Plunging deep into the manosphere
March 3, 2015 5:09 AM   Subscribe

I already know that "the manosphere" refers to an online network, nascent but vast and like the universe constantly expanding, each twinkling star in its firmament dedicated—obviously—to men. Men and their problems. Usually with women.
Jeff Sharlet asks: What Kind of Man Joins the Men’s Rights Movement?
posted by MartinWisse (250 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe there's no good answer, but I wished the article had spent more time on the "why?" question -- why these men have stepped off the rational bus onto the crazy train. I am a white guy and objectively I think I have it pretty good in our society. We've all had romantic disasters and betrayals, but I just don't see where all the anger is coming from.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:23 AM on March 3, 2015 [16 favorites]


As a guy, the MRM makes me so sad. I've met several other men who, based on the shit they were talking, could have been in the MRM, though they never brought it up. But, their anger and border-line nutjobbiness threw a huge red flag over them for me.

I kind of wonder what the Venn diagram for MRM and Tea Party members looks like? Both groups make awfully similar sorts of complaints/arguments, with "women" and "government" swapped-out as needed.

Oh, and, don't read the comments.
We should just shorten that to DRC.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:25 AM on March 3, 2015 [25 favorites]


I suspect there are (some) issues in there that actually matter. The media do those issues a disservice when they lump them all in with these shitheads.
posted by Leon at 5:28 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe there's no good answer, but I wished the article had spent more time on the "why?" question -- why these men have stepped off the rational bus onto the crazy train.

The Buzzfeed article on Paul Elam and Mother Jones article on Warren Farrell do a good job of this.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:29 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember when men's rights were primarily about equity in divorce, mostly child custody stuff, although perhaps it was never that simple. That didn't seem so crazy, but then they hopped aboard the crazy train full bore. It's kind of like the NRA. They used to be a gun safety organization with a small lobbying arm, and now they are a batshit insane lobbying organization with a small gun safety component. It seems everyone loves the crazy train, especially on the right.
posted by caddis at 5:31 AM on March 3, 2015 [28 favorites]


I suspect there are (some) issues in there that actually matter.

Ironically, the things these men care about that ARE real issues (custody disparity, prison rape, high male suicide rates, suffocating masculinity standards) are things feminists are actively working to change.
posted by almostmanda at 5:34 AM on March 3, 2015 [143 favorites]


Thanks for the link. Some of my Facebook friends are MRAs and they are gonna lose their fucking minds over this.

♫ Trolling, trolling, trolling on my Facebook... ♫
posted by Jacqueline at 5:52 AM on March 3, 2015 [23 favorites]


What kinda of man joins the MRM?

Cowards.
(which is funny, if you think about manly-man stereotypes...)
posted by notsnot at 5:55 AM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oh, look perhaps something that'll get to heart of this and find some sort of reasonablness burried at the core. There you read this:
Another one of his provocations. Elam's white, but he identifies with Malcolm X; he believes he needs to shock society to be heard. He says his talk of "the business end of a right hook" and women who are "freaking begging" to be raped is simply his version of Malcolm's "by any means necessary."
...and you just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away from the article, because to get this shit any semblance of a platform reeks of "fuck no."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 AM on March 3, 2015 [29 favorites]


I think this does do a good job at portraying the range of types of guy in this "movement" from confused young lonely dude to confused old angry rapist and everything in between along the way! Many of these men are marginalized because of either their total lack of social skills or some awful trauma in their past. They feel like outsiders from "real men" who breeze through life being handsome and taking full advantage of their privilege. It's a depressing, dismal scene he describes. We should pity these fools, the same way we pity a dog who bites children.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:57 AM on March 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


What Kind of Man Joins the Men’s Rights Movement?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:59 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember when men's rights were primarily about equity in divorce, mostly child custody stuff, although perhaps it was never that simple.
Well, one of the defining characteristics of the Men's Rights Movement has always been pointing out the handful of scenarios where patriarchal gender norms resulted in men getting the short end of the stick rather than women—and using those man-bites-dog stories as evidence that the REAL victims of sexism are not WOMEN but MEN etc etc etc.

That sort "actually, WE'RE the ones being wronged" surface-froth exists in every movement, but the rubber meets the road when the heavy thinkers in a movement start talking about underlying causes and systems. Feminism, by and large, has been been openly and vigorously grappling with issues that harm men and women, and conceptualizing approaches (like Intersectionalism) that address them in a deeply nuanced way, for generations. Parts of the movement have been on the wrong side of various issues (centering of white women and silencing of women of color, for example, or leaning on gender-norm enforcement during WWI), but it's a movement that has demonstrated its own ability to evolve academically, and self-critique. The "Men's Rights Movement" started, and remains, trapped in a reactionary "No, WOMEN are the problem! They're REALLY in control!" posture. Even if the purely factual nature of their claims passed muster, their analysis of underlying societal problems is profoundly immature.
posted by verb at 6:00 AM on March 3, 2015 [113 favorites]


Maybe there's no good answer, but I wished the article had spent more time on the "why?" question -- why these men have stepped off the rational bus onto the crazy train.

Yeah there's not a lot of the why there, but I did feel like it gave a nice overview of the different types of people drawn to the MRM and you can kind of infer why they're there. The predator who wants to be able to sleep with 12 year olds, the bitter to the extreme divorced guy, the guys concerned about false rape allegations. It's better as an ethnography of strange peoples than it is as an explanation of a movement. Part of this is that I'm not sure there is a coherent agenda to the "movement," the guy who wants to lower the age of consent to 12, the guy who thinks all American women are sex crazed monsters who need to know their place, and the PUA wannabe who's trying to level his looks up to 8 before talking to a girl don't have much in common beyond all hating women on one level or another.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


The kind of man that may rape one of my friends in college. The kind of man that I know has already raped some of my friends.
posted by gucci mane at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'd be really interested in reading something that compared, contrasted or traced connections between all this toxic misogynistic bullshit and what the "men's movement" used to mean decades ago, and which seemed to embody something potentially valid, and at the very least, not hate-filled.
posted by oliverburkeman at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the message most people are getting is that there may be some valid issues and some rational people but they are drowned in the sea of butthurt whining crazy.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the names Jeff, Quince and Blair seem familiar, last week's InstaEssays post should explain why.
posted by zamboni at 6:05 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


We should pity these fools, the same way we pity a dog who bites children.

I assume this is the point, but like, lots of people pity those dogs and also think they should be put down.

I am not advocating that humans be put down. I am also not advocating that doggies be put down.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:08 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, that was an unsurprisingly depressing read.
posted by rtha at 6:09 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I kind of object to the characterization of these dudes as primarily pitiful whiners. They threaten to punch, rape, and kill women repeatedly, openly, in front of the media, and compare it to social activism. I'll feel pity for them as soon as I'm sure they're not going to punch, rape, or kill me.
posted by almostmanda at 6:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [96 favorites]


The rape "jokes" and outright threats are awful enough, the stairwell creep-talk is fear- and cringe-inducing...but it gets so, so much worse:
When one of [MRA dude's] daughters came home one night and said she'd been raped, he said, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Sitting with us, he hikes his voice up to a falsetto in imitation: " 'Oh, I just got raped.' " He laughs. There's a moment of silence. A bridge too far? "I told her if she pressed charges, I'd disown her."
This is frighteningly sad.
posted by daveliepmann at 6:13 AM on March 3, 2015 [115 favorites]


I remember when men's rights were primarily about equity in divorce, mostly child custody stuff, although perhaps it was never that simple.

I thought it was about "Iron John" and weekend drum circles with other schlubby bros?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:14 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember when men's rights were primarily about equity in divorce, mostly child custody stuff, although perhaps it was never that simple.

I thought it was about "Iron John" and weekend drum circles with other schlubby bros?


Actually, it's about ethics in...oh nevermind
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:17 AM on March 3, 2015 [22 favorites]


I just don't see where all the anger is coming from.

after

I think I have it pretty good in our society.

These guys don't think they have it pretty good in our society, and they irrationally blame women for it. These are people that society have nominally rejected for whatever reason (likely whatever personal issues they have that make them think threatening rape is okay), and they've found each other on the internet.
posted by hwyengr at 6:20 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've always wondered how an MRA would react to their daughter getting raped. Now I wish I hadn't found out.
posted by mollweide at 6:21 AM on March 3, 2015 [69 favorites]


I thought it was about "Iron John" and weekend drum circles with other schlubby bros?
I think that was the men's movement, as opposed to the men's rights movement. I have some issues with the Iron John guys, having to do with rampant essentialism and romanticizing a masculine past that was actually deeply fucked-up, but they were basically a self-help movement, rather than a political thing. They were about the need for men to embrace positive masculinity by running around in the woods together and playing drums and hugging, rather than about justifying rape and domestic violence. Men's movement: goofy and somewhat problematic but mostly harmless. Men's rights movement: equal parts sinister and pathetic.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:23 AM on March 3, 2015 [46 favorites]


The red-pill moment, explains one men's rights activist (MRA), "is the day you decide nothing looks the same." It's what the movement calls the born-again experience of opening your eyes to women's Matrix-like control of the modern world.

My red-pill moment was realizing that I'm still picking and choosing safer environments over 20 years since my faggy ass last took a beating in high school. There was a brief period where I tried interacting with the Iron John guys in the early 90s, but they didn't give a fuck about violence against me except as a rhetorical club to use against feminists.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:23 AM on March 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


I kind of wonder what the Venn diagram for MRM and Tea Party members looks like?

More srsly, it'd be interesting to see comparisons between men who identify as members of the "men's right's movement" and people who identify as members of cults, gangs, MLM advocates, or other kinds of zealously self-identifying tribes. From my vantage point, the whole "manosphere" thing looks a lot like a marketing scam turned cult turned gang (then hijacked as such things often are to do someone else's wet work).

None of this is particularly new, tho if it has truly metastasized, then it's metastasized form may be. Back in the '90s I used to troll soc.men which was indistinguishable from any of the "manosphere" nonsense.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:25 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The red pill analogy makes it pretty clear: it's all about the kind of man who lived in a bubble of privilege and entitlement, then something shattered the bubble and they blame feminism.
posted by graymouser at 6:27 AM on March 3, 2015 [57 favorites]


> I am a white guy and objectively I think I have it pretty good in our society. We've all had romantic disasters and betrayals, but I just don't see where all the anger is coming from.

These guys remind me of that joke about three people and a plate of ten cookies. The rich person eats nine of them, points at the poor person and tells the middle class person "Look out, they're trying to take your cookie!" Except in this case it's a bunch of guys and one woman and they all freak out when she tries to take one cookie.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:33 AM on March 3, 2015 [36 favorites]


I think that was the men's movement, as opposed to the men's rights movement. I have some issues with the Iron John guys, having to do with rampant essentialism and romanticizing a masculine past that was actually deeply fucked-up, but they were basically a self-help movement, rather than a political thing. They were about the need for men to embrace positive masculinity by running around in the woods together and playing drums and hugging, rather than about justifying rape and domestic violence. Men's movement: goofy and somewhat problematic but mostly harmless. Men's rights movement: equal parts sinister and pathetic.

I'm no expert on the sociology of these things, but my impression, and I was around for the media tumescence of Robert Bly, was that the same sorts of men who went to meetings about making divorce "fair" (never mind about making marriage and children fair for women) for men also went in for reclaiming their lost masculinity. That shit has been around for awhile and those dudes at the drum circle had remarkably deep grudges once you scratched the surface positivity.

But, as much as these are men who fantasize about punishing women for being too powerful, I think the misogyny is a distraction, it's the pathological narcissism. Which is why so many things are metastasizing lately...

also, the "You My Also Like" link-hole at the bottom of the page at GQ is meta-hysterical.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:39 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


That is an incredibly sad article, and the less said about the comments, the better. In a country of 300-some million people there are going to be miscarriages of justice, that's inevitable. But to conclude that women are the source of our society's problems seems to me ridiculous. These men obviously feel they have legitimate grievances, and telling them that their concerns are ridiculous, but what do you do when a leader in the MRA movement writes an article asking when it's okay to hit a woman? I understand that it's allegedly satire, but just saying that doesn't make it true. How do we address the legitimate concerns these men raise if they are pathologically opposed to feminism? What do you do when a man seriously says that he thinks the age of consent should be 12?
posted by wintermind at 6:39 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


even the most reasonable focus of the manosphere is bullshit. studies show that when men seek custody they by and large get it. the gender disparity in custody arrangements are usually because women step up and men don't.
posted by nadawi at 6:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [38 favorites]


when the men who have abused and raped women write about abusing and raping women, it's not satire, no matter what they call it.
posted by nadawi at 6:49 AM on March 3, 2015 [42 favorites]


Every time I see "manosphere" I first parse it not as "man-o-sphere" but "manos-sphere" and then smile at the prospect of blogs about Torgo and The Master. Then I think about how much I miss Mystery Science Theater 3000. Then I parse the word correctly and get very sad. MRAs are sad, angry men who want to apply insane solutions to their problems. I prefer Joel and the Bots. Apologies for the derail. There should be a Manos-sphere, though.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:52 AM on March 3, 2015 [38 favorites]


I am a white guy and objectively I think I have it pretty good in our society. We've all had romantic disasters and betrayals, but I just don't see where all the anger is coming from.

Think about history and politics for a minute. It's pretty typical that those who have it pretty good complain the loudest about their lot.
posted by aught at 6:58 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I can't help but think that the rapid evolution of the relationship between employer and increasingly powerless and obviously less valued employees in a new market of that values impermanence in service of efficiency, with employers openly exerting their power over employees meager lives is the actual social force that is feeding these feelings of oppression.

On preview, what graymouser said.

Of course, they are apparently too stupid to figure out that their real feelings of powerlessness are based in real economic terms, and those things are impacting and will impact their lives in vast and terrible ways, but they can't identify with that conclusion, so it must be something else.

They seem to be sadly too invested in the just world economic belief system to be able to believe that the world of earnings and opportunity doesn't value them personally.

And their reaction is to blame something, anything, and these doofuses have decided its obviously women that are the cause of their not being valued, since half of the stupid language they use about sex has to do with what is "deserved" by them, and women who fail to "give" what they act is like some disembodied pink prize to the right people(i.e. not them).

And it wouldn't surprise me at all if there is some stupid mutant evo-bio twist in their half knowledge that says "If I am not a provider that can produce value, I will not be able to compete for comely and sexy resources".

Their stupid econ worldview has produced their increasingly miserable work lives, and they wonder why their believing the same thing about actual human inter-personal relationships might produce such equally miserable results.

So much flailing around to merely defend someone else's purpose built ethos injected into their clueless psyche.
posted by dglynn at 6:59 AM on March 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


Shakesville points out that it's kind of troubling to see the MRAs given this semi-sympathetic treatment with not much mention at all of its victims.

I wonder how many readers will conclude that they're basically delusional but harmless, as long as you're nowhere near them.

I wonder how many readers will realize that they sometimes come for you.

The final paragraphs of Sharlet's piece read to me as a way to give the casual reader permission to not care about these guys. And if urging people to care about the harm they do isn't the point, then what is.

I realize I'm meant to be grateful, because Sharlet essentially mocks MRAs in much of this piece, but I can't put this any more plainly: Humanizing MRAs in a way that either intentionally suggests or may unintentionally suggest they're really just creepy but ultimately hapless dodos doesn't actually help those of us targeted by them.

To the contrary: We are obliged to take seriously the threats and harassment which emanate from "Men's Rights" quarters, and, when we ask in turn for others to take seriously the harm being done to us, it's decidedly unhelpful to be met with some variation on "just ignore them; they're dingalings; what's the big deal?"

I'll grant it's pretty helpful to misogynist terrorists to be regarded that way, though.

posted by emjaybee at 7:00 AM on March 3, 2015 [52 favorites]


More srsly, it'd be interesting to see comparisons between men who identify as members of the "men's right's movement" and people who identify as members of cults, gangs, MLM advocates, or other kinds of zealously self-identifying tribes

I suspect its a combination of poor education, low socioeconomic status and loneliness, with possibly s bit of mental illness thrown in for good measure. Cross with the real-world likelihood of some unfortunate events or some other setback and you get weird manifestations.

