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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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vaiyt
7 years ago

Ladies, gentlemen, everyone! The reasonable wing of the Men’s Rights Movement!

thebobgoblin
7 years ago

Tom Golden’s comment is illustrative. Do all MRAs fear female sexuality that much? Could that be the whole basis of their “movement”?

Whenever I see an attractive woman (attractive to me, that is), I mostly just want to talk to her and see if she’s cool. No impulse to either get down on my knees, or try to force her to hers.

What a sad, sad man.

acrannymint
7 years ago

I ook at those images and wonder if those guys were so easily led by their junk that a picture of .a woman would so easily distract them.

acrannymint
7 years ago

That should be look not ook

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

If our bodies, even “perfect” exemplars, oppress them so much, then these guys need to start pricing desert island real estate, NOW. But really, as covers for a book? Even the Fifty Shades of Ghaaah series was far and away more tasteful than this.

kittehserf
7 years ago

That should be look not ook

They certainly haven’t reached orangutan level. 😉

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Goddamnit, the moss covered genital region is actually aesthetically pleasing as a work of art.

Wait…copyright anyone? Does Farrell have permission to use any of these? Cheshire Cat has doubts.

Also, David, those are boy short underwear, not shorts.

Ally S
7 years ago

The best way to give men the impression that women have power over men is to show men pictures in which women are objectified. Nothing shows power like being depicted as an object of sexual pleasure.

jabesgeek
jabesgeek
7 years ago

It’s ridiculous & hyperbolic. Obviously, the new cover for the Ebook is about shock value to get people to buy it. I think it’s wrong headed.
If it were up to me, I would choose a picture of arlington cemetary, or the bataan death march.

The idea is to show that men are severely harmed by gender roles too (mostly *inflicted* by men–but also encouraged & shamed by women), not that men as a group are oppressed by women as a group, and certainly not by women’s butts.

That said, even though I think this is a wrong-headed step for mra’s (and I plan to post my thoughts on avfm) I don’t see it in any worse vein than the way feminists try to paint the penis as weapon.

I haven’t seen any mis-steps from the mra camp that even compare to the hatred & vitriol displayed for men in entrenched political feminist lobbying groups.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

“Where’s the Power”? Um, it’s trying to creep up Ms. Hotpants’ ass.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

I love how these guys are weirdly obsessed with female “sexual power,” which is apparently… them standing around in scanty clothes. Also, in most of MY country at least, prostitution is illegal. Ergo, all that sexual power? AIN’T PAYING THE GODDAMN BILLS.

Also, does this mean gay men aren’t oppressed? Or women aren’t oppressed if they get all weak-kneed over sexy pictures? Seriously, this bullshit makes no sense whatsoever, and the idea that as a man, I’m SUPPOSED to be so out of control that the sight of a woman cooking in shorts makes me “a slave”… WTF. And I’m a fucking SUB.

Just… wtf, guys. W.T.F.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

Also, I’m wondering if Marilyn’s estate can sue for misrepresentation of her image. She was anything BUT powerful over men, if memory serves…

Alice Sanguinaria
7 years ago

Objectification of women is MISANDRY!

On a more serious note, are they seriously saying that all men, when they see a sexualized body part, are naturally unable to resist their urges? With the nice implication that if they could they’d get “dat ass” (maybe with the side of rape)? Wow, how little do you have to think of men that you believe that all men are as assholeish as you are?

Ally S
7 years ago

Wait…copyright anyone? Does Farrell have permission to use any of these? Cheshire Cat has doubts.

I’m going to laugh if they try to seek permission to use those photos and they’re denied permission because the people who own those photos don’t want MRAs to use them.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

On a more serious note, are they seriously saying that all men, when they see a sexualized body part, are naturally unable to resist their urges? With the nice implication that if they could they’d get “dat ass” (maybe with the side of rape)? Wow, how little do you have to think of men that you believe that all men are as assholeish as you are?

Apparently, they are. And they do.

The sad part is, the supposed “power” these women hold is literally nothing more than an illusory image that “makes” some guys want to fap. I’ve yet to see a woman, however gorgeous, whose looks alone literally compelled people to sell their souls over her. Even the guys who were so lucky as to live with one of those ladies eventually had to realize that Ms. Perfect Everything has…um…BODILY FUNCTIONS. Some of them quite boner-deflating by nature.

kittehserf
7 years ago

Yup, poor ol’ Grandad Farrell is oppressed by his boner getting all twitchy at the sight of a photo – not even a person right there, a photo – of a near-naked woman.

Protip, WF: stop typing ragewank and have an actual wank. You’ll feel better.

Ally S
7 years ago

I’ve yet to see a woman, however gorgeous, whose looks alone literally compelled people to sell their souls over her.

Yeah, that sounds like something you only hear about in cheesy romance novels. Wait a second…

kittehserf
7 years ago

Even the guys who were so lucky as to live with one of those ladies eventually had to realize that Ms. Perfect Everything has…um…BODILY FUNCTIONS. Some of them quite boner-deflating by nature.

