Wednesday 19 October 2016

The Feminist Logical Pardox Personified: The Gigi Engle Story

So feminist Gigi Engle is upset. She is upset because her commentary about the Men's Rights Movement and the movie "The Red Pill", which took a compassionate approach to men's issues and the MRM, has drawn heavy fire from MRAs.

Her commentary, in a Medium article prior to seeing the film, and in a podcast with her boyfriend Mike Fishbein after seeing it, was, in my opinion, worthy of criticism. I'm guessing she got bombarded with negative messages in that malignant internet tumour known as Twitter (which in my opinion is good for little more than bullying and dog-piling). In response, she has written another blog post on Medium, decrying all the criticism.

In this post, I will endeavour to address what she says in her blog post in a calm, measured and non-angry way in the hope that she will read it and perhaps reflect on the reasons WHY she has come under fire, and maybe consider that some of the criticisms are justified.

So here goes. The article is reproduced here in its entirety (though without the embedded hyperlinks--you can visit her post if you want to click on those). 

What It’s Really Like To Be A Feminist On The Internet
I spoke out against Men’s Rights and their followers descended.
I spoke out about the MRA on my podcast and the flocks of angry men that this group attracts descended upon me like a plague. 
First off, Gigi. It's MRM, not MRA. Or perhaps MRAs, not MRA. 
Men's rights movement = MRM. Men's rights activist/advocate = MRA. 
Secondly, I am quite disappointed that you only seem to notice the men who were angered by your podcast. It angered me. It angered me so much, I made a 3 hour, point by point, series of response videos addressing it. 
I mean, I didn't send you any mean Tweets or anything. But I was pretty mean (by which I mean, not very gentle). 
Have you actually looked at any lengthy, thoughtful, detailed criticisms of your podcast? Or have you only looked at Tweets? 
See, the thing about a lot of feminists (a lot of everyone these days, really) is that they only ever look at Tweets, or nasty drive-by comments. They ignore the more reasonable and rational discourse that occurs in blog posts and videos (or under those blog posts or videos). 
When you do that, your "this is what it's like to be a feminist on the internet" narrative becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. By avoiding the thoughtful discourse and focussing solely on angry people leaving angry comments, you can remain safe in your echo chamber. By doing this, you can dismiss all criticism as "angry men" with nothing valid to say. And because it's just "angry men" with nothing valid to say, you don't need to rethink your position. 

I saw the movie “The Red Pill” this weekend and I walked out a stronger feminist than when I walked in. I discussed my findings on my radio show.
Your "findings". Sounds very scientific. As I mentioned in my videos (which you almost certainly did not watch), there's an interesting human phenomenon called belief perseverance. One study called it, "When in doubt, shout." 
A quick and dirty summary of this phenomenon is that when you expose someone to information that makes them doubt some deeply held belief system, they will not only go to great lengths to protect that belief system, but they will become even more active in attempting to proselytize it. 
One classic example of this was a cult that believed the world would end on a preordained date. As the date approached, members sold off all their belongings, and on the date, they gathered in one place to pray. When the end of the world didn't arrive, they didn't abandon their belief system. They rationalized that it was through the strength of their faith and the force of their prayers that the world had been saved. 
They believed in their cult's dogma more than ever, and more than this, they became more aggressive in trying to convert other people to their belief system. 
While it's possible that you came away from the film a stronger feminist than before because what you saw in the film confirmed your beliefs, it is at least as possible that you came away a stronger feminist because what you saw caused you to doubt your beliefs. 
If you'll recall, in the film, director Cassie Jaye initially experienced something similar to what you claim to be experiencing now. She held more strongly to her feminism, and went out of her way to try to bolster and nurture it. She described it like a kind of psychological bungee cord, trying to pull her back into the feminist worldview.
Her "conversion", if you could call it that, did not happen quickly or easily. It was a long, slow, difficult, confusing process that often left her feeling ungrounded and lost.
The screenshots in this post are just a taste of what I’ve been getting sent pretty much nonstop from members of the men’s rights activist group since last night. I’ve posted some of the most PG tweets/emails of lot. I’ve gotten hundreds of angry, violent messages in the last 24 hours.
Welcome to the internet, where everyone is allowed to share their opinion. Including their opinion of you. I bet you're starting to feel like Matt Taylor the day he wore his "lucky shirt" and landed a space probe on a comet. Except I doubt there will be any tearful apologies coming from you for offending lots of people. 

