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The ridiculous Men's Rights Activists on last night's Parks and Rec? Nowhere near as ridiculous as real MRAs

The "Male Men" on Parks and Rec
The “Male Men” on Parks and Rec

So Parks and Recreation had its Men’s Rights episode last night.

Well, sort of: A gaggle of MRAs made a few appearances in the ep, as one of the obstacles that Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) has to contend with as the wife of a political candidate.

There were a few great moments:

The leader of the “Male Men” – as the fictional MRAs called themselves – announcing to the world that “men have had a very rough go of it for… just recently. And it ends now!”

The MRA leader on a local news show, asking plaintively “can we have ONE conversation about feminism where men get to be in charge?”

The magnificent Ms. Knope finally getting a chance to tell the MRAs what she (and no doubt Poehler herself) really thinks of them:

lesleyknopeonMRAs
“You’re ridiculous. And Men’s Rights is nothing.”

But in some ways the episode fell a bit flat, because, as wrong, and cranky and, yes, ridiculous as the “Male Men” were, they were nowhere near as wrong and cranky and ridiculous as MRAs in the real world.

Take a look again at the fictional MRAs in the pic above. Then look at the real MRAs at their only real  rally so far, this poorly attended soiree in Toronto in 2013.

Toronto's Somewhat-less-than-a-million Men's March
Toronto’s Somewhat-Less-Than-a-Million Men’s March

Yes, that’s A Voice for Men’s’s Dean Esmay, sans fake Twitter followers, at the mic, and AVFM head cheese Paul Elam in the back, with an unreadable sign and an I HEART FTSU t-shirt. (FTSU stands for “Fuck Their Shit Up,” a good slogan for a movement of bullies whose emotional development stopped at the age of 15 or so.)

Then compare the signs of Parks and Rec’s fake MRAs with the actual graphics work of the real Men’s Rights Movement. Like these classic A Voice for Men posters, which I can assure you I am not making up:

ArtMisPrincessCupcake avfm-poster-pear-cultureI’m serious. THESE ARE REAL. I DID NOT MAKE THEM UP.

On the Parks and Rec ep, the “Woman Against Feminism” representative was a somewhat dowdy and deferential middle-aged woman – a bit of a stereotype, really.

In real life, the woman who was the public face of last year’s #WomenAgainstFeminism campaign calls herself “JudgyBitch.” She’s a proudly dishonest ideologue who has attacked the teenage victim in the Steubenville rape case as a “dumb fucking whore,” described the late British entertainer and serial child sexual abuser Jimmy Savile as the victim of conniving teenage girls, and gotten herself permanently kicked off of Twitter (no small feat) for her “targeted abuse” of feminist writer Jessica Valenti (some of which is detailed here).

On Parks and Rec, the Men’s Rights leader embarrassed himself with a few foolish outbursts on a local TV chat show.

But if you want to see a real-life public relations disaster for the Men’s Rights movement, well, take a look at Esmay’s appearance on a Fox affiliate in Detroit.

Or JudgyBitch aka Janet Boomfield’s hoarse-voiced and overly animated appearance on the Today Show, seemingly reporting live from some sort of underground bunker.  (Her appearance starts 38 seconds in, if you’re in a hurry.)

In a way, though, I feel a bit sorry for the writers of Parks and Rec. If they had portrayed the Men’s Rights Movement as it really is, it would have been dismissed by most viewers as ludicrously over-the-top. Unless you’ve encountered the real Men’s Rights movement up close and personal, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s as ridiculous and terrible as it really is.

Oh, the other thing wrong with the show? The MRAs actually showed up for a demonstration. In real life they would have simply swarmed news articles about Lesley Knope’s campaign appearances with a thousand incoherently angry comments, then doxxed her.

Hell, they’ll probably spend most of today swarming articles about the Parks and Rec episode, showing the world with each new comment just how hard they are to parody. (Happily, they won’t be able to dox Ms. Knope, as she is a fictional character.)

In any case, any sitcom writers in search of more embarrassing details about the real Men’s Rights movement are invited to take a stroll through the archives.

H/T — Jaclyn Friedman, for alerting me to the episode; nothing safe is worth the drive for the Knope pics.

