VICTIM STATUS: How the Men’s Rights Movement Made Me a Better Feminist

July 12, 2013

CAVEAT: False Dichotomies ahead [with=http://www.subtext-in-the-hyperlinks.com], exploited for sarcasm and actual contemplation’s sake. This author does not endorse an us vs. them mentality on ANY issue, ever. She uses it to make a point which can either be provocation-in-good-humour or lost. To quote my parochial high school, ball-busting, English teacher, heroine (since left by a then closeted husband and department head with great cheek bones and an equal distaste for the word “chick” whenever I used it in Law and World Issues: tough or diminutive?)–”ALWAYS TAKE THE CON!!!” i.e. write a piece from your own perspective, clearer than mud, no purple prose, invert it, and write the attack; think like the concession to see your own holes and straw men. Tease them out. Read everything at least twice. You’ll be stronger for it even if your argument isn’t. Stand up to scrutiny! 13/07/2013.

Happy reading, fascists!
(learn to laugh)

.

COMMON NEGATIVE REACTION TO THE M(H)RM (Men’s Rights or Men’s Human Rights Movement–as if the mere notion of such a thing could only be absurd or that species should have to be clarified and that at least some portion of it must be dehumanized, demonized, re-humanized, necessarily, at all times…eww, yuck, boys!):

avfm poster 4

Very Libertarian. It’s interesting how the far-right have adopted the language of civil rights movement. It reminds me of anti-Native groups in Southern Ontario. I took it down but it was back by morning. It’s silly. Men and particularly White men already have a voice, it’s called EVERYTHING. [Which is why you should censor, degrade, and remove it from public discourse?]~so says a 30-year-old, Japanese-Canadian, MALE inclusive Feminist and Aboriginal Rights Activist/Social Justice PhD in Saskatoon, who got arrested at G8/G20 while on a tentative and easy to retract student VISA (aww, thumbs up, you got your wings; rite of passage, man; congratcha badge of fuckin’ honour! [...in the States and...the '60s; I dunno 'bout you but the times have a' changed and I'm partial to motion in the form of policy, going through the front-door, not the back, with a suit and tie, no shoes because they're too confining and stop my toes from wiggling freely, a carnation in my breast pocket and a joint hangin' out my grinning face]), who thinks the MRM has a much stronger hold over silly Torontonians like me but will not and should not gain ground.

And that’s how I read it too…at first. It is initially an assault on your Western, soft-hand sensibilities. And though I’m not a fan of their catch phrases, nor would I ever be caught using the ‘blue pill, red pill’ metaphor for this particular soothseeing myself, I do get it. I initially found the “aggressive” baritone of it all a little off-putting (yet rage in contralto just sounded like consciousness raising[???]), and I think that’s their point. It doesn’t even bother me that MasculinISM (Men’s Rights) has cornered the political right the way FeminISM (Women’s Rights), the Civil Rights Movement, Pride and most others easily identified with social justice(?) have the left. It’s logical. Both factions, ISMs or Schisms, in this ideascape have stated time and time again that these alignments serve each of their respective group-interests best and they’re right. If you have ever been poor or otherwise disenfranchised than you know the value of a good social safety-net. And if you’ve never been–if you’ve only ever been a contributor to it, to a system you’ve rarely dipped into, surplus work someone else gets the fruits of, you are relied upon to keep it running, rarely protected by it, and blamed if it fails–you’ve been stressed more than tended to by it. Herein lies the stalemate. Isn’t this the debate we’ve all been waiting for? We don’t really want only one voice do we? Propulsion = dissent and tension over trajectory, doesn’t it? Who would we argue with and better ourselves by? If you want gender equity, really want it, you’ll be big enough to get over yourself and consider the problem from both sides of the seemingly-binary deceit that is the historically gendered-narrative coin.

It’s My Party” (Possessive much? JK, lols.)

