I recently found this helpful diagram on MRA crackpot extraordinaire Peter Zohrab’s web site, which is even more ugly and confusingly organized than the diagram itself, if you can believe it. “Indoctucation” is Zohrab’s own word, a bit like George W. Bush’s “misunderstimate” or Sarah Palin’s “refudiation.”
Can anyone explain to me why “Public Opinion & Voting Behavior” has to share a rectangle with “Politicians’ Beliefs & Assumptions,” while “Court Decisions” gets an oval all to itself? Why are these things the only things allowed in “The World,” while everything Feminist only gets to point at the world with giant arrows? Why does “Feminist Training of Lawyers and Judges” point at Public Opinion and Politicians instead of at “Court Decisions,” which would seem to make about a zillion times more sense? Did Zohrab make the diagram, look at it and realize the mistake, and say to himself, like Ed Wood, “Fuck it! Diagram making is not about the little details. It’s all about the big picture!”
And, finally, can I get this on a t-shirt?
Stay tuned for a longer post or two on Mr. Zohrab, the first in what will be a series on Famous Men’s Rights Crackpots. It’s good to know your history..
There are all kinds of bad writers. Some can’t string simple sentences together; others spew thick clouds of incomprehensible jargon. But in some ways the most annoying bad writers of all are those who are bad writers because they think they are great writers.
Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2.
As you may have already gathered, Elam’s flights of literary fancy are invariably hokey and melodramatic. And they’re essentially meaningless. They say absolutely nothing, while giving the impression that they say an awful lot. Indeed, when you try to nail down the meaning of any of his not-so-fine phrases, they simply fall apart.
In the first quote above, he attempts to smoosh together the KKK and the world of George Orwell’s 1984 into some strange symbol of feminist awfulness. Huh? The KKK is a vigilante group; the villain in 1984 was a totalitarian government. They’re both bad, to be sure, but different kinds of bad. Big Brother wasn’t a Grand Kleagle. It’s a sloppy mix of metaphors that represents some pretty sloppy thinking.
So why am I picking on Elam’s writing style? Shouldn’t I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can’t separate the two. Elam’s style is designed to conceal his lack of substance.
Ironically, the person who provides the most insight into what Elam is trying to accomplish with his purportedly elevated prose is none other than Orwell. In his classic essay on “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell took a look at some typically terrible political prose of his day. The two qualities that united all his examples in awfulness were a certain “staleness of imagery” and a “lack of precision.” His analysis fits Elam’s essays to a T:
And why is this? Orwell concluded that the airy abstractions, the mixed metaphors, the grand prefabricated phrases all worked together to conceal the true meanings of what was being said, to offer “a defence of the indefensible,” whether one was a Communist defending the Russian purges or an American politician defending the atom bomb.
With Elam, though, we see something slightly different. He’s not defending the indefensible so much as trying to disguise the sheer insubstantiality of some of his central arguments, which would be simply laughable if he hadn’t gussied them up with ponderously “fancy” prose. Consider this passage, describing Elam’s thoughts after discovering that his spellchecker didn’t recognize the word “misandry”:
Reduced to its essence, though, Elam’s claim here is simply absurd: Because “misandry” isn’t a common enough term to include in his computer’s dictionary, our culture has no way of expressing the notion that certain people and ideas are man hating.
Really, Paul? We’re “limited to talking around the subject?” I really haven’t noticed much of that. The term “man-hating” gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “feminazi.”
In the crowd you hang with, I imagine you hear this kind of talk all the time. Surely you’ve noticed it.
Stick with this style, Paul. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s true to your nature. You’re not a grand philosopher; you’re not a literary lion. There is nothing smart or sophisticated about anything you ever write or think. Basically, you’re a dick. So write like one.
Like many online forums, the Men’s Rights subreddit on Reddit.com is a mixture of the good, the bad, and the very, very annoying. The good: A fairly large number of decent people there, ranging from moderate, non-misogynistic men’s rightsers to a few brave souls willing to stand up to the fanatics. The bad: The aforementioned fanatics, posting douchey rants, and quick to dismiss all opinions coming from women (“cunts,” “bitches”) and/or supporters of women (“manginas”). The annoying: The moderators of the subreddit, a touchy, ban-happy fellow who calls himself Kloo2yoo, and his ineffectual sidekick, Ignatiusloyola.
It’s Kloo who started up the subreddit, and Kloo who wrote the confrontational message that greets every visitor:
The men’s rights movement is just a collection of people who are tired of being taken advantage of, taken for granted, and lied to. Millions of people who have independently come to the same conclusions, usually the hard way. … This is not a feminist subreddit. It was created in opposition to feminism.
We are a million armies of 1.
