This blog gets a lot of drive-by commenters, usually hostile, who drop one comment and then vanish, never to return. A lot of these comments are insults and one-liners, but a good number of these one-shot numbers, apparently seeking to maximize the impact of their one bit of input on this blog, deposit mini-manifestos setting forth their grand visions of what Men’s Rights stands for, why feminism is evil, or whatever it is that has them most riled up that day.
The most recent of these manifesto-droppers was a self-described Man Going His Own Way called Disgruntled, who set forth at some length his own rather punitive version of gender equality. It’s a rather revealing document, so I thought I would share it with you all.
Disgruntled started off by declaring that
I … demand increased equality among the 2 main genders and whatever additional gender-types have entered the fray
But his vision of equality is a rather blinkered one, to say the least. He singles out three areas in which men fare worse than women, and demands not that the suffering of men be alleviated — but that the suffering of women be ratcheted up to meet that of men’s.
He starts off with a reasonable enough request, one that is in fact supported by most feminists:
One demand I have is that females in the USA be required by law, as males are, to sign up for the military draft and to be subject to a draft if enacted.
Indeed, when Selective Service registration was reinstated in 1981, the National Organization for Women sued to include women. And given that women can now officially serve in combat in the armed forces, it seems likely that women will be included in registration as a matter of course.
Not that this is really much of a live issue, since the draft itself is dead and isn’t going to be resurrected in the forseeable future.
But Disgruntled’s next demand shows what his real agenda is:
To achieve parity I want the vast majority of draftees to be females until a general equality is attained with the numbers of dead and maimed males from past wars. To ease the determination I would start with World War 1.
That’s right: Disgruntled is calling for a government-sponsored lady-killing operation, one which would mean the death of hundreds of thousands of women, because women weren’t dying in combat during a period when they weren’t allowed to serve in combat.
Indeed, during World War I, when Disgruntled begins his program, they weren’t allowed to vote.
He’s not the only MRA to feel this way; A Voice for Men has advanced a similarly punitive, if less drastic, “solution” to gender inequality in the armed forces.
I should note that the period that Disgruntled is trying to make up for, the twentieth century and early twenty-first, was a century of mass carnage. The United States managed to escape the worst of that carnage; while we were involved in numerous wars and other military operations, no wars were fought on US soil.
This may have given Americans — and American MRAs in particular — a rather skewed vision of what war is. The vast majority of American casualties in twentieth (and twenty-first) century wars have been military personnel — that is, they’ve been overwhelmingly male.
But in fact, in most wars, civilians (male and female, adults and children) make up roughly half of all casualties, some dying as a direct result of military actions and some as the result of disease and famine. In World War II, last century’s bloodiest war, possibly as many as 2/3 of the total casualties were civilian. Men don’t have a monopoly on suffering in wartime.
After a brief mention of criminal sentencing disparities, Disgruntled moves on to another topic that is a favorite of MRAs:
Another life aspect is the woeful number of males maimed or dying performing the tasks that keep the USA operating on a daily basis. As a society we must do all we can to get females employed in those high-risk jobs that traditionally have high injury/death rates.
Again: the solution is for more women to die!
Interestingly enough, though MRAs talk about “getting” women into these professions all the time, the women who have tried to enter professions like coal mining have faced massive resistance, not from feminists trying to protect them from dangerous “male” jobs but from management — and the men in these jobs themselves. Women coal miners not only face the dangers of the job, but open hostility and sexual harassment from their male co-workers as well.
Now, a real men’s movement — one interested in actually helping men and not just in attacking women or gleefully imagining them getting their comeuppance by dying in war or in a mine collapse — would look at the reports of (mostly) men dying in accidents on the job and would, you know, ACTUALLY TRY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS.
It seems weird to have to point out that generally speaking real activists try to do something about the issues they care about, but in all my reading of the manosphere over the last few years I have not once seen any MRA actually attempt to examine why there are so many workplace deaths, much less ask what can be done about it.
Sure, MRAs complain about workplace deaths all the time, but simply as “proof” that men are the “disposible sex” and that women are a bunch of spoiled brats. Or, like Disgruntled, they use it as an excuse for elaborate fantasies of what Michael Kimmel calls “restorative, retaliatory” violence.
Do you want to know why there are so many workplace deaths?
Maybe it’s because companies that put workers at risk with serious violations of safety regulations get only a slap on the wrist from OSHA? The typical OSHA fine for a serious violation is $1700. Even if someone dies as a result of this violation, the maximum fine is only $7000.
Maybe it’s because so many employers put temporary workers in dangerous situations with inadequate training?
Maybe it’s because so many employers don’t give a shit about immigrant workers? As one recent report on preventable death in the workplace (from which I cribbed the above points) notes:
While the overall U.S. fatality rates for workers have gradually decreased over time (though they are still too high), the fatality rate for immigrant workers has increased at an alarming rate.
When you start looking into the details, you discover that workplace deaths happen for some pretty predictable reasons: companies try to cut costs by cutting corners, and regulators (deeply intwined with the industries they regulate) look the other way. And so workers — particularly more vulnerable workers like immigrants, temp workers, and young workers — pay the price, sometimes literally with their lives.
It’s a labor issue. A class issue. A race issue. And insofar as it’s a gender issue, it’s not feminists or “cultural misandry” that is to blame, but rather a patriarchal narrative that suggests that macho men don’t need to worry about following the rules (even if those rules are designed to protect your life), that stoic men shouldn’t complain about rough conditions at work.
How do you organize to fight this? You don’t yell about the “death professions” on the internet. You don’t fantasize about how great it would be if more women died in coal mines. You actually research the issue rather than reciting MRA slogans. You contact the people who are already working on the issue — mostly labor activists — and ask how to help.
And that’s the problem here. MRAs don’t want to help. They want to rage against women.
And so comfortable middle-class MRAs, whose jobs are as about as dangerous as the lives of my (indoor) cats, appropriate the real suffering of vulnerable poor and working-class men as an excuse to yell at women online and fantasize about their deaths — all while doing precisely zilch to help the men they claim to care so much about.
Hell of a civil rights movement you’ve got there.