There is good news, and bad news, and completely predictable news in the fight against prison rape. The good news: the Justice Department last week announced a major new initiative designed to fight against prison rape. The bad news: it’s being opposed by right-wing ideologues. As Think Progress explains:
This week, the Department of Justice published new standards addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual abuse in our nation’s prisons. The guidelines, which apply immediately to federal prisons and give financial incentives for states to comply, are a laudable, widely praised, and long overdue step in combating rape in the United States.
The American Action Forum, a Wall Street-funded group whose C(4) runs millions of dollars in attack ads against Democrats, responded by lambasting the move as too “costly” and “complicated.” …
The Weekly Standard echoed AAF’s response, bemoaning the cost of preventing people from being raped in prison. The total expected cost is less than 1 percent of the overall cost of our prison system and ultimately “end up saving money — for example, by avoiding the medical costs of injuries suffered by rape victims,” according to the New York Times.
The completely predictable news? Men’s Rights Activists are completely oblivious to all this.
If the Men’s Rights movement were truly concerned with helping men, rather than playing “oppression Olympics” and complaining about feminists and women in general, they would be all over this issue. But I have seen nothing about this on any site in the manosphere, aside from one post on the Men’s Rights subreddit that drew all of six (mostly ignorant) comments. (Looking through one large thread on the subject of prison rape that was recently on r/mensrights’ front page, I found zero references to the Justice Department’s new initiative.)
What accounts for this obliviousness? It could be because MRAs tend to regard the Obama administration as a tool of our (imaginary) feminazi overlordsladies. Or because they would have to acknowledge that women are also raped in prison. But I think the real reason is that MRAs are so disconnected from real activists working in the real world to combat prison rape that they are completely unaware of any of this.
So the other day I was perusing the front page of the angry dude blog – sorry, “human rights organization” – A Voice for Men, looking for something inspiring to read. My eyes hit on a promo for a recent AVFM radio show. It was on the topic of feminism, and, apparently, women in general:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. And by the fact that they’re not slimy, dirt-eating worms, like all those damn white kids.
This is, of course, from King’s famous “I had a dream – a really weird dream, where all the white people were worms” speech.
Oh, perhaps JohnTheOther and GirlWritesWhat have some highly clever explanation for that whole “flatworm” thing, but in order to find out I would have to listen to their “radio” show. But life is short, it is a lovely, if a bit chilly, Saturday in April, and I would rather have ferrets chew the flesh off my bones while I am still alive than listen to an hour or more of those two, so I guess I will never know.
But no matter, because there was another post on A Voice for Men that caught my eye:
Yes, I said to myself, I will have to find out what Cooter Bee thinks about the differences between intellect and emotionalism. In the course of my day to day life, I often find myself pondering the deeper philosophical questions of human existence, and when I do, I always wonder: What does Cooter Bee think of that? It is rare that I actually get to learn what Cooter Bee thinks on a particular matter of philosophical import. So naturally I clicked on the link.
Here’s what I learned from the esteemed Professor Cooter Bee:
Endless citation, refutation of fallacy and Socratic pursuit of truth are the tools of reason. Men tend to understand them. Women, generally speaking, don’t because indignation, outrage and gut level distaste are rooted in emotionalism. Women do understand base emotionalism and do respond to it in a more predictable way than they could ever respond to reason. They are also more likely to respond appropriately because the message is more clearly understood. Emotionalism is their language.
So, really, there’s no point in actually arguing anything with those flighty ladies.
No need to waste words or knock yourself out reasoning with feminists or even your wife, for that matter, when a short and visceral pronouncement from on high will do and is more effective.
For example, you can just call them sluts:
Sluts are against slut shaming because sluttiness is, indeed, shameful. Say so. Your position would be unassailable because they too believe it. They invoke moral relativism and slut pride marches as a means to escape the inescapable.
Actually, it’s better if you call the ladies sluts over and over and over again:
Slut Walks, “Sex in the City” and the self esteem cult are all attempts to reassure women that even when they behave abominably that the bad behavior has the sanction of the collective and they face no risk of expulsion if they engage in it. To modify the behavior of women, reimpose that risk. The good news is that it can be done in relatively short order. … A stark and unvarnished remonstration from someone in closer proximity will undo the propaganda swiftly. Declarations of “that is disgusting” accumulate. Hearing it once may not overcome Cosmo and she can dismiss it as an isolated raving of a lunatic. If she were to hear it more often, however, she begins to doubt herself and wonder about her status within her more immediate collective.