These people are a good example of just how dangerous and toxic to a society the trifecta of a semi-dysfunctional education system, strained social services system and broken healthcare system can be to a nation, particularly in the modern era of communication. With the advent of the internet, these guys no longer need to confront a reality full of people telling them why they're being charged/losing custody/going to jail/etc. They have a shared network of disbelievers to call upon. Case in point: The follow-up comment to the most shocking part of the article

"I told her if she pressed charges, I'd disown her."

was

"That's good fathering".
posted by kisch mokusch at 7:02 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I kind of wonder what the Venn diagram for MRM and Tea Party members looks like? Both groups make awfully similar sorts of complaints/arguments, with "women" and "government" swapped-out as needed.

Well, several parts of the manosphere have gravitated towards and received favorable coverage from the right-wing nut gallery such as Breitbart, the Daily Beacon, Townhall, etc. One of the featured speakers at the AVFM conference that the article described is Dr. Helen Smith. She's the wife of prominent blogger Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, who is a major contributor to PJ Media, another right-wing media site. Smith, who has blogged for both PJ Media and AVFM, has a disgusting tendency to blame anti-woman and anti-feminist terrorism on feminism itself, which the manosphere gleefully parrots every time she prints it.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:03 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was originally interested in the idea of a men's movement-- I was already concerned about men's lack of choice in adoption decisions (agency's would often encourage women to not even tell the father or move her to another state for the placement to avoid his input), in cases of abuse, dangerous mental state, or hard drug use I think that is fine, as that is sometimes why women are placing- but that was not the reasoning behind this council (also more placements is more money, plus a pro-adoption ideology behind agency workers that sees adoption as an innately better outcome so ends to the means etc.)

So yeah, I think custody issues and problems negotiating them are worth talking about from a humanistic place.

Anyway so I wrote some MRA guy (before I knew what the "movement" actually was) about how I was glad someone was concerned and I had issues navigating these things with a difficult ex who wasn't very good to be around kids and what I received was a very very long rant about how either I am lying and my ex is really awesome or if he is awful the truth is that is proof of how awful I am because why did I date him? So he should have custody either way because no matter what I am the one who is awful! (So apparently they want abusive partners to be awarded custody on grounds that dating someone who turns out to be abusive is WORSE than actually being abusive? Not to mention as of course I learned later many of them actually think domestic violence is ok/justified because women are so awful and children need to be "disciplined")

It was a really rage fueled rant in response to a very brief (what I thought was supportive even?) email from me and I was like OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING???!!

Then I actually read the "articles" at the mrm websites and I was like. OH. Oh. I see. These people are terrifying. Ok then... I am afraid.

I am actually really grateful to David Futrelle (and others) for engaging with this stuff and providing evidence that there are men that disagree with this stuff... I already knew my ex was that way but I had no idea there was a festering united group of these nut jobs working together to make the world a worse place and feed and strengthen each others pathologies.

A little disinfectant is needed here.

Some of us ladies are not only exposed to guys like this online but forced to deal with these people in our lives, workplaces, peer groups, and relationships.... and their voices are often a lot louder than the voices of men who think differently but aren't saying anything about the issues. That combined with the very real aggression and sexism and sexual assault taken out toward women as part of our culture and in our daily lives-starts to make it seem like maybe deep down this is how most men think when I like to think that isn't true at all.

And yeah these are real men who actually interact with real people in their lives,carrying out these ideologies onto vulnerable people around them. They don't just exist on a computer screen, they hurt real people and they're not harmless.
posted by xarnop at 7:07 AM on March 3, 2015 [41 favorites]


I guess the Taliban must be heroes to MRM dsiciples. Those "men" really know how to assert themselves.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:19 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


The MRM is right-wing assholism directed more towards women than blacks or homos or the government.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:20 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I guess the Taliban must be heroes to MRM dsiciples. Those "men" really know how to assert themselves.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:19 AM on March 3


Because I'm that kind of person, I spent some time browsing the forums of one of the sites mentioned in the piece. I discovered someone's "I'M LEAVING THE SITE" rant that included complaining that people on the site wouldn't stop talking about how great ISIS is. I suspect they're doing it with that irony that's not really irony, but I didn't go looking for it too much.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:23 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


so apparently they want abusive partners to be awarded custody on grounds that dating someone who turns out to be abusive is WORSE than actually being abusive?

and, this is actually how it works out a significant percent of the time. abusive men are more likely to seek custody and they use their ex's mental state, a thing they caused, as ammunition against her, and it works.
posted by nadawi at 7:24 AM on March 3, 2015 [36 favorites]


Why doesn't the MRM just merge with the Aryan Nation so they can hasten their journey into irrelevant absurdity and the rest of us can get on with facing real issues.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Feminism has rhetorical power in our society derived from decades of academic thought and research and decades of legitimate and strong political activism. (Oh, and from just simply being obviously right.) I think some of the MRAs are angry that women can wield that collective power and they want to co-opt it and take it back for themselves even though they have no right to it. So, you have this bizarre funhouse mirror version that uses some of the same social justice language but doesn't back it up with well thought out research or legitimate political activism. I think it's a movement that attracts men who feel powerless by offering them a form of power. A lot, lot of things that get men in trouble and self-sabotage mode are similar false versions of power.

But yes, men have issues. A lot of issues. Many issues. Don't let that get lost in the relative group privilege over women.

These issues do need to be worked on for the good of all of us. We will never get there as long as the face of that movement is a hate group blaming the wrong people for their problems and taking no personal or collective responsibility for their own issues. But...

Ironically, the things these men care about that ARE real issues (custody disparity, prison rape, high male suicide rates, suffocating masculinity standards) are things feminists are actively working to change.

No, not really. And that's fine. It's not their responsibility. Prison reform and male suicide are not going to be high on feminism's to-do list until a lot of other issues are solved. Men have to be the ones to lead the change movement for themselves, and it's crushingly sad to me that we clearly aren't quite ready.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:26 AM on March 3, 2015 [13 favorites]



Because I'm that kind of person, I spent some time browsing the forums of one of the sites mentioned in the piece. I discovered someone's "I'M LEAVING THE SITE" rant that included complaining that people on the site wouldn't stop talking about how great ISIS is. I suspect they're doing it with that irony that's not really irony, but I didn't go looking for it too much.



Sorry I dotn't follow you here, you're what kind of person?
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:28 AM on March 3, 2015


I guess the Taliban must be heroes to MRM dsiciples. Those "men" really know how to assert themselves.

No, because in their view feminism IS the taliban.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:30 AM on March 3, 2015


when the men who have abused and raped women write about abusing and raping women, it's not satire, no matter what they call it.

No, it isn't "satire." It's the language of the bully and the abuser. "Ha. ha. Will hurt you. No I won't. Maybe I will." is the line of every bully from the playground kid to Paul Elam to Vladimir Putin. Elam's got the schtick down cold. From the looks of it, he could've been the next Charlie Manson if he'd ever amounted to anything at all.
There's also Jess Kenney, a doe-eyed young mom who says her red-pill moment was giving birth to a boy. That was when she started to worry. "Can someone take advantage of him?" she asks. "You know, make accusations against him, for things he hasn't done?"
I'm struck, too, by the similarity of this language to the language of the anti-vaxxers. There is the same fixated fear of the highly improbable and the concomitant refusal to fear the highly likely.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:31 AM on March 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


I see a lot of parallels between men's righters, Tea Partiers, Libertarians, and fundamental religious folks. They are all looking for easy answers, bright lines between right and wrong, no gray areas, a rule book to live by. They're looking for simple rules, unaware or unwilling to believe that there are no simple rules, because it's not a simple world.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:32 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


Liquidwolf: "Sorry I dotn't follow you here, you're what kind of person?"

Likely, "glutton for punishment".
posted by notsnot at 7:32 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Or like me when I let my curiosity get the best of me and look at things that end up making me feel ill.
posted by Jalliah at 7:34 AM on March 3, 2015


Why is it "MRA" anyway? Are they pushing for a "Men's Rights Amendment" or something ridiculous like that? The whole bill of rights is a "men's rights" bill already.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:34 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


you're what kind of person?
Yeah, I read that as "the kind of person who reads comments, knowing that they will be repulsive," because I know Bulgaroktonos (and his wife).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:35 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


even the most reasonable focus of the manosphere is bullshit. studies show that when men seek custody they by and large get it. the gender disparity in custody arrangements are usually because women step up and men don't.

The "Tender years" doctrine was ended in many states in the mid-90s. I'm in my early 40s and was denied custody and placement because Mom was able to use that (at least initially) - so there are lots of men still bitter over that, and probably not aware of the changing landscape.* Even at that, there are still some states that rely on the presumption that kids should be with the mother. Plus, there is a huge class differential - rich dads who seek custody routinely do better than poorer ones.

Point is - Family Court sucks. It sucks less than it did, but it still sucks.

All of the above being said - every time I have met an MRA dude and he hasn't gotten placement, it's because he's a shitheel who has tried some shenanigan or other. Like A) he's the first one to try that scheme and B) the court would take it lightly.

Whatever the problems that Family Court has, the MRAs haven't fixed thing one of them.

* This elides the amount of crap men as single parents still have to put up with. I've never seen a woman catch as much shit as I have for taking off from work to take the kid to to doctor, or what have you. Not that it's great for women, either - it's a different set of sucky expectations. Still.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:37 AM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm struck, too, by the similarity of this language to the language of the anti-vaxxers

I wouldn't equate this MRM stuff with anti- vaccination. The anti vaccine people have some real concerns and ground to stand on, the MRM is just a selfish reactionary hiccup in culture.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:38 AM on March 3, 2015


Yeah, I read that as "the kind of person who reads comments, knowing that they will be repulsive," because I know Bulgaroktonos (and his wife).
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:35 AM on March 3


Yeah, sorry if that wasn't clear. I meant some combination of that and glutton for punishment.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:39 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are plenty of feminists working on reducing prison rape and suicide and reforming dysfunctional family court systems, even if resolving those issues aren't primary goals of the feminist movement. If the MRAs were serious about fixing any of those problems, they would be looking for ways to make common cause with like-minded people whether or not they are feminists; instead, they spend time writing screeds and incomprehensible memes attacking feminism and women. It couldn't be clearer that MRAs don't actually care about addressing those issues - they just want to use them as a club to attack feminists and women.
posted by burden at 7:41 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


DrinkyDie, feminists are working on those things, though. In actuality. Though by "feminists" I don't exclusively mean women. But when it comes to prison rape (which happens to both sexes) and toxic masculinity standards that also hurt both sexes, the fight has to be for helping everyone if it is to be effective.

Not to mention that talking about gender-related struggles has to include LGBTQ folks, who are going to be both men and women, and who are certainly often victimized by the abusers.

The problem with MRA is not that they advocate for men but that they believe men can only win if women lose. Binary zero-sum thinking is a fundamental part of their problem.

Part of what is terrifying/exhilarating about feminism is that it doesn't just want to make things better for women, but to tear down the whole binary, patriarchal, toxic mess of gender relations, period.* Because otherwise any victories we win will be temporary and partial.

*some feminists are more committed to this idea than others, but I would say that the hardest-working ones see things this way
posted by emjaybee at 7:44 AM on March 3, 2015 [37 favorites]


The anti vaccine people have some real concerns and ground to stand on

They do not.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on March 3, 2015 [130 favorites]


No, not really. And that's fine. It's not their responsibility. Prison reform and male suicide are not going to be high on feminism's to-do list until a lot of other issues are solved. 

that's just not true. feminist groups fought to expand or eliminate the draft. feminists fight to expand definitions of rape to include men. feminists included men in the violence against women's act. feminists fight for expanded leave for both parents. feminists put their support behind the prison rape elimination act, and on and on.
posted by nadawi at 7:52 AM on March 3, 2015 [74 favorites]


Yeah, I read that as "the kind of person who reads comments, knowing that they will be repulsive," because I know Bulgaroktonos (and his wife).
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:35 AM on March 3

Yeah, sorry if that wasn't clear. I meant some combination of that and glutton for punishment.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:39 AM on March 3 [+] [!]


The kind of person who knows better and does it anyway. The following real-life conversation might be helpful:

"It hurts when I poke my arm here."
"Um, maybe stop doing that?"
"No, I think I'll keep poking my arm."
"...Okay."

THAT kind of person.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:56 AM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


This elides the amount of crap men as single parents still have to put up with. I've never seen a woman catch as much shit as I have for taking off from work to take the kid to to doctor, or what have you.

That's at least partially because childcare is seen and treated as the responsibility and role of women, not men. A woman taking off of work to take the kid to the doctor is fulfilling her inborn motherly duty; a father doing the same thing is emasculating himself by lowering himself to a position that is culturally and socially assigned to fee-males. Since it's expected that [royal] you have already secured a woman to take care of this whole "child-rearing" thing, whether she's a nanny, babysitter, or wife, taking on responsibility for the nitty-gritty parts of parenthood is seen as something of a failure of masculinity -- just look at serial child abandoner (and MRA superstar) Paul Elam.

A stunning percentage of this shit is just the manifestation of dudes being disappointed by dudes (themselves and others) for being temporarily or permanently unable to broaden the reach of stereotypical masculinity to encompass every single facet of their lives. The possibility of winding up on the wrong side of the patriarchal divide makes them nervous -- if they're insufficiently masculine, people might start to treat them like women. And since the worst thing these dudes can possibly imagine is for a man to be treated with the same sort of unthinking disrespect, dismissal, and disdain our culture otherwise reserves exclusively for barely human woman-things, their reaction to the prospect is about as violent, unthinking, and diaper baby-oriented as you'd expect.
posted by divined by radio at 7:57 AM on March 3, 2015 [63 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Folks, let's not get further into debating the merits of anti-vaxxers' position. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a feminist I powerfully want to support all humans facing adversity, trauma, abuse, disenfranchisement, illness, or poverty and increasing the support structures and knowledge and social momentum behind solving these problems and supporting human beings. I am humanist first however feminism fits within the context of doing research and understanding the backstory and current issues facing each individual we are seeking to support or to understanding what cultural changes we can make to stop certain types of violence or aggression or maltreatment from occurring.

I have desperately sought to understand the origins of the abusive men in my life, from a very compassionate perspective- most were impacted by poverty and single parent abusive/strife ridden homes. No one is healthy under such circumstances and men tend to externalize rather than internalize, but that doesn't mean I don't see addressing men's mental health issues and children's health issues and DIRECTLY related to protecting women.

A lot of these men were failed by society either by their families, or by the society that failed their families or both. Helping men get their physical and emotional needs met across their developmental years as well as evolving into healthy, well supported, compassionate aware people understand themselves and others is absolutely part of feminism. Helping find ways to get trauma support and financial supports (through fighting for better treatment/pay of employees as well as increased safety nets) for men to have stability and healing when needed is all part of ending cycles of violence.

It's also innately the right thing to do to support human beings, and feminism is just one part of what should be a united cohesive movement to support human beings.
posted by xarnop at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


I really want to know about the daughter who was raped. Does she still get along with her father? Is she okay? What happened to her? I don't care so much about the shitheels they profiled.
posted by jeather at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [33 favorites]


DrinkyDie, feminists are working on those things, though. In actuality.

No, not really. It's not like they are fighting against it or anything and I'm sure there are some feminists among the people working on them but the steps needed to solve things like prison reform, male suicide, and male homelessness are going to be too controversial among feminists right now to make them as major a priority they would need to be to get serious change, as if the fact that they are primarily male issues (By that I mean, the solutions for men in these situations are likely to be a bit different from the solutions for women in similar situations, not that women don't face these issues) when women around the world still face cripplingly serious issues isn't enough on it's own.

For things like real prison reform you would have to start with stuff like legalizing drugs, which is still controversial. You will lose some feminists who will see it as a danger to their children. Then you would also likely have to reduce the conviction rates for other more serious crimes by taking a lot of the unfairness and racism out of the process. That's scary, it's tough for people to accept that not everybody charged is guilty or that the guilty might go free. We'd have to start making sure ex-cons had access to jobs. Not all feminists are going to be on board with having to work with felons. Now, those aren't biases restricted to feminists at all. They are common in society. What that means is the people who are working to change it have to make it a near full time priority in their activism because a lot of the hard work of persuasion remains. Feminism is not the movement to be doing that for this issue. Sure, they can throw some support behind bills, but that isn't where the hard work is done. Imagine telling someone fighting for gay rights that it was ironic they had a movement when feminism was working on equality for gay people anyway. Yes, sure, they are on board, but you still needed the leadership from the gay movement.

