I wanted to talk today a little bit more about why society in general seems so reluctant to tolerate men standing up for themselves, their rights and their interests, and how our collective views of gender inform our responses to such things.
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by Harry Crouch--president of the NCFM--to travel to Montana and speak at a symposium and recruitment meeting for the Montana State U's new NCFM chapter. I took a week off work, drove down, and prepared a presentation touching on the new rules for adjudicating sexual misconduct cases on campuses across the US--rules that take a sledgehammer to the once sacred democratic concepts of due process and burden of proof. The chapter head, Chris Thompson had been putting up posters and giving presentations at some of the frat houses, explaining why these young men should join the chapter and why they needed to start looking out for their rights. He'd had a lot of positive feedback from these frat members, though in public they tended to talk in hushed voices about it.
We set up our conference room at the local library, got the power-point ready, and....well....no one showed up but the reporter for the local NBC affiliate. She was a trooper, and decided to do a story posing the question of WHY no one showed up, and to her credit, it was an unbiased story and she seemed largely sympathetic to all the issues we discussed--things like job deaths, rates of suicide and homelessness, underrepresentation in post-secondary, as well as the obstacles involved in advocacy for these issues.
For one, out of about a hundred posters that went up around campus to advertise the event, all but two were ripped down within a day. Businesses that were requested to post them in their windows refused, citing a need to "remain neutral", even though campus feminist organizations use those same windows to advertise their events. The few men who'd talked to Chris in public kept their voices hushed and obviously did not want to be seen to be interested in a men's organization, or their own rights.
I was quoted in the news story that there was a "strong, strong social condemnation of men standing up for themselves. They're supposed to stand up for other people, but not for themselves." I think the public resistance inherent in businesses refusing to post ads for a men's symposium, posters being torn down, and the feverish glee evinced in places like shitredditsays and manboobz over the MSU event only proves that that social condemnation exists in spades. Especially since both the srs crowd and manboobz have repeatedly stated the MRM is an impotent movement with no relevant issues comprised of losers who live in basements and can't get girlfriends--I mean, one would think that if the MRM had no relevant issues and consisted of ineffectual people, no one would waste their breath criticizing the MRM or socially sabotaging its events.
For whatever reason, I've become something of a target of criticism and hostility from these people. SRS has multiple dossier-style posts filled with quotes they've mined from my online conversations, going back months, and even went so far as to mine quotes from other websites to post on a subreddit devoted to "unacceptable" things said ON REDDIT. That's a lot of time and energy to devote to discredit people you believe have no issues to speak of, and who could never generate any kind of public support. And I constantly come across people who attribute things to me that I've never said, and when asked, it's revealed that they heard it from someone else.
So given all of this, the resistance of regular people to support men's rights causes even in uncontroversial ways, and the intensity of the feminist-spearheaded campaign to discredit, misrepresent and silence a group they profess to be impotent and irrelevant in the first place...all of this has really got me thinking about how it is that feminism managed to gain the steam it did despite it being "ostensibly" against all established social norms, and become the beneficiaries of so much public tolerance despite the hate speech that was common to academic and literary icons of the second wave like Mary Daly and Andrea Dworkin, and writings like the SCUM manifesto.
Especially since men advocating to end circumcision can come up against some extreme hostility and accusations of being insensitive and even anti-woman if they don't preface every commentary with 1000 words describing how female genital mutilation is a much more harmful practice (even though it often isn't). One cannot advocate for accuracy in informing the public as to the true nature of intimate partner violence, how half its victims are men, and how the system leaves both them and their children twisting in the wind, without being called a misogynist. David Futrelle, manboobz himself, has characterized the MRM's efforts in this area as an agenda to dismantle existing protections for women--in his mind, we don't want to direct state funds toward battered men's shelters or provide equal access to existing ones, we want to tear down battered women's shelters.
How is it that advocating to end circumcision or to provide domestic violence services to male victims can be seen as anti-woman? Well, I'm coming to the conclusion that anyone who fights FOR is also perceived--whether it's accurate or not--to be fighting AGAINST.
And when there's a gender binary with men on one side and women on the other, fighting for women as a group is going to be perceived as fighting against men--and vice versa.
This didn't pose much of an obstacle for feminists. They had a lot of gendered perceptions working in their favor, all of which made their attacks on men and masculinity--which have frequently been much more vicious and overt than anything from the icons of the MRM--palatable to society's collective consciousness. Keep in mind these perceptions have existed pretty much forever--they existed long before feminism did.
*Female violence and hostility are nonexistent, essentially harmless, or excusable.
*Men are powerful, threatening, and potentially dangerous.
*Women are the appropriate beneficiaries of society's protection, help and support.
*Men are the appropriate objects for absorption of violence and harm.
*Women are objects that are acted upon.
*Men are agents who act upon others and the environment.
Those collective perceptions of men and women only facilitated every one of feminism's efforts, from their demands for suffrage, equal rights and protection under the law, to the extraordinary measures they've demanded to protect women from harm. All of those demands dovetailed beautifully with our perception that giving women what they need is beneficial and appropriate. They've also facilitated feminism's ability to demonize masculinity and are responsible for society's ability to tolerate the levels of hate and violent fantasy found in, say, the SCUM manifesto, since we perceive the hostility of women and their proxies to be harmless and excusable, and the group such writings target are, in our perceptions, not only powerful and potentially dangerous, but the appropriate objects for the absorption of violence and hostility.