I don’t think MRAs are simply “co-opt[ing] the language” and parodying a movement for the sake of silencing their opposition; I think our collective reluctance to hear them out in any way points to a really dangerous and distasteful reality–that we think we (the left, the betas, the pacifists, the Marxists, the queers [the real ones and the radfems on an all-protest, cock-free diet of feigned lesbianism alike]; the Blacks, the Jews, the Orient; the labourers, the artisans, the help; the women and somehow, especially, the women-born-women regardless of socio-economic standing) have a monopoly on victim status. And that they–the men, the alpha males, the Libertarians (save for John Malkovich who gets a crush pass from me); the heteronormative, the heterothreatening, the homophobes; the Whites, the Christians, the Occident…the “bigots”; the aggressives, the “war-mongers”, the Capitalists; the rapists, the perverts, the abusers (a.k.a. the not-allowed-to-cum-evers because any male sexual impulse or fantasy is inherently flawed no matter how consensual or innocuous so long as it features men)–are perpetual perpetrators who cannot shed or move past imposed guilt for a more collectivist and cooperative future in favour of us retaining them as the vilified last bastion of flogging poles. The ones for whom the game is supposedly fixed. Us vs. Them, and never the twain shall meet?! Don’t be a dick…or a cunt!

I took Medieval Literature twice because I couldn’t bear to pay attention the first time, but Chivalric Code (phonetically pleasing a phrase as it is) perfectly expresses what MRAs are reacting to:

Getting shit on! Literally. Hate is a really tiny BIG word and I think it should be relegated to things like acid attacks, genital cutting, and child soldiers–real acts of terror, hysteria, and social psychopathy. But sacrificing aspects of your will and comfort for someone else’s protection, provision, and care, compromising informed consent and condescending to them “for their own good” is not misandry or misogyny, it’s just the result of unchecked and unbalanced political discourse, and a lack of empathy engendered by homosocial myopia.

The truth is women were not oppressed with the same vigour and in the same way slaves, gays, heathens, heretics, racial Others, and natives were–actively hunted, maimed, humiliated, and killed in public spectacle with lopped off flesh souvenirs taken by onlookers for display on mantelpieces and office window sills. That is not to say they never got the shit end of the stick, just that they weren’t alone in getting it and by no means had it hardest. The Titanic may have been one of the only boats in history to issue a “women and children only” lifeboat policy whilst sinking as opposed to “EVERYBODY, SWIM FOR YOUR LIFE!” But it does speak to privilege–who has it and who doesn’t, who may find such vigilance smothering and who may think it’s an imperative. Rule of Thumb? Find it in any Western legal text and I’ll give you a cookie. ‘Cause I can’t. Granted, my dad was a whack job (he had his reasons, though some of them were entirely unjustifiable,) but my grandpa was sweet as pie…to his wife…in the 50s. Though, if he ever caught you swearing, especially in Church, ass welts weren’t far off. But that was more a “spare the rod” kinda thing. Until the advent of cushy office jobs it wasn’t so much a matter of mutual hate and opposition as it was people having to play into biological and gender difference for the sake of collective survival. I could try to save a 250lbs man from a burning building but it’s more likely my lack of upper body strength (and relatively little base muscle mass, no matter how much I work out; fewer dermal layers; lower average height and weight, and higher percentage of water and body fat to other factors affecting brute force prowess) would only increase the 92% death gap, as opposed to 73 cent wage gap, between the genders in the workplace. I ain’t just a victim but I’m certainly no Tasha Yar.

audre lorde

I don’t know if it was hate or patronizing so much as accidents of nature, dimorphic sexuality, and natural labour division becoming politicized, codified, normalized, reinforced, policed, alienated from intention/intension and slow to catch up to the democratization offered by innovation. It’s not master-slave so much, except when radicalized, as it is being shackled together in a blind three-legged race, behind a bolder, up a hill. Now, if slow, steady, cooperative, and tit-for-tat* are the only way to a future with a united federation of interests and a peace-keeping armada, then let’s sharpen our wits on each other’s rhetoric and find a centre between progressive and conservative, magenta and cerulean, service and front of house…I suggest the ideological equivalent of puce or perhaps a lilac hue called Humanism (dependent upon race and gender equity, redistribution of wealth, a less monopoly run and closed “free” market [capitalize and regulate those industries we criminalize and workers we violate],  stronger infrastructure, linguistic and critical sensitivity, pluralism and other anti-oppressive initiatives).

