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The Power of Butt: MRA granddaddy Warren Farrell picks a new book cover, and can’t decide between tits, ass or vagina.

Men: Oppressed by butts?
Men: Oppressed by women’s butts?

Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power, published twenty years ago, defined much of the agenda for what’s become the contemporary Men’s Rights movement. If you hear a Men’s Rights activist prattle on about “male disposability”or “death professions” or complain about draft registration (even though the draft itself has been dead for decades), you’ve got Farrell to thank, or blame.

So when Farrell decided to release a new ebook edition of his most famous book, it was perhaps not all that surprising that he decided to turn to the folks at A Voice for Men, probably the most influential Men’s Rights site around, for advice on a picture to use for a new cover.

But what was surprising was the pictures he asked the AVFMers to choose from, three sexually charged, and slightly NSFW, pics highlighting what Farrell evidently sees as the key female challenges to male power: their vaginas, tits and ass.

I’m not speaking metaphorically: one of the pictures shows a nude woman’s pelvic area, her vulva both highlighted and hidden by what is essentially a merkin made of moss; a second picture shows the ass of a young, topless woman in her underpants slaving over a hot stove, and the third shows a famous picture of Marilyn Monroe, also topless.

AVFM’s Paul Elam explained the, er, logic of these images:

Imagine the juxtaposition of the title, “Myth of Male Power” over one of these images. The cover alone will challenge the idea of male power in men and women alike on a gut level.

By “on a gut level” he apparently means “in men’s pants.”

You sort of have to see them to see how utterly tacky they are; here’s the one of the butt, which either Farrell or Elam helpfully captioned “Where’s the power?”

You can find the others on AVFM here; if you don’t want to give them the pageviews, you can find them here.

You couldn’t really ask for better symbols of the essential misogyny of the Men’s Rights movement today — or of its obsession with blaming women (and women’s sexuality in particular) for the restrictions on male power that so chafe the hides of MRAs. Farrell, in the past, generally avoided demonizing female sexuality quite so obviously and directly, but these days he’s apparently been spending too much time amongst the A Voice for Menners.

Farrell’s choices for potential covers also tell us a good deal about him as well; in the past he’s essentially been able to hide his crackpot pseudoscholarship behind a certain veneer or respectability — releasing his books through major publishing houses, touting his PhD — but here he seems to be falling to his natural level, amongst the self-publishers of crappy e-books with stock-photo covers.

While some AVFMers had other suggestions — perhaps a picture of the Wicked Witch? — most seemed to think that the pictures were perfect for his book. Tom Golden — along with most of the voters in the poll — preferred Marilyn and her tits:

Tom Golden says November 23, 2013 at 9:06 PM I think the point that Warren is trying to make is that simply the sight of a very attractive female puts most men into a mental position of subservience and blind willingness to be of service to her in whatever way he can. In essence he becomes a slave. How can men be in so much power when just the sight of a lightly clad young attractive woman throws them into such a state? I think any of the images accomplishes that task but I personally like #3 because when I see that image my awareness of my surrender to her power is palpable.

Others were more taken with the ass pic. Alek wrote:

alek says November 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM My choice (nr. 2) is losing heavily :( :D DDD I like 2 since its the most powerfully influential… The gist of the book “myth of male power” is that “oppression of women” is an interpretational myth – “poor wimminz had to stay in the kitchinz, while man goes outside and has a blast being all hero and shit” (i’m dumbing down female gender role to “kitchen” as representative of all oppression interpretational myths covered by Warren) This photo challenges that whole notion of the kitchen as an oppressive enviroment, while immediately and visually telling the viewer just how powerful she – the woman is, merely by seeing her silhouette, casual relaxed demeanor and posture projecting utter sexual power.

And Elam, while voting for the moss-encrusted vulva himself, was apparently also quite, er, affected by dat ass.  (Those with especially sensitive stomachs may wish to skip the following quote, as it contains an unsolicited update from his boner.)

I am about as red pill as men come I think. There has not been a woman that could sexually manipulate me in decades. But one look at that woman’s ass in image #2 and I feel every instinctive reproductive trigger trying to go off in my brain. It is not a feeling of power at all for me, but a feeling of something I might have to overcome in order to just self-preserve.

So there you have it: Two of the most influential figures in the Men’s Rights movement — indeed, arguably the two most influential figures — actually believe that men are oppressed by women’s butts.

Indeed, Elam is apparently so overwhelmed by the sight of an attractive ass that he considers it a literal threat to his life.

Adding to the creepiness factor here: Farrell is 70 years old, making him literally old enough to be grandfather of the model in her underpants. Elam is in his late 50s.

