into the objectification framing of it and follow up with a counter view of male disposability. Place the debris in the oyster and watch the pearl of doubt grow. Ask her to come volunteering with you at a homeless shelter, and not one specifically aimed at women.

Ironically, it is the generally repugnant OuiCrudites who offers the brother the most straightforward and sensible advice. Oh sure, he declares the sister “a supremacist ideologue demonstrating dangerous levels of solipsism & superiority complex.” But then he adds: “I would just stop talking with her about it.”

Alas, brother makes clear he’s not going to follow this bit of advice.

“I’m more concerned about her dedicating her life to this,” he writes, “than having a peaceful relationship.”

And the mansplainers mansplain on. Because clearly a bunch of random dudes with penis-related usernames on the Men’s Rights subreddit know more about feminism and philosophy than, you know, some dumb chick actually studying those specific subjects and hoping to devote her life to them.

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augochlorella
7 years ago

Wow. I’m going to go hug my brother now.

Darth Conans
Darth Conans
7 years ago

The cursory mention of Kant is particularly bizarre. He lived in the 18th century, so obviously he wrote some pretty sexist things (patronizing ideas about women being inherently moral because morality is beautiful to them, and so on). However, the main idea behind his moral system, that people should be treated as ends to themselves, not just as means (that humans have worth in and of themselves, not just because of what they can do for people) both runs counter to most of what MRAs seem to covertly believe (that women exist mainly to serve men, and that ignoring this is slowly destroying society) and is central to many feminist projects. Bringing him up in this context is not only silly, but also counterproductive and roughly equivalent to trying to quote Hobbes to prove that people are inherently nice.

lolbeast
7 years ago

wow, I feel for this woman.

pecunium
7 years ago

What Darth Conans said. Kant has problems with how he saw women, but (and this is one of those tricky message/messenger problems) his philosophy isn’t inherently sexist; it’s actually, at core, neutral (which means it could be argued it’s “feminist” because it treats women as people, with agency, etc), and says to treat them as one would treat anyone else.

That, of course, is the problem. These guys don’t believe that; they think women are (at best) second rate copies of men, and so not really equal; not really people.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

I bet Thanksgiving at that house is gonna be a hoot!

This partly answers my eternal question of how they treat their sisters–they’re as assy as they would be to any another woman who’s not genuflecting and kissing their asses.

shigekuni
shigekuni
7 years ago

How does someone say about your sister that she’s “completely fucking useless” and you just nod and move on. I want to go hug my sister now. How does that douchebag care more about his sister’s ‘ideology’ than having a good relationship with her? Gnaaahgh.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

“I’m more concerned about her dedicating her life to this,” he writes, “than having a peaceful relationship.”

“Browbeating my sister into accepting my beliefs as correct is way more important than either of us being happy, well adjusted people!”

Lovely, just lovely…

Creative Writing Student

I can see, a few years down the line, MRAbrother whinging on the internet that his ‘bitch feminazi sister’ has cut off all contact or how it’s not fair that he wasn’t invited to her birthday/wedding/other celebration or something. *puts down a packet of Oreos as a bet*

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

@shigekuni Because it is more important to him that he feel justified and “right” (meaning no questioning of the ideology he has swallowed hook, line and sinker) than that anyone around him be able to have their own opinions. Especially if they are going to commit the sin of having opinions while being a feminist.

shigekuni
shigekuni
7 years ago

But it’s not just opinions. His sister tells him his line of inquiry HURTS her. Don’t you have to be a capital-d Douchenozzle with a side order of cold-hearted assholery to ignore that? I mean I probably make the mistake of trying to influence my 20 year old sister too much, but if she ever told me that I was hurting her with it? Why on earth would I not INSTANTLY stop and apologize?

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

You know, I keep choking on this mouthfull

Glad we’re making a difference, but what really strikes me is that she can’t deal with being questioned/criticized and this usually applies to a lot of feminists. If their points had merit, then why the fuss?

Why don’t they just accept being condescended to and insulted if the little ladies are so sure that they are right? Why do they get so frustrated when we keep coming back again and again to prove their points for them?