Men need a movement. Not THIS movement, but we need to figure something out instead of relying on feminism to fix our issues, because in real life what is going to occur if you try and talk about how serious an issue male suicide is in a feminist discussion space you will often justifiably receive a whole heap of sarcastic replies along the lines of, "BUT WAT ABOUT TEH MENZ!?!??" That's not the group to address male suicide with.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:03 AM on March 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


Drinky Die, do you have evidence that feminists are not working on these things or are you going to just aver it with theory?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:04 AM on March 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


Do you have any examples of feminists or feminist organizations specifically working on these issues? I just haven't heard of any.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:07 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've always wondered how an MRA would react to their daughter getting raped. Now I wish I hadn't found out.

Yeah. The single biggest reason I have what I know to be VERY low tolerance for sexist BS, even stuff that can be constructively called out, is that my father was essentially an MRA precursor. MRA-type thinking has been around for a long time; the Internet has "merely" given it new grounds for reinforcement. Others above have mentioned the Tea Party and ISIS; pretty much any extremist group (in my parents' case, evangelical Christianity) will have a cohort like this.

Even further back in time, check out Hesiod's "Theogony", it's like an Ancient Greek MRA handbook. As are quite a few other pieces of classical Greek philosophy. Not going to go into comparative mythology, that's not the point; the point is, we Westerners tend to see Greek philosophy as a taproot of our contemporary culture, and it is mightily poisoned.

I've wandered, for reasons of avoidance, as usual. My father temporarily disowned me after I was raped. Or rather, after I told him I was raped. I had to promise to never again "talk badly about men I had seduced". (Dude had been my first boyfriend.) Guess who cut off contact with her parents a few years later. Turns out I also couldn't "talk badly" about the dude who berated and hit me, because I had seduced him into an extramarital relationship. In sane human terms: he was my second boyfriend, and we lived together. Monogamously.

My father had PLENTY of supportive ears.
posted by fraula at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2015 [43 favorites]


For things like real prison reform you would have to start with stuff like legalizing drugs, which is still controversial.

The harm reduction, criminal justice reform, and drug decrim/legalization movements are packed with women, feminists of all genders, and parents. Legalization being controversial is not in the least restricted to feminists - it is, however, very controversial among politicians who don't care what their actual constituents say.

> Do you have any examples of feminists or feminist organizations specifically working on these issues? I just haven't heard of any.

Women with a Vision

Can I please gently point out that if you are not very familiar with the decrim/legalization/harm reduction movements, your lack of familiarity does not mean that no feminists are working on these issues. It just means you don't know about it.
posted by rtha at 8:12 AM on March 3, 2015 [107 favorites]


DrinkyDie, feminists are working on those things, though. In actuality. Though by "feminists" I don't exclusively mean women. But when it comes to prison rape (which happens to both sexes) and toxic masculinity standards that also hurt both sexes, the fight has to be for helping everyone if it is to be effective.

This is also where I come back to the maturity of "Feminist Thought" — I talk a lot about how much respect I have for intersectionalism; it's a branch of feminism that has managed to tease apart very, very complex interrelated issues and articulate a way of giving them all a fair shake. bell hooks' Feminism Is For Everybody spends a good solid chapter or so talking about the ways that underlying systems of power and oppression hurt everyone, men included, and that dismantling them must always be the endgame of a meaningful pursuit of equality.

The most frustrating thing for me when interacting with MRA and MRA-curious folks is the predictable moment when they ask, "How can some poor schlub like me have more 'privilege' than a beautiful female executive?" They're hovering right there on the edge on the edge of intersectional analysis, standing at the precipice of the collaborative struggle to dismantle systems of oppression. And the vast majority stare for a few moments, blink, and continue: "See? WOMEN are powerful!"

Sad trombone.
posted by verb at 8:16 AM on March 3, 2015 [28 favorites]


Men need a movement.

I guess I don't know how a genuinely humane "men's movement" would be all that different from a humane politics in general. But that may be because I don't see that men qua men share enough common problems to constitute a "movement." Even feminists fracture over lines of difference and women at least have in common the experience of being historically dis-privileged. Men, as a group, don't even have that. There are many, many men with whom I share nothing but a chromosomal construction. Unless the proposition is that there is some quality or characteristic or experience that all men share (besides their general humanness), I see nothing to build a specifically men's movement around.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:19 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a man who has been harmed by gender, I have more in common with other people who have been harmed by gender and realize it, than I do in common with men who have been harmed by gender and fail to realize it. That's why I'm a feminist.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:22 AM on March 3, 2015 [52 favorites]


Do you have any examples of feminists or feminist organizations specifically working on these issues? I just haven't heard of any.

I'm puzzled by this response. I mean, for example, I volunteered as a rape crisis counselor at a regional rape crisis center, and a large part of our training featured discussions of prison rape/male victims/how toxic masculinity expectations make it harder for male victims to seek help. So yes, we were working on those issues. We had ongoing discussions of how best to serve the needs of those victims (especially because men who are raped by women are often uncomfortable speaking to a female crisis counselor).

What I find puzzling is that several people here are saying "yes, feminists are working on these issues," and that "well I haven't heard of any" is being given as a response. Have you asked? Have you called your local rape crisis center? Have you spoken to the local advocates for maternity leave to ask if they are also advocating for paternity leave? The people involved in these groups don't post a special badge on their websites that says "btw, we ALSO advocate for men!", but people here are clearly pointing out that they do. The fact that it isn't discussed on the front page of the NOW website doesn't make it less true.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:24 AM on March 3, 2015 [45 favorites]


Do you have any examples of feminists or feminist organizations specifically working on these issues?

beyond my comment up thread where i listed many examples, here's more detail on one of them - lovisa stannow, a feminist, has been heading up just detention international for the last ten years. here is a feministing five with her.
posted by nadawi at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2015 [23 favorites]


Thanks for the responses!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:28 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess I don't know how a genuinely humane "men's movement" would be all that different from a humane politics in general.

I can absolutely imagine what it would look like—it would focus on the issues that disproportionately or uniquely affect men in the same way that the "accessibility" movement focuses on issues that disproportionately affect those without sight or hearing or physical mobility. There is absolutely room for those kinds of focused movements and I think they can do a ton of good.

What it would not look like is a competition with or battle against other movements that try to solve problems that disproportionately affect one group. Imagine a nominal antipoverty movement whose primary contribution to public discourse is attacking the physically handicapped, and you've got a reasonable approximation of the Men's Rights Movement.
posted by verb at 8:29 AM on March 3, 2015 [22 favorites]


I could see the need for a humane "men's movement" dedicated to tearing down male stereotypes and working together to create a new paradigm for male-ness. While intersectionality is certainly a thing, I could see a benefit to men figuring their shit out in a men-only environment. (The exact opposite of the MRA types, I suppose.)

I'm a Freemason, and Freemasonry is dedicated to making good men into better men. We're not exactly shattering stereotypes, but there is a real benefit to exposing men to concepts like brotherly love, respect, and empathy for the downtrodden.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:31 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


prison reform, male suicide, and male homelessness are going to be too controversial among feminists right now to make them as major a priority they would need to be to get serious change

I'll grant you that white feminism is not making the most noise about these things, but Black and intersectional feminism DOES, constantly, because of the unequal application of drug and petty crime sentences, exclusion from resources and assistance, and the general open season on Black men is kind of a problem right now. You may have heard about some of this.

Who do you think was protesting day after day in Ferguson, and what did you think they were protesting? (And it's not all black people protesting, but a very valuable lesson that white feminists have had offered to them recently is the opportunity to shut up and listen to leaders who are, in fact, more informed on these fronts because they have to be.)

These things are not controversial. I feel 100% comfortable saying there is no actual feminist organization that is pro-homelessness or going around goading men to kill themselves. Jesus christ.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:31 AM on March 3, 2015 [32 favorites]


Women with a Vision

Was created by and for women of color to focus on issues that impacted women of color. The help it will give to men is welcome but it will be indirect and incomplete. I can definitely see why women of color would care about an issue like drug policy reform, but it's one that is going to lose support among some white feminists preventing it from really becoming a major plank. That's the issue here and why men will need their own movement, feminism already has a tough enough time building consensus on priorities among women's issues (witness the recent struggles to come to terms with the nuances of the Oscar controversy) to ask it to branch out and solve men's issues. It's just not their job. I have not said there are no feminists or women who care about these issues, I am talking about feminism as a broad movement.

Let me try and explain it this way. I know many Republicans who are pro-choice. That does not mean I would say, "Republicans are working to protect abortion rights." (The metaphor falls apart further in that case because they are actively hostile to abortion rights, I want it to be clear that I don't feel feminism as a movement is hostile to the issues here. They just are not going to be priorities any time soon.)

Can I please gently point out that if you are not very familiar with the decrim/legalization/harm reduction movements, your lack of familiarity does not mean that no feminists are working on these issues. It just means you don't know about it.

I am familiar with prison reform and drug policy. Familiar via both personal experience going through the criminal justice system and via political action.

I guess I don't know how a genuinely humane "men's movement" would be all that different from a humane politics in general. But that may be because I don't see that men qua men share enough common problems to constitute a "movement."

Not so different other than where you put your priorities. A general or feminist movement would rightly focus on why women aren't having as much success in STEM fields while a more male focused movement might work on encouraging more men to enter fields like nursing or teaching where men can bring a lot to the table. Those are all good jobs to have equal representation in, both for the employees and society.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:33 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel 100% comfortable saying there is no actual feminist organization that is pro-homelessness or going around goading men to kill themselves.

I think it's pretty clear that is an uncharitable reading.

Anyway, I've argued this to the best of my ability, moving on so as not to take over the thread any more.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:36 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


women at least have in common the experience of being historically dis-privileged. Men, as a group, don't even have that.

I think that a large part of what men share is their particular types of privilege, and the kind of ideological apparatuses and strictures those put on a person.

Like many folks have pointed out before me, feminism has a long and helpful track record of looking at the ways that gender influences and is influenced by societies; I think a reasonable man would build off of that philosophical groundwork and try to quietly glean insight from feminist women he knows, rather than approaching The Other Gender And Its Movements like ladies are frowning NPCs in a video game.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:36 AM on March 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


The possibility of winding up on the wrong side of the patriarchal divide makes them nervous

Which is why they think labeling someone a "beta male" is a cutting insult instead of just further grounds for mockery.
posted by Gelatin at 8:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


> but it's one that is going to lose support among some white feminists

Can I get a cite for this? Like, are there links somewhere to Known Feminist Organizations that are opposed to drug policy reform? Or do you mean, don't have it as an item on their agenda list - and therefore that I guess means it's not a feminist issue, or something?
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I could see the need for a humane "men's movement" dedicated to tearing down male stereotypes and working together to create a new paradigm for male-ness. While intersectionality is certainly a thing, I could see a benefit to men figuring their shit out in a men-only environment. (The exact opposite of the MRA types, I suppose.)

Yeah this would be pretty much the exact opposite of the manosphere stuff, at least as I've observed it. When it does focus itself on men, rather than women (which is rare), it's still toxic. The PUA part of it in particular seems to have encouraging body image disorders in men as one of its chief goals. Guys trying to reshape their face through proper tongue positioning, people have earnest debates about whether it's worth it to have friends if you're unattractive. Obviously the shit they say about women is worse, but it's not a friendly place to male, either.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


feminist organizations have been supporting men's issues for decades, often times with no support from the men they were trying to help. feminism has always concerned itself with equality and part of that is focusing on rape against men, unequal social security funds distributions, prison reform, selective service, family leave, etc. these have been issues centered and pushed forward by feminist groups like the national organization for women and aclu's women's rights project.
posted by nadawi at 8:38 AM on March 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


Guys trying to reshape their face through proper tongue positioning

THIS IS INCREDIBLE HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS
posted by Greg Nog at 8:40 AM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think that a large part of what men share is their particular types of privilege

But there's already a Rotary Club.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:41 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


The force that shames men for pursuing a nursing career is the same one that deems nursing women's work. Rigid masculinity standards almost necessarily demonize feminine traits. The patriarchy hurts men, too. Feminists know this, we state it often, and it's kind of upsetting to insinuate that making things better for GLBT men, effeminate straight men, stay at home dads, unemployed men, men with mental illness, etc. is just a side perk of dismantling the patriarchy and not something we've been talking about for decades.
posted by almostmanda at 8:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [56 favorites]


I'm especially grumpy today. But one of the reasons why MRAs can't deal with suicide except to use it as a rhetorical device against feminism is that a key risk factor for suicide in our culture is being non-heterosexual or transgender, which makes a key causative factor the fucking patriarchy, which MRAs deny exists.

It probably doesn't help that the other side of the equation is represented by opportunists like Hugo Fucking Schwyzer.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Privilege enjoyed long enough becomes "rights" and "the natural order of things" to the privileged
posted by librosegretti at 8:45 AM on March 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


women's organizations have been supporting men's issues for decades, often times with no support from the men they were trying to help.

Yeah, one of the saddest things I ever heard as a volunteer was that we had ONCE had a male volunteer as a crisis counselor who could speak with male victims, but after he left no men had tried to volunteer in the YEARS since, despite efforts of the center to actively recruit replacements.

(Also sad: not a week went by that we didn't get an email warning us of the new male caller who had decided to repeatedly call the crisis line, tell graphic rape stories, and then jerk off while he was doing it. As bad as the real calls were, the constant threat of being sexually harassed while trying to help victims of assault was the reason I burned out. We not only didn't have men signing up to help, we had lots of them trying to punish/humiliate us for trying to help anyone at all.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:46 AM on March 3, 2015 [38 favorites]


It seems everyone loves the crazy train, especially on the right.

Wasn't there some famous sociologist who said that given enough time all movements turn reactionary?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:48 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really want to know about the daughter who was raped. Does she still get along with her father? Is she okay? What happened to her? I don't care so much about the shitheels they profiled.

Yeah, the fact that the reporter didn't try to do any follow-up on that is a pretty disgusting case of excusing and fawning over bullies, "Oh, those rascals! Boys, amiright?" while ignoring the people they hurt.
posted by straight at 8:51 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


My first thought was that the guy made it up. Like his daughter never said any such thing. It's too on the nose. But if it's true, that's horrendous and I'm so sorry for her. What a nightmare.
posted by peep at 8:55 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Men need a movement. Not THIS movement, but we need to figure something out instead of relying on feminism to fix our issues, because in real life what is going to occur if you try and talk about how serious an issue male suicide is in a feminist discussion space you will often justifiably receive a whole heap of sarcastic replies along the lines of, "BUT WAT ABOUT TEH MENZ!?!??"

Yeah, the reason "what about the menz?!" is such a common refrain in feminist communities isn't because we're so deeply callous and cold-hearted when it comes to issues like male rape and suicide, it's because MRAs only ever bring up their dude-centric concerns in conversations between and about women. I mean, you don't really see a lot of these guys ginning up Kickstarter campaigns to open male-only crisis centers or fundraising for 1 in 6 and RAINN, even though those are organizations that directly and explicitly tackle a host of the MRAs' stated concerns.

Instead, they expend all of their time and energy tearing down women and feminism by any means necessary. They keep themselves busy by inserting themselves into discussions about the ills of sexism to remind us that women are privileged over men because we don't have to register for Selective Service -- curiously, no mention is ever made of the fact that the draft has been off the table since long before many modern-day MRAs were even born. Instead of working to reduce interpersonal violence writ large, they tromp into discussions about intimate partner abuse (the leading cause of injury for American and European women ages 16-44) to remind us that men kill other men more often than they kill women. And on and on and on.

But when feminists point out that the MRAs' material dereliction of duty results in the brunt of the responsibility for solving men's problems falling (as usual) back onto women, they're very quick to tell us that feminism isn't doing nearly enough for them; indeed, it's often assumed that we must either be actively working against them or not really doing much of anything at all.
posted by divined by radio at 9:03 AM on March 3, 2015 [58 favorites]


My first thought was that the guy made it up. Like his daughter never said any such thing. It's too on the nose. But if it's true, that's horrendous and I'm so sorry for her. What a nightmare.

I believe it's real, and at least one person above has mentioned a similar thing happening in their own life. But I would also believe that these guys think of rape solely as a rhetorical device used to win arguments and make people take you seriously.
posted by almostmanda at 9:05 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Men need a movement.