*Please note:* the female in the aforementioned hyperlinked game of Prisoner’s Dilemma (a.k.a. tit-for-tat), unlike me (now you know my handicap–I always pick C–will you really use it against me?), plays defect first and admits she requires 3x more trust and willingness from her opponent than she is willing to give.

When I posted the video below to my Facebook, the following conversation ensued:

girlwriteswhat on what happens when female privilege backfires i.e. that gendercide in China and India will continue until female entitlements to male obligatory protection and provision are waived in favour of full economic independence (although, I don’t really know how we can manage biological difference and effects on a workforce I know I’ll probably be out of for large chunks of time and that I will never do anything essential or dangerous like firefighting, logging, oil drilling, or Alaskan crab fishing in).

What are your thoughts on this?
I agree…or I wouldn’t have posted it. I’ve been following girlwriteswhat for over a year now. I found/find her more accessible and less alienating than a lot of MRA/AVFM stuff, mostly because she is female and because she takes an evolutionary biology, speculation approach. I still identify as a feminist and harbour no anti-feminist sentiments because just as men should or can, I ought to be able to be the first to speak up about issues that affect me directly, as well as be willing to check and balance them in dialogue and situate them in a grander scheme, against someone else’, to negotiate for middle ground or align myself with causes that affect someone else similarly and, perhaps, in direct opposition to my own interests; so long as human beings come in different forms and are subject to different pressures, yet occupy only one perspective (their own), cross-table talk is necessary for any kind of Humanism to take root. There’s nothing wrong with speaking for yourself, your community, or your special interest group; if Civil Rights in the US had no focus and was splintered among all marginal groups there would have been no traction; fighting for gay marriage is not synonymous with abolition of straight rights or straight h8. The MRM may not yet be “masculinISM” (ideological and pedagogical) but it’s as special interest focused and as broad reaching as any other social justice movement. It does not and cannot have the sole claim to Egalitarianism within itself (nor can any other single ideology or plan of action), it has radicals, coffee house, and female allied members just as feminism does /c male allies; Black /c white abolitionists; gays /c str8 friends in senate etc. I got into feminism (which is not synonymous with ideological feminism or turning an out of print book I’ve never read like SCUM into a Bible as is often alleged) because I was interested in sex and gender issues; it was allied with Pride. There was no other movement so I learned to read these issues through a singular lens. It wasn’t a conscious act of malice. Now we have a new player in the game and we live in a world where few of us are coal miners and most of us have non-physical jobs. My rights and privileges, as anyone’s, should be in proportion to my social responsibilities. I don’t see that as contentious or controversial…nor enacted by virtually anyone. But, a reasonable goal.
I asked because some people post things in outrage sometimes. And I have taken shit from people for posting girlwriteswhat videos in the past. Thank you for that response. It’s refreshing to see an unbiased and healthy approach such as yours. I agree with you, I think she has the best head on her shoulders amongst the MHRM. She also keeps a lot of them in check when they start to blanket generalize women. I’m all for humanism or Egalitarianism myself. Do you consider yourself a 3rd wave feminist since you still identify as feminist?
I’ve always identified as a 3rd waver, inclusive, queer-friendly, sex-positive feminist…mostly because I was born in 1983 and came of age in the 90s/early 00s. I have more or less gender essentialist 2nd wave friends but think it’s a bit anachronistic. I also identify as a female ally of the MRM (but not a fan of adding the H). I’m surprised no one heckles me; I’ve posted her stuff before. I was originally put off by it. Now I get it. I assume your angry friends may walk the same road eventually.
I hope so. it was feeling like I was being discriminated against for being white and male for having an opinion, because my demographic “deserves” it the most. I just call out bigotry and squash it no matter where it exists. I don’t give one demographic thousands of years of power and then say “ok, now it’s your turn to be abused.” That just keeps the hate wheel spinning.
“You Don’t Own Me” (Open relationship?! Quite the evolution Ms. Gore.)
Anyway, I’m still a Feminist ’cause I’m still female. (I’ll take the girls’ rights/entitlements, privileges, obligations, and accountabilities; and you can take the boys’; we’ll cross the floor on a few occasions and shake hands here and there.) I’m just a better informed and less vehement one and a proponent of men’s rights where they haven’t been realized (pro-legal paternal surrender in one-night stands, but not relationships or rape; anti-Rocking Mr. E’s suggestion that all women who abort do so at 20 weeks or later for shits and giggles or that the capacity to reproduce is an obligation to carry to term when birth control, condoms, rhythm or relationships fail). I’ve never been gender separatist, radical, ideologically dogmatic, or supremacist, consciously anyway, and regret the few times I know I was in hindsight. I just have a more balanced reading of history now then I did before–from too much about the victor and not enough about the underdog (HIStory/HERstory) to underdog-only to all-in-together-now. I can mix your thing with my thing. First rally on, I was always uncomfortable with anti-patriarchy chants. The words molted in my mouth. I could yell all the rest with ease but that capital-P one always caused me a moment’s pause. I didn’t know that I was against patriarchy per se nor for matriarchy as its equally lopsided replacement, just that I wasn’t pro- impediments to social cohesion. It just never made sense to me that only men rape (because it’s an insidious untruth); that they specifically rape, unlike women, on a mass cultural scale because they like it  (e.g. tactic of war<–try a double read); or that women are especially victimized by sexual and/or domestic violence, it never happens to men and when it does it’s because they specifically hate women (you know, which is clearly why they never marry or write poetry about the thrills of loving them). Patriarchy and 70 hour work weeks (that make raising children impossible without a full-time or part-time caregiver or nanny at home and a willingness to put your kids in day care [which I'm not, along with many parents, since I'd actually like to see them develop]) aren’t all about a drive for power nor only about an anachronistic social requirement to protect and provide for the women and children in or indirectly in their lives, tribe, or nation. But about both.