I honestly think it’s because for 50 years or so they were completely unchallenged and were able to get away with insane claims like 1 in 4 women are raped, etc. Now all of a sudden people are asking for sources or stating that yes, women make less, but it’s not due to sexism.

For the last 50 years it’s been this utopian wonderland to be a feminist, because, you know, no one has ever been marginalized or condescended to, or insulted, or brutalized, or terrorized, or beaten, or jailed, or slandered, or anything just for believing that women deserve equal access to society!

And they’ve totally been able to “get away” with presenting data from empirical studies and careful, peer reviewed research while completely ignoring or dismissing our assfax!!

I honestly think you should keep challenging her. She’s been in an echo chamber full of people constantly agreeing with those feminist ideals for far too long and is now convinced everything is true without even questioning it.

I honestly think that women have no right to have opinions at all, let alone opinions that disagree with mine!! Because we all know that the MRA echo chamber is totally, 100% right on all things, don’t we lads? Funny little girls, to think they are allowed to have ‘ideals’! She’s been out there in ‘reality’ and we all know that can’t be good. Better that she get back into the kitchen and learn a real skill like ironing shirts and making sammiches!

blitzgal
7 years ago

So, I literally come over here immediately after learning about what happened to Adria Richards (really, Anonymous — right after Steubenville and you do THIS?!) and read MRA assholes arguing that feminists are hysterical bitches who overreact to everything. Fuck all of them.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

@shigekuni Because then he would have to care more about his sister as a human being than about his own feelings and opinions. He doesn’t. And he wants others to validate his sense of entitlement to not doing so.

You need more capitals for that.

shigekuni
shigekuni
7 years ago

@blitzgal: over at Feministe, a fresh thread on Adria Richards was basically instantly overrun by MRA assholes and went into permamoderation basically minutes after posting. People came in and claimed that she deserved everything that happened to her, that it was all her fault and why couldn’t anyone see that the dude was the only real victim, three children and a wife and all. Jesus.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

You may still love her but she almost certainly doesn’t love you anymore. I’ve seen this type of transformation before with one of my friends from highschool. Trust me its only going to get worse.

You may still think of her as cute and a kid who looked up to you, but she’s unfortunately gone and got herself some opinions and decided that she has a right to them! She is threatening the social order and, it goes without saying that she doesn’t love you anymore, because she thinks you should show her a modicum of respect.

Ugh, why must the gyrlz be permitted to get edumakashunz so that tehy start thinkin teh thotz?!?

(Seriously, though, is ‘womyn’ still a thing? I remember it as one of those little late 1970s/early 1980s digressions that people have let slide because there were bigger, more crucial hills to fight on)

blitzgal
7 years ago

@shigekuni, yup same thing is happening at Scalzi’s blog and Pharyngula. Thankfully all of those mods don’t put up with any of that shit and are stamping it down immediately.

historophilia
historophilia
7 years ago

What kind of brother lets people bad mouth their own sister like that?

She’s shown incredible restraint with her brother’s behavior, if my brother was shitting on my beliefs and career plans like that then they’d be on the receiving end of proper ear bashing. He wouldn’t be getting such a reasonable, well-thought out response as she sent him.

She sounds like an intelligent and thoughtful young woman and she deserves a hell of a lot more respect from her brother.

I wonder if she even knows that her own sibling is whining about her on the internet.

My brother is your standard teenage boy and someone wary of Feminism but he’d never behave like this, and he’s only 18 so he might have more excuse for being a clueless arsehole.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

You know, I often wonder if there is a moment at which ‘standard teenage brothers’ are converted through some weird alchemy (SCIENCE!) into junior MRAs. And if there is, how can we find that moment and get in before it with respect and gentle insistence and get them before their minds close off and begin to atrophy.

Fibinachi
Fibinachi
7 years ago

It’s a combination of things that ends up culminating. Passive attitude propagation, more like – there was that “If they’re young enough to crawl, at least there in the right position” thing two threads ago.

