What I learned as a Feminist and an MRA (Part 4)


What I learned as a Feminist and an MRA (Part 4)

Some of my thoughts on the movements

Feminism

First, here is what I would call a "Real Feminist":

I can tell you that both the worse and the best women I've known or dated identified as feminists.

On the one hand, I dated the kind of feminist who would say "I'm perfectly justified in assuming the worst in you. You ARE a member of the oppresive gender after all" Yet at the same time, claim the doesn't "deserve the hatred of not being trusted." I remember she once said something like "When a man is raped it is misogyny. When a man is a victim of rape, he is playing the role of a woman. Therefore, it is a woman who is being raped, and therefore why we must protect women from men."

On the other hand, the majority of women I knew or dated who called themselves feminists were actually pretty great to be around. They weren't impressed by any show of machismo and valued cooperative traits over status traits. There was no expectation on who would pay for dates, and sexuality was generally talked about with a more open, less "taboo", tone.

My experience within the movement was mixed. While the intents felt authentic, there were a lot of buzzwords and shock statistics, many of which were taken out of context. It seemed, essentially, that no idea was worth sharing if it couldn't be reconciled with male privilege and misogyny.

There was certainly a love for the theatrical as well. A man checking you out is "raping you with his eyes". I heard ideas like declaring it illegal to start a conversation with a woman in public, and there's probably around 6 words per day that "must be banned".

One of the big ways they shoot themselves in the foot is to claim their extremists, like Valerie Solanas, who wrote a manifesto about exterminating men, and is still hailed as an "admirable feminist". They then say "don't judge us by our extremists." A woman was also hailed for punching a man in the face for making a joke in bad taste.

There's also a tendency to hoarde issues the moment women are victims at all. For instance, let's go back to statistics out of context. I remember learning that women make up the majority of the "Sheltered Homeless", and therefore "homelessness is about the hatred of women". When men are the majority of sheltered or unsheltered homeless, this makes the issue at best a social issue, and at worst a men's issue. I've heard similar stories about deaths in the workplace, deaths in combat ("200 soldiers killed, including 5 women!"), and incarceration, as mentioned in part 3.

Also notice, "feminism" is synonymous with "equality" when you are talking about women's issues, but once you bring up reasons men behave this way, or bring up men's issues, "feminism is about the advancement of women. Why don't you start your own movement." Catch-22.

One of the biggest reasons for male backlash agaisnt feminism is that it consistently forces men into a defensive state rather than an empathetic one.

Despite my criticisms, however, the benefit of feminism really is quite widespread. The Suffragists, for instance, really brought the gender discussion to the forefront. And many of men's issues regarding women had to do with women's dependence on men. We needed a movement to really start breaking through gender roles. If you look at some of the women's ads around that time, it gives you an idea of why it was women who broke out first.

Men's Rights Movement(s)

Here is what I would call a "Real MRA":


I was surprised to find the number of women in MRM groups and sites. Women like Karen Straughan, who is concerned for how her son will grow up.

Erin Pizzey, who founded the first women's shelters in the UK, tried to start men's shelters and wound up attacked by feminists for "helping the enemy" or "suggesting that women can be violent", including death threats, bricks thrown in windows, and picketing. Ironic, no? I call this "Punching someone for saying you are violent."

You could also argue that Christina Hoff Sommers could be included in this list, as this is often the stance she takes, though she calls her self the "Factual Feminist", "Freedom Feminist", or "Equity Feminist".

The best parts of the movement fight for many issues that feminism generally seems to view as a non-issue. Including the issues mentioned in Glen Poole's video, as well as the following:

-Biased Family Courts where women are given a disproportionate amount of custody over children, while fathers are often taken from their homes, from their children, and are then forced to pay half their paychecks in alimony for kids they'll rarely see. And are further labeled a "father who was never there".

-Reproductive rights. A feminist would argue "it's her body" while an MRA would argue "it's their child". A woman can apparently abort a child without the father knowing, or have a child without the father knowing, where he must pay alimony.

-Presumptions of male violence

-Domestic violence To summarize the issue...