I have always considered myself a Humanist first and foremost, though anti-Speciesism/vivisection/factory-farming is important to me, Feminist frameworks were just far more familiar because they spoke to my lived experiences; they seemed intuitive; they were already in circulation, widely memetically disseminated, and easy to acclimate to. I am not opposed to nor as good at identifying issues facing men, even the oh-so-sociopathic-White-middle-class-boogeyman of men, because I’m not a man. Unless they voice them I’m not directly exposed to these pressures on a daily basis and don’t feel as well equipped to articulate them; they’re not mine. Every point needs a counter-point. A teeter-totter with weight at only one end is the least fun playground ride ever. Goin’ nowhere sucks! It’s rare to actually find someone your own size who’ll hop on so you can both, hopefully, get off the ground.

Besides, it frees up my last remaining qualms about sex–god watching and judging me, good girls don’t? Long gone. Queer? Str8? Bi? Tri/try-sexual? or Pansexual? (Pan?! Like a minotaur with a nymph and a lyre?) Freudian? Value-neutral horny? Just plain animal-nature-style sexual? I’m down with that. Kink? It was the only erotica I had access to prior to the worldwide web and Feminist porn–Show Case channel! (Thanks for cable mom.) So my proclivities were left of centre from the start. Thing is, as I got older and my desires became more raw, I realized I didn’t want the power anymore…not always. And I didn’t want to THINK about the fact that I didn’t. I didn’t want to analyze it and chalk it up to essence, sword sheaths, or self-abasement. I just wanted to be a good sub with a dom who knows their place. But you can’t very well get on your knees, cock your head back, and ask for rules, discipline, and punishment from your “oppressor” now can you? No fun. It used to get my panties all in a twist (*please note:* tied ’round an ankle or my wrists and sopping wet is a whole different and much more welcome story). I just no longer feel like there’s a top-down power chasm between us but, instead, a horizontal and mutual yet not exactly supine one. Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity. You see, making love instead of war is a fantasy, it never actually rocks anyone’s socks. “I’m hardly under you!” “You’ll never get over me!” I won’t always love you but I will always fuck you. So, let’s look through each other’s flaws to the respective persons beneath, shall we, and fuck it out. Let’s fuck for peace ; )

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5Yu-IGx0-4]
Nothin’ wrong with strong hands.
A residual sting is just the body making memories of trust and release.