What we need is clearly some kind of high powered gentle black ops team that can swoop in and go “No! People are people! Feminist Operatives Away!”. Heheh.

csechrist
7 years ago

I wish my brother were still alive do that I could give him a hug, too. I don’t know what his stance on feminism was, or if he even gave it any thought, but I’m reasonably sure he’d be down with it to at least some degree because of how he saw our mother treated. I know that he definitely would not tolerate MRAs bullshit attitudes. Gosh, I miss him.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

@historophilia It’s worse than you think. I think you may be giving him more credit than he deserves.

What kind of brother lets people bad mouth their own sister like that?

It’s really more like, “What kind of brother goes out and finds a place to publicly ridicule his sister and invite others to do the same?”

Because this wouldn’t be a thing if he didn’t go out and make it one.

I shudder for that woman, because she has to know that her brother is one of “them”, that his opinions will always be more important than hers, and more important than her dignity, and more important than her safety, and ultimately more important than her life. Because notice that he’s invited not only more ridicule, but also people piling on to say that she is useless and worthless. Can anyone imagine him holding up his hands and saying, “Whoa, there.” if (when) they start descending into discussions of the violence that might be necessary to get her back into line?

Or have I just been following the Adria Richards fuckerow too closely?

The Purple Star
The Purple Star
7 years ago

Oh FFS Brah! Let her be an collegian idealist and spare the brotherly wisdom until she graduates. At least she has A job and that’s lot better than no job at all. Ultimately, it’s her right and responsibility to decide what to do with her life and choose her career.

Andrew Johnston
7 years ago

You know, I often wonder if there is a moment at which ‘standard teenage brothers’ are converted through some weird alchemy (SCIENCE!) into junior MRAs.

The teenage years are when you’re first exposed to this stuff, and a kid who’s already feeling alienated will have a tough time getting it out of his head. It starts small, too, which is how someone who might have started off “respecting” women winds up talking shit about his sister on an MRA forum.

The tough part is finding someone to explain this to the teenagers in this transitional stage before they bloom into full-fledged assholes. They tend to view women as a threat and any comments from them as attacks, so it has to come from men. However, they also tend to think that adult men just don’t understand their situations, no matter what (see the incel stuff from a few posts ago). It pretty much has to come from within the peer group, and if one of you has an idea as to how to get a teenage boy to confront a friend over his growing misogyny, then I’d love to hear about it.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

*sobbing quietly into my coffee*

Fibinachi
Fibinachi
7 years ago

Hey, it’ll be all right. The world spins slowly and twists and turns, and terrible, horrible things happen – but at a lesser frequency. I guess it’s easy to forget, really, but at least rape’s a crime now and people don’t lynch other people that frequently. That is to say, almost at all.

Doesn’t mean that doesn’t suck. Or will continue to suck. But I like to imagine that the world gets better every day in a million different ways. Jedi hugs.

As for the brother, he’s being silly, but… I’m fairly sure that when they go “Hit the bitch”, he might snap out of it and realize that the advice being offered comes from a bad, bad place.

The Purple Star
The Purple Star
7 years ago

The teenage years are when you’re first exposed to this stuff, and a kid who’s already feeling alienated will have a tough time getting it out of his head. It starts small, too, which is how someone who might have started off “respecting” women winds up talking shit about his sister on an MRA forum.

The tough part is finding someone to explain this to the teenagers in this transitional stage before they bloom into full-fledged assholes. They tend to view women as a threat and any comments from them as attacks, so it has to come from men. However, they also tend to think that adult men just don’t understand their situations, no matter what (see the incel stuff from a few posts ago). It pretty much has to come from within the peer group, and if one of you has an idea as to how to get a teenage boy to confront a friend over his growing misogyny, then I’d love to hear about it.