That movement exists, it's called "feminism". Things like the male suicide rate? What drives the male suicide rate? Male feelings of failure, of not being a "good provider", things that are the result of a toxic sort of traditional masculinity that's the result of...patriarchy. (As are things like the assumption that women are more "nurturing" and therefore deserve automatic custody of children. As is the pay gap and lower earnings potential that results in men having to pay child support. As are most of the other things MRA's like to whinge about that are "hurting men", somehow.)
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 9:06 AM on March 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think men might have some needs that would (per individual preference) benefit from support and guidance FROM MEN. When I go to a doctor, I prefer a woman, but I think if men were to seek out male support or guidance, it is more frowned upon.

I prefer working with women because it cuts down on sexual tension or advances- (even gay/bi women with a few exceptions don't tend to make advances or the same assumptions that sexual advances are welcomed or expected in my experience).

Some men might have this preference too, maybe they get super horny working with women and it's harder to work. I can see no reason people should be embarrassed about having sexual feelings or seeking an environment that works for them.

Because of institutional male privilege, these UNDERSTANDABLE preferences by men will have an adverse effect on women who already have a harder time making it in the workplace for various reasons. So at present it's probably harder to provide men with male only spaces without crowding out or making women feel unwelcome,than it is to provide women only spaces. So like, a man who wants to fire a female employee because she's attractive is problematic, in a way that a woman who wants to select and female dominated workplace (or work for a by women for women company or something) isn't.

That said, many people identify strongly with their gender and having a space to talk about issues affecting their gender and development as people with an understanding of that experience of gender is an understandable thing for men to want (for anyone to want). I'm cool with supportive spaces that specifically support men, advance research and advocacy on issues impacting men etc- and also hopefully help men grow in understanding of their own and others needs. I liked the idea behind good men project though was disappointing in outcome- I do think men often face unique issues in healing from trauma, forming identity, building healthy relationships- and that awareness of unique issues facing individuals will help them get better support or build healthier self awareness and understanding.

I also would LOVE if men would help take care of the trauma impacted men I have known- I tried and it nearly destroyed me, we DO need more men taking leadership positions of figuring out how to help men heal and function in society and get the resources they need to do that. I would love to see men standing up to help advocate for financial resources for parent and low income families, to support kids without dads, to support male survivors of neglect and abuse. I don't think having safety concerns about convicted sex offenders working with young or vulnerable people means we can't find options that will take safety concerns into account and ALSO provide jobs and housing. It's hard,but I think you can do both.

Deciding that to support violent offenders one MUST override other people's safety concerns is untrue and pushback against that idea is not the same thing as pushback against jobs or housing solutions for ex-criminals who were violent offenders. In general, I want to support everyone including people with aggression/violence issues, but safety of innocent people MUST be part of building those supports, otherwise you're just feeding the beast. Hand holding perpetrators does not stop offending (though it may reduce it)- and that reality means safety concerns are crucial even if it means rethinking how to structure supports for people with a history or current problems with violence or abuse (and that includes women who are dangerous as well, who I also want to help but also not at the expense of innocent people).
posted by xarnop at 9:09 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


I am a feminist working on drug policy reform. As in, it is my job. Drug policy reform is a feminist issue and the vast majority of women working in this field are motivated/informed by feminism. That the women doing so much of the work on drug policy and criminal justice reform aren't getting the same visibility and you don't know who they are does not mean that we aren't here. I have yet to meet anyone who would describe themselves as a white feminist who doesn't acknowledge the damage that the war on drugs has done to women.

After all, who ended alcohol Prohibition in this country? Women.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [44 favorites]


Yeah, the fact that the reporter didn't try to do any follow-up on that is a pretty disgusting case of excusing and fawning over bullies, "Oh, those rascals! Boys, amiright?" while ignoring the people they hurt.

I feel like some people here were reading a different article than me. That section of the article was fucking horrifying and and the fact that Sharlet doesn't stop and directly say, "Wow, this is fucking horrifying!" doesn't mean that he doesn't recognize that. This is not an article written for Paul Elam who might need such a statement to make it clear that the author is not just reminiscing about a productive conversation about parenting strategies.

The answer the article provides to the question "What kind of man joins the men's rights movement?" is: child molesters, rapists, and psychopaths. The idea that this is even "semi-sympathetic" is just bizarre to me.

And as for following up with the daughter, you really think that the author's ethical obligation having been told that story is to go track down the daughter and start asking her questions about what must have been one of the most painful experiences of her life?
posted by nicolas.bray at 9:17 AM on March 3, 2015 [20 favorites]


After all, who ended alcohol Prohibition in this country? Women.

I mean, I agree with you and I strongly believe that true feminism involves working towards goals that improve life for all people. But I think that if you're going to go ahead and give women the credit for ending Prohibition, you also need to acknowledge the role that women's organizations had in starting it.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:19 AM on March 3, 2015 [30 favorites]


Men - especially white men (and I'm one), already have a promotional organization.

It's called Congress.
posted by notsnot at 9:22 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Except in this case it's a bunch of guys and one woman and they all freak out when she tries to take one cookie.

And she is the cookie.
posted by maxsparber at 9:22 AM on March 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


you really think that the author's ethical obligation having been told that story is to go track down the daughter and start asking her questions about what must have been one of the most painful experiences of her life?

No. I'm saying that I was much more interested in her than in them. I also think it's odd that he just let that go -- did he ask the father about it? It feels like he just ignored an important part of the story.
posted by jeather at 9:27 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


their analysis of underlying societal problems is profoundly immature.

there is much that's been said in this thread that rings true to me, but if I had to isolate a single point it's this. Because it speaks to my immediate experience -- the men I know who may not be members of any organization but who talk the talk of the profoundly wronged by society in general, women in particular. They may be well educated, successful by some metrics, professional when it comes to their work -- but when it comes to the women in their lives, they sound like little kids who've been hurt by something they didn't see coming and "it's just not fair" ... off into the kind of pre-adolescent whining which tells me that no amount of reasonable engagement is going to shift them from their trenches.

If it's a young man, early twenties or younger, I think there's still a hope they may mature out of it, because that's what you're doing at that age -- maturing. But past say twenty-five, I think we're into are far more troubling realm where the whole culture has to wake up and view these men as profoundly dangerous ... and not just to women.
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


> But I think that if you're going to go ahead and give women the credit for ending Prohibition, you also need to acknowledge the role that women's organizations had in starting it.

Absolutely. Women started it and women ended it. Which further undercuts the idea that these things are somehow not women's issues or not of importance to women.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:34 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


little kids who've been hurt by something they didn't see coming and "it's just not fair" .

Yeah, the "male abortion" type requests always struck me as that sort of whining. "If she can opt out after pregnancy then I should be able to! It's not fair!"

Yeah, err okay, but it's just the biology. It's her body so it's her choice. It's not fair that she runs the risk of dying in childbirth if she decides to keep it either, but that's life.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:35 AM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


My favorite movement for men is the Radical Faeries. They're a bit out of fashion now, but in the 80s and 90s they were a really powerful force opposing the oppression of mandatory masculinity. A bit of neopaganism, a bit of cross-dressing, some weed, some hippy-dippiness. And a whole lot of generous love and a whole lot of man/man sex. I have a few friends who I still think of by their faerie name. It wasn't for me, but by creating such a loving, goofy, faerie-friendly world they made a lot of space for defining my own ideas of masculinity.

The way gay men think of masculinity offers a lot to straight men in considering their own role in the world. Not just the faerie stuff, the hyper-masculine body-building culture is relevant too, and the aggressive casual sex world, and the dealing with victimhood that gay men experience. Straight guys looking to understand being a man could learn a lot from those aspects of gayness. Sadly all they seem to have taken from us is the "metrosexual" idea. Bless them for learning to trim their pubic hair and wear some decent clothes, but there's a lot more that gay culture has on offer.
posted by Nelson at 9:39 AM on March 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


Oh, dear.

This one hits a bit closer to home for me simply because of personal experience. And I'll say at the outset that I think it's just as easy to caricature in the other direction: since someone mentioned conscription, I'll point out there are some surprisingly high-development-index nations in Europe where there are still people literally facing imprisonment or significant revocation of their liberties for refusing to comply with gendered national conscription policies, and I could just as easily say "ah, these fellows are pointing to that as a big issue, while the feminists claim the big gender issue is how much space one takes up on the tram". Given the amount of drivel available these days, it's almost too easy to make anyone look like anything we wish to paint them as, and thus dismiss their complaints out of hand.

So I'm not convinced it's at all useful or helpful to publish these sorts of pat-ourselves-on-the-back pieces that dodge any consideration of actual issues in favor of caricature and personal attack. I also am confused as to the "already working on the issue" replies, as I like to think of myself as a rather clued-in progressive person, and I'm unaware of major campaigns for them. On the handful of occasions where a trek through the gender net has landed me on something I'd call an "MRA" site, for example, I've seen them quite prominently linking to womens' groups pamphlets on how to campaign against laws that default to shared custody, for example.

But mostly, I feel as if there are some points where I've grown more liberal than mainstream liberalism, and rather than trying to catch up, the mainstream has decided I must actually be a conservative reactionary and started piling all these labels and assumptions about my views on women and such. Yes, quite a lot of these issues come down to troglodyte-level beliefs about gender and gender roles. But no, very few people who use the "feminist" label seem to've really awakened to that fact or considered that we ought to have major societal change to remedy it.

If I may be indulged in an analogy, it does rather strongly remind me of the early times of the gay men's liberation movement, when rather a lot of feminists had difficulty seeing the issues as issues, or the people involved as people deserving and currently deprived of basic human dignity. And the anti-gay rhetoric being used in those days was not dissimilar from what I see now in the anti-whatever-we-shall-call-campaigns-to-solve-these-issues rhetoric today.
posted by hrwj at 9:46 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was curious about what red pill meantime few weeks ago (God red pill Matrix shit is so effing childish might as well wear capes or a Spider-Man costume) and read the (very sad and pathetic) forum on Reddit, and then learned about MGTOW, and then found a thread in which those RedPill and MGTOW guys were super upset that, when asked about MGTOW, the women in AskWomen responded by saying that it was fine and they didn't really mind that these guys were threatening to leave the dating pool. The men on there were SO UPSET that the AskWomen consensus was,"Good, much happier not having to meet guys like you."

It was really funny. I wish all these RedPill-y MRA guys or guys that identify with any of that crap would just go their own way instead of pestering women for attention and sex.
posted by discopolo at 9:46 AM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


No. I'm saying that I was much more interested in her than in them. I also think it's odd that he just let that go -- did he ask the father about it? It feels like he just ignored an important part of the story.

I agree that she would almost certainly be much more interesting than her father. But ask the father about what? About her? He won't actually be able to tell you anything about her because he's obviously a narcissistic psychopath. The things that you'd want to know about her are not things that he's even aware of. About general issues around rape? I think he's told you everything you need to know about his thoughts in that department.
posted by nicolas.bray at 9:48 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


"On the handful of occasions where a trek through the gender net has landed me on something I'd call an "MRA" site, for example, I've seen them quite prominently linking to womens' groups pamphlets on how to campaign against laws that default to shared custody, for example."

I think birthing and nursing and infant IS a special issue and should be handled as something to impact custody.

Breaking up a maternal-infant bond to force some sort of 50/50 split for a still nursing child under 2 years seems very traumatic for the child (and the mother).

This does not mean feminists aren't willing to ensure that men have shared custody options overtime, but the tender years doctrine may actually have some basis in the actual experience of birthing, nursing and the bonding that happens around that. This is where I think hurling the "men and women are exactly the same and should be treated exactly the same with no accommodations made regarding gendered needs" becomes harmful rather than empowering.
posted by xarnop at 9:52 AM on March 3, 2015


This may just be me, but I'd trust feminist groups for male domestic issues. People that acknowledge intersectionality and that society's biases can hurt anyone seem more balanced. Society's burying of the many services orgs can provide, and thus a lack of male volunteers and supplicants, is not their fault. The most liked comment on Cracked is one example for Planned Parenthood.
posted by halifix at 9:56 AM on March 3, 2015


Which is why they think labeling someone a "beta male" is a cutting insult instead of just further grounds for mockery.

I'm not beta. I'm Male Version 2.0, baby!
posted by jonp72 at 9:59 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


The MRA movement is a monument to ignorance. Not that they've noticed.
posted by tommasz at 10:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This line about Elam's "red-pill moment" from the buzzfeed article Going to Maine linked is so perfect/telling:

For Elam, that revelation came at age 13, when his mother tried to force him to take his diarrhea medicine.

posted by stinkfoot at 10:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


xarnop, I'm wary of claims that one group of people is necessarily-because-of-sex/gender "more important" in any stage of parenting, save actual gestation and birth, and of attempts to support such claims -- it feels far too much like retroactively trying to pin a justification on traditional gender essentialist beliefs.

I also can't help thinking there's an America-centric bias lurking there. As I understand it, in the US there either is no mandated post-birth leave (most of the time), in which case one parent often is required to leave their job if full-time parenting is desired, or that leave is only mandated for the mother (in the rare cases where any leave is available). I am far more interested in seeing the results of schemes which mandate paid, job-will-wait-for-you, leave for both parents. For a variety of reasons I'm unlikely ever to raise a child, but I've found anecdotally amongst friends and acquaintances that early and significant involvement in parenting makes a large different to later relationships between parent and child.
posted by hrwj at 10:03 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I could just as easily say "ah, these fellows are pointing to that as a big issue, while the feminists claim the big gender issue is how much space one takes up on the tram".

I guess you could man
posted by Greg Nog at 10:04 AM on March 3, 2015 [38 favorites]


"necessarily-because-of-sex/gender"

Sure, you can remove the gender and just focus on birth and nursing experience. There is a large body of research that the bonding during this time is a very real phenomenon and not just a figment of gender construct. Saying that because some attachments during and after birth do not fit a specific model, does not mean that model doesn't exist for a lot of people.

It's like saying that because some women don't have periods, the women that do have periods can't use pads because that's just catering a silly gender construct.

Not all women have a strong bond or nursing relationship (and it's fine to very the custody based on that)- but for the women that do, that should be respected. And of course, men who give birth should have the same respect if they experience a birth bond or nursing relationship.
posted by xarnop at 10:10 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I suspect its a combination of poor education, low socioeconomic status and loneliness, with possibly s bit of mental illness thrown in for good measure. Cross with the real-world likelihood of some unfortunate events or some other setback and you get weird manifestations.

Seems to me that low socioeconomic status as a convenient catch-all here is not all that useful -- when you consider how many male high-tech "influencers," charlatans, public intellectuals, pundits, politicians, and oligarchs have the same if not even more repellent views about gender issues, along with ample platforms to circulate them, and who in recent years have been bolder and more strident about expressing those views because the Overton window for this kind of toxic discourse has expanded. The more that men in prominent positions express these views, the wider the window expands for even more unthinkable discourse to enter.

Point is, it's not only or even primarily the poor (either money-poor or education-poor or both) who have these views and promote them and who exhibit "weird manifestations."
posted by blucevalo at 10:15 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm wary of claims that one group of people is necessarily-because-of-sex/gender "more important" in any stage of parenting, save actual gestation and birth, and of attempts to support such claims -- it feels far too much like retroactively trying to pin a justification on traditional gender essentialist beliefs.

It's a bit more like science. Look up "maternal skin-to-skin care"in Pubmedcentral. Physical contact with the mother's body (especially the nursing mother's body) is linked to a host of desirable physical outcomes (blood glucose levels, neurological progress, oxytocin production, cardio-respiratory health, and many others). Human development does not end at birth.

And SSC with father is important too, but it is hardly gender essentialism to point out that infants have specific physical needs that can be more readily met by the mother's body, and that such a fact might be relevant in custody discussions. It does not mean that men should not have access to their children, but that levels of access at the early stages of life do have biological elements.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:23 AM on March 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


(It's supremely ironic to me that a group of people who worship the "rugged individualism" of the "alpha male" have to collectively gather to assert their "rights".)

Feminism is a positive movement: it wants everyone to share the privilege currently enjoyed by men (and if we can ever get there, the privilege will be gone, and good riddance). "Manosphere" dudes like privilege, and the concept of it. As long as there is someone lower on the totem pole, it doesn't matter to them how far down they actually are. "It is not enough for me to succeed, others must fail." They need to know others are worse off, no matter how good they have it.

Plus, you know, they get to rape and bully.

(This is a similar mind-set to those that hear of a union worker making a decent middle-class wage and rather than thinking "how can I get that for myself?" wants to tear said worker down to their level.)
posted by maxwelton at 10:36 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Human development does not end at birth.