In case you didn’t get the message, he adds:
kloo2yoo believes that there is an international, feminist, antimale conspiracy, and encourages peaceful, but direct, action against it.
Message received: Feminists are the enemy. You are not welcome here. And indeed, visitors to the subreddit who display an excess of feminism have a tendency to get banned. (In some cases, after much protest from the decent folks in the subreddit, Kloo has relented and let them post again.) Quite a few people on Reddit now refuse to post in his subreddit because they don’t feel like wasting their time in a forum from which they can be arbitrarily banned at any point. (Ignatiusloyola doesn’t seem altogether happy with all of Kloo’s behavior, but will not stand up to him.)
It’s because of Kloo that I’ve put the Men’s Right’s subreddit in my “enemies list.” Now, I have nothing against him stating his own personal opinion, however stridently he wants. What I do have a problem with is his purporting to speak for everyone in the subreddit, many of whom think his talk of an anti-male “conspiracy” is more than a little loopy. And the banning. I hate the banning.
Yes, as you may have guessed, he’s banned me from the subreddit already; I had made only a handful of posts, most of which were straightforward and relatively nonconfrontational and, indeed, well-received by others in the subreddit. But Kloo saw his subreddit on my enemies list, and saw red. Never mind that he had already put feminists like myself on *his* enemies list.
Weirdly, after banning me, Kloo decided he wanted to debate some of the things I said in my Men Behaving Worse post, which had referred to his strange defense of the Women Behaving Badly posts that litter his subreddit. Only he wanted to debate me in private messages. I’m not playing that game.
So here’s my message to you, Kloo-dee: If you want to debate me, debate me publicly, in a forum where I have the right to respond. Debate me here, in comments; I will not ban you no matter what you say. Or unban me from the Men’s Rights subreddit, and debate me there.
Confidential message to Kloo: You just posted something in Men’s Rights about your troubles tracking down a particular blog post from a particular feminist from a year ago that you had lost the link to. Heh. I know exactly what post you’re talking about (and boy are you misremembering what it said). I’ll happily post the link for you in the Men’s Rights subreddit, but, in order for me to do that, you’ll have to unban me first.
This is one of the reasons it makes sense to keep talking to your “enemies.” They often know shit that you don’t.
Q: How many Men’s Rights Activists does it take to screw a Fleshlight?
A: That’s not funny!
So what emotion did you feel when Christine O’Donnell’s bizarre anti-masturbation video first started popping up on cable news and the intertubes? (If you haven’t seen it yet, pop over here and return when you’re done.) Did you feel amused, annoyed, befuddled, perhaps concerned that someone so wacky could possibly be voted into office? Did it make you horny, baby?
For the men’s rights blogger behind the Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech blog, there was nothing funny about the video. “They’re Afraid of Men Masturbating,” he wrote in a piece also published on the The Spearhead, warning fellow men to beware the dark specter of the mysterious “they” — he never quite specifies who this is — trying to get between men and their hands.
And how will the evil “they” control men? Not by clamping their hapless partners’ junk in a stylish new CB-6000 Male Chastity Device. Not by drawing litlte moustaches on all the pictures in their porn stashes. But sneakily, insidiously, through “shaming language.” Religious conservatives like O’Donnell will open up their Bibles and start talking about Onan. Others will smirk and call men losers.
“When women use vibrators they are praised for taking control of their sexuality,” he complains. “When a man uses a fleshlight he is attacked for being a loser who can’t get laid.” The ultimate goal? “[T]o protect the pussy cartel from competition” in the form of fleshlights, virtual reality sex, and the comforts of their own hands and a bottle of lotion.
Yes, he did just use the phrase “pussy cartel.”
So, yeah. Here’s the thing. The reason the sex-positive feminists and the Samantha Jones’ of the world describe female masturbation as liberating is because, for many women, masturbation is still a source of deep, deep shame, so much so that many are too skittish or uneasy to even try it. While getting reliable info about sexuality is difficult, most studies of the subject indicate that men masturbate far more than women. (No duh.) One 2007 survey found that 95% of men had masturbated at least once in their lives, while only 71% of women had. More than half of men surveyed had masturbated in the week prior to taking the survey; only 18% of women had. Heck, I jacked it twice while writing this paragraph. I’m not afraid!
And here’s the other thing. When people call you a loser for shacking up with your fleshlight instead of a warm, living, flesh-and-blood woman, they’re not really making fun of the masturbating.
No, they’re making fun of you for being so wholly objectionable to any sane woman that you’re left alone with only your hands and your sex toys. They’re making fun of you for being the sort of person who uses the phrase “pussy cartel.” They’re making fun of you for being such a crazy misogynist creepazoid that you’ve actually managed to convince yourself, at least for the amount of time it takes to write a blog post, that your “hand will do more for [you] than a woman will.”