Well, socially inept boys who are constantly told by they adult men and women in their lives(along with their sisters and perhaps some female peers)that women like nice guys. So they try to treat women with respect in the hopes that it will help them get laid….And they discover it doesn’t work. That’s my teenage life story in a nutshell. What changed is when I met my first gf through unconventional means due to a shared interest. Stop lying to young people about relationships and sex! That would be a good start. Parents who teach their sons to idealize women are raising a budding misogynist. I suppose that guys who are socially savvy who are taught this nonsense figure out on their own that it’s completely untrue but that in certain social circles they’re supposed to go along with it to save face. Disinformation + miseducation begets social problems.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

/despair

Because this

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYZfcFzcwxo&w=560&h=315]

You know, the comment section notwithstanding, I think YouTube was invented to put the close tag on existential despair. YouTube and peanut butter toast.

Kamilla
Kamilla
7 years ago

Ah, for the good old days. When older brother could just decide that his sister was crazy and have her lobotomized and committed to the looney bin, where she would no longer be an embarrassment to the family name.

kamilla1960
kamilla1960
7 years ago

csechrist, my youngest brother is my saving grace. He watched the abuse in our family and clearly decided he was not going to be like that–not that he hasn’t had his own struggle with anger. But the scenario of adult brothers attempting to oppress a vulnerable sister is not uncommon at all, as I have been experiencing myself over the last year.

Shaenon
7 years ago

I can’t imagine where this young woman, growing up with a sexist douchebag constantly picking fights with her and mocking her opinions, could have picked up an interest in feminism and women’s studies. IT IS A MYSTERY.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

Oh, Purple Star…

So they try to treat women with respect in the hopes that it will help them get laid….And they discover it doesn’t work. That’s my teenage life story in a nutshell.

Found your problem.

Parents who teach their sons to idealize women are raising a budding misogynist

This is actually true.

But treating women with respect /= idealizing them.

raindog2
raindog2
7 years ago

Wow. This could be my brother, but likely isn’t for the fact that mine hasn’t been able to contact me since he decided to throw in with white supremacists. I’m so sorry other sisters that you have to deal with this crap.

blitzgal
7 years ago

Thanks for the puppy video, Gillian! Everyone at work thinks it’s hilarious.

AK
AK
7 years ago

The brother is clearly an unreliable narrator…he says that she’s so radical she thinks men can’t be raped or victims of sexism*, but then the quote from her that he includes starts out by acknowledging that men are often the victims of injustice as well as women. I find it difficult to imagine someone holding both those views simultaneously.

Her letter to him is thoughtful and kind, and for both their sake I hope he pulls his head out of his ass and at least agrees to disagree with her on the subject.

Also, just since y’all asked me to keep you updated…I went to the doctor yesterday and it appears to not be as serious as I was afraid, just a very minor tear in my ACL. I have to take a month off of work (my job is very physical; fortunately there is some backup stuff I can do to still pull in a paycheck), wear a knee brace and use crutches to get around, but it should heal well in that time and not have any lasting effects. Yay! Now I just have to figure out how to avoid getting cabin fever and how to keep my working dogs in training during this time…

*Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if she said the latter but that she was using it as an academic term focusing on institutional biases, rather than saying that men are never ever viewed negatively by anyone because of their gender which is what he seems to be implying.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

@The Purple Star I’m going to let most of that comment slide, because Howard said precisely what I would have, only he did it much more elegantly and efficiently. You should go read that. No, I’ll wait.

Okay, back now?

What changed is when I met my first gf through unconventional means due to a shared interest.

I’m not sure what advice you were given, but according to my not inconsiderable experience, doing something you like with other people in order to find people you might like to spend time with is the conventional means for finding a significant other. This is the piece of advice that I hear/see/read most often, the piece of advice that I (and pretty much everyone else I’ve seen around her) give most often to people looking to get into a relationship.

So this confuses me just a bit.

Stop lying to young people about relationships and sex!

Just from the get-go, I’ll acknowledge that a lot of disingenuous and often quite erroneous information is given to young people about relationships and sex. But I’m curious about what in particular you are referring to.

Kakanian
Kakanian
7 years ago

Can anybody point out where Kant argued against emancipation? All he did was argue pro Men staying Incels, and that only half serious.