Skin-to-skin contact is also good for the mother: the baby, on the chest, will insticnively kick in order to help return the uterus back to its normal size.

Also, acknowleding these biological differences helps equality: many fathers have a hard time bonding when the newborn is just a blob that shits pisses and cries and eats. The mother has it easer in this case because of the actual physical connection between the two.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


hrwj: "since someone mentioned conscription, I'll point out there are some surprisingly high-development-index nations in Europe where there are still people literally facing imprisonment or significant revocation of their liberties for refusing to comply with gendered national conscription policies,"

In the US, where men still do have to register for Selective Service when they turn 18, although there hasn't been an actual draft since Vietnam, it's not a shadowy cabal of feminists that have been preventing women from registering; it's been the old, white, sexist dudes in the US Congress who have blocked and blocked every attempt by women to get into more combat roles, more front-line roles, equality in the draft, etc. They have slowly given in, over time, but Newt Gingrich in 1995 (while he was serving in Congress) informed us that: "If combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days because they get infections* and they don't have upper body strength. I mean, some do, but they're relatively rare. On the other hand, men are basically little piglets, you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it, doesn't matter, you know. These things are very real. On the other hand, if combat means being on an Aegis-class cruiser managing the computer controls for twelve ships and their rockets, a female may be again dramatically better than a male who gets very, very frustrated sitting in a chair all the time because males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes."

(*NB: by "infections" he means monthly menstrual cycles)

This was during a nationwide discussion about women in combat roles, which the GOP opposed. Women WANTED to fight. Men refused to let them.

Yeah, Selective Service only signing up men is unfair. IT'S NOT WOMEN KEEPING IT THAT WAY.

Drug enforcement and prison conditions are serious problems; it's male legislators and prosecutors who want to appear "tough on crime" who have fought against reform in those areas in my state. Leading voices for marijuana legalization have been MOM'S GROUPS. Leading voices against prison violence in my state have been pastors groups and, again, MOMS. Almost all of the attorneys in my state who work on custodial fairness for men (especially low-income men) are WOMEN, because not that many male attorneys are interested in such low-prestige work (most poverty law type organizations are largely staffed by women for that reason).

When they say "the patriarchy hurts everybody" they don't mean women who are wed to their feminine roles are protesting outside Congress claiming they're gonna burn down the government if Congress forces them to register for the draft; they mean Newt Gingrich and his buddies inside the building don't think women have the upper body strength to carry guns and, anyway, aren't biologically driven to hunt giraffes, so they don't WANT women in the draft. IT'S NOT THE WOMEN, draftable guys. It's the MEN who insist you're the only draftable people.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on March 3, 2015 [100 favorites]


We've been talking about the importance of, and difficulties with, providing men-focused support and care, so I thought it might be useful to throw some resources in here. I strongly believe in social justice as praxis and I am into helping people find a use for their particular talents outside of paid work. For example, as an academic with good verbal communication skills, my own particular activist focus is women's literacy and mentoring teenage girls. Both of the programs I volunteer with are really easy to get involved with and make a significant difference to the lives of both men and women. I encourage any guys here who are frustrated by the problems that men face (but justifiably disgusted with the 'manosphere') to devote a little time or money to an organisation that makes a concrete difference in the world. If you have a cause in mind but don't know how to get started, please message me!

Note that a lot of the resources I know about are UK or Canada based, but you can use them as a starting point and research your local options too.

Mentoring
If you live in the US or Canada, Big Brothers Big Sisters are crying out for male mentors. There are lots of programs you can enter, from a long-term commitment to seeing a Little Brother every week, to a more relaxed schedule of school-based drop-ins. When I applied, women and girls took about six weeks to be matched; men and boys were being matched almost immediately. Local mentoring programs are available in the UK, too.

Mentoring Boys is a great information resource for your formal or informal mentoring needs (if you have young nephews, cousins or godsons, your involvement in their lives is so valuable).

Mental and physical health
Consider training to man the Samaritans hotline in the UK. They have been very proactive about reaching out to men over the past few years.

UK-based initiative Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is focused on providing support and information to men with depression and other mental health problems.

I love the Men's Health Forum and recommend it to my guy friends. Men are traditionally a tough demographic to reach with public health campaigns, but this charity produces really high-quality literature and non-judgemental health and wellbeing advice. If you're connected to a men's group, consider putting in an order together for their 'Man Manuals'.

This is a good starting point if you want to be more proactive about your health and you have not been offered a 'well man' type check at your doctors. Women are sort of naturally called in for health checks at least when we have pap smears, but some clinics don't regularly offer men health checks. Ask your doctor, and encourage your male friends and family members to do the same.

Rape and sexual assault
Just Detention International lean US-focused despite the name. They offer a broad selection of resources, survivor's groups and initiatives to support people living with the realities of sexual assault and rape in prison. You can write a Christmas card to a survivor, volunteer locally, campaign and so on.

A close friend of mine was supported by Survivors UK after a traumatic sexual assault. I can't praise them highly enough. Even if you're not in the UK, their information online is so useful and so, so kind.

Similarly, Mankind puts British men in touch with counselling, support groups and resources. Again, many resources are available online to anyone.

Movember is a global movement - grow a moustache on your beautiful face in November, fundraise for prostate cancer research.

Other ideas
- Talk to your local homeless shelter about volunteering, donating or helping out with transportation.
- Look into literacy programs at your local library. There are lots of men and boys who would be greatly helped by a kind, confident male mentor.
- Volunteer to referee boys' hockey, get involved with local sports programs. Contrary to popular opinion, single men who want to help out in this way are not looked at strangely. Any program or event that focuses on boys always needs more men to help.
- Pick your men-focused health issue of choice and find the relevant charity or group.
- If you're a man familar with childbirth and bringing up kids, ask your hospital, doctors' surgery or birth centre about classes or programs for expectant dads. If there isn't one, consider starting an informal group to share your knowledge.

Connect with feminist or other social justice activists in your life and ask for their advice or recommendations. I think feminist groups have a lot of offer men in terms of decades of grassroots activism, but expecting women to expend yet more emotional energy and time in the pursuit of men's issues is not necessarily realistic. Please learn from our long history and our mistakes, and then go forth and make men's lives better in an awesome, non-toxic and (dare I say) feminist way!

Mods: I hope this isn't too off-topic or out of bounds. I'm just seeing a lot of back and forth about what feminism isn't doing and I'm hoping to channel that frustration productively!
posted by averysmallcat at 10:46 AM on March 3, 2015 [115 favorites]


I somewhat recently reconnected with a friend from grade-school, who I last spoke with in 1994 or so. At that time, we were both in our early twenties, and he had just found out that his girlfriend was pregnant. So I rode halfway across the state to meet her and congratulate them. She seemed nice, he seemed bewildered. Other than that it was an uneventful weekend.

A few months later he told me that they had a little girl, and he had named her with a feminine version of my first name. I was touched, and hoped to seem them all soon. We lost contact after that for about twenty years.

So last year, I found him on Facebook, and got to chatting with him. How are your folks, How is your kid? how's the job? What are you doing for fun? That sort of thing. His daughter was doing well, and was now a lovely young adult. (that alone was weird, looking at photos of a young lady who last time I saw her, she was a bump in a belly.)

Over the next couple of weeks, I watched my friends life start to fall apart. He had acrimoniously divorced the mother of his daughter years earlier, and his longtime girlfriend had just dumped him. He went from high-spirited and fun, to depressed (rightly so) to... something a bit uglier.

His posts started reading a lot more like MRA bullet points. Women were bitches, women were evil, women had ruined his life. There was clearly a spiral forming.

Being me, I decided to intervene, because fuck MRA types. I replied to a particularly vile link he had posted about women crying wolf about rape to get attention or something, and said: Seriously? I get that things have changed for you, and not in a good way. But stop for a moment, and think about this; You have a daughter. A nineteen year old woman who is just starting to make her way into a big world with a lot of ugliness and difficulties. Do you really want to be the person who in any way contributes to that? Do you think she appreciates being called a bitch by association?

His reaction was pretty stunning. He clearly hadn't been thinking about that, and over the next couple of weeks, his comments returned to a sad, but accepting person who didn't view women as the enemy, but someone who had been hurt and was looking to fix his problems.

It was good. I was actually a little proud of myself for having disinfected a good person from a bad ideology before it really set in.

(Though not long after that, he started dating a girl half his age, and not much older than his daughter. That seemed a little icky to me, but I don't say a word, because he speaks very highly of her and other women in general, and her posts speak very well of him, so if they are making it work, it isn't my place to judge, as long is everyone is happy.)
posted by quin at 10:55 AM on March 3, 2015 [34 favorites]


I mean, you have to be a real relationship dead-ender to sign up for this manner of whack-jobbery. You really have to think "There is no coming back to normal, so lets just burn it all down."

Honestly, I'm really glad my dad is HELLA old-school, because he raised his son with the explicit message "it's your responsibility to make yourself appealing so that a woman CHOOSES YOU. The male bird has the better plumage, song, etc, in order to attract a mate."

Out of shape? More push-ups. Clumsy? Take dance lessons. Join Toastmasters and learn to speak in public. And don't be an entitled asshole.

Bring something to the table beyond your whine and sense of persecution. Take some fucking steps to improve yourself rather than whine about "Why don't women like me the way I am, why do they always go for the decently groomed guys who can dance and hold a conversation, and who don't snarl about what horrible shits women are? THIS IS SO UNFAIR!"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


What if a dad is the one who does all the baby feedings (to maximize bonding), from a bottle, with his shirt off (to maximize skin-to-skin). Will he and the baby get the same oxytocin effect as a mom consistently breastfeeding her baby? Or does the biological difference of actually breastfeeding from a breast make a difference here?

Let me know if that's ever been tested. If it hasn't, maybe it should be. This suggests that it might be worth looking into knocking the oxytocin-moms-and-babies thing off its pedestal a bit: Consequently oxytocin is not only released during interaction between mothers and infants, but also during positive interaction between adults or between humans and animals.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


(BTW, I think there's a very interesting national conversation to be had about expanding the draft to women vis-a-vis pregnancy; traditionally women are needed on the homefront during war to pop out more citizen-soldiers and to raise them, and pregnant soldier is a preparedness problem, so there have been legitimate reasons to only draft men. When we have a heterosexual nuclear family unit, it also made sense to have one adult remain home from war. But in the 21st century we have much lower birthrates in First World countries, much safer pregnancies and deliveries, more diverse families, and the ability to safely prevent most fertile women from becoming pregnant. So there's definitely an interesting conversation to be had about how a female draft roster would be DIFFERENT from a male one, and how comfortable we are with the coercive power of the state telling female soldiers they can't get pregnant "for the duration." But that doesn't mean we shouldn't include women in the roster; just that we should have a wide-ranging societal discussion about the ethics of it in a 21st-century society. And we should probably also be having that conversation about how a male draft roster ought to be different than it currently is, now that most military leaders don't WANT a conscripted force of randoms ... they prefer volunteers with specific skills, there's not a lot of "unskilled" labor in the army any more.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


averysmallcat, thank you. What a fantastic post, both as a bookmarkable list of resources for critically important topics and a concrete "No, here's what's what's actually out there" reality check in the midst of much theorizing.
posted by verb at 11:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I'm really glad my dad is HELLA old-school, because he raised his son with the explicit message "it's your responsibility to make yourself appealing so that a woman CHOOSES YOU. The male bird has the better plumage, song, etc, in order to attract a mate."

My dad was pretty old-school too, as you would expect of a retired National Guard officer. Looking back, I think he tried to deliver this message of self-improvement to my brother and me as best he could. Unfortunately, my brother and I only saw him every two weeks or so, and when we did see him, he framed his lessons as good ways to strike back at our mother, whom he and our stepmother called The Troll and whose greed and malice were their constant theme. Striking back at our mother, who cared for us 95 days out of 100 and who treated us well, was the farthest thing from our minds. We grew more distant from him the more he tried to recruit us as his pawns.

Though by some measures my life might have been better if I had taken what was good from it, I have a low opinion of old-school masculinity.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:31 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which isn't to take away from your larger point at all, just that that bit reminded me of that period of my life and of the difficulty of holding onto the right values when the larger culture encourages misogyny.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:41 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Drug enforcement and prison conditions are serious problems; it's male legislators and prosecutors who want to appear "tough on crime" who have fought against reform in those areas in my state. Leading voices for marijuana legalization have been MOM'S GROUPS.

You know, I really appreciate what you're trying to do, but I think it's letting the enemy define the battleground, to a certain extent. I don't think we have to justify feminism by saying it helps men too. In fact, I flat out don't care if it hurts men more than they gain, because men are straight up not my priority. And I'm sick of having to present as a "kinder, gentler feminist" in order to have men think my existence is acceptable.

My feminism does not give a fuck about "reforming the prison system", for example, for rapists. I don't care that men are disproportionately in jail for rape. Men disproportionately rape. Men are victims of rape too - but often as the victims of other men. The amount of women who rape, statistically measured every time it's ever been measured, is staggeringly low.

My feminism does not think that I should grow a baby for nine months, nurse them for a year, and then give up "equal legal custody" to some guy whose only claim to fame is that he shot semen into my vagina once. My feminism says that if you're a domestic abuser, you should lose all "right" to have contact with your kid, I don't care how much you really want to take them to baseball.

My feminism, likewise, does not argue that women should be equally drafted for wars they largely do not start. I think women should have the right to be in combat if they want to, but not to be forced to die for some old man's war.

And my feminism says these guys are motherfucking poison and vile and dangerous and I will be damned if I give them back a single bloody, hard-fought inch.
posted by corb at 11:48 AM on March 3, 2015 [21 favorites]


"My feminism does not think that I should grow a baby for nine months, nurse them for a year, and then give up "equal legal custody" to some guy whose only claim to fame is that he shot semen into my vagina once."

Fuck yeah.
posted by xarnop at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


verb, thank you! It's so easy to get bogged down in tiny, theoretical, hair-splitting questions online - I'll probably spend more time refreshing and reading Metafilter this week than I'll spend with my literacy learner... gosh.

As an openly-feminist woman who is fairly approachable, I do deal with a lot of, um, not so pleasant men who want me to articulate in minute detail how my 'gender equality' helps men. Like corb said above, men are actually not my priority, but the great love I have for the men in my life compels me to expend a little more time and emotional energy supporting legimately good and productive men's groups. On some level it feels like having to tell one's male partner to do the laundry - if it's important, why aren't you involved already? - but I'm down with taking half an hour out of my day to recruit people :)
posted by averysmallcat at 12:02 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. I'm gently going to suggest we not get further into a debate over early infant development, and maybe bring this back around to the actual article. And nobody should feel they have to rebut each point in the 'but there could hypothetically be a reasonable men's rights movement' list, since the article is about the actual MRM as it exists.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:02 PM on March 3, 2015


I don't think we have to justify feminism by saying it helps men too.

This is actually a really important point, corb, and I'm glad you mentioned it. I don't see it as justification for feminism so much as I see it as shredding the one and only fig leaf the MRM uses to cover its shittiness.

There's a lot of really interesting and thoughtful work that's been done about how horrible systems of oppression and violence do real and lasting internal harm to those who benefit from them, not just those who are obviously victimized. Addressing the fact that many "Mens' Issues" are really just the double-edged sword of shitty gender norms biting the normal beneficiaries is important… but it does run the risk of re-centering the conversation, again, again, and again on But What About Men.

In the context of the Men's Rights Movement I think it's definitely important to tackle the fact that everyone is harmed by patriarchal systems, but yeah. It's also easy for it to be used to derail.
posted by verb at 12:04 PM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


In the US, where men still do have to register for Selective Service when they turn 18, although there hasn't been an actual draft since Vietnam, it's not a shadowy cabal of feminists that have been preventing women from registering

Allow me to remind people, once again, that the rest of the world is not the United States and does not work the way the United States does.

In the US, I understand that "the draft" is a hypothetical, unlikely to ever be put into action again. Elsewhere, mandatory service, in wartime and in peacetime alike, is very real. Consider this article on men -- only men -- in Finland who face imprisonment as conscientious objectors. When last I checked, the government of Finland did not take its cues from Newt Gingrich, and Finland was near universally considered more advanced in terms of equality than the United States.