I love the thought of someone like the model in the pic letting rip a mighty fart, just to make these losers WILT.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

(…and, moreover, a personality, wants and needs that might very well have nothing at all to do with any man’s boner.)

grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

Good job not being deeply offensive, MRAs. David must be cherry-picking again.

grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

The level of shittiness and cluelessness on display here honestly does surprise me. For real. Even from these people, whom I’ve known for some time are pretty shitty and clueless.

Falconer
7 years ago

I look at that moss-merkin photo and all I can think of is how uncomfortable the model must have been. Then I wonder what the point of the photo is.

And then I note that the model is yet another thin white woman.

MaudeLL
7 years ago

Haha, Fidelbogen weighted in on the issue on Wayne’s blog (sorry for the length, but it’s all good):

There is no lack of simple-mindedness in the world. There is plenty to go around, for everybody, on every side of every issue. That said, let’s move along. . .

Whatever semiotics is meant to be conveyed by the proposed book covers, I know that the enemy will either a.) not see it, or b.) pretend to not see it. And having done so, they will put the worst possible spin on it.

Yes, I know them well, I know how they operate, and I know just the spin they will put on the book cover designs that are proposed here.

The real question is, how will the middle mass take it? After all, that’s the market we ought to worry about.

My guess is, that the middle mass will be split 50-50. Some will lean toward the feminist spin, some will lean away from it.

Admittedly, such an outcome could be useful if it generates polarization against feminism, i.e. feminist v. non-feminist. Certainly, we need to make such polarization happen.

HOWEVER. . .

What concerns me, is the ultimate basis on which said polarization gets generated.

And the “cheesecake” image projected by these design proposals would tend to get branded onto the non-feminist side of the polarity. Make no mistake – it would. And to that extent, it would operate as a grappling point for some time into the future.

So the nitty-gritty question becomes: Is This Politically Optimal?

My thinking is, to give the enemy NO tools or weapons at all, if it can be avoided.

So if it is possible to convey the desired semiotics via a more “teflon” symbolism, it should be done.

To continue:

The picture with the stove is OUT. No. Frigging. Way!

The picture with the veil is not so bad, but it still has that “objectifying male gaze” thing about it – or that is how they will spin it, anyway.

The picture with the moss is arguably “rapey” looking, but at the same time, it’s something that a goddess-worshipping radical lesbian womyn could love. So the enemy will feel ambivalent, and this will dissipate the force of their conviction.

In conclusion…I would call the moss picture the “least worst” of the lot. Ergo, if we MUST make a choice among the three, let it be that one.

But first we should consider alternative means to the same end. . ..

Nice morse code ellipses at the end for dramatic effect.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

Does anyone else realize how creepy the kitchen one is? He’s going on about how it’s “enslaving” him, but really, it looks like she’s just cooking breakfast in her underwear alone in her house.

Yes, really. As you say, not so much the picture; I looked at it and thought “model cooking in her undies, big whoop”, not “ZOMG DAT ASS!!! I must have it or DIE!!!”

But then again, I’m not an MRA boner-slave, so I guess I just have no idea how inherently oppressive these things are.

Falconer
7 years ago

The hot-pants one makes me think that I don’t want to cook anything in my underpants. Cooking things generally involves hot liquids, and hot liquids pop, and I don’t want spatter on my bare stomach. Ouch.

This is the same thing that makes me a lousy consumer-of-chain-mail-bikini-girls art. I can’t help but think that the damn stuff chafes so.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

Bina, It’s like a fairy tale movie ending, “the power was inside you all along!”
Except less heartwarming…

Yup. It definitely seems wiser and deeper when Glinda is saying it. But then again, she’s a witch, and has the power to drop houses on shitty people. On purpose, I mean. Dorothy just did it by accident.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

RE: auggziliary

really, it looks like she’s just cooking breakfast in her underwear alone in her house.

I interpreted it as, “I am with this woman, and she is cooking breakfast in her underwear FOR ME.” Which, were I straight and had such a relationship with a woman, would make me go, “Aw, thank you! That’s so nice of you!” not “I AM SO ENSLAVED.” My husband cooked breakfast for me once dressed in nothing but a pink frilly apron, and it was adorable!

Falconer
7 years ago

The picture with the moss is arguably “rapey” looking, but at the same time, it’s something that a goddess-worshipping radical lesbian womyn could love. So the enemy will feel ambivalent, and this will dissipate the force of their conviction.

That’s some Tae Kwan Jiu Bo Crane Style shit right there.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

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.

This from the OP. This is what struck me about these images. MRAs view women’s “power” as sexual. But not a woman being in control of her sexuality, but a passive presentation of sexuality that “enslave” the male viewer. But what they don’t see (or refuse to see) is that being a passive object if desire is not real power. And they blame women for their own attraction to women. The woman in the short shorts? She has no power. She has been reduced to a body part; we can’t even see her face. That they attribute so much “power” to her says more about them than about the broader society.