Is that shaming language? I suppose it it. That blog post was, well, pretty shameful.
EDIT: Some less-than-careful readers of this piece have somehow concluded that it is anti-masturbation, or at least anti-male-masturbation. It is not. Guys, masturbate all you want. In your bedroom, in the living room, in front of your pets, wearing a hat, wearing a dress. I don’t care. Masturbation is healthy, normal, and oftentimes highly entertaining. I have been known to masturbate myself. My critique was not of masturbation but of guys who actually think that Christine O’Donnell’s loopy remarks, which even she is backtracking on, mean that a “pussy cartel” is trying to stop men from touching their wieners.
EDIT 2: The target of this piece offers a response that suggests, among other things, that he really can’t read very well. But he assures us that he actually is getting laid, so yay for him on that.
Porky’s Place, meanwhile, has a special page devoted to “Women Behaving Badly,” (WBB) a category capacious enough not only to include stories about female perps — most recently, a woman who allegedly managed to taser both her brother and herself — but snide attacks on Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian for offending in various ways Porky’s apparently quite delicate sensibilities.
The Men’s Rights subreddit, on Reddit.com, meanwhile, so routinely features WBB posts that the moderator has written up a little FAQ in order to try to rebut those who regularly point out, quite rightly, that random stories about random women committing random crimes don’t really have anything to do with men’s rights. Not so, says the moderator:
What follows is a rambling collection of individual news items and dubious statistics that really prove nothing more than that the FAQ’s author has his own set of prejudices he’s trying to justify.
But the entire premise of his FAQ is a bit loopy. I haven’t met many people, male or female, who actually think that women are “more fragile, gentle, loving, caring, honest, and … morally superior to men.” I have met lots of people who think men, on average, are more violent than women, on average. They believe that because it’s true. The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by men.
Homicide? Men are responsible for almost ten times as many murders as women, according to figures from the Department of Justice. They are also killed more often than women, but almost always by other men. What about those evil wives and girlfriends who are killing men in their sleep? An MRA boogey-woman. As the DOJ notes, only “about 3% of male murder victims were killed by an intimate.”
How about the particularly awful crime of child murder? Looking at all children under the age of five who were murdered from 1976-2005, we discover that 54% were killed by fathers or male acquaintances, and 29% by mothers. (Most of the rest were also killed by men.)
Rape? Again according to DOJ figures, nearly 98% of rapists and attempted rapists are men. MRAs suggest that rape by women is vastly underreported, which is no doubt true, but rapes of women by men are also vastly underreported as well; we don’t really know by how much, in either case. Men make up 10% of all rape victims, true, but their rapists are almost always other men. No matter how you crunch the numbers, no matter how you spin the results, the overwhelming majority of rapists are male.
Domestic violence? It’s a little more complicated — and I will deal with it in more detail in a future post — but, again, the vast majority of serious abusers are men. “Women are 7 to 10 times more likely to be injured in acts of intimate violence than are men,” notes one researcher. “Husbands have higher rates of the most dangerous and injurious forms of violence, their violent acts are repeated more often, they are less likely to fear for their own safety, and women are financially and socially locked into marriage to a much greater extent than men.”
All this is not to say that women aren’t capable of horrific crimes. Of course they are. But the notion that men commit far more violent crimes than women isn’t a prejudice, it’s a fact. That, and not some sentimental notion that women are as pure as the driven snow, is the reason that most crime stories in the papers have men in the starring role as villains.
The effect of all this selective reporting on the part of MRA sites, which trumpet every grisly story of women-gone-bad and completely ignore the much larger number of stories about evil men, is to further an atmosphere of hysterical lady-phobia amongst their readers. It’s no wonder that so many MRAs have started talking about “marriage strikes” and “Men Going Their Own Way.”
And so, as a kind of corrective to all of these Women Behaving Badly posts, I am launching a new feature, called Men Behaving Worse.
This week, CANNIBALS, a whole rogues gallery of them. Let’s meet them all, shall we:
Oh dear. The Men’s Rights movement often seems like a giant He Man Woman Haters Club. But generally the cleverer of the MRAs go out of their way to deny outright misogyny. Oh, we don’t hate women, just feminists. We don’t want to take away the legitimate rights of women; we just want equality, with neither side getting special rights at the expense of the other.
But then there’s this dude. In a recent post on the popular men’s rights blog The Spearhead, a guy calling himself ramzpaul argues, with utmost seriousness and sincerity, that women should be denied the right to vote. Let me repeat that: he argues that women should be denied the right to vote.