7 Responses to “VICTIM STATUS: How the Men’s Rights Movement Made Me a Better Feminist”

  1. caimis said

    MRA here, I wish there were more vocal Feminists like you because as it is the majority of those who are vocal are those who covertly and overtly spew male hate.

    “…the alpha males, the Libertarians (save for John Malkovich who gets a crush pass from me); the heteronormative, the heterothreatening, the homophobes; the Whites, the Christians, the Occident…the “bigots”; the aggressives, the “war-mongers”, the Capitalists; the rapists, the perverts, the abusers…”

    The above is the only part I disagree with. Although some of the above do describe some people in the MRM, there are a great deal of non white and liberal MRA’s as well as many women in the MRM. There also are a great deal of egalitarians who don’t identify as MRA’s but are pro MRA.

    But in general enjoyed this post.

  2. fidelbogen said

    Hmmm. It’s interesting to see such a weird analysis of the pro-male camp from a feminist who is back-pedalling and attempting to save face.

    Unfortunately, as a non-feminist, I find this article extremely off-putting. And your childish dependence upon the left-right political paradigm doesn’t help matters, either.

  3. Luke said

    Very interesting post. You have a very open mind. I am a big fan of GWW.

    As you have been following her for a year you are probably familiar with these but in case you are not they are very good for understanding patriarchy:

    http://owningyourshit.blogspot.no/search/label/patriarchy?updated-max=2012-03-25T18:49:00-07:00&max-results=20&start=3&by-date=false

    Warren Farrells the Myth of Male Power is also more or less compulsory if one want site other perspective on these issues.

    You mentioned the pay gap. I did not quite understand wether you still believe in it or not. It has been proven again and again that women and men get the same pay for the exact same job. The difference is in the jobs men and women typically hold on average. This however is not because we value women’s work less. It is because men choose jobs that pay more to compensate for higher risk of injury and death, to compensate for higher risk of job loss, to compensate for higher risk of the salary bouncing up and down, to compensate for long travel distance etc. etc. Women choose comfort and security and stability over pay and men do the reverse (in order to be a good provider FOR women). Farrell has done lots of research into this and others have found similar things. It all goes into the rights and privellige vs responsibility balance you mentioned:

    http://www.warrenfarrell.net/Summary/

    Women don`t do more total work either. There never was a second shift:

    http://forums.avoiceformen.com/showthread.php?tid=809

    Same thing with domestic violence. It is pretty much 50/50 except for murder:

    http://www.avoiceformen.com/updates/news-updates/news-release-dv-is-not-men-only/

    “Yet, in the face of substantial evidence of violence against men in mixed-sex relationships the response of many feminist academics has not only been to ignore the needs of men and their children but to seek to explain the abuse that heterosexual men (and men and women in same-sex relationships) experience as fundamentally different to heterosexual women’s experience of abuse and reassert the claim that domestic abuse as properly understood is solely, or at least overwhelmingly, only that which is experienced by women from male partners”

    The most relevant pages are 55-58

    http://www.abusedmeninscotland.org/research.html

    We have pretty much known this for several decades and that says a lot about how extremely one sided and dishonest the people who have had a monopoly on this topic have been handling it.

    As far as gender goes I am a “flexible” gender essentialist. By that I mean that I think there mostly are fairly large average gender differences and I think that almost all men and h´women have highly different attraction patterns but there probably are some outliers that are very different. So I believe most men are far better of being more masculine rather than less and most women better of being more feminine than less but that outliers should be respected. I also believe there is some benefit for men in exploring their feminine side and for women in exploring their masculine side but that this is highly secondary to cultivating your native sexual “pole”. I think the polarity between masculine and feminine is very important for sexual attraction.

    As a sub you would know the power of dominance and submission play. Certainly there are women who like to be dominant in bed and men who like to be submissive. Some all the time but most probably only some of the time. What PUAs have found consistently is that almost all women respond strongly positively to being dominated in bed and almost all of them respond positively to a man taking on a dominant and leading role in dating and in relationships. This is not “ideological” for them but pragmatic. They just looked for stuff that worked and found that was what worked. It has been my experience also.