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Faint Praise
Faint Praise
5 years ago

I *wish* real MRAs were of a “He can do it too!” style.

andiexist
andiexist
5 years ago

Is that a WBC poster in the back there? XD

freemage
5 years ago

andiexist: Looks like their style, at least–not quite a rainbow spectrum. Probably had something less graphic than most of the WBC’s stuff, though. Still, good job on the writers and prop workers making an appropriate parallel, there.

ej
ej
5 years ago

David,
Just a quick note. The link that is supposed to go to the JB video actually goes to the posters page on AVFM.

Though I must say, I did enjoy the fact that the “most successful” poster was described as having only 7 words on it and was printed in black and white, making it cheap. Unfortunately, they don’t actually show that poster, so we can’t see what a “good” AVFM poster looks like.

anemonerosie
5 years ago

The fact that Ms. Knope is a fictional character just means that they’ll doxx Amy Poehler for daring to utter such statements. We already know that their ability to tell fact from fiction is somewhat stunted.

Shalimar
Shalimar
5 years ago

Why is Esmay wearing shorts and a jacket to give a speech in public? Is it cold enough for a jacket? Warm enough for shorts? Is the message “my wife would have dressed me, but women are icky. am I right, or what?”

sunnysombrera
5 years ago

anemonerosie: good point. They’ll probably argue that if she was really for equal rights she would have refused to read those lines or take part in the episode at all. Because apparently actors have the final say in what they do and refusing to work doesn’t have consequences (if you’re Elam).

Even if they are just a little too smart to be that stupid, they’ll definitely use Lesley Knope in a meme about how the gubmint is being run by feminists or something.

Shalimar
Shalimar
5 years ago

Ok, I see it is actually a dress shirt over his extremely casual otherwise attire. Still confusing, but a little less so.

Xyzzy
5 years ago

Shalimar – I think he might be following a variant on a style that was really popular with guys in the 90s, except the ‘over-shirt’ was usually casual rather than dressy.

Sunny Burn
5 years ago

Amy is also a writer on the show, and a pretty huge feminist. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the lines about the MRA lookalikes in the show were her idea 100%.

Just another reason to love her. 🙂

theomegaconstant
5 years ago

I adore Amy Poehler, but how dare she BRING THE HULKSTER INTO THIS, BROTHER?!? HOGAN HAS BEEN TEARING SHIRTS AND DROPPING THE BIG LEG FOR 30 YEARS TO HELP ALL REAL AMERICANS, MALE OR LESSER, AS HE FIGHTS FOR OUR RIGHTS!

That photo of Esmay and Elam is amazing, by the way . Esmay looks like a very weathered and extremely misguided Joss Whedon there.

Falconer
5 years ago

Alls I can say is, if I knew I was going to be giving a speech in public, I would dress up, not down.

RaikonL
RaikonL
5 years ago

“In a way, though, I feel a bit sorry for the writers of Parks and Rec. If they had portrayed the Men’s Rights Movement as it really is, it would have been dismissed by most viewers as ludicrously over-the-top. Unless you’ve encountered the real Men’s Rights movement up close and personal, it’s almost impossible to believe it’s as ridiculous and terrible as it really is.”

Poe’s Law indeed.

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

I think casual wear is okay for a speech at an outdoor event. But the clothes should be clean, fit well and be somewhat nice.

yutolia
yutolia
5 years ago

Well, hopefully they will be tricked into doxxing a fictional character for long enough to distract them.

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

Maybe he used to be in Hot Cops. What an unpleasant thought.

Falconer
5 years ago

@WWTH: Esmay would probably tell anyone who asked about that outfit that he was “keeping it real.”

dhag85
5 years ago

Is the character’s name really Ms. NOPE? 🙂 I love it

yutolia
yutolia
5 years ago

Elam looks super confused in that picture.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Pear Culture poster: TEAL DEER.

Dudes, your problem is your message. It’s long, it’s messy, it’s stupid, it’s not worth bothering to read.

Also, your collective fashion sense could use some work. As in, A LOT.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Also, what is up with “Free Recipes for Life”? I don’t get it, and I suspect that whoever made that crappy thing didn’t, either.

