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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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Merus
Merus
5 years ago

The thing that gets me about the ‘pear culture’ poster is that it seems like it’s saying that all men are born rapists? I had to have a second look before I worked out what they were on about, which is really not what you want from a poster.

I wonder if ‘feminists think all men are rapists’ came before or after ‘feminists hate men’ in their thinking.

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Honestly, if not for others here pointing out that “pear” is “rape” with the letters rearranged, I’d still be scratching my head over Pear Culture, and wondering what the hell was so bad about pears, anyway.

These guys, they fail at everything. Even wordplay.

Sad.

Misha
Misha
5 years ago

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”.

I honestly didn’t get the ‘potential pearists’ thing and wondered why they were mad at fruit. I quite like pears and became hopeful at the idea that we might live in a Pear Culture.

It’s possibly quite a sad thing, reflective of their poor attempts at ‘activism’, that the reflex to pause and try to figure it out didn’t kick in for me. I just assumed, as AVfM posters make increasingly less sense, it would be confusing fruit-related MRA nonsense with no clear message (women are pear-shaped? Feminists are fruity? Feminists like fruit so fruit is misandry?) and moved on.

ryeash
5 years ago

I’m glad the link to the JB video didn’t get fixed before I found this gem on that poster page:

Please respect that the approved posters here were designed by people doing the activism.

Men’s Rights: please respect that the people are doing the activism.

fruitloopsie
fruitloopsie
5 years ago

So are fruit and cupcakes misandry now? Should we put those in the welcome package?

Spindrift
Spindrift
5 years ago

Of course pears are misandry! Pear trees are pollinated by bees, and who’s in charge of a beehive? A queen! Matriarchy! Misandry! Bzzzzzzzz

katz
5 years ago

Cupcakes are already in the welcome package 🙂

suffrajitsu
suffrajitsu
5 years ago

Damn. This makes me appreciate Amy Poehler even more.

I’m assuming Parks & Rec wouldn’t show Men’s Right Activists in all their non-glory because, frankly, no one who hasn’t seen the manosphere first hand would believe it. I got a reminder just how asinine they look to the general public when The Daily Show (goodbye, Jon Stewart, you shall be missed) covered the New York subway crackdown on manspreading. His response to a news segment describing “men’s groups calling it male oppression”: “And apparently, [they’re] calling themselves ‘men’s groups.'”

Bina
Bina
5 years ago

Please respect that the approved posters here were designed by people doing the activism.

RESPECT MUH AUTHORITAY!!!

fruitloopsie
fruitloopsie
5 years ago

Spindrift
“Of course pears are misandry! Pear trees are pollinated by bees, and who’s in charge of a beehive? A queen! Matriarchy! Misandry! Bzzzzzzzz”

First cats then penguins and now bees!? When will the Misandry ever end!? All hail the Queen Bees!

katz | February 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm
“Cupcakes are already in the welcome package :)”

Yay

Bina
I totally read that in carmen’s voice.

Spindrift
Spindrift
5 years ago

I’d post the Nic Cage “not the bees” thing from the wicker man, but I don’t internet well.

fruitloopsie
fruitloopsie
5 years ago
Spindrift
Spindrift
5 years ago

@Fruitloopsie

There we go! thanks for that 🙂

Dreadnought
Dreadnought
5 years ago

Thanks Dave! Link’s working!

Misha
Misha
5 years ago

Speaking of Paulie (in reference to David’s link), did anyone see the pic of him posted by a commenter over on the Spearhead thread? Just before Price hijacked it and bored everyone away? Tis a thing of beautiful beauty, and I feel sad it was swallowed by the tide of Price.

Seriously, check it out. It’s the next AVfM poster.

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

Dean STILL isn’t wearing long pants? I offered to buy him a pair years ago.

misseb47
misseb47
5 years ago

ParadoxicalIntention “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 arses 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.”

I so agree! The whole male rights movement is ridiculous! There is so much that these men could be doing to help change things, like working at homeless shelters, joining the Salvation Army, volunteering for suicide hotlines, demand better occupation and health and safety legislation, etc. Perhaps creating more charity organizations that target men specifically. But they don’t. Instead of helping to solve male issues, all they do is whine about feminism and blame women for all their problems and make ‘what about teh menz’ arguments. When things were REALLY tough for women, the early feminists didn’t t just sit there and whinge, they got off their butts and actually did something! So why can’t these so called male rights ‘activists’ do the same? It really pisses me off.

PS

I’m new here, so hello everyone! XD

Kootiepatra
5 years ago

I foresee a great increase of the mantra: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity…”

proxieme
proxieme
5 years ago

misseb47 – I have a friend who I thinks (at least for awhile) may have (and to some extent probably still does) harbor MRA-y sentiments.

YEARS AGO he began going on about prostrate cancer v breast cancer, women liking bad boys, the court system’s treatment of fathers/father’s rights, a few other things.
(He’s also very LGBTetc supportive, very against violence against women, not a rape apologist – why we’re still friends. My friends range across several ideological spectrums, but I do draw the line at some things.)

But – BUT – he’s now putting his time where is mouth is and is studying for a PhD in Pyschology with a personal focus on men’s health concerns (male depression & suicide, addiction & homelessness, PTSD – there are obviously many types, but he’s focusing on combat-related which does skew male).

So, I mean, bravo for him, really, and I hope that he’s able to help many men.