Now, the weird tackiness of the images Farrell chose for his book cover did not go entirely unnoticed at AVFM. There were critics — including, amazingly, AVFM’s own John Hembling, who was a little baffled by the idea of using a sexualized picture of a woman on the cover of Farrell’s book about men, and asked if Farrell was possibly trolling them.

One MRA blogger, Kevin Wayne, posted a link to his blog, where he excoriated all three choices as “Budweiser Ad rejects” and begged Farrell to try something else:

This is just going to backfire. Don’t we have enough issues of being branded as a bunch of no-necks wanting to take women back to the 1950’s?

Elam, while gentle in his handling of Hembling’s criticism, threw a fit over Wayne’s post, banning him from AVFM and bashing him — on AVFM and on Wayne’s own site — as a do-nothing newcomer to Men’s Rights who was too “borderline retarded” to  understand the profound deeper meaning behind  Farrell’s T&A pics.

Farrell himself seems to have been a a bit more willing to listen to the critics. Indeed, he’s asked AVFM’s readers to submit some more pictures to choose from. There will be a runoff between the winner of the first AVFM poll (Marilyn and her tits) several of the new pics.

So far there hasn’t exactly been a flood of submissions. They’ve included a painting of Diogenes, a painting of Lilith, a photo of a homeless man, and this:

Office_Bitch

Yeah, that’ll work great.

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Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Octavia Estelle Butler, at your service.

kleptonetic
kleptonetic
6 years ago

Apparently it’s more imaginable to have elves and dragons and whatnot in fantasy than it is to either have a decent female protagonist (that doesn’t conform to gender roles), or to have some other race that isn’t white take major roles in the story. *rolls eyes*

PREACH

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: Alice

I’ve had this conversation with fuckheads who think that “write what you know” means that every single damned protagonist is a straight white dude, and that we should all stop complaining about how writers need to expand their horizons and consider other perspectives ’cause REASONS.

Oh, horseshit. Especially in fantasy. How many of us have ridden a dragon, for Chrissake?

And this is why I write about other folks in my damn story. Jewish/Carthaginian gay golem men and androgynous psychoelectric brown teenagers and folks in goddamn wheelchairs. Shockingly, people buy it! *eyeroll*

katz
6 years ago

I have a setting where everyone’s second-born child enters the military and I’ve had people adamantly insist that this could never, ever happen, because half of them would be women and some of those women would die, and if a group that’s maybe a quarter of the women in the country suffers casualties then they won’t be able to make enough babies.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

“androgynous psychoelectric brown teenagers”

Go M.D.!! But you forgot that she’s an alien or something (do other dimensions count as alien?)

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

…what? Modern day causality rates or WWI or earlier? I’ll do the math on replacement rate for you if you want.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Casuality*

You know what autocorrect? Stop being auto incorrect.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: Argenti

Only so many adjectives I could fit in the sentence! (And it’s a little… complicated. The crew just uses the word ‘alien’ for sake of convenience, and because it makes for better jokes.)

RE: katz

I fail to be surprised by any pain in the ass reader claiming something is unrealistic… when they read shit about robots and dragons. I still eagerly await the day when someone tries to pull “but queer/trans people didn’t exist in ancient Judea!” Because then I will smile, and pull out the Talmud, and go, “Well, ACTUALLY…”

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

LBT — fair enough, on both points!

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

Basically, in the IS-verse, even the TERM alien is a little fuzzy. All the lifeforms in Infinity Smashed come from parallel dimensions Earths, each of which has diverged, sometimes so radically there are absolutely no lifeforms in common between them, except maybe on a microbial level. So M.D. is from a different Earth, Raige is actually from a different Earth from Thomas (minor chrono-displacement), and depending on which story, Biff is sometimes from a different Earth than all of the aboves. So M.D. is as much an alien to Raige as Thomas is, technically. It just mostly gets glossed over because it’s such a headache to keep track of what functionally appears to be teleportation, time travel, and space travel. (Well, for them. People who were born into that school of thought get it fine.)

katz
6 years ago

…what? Modern day causality rates or WWI or earlier? I’ll do the math on replacement rate for you if you want.

Earlier. And if it helps, in this culture, the preferred number of children is four.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

I’m sorry you have to deal with asshat readers, katz. I feel inordinately lucky; I haven’t had any of that shit yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Mine just kindly catch technical errors for me!

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

LBT — hey I can follow, but my brain has been trained on Doctor Who. And working out things like there being at least three versions of Jack walking around at various periods (maybe four at one point) it’s Timey Whimey!