If a man and a woman were to hit each other:

"The man hit the woman because he is a violent jerk."

"The woman hit the man because he was probably a jerk and deserved it."

-Homelessness

-The Draft

-Male Expendability. As someone told me, "If we hated women so much, would we not draft THEM into war?" It could, however, be argued that we don't trust women to win our wars. This also crops up in movies. Thousands of men can die without much reaction, yet the moment you slap a woman in the face, it becomes controversial.

-Affirmative action. For instance, a woman has to meet lower standards in firefighting, police, or army physical qualifications. "A burning building doesn't get lighter just because you're a woman."

Also, imagine men back in the day. Coal mining was a common job. So was factory work. Imagine the man working 12+ hours per day in a coal mine while he had a stay-at-home wife. Rarely gets to see the kids. Reduced hours would be neglecting the family and their bills. Now imagine telling this guy he is privileged that he gets to have fun in the coal mine, while his wife has the "hardest job in the world" as a stay-at-home mother.

I would argue feminism helped with this, by allowing the load to be distributed to both parents. But this can be done without calling it "privilege"

Imagine a man sent off to Vietnam via the draft. Imagine he goes there with some buddies. Has to kill people who never actually wronged him. Gets a leg blown off. Watches a buddy get blown up. Comes with PTSD, hated as a murderer, and denied benefits. Meanwhile, those who were exempt from this hell have the gall to tell him he is privileged for being male; The very qualification that sent him to 'Nam in the first place.

That's why I don't use the word "privilege" and why men whince when they hear it.

Now, I don't have to tell you that the MRM is not very fond of feminism. As I discussed before, men's issues are largely caused by the view that men are responsible for almost everything in their lives, and that their mistakes are "evil" rather than "misguided". So when feminists say "we are going to break down gender barriers", then follow it up with "but it was men who caused these problems in the first place", it essentially compounds the gender stereotype of men. They are villains who are responsible for most of the evils in the world, including evils and stereotypes towards men.

This, to me, is a legitimate criticism of feminism, and one of the reasons I don't entirely identify as "A" feminist.

Of course, it probably wouldn't take you much YouTube searching to find out why I don't identify as an MRA, either.

Some of the movement's bad publicity is unwarranted. For instance, Elliot Rodger was not an MRA or was considered a radical with views that do not reflect the MRM, yet was publicized as "a normal part of the men's movement". And I was bummed when Amy Poehler said "Men's Rights are nothing!" in a later episode of Parks and Recreation, following a bad representation of the movement (which was supposed to be satirical, like the depiction of feminists in the same episode.)

However, it started getting hard to filter the reasonable from the insane, and there's a constant tone of bitterness. If men are to overcome gender stereotypes, the MRM seems to metaphorically "punch someone for saying they're violent." That is, disprove the point they are trying to prove.

Conclusion

If you are doing things right, you'll probably agree with both the moderates and piss off both the extremists.

Personally, I believe that feminism and the MRM, in their more moderate forms, agree much more than they disagree, but are too focused on antagonizing the other movement to realize this. We are already starting to see issues from the MRM spring up in feminist discussions, like domestic violence against men, promoting fatherhood, and the cycle of male violence.

I call myself "pro-feminist" instead of "A" feminist because identifying as a member creates qualifications, assumptions, and associations I would rather not have.

0 1

Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions

What's Your Opinion? Sign Up Now!

What Girls & Guys Said

1 2
  • Very interesting takes. More extreme version of what a lot of us I think experienced growing up - the story that men were violent, lack of gender specific expectations of women and mixed messages about whether we were supposed to follow male stereotypes or run from them, etc.

    "If you are doing things right, you'll probably agree with both the moderates and piss off both the extremists."

    Chuckled at that; a lot of truth in it though.

    Not sure if it's better to discuss here or in part 3, but when i first read about presumed agency, it REALLY struck a chord. I would agree that in some ways, nothing has changed apart from allowable behaviors by women - there's still a massive presumption that 'men' should create some sort of world for 'women'. And women will always get the negative of those attitudes as long as they're getting the benefits too. If people really want to smash that system up, they need to break the whole hypo/hyperagency assumption set. And I see -very- little desire by anyone to do that.