An interesting byproduct of his advanced study (and experience in practicum) seems to be that his views are moderating / nuance is being increasingly injected into his opinions.

So, maybe that’s why we don’t sees y (any?) self-described MRAs actively involved.
1. Those who are prone to acting on their principles may be part of a self-selected group of slightly less strident ideologues and
2. Broad experience tends to force moderation.

lith
lith
5 years ago

@misseb47:

Hello! Welcome package on the sidebar, scented candles and everything.

There are a couple of reasons they don’t do anything about it:

1. They’re too lazy – most of their spiel is complaining about having to actually do things, “it’s just so unfair that I have to wipe my bum, possibly even with toilet paper”. etc. (that’s still the thing I find least explicable, noone benefits from skipping this really trivial task, including/especially them, and what does it have to do with being anti-feminist anyway? AND WHY BROADCAST IT?). ahem.

2. They have very few even vaguely real complaints, and feminists are already working on fixing those anyway so we’re back to 1. “I’m not allowed to punch women with impunity” – that’s not a real issue, you’re not allowed to punch anyone but clearly you’re not bothered you can’t hit men, why is that? “The court system unfairly discriminates against men in custody hearings” – a result of a long history of men rigging the system to avoid having to take responsibility for their children or do any housework, strangely enough feminists are working on this, feel free to join in. etc.

They’re far more interested in dragging everyone else down than they are in improving their lot. It’s never, “We’d like to make this change to improve our lives”, it’s always, “We’d like to make this change to make other people’s lives worse”.

Christina Nordlander
5 years ago

@proxieme: Your acquaintance is doing something to help with male-specific problems, and I really respect that, even if I disagree with many of his views. Kudos to him!

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ proxieme

“So, maybe that’s why we don’t sees y (any?) self-described MRAs actively involved.
1. Those who are prone to acting on their principles may be part of a self-selected group of slightly less strident ideologues ”

To modify a saying that’s popular where I grew up: “Them as can, do. Them as can’t, go on the internet and whinge about stuff”

proxieme
proxieme
5 years ago

*squints*

I wonder why – and how – I injected so many superfluous “s”s into that post.

re: my friend: He’s a good person. I disagree with him about a lot of things, but his heart’s usually in the right place and (while he is a blowhard) he also tends try to act on his convictions.

Inez Milholland
Inez Milholland
5 years ago

David, did you watch the “ripped from the headlines,” Gamerghazi-inspired SVU episode? It’s blowing up on my news feed and the consensus seems to be universal loathing.

The Gamerghazians hate it because they’d NEVER rape and torture a woman (they draw the line at *threatening* to rape and torture women :/) and everyone else hates it because it’s a dishonest depiction of how the authorities have actually handled the online harassment and bullying of real people.

I can’t imagine Brianna or Zoe sitting through a television episode, watching an avatar of themselves getting brutalized for ratings. I would be livid, quite honestly.

Lisa C (@hppykittystudio)

“David, did you watch the “ripped from the headlines,” Gamerghazi-inspired SVU episode? It’s blowing up on my news feed and the consensus seems to be universal loathing.

The Gamerghazians hate it because they’d NEVER rape and torture a woman (they draw the line at *threatening* to rape and torture women :/) and everyone else hates it because it’s a dishonest depiction of how the authorities have actually handled the online harassment and bullying of real people.

I can’t imagine Brianna or Zoe sitting through a television episode, watching an avatar of themselves getting brutalized for ratings. I would be livid, quite honestly.”

I just finished watching it now. It’s definitely over sensationalized as Law and Order episodes often are, but all the same difficult to watch. If I were a game developer, I’d be even more disturbed.

misseb47
misseb47
5 years ago
Reply to  lith

“They’re far more interested in dragging everyone else down than they are in improving their lot. It’s never, “We’d like to make this change to improve our lives”, it’s always, “We’d like to make this change to make other people’s lives worse”.”

Yeah, I totally agree. I would actually support the male rights movement if they actually did something to improve the lives of men and did something practical. But no! They just complain and spouting hate. They don’t actually want to help men, they just want to undo over 200 years of hard work done by the feminists. They can’t stand the fact that women worked hard at gaining independence and rights and that we are actually succeeding. If just stopped the hate and the laziness and followed our example, I wouldn’t have a problem with them at all.

misseb47
misseb47
5 years ago
Reply to  proxieme

That’s awesome! 😀 I am sure that he would make a very positive difference in the world.

Unfortunately, the MRM groups tend to attract the most embittered and extremist individuals. Most moderates who generally want to help improve the lives of men are put off by their extreme misogynistic ideologies and leave or don’t get involved at all. Instead, they just seem to work on their own and or join groups not associated with the MRM.

misseb47
misseb47
5 years ago
Reply to  lith

PS

MMMMMM!! Thanks for the scented candles! I love the smell of misandry in the morning. XD

Thomas
Thomas
5 years ago

The Male Men’s pickets look like Westboro Baptist Church pickets. Possibly saying “take that” to both?

brokencandy
brokencandy
5 years ago

lith- actually, “court discrimination against men in custody issues” is NOT a real complaint that needs fixing. Having looked into the issue, the real reason that men rarely have equal or primary custody of children after a divorce is because- get this- they don’t WANT primary or equal custody of their children. 94% of post-divorce custody arrangements are made by mutual agreement of the parties themselves without court interference. When men do petition for custody, they are granted it 50% of the time. They are not discriminated against on any significant level.