Marie
Marie
7 years ago

Compared to that guy my brother looks like a saint. :/ Not sure where his stance is on feminism, I know he’s made a couple sexist jokes I side-eye him for, but we enjoy mocking (usian) republicans together.

@csechrist

Internet hugs for you if you want them. I can’t imagine what it’d be like to loose a sibling.

@raindog2

Wow. This could be my brother, but likely isn’t for the fact that mine hasn’t been able to contact me since he decided to throw in with white supremacists. I’m so sorry other sisters that you have to deal with this crap.

O_O Sorry to hear that your brother’s an asshole. internet hugs for you too if you want them.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

I’m glad I’m an only child. There can be downsides to it, but I will never have an asshole brother like this.

Mattir
Mattir
7 years ago

Sounds astonishingly like my brother, who has been spewing MRA stuff at me since the early 1980s. Somehow the fact that he is now 47 years old and hasn’t lived in the same house as me since 1978 does not absolve me and all the other Bad Feminists(tm) from responsibility for just about everything wrong in his life.

The sad thing is that there IS a lot wrong with his life, but his twin focus on feminists and what he calls “Ivy League pretty boys” doesn’t really do anything to address the wrong stuff. And don’t even get me started on the tea party libertarian diatribes…

Myoo
Myoo
7 years ago
cloudiah
7 years ago

Internet hugs for @csechrist and @raindog2, if they’re wanted. And internet high five for @AK on the good news (or at least the better-than-it-could-have-been news).

The guy who married my cousin reminds me of the reddit dude. He once followed me around for hours at a family gathering to try to force me to have an argument about him with feminism. This was at the reception following the funeral of my (other, much beloved) cousin, and after I repeatedly told him that I wasn’t interested in having the discussion at that time. Like the reddit dude, he definitely would have spun that as “She’s afraid to face the full force of my manly LOGIC” — so yeah, unreliable narrator for shit sure.

Sigh.

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

Ugh for all the douchebrothers and a hearty congratulations to all those whose male siblings (and assorted other family members) managed to turn out like human beings!

Mattir, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I welcome the chance for diatribe bashing.

cloudiah
7 years ago

@Myoo, YAY! Now can we import that bill into the US?

Sideliner
Sideliner
7 years ago

Chopped a little, but this part struck me:

I would hazard a guess that she’s currently living in a bubble. She’s on campus, completely enveloped in the ideology without any outside force acting on it.

Rather than use reason, expose her bubble to the needles it needs to pop it….Ask her to come volunteering with you at a homeless shelter, and not one specifically aimed at women.

You know volunteering at homeless shelters and seeing the astronomical rates of sexual assault on homeless women actually solidified my feminism.

clairedammit
clairedammit
7 years ago

I had a comment about this, but then I left to go read about Adria Richards, and now, just ugh. So here is some more doggy brain bleach.

http://www.happyplace.com/22434/dog-photobombs-every-single-photo-in-craigslist-apartment-listing

thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
7 years ago

It makes me glad that my brother* is just a useless bugger who can’t sort anything out rather than an actively malicious dill-hole like this bastard.

*(yeah, I have one – even my boyfriend didn’t know about him until we’d been dating a year. We’re… not close.)

Gillian
Gillian
7 years ago

Hooray for Canadian transfolk and their loved ones!

Marie
Marie
7 years ago

@myoo

Off topic, but think of it as brain bleach:

Canada has approved a bill that makes it illegal to discriminate against transgender people.

Yay! *parties* 😀 Seconding whoever said if only the US would follow.

Also, internet hugs for all of you with the jerkass family members if you want them(so many … :() I got lucky, and most of my immediate family is good.

Katelisa
Katelisa
7 years ago

I don’t tell my little brothers that they’ve grown up to be awesome men often enough. Admittedly, growing up with feminist parents and two badass, feminist older sisters probably made it a foregone conclusion. Go my family!

Also, if someone insults my younger siblings, I go into hyper-defensive, wolf-big-sister mode and SHUT THAT SHIT DOWN. Only I get to tell them they’re being idiots…

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