You can also modify chick behavior by praising them when they act the way you like them to. It’s really quite simple:
Chick language provides us with a construct that we can use. To women something is “nice” or it is “mean”. They use that simple, emotionally based dichotomy because that is what chicks understand. They use it with us and they use it with each other. That is how they evaluate the world. Use it. …
Most women want to be good so tell them what good is in a way they can grasp easily.
What if they disagree with your assessment of what is good? Doesn’t matter, because you are a man, and therefore right:
Who is to decide what is good and what is evil? Simple. You are. Some men might think it arrogant to anoint themselves as the final arbiter of all moral issues. Not true. As a man, nature equipped you to make decisions based on merit alone without respect to consensus. … You know right and wrong when you see it.
Are there any good women out there? Yes, Cooter Bee tells us. Indeed, there are several women who contribute to AVFM, so there’s them. Beyond that, Dr. Bee, tells us,
I am of the belief that most women are good, if somewhat misled. They only resist righteousness because they think that any behavior that the collective endorses IS righteous. The rare woman who is capable of moral judgment will select good herself and would not be on the receiving end of harsh moral criticism.
Then again, you still might have to yell at the good women from time to time. Really, it’s your duty – it’s for her own good.
Good women are human too. Even in the seldom occurring event of a temporary moral lapse by a decent woman, your diatribe will be no more severe than the one she administers to herself. Would you do less in the case of a man whose judgment falters?
Thank you, Cooter Bee, for your insights!
I had no idea that going around telling women that they’re sluts was a form of human rights advocacy, but apparently it is. The next time I see a woman standing on the streetcorner trying to get me to sign a petition for Amnesty International, I will simply tell her what a dirty whore she is. I will accomplish more with these words than she will in a day of collecting signatures and donations!
NOTE: Since you bring it up all the time, fellas, you might try to remember that the name of the show is Sex AND the City. Also, it ceased production eight years ago.
Sometimes I ask myself: what is it that I really hope to accomplish with this website, aside from entertaining myself and my readers, and exposing misogynist assholes for who they are. There’s a part of me that still hopes that someday, something I write will cause some misogynist and/or Men’s Rightser out there to develop a modicum of self-awareness, look at what they’ve been saying or doing, and say to themselves, “I’m really kind of a tool, aren’t I? Maybe I should stop.”
When the Southern Poverty Law Center report on the Men’s Rights movement came out, I hoped it might have a similar sort of effect. Or that, even if it didn’t persuade any MRAs out there that they were wrong, it might at least convince a few that they were going about things the wrong way. Nope. On the Men’s Rights subreddit, at least, it seems to have sent many of the regulars into an indignant tizzy, and they have doubled down on their peculiar brand of politics-by-whining-online.
Then there’s this post, currently the top post on the subreddit:
Wow, if the Men’s Rights subreddit had anything to do with that, that would indeed be a victory. As one regular put it:
Thing is, I read r/mensrights pretty regularly, and I don’t remember any campaign there to protect the rights of fishermen in New Zealand.
Turns out that’s because the campaign, such as it was, consisted of one post some months back, which got all of 11 upvotes at the time. The current post in which r/mensrights congratulates itself for its “victory” has gotten, last I checked, 120 upvotes, more than ten times that. Simplecosine’s self-congratulatory comment in the new thread has gotten 36 upvotes. The comment in the original thread asking r/mensrightsers to send an email to the US Secretary of State’s office got … one upvote. In other words, only a handful of Men’s Rights Redditors even noticed the original post, much less sent along an email.
The Men’s Rights subreddit: Taking Credit for Shit They Didn’t Do Since 2008.
And then there’s this post:
I’ve got nothing to say about this one — it’s basically self-refuting — except that I’m sort of bemused by the notion that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a “semi-women group.” Uh, what is that exactly? A group with some women in it? A group that doesn’t think women are all a bunch of evil bitches? The horror!
Oh, Men’s Rights movement. You’ll never change, will you?
EDITED TO ADD: And speaking of never changing, here’s how one Men’s Rights redditor responded to my comments there suggesting that maybe, just maybe, MRAs should actually denounce and distance themselves from someone calling for terrorism:
Let me just highlight that bit at the end again:
[T]he cost to the establishment to maintain the status quo in regards to divorce, custody, etc. must be made so high that it’s just no longer feasible. If that means instilling abject fear into the hearts of judges, cops and legislators by making them think their careers and/or lives could be forfeit unless they change their attitudes towards men, then so be it.