Katz, k, give me a bit to research earlier causality rates. Considering I’ll have to account for famine and disease too I assume, this should get fun!

Alice Sanguinaria
6 years ago

LBT – I know right? I do some cooperative text-based roleplays for fun online, and the vast majority of characters are Asian, female, and complete with both strenghs and flaws. Many if not most of them are also GSMs (as this is part of my personal experience), and some of them have mental disabilities or have faced serious trauma and whatnot. It’s not that hard, fuckwits.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Uh, we have a problem. Looks like war casualties had an upper range of 30%~ (with some serious outliers of course), and women averaged 4 pregnancies for 2.3~ surviving children (except that was clearly sufficient to carry on society, despite mom having a 10%~ chance of dying from childbirth).

Average of four kids, only the second going to war, gives an eighth of women going to war (one of four kids, times the 50/50 gender split). Factor in 30% of them dying there and you’re losing 4%~ of all women to war (this fits logic as war death rates as a total of population seem to average around 2%, and those are mostly volunteer armies and thus less than 25% of the population)

Seeing how we survived losing 10% of women to childbirth, I’m gonna guess losing less than half that to war wouldn’t kill the species. I could make this far more complex, but we survived the Black Death, we could survive losing 4% of women to war.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Ignore my comment about a problem, it was from a previous edit with bad math — failed to account for the 3 kids per couple who’d survive to adulthood. I’m assuming you meant preferred number of surviving kids, not pregnancies. (Actually, you’d still probably be okay since that was apparently the medieval pregnancies rate and Black Death)

katz
6 years ago

I think the most meaningful statistical question would be whether drafting ~1/8 of the women and 1/8 of the men would have a bigger impact on the population than drafting (to maintain the same size army) ~1/4 of the men. After all, when male soldiers die, they have an effect on the population, too (especially if the culture is generally monogamous).

But overall, there are just so many factors–whether there’s actually a war on or not, what casualties are like among the civilian population, etc–that I tend to think the gender breakdown of the military would cause a negligible difference. Certainly not big enough to make it impossible for such a culture to exist.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Agreed. Particularly if you’re ensured more surviving women than casualties — the 50% of first borns that are female children will surely outnumber the female war casualties. Actually, four kids may be well above replacement rate, let me check something.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Thought so. Highest replacement rates worldwide, currently? About 3.5 kids. And that’s with 1.5%~ of the country dying annually (For comparison, that’s about twice the US rate) Topped out at around 8% during the height of the Black Death (that widely cited “nearly a third of the population” is over 3~4 years, not annually [that would wipe us out!])

So yes, assuming you don’t have a plague killing a third of the population in 3 years AND a war (which, uh, good luck with that)…you’re good.

Argenti Aertheri
6 years ago

Also, replacement rate depends on the age at which people tend to die — if said kids have to reproduce at least once before war, and have 3~ siblings that won’t be going to war…I’m thinking you’re actually risking overpopulation, not under population.

CassandraSays
6 years ago

Ugh, Earthsea. I didn’t even watch it because the casting issue irritated me so much.

If they ever do that to one of Octavia Butler’s books I will be seriously tempted to send them a parcel full of dog poop.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

*sigh* Avatar: the Last Airbender. *shakes head, hides face in hands* *sighs again*

I feel so glad that part of my childhood growing up was the cartoon Jackie Chan Adventures. I didn’t realize until an adult that of the entire main and secondary hero cast, only ONE of them is white, and he tends to act more as a way to get the narrative moving rather than an active character himself. Ditto Xiaolin Showdown, only the white hero is equal with the rest of his team (but was I think the least popular in fandom).

See, it’s TOTALLY possible to have a fairly successful thing with fewer white folks in it! Jeez.

Marc Boudreau
6 years ago

I self-identify as being pro-feminist and it’s due to AVfM that I do, because if my choices are whatever the hell they are or pro-feminist, it’s a simple choice to make.

alternatesteve90
6 years ago

@LBT: I liked both of these shows, too. And Static Shock was frickin’ awesome as well, not to mention Batman Beyond(if I had a favorite character who wasn’t the title character, it’d be Maxine hands down. She was *awesome*.). =)

Wakboth
Wakboth
6 years ago

As a man, I’m rather insulted by these MRA guys’ idea that just seeing a woman’s bare breasts or buttocks makes me some kind of a mindlessly horny zombie. They are almost as misandrist as they are misogynist.

Headless Unicorn Guy
Headless Unicorn Guy
6 years ago

…to the best of my knowledge, those “power-of-butt compels me” types are…
Adult versions of Beavis & Butthead.

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