It wasn't just men upset at how you behaved on that podcast, Gigi. Lots of my female viewers believed you were being domineering and dismissive of his feelings and thoughts. And there were men, at least in my comments section, who suggested that your relationship might not be abusive per se, but that this one issue (feminism) is a sticking point. Yes, there were men on my MRA channel saying, "you know, she might be perfectly easy to get along with, outside of this one thing..."
And they could be right. Lots of people have one thing they hold sacred (a religion or political viewpoint, or a particular cause or lifestyle) that they cannot tolerate being challenged. Outside of that sacred thing, they can be perfectly pleasant people. 
But this particular "sacred object" of yours isn't veganism or climate change or libertarianism. It directly relates to the relationship between men and women, and that makes everything much trickier when two people in a heterosexual relationship fundamentally disagree. 
When you repeatedly and arrogantly dismissed Mike's point of view, you began a slow, IV drip of poison into your relationship, because this disagreement strikes at the heart of your identities and experiences as a man and a woman. 
Go back and listen to the podcast, and count the number of times you felt compelled to interrupt, interject or claim the position of authority on what it's like to be a man. At one point, you even said something along the lines of, "well, I guess you know better than I do what it's like to be a man, but here's why I think you're wrong and I'm right."
And then after 37 minutes of you dominating the conversation on men's issues and experiences, and completely disregarding Mike's perspective, he called you the MVP of the night because you were willing to have a conversation at all. 
If I were to use feminist tactics, I would say you spent most of the podcast femsplaining and femterrupting him on the topic of what life is like for men, and then he PRAISED you for even being willing to subject yourself to another point of view and discuss it. 
And Mike is not unique in this, Gigi. It's not like he's some kind of unicorn. 
Now just think about how feminists would view things if he'd spent 37 minutes mansplaining and manterrupting you during a podcast about what it's like to be a woman. Think of how they'd react on Twitter. Think about all the angry comments he'd be receiving. 
I’m not upset by it. It hasn’t rattled me. I’ve been a woman on the Internet for years. I’ve gotten rape threats on a daily basis.
I doubt that you've gotten rape threats on a daily basis. I mean, I'm sure you've gotten some, but I doubt it's daily, and I doubt they were all threats ("I hope you get raped" is not a threat).But when it comes to online threats, bullying and abuse, the most at risk group is 19 year old men. Bet you didn't know that. 

You've been a feminist on the internet, you've shared your opinions as a feminist, and you've gotten flak for them. Just like anyone else who shares their political opinions on the internet. You think Rush Limbaugh doesn't get hate mail? You think Richard Dawkins doesn't? And honestly, in a recent analysis of abuse on Twitter, Piers Morgan got such a disproportionate amount of abuse and threats, he alone was able to skew the results of the study. 
The reason I’m writing this is because I can’t say nothing. I owe it to women everywhere to expose the vile people who are behind this movement.
You don't owe me anything, Gigi. And I'm one of the "vile people" behind this movement. 

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness month. Now seems like a fitting time to talk about this.
Yes, why don't we talk about all the friends you have, who you still apparently describe as friends, who have engaged in violence with their male partners? 
Maybe we can talk about some of the things you saw in the movie, such as men describing their experiences of being the one arrested when their wives became violent with them. 
You ever wonder if any of these men who are angry at you have a criminal record solely due to their wives' violence? Given that you justified this situation because of biological differences in strength.
I mean, Gigi. It sounded like you were excusing not only female violence against men, but the common practice of arresting the man even when he's the victim. "Violence is wrong, BUT...."
Men already try to control a woman’s womb, look at Washington.
And in answer to this, I would ask you to consider one simple question. Who would you want sitting on a tribunal to determine women's right to abortion? Bill Clinton, Al Franken and Joe Biden? Or Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin?