Ally S said it better:

The best way to give men the impression that women have power over men is to show men pictures in which women are objectified. Nothing shows power like being depicted as an object of sexual pleasure.

And it’s a false sense of power. It’s the illusion that women (young, thin, white women, that is) have power because they cause boners.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

Fiddles-With-His-Boogers also needs to just go have a regular wank. His pompous-ass rage-wanks are TL;DR personified.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

RE: Falconer

A friend’s partner apparently has the habit of cooking shirtless in the summer, due to having no AC. He’s gotten so interesting grease burns, apparently.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

auggzillary: “Cheesecake” is jut what the pictures are, it’s, um, pictures of women in provocative poses wearing little or no clothing. “Beefcake” is the male equivalent.

But Fidelbogen still makes no sense.

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

It really does stagger the imagination, does it not? The way these guys think they’re “enslaved” by a powerless woman whose powerlessness IS the “power” she allegedly wields. Only she’s not wielding a thing. She’s performing on command. Guess whose command!

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Urban dictionary defines “cheesecake” as a variety of (mostly abusive or at least misogynistic) sex acts, farting on people, things involving weed, and, obviously, the dessert. The only possible candidate I can find is this — “Something that is not true; Bullshit”

Frankly, I think we have another Fidelbogenism on our hands.

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

And what David said. That one was worded more as a sex act and thus I lumped it with those, but the Dark Lord is probably right.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Whodathunk Elam’s afraid of women, besides, oh…absolutely everyone?

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

Auggz, I think Mr. Would-be Einstein there is trying to say that feminists will hold those sexualized images against MRAs, and win all arguments on the basis of them. And he’s right…we totally would. And that chaps his wannabe-intellectual ass, the painful understanding that you can’t have your cheesecake AND eat feminists’ lunch, too.

Falconer
7 years ago

A friend’s partner apparently has the habit of cooking shirtless in the summer, due to having no AC. He’s gotten so interesting grease burns, apparently.

Ow, ow, ow.

I think I would live on salads and cold collations in the summer if I had no AC.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

I feel bad for folks if their sexuality is such a burden that inconvenient arousal feels like enslavement. Eesh.

Falconer
7 years ago

@Argenti: Nope, I’ve heard “cheesecake” used to describe male-gaze artwork for as long as I can remember. Generally it doesn’t involve actual naughty bits, but skirts as close as they can get away with.

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Yeah, cheesecake has been used for pin-up art way before this Urban Dictionary “definition.”

Bina
Bina
7 years ago

The picture with the moss is arguably “rapey” looking, but at the same time, it’s something that a goddess-worshipping radical lesbian womyn could love. So the enemy will feel ambivalent, and this will dissipate the force of their conviction.

Well, speaking as a goddess-worshipping radical woman (alas, not a lesbian though), I’d actually be pissed at the appropriation of our imagery of Mother Earth. The force of my conviction would not be “dissipated” in the slightest. In fact, it would be increased…knowing that some crank was using this just to decorate his wankish tomes.

Tracy
7 years ago

I am baffled by this assertion that sexuality is somehow… power. Like, societal power. I’m really trying to wrap my brain around this, and I can’t.

So they interpret sexualized images of women as examples of how much more powerful women are then men? Or… they are overpowered by women they find attractive and assume a) all other men feel this way ergo b) men are oppressed?

wtf?

Male power is a myth because wimmins have sexxy butts n’ boobies and menz get googly over sexxy butts n’ boobies so wimmins are moar powerful? I mean is this the argument?? Is this what it all boils down to, really?

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Butt pics aside, it’s nice to see Farrell get exactly the fans he deserves.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

Ninja’d by David.

As far as the origins of the terms (cause I find word origins interesting), I found this:


http://m.neatorama.com/2013/03/21/The-Origins-of-the-Terms-Cheesecake-and-Beefcake/#!pzhkS

But, y’know, take with a grain of salt.

Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

“Sex acts involving weed?… Do you just… get high before?”

No no, two separate things. E.g. “I got cheesecaked last night” (various sex acts) vs “got any cheesecake? (Weed)”

Though sex while high can be pretty damned good! (Prefer MDMA for that, but weed is easier to get and leaves you far more able to make proper decisions and consent [my MDMA sex was with a standing partner and we both thought it sounded like a great idea, random MDMA hook ups probably aren’t wise])

hellkell
hellkell
7 years ago

Anyways, another thing, why are they all white, young, and thin?

Really? It’s the MRM.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

Also, even if being hot to some folks WAS power… seeing the MRM’s obsession with women getting old, doesn’t that mean all women eventually LOSE that power?

Seriously, the more I poke it, the less sense it makes. It hasn’t hit Roko’s Basilisk levels of NO WHAT yet, but it’s definitely there.

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