    • I think the media does a good job of reinforcing the hypo/hyper agency assumptions. It makes for easy, straightforward stories. However, I think people are starting to enjoy having the assumptions questioned in film or TV. Maybe not the MTV crowd. Here are three of the shows that have I've seen hailed for being gender progressive: -Avatar: The Last Airbender and it's sequel series, Korra -Hunger Games -Game of Thrones For the first two, gender is of little consequence. People aren't assuming things because someone is a guy or a girl. GoT is a little trickier. It's a more all-around venomous show. It basically shows the stereotypes being very strong, and people overcoming them. Natalie Dormer, who was in Hunger Games and Thrones, said she preferred Hunger Games for this reason. She doesn't like playing the "femme fatale" character, where a woman uses sexuality against people, which is fairly rampant in Thrones. But these are all very successful shows, too.

    • Of course, then 50 shades jumped in and spat on all that...

    • Are you aware of any feminist criticism of the hypo/hyperagency model for interpreting things? I've only seen it on MRA type blogs, and wondered if anyone who disagreed took it seriously.

    • Show All
  • I didn't even know MRA existed until I came to this site and people started talking about Elliot Rodger and similar cases and said they all were members of the MRA.
    May I ask if most members of the MRA are a radical as radical feminists or what made you distance yourself from that movement too? You explained why you turned away from the feminist movement, but not why you turned away from the MRA movement.

    "Also notice, "feminism" is synonymous with "equality" when you are talking about women's issues, but once you bring up reasons men behave this way, or bring up men's issues, "feminism is about the advancement of women. Why don't you start your own movement." Catch-22."

    Yeah, I've also read something similar here. I'm guilty of letting it slide instead of pointing out the fallacy. It's also one of the reasons why I can't say I'm a feminist because I don't want to be associated with women who think like that.

    "One of the biggest reasons for male backlash agaisnt feminism is that it consistently forces men into a defensive state rather than an empathetic one."

    The sad thing is most people (not just men) are incapable of empathy. You can present your case as non-defensive as you want and people will take offence.
    If you say "don't call them sluts, because it's a word intended to hurt people's feelings", you get "you must be a slut yourself" back or "you only say that because you're benefitting from their sluttiness".
    Have people become so selfish and self absorbed that they are completely unwilling to the other side?

    • It seemed like the MRM was also guilty of most of the things that pushed me away from the label of feminist. It didn't seem necessary to go into too much detail because of how low the MRM already seems to be in people's minds. But in essence, they seemed to do the same thing where they would quickly jump to feminists being the problem. I wouldn't say I am anti-feminist or anti-MRA. The only thing that bothers me as much as campus sexual assault, for instance, is playing "guilty until proven innocent" on male accused for the sake of not intimidating the accuser. I make many pro-MRA comments on this site, which makes me "too MRA" for feminists. But I also make many pro-feminist comments as well, which makes me "too feminist" for MRAs. I think that instead of claiming labels, which comes as a complete package of views, people should simply stand by their perspectives of each issue individually. Claim no labels. Debate each issue as it stands.

    • Feminists claim that MRAs are violent women haters. In fact take a look at the news on campuses. You don't see any MRAs shutting down women's conventions, but as soon as there is a convention or meet up for men's issues where they have 10-30 people, The feminist club at the university shows up with 500 people, gets violent and shuts down the meetup or whatever saying they hate women.

  • The enemy of ALL radical movements is reason. Truth will win. It's as simple as that. What it takes is the courage to stand up against deceit. It also takes the courage to make the hard choices.

    If Feminism, or radical feminism, is irrational it needs to be defeated on that basis. It's opposition needs to be made understandable for the masses and it needs to demonize the vocal members that are dangerous so it loses its public advantage.

    I firmly believe that feminism and wars have killed the idea of the honorable man. But I think honor is quite likely genetic (to an extent) and it lies within our history just waiting to be found. One day I think real men will rise again from the ashes of this irrational conflict stronger than ever. They will be resilient to the barbs that this malignancy spews. But for now people must be patient. All things take time.