These perceptions also allowed feminism to essentially rewrite history, to craft palatable and believable lies about the nature of society in the past. For example, their claim that domestic violence against women was traditionally socially acceptable. This claim ignores easily accessible facts such as historical laws AGAINST wife battering, which provided for punishments from chain gangs to public flogging, incidences of vigilante justice against battering husbands that included lynching, and newspaper reports of convictions and sentences going back to at least the early 1800s. At the same time, utter falsehoods appear not only on blogs and in media opinion pieces, but in Feminist textbooks written by scholars, such as Domestic Violence Law, 2nd edition--which, according to Berkeley law school is the premiere textbook on the subject. This book brazenly states that the rule of thumb (described as a law limiting a man's right to beat his wife to sticks no wider than his thumb) was attributed to an emperor of rome who never existed (Romulus, son of the god Mars), and was perpetuated in English Common law and throughout Europe, even though no such laws have ever been found to exist.
These are easy lies to believe. Men are powerful and potentially dangerous agents who act upon others, while women are seen as objects at the mercy of outside forces who require protection. They are easy lies to tell even by those who know they are false, because there is no socially or instinctively ingrained taboo against attacking men--in fact, the absorption of violence and hostility is a man's natural place in the scheme of things.
These perceptions are what lead people to justify a woman beating a man in public by assuming he must have done something to deserve it: men are dangerous, women are harmless, men are appropriate targets of violence, and men act while women are acted upon. In order to maintain the agent/object dichotomy and all our other perceptions of men and women, we will actually manufacture justifications for such a woman, to turn her action into a reaction to some hypothetical action on his part--"I bet he was cheating on her."--to force the situation comply with our internal gendered narrative.
So when feminism fights FOR women, even when it's representatives are actively and hostilely attacking men in order to do it, most people see those attacks as harmless and reactive rather than active, attacks aimed at a group whose natural role is to accept and absorb hostility. And the moment feminists constructed out of whole cloth their elaborate justification--namely Patriarchy Theory--everything they told us complied with what our instincts tell us, and all was right with the world.
It is that desperate desire that exists in most of us to recharacterize all female action--especially hostility and violence--as reactive, that left society wide open to the snake oil of patriarchy theory and feminist ideas of male privilege and the gendered oppression of women. Here were feminists, angry and hostile and hating on men, and the rest of us did what people do when they see a woman beating on a man--we think to ourselves, "well, he must have done something to deserve it. I bet it was horrible, too." And there was Patriarchy Theory to explain it all.
So many people have swallowed patriarchy theory because if men hadn't always been oppressive assholes, then feminists wouldn't have a reason to be so angry at men in the first place, and the first thing we all look for when women act is what, exactly, they are reacting to. If men hadn't been holding women down all this time, then feminists wouldn't even see a need to rectify the damage to women, so therefore it must be so.
Patriarchy Theory was simply the tasty, tasty rationalization most of society gobbled up to explain the overt hostility of second wave feminists toward males, and feminism's ever-increasing advancement of women's interests at the expense of everyone else. If those ladies are hating on men and pushing to spend ever more public dollars to protect and support women, productive or dysfunctional, well, they OBVIOUSLY have a damn good reason, right? They're obviously reacting to some injustice, and the most obvious place to look for that injustice is in the public sphere actors who occupy the other side of the gender binary.
Just like that man whose getting a beat-down from his girlfriend down the sidewalk, men as a group MUST have done something horrible to deserve all this.
And now let's flip the record and take a look at how our perceptions of men and women inform society's reaction to the MRM.
If men are fighting FOR men as a group, who are they fighting against? The most obvious answer is women, of course, the people on the other side of the gender binary, and this is first place our knee-jerks lead us. Even if MRAs confine their condemnation to feminism, feminism is "women by proxy", and the perceived stench of misogyny remains.
And women are not the appropriate objects for absorption of violence and hostility in our collective perceptions--they are, in fact, the appropriately protected class. To the majority of society, men fighting for themselves feels on a visceral level dangerously close to a man kicking the shit out of a woman--and because she is an object rather than an agent, she can't possibly have done anything to deserve it.
Because men are seen as agents who act upon the world, society is more interested in focusing on suppressing their acting out, rather than exploring any causes for it. Because we perceive men as appropriately placing the wellbeing of others before their own, they appear churlish and immature when they prioritize their own interests. Because they are perceived as strong, they are assumed to not be subject to any hardship they should not be able to just weather or overcome as men.
And Patriarchy Theory, which posits that men created society in such a way as to oppress women for the benefit of men, means you can blame all of men's problems on...well, on men. When women are oppressed, it is men's fault. When men are oppressed, it's their own fault. Men are in all the positions of power, so if there were any REAL problems for men, those guys would be on it. After all, these guys constructed patriarchy JUST to benefit men at the expense of women, right?
Except there is NO evidence to back this up. There is no evidence to back up the claim that when men are in power they will oppress women for the benefit of all men, or that they even act in men's interests at all. In fact, there is evidence that demonstrates the opposite is true:
A 2004 study of gender differences in automatic in-group bias found that men lack a mechanism that bolsters automatic own-group preference. Only women showed this bias in all four experiments, and in 3 of them, all subjects, male and female, showed a strong bias toward women.
Which is a horrifying thing, to me. Because it shows women in power will act strongly in the interests of women, while men in power exhibit no own-group preference, but will act more often than not in the interests of women instead.
Society has been well and truly conned by feminism's pathological lying, we've been duped by our own instinctive perceptions of men and women, and our own internal biases that serve women's interests over those of men--and we've managed to vilify, shortchange, disadvantage and marginalize half our population in doing so. In the UK alone, shifts in social and education policy along with the rise of single motherhood have rendered 20% of men under 25 officially unemployable, and no one seems to want to do anything but wonder what the hell is wrong with boys that they're dropping out of school.
If and when we ever snap out of this cognitive coma to see the damage we've done in our slavery to appease the ravenous female at the expense of men, families and social cohesion, we'd better hope men aren't so marginalized, damaged, uneducated, impoverished unemployable and apathetic to pick up the shovels and start helping us dig ourselves out.