Trying to instill fear for one’s life in your opponents: that is the very definition of terrorism.
Sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves that despite all the noise they make online, the Men’s Rights movement has basically no presence in the real world. The picture above is an actual photo of a men’s rights symposium at Montana State University. Here’s how the local NBC affiliate described what went down – or, more accurately, what didn’t go down:
The MSU chapter of the National Coalition for Men organized a symposium to raise awareness of problems in men’s lives.
The group geared the event towards fraternity students at the college and invited speakers to talk about things like men’s rights when it comes to sexual misconduct investigations on-campus.
No one showed up to the event but organizers say the lack of attendance is not due to a lack of interest.
North quotes me and Hugo Schwyzer on the topic. Here’s the extended remix of my remarks:
Unfortunately, in most cases, I don’t think it’s possible to talk someone out of a Men’s Rights obsession. For most of them, it seems to be driven not by facts — they’re happy to simply make up facts to fit their worldview — but by feelings, most obviously by rage at women. If they were driven by actual interest in issues, they probably would have accomplished something by now; in reality, only the overlapping but more politically focused Father’s Rights movement has actually had much of an effect on the real world, for better or worse. For most MRAs, the closest they come to activism is leaving angry comments everywhere online — or harassing individual women online in a manner similar to the ways abusers stalk the objects of their obsessions.
The one argument I think you can make to MRAs who are not too far gone is this: it’s not healthy for you to spend so much time stewing in your anger online. Instead of trying to help men work through their personal issues with women, the MRM encourages men to cultivate their rages and hatreds, to remain stuck. That’s not healthy for them, or for society at large.
North’s post was inspired by a recent Dear Prudence question on Slate from a girl whose dad had recently gone all MRA on her. (It’s here, scroll down a bit to the question that starts “Dad-Related Dilemma.:)
The guys at The Spearhead also had a whack at the Dear Prudence question here. Needless to say their perspective is a little different than mine or Hugo’s.
As far as I can tell from the badly Google-translated version of her blog, the Brazilian versions of Man Boobz (Homens Idiotas?) are pretty much identical to our Man Boobz, right on down to their obsessions with alphas and betas and all that crap.
As “activists,” Men’s Rights Activists seem to be good at only two things: harassing people, and flooding comment sections of websites with their endlessly repeated half-dozen talking points. On Reddit, for example, the local MRAs have been quite the little imperialists, invading a number of gender-related subreddits (like r/equality and r/egalitarian) and turning them essentially into r/mensrights-lite, which has effectively meant killing them. (The recently started r/masculism – an attempt to do Men’s Rights on Reddit without all the misogyny – doesn’t have a chance.)
Well, now the MRA invaders on Reddit seem to have set their sights on a much bigger target: the TwoXChromosomes subreddit. Yep, they’re trying to turn Reddit’s central hangout for the ladies into a boys club.
2XC– an explicitly female-oriented forum on a site (Reddit) heavily dominated by dudes — has always been a strange place. Though I am myself, obviously, a dude, I used to read it fairly regularly, finding it a welcome respite from all the “sammich” jokes and other idiot misogyny so pervasive elsewhere on Reddit. At the time, 2XC had a (completely unwarranted) reputation amongst the Reddit crowd as an evil place full of feminazi man-haters.
Then something started happening to 2XC. That thing was dudes. And not just any dudes – MRA dudes. Regulars on r/mensrights started linking to threads in 2XC and invading en masse, downvoting anything vaguely feminist and spewing forth their standard litanies of complaint. Some of these invaders decided to stay. And so, these sporadic raiding parties turned into a sort of occupation.
No, 2XC – despite the growing number of MRA residents, including a few female MRAs – has not turned into another r/mensrights. But at times, especially when the discussion turns to some MRA pet issue, the place looks a lot like dude central.
Case in point: this 2XC thread, expertly dissected by NauticalLittleNet in ShitRedditSays. The story: a woman posts a picture of her Halloween costume on Reddit and is bugged by a rude, creepy comment referring to her breasts (something that happens approximately ten zillion times a day on Reddit). So she posts the pic again to 2XC, hoping for sympathy. Instead, she’s treated to a barrage of comments mocking her for her alleged “persecution complex.” As NauticalLittleNet shows, the overwhelming majority of the obnoxious comments (all of which garnered numerous upvotes) were from dudes, many of them MRAs.