Falconer
5 years ago

Elam looks super confused in that picture.

And you may find yourself living off your girlfriend’s money
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself at the head of a lucrative website
And you may find yourself in an expensive apartment, with a girlfriend you mooch off of
And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?

(with apologies to the gods of meter)

Cthulhu's Intern
5 years ago

Yeah, as said earlier, they could easily try to doxx Amy Poehler. While it’s not doxxing, this kind of thing (hate for the actress for what the character did) has happened before. Like, back when Breaking Bad was on, Anna Gunn has said she’s seen forum postings of people saying they want to hunt down and kill Anna Gunn. Not Skyler White. Anna Gunn.

Falconer
5 years ago

Oh wait, that song doesn’t apply to Elam because he’s shown no outward sign of actually asking himself anything.

Sorry.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
5 years ago

Why is Paul Simon standing next to Paul Elam?

And “potential pearists”? Is “pear” supposed to be an anagram of rape? The average person isn’t going to be bothered to solve their cute little word puzzle, they’re just going to go “wtf why are they so angry at pears”.

Ranting in code just makes them look even more deranged and idiotic.

http://i.imgur.com/91sn32Qb.jpg

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
5 years ago

@Falconer Well, to be fair, Elam stopped making sense a long time ago.

portlantonio
5 years ago

As it has been often said, what really gets me about these MRAs, is that they get so close to something real, but then ironically let toxic masculinity turn sexual frustration or perceived sexual humiliation (so, things didn’t work out with your ex-wife. It’s okay. Most people understand that relationships are complicated. It doesn’t make you less of a man) into hatred for women for things that are ultimately the fault of an economic system that was almost entirely built and maintained by men.

It seems many of these guys are in their 20’s and 30’s, victims of the baby boomers who so thoughtlessly pulled the ladder up behind them, victims of an out of control economic system that drives the cost of living up and wages down.

I am not sympathetic to them, however. Their sense of privilege is disgusting and warped. Esme sees a successful woman and blames her for his broken tooth. He doesn’t say anything about the successful anchor man and blame him. No. Women are taking up the positions that are his by right. He doesn’t blame a shallow media and privately-funded political system for perpetuating a Gilded Age approach to healthcare. He blames feminism for giving women HIS jobs. He talks about incarcerated men and blame a gendered approach to domestic violence and rape, not the racist War on Drugs. He talks about men in poverty and an unfair child-custody system, but it’s single mothers, disproportionally black and Latino single mothers who are most screwed by the USs social and economic structure.

All in all, most appear to be rather low-functioning human beings. They are lazy and want to blame others.

Viscaria
Viscaria
5 years ago

Yeah, as said earlier, they could easily try to doxx Amy Poehler. While it’s not doxxing, this kind of thing (hate for the actress for what the character did) has happened before. Like, back when Breaking Bad was on, Anna Gunn has said she’s seen forum postings of people saying they want to hunt down and kill Anna Gunn. Not Skyler White. Anna Gunn.

Does everyone remember when they hated Katherine Heigl for making jokes about hating balls in a pro-animal-fixing video? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Victoria
5 years ago

For me the best part of the episode was the exchange between the Male Men and the Women Against Feminism, in which the former tells the latter they don’t care about the latter’s opinion when the latter was agreeing with them, because it made pretty clear that the Male Men (and their real life counterparts) just hate women.

Falconer
5 years ago

@Buttercup: I thought he looked more like Chuck Norris than Paul Simon.

Victoria
5 years ago

But also, I think if people aren’t aware of MRAs in real life, they’ll probably think this is just the latest manifestation of Pawneeans being ridiculous, given the longstanding history of that happening on the show.

Spindrift
Spindrift
5 years ago

@Buttercup “Well, to be fair, Elam stopped making sense a long time ago.”

You mean there was a time in the distant past when he actually made sense, even for just a little?

“Mind blown”

sunnysombrera
5 years ago

@Falconer
@Spindrift
At least you can say about Elam “Same as it ever was.”