    So while I think there are outliers and exceptions and some variety in dob sub roles can be good for many (I like being submissive every now and then) I think it is important to recognize that there are very strong preferences amongst most women for dominance in men both in the mens general behavior towards others AND towards the women in dating and relationships.

    Athol Kay of marriedmansexlife.com has had enormous success in helping men and women turn their relationships from the brink of divorce to highly sexed and highly happy relationships precisely by helping the men become dominant and the women play a feminine and submissive role. Over half his readers are female and the women give his book to their men. Little of the advice is ideological just practical. A woman came in saying she enjoyed being the dominant and leading partner and was given the advice usually given to men. No one had a problem with that. Andrew of therulesrevisisted.com has had similar success with giving women dating advice to be more feminine and actually understanding gender differences in dating.

    I think these things are extremely important to recognize and the are diametrically opposed to the teachings of third wave feminism. Feminism should be applauded for having opened up room for those who desire different lives to do so but it is destructive currently in the way it tries to erase any trace of gender differences and polarity in dating.

    I highly recommend that you check out David Deidas writings. He writes very well on the masculine and feminine and polarity while recognizing that men and women can sometimes play opposite poles and that gays and lesbians usually will have similar patterns in their relationships. Interestingly there has been quite a lot of gays and lesbians coming into theredpillredditt lately saying that they think the advice applies tot heir relationships also or asking for advice.

    • Allo Luc,

      I am all up-to-date with gww. ‘Cause I spend my weekends in sad ways like that…trolling the internet and watching 12 hours straight of a particular person or tv series I should never have missed in the first place, for whatever reason, like not owning a television since 2008 (quarter-life crises hit some of us hard and we shave our heads like Britney, disavow media that isn’t user streamed and directed content, basically fall apart as human beings only to become semi-reassembled by 30, lols. : S ). But, yeah…will spend much time consuming your other suggestions (and likely weave ‘em in on here later). Greatly appreciated. Thanks for your insight.

      e.

  4. Luke said

    I also recommend reading Who Stole Feminism By Chrstina Hoff Sommers and checking out these blogs:

    http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/

    http://genderratic.com/

  5. David Byron said

    Feminism is a right wing ideology. It is opposed to and undermines Marxism because it substitutes a bogus sex war for class war. Why do you think feminism is subsidized and endorsed by the corporate state? Or do you think US presidents are in the habit of repeating Marxist talking points as they do with feminist talking points?

    Like other forms of conservatism including tribalism and political hate, feminism has a non-liberal sense of morality. Feminism rejects the fundamental liberal idea of treating people as equals when they are similarly situated in favour of tribal morality that says my group, my tribe is better than others, and therefore it is right to treat them better than other people, to fear and distrust outsiders and generally to say that they are lesser and deserve lesser rights.

    If you are comfortable with feminism you are probably a right winger.

    • On that line of logic, green or pink washing would render any attempt at mobilizing resources and COLLECTIVE response to environmental issues or queer human rights impossible because they’ve been misappropriated by all sides of the Corporatocracy (which once upon a long time ago, in the era of unions, was known as “the State” and now, more or less, stands alone, monopolizes and permeates all aspects of our magical kingdom–the Ivory Tower, the White Saviour and Prison Industrial Complexes), in a swift slight-of-hand and jurisdictional under-the-rug move, wouldn’t it? Think harder. Besides, I really don’t think I can bend that way. Remaining polarized and not “back-peddling” (<–according to Fidelbogen [whose apparent aim is to deter sympathizers wherever they be found]) paralyzes both/many parties. Next time you see an OBVIOUS literary conceit or construct like an us/them dichotomy (or language, or biological sex, or gender, or any meaning-making of any kind which are all socially constructed yet real in effect) maybe think–INTENTIONAL. A conscious way of moving a reader through diametric opposition and logical fallacy or pathological black and white thinking to an all-in-together now upshot. At least we’re talking. Don’t get all gridlocked; eat your Wheaties. Have a nice day!

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