In that vein, I have an acquaintance who holds multiple citizenship, but cannot travel to one of the countries of which he's a citizen by descent; he's in an age range where he still could, if found there, be forced into a term of service or imprisoned for refusing. Were he a woman, of course, there would be no such problem (though to be fair there are some countries, just, ironically, places like Israel which we do not typically associate with advanced gender equality, where service regardless of sex is the law).
posted by hrwj at 12:07 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


hrwj: "Allow me to remind people, once again, that the rest of the world is not the United States and does not work the way the United States does.

Yes, I understand that, and was responding to a combination of your comment and one further upthread about the US draft specifically.

When last I checked, the government of Finland did not take its cues from Newt Gingrich, and Finland was pretty much universally considered more advanced in terms of equality than the United States."

To my larger point, though -- are men the decision-makers who put these laws in place? Are men the decision-makers who keep them there? (I see that Finland's Parliament is approximately 60% male.) What is the coalition that is fighting against these Finnish laws?

My point was not that draft laws are fair -- they're not! They're unfair! -- but that it's not "feminists" who make gender-biased draft laws (as MRAs would like to claim). By and large it has been men who have made those rules and men who have insisted on their maintenance. Or in Finland, do you have a large cadre of women who are insisting the draft laws stay gender biased? I can totally imagine that being possible, I'm legitimately asking. The point of my post was not that draft laws are fair, but that the unfair draft laws were largely made by men, and in the West it has typically been women demanding access to more dangerous military roles and men attempting to restrict them from those roles; this directly contradicts the MRA claim that women use feminism to "avoid dangerous jobs" such as military combat roles, and/or the draft. In fact, feminism has been instrumental in attempting to get women access to those jobs, while patriarchy has been the strongest force trying to keep women out of them.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:15 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


[Just a nudge, let's bring it back around to the article. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:23 PM on March 3, 2015


For those of you who may have skimmed, this thread is now about Finland and the ways Finland may not be the SO-CALLED "equality paradise" that you liberals THINK it is!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:24 PM on March 3, 2015 [27 favorites]


The anti vaccine people have some real concerns and ground to stand on

They do not.


Anyway, the point was the MRM is an even more specious organization than anti-vaxxers. Or maybe not according to you.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:25 PM on March 3, 2015


I don't think there is any real question as to whether there are legitimate men's issues that need addressing. The issue is one of good faith. I keep trying to phrase this analogy in my head, and I'm not presenting it quite the way I want, but here goes:

Feminism : MRA :: The Southern Poverty Law Center : The Klan

The SPLC has made its name in race-based civil rights cases, but things are never that simple. Intersectionality shows us that class, opportunity, education, background, and religion, among a whole host of other things, come into play. And because of that Intersectionality, the SPLC ends up helping a lot of poor white folks as well. Whodathunkit?

Also, it's not like Race is a clear-cut question with easy or helpful categorizations to begin with. More and more, people are beginning to realize that gender isn't really either. And feminism isn't exclusively about women any more than the SPLC is exclusively about the South.

But we can see a lot of the problems here. Some people will hear things and understand this. Others will have made a choice to not understand them. And some people will, of course, demand that race, or gender, can in fact be very easily categorized: you just have to make it QUs vs. Them and see how simple it gets!

That's why I compare the MRAs to the KKK. Both are transparently pathetic to those outside of them, and desperately, angrily, violently intent on using intimidation, hatred, trash science, lazy logic, and anything else they can get their hands on to push the idea that their patheticness is in fact God's Own Purest Version of the demographic they happen to be a part of. And to maintain the privilege that has always come with it.

(Oh, and neither the MRA nor KKK are interested in doing anything that will actually improve their lot - just attacking the other they've built up who is, ironically, probably doing more to help them than they themselves ever will.)
posted by Navelgazer at 12:30 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Related to this topic, this post from someone I know on FaceBook is eerily timely (paraphrasing):

So I get [an] email about Women's History Month....Can't I consider this sexist?? Where is Man's History Month? Where are my events?!? I feel ignored and....violated!

It's one of those I'm joking but not really joking things. And eerily similar to "When's White History Month?!" -- every gain for an "other" -- no matter how hard fought or how paltry the reward -- is seen as an automatic loss for the dominant group.

Ugh.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:33 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a whole complicated hypothesis about how masculinity got to be so toxic in the US in particular -- in a nutshell, we had several generations of men in a row where a substantial portion of them went away to a war that never touched United States soil, and came back changed in the way that combat changes you. But since the folks at home had no experience of the war the way the people in, say, Europe did with world wars I and II, there wasn't a lot of shared frame of reference for the trauma involved, and I think a lot of those veterans chose to manage their trauma with dissociation, denial, and drug/alcohol use in a way that really affected their ability to be parents and partners. And the end result was, we sort of normalized that experience into American masculinity, where "to be a man" meant "to experience the symptoms of poorly-managed PTSD;" we had men raised by men who had this weirdly compartmentalized trauma, who then went to war and experienced their own trauma which they had to compartmentalize, and then came home and raised their own children, etc.

Anyway, I have no evidence for this, I haven't exactly sunk a lot of time into research about it. But I do think that toxic masculinity is a Thing, and that it's a thing that hurts everyone it touches. And I think, sorry to say, that this isn't something women can fix; this is something that American men have to address and heal with, to, and among themselves. We can be allies, and we can make sure that we aren't contributing to the problem as best we can, but we can't take the lead on fixing it.

We are currently seeing a generation of men coming to adulthood who were raised by men who were not of a War Generation. I am eager to see what they do.
posted by KathrynT at 12:41 PM on March 3, 2015 [31 favorites]


It's one of those I'm joking but not really joking things. And eerily similar to "When's White History Month?!"

I would love to see a White History Month. Every day, we could cover 10 different massacres, holocausts, pogroms, and so on every day. No repeats! People who complain about Black History Month tend to be very bad at history is what I'm saying.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2015 [22 favorites]


Is toxic masculinity the problem or is masculinity itself the problem because gender norms are inherently toxic?

I'd like to think that we can work toward a non-toxic version of masculinity for future generations because I identify as a man and I see some positive aspects of traditional masculinity that I would like to preserve and pass on even as we try to do away with bad stuff. However, I'm not sure whether that makes sense. Maybe the stuff I like is too tied to the patriarchal structure. On the other side, maybe trying to do away with gender norms is unrealistic and the most we can hope for is to de-toxify and loosen them?
posted by Area Man at 1:01 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted. hrwj, at this point you seem to be responding to a view that hasn't been expressed by anyone in the thread, and which has actually been expressly rejected a number of times by commenters here. Either you need to engage with what people here are actually saying, or the contents of the article, or step away.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:05 PM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't think there is any real question as to whether there are legitimate men's issues that need addressing. The issue is one of good faith.

There are many pathologies in the current ways men and boys think and develop. It's been striking to me recently to see these played out in the community reactions to the Rehteah Parsons case here in Canada. It's not just a few boys who take the pill and go down the misogyny rabbit hole, though there's that, it's a culture of expectations supported by both men and women, by boys and girls that enable it for their own reasons.

I think it's important to realize, while dealing with these cancers, that the pathologies arise out of real problems. They're markers of a lot of places where many people are really lost and suffering. Abuse doesn't justify further abuse, but stopping these cycles does mean that the problems of lack of identity and support need to be looked at honestly, rather than being derided as the self-justifications of rapists and cranks.

Articles like these are important. The MRAs need to be seen for exactly what they are and exposed as frauds. On the other hand, it's essential that there to be an honest way to talk about these problems without immediately being assumed to start from bad faith, but that doesn't seem possible right now.
posted by bonehead at 1:08 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I for one welcome our Misandrist leaders and look forward to finally shedding the terrible burden of my free will while damping the dangerous flame of my male sexuality in the voluminous green hoodies and PJ bottoms required by the matriarchs of New Feministan. *ululates, brandishing a dry infant*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is toxic masculinity the problem or is masculinity itself the problem because gender norms are inherently toxic?

IMHO, a little from column A, a little from column B. I would love to move towards a culture with less gender binary dualism, because I feel like that stuff fits something like 80% of people 50% well (or 50% of people 80% well?) at best. But I think that some sense of "this is what men are like and what they do, this is what women are like and what they do" is likely to persist for some time, and it would definitely be better if the center of the Men's Cultural Behavior and Identity Sphere(tm) was in a less shitty place.
posted by KathrynT at 1:11 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Articles like these are important. The MRAs need to be seen for exactly what they are and exposed as frauds. On the other hand, it's essential that there to be an honest way to talk about these problems without immediately being assumed to start from bad faith, but that doesn't seem possible right now.

Yes, and it should be clear that is directly the fault of the MRAs to a large degree. They really need to be completely squashed before we can re-engage seriously on those topics I think. I don't blame people for jumping to those conclusions at this point. MRA poisoned the well too much.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:12 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


KathrynT: I have a whole complicated hypothesis about how masculinity got to be so toxic in the US in particular -- in a nutshell, we had several generations of men in a row where a substantial portion of them went away to a war that never touched United States soil, and came back changed in the way that combat changes you. But since the folks at home had no experience of the war the way the people in, say, Europe did with world wars I and II, there wasn't a lot of shared frame of reference for the trauma involved, and I think a lot of those veterans chose to manage their trauma with dissociation, denial, and drug/alcohol use in a way that really affected their ability to be parents and partners. And the end result was, we sort of normalized that experience into American masculinity, where "to be a man" meant "to experience the symptoms of poorly-managed PTSD;" we had men raised by men who had this weirdly compartmentalized trauma, who then went to war and experienced their own trauma which they had to compartmentalize, and then came home and raised their own children, etc.

So you met my WWII Veteran father. But seriously, repeated for absolute (if personal) truth!!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:32 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seems to me that low socioeconomic status as a convenient catch-all here is not all that useful -- when you consider how many male high-tech "influencers," charlatans, public intellectuals, pundits, politicians, and oligarchs have the same if not even more repellent views about gender issues, along with ample platforms to circulate them, and who in recent years have been bolder and more strident about expressing those views because the Overton window for this kind of toxic discourse has expanded.

Well, it's just a suspicion, but I think it oversimplifies the situation to lump MRA-types in with 'mainstream' perpetrators of gender inequality. These people are clearly damaged, and you get the distinct impression that a lot of the people that attended the 'conference' did so because they were lonely and have found some level of solace with like-minded people. This is not the behaviour of highly influential people. It's the behaviour of fringe-dwellers. If there weren't severe, real-world consequences for this sort of behaviour, we'd be chastising the author for making fun of poor, uneducated people.

In the larger context, I think MRA-types are a distraction. The gender imbalance in society existed long before MRA, and is maintained in plenty of non-US countries where we never even hear of MRA-types. Gender inequality is maintained subconsciously through the daily individuals who don't even know that they're reinforcing the status quo.
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:36 PM on March 3, 2015


You know, I really appreciate what you're trying to do, but I think it's letting the enemy define the battleground, to a certain extent. I don't think we have to justify feminism by saying it helps men too.

just speaking for my participation up thread (and i realize this wasn't directed at me, but i also think it responds to some of what i was saying) - i'm not saying the enemy should define the battleground or that feminism needs to be justified by how we help men - but rather, when men say "well we need a real mens issues group because feminism doesn't care about these specifically male concerns!" then i think it's important to point out the facts - that on all these topics, both people on the ground and organizationally - feminists are and have been doing this work, often with no support and in direct opposition from the men we're trying to help.
posted by nadawi at 2:24 PM on March 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'd love for MRA types to be a distraction, but they're pretty tightly coupled with the set of people who make me worry about being a woman online and getting doxxed for bulk-quantity rape and death threats or having a SWAT team called to my house because some petulant conservative straight white male between 17-20 (those are overwhelmingly the self-stated demographics of the reddit MRA group, except the "petulant" part, which is editorial license on my part) decided he really hated some comment I made on the internet or that I had an opinion or something like that.

I think the feminist movement has done an okay-if-not-great job of evolving to deprioritize and disavow the folks who are behaving badly while claiming to speak for the movement (currently manifesting, I think, in inclusive feminism vs TERFs, plus the continued strugle of women of color against the tide of White Woman Tears, but I digress). If people want to create a men's rights movement but don't want to be associated with violently misogynistic hateful little shitstains who want to legalize rape, then they need to step the hell up and take back their movement. Because right now, that's the face of your movement.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:38 PM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Elam likes to think of himself as a Malcom X, but he's much more like the klan in the 60's. Not terribly relevant, but doing a valuable service for the reactionary elements of society. By having a nutcase like him out there, other forms of sexism and the harm caused by the patriarchy are viewed as more reasonable. As kisch says above, they are a distraction. A dangerous distraction, but they really serve to make the assholes who go "I don't agree with these guys, but you know, some of what they say about men and women being different might hold some merit..." sound reasonable.

Like the klan, I wonder if completely discrediting these assholes will actually make any difference or if things will simply shift to be even further imbedded in society while not spoken of openly. If earning 77 cents on the dollar will become the fault of women, not the system.
posted by Hactar at 3:04 PM on March 3, 2015


If earning 77 cents on the dollar will become the fault of women, not the system.

I think "it's the fault of women" is the predominant narrative right now, at least in tech (where I am paying the most attention). I'll be curious to see if the Ellen Pao gender discrimination suit does anything to challenge the myth that Silicon Valley is a big happy meritocracy and it's just sheer happenstance that it keeps finding the same demographic predominantly merit-worthy.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:09 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


If people want to create a men's rights movement but don't want to be associated with violently misogynistic hateful little shitstains who want to legalize rape, then they need to

...become feminists. Feminism is about human rights. 'Men's rights' is only about perpetuating inequality.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:20 PM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


In the larger context, I think MRA-types are a distraction. The gender imbalance in society existed long before MRA, and is maintained in plenty of non-US countries where we never even hear of MRA-types. Gender inequality is maintained subconsciously through the daily individuals who don't even know that they're reinforcing the status quo.
First, I strongly agree with rmd1023’s observation that they have real-world consequences which are more than a distraction.

Secondly, I think ignoring them is a mistake: while they didn't originate the toxic soup of patriarchal beliefs and are certainly not mainstream, their existence and voice helps shift the Overton window. It feels a lot like the way some people ignored fringe right-wing groups (Birchers, militias, etc.) and later the Tea Party as crazies or passing fads and now mainstream GOP figures routinely make statements which would have been on the fringes of talk-radio 20 years ago because that slow, steady pressure successfully shifted what people consider reasonable.

I think we saw an example of this recently with GamerGate, which wasn't really started by MRAs but some of them jumped on board early along with various right-wing activists trying to channel all of that rage into politically useful outcomes & used it to refine their message for a new audience. I'm certain that there are more angry young men now who previously wouldn't have identified with MRAs but now think they have some good ideas or at least are on the right side. Nothing good will come of this.
posted by adamsc at 3:37 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This stuff makes me wonder how long it will be before the redpillers start crossing over with brogrammers and we start hearing new disruptive terms like "fornication hacking".
posted by lkc at 4:17 PM on March 3, 2015


[A comment deleted again. Hey, "fuck you" is not acceptable discourse here. Please assume that this is a conversation in which people are participating in good faith if you're going to participate. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:23 PM on March 3, 2015


almostmanda: Ironically, the things these men care about that ARE real issues (custody disparity, prison rape, high male suicide rates, suffocating masculinity standards) are things feminists are actively working to change.

Drinky Die: No, not really. And that's fine. It's not their responsibility. Prison reform and male suicide are not going to be high on feminism's to-do list until a lot of other issues are solved. Men have to be the ones to lead the change movement for themselves, and it's crushingly sad to me that we clearly aren't quite ready.


I've been thinking all afternoon about why this portion of the conversation was so frustrating and puzzling, and I think it's this: we're not saying that there aren't issues that disproportionately affect men that are perfectly adequately addressed by the current feminist movement such that there is no room or need for an additional movement that specifically tackles them. We are saying that if you do care about issues like custodial disparity and prison rape and male suicide rates and toxic masculinity, you should recognize that in a heteronormative patriarchy that does its best to ignore those issues, it is by and large feminists who have been making the most noise about those issues, and particularly intersectional feminists who have done the most to foreground those issues in legislation and media. As such, if you were the proponent of a legitimate men's advocacy movement, it would not make sense for you to denigrate the feminist movement and attack it, and the MRA movement's continued insistence on doing so is one of many pieces of evidence that the MRA movement is not actually a legitimate advocacy movement.