This is where you feminists lose the plot. Abortion is not an issue decided by someone's genitals. And for pro-lifers it's not primarily an issue about women's bodies. It's an issue about whether the fetus is a person, or at what point the fetus becomes a person, deserving of rights. There are at least as many women in the US as men who fall on the pro-life side of the argument, and at least as many women as men who want "reasonable restrictions" placed on abortion, even if they support a woman's right to choose.

But you feminists cannot resist turning every single issue into a men vs women issue. You're not just demonizing the pro-life side, you're demonizing men when you describe the debate over abortion as "men wanting to control women's bodies". 

Look at the lack of resources afforded to women in the majority of this country.
What lack of resources, Gigi? Men pay the majority of the taxes, and women pull the majority of government benefits and services. I mean, weren't we just talking about domestic violence? Women essentially get 100% of all government funds expended toward victims. There are no homeless shelters that, by policy, turn away women, but many that are for women only, despite men being the majority of the homeless. There are 7 federal departments in the US devoted to women specifically, and none for men. Women in the US hold more wealth than men in the US. Despite earning less than men, on average.

Here's an interesting thing, Gigi, and yes, it's for New Zealand (this hasn't been calculated for other countries as far as I know), but a recent report indicated that over a lifetime, women living to age 80 end up owing the government $150,000. They take out $150,000 more in services and benefits than they put in in taxes, and at no point in their lives have they cumulatively put in more than they have taken out. The closest they come to "repaying" the government's investment in them is being about $55,000 overdrawn. 

Men between the ages of 40 and 65 are the only net taxpayers in New Zealand. They are the only people with a cumulative positive balance.

Now this is, again, New Zealand. I would really love to see similar research done in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. 

It’s not men who are missing out. Men don’t get to tell me I have to carry a child to term because he wants to be a father. It’s my body.
Missing out? On what? Government funded services and benefits? Because yes, they are. 

And honestly, has any prominent MRA suggested that men be allowed to force you to give birth? I mean, there might be one or two out there, but most men in the movement are advocating two things:

1) equitable parental rights
2) equitable reproductive rights

Equitable parental rights means that a biological father should enjoy the same right to be an involved parent as the biological mother. Also that an adoptive or nominal father should enjoy the same right to be an involved parent as an adoptive or nominal mother. 

Equitable reproductive rights does NOT mean getting to decide whether a baby is born or not. What it means is a man would get to decide whether or not he wants to "be a father" if an accidental pregnancy occurs. That is, he would have the same right as a woman does to legally abandon his biological offspring and walk away from any rights and obligations to it.

Neither of those things has anything to do with forcing women to have babies, or forcing women to abort babies. 

The suicide rate for men is so high because men aren’t taught how to talk about their feelings.

Mike talked quite a bit about his feelings in the podcast, and you really weren't interested in taking them seriously. You ever think that might be why men rarely talk about their feelings?

Also, anger is a feeling, and here you are shaming men for expressing it.  
They are told to hold it in.
And that's bad. Which means all the angry comments you've received from men expressing their feelings about what you've said are good, right? Expressing your feelings is healthy. Not expressing them is toxic. And yet here you are, disapproving of men expressing their feelings.

This idea of toxic masculinity stems from a patriarchal society that views men as stronger than women.
Says the woman who came right out and said in her podcast that men are stronger than women and that's why women get all the help and men get all the punishment in domestic violence situations.