Naturally, this sort of thing – which happens pretty regularly on 2XC – has totally changed the dynamic of the subreddit from something that was sort of a haven for Reddit women to just another subreddit overflowing with obnoxious dudery.
As a Redditor called emmster noted recently in r/feminist, some women in 2XC have basically stopped posting anything vaguely feminist for fear of being jumped on by argumentative dudes:
I’ll be getting downvoted to Hell in the comments, but get PMs that are supportive from women who feel too afraid of the judgment and vitriol to jump in. I don’t love knowing there are women afraid to voice their opinions in a space that’s for women.
Honestly, I think the sustained r/MensRights invasion is what’s taking the largest toll. It’s like they can’t stand the idea that women have a space that’s active and popular, and they have to come ruin it.
And it doesn’t help that, as Donna_Juanita noted in the same discussion, some of the 2XC mods have essentially bent over backwards to accommodate the MRA invaders and to clamp down on feminists allegedly causing “drama.”
Since young men are a majority on the site as a whole, and a pretty hefty number of them haven’t had the “There Are Places I Am Not Necessarily Welcome to Pontificate on My Opinion” realization, the space becomes less of a place for women, and more of a place to talk about women. Which is a pretty big distinction. And a tricky thing to keep from happening without raising the ire of the entitled, ignorant young dude contingent.
As a reddit friend of mine put it, it all started with the “Hey Ladies, What Do You Think of My Dick?” posts. When a bunch of guys started posting questions, trying to “understand women,” which of course is a flawed goal, because women, being people, have a variety of opinions and preferences, and cannot actually be understood as a group. Some of them were actually questioning preferences on penis size, hence the name of the phenomenon.
My hypothesis is that eventually, it will be nothing but men talking to men about what they think about women.
Not that there is a shortage of such spaces on Reddit, or in the world in general.
By the way, that picture above is not actually a picture of 2XC regulars. It’s a picture of the Huutajat Men’s Shouting Choir. Which is a real thing in the world. Here they are in action:
Apparently, feminist ladies have an insatiable need to marry and make babies with men who hate them. All you need to do to thwart this evil plan is to not have sex with them. But wait a minute, you say, don’t ladies make the babies themselves, in their bellies? Well, yes they do. But unfortunately for them they also need a little something from you as well. No, not your money – that comes later. You know that white stuff that comes out of your penis when you masturbate? Ladies actually need that in order to make babies. And you control the supply! Cut them off! Embargo that shit.
Also, if you ever find yourself in a chapel with one of these ladies, and some religious looking dude starts asking you all sorts of questions, do not – I repeat, do not – answer any of them with the phrase “I do.” That’s how they get you.
The great thing about denying ladies your babies is that it also helps you to strike back at your parents – by denying them grandchildren! Ha HA! As PMAFT helpfully explains:
Our parents’ generation had one foot in the old system and one foot in the feminist system. This meant that many of them have completely avoided the consequences of supporting feminism. I see this with my own parents who don’t particularly think of themselves as “feminists” but have effectively supported feminism all the same. They have experienced absolutely no consequences from their support of feminism. This goes for both my mom and my dad. …
Most of our parents want grandchildren so denying them grandchildren really forces the cost of misandry back on to them. This is particularly effective when done by only children or by men who have only brothers. Even for men who have sisters, this can still be effective if it prevents the “family name” from being passed on.
Courtesy of SomeGreyBloke, here’s a cartoon depicting one man’s — well, more specifically, one grey bloke’s — moment of Man-lightenment! And ladies, if you find yourself irresistibly drawn to this grey man with the yellow teeth, you’ll be pleased to know that he’s single!
Great post by Ozymandias on her blog on the subject of “Who cares about men’s rights?” (Answer, Ozymandias, for one.) She offers a devastating critique of the Men’s Rights Movement and a critique of feminism I think I half-agree with as well. (She critiques feminists for not caring enough about men’s issues and responding to them with “but what about the menz” mockery; I think she’s got a point, but the fact is that lots of feminists do in fact work on behalf of men and men’s issues, from feminists involved in fighting for men and women falsely accused of sex crimes to feminist shelter workers who work on a regular basis to help male victims of abuse.)