While feminism does not and should not foreground men's needs above women's needs, it's disingenuous to say that feminism does nothing for men and that feminists are not working in ways that benefit men. It's also incredibly dismissive to discount the very real work that some feminists (such as those pointed out by gingerbeer, nadawi, averysmallcat et al) are doing that specifically address the issues the MRA claim to be so near and dear to their heart, simply because they don't measure up to some arbitrary standard of purity of motivation. The analogy of pro-choice Republicans is especially insulting, as though being in favour of dismantling toxic masculinity or reforming the prison system is antithetical to some grand unified agenda that we agree upon at the Feminist National Convention. Like, come on.

If the complaint is "all feminists do not prioritize men's issues first and foremost" or "all feminists do not attempt to address men's issues without looking at it through a lens that also affect women such as reproduction, parental leave, worker's rights, immigration, and so on", I don't particularly have much sympathy and can't help you there. If you want to start your own group or movement that creates a safe space for men to address how they can dismantle our toxic culture in such a way that it does not fall back on misogyny, I am more than happy to help you spread the word and put up posters and cheerlead. But "feminists do not care about these issues and are not working on them at all" is just specious.
posted by Phire at 4:33 PM on March 3, 2015 [41 favorites]


I have no evidence for this, I haven't exactly sunk a lot of time into research about it. But I do think that toxic masculinity is a Thing

Just parenthetically: as it turns out, "toxic masculinity," though often taken to be a feminist term of art, is itself a product of the "men's movement" (in its earlier, Iron John sense, that is, not these assholes). I got interested in how that phrase made its way into common parlance a little while ago and did some digging — men's-movement thinker Shepherd Bliss apparently was the one who popularized it, basically as a therapeutic idea for men seeking to construct a better, non-toxic masculinity for themselves. (This is the earliest reference I've been able to find.)
posted by RogerB at 4:33 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


[Comment deleted. A discussion of toxicity in feminist spaces is perfectly fine, but isn't the discussion happening here.]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Comment deleted. A discussion of toxicity in feminist spaces is perfectly fine, but isn't the discussion happening here.]
Cool, so the claim made by numerous people in this thread that feminism is the movement for men stands unchallenged?
posted by miuaf at 4:41 PM on March 3, 2015


God forbid I should be a little snarky or bitter about hanging around people like that...
posted by miuaf at 4:43 PM on March 3, 2015


No one said feminism was THE movement for men, so I don't see the problem.
posted by agregoli at 4:44 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dude, miuaf. Let it go, you are new here so to let you know this isn't the spot to complain about deletion. If you feel the need to there is a contact link down below.

(But this would have been easier if the original explanation pointed out the "fuck you" to a hypothetical responder was not the only reason for the deletion.)
posted by Drinky Die at 4:46 PM on March 3, 2015


agregoli: feckless fecal fear mongering said exactly that:
If people want to create a men's rights movement but don't want to be associated with violently misogynistic hateful little shitstains who want to legalize rape, then they need to
...become feminists. Feminism is about human rights
posted by miuaf at 4:46 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


miuaf, here is the contact link to discuss issues with mods. Here is Metatalk if you want a public discussion. Don't discuss it here, please. We have an established system for this sort of thing.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:52 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm debating weather to post this to facebook or not. I'm all for "taking a stand" but I'm a little afraid that this is more of an "in-group" story, for people who already are wary of MRA groups, than a story I would want to use to reach out to people who might lean more towards that mindset.

I wonder, has anyone seen anything more along the lines of the second type?
posted by rebent at 4:55 PM on March 3, 2015


I want to say to the guys here who are frustrated and angry that I hear you and understand first hand what it's like to feel that my interests are not being represented by people who claim to be sympathetic. But more than that, I need to bring some tough love and say that there's often the expectation that feminist women should be emotionally and intellectually available to help solve these problems. Not only does this replicate existing gender dynamics in a rather frustrating way, it's also an enormous waste of time. The original article makes very clear that a lot of the men it profiles are simply not interested in listening to women unless they're in 100% agreement with the MRM.

We've obviously extended our discussion here to the lack of a men's movement that isn't horribly toxic. I think the most productive direction that this discussion can go in for men is to identify the source of the anger that MRAs feel, work to defuse that in ways that women can't, and take steps towards creating and participating in supportive and healthy environment for men and boys.

I am happy to contribute in a practical way, but I am very concerned that so many discussions about MRAs turn into criticisms of feminism from men who aren't actually doing any kind of gender equality or social justice work. Upthread I offered to help anyone who is looking to become more involved in a productive way. I stand by that, and I invite you to message me. An openness to sharing knowledge and expertise is important, and a big way that feminists can contribute to men helping men without taking our attention away from the women and girls who must be our priority.

We can go round in circles here making accusations, getting caught up in minor theoretical disputes and re-treading ground that people all over the internet stomp over all day. Or, we can roll up our sleeves and do the damn work.
posted by averysmallcat at 5:06 PM on March 3, 2015 [32 favorites]



Also, acknowleding these biological differences helps equality: many fathers have a hard time bonding when the newborn is just a blob that shits pisses and cries and eats. The mother has it easer in this case because of the actual physical connection between the two.


Christ on a cracker, during my recent Reddit exploration, I made it over to Pre-Daddit and Baby Bumps (idk why) and was educated (though slightly heartbroken for) that a lot of pregnant women have to endure the loneliness and sadness when the father doesn't feel like the pregnancy is real until the baby shows up or that some fathers are simply disinterested in their kid until the kid is "more fun." I don't know how these ladies manage without the emotional support of the guy that impregnated them, but they are stronger than I could ever, ever hope to be.

(If there's a way to solder the cervical cap on...bc Jesus I do not have the strength or emotional fortitude to endure a disinterested or uninvolved partner. And apparently there's no way to tell beforehand. Free Cervical caps for every woman please!!!)
posted by discopolo at 5:11 PM on March 3, 2015


Feminism IS about human rights. There have been many fine comments in this thread pointing out how the patriarchy hurts men too. It does. Working within the feminist movement helps all of us - men and women. I really and truly believe that..
I wish more people shared that belief.
posted by agregoli at 5:13 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Feminism IS about human rights. There have been many fine comments in this thread pointing out how the patriarchy hurts men too. It does. Working within the feminist movement helps all of us - men and women. I really and truly believe that..
I wish more people shared that belief.
I share this belief about what feminism could be. This is what I want feminism to be. It does not live up to this ideal today, at least not in the form one readily encounters online.

You can't just declare by fiat that your movement is for men too. It's simply not true, because abuse directed at men is so thoroughly tolerated in feminism. There are people on your side who are trying to explain some of the problems within the movement. If only someone would listen...
posted by miuaf at 5:23 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


we are again talking about feminism in terms of how men should feel about it
Um, yes, the claim was made numerous times in this thread that feminism is the movement for men and the one and only answer to MRA bullshit -- no third path, no nuance required.

So yes, that's what we're talking about. You can't have it both ways.
posted by miuaf at 5:29 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


i can't speak for anyone else, but i've been pointing out concrete actions that feminists have made on the topics that were raised as issues feminists don't fight for. it is a fact that feminists and feminist organizations fight (and have been fighting for as long as feminism has been a thing) for the areas that vile groups like the mra claim to care about (except for the parts about legalizing rape and requiring women to agree to financial abortions - i admit, they are on their own there). i'm not really sure why someone would think some misandry jokes erase those undeniable truths.
posted by nadawi at 5:33 PM on March 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


You have had bad experiences, ok. But painting all feminism and feminists with that is unfair. You are in a virtual room with feminists who have patiently and brilliantly explained the work and goals of feminism. I think you would be well served to take a step back from the slights you've received and take a step forward WITH us, in talking about how this work can be accomplished best.
posted by agregoli at 5:36 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


your side who are trying to explain some of the problems within the movement. If only someone would listen...
posted by miuaf


And you know? This comes off as you saying listen to men closer, women. We know better how to make feminism work! I am not accusing you of saying this, I am hoping that is not your intent. But its why you're getting the response you're getting.
posted by agregoli at 5:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


It does not live up to this ideal today, at least not in the form one readily encounters online.

As opposed to all those other political ideologies, which are exclusively represented online by carefully polished epistles from professional political philosophers
posted by RogerB at 5:42 PM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]


[miuaf, you need to not make this as your platform for airing your objections to everything feminist rather than talking to the people who are here. If that means you need to step back for a while, then please do that. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:49 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


And you know? This comes off as you saying listen to men closer, women
When people are advertising feminism as the solution to all of men's issues with the patriarchy? Hell yes, I would expect to be listened to a little.
posted by miuaf at 5:50 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't read any Twitter or Tumblrs about feminism so I don't even know what you're talking about, by the way. I also haven't heard any substantive criticism of feminism from you either, yet. Just that you've been treated poorly by people that you aren't talking to now.
posted by agregoli at 5:50 PM on March 3, 2015


miuaf, you're evidently pretty new to the place, and I think you're missing a lot of the MeFi cultural context both around feminism and otherwise. There has been a long ongoing meta-conversation (here, among many other places) about how Metafilter handles conversations about feminism and you are (unwittingly) hitting many of the discussed red buttons, and there is also very much a culture against rapid-fire replies to every single person who disagrees with you. Some amount of the pushback you're getting is in direct relation to these two things. I'd recommend taking a step back and letting the thread breathe a little bit - no one bears you any ill will, and the take-all-comers approach especially in light of the culture clash isn't helping the conversation.
posted by Phire at 5:50 PM on March 3, 2015 [9 favorites]



Gah. I hate that. You spend a long time writing out a comment and woosh...no point in posting it.
posted by Jalliah at 5:57 PM on March 3, 2015


i think as we work on having better conversations here around these topics a good thing to remember is that we can make it a better place by sitting on our comments for a minute or five while we see if the obvious non-engagement gets pruned. i'm obviously not perfect at it, but i try to keep it in mind...
posted by nadawi at 5:59 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


When people are advertising feminism as the solution to all of men's issues with the patriarchy? Hell yes, I would expect to be listened to a little.

Feminism can absolutely address issues of concern to men, and often does; it is concerned with the harm that patriarchal systems to do women primarily, but it's not like dismantling those systems will benefit only women.

But its primary job, if you will, is not to benefit men. Neither is what is known as the Men's Rights Movement.

If you want to help push society closer to gender equality, working for feminist causes is a pretty easy way to start doing that. If you feel the established feminist organizations are not addressing issues you want addressed, or aren't doing it in the way you want, then light your own goddamn candle and do something besides complain about what everyone else isn't doing. Make an organization. Start a movement. Women did it. So can you.
posted by rtha at 6:05 PM on March 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


I've never been reminded so much of my father in one night since he lefty. And that includes the nights I still have nightmares that he comes back. All of the quotes in the article sound eerily like the soundtrack of my childhood.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:06 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The MRA movement does not speak for me.

I am troubled by what is happening to the education of boys in America, and seeing a lost generation of young men. Huge numbers of boys being given the ADHD diagnosis and put on medication. Huge numbers of boys just not engaged in school at all dropping out or barely getting through. Not empowered in the slightest. The young men are not succeeding in education or employment at the rates that their sisters are and fathers did and many of them are angry about this. And young men have always been angry. The Great Recession has also been called the Mancession since a larger percentage of people who lost their jobs were men. Add this to the lexicon with manspreading and mansplaining and you may see a theme, and it isn't particularly pleasant.

The frame of this conversation about MRA's (an acronym used to belittle) is dominated by third wave feminists - and being a second wave feminist I don't share all of the beliefs of either. The #notallmen line was a nasty phrase and lost more allies than it gained. The idea that privilege is completely one sided is simplistic; so is the idea that only one sex can be sexist. That men are being oppressed or not oppressed is also simplistic. My risk of sexual assault is pretty low. However, my gender does make me vulnerable to attack and accusations in other areas of which I am all too aware.
posted by mearls at 6:32 PM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hey guys, serious question back to the article. I saw they were ultimately able to hold their hate convention at a VFW. I am a female VFW member. Anyone think it might be worth it to call them up, identifying as such, and voicing my complaints?
posted by corb at 6:35 PM on March 3, 2015 [20 favorites]


Couldn't hurt, I think you should.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:39 PM on March 3, 2015


corb, i think that'd be a great idea! they'll likely keep on keeping on, but i'm of the opinion that every single voice matters.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd like to think that radical queer might have something to say about masculinity, but ...

... assuming that you want to salvage something from all this rather than burn it all to the ground, why not build from the century of work that feminists have put into looking at the relationships among gender and labor, language, culture, religion, and political power?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:59 PM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed. miuaf, please check your email; you need to step away from this thread now, period.]
posted by cortex at 7:02 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Gamergate was the point at which I really became afraid of mra. There's just no off-switch, nothing is too far for them. I've never felt less safe presenting online as an obvious female. This is the only site where I'm not always watching what I say; where I've clearly outed myself as a woman. I've started using male pseudonyms when I write about anything that might have a young male demographic attached, like gaming, because I just can't deal with the nonstop rape and murder threats.
There is this terrifying sense of entitlement that seems to have supplanted the moral compass on so many of these men, and we ignore their ignorance and threats at our own cultural peril.
posted by dejah420 at 7:07 PM on March 3, 2015 [20 favorites]


I guess I am just commitment-phobic when it comes to joining things. I think the MRA people sometimes identify things that are real issues. I am agnostic about whether feminism in concept or execution addresses some or all of those things, but okay, I'm willing to assume there's at least one thing falling through the cracks.

But what do I need some sort of club or movement for?

I remember turning 18 and thinking it was pretty bullshit that I had to go drop off this postcard and women didn't. I waited till the last legal day to mail it and I am sure I whined about the gender disparity to at least someone; there was a lot of whining then. But I didn't feel like I needed to sit in a circle and talk about the cosmic unfairness of it. If things ever really changed and we could have a conscript-fought war again - which I really did not even then think was likely - it wasn't going to make any difference if they were also drafting women along with me.

If they weren't so harmful I'd feel sad for them. What must your life be like to feel like this is the foot on your neck?
posted by phearlez at 7:42 PM on March 3, 2015


I share this belief about what feminism could be. This is what I want feminism to be. It does not live up to this ideal today, at least not in the form one readily encounters online.

You can't just declare by fiat that your movement is for men too.


I am a man. Feminism is for me. And for my sisters. And my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, my cousins, and my niece. For my trans friends and my non-gender-binary friends, for my disabled friends, for my fellow queer people, for my friends of colour, for every single human being I see every day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:49 PM on March 3, 2015 [31 favorites]


Both parents soothe infants skin to skin, or just by physical contact. Sometimes the Dad's closeness is better, as the smell of Mom's milk can be irritating and overstimulating to a collicky baby. Both parents are important to the well being of babies. Sometimes babes like Dad better, something about native affinity. However, taking a baby from a Mom, to hand to the new girlfriend...and men make more money, so when they get the kids, the court goes after child support from the typically lower income Mom. Ewww divorce is so excruciating, so difficult for everyone.
posted by Oyéah at 9:15 PM on March 3, 2015


Based on what the Selective Service itself says about the legal and historical framework to exclude women from registration, it sounds like it's not going to be unequal much longer. (I do not know why a stock photo of a jazz-spotted Chad is peering down from the banner on that page. It is a genuine federal government website even though the design aesthetic is Geocities.)
posted by gingerest at 9:30 PM on March 3, 2015


@mearles

The recession hit more men at the beginning, since construction and manufacturing jobs were the first to disappear. As the recession went on, male unemployment rates fell as female unemployment rates rose.

Huge numbers of boys are not dropping out of school. Drop-out rates are at a historic low.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:35 PM on March 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am a man. Feminism is for me.

YES ME TOO. Favorited and flagged fantastic.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:07 PM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hahaha OMFG so not only did one of my MRA friends rise to the bait (as predicted) but he is also now being savaged in the comments on my Facebook post by MeFi's own feckless fecal fear mongering. It is glorious.

I totes need more MeFites as FB friends. Political discussions on my wall are so much spicier now than they were back when my friends list was mostly just a Libertarian Party echo chamber. :D
posted by Jacqueline at 10:17 PM on March 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm debating weather to post this to facebook or not.

I heartily endorse doing it. A+++ entertainment; would troll again.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:24 PM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bentobox Humperdinck, kangaroo care research which is where premature babies are held skin-to-skin to stabilize their temperature and heartrates, and the research (at least three years ago when I was doing it) shows that the benefits are higher with the birth mother - the premature infant is sensitive to the particular body chemistry and sounds of the mother. With fathers or non-related women, there are benefits too, but the infants can't regulate their temperatures as well.