Is it wrong, yes. But it doesn’t mean men don’t have power and should join together to fight for the perceived rights they are lacking.
No one said men don't have power. This is your feminist lens talking, Gigi. You see things as black/white. Either/or. Either men have all the power and women have none, or women have all the power and men have none. 

As for "perceived rights" men are lacking, there are actual rights men are lacking that women enjoy. Now if you don't want to define those things as "rights", that's fine, but if so, you will have to define them as "privileges" women have that men do not. 

Do you consider it a right or a privilege to not have portions of your genitals removed without your consent as a minor? I'm asking you this in all seriousness. Is this a right women have, or is it a privilege? 
I actually found some of the points made in the movie interesting. The suicide rate for men is alarmingly high and they have very few paternal rights. But, that doesn’t make men a disenfranchised group.
Explain. I mean, actually explain. We can leave the suicide thing for now. But explain to me how a group of people denied certain rights under the law based on some characteristic they did not choose is not a form of disenfranchisement?  

I mean, let's look at an example. Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to marry the person of their choosing. Being denied this right is a form of disenfranchisement, no? We are treating one group differently than we treat another, under the law. 

Do you believe banning same-sex marriage disenfranchises LGBT people? I mean, it's not like they have NO rights. They could form a civil partnership, just like men can usually see their kids every other weekend. 

But the reality is, when the law did not recognize same-sex marriage, it was viewed by feminists as a form of disenfranchisement. But somehow, the law refusing to recognize that men have parental rights regarding their own children is NOT disenfranchisement. Even though women have automatic parental rights. 

Men’s rights is bullshit.

I think feminism is bullshit, Gigi. The primary difference between you and me is that I have to actually come up with real, genuine reasons it's bullshit, and provide evidence for that, while you somehow feel all you have to do is say:

Men’s rights activists are the beta, bottom feeders of men.
What exactly is a beta, Gigi? A man who isn't alpha? And what's an alpha, Gigi? Isn't an alpha one of those men who embraces "toxic masculinity" and takes advantage of his "male privilege"? Who is dominant and confident and successful with women and never exposes his vulnerabilities? He stays in his "man box" right where he belongs, and that's why the ladies aren't disgusted by him.

You know who else thinks MRAs are "beta", Gigi? Those "rape apologists" at r/TheRedPill. You seem to have quite a bit in common with them. 
These are people who couldn’t hack it in the real world, don’t feel like they have any privilege or have been entitled to anything (because they don’t know what male privilege actually is).

Ah, yes. We are all people who couldn't hack it in the real world. A real world where, in your words, men have very few parental rights. A world where they have NO reproductive rights. A world where they have no right to bodily autonomy when it comes to their own genitals. Where it is perfectly legal for the government to discriminate against them in any number of ways, and where they often don't even have the right to sue, because you can't sue someone for doing something that's legal. 

Where the laws and policies of their countries deny them these rights. I'm just shocked that, given all of this, they don't much care about the ratio of men and women in politics, or about whether the way men sit on the subway is evidence of some kind of ephemeral "male privilege".

I bet you there are a lot of fathers out there who would gladly trade in their privilege for yours, Gigi. 

Each of these men has had some individualized history with a “bad woman” who took his kids, was too angry or who “beat him,” when he was just an innocent victim in all of the horror.
No, not all of them. Also, why would you put "bad woman" in quotes? Are there not actual bad women out there? Would a woman who takes her ex's kids away for no reason not be a bad woman? I mean, she's not just hurting him, you know. She's also hurting her kids. 

And why, Gigi. Why would you put "beat him" in quotes? 

Do you think what this man's partner did to him over 18 months doesn't justify the proper, unambiguous use of the words?

By the time he was able to leave, with the help of police, he had multiple cheek fractures, a skull fracture, burns all over his body (including this one from a steam iron), and a nose that had been broken so many times he had to have his septum replaced. He never raised a hand to her. 
Just in case you were wondering who it is that supports the MRA. The people in this post are the ones who follow the MRA.
1) Gigi Engle, the person who wrote this post on Medium, describing what happened to the man in the photo above by using scare quotes to minimize his girlfriend's violence and his suffering, is one who follows feminism. 

