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. 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)

avfm poster 4

THE GENERAL FEMINIST REACTION TO THIS POSTER CAMPAIGN: 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.” ~ 30 year-old, male Feminist

And that’s how I read it too…at first. It is initially an assault on your Western, soft-hand sensibilities. But then I realized that 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 without it? 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 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 Right (save for John Malkovich who gets a crush pass from me), the heteronormative, the Whites — 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.

Getting shit on sucks but hate is a really tiny BIG word that should be relegated to things like acid attacks, genital cutting, and real acts of terror, hysteria, and social psychopathy. Sacrificing aspects of your will and comfort for someone else’s protection, provision, and care 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…nor did men as group. Again, intersectionality matters. 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 general one of: “EVERYBODY, SWIM FOR YOUR LIFE!”

audre lorde

I don’t know if it was hate or master-slave dialectic in equal terms so much as it is about 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 in the in-between.

*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.

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 I have a homosocial bias. 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’s, 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. 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…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.

“…I was being discriminated against for being white and male for having an opinion, because my demographic ‘deserves’ it the most.”

“You Don’t Own Me” (Open relationship?! Quite the evolution Ms. Gore.)
Anyway, I’m still a Feminist ’cause I’m still female and interested in issues facing women and girls (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 (e.g. pro-legal paternal surrender in one-night stands, but not relationships or when the pregnancy was caused by the male raping the female). 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 ; 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 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.

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