Babies are flexible, but it is stressful and takes time for them to adjust to changing caretakers, so there has to be more than a 50/50 caretaking split if dads want to bond as closely with their babies.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:27 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a little late to the thread, but -

Imagine telling someone fighting for gay rights that it was ironic they had a movement when feminism was working on equality for gay people anyway.

For lesbian and bi women including myself, these movements are inextricably intertwined. Casting gay rights as different from women's rights is absurd when there is so much overlap between the two groups. Women who are partnered with men, who have sons, who work on feminist issues with men, are often very concerned about addressing men's issues.

Further, prison reform, race, and class issues matter to women - women go to prison or have friends or relatives in prison, women experience and care about intersectional issues and make this part of their feminism.

It's strange and sad to me that there are men who may be interested in gender equality issues because they see the trouble the heteropatriarchy causes for men, but who can't handle identifying with women or acknowledging that women get hurt here too.

My personal understanding of feminism is that it is a movement to let us all lead good lives where we define ourselves and are not slotted into particular roles by the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:20 AM on March 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm a man, and feminism is also for me, because I don't live in a vacuum. Every issue involving women being treated poorly is as much an issue about men being unwittingly taught to treat them poorly; every issue about the problems with male groupthink is a problem I'm very much caught up in myself; every issue in which men are (to some extent) feared or suspected or held up as untrustworthy or problematic is an issue that, even if I were a perfect and unparalleled ally (which I'm not), would still factor into the way I get seen and evaluated and treated, simply because that's the way our culture works.

The dynamic here is not a simple one. There is no panacea which magically enlightens us, no golden ticket we can wave around to prove we've gotten to the end of a line. I'm never going to hit a point where I don't work to shed my baggage — baggage which exists because, by its nature, I don't recognize it's there until it's led me to do something stupid — and I'm never going to hit a point where I'm, well, not a man, and subject to all the cultural expectations placed on me from every single possible angle. It affects how men perceive me and it affects how women perceive me, and it's a bunch of different kinds of frustrating for a bunch of different kinds of reasons.

So, yes, I'm a feminist, because fuck everything about all that. It's not specifically about women, though it is specifically about the ways in which our social attitudes towards women are warped and distorted, in a way that's different (and, I think, more fundamental) than the ways in which our attitudes about men are. For all that I suffer from this shit, I know plenty of women who suffer from it unfathomably more, in ways that are both horribly personal (it's not just the same specific ugly story every time) and horribly universal (because this shit keeps fucking happening). I empathize with men, too, but that empathy doesn't extend to forgiving them if they're incapable of examining their own biases, and if a dude's being a piece of shit I'm gonna start feeling sorry for him only after he cuts that the fuck out.

Feminism as a movement provides a splendid framework by which people can try to understand these issues without losing sight of the people who are victimized them the most, so yes I'm a feminist, and I'm dubious of men who claim not to be one. Because this shit's difficult, and any attempt to work through it from a male-centric viewpoint is just gonna collapse under all the biases and misconceptions until all you've got left is the same old crazy under a new surly brand.
posted by rorgy at 3:33 AM on March 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


(Are there problems with people in the feminist movement doing things that aren't 100% unhurtful to guys? Yeah, totally; but, again, I think there are still more problems with feminists hurting other women, either unintentionally or deliberately, and as a dude I try to make my point when I think I have one and then let the conversation bob along as it naturally will. I've never felt unlistened to, although I've certainly been told — more often than I wish I'd needed to be told — that my issues aren't always the ones most worth talking about in any given discussion, which is true.)
posted by rorgy at 3:38 AM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


[miuaf, I was really clear already about stepping away from this thread. You're welcome to follow up on the long email I sent you last night about expectations about participation here if you're interested in trying to take a second shot at joining this community but you need to actually acknowledge and abide by that stuff I was talking about and this isn't that.]
posted by cortex at 10:33 AM on March 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ithink kinda seems to me that the loudness of RedPillers/MRAs , especially online (at least 100k subscribed to The Red Pill on Reddit) may just be adding to everything that make women participating online a little bit more distrustful/wary/cautious of men they're encountering in real life.. Just a thought.

Though I think it might be time that feminist men figure out, as a group, how to shut these Red Piller/MRA/PUA types down.
posted by discopolo at 11:34 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the article:

He who would free one Robert Maynard is named Albert Calabrese. He finds me with the Honey Badgers, but he keeps his distance. He knows who Typhon Blue is, has watched the videos she's posted online in which she discusses the sexual abuse of boys by women. Calabrese does not exactly share her concern. His issue is girls. His friend Robert Maynard, he says, is in prison because of one. She was 14. "He received a naked picture of her," Calabrese says, his vowels rounded and clipped, his indignation over the verb— received—making his eyes wide.

From reality:

MAYNARD, ROBERT L., COMPUTER CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, DIST/POSS/VIEW MATTER DEPICTNG CHILD SEX (39 CTS), SEXUAL SOLICIT OF/INDECENCY WITH A CHILD
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 11:39 AM on March 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


"The #notallmen line was a nasty phrase and lost more allies than it gained." -mearls

Really? Because as someone who used to think "but I'm not like that" a little too much when I was was younger, it struck me as a nicely succinct expression of the privilege and self importance that took me a long time to examine and reflect on. And I personally don't know anyone familiar with #notallmen who saw it as nasty or was defensive about it, quite the opposite. Maybe this was just your personal experience.
posted by osk at 12:24 PM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Though I think it might be time that feminist men figure out, as a group, how to shut these Red Piller/MRA/PUA types down.

I'm not sure how you think we would do that. There's no club we can throw them out of via some sort of vote.. I don't willingly associate myself with these clowns. I speak up when people I know drop nonsense (the most recent to come to mind was a pretty well progressive stay-at-home-dad who was on about some cosplay "then why do they dress that way" BS). I call bullshit best I can when I am out and about in the world. But what are we supposed to do beyond that and setting a better example and telling people that they should expect more from men?

Feminist women cannot "shut down" anti-feminist women. What are we supposed to do to "stop" such men?
posted by phearlez at 12:35 PM on March 4, 2015


you're doing great, keep it up, and if you think of anything else so the outsized lion share of this burden isn't squarely on our shoulders, we'd appreciate it!
posted by nadawi at 1:03 PM on March 4, 2015


I'm not sure how you think we would do that. There's no club we can throw them out of via some sort of vote

I mean no? BUT ALSO YES, if you can be a little less literal about it (and I know you can, and so do you). There are clubs you could theoretically form and/or join that would explicitly stand against this toxic shitshow, where you could start putting a better, less damaged and damaging alternative out into the world. Arguably by participating on Metafilter you're already part of a club that has, by means of general consensus and moderation, voted these assholes off its island.

This is such a frustratingly common refrain in these discussions and the reason it's frustrating is so multilayered I have a hard time even explaining why. I totally feel the frustration of men who say, "what do you want from us, we don't have superpowers" in the face of this problem. I share it! But also part of being a good ally and contributing effort is recognizing that this is a long, fucking uphill, unforgiving and often unrewarding slog. And dealing with it anyway.

But what are we supposed to do beyond that and setting a better example and telling people that they should expect more from men?

As is so often said on this site, if it's not about you, then it's not about you. If you're not tacitly accepting/condoning/ignoring these astronomically gross perversions of masculinity, if you're making the shitty dudes in your sphere come correct, if you're walking the walk, THEN THAT IS AWESOME and you can feel good about that and not feel attacked when women talk about the millions of men who still give zero fucks and/or actively despise our entire existence.

As nadawi said, if that's what you're doing, you're doing great. And also, there may be more you could do if you are capable and willing. Both of these things are true at once.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:16 PM on March 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


(See but now I feel weird because I just devoted time and energy to patting someone on the back for being halfway decent in a world that would theoretically let him be terroristically awful with no repercussions.

Whereas nobody pats me on the back for shit, ever, and rather more often than not the response to my best efforts at humanity is some form of graphic sexualized threat. So there's another thing you equality-minded dudes can do: do and say nice and kind and supportive things for the women who are fighting the progressive fight around you, because lord knows nobody else goddamn will.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:22 PM on March 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


Gotcha, and I don't think I am normally overly literal on this and I don't ever need/expect an atta-boy for not being a sexist douchecanoe. Even if I didn't feel like it's the right thing to do I strongly feel it's in my own best interest to have a better and more equal society.

but I felt like when the thing there we should figure out a way to "shut down" these clowns came right after this

Ithink kinda seems to me that the loudness of RedPillers/MRAs , especially online (at least 100k subscribed to The Red Pill on Reddit) may just be adding to everything that make women participating online a little bit more distrustful/wary/cautious of men they're encountering in real life..

it sounded like there was some sort of larger idea. Sorry, not trying to make it about me or anything. Just more a "how the hell am I supposed to police these clowns??" kind of reaction. I'm sure part of my frustration with the sentiment was that I felt like I spent a lot of teen years being punished by toxic ideas of masculinity. If I could have stopped some of this shit decisively I sure would have done it before now.

As far as feeling weird - I don't think there's ever a downside to praising people for doing what should just be the basic expected of them. During a period of time when I was taking a break from desk jobs and bartending I had a boss who would pretty much always say thanks for coming in and doing a good job. And most days I thought it was kinda dopey and cheesy. I'm there for the salary and you don't need to thank me for work - that's why I get a paycheck.

Till the one day it was kinda shitty and other crap was going on in my life and it was just nice to get the basic recognition. The fact that I wasn't owed it probably made it a little better.

I don't think we ever have to do that sort of thing, and nobody on the flip side should feel like they always need to get recognized for doing the basics (cue Chris Rock clip re: you're SUPPOSED to be a good dad). But handing out thanks for doing the right thing? Maybe it's cheesy but I'll embrace it. Why else get old if you can't syrup shit up sometimes?
posted by phearlez at 2:31 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I could have stopped some of this shit decisively I sure would have done it before now.

I think a big part of it is just recognizing that you can't stop this shit decisively, but you can increase the pressure on it. And sometimes that might come at a cost to you, and sometimes that cost might be too much to bear -- if you're at a work lunch and your boss looks at the waitress and says under his breath "oh, man, I could WRECK that," that's not necessarily something you can challenge in the moment without repercussions. But sometimes, you're going to have to take the repercussions, you're going to have to be awkward, you're going to have to challenge and maybe even lose some friendships, and you STILL won't be decisively shutting it down -- but you'll have tightened the rope, moved the window, whatever it is that you want to call it. And over time, if a lot of people pitch in, that makes a difference.
posted by KathrynT at 3:04 PM on March 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


There probably isn't a way to entirely shut them down, it's a frustration I've expressed in regards to GamerGate. The best you can do is toss them off into darker and darker corners of the internet, like how the migration of Gaters to 8Chan from 4Chan occurred, Pressure on Reddit is especially important, I think, because they have that "Front Page of the Internet" reputation that lends some legitimacy to the shit they host. It's an uphill battle against the people who run Reddit, even just the idea that sexualized images of minors should be off the site was met with resistance, but you can eventually get through to them. They should not be hosting hate speech out of some idiotic appeal to free speech. Push it out of the mainstream as hard as you can.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:06 PM on March 4, 2015


I'm not sure how you think we would do that. There's no club we can throw them out of via some sort of vote

Yes there is.

I have a friend-of-a-friend who buys into the worst of the misogynist MRA shit and posts it on facebook. And everyone is nice to him, and no one stops being friends with him or anything, because you know, he's such a nice guy, and it's not his fault he can't get a girlfriend, and you know, it's not THAT terrible to say that women are dumb gold-diggers, right? And he makes shitty jokes about women, and everyone either laughs or chuckles uncomfortably because you know, you wouldn't want to call him out or anything, the poor guy is already sad and lonely!

Right now, I know no one, not even a friend of a friend, not even a friend of a friend of a friend, who is in the KKK. Why? Because the mere act of someone being involved with the KKK is enough to drop them as a friend like a hot potato with loud exclamations of "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?" So clearly, men as well as women have figured out what to do about guys who are shitty and in the KKK. And look! The KKK are incredibly marginalized and associating with them is the kiss of death.

If you want to put your money where your mouth is, tell your misogynist friends to stop that crap or stop being friends with you.
posted by corb at 4:30 PM on March 4, 2015 [17 favorites]


Though I think it might be time that feminist men figure out, as a group, how to shut these Red Piller/MRA/PUA types down.

Yes. Yes we do. One avenue that I've had (very) moderate success with is to say "Wow, that's a really gross way to talk about your mother/sister/daughter." (Stipulated: nobody should be treating any women like these MRA assclowns do; women shouldn't need men to protect/shield them, and I absolutely recognize there's a 'personal ownership' piece to how many men think of relationships with women in their own families. At the same time, riding the personal relationship angle gets through to some guys.)

Appealing to absolutely base instincts can help to start the process of understanding the toxicity of these beliefs; "You want to get laid, yeah? The way you are treating women is not going to be effective, because XYZ." Sometimes, and this is basically the underpinning of CBT, if you interrupt the behaviour you're going to be effective at eventually interrupting the thought patterns leading to that behaviour.

So as trying-not-to-be-assclown guys, what we can do is adopt as close to zero-tolerance for sexist behaviour around us as possible--even, and perhaps especially, when it comes at a personal cost. Make it completely socially unacceptable to say egregious shit; "That is not acceptable. How would you feel about some guy treating your mother like that? It would suck for her to be on the receiving end, right? Stop it." I've had really great success in workplaces shutting down homophobic behaviour and language that way.

When your friends say terrible shit, no matter where it is, shut it down. Facebook, twitter, here; call it out for what it is. That's where we start fighting back against these idiots, because while #notallmen is now a trope, it's also true: not all men behave this way, and it's up to those of us who don't to deliver the smackdown to the guys who do.

That and, y'know, listening to women and supporting equality and working with the women who have been paving the way for decades, and basically making the voices of these pathetic little manbabies as irrelevant as the KKK. (Not that making them irrelevant will undo the damage they've done and are doing, nor will it stop it completely, but it's a start.) We can harness our privilege, paradoxically, to wipe out that privilege. So maybe we start with trying to pull these guys a few inches closer to non-toxic behaviour--and then we say "nah, don't listen to me. Listen to her" as soon as we pull them to a point where they'll actually listen.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:13 PM on March 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


why these men have stepped off the rational bus onto the crazy train.
Because they can.

Despite what the stereotypes say, feminists don't routinely espouse the kind of hate and vindictiveness that MRAs do. But these guys have supporters. It makes some sense. Equal rights means spreading wealth, opportunity, authority, voting, personhood a little farther. Men don't really lose in the long run, but now there are women doctors, ministers, politicians, and it's easy to think I could have been more, but these women screwed me over.

I used to work in bookstores. Some men, on seeing a section labeled Women/ Feminism would ask Where's the Men's Section? We, and we included male staff, would refer to the rest of the store with a sweeping gesture. Yeah, if I had a dime for every time, it'd be a bunch of dimes.
posted by theora55 at 6:40 PM on March 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So as trying-not-to-be-assclown guys, what we can do is adopt as close to zero-tolerance for sexist behaviour around us as possible—even, and perhaps especially, when it comes at a personal cost.

Pretty much this. The "club" that we can kick people out of is the "casual social acceptance" club. Everyone starts as a member, because humans are herd creatures generally willing to float some social capital, and open exclusion is a serious thing. But we do it for all kinds of things, and "saying sexist shit" is slowly but surely becoming one of them, just like "saying unironically racist shit." Social mores change as individuals impose social penalties on behaviors that are unacceptable.

It doesn't have to be cataclysmic, it doesn't have to be epic. A lot of times it's as simple as, "That was pretty shitty, man," without the benefit of a tension-defusing laugh. Sometimes I've caught myself making a joke that was shitty and sexist, and I've had to stop and say, "Jeeze, I'm sorry. That was super shitty and over the line." If it's laughed off and dismissed, then it's followed with, "No, really. It wasn't okay, because [x]."

It's a process, and it's about self-awareness as much as policing other people. It changes one by one. The local dive bar I hang out at on tuesday nights has slowly but surely turned into a place where the regulars bang a gong and boo if someone tells a rape joke. Not because I said something or someone in particular said something, but just because slowly but steadily, one night at a time individuals said, "Woah, not okay," and more people started remembering That One Time and nodding along the Next Time and then norming the same "Hey, Not Okay" response themselves