2) Do you think that maybe, just maybe, a large proportion of the people who follow feminism are people who have individualized grievances with men? What proportion of politically active feminists have been victims of sexual violence or intimate partner violence? And what would you have to say if someone like me said of these women: "Each of these women had some individualize history with a "bad man" who "raped her" or "beat her", when she was just an innocent victim of all the horror."

3) Personal experience is often the catalyst for action, Gigi. The woman who founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving did so after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The group got an influx of members after the parents of children killed by a drunk driver in the deadliest crash in US history were motivated to join. 

The late Chuck Cadman, one of Canada's most fondly remembered MPs, founded Crime Responsibility and Youth, an organization devoted counselling youth in crisis and/or at risk to become violent after the death of his son in a senseless stabbing incident involving young people, and went onto run for parliament in part to push for reforms to Canada's Young Offenders Act.

4) The problem the MRM is trying to address is NOT ONLY that there are "bad women" out there who do things like "beat [their male partners]". It also is attempting to address the systemic issues around how society deals with those "bad women" and their male victims. You might have noticed in the movie, the men who talked about female perpetrated domestic violence against men were NOT only talking about the fact that it exists, but about the fact that society at best ignores the problem, and at worst, holds men responsible. 

It's not just that there are women out there who beat their husbands, Gigi. It's that their husbands are more likely to be arrested than helped when they call police. It's that when these men seek help through hotlines, most of them only serve men in terms of, "if you're worried about your own violent and abusive behavior, we can help."

That's not an "individuals having bad experiences with women" issue, Gigi. It's an "individuals having a bad experience with the system" issue. Which is, by the way, the definition of a systemic issue. 

The leaders of MRA say they don’t support these groups of radical trolls. They say they don’t consider them a part of the MRA group. But if you are a leader who is so weak that you can’t even tell your followers to stop using words like “rape-tard” and “feminazi.” If you don’t have the balls to put out a press release disavowing these so-called followers who regularly accuse women of lying about rape, calling them crazy, violent and terrible, than you’re unfit to lead.

Funny story, Gigi. About 5 years ago on that horrible, misogynistic website, A Voice for Men, someone left a comment that got the attention of the site owner, the dastardly Paul Elam. Elam deleted the comment made a public statement on the site that any such comments would not only be deleted, but the IP address associated with the user would be permanently banned. 

Fast forward 2 years, and ABC's 20/20 decided to do a piece on Elam and his website. Prior to airing, they posted a "teaser article" on their website. In it, that comment (split into two quotes, but from a single comment) was portrayed thusly:

"Posts such as "I really wouldn't mind shooting a [expletive] dead in the face, they are evil, all of them," and "Women are the natural enemies of men" are commonplace on sites like "A Voice for Men," a Manosphere blog run by Paul Elam."

Now, Gigi, the only place on the internet where that comment actually existed at that point was in a post by Elam condemning it, and warning other users they'd be banned if they spoke similarly on his site. ABC's "reporters" called it "commonplace" on the site. 

And I do want to point out the complete lack of logic in your paragraph here, as evidenced by these statements: "The leaders of MRA say they don’t support these groups of radical trolls. They say they don’t consider them a part of the MRA group." And, "If you don’t have the balls to put out a press release disavowing these so-called followers"

Um... Gigi. They do disavow them. You said so in your first two sentences. Then you criticize them for lacking the "balls" (nice gendered shaming there, btw) to disavow them. 

It's not the MRM's fault if the mainstream media is willing to lie about us the way ABC did (though they eventually corrected their error).

What you seem to be asking is for MRAs to exercise god-like control over the words and actions of autonomous and anonymous individuals on the internet who may or may not have even heard of us. Somehow, we are supposed to be able to stop people on the internet, people who may not even know we exist, from saying mean things to feminists. 