As I’ve pointed out before, the vast majority of Men’s Rights Activists aren’t really activists at all, if by “activists” you mean people who occasionally get off their asses and try to engage in political activity in the real world. As I put in in my piece for the Good Men Project on misogyny in the Men’s Rights movement,
Men’s rights activists aren’t much like any other activists I’ve ever run across. For one thing, for supposed activists they are almost completely inactive. Sure, they complain endlessly about things they see as terrible injustices against men. They just don’t do anything about them. While some of those who consider themselves fathers’ rights activists—a slightly different breed from your garden-variety MRAs—try to influence laws and legislatures, MRAs do little more than cultivate their resentments.
MRAs seem to be good at one thing, and one thing only: posting angry comments on websites, whether their own or on those of their many enemies – whether that’s on blogs like this one or in the comments section on various mainstream media sites they consider “misandrist.” (Actually: that’s not entirely fair – on a few occasions, MRAs have been moved to make threatening phone calls as well.) They don’t raise money for anything but their own web sites and their pet projects. They don’t organize demonstrations that involve more than a tiny handful of people. Like, for example, this one, involving one dude dressed like Batman who climbed up onto a highway sign:
Or this one, which involved a dude dressed up as Batman and a dude dressed up as Robin, climbing up on a bridge.
If your protests typically involve fewer people than, say, the line of people waiting to use the Redbox video rental kiosk outside your local supermarket on a Friday night, I think it’s safe to say that yours is not a mass movement, at least not yet.
Am I being unfair in demanding MRAs actually, literally,get off their asses before I consider them to be activists? Perhaps.
But, as it turns out, MRAs aren’t much good at sitting-on-your-ass activism either. Case in point: For quite some time – weeks? months? — MRA elder Paul Elam has been urging readers of his blog A Voice For Men to sign a petition to disbar a District Attorney he and other MRAs have decided is corrupt. But despite his repeated pleas to his readers to sign the thing, it has not yet garnered the required 1000 signatures, even though at least a few of his readers have talked about signing it more than once. [Edited to add: it has now gotten more than 1000 signaturesd.]
Today, this particular example of internet inactivism prompted Elam to lash out at his non-signing readers. Declaring himself “tired and frustrated” and “sick of this shit,” he once again begged his readers to sign. Then he went a step further, suggesting that he might limit commenting on his site to “activists that are contributing to this site in one way or another” as a way of encouraging activism and discouraging those who are “sucking up air and doing little else.”
I don’t think further exhortation on his part – or limiting the comments there to “real” activists only – is likely to make much difference. [Edited to add: Nagging a few more people to spend two minutes signing an online petition is one thing. Actually transforming them into real activists is another.] Elam is running up against the inherent paradox of Men’s Rights “activism” – the fact that most of those complaining the most about alleged injustices against men are not in fact interested in changing anything. Their “activism,” as it were, is little more than an excuse to wallow in their own bitterness, and to blame others for their own problems.
If MRAs really cared about domestic violence against men – as opposed to using the issue as a rhetorical weapon against feminists – they would be raising money and devoting their time to actually building shelters, like the (mostly) women who built the first shelters decades ago, and the (mostly) women who keep these shelters going today. If MRAs were really interested in stopping prison rape, instead of simply complaining about it, they’d be donating money to or working with the advocacy group Just Detention or other groups concerned about the treatment of prisoners. If they were really interested in helping those falsely accused of rape or other crimes, they’d be working with The Innocence Project or some other group fighting for the falsely accused or convicted. Or they would be starting real organizations of their own.
But that’s not, at heart, what the MRM is about. For all but a tiny handful of real activists, it’s not about changing the world. It’s about creating a space where men can kvetch and blame and cultivate their own sense of martyrdom. Actually trying to change the real world would involve , well, going out into the real world, a place where their assertions about the alleged oppression of men are seen as the nonsense they are, a place where their bitterness and hatred of women is seen as bitterness and hatred rather than the righteous anger they like to imagine that it is.
When MRAs do venture out of their self-created bubble they tend to either make fools of themselves – like Batman on the highway sign in the video above – or to reveal themselves to be the angry fanatics they are. Elam, for his part, sometimes even has trouble making his case in the relatively sympathetic environment of the Men’s Rights subreddit on Reddit, and is quickly reduced to sputtering rage when anyone disagrees with him. In the end, sputtering rage seems to be what the MRM is really all about.