NickNameNick
NickNameNick
5 years ago

You know what the most infuriating part of that Esmay interview was? The live tweets they showed at the bottom of the screen. Save for one or two, they were fucking intolerable to even read…

Not that every word out of Esmay’s mouth wasn’t pure bullshit (it totally was) – I’ve just always disliked that “man on the street” tactic in news media. The people who comment are generally ignorant of the subject they are asked about and it doesn’t really inform, it simply patronizes and further enables the blurring between fact and opinion. If all news websites did away with comments sections, it wouldn’t be soon enough…

NickNameNick
NickNameNick
5 years ago

At least you can say about Elam “Same as it ever was.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1wg1DNHbNU&w=420&h=315%5D

ParadoxicalIntention
5 years ago

Ah, toxic masculinity screwing up everything for everyone. Feminists are blamed for things that are the cause of the patriarchy and rather than actually help men, MRAs world-wide will be sitting on their asses and complaining on the internet instead of going out and helping men whose problems they claim to care about. Men who will only be ignored until they want some sort of lame “gotcha” on feminism while feminists are out actually helping many of those same men.

Just another day ending in “y”.

Dreadnought
Dreadnought
5 years ago

The link to the Bloomfield video is still taking me to the poster page on AVFM.

yutolia
yutolia
5 years ago

@Falconer:

And you may find yourself living off your girlfriend’s money
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself at the head of a lucrative website
And you may find yourself in an expensive apartment, with a girlfriend you mooch off of
And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?

(with apologies to the gods of meter)

Hehe – exactly what I was trying to go for!

scalyllama
5 years ago

Oh, Parks and Rec I love you soo much!

Incidentally, having just watched the Fox “News” segment, there’s a term for what Dean Esmay is doing – it’s called a Gish Gallop after a (so-called) debating technique used by a prominent member of the Creationist movement.

Seriously – read about it here:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop

I’d say the MRAs have learned this technique by watching other exponents, such as Mitt Romney.

weirwoodtreehugger
5 years ago

I think every MRA uses the Gish Gallup. Except our old friend Woody. I liked the addition of the argumentum ad tl;dr in there. Another technique MRAs like. I see that one even more often with libertarians though.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Hmmmm…if I’m not mistaken, isn’t that our Patriarchy Party misodge, Nick Reading of Men’s Rights Edmonton, right behind Dean Esmay on the left-hand side of the pic? I see an “Edm” on his placard…

Ohmigawd, it IS him. He looks even more like a cartoon than that cartoon poster of him running for office! Did you ever see a head that more resembled a ball of unbaked dough (in every possible sense)?

No wonder he decided to grow hair and a beard. He’s got a lot to hide, there.

dhag85
5 years ago

Jebus. They should not let Dean go on TV again ever. Or maybe they should do like a Truman Show with him? Can’t decide.

Moggie
Moggie
5 years ago

Bina, are you sure that’s not the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

@Bina,

That is him! He looks like he’s got that cartoon-face permanently plastered on his face now! I always thought that picture was supposed to be hyperbolically sinister, but I guess not- that’s just his expression when out in public!

The fact that my home town is known in these circles for being a bastion of stupidity and hate is very depressing. Not surprising, but depressing.

– S

Sadie G
Sadie G
5 years ago

Esmay looks like a very weathered and extremely misguided Joss Whedon there.

Noooo! You just hurt me right in my Whedonist feels.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Bina, are you sure that’s not the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man?

Pretty sure it’s not. The Marshmallow Man at least started out cute and harmless. This guy? Was probably a Beastly Baby.

He looks like he’s got that cartoon-face permanently plastered on his face now! I always thought that picture was supposed to be hyperbolically sinister, but I guess not- that’s just his expression when out in public!

A sinister ball of unbaked dough. Yup, definitely a Beastly Baby!

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

He’s what happens if you dip the Pilsbury Dough-Boy in the toilet and leave him on the counter overnight?

Quiet Wolf
Quiet Wolf
5 years ago

Just once I would like to construct a little matriarchy (one that parallels our society) and show these people into it for a few days. Holding back on the actual violent crimes thing so they’d be safe. Maybe when they see what reversed gender power dynamics would actually look like, they’d get a grip.