And you're making this completely unrealistic demand of US, right after defending and justifying, in your podcast, acts of real life political violence and criminal acts perpetrated by people on your side of the debate. 

Also, it's "then", not "than". Do better. 
You have no business helping to fuel the rage inside of these men. They don’t know how to talk about their emotions, they’ve never won at anything, and they are mad as hell for not getting what they believe they’re owed.

Like access to their children? Due process protections? Equal sentencing? The right to not have their penis mutilated? 

Also, someone made fun of your verbal tics, Gigi. You seem to be reading a lot into it. 
They are tired of it and so they went looking for answers.
You know, if I hadn't seen my kids in years, and was in a courtroom for the 12th time because my ex was refusing to comply with the court ordered custody agreement, and the judge did nothing other than give her a 12th "stern talking-to", I'd probably get tired of it, too. I might even go looking for answers. 
This group doesn’t attract good, healthy men with strong self-esteem, this group attracts the very lowest of the low. It’s a hub for the confused and the lonely. They have never had a cause and now they do; it’s a cause they are willing to fight and troll for. And it’s extremely sad.
Yes, yes, and all feminists have "daddy issues". Or else it's just the way unattractive women can gain access to the mainstream (according to Limbaugh). Also, we all know that good, healthy men with strong self-esteem fight for women, right? Because that's what "manly men" do. You know, men who are in their proper "man-box". 

Also, men should be allowed to talk about their feelings without being shamed--that's the feminist way, you know. Let's break down those gender roles! 

Except when the feelings they talk about are inconvenient to feminism. Then they're a bunch of whiney loser man-babies who have no balls. Man up, you pathetic losers!
Being a feminist and woman on the Internet has never been an easy task. It’s not just the MRA who have spit vitriol my way over the web. It’s often eye-opening to see the anger and ignorance that still lives on everywhere in the world.

Why yes, it is often eye-opening to see the anger and ignorance out there.  
I’ve been told I’m going to be raped and murdered, that I’m a whore and a slut. I’ve had many men make multiple Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of harassing me.
And no man, and no non-feminist has ever had that happen to them. Not ever. And no women do it, even though of the two people convicted in the UK of making online threats against feminist Caroline Criado-Perez over her campaign to get women on British banknotes, one was a woman.
There is nothing quite like being called a, “shitty feminist cunt” multiple time, to really put things in perspective.
Lewis's Law? Comments on any article about Nazism justify Nazism? Oh wait. That would be circular logic.  
Don’t confuse me. I don’t hate men. I think men are great.

Except for "beta men" who have no "balls" and refuse to stay in their "man-box".  
It’s this particular group of men that is fucked up. Anyone who follows the MRA zealots is not a good man.
Well, I know I'm not. I'm a woman, after all. Kind of impossible to be a good man. 
After the amount of angry messages I’ve received, everything I initially believed about this group has only been completely solidified.
After watching feminists assault police and attendees at MRM events and then listening to you (and other feminists) excusing them, everything I initially believed about feminism has only been completely solidified.
Thank you to these men and the hundred-something others who harassed me (and continue to harass me) online. I’m sure the MRA trolls will descend even further once I’ve shared this post. It’s okay. I can take it. I’m not afraid of you.
If one person leaves 100 mean comments, that's harassment, Gigi. If 100 people leave 100 mean comments, unless they are doing so in an organized fashion, that only feels like harassment.  
You’ve made my beliefs in feminism even stronger and have reinvigorated my need to fight for this cause.
Good for you.  
Feminism will always be stronger than you.
Yes. In a world that is properly described as a patriarchy, which is set up to benefit men at women's expense, feminism will always be a stronger force than a group of men attempting to set things up to benefit themselves and other men at women's expense. 

If you're right about that, Gigi, then you're wrong about everything else. Your entire position is a logical paradox. 

Have a nice day.