The post is titled “How Female Suffrage Destroyed Western Civilization,” and, yep, he means it. (He’s also got a version of the rant up on You Tube. He sort of reminds me a bit of Stephen Merchant, if Stephen Merchant were an insane American reactionary woman-hating freak.)
It’s a weird, rambling diatribe, but after some swipes at Cultural Marxism and Google (which offended his sensibilities by mentioning the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment on its home page), ramzpaul gets to the heart of his, er, argument. Borrowing some odd notions from a 19th-century anti-suffragette Madeline Dahlgren, he argues that allowing women to vote divides the sexes, creates discord in the family, and destroys marriage. He wraps it all up thusly:
The people opposed to female suffrage proved to be right beyond their wildest predictions. As Google was celebrating the 19th amendment, a British newspaper detailed the boasting of a 26 year old woman who claims to have had sex with 5,000 different men. If Madeline Dahlgren were alive today, I am sure she would have understood the connection between female suffrage in the West and the decline of civilization.
Single mothers, rampant divorce, abortion and falling birth rates are part of the cancer that is destroying what is left of Western Civilization. But very few people (even conservatives) fail to realize that the inception of this cancer can be found in the passage of the 19th amendment.
I’m not even going to bother to refute any of this, which is so mindbogglingly stupid it refutes itself.
But what’s even creepier than this little essay is the response it got on the Spearhead: 191 comments, at last count, mostly offering enthusiastic assent. Yep. Almost everyone there agreed with every word of this nonsense. Here are a few of the choicest nuggets, all of which were massively upvoted by the denizens of The Spearhead:
Yeah, what he said. At least that last bit. I’m rather in favor of the Men’s Rights Movement self-destructing through its own idiocy and insanity.
EDIT: Just to point this out to anyone who doesn’t get it: By talking about a particular bunch of MRAs who think that women shouldn’t be allowed the right to vote, I am not suggesting that every single MRA, or even most of them, believe this. But the response to the Spearhead article does pretty clearly indicate that there are way too many of them who do believe it.
There are several discussions of this article now taking place on Reddit. Check them out.
There’s an interesting post by Joanne McNeil on the Tomorrow Museum blog, suggesting that a lot of stuff that looks like sexism could simply be an example of good old-fashioned stupidity. Some of her examples:
“This journalist has read so few books, he listed the top 25 novels of the decade and there are no women on it.” …
“This conference organizer is so stupid, he couldn’t find a woman to speak for any of the seven days of panels.” …
“The CEO is such an airhead, he held the office holiday party at a strip club.”
As her triumphant final example, she cites the glass staircases in the Apple stores. “A unique and eye-catching feature of Apple’s high-profile stores,” notes ifoAppleStore.com, the staircases “are engineering and architectural marvels, and made possibly by recent advances in glass technology that allows its use in more demanding applications.”
There’s just one little problem with these postmodern wonders: If a women walks up one of them wearing a skirt, people can, like, totally see her underpants. McNeil again:
Now, if I were commissioning the interior of any kind of store and someone brought me blueprints including glass staircases, I’d tell him to take a hike. I wouldn’t give him a second shot. If he’s not intuitive enough to grasp that women in skirts will be uncomfortable walking upstairs, clouded glass or not, then what other errors has he made in his design?
But it turns out that she’s overlooked something as well — the men. Specifically, the men in kilts.
Just imagine. You show up at the opening of a new Apple store, dressed festively in a nice demure kilt and matching tam o’shanter, happily playing a lively tune on your bagpipe, and then you see it: THE DREADED GLASS STAIRS!
You freeze. If you walk up said stairs, everyone will be able to see your hairy, dangling balls! That’s a problem.
Oh, wait, did I say problem? I meant, opportunity.
>I’ve been watching the Men’s Rights movement, such as it is, for some time, with a mixture of amusement, horror and disgust. It’s a movement that’s bad for everyone — for men, for women, for children, and probably even for my cat, though I haven’t yet quite worked out how. The best thing you can say about the Men’s Rights Movement is that it doesn’t, and hopefully never will, have anything near the impact on the world that feminism has had over the years. And this blog, in its own little way, hopes to help keep that way.
So in this blog I hope to take on the assorted myths promulgated by the Men’s Rights Movement, to dismantle their rickety logic and their dubious statistics. I’ll round up assorted examples of misogyny, mendacity and just plain stupidity from MRA’s online and off. And I’ll highlight some of the best anti-MRA arguments I can find.
As for the boobz in the title, I do not refer to those rounded lumps of flesh and fat on the chests of women and some men. I refer to the classic definition of boob as “a stupid or foolish person; a dolt.” Too many MRA’s, alas, fit this definition to a T.
Oh, and the Z on the end of “boobz?” Someone else already took the “manboobs” URL. So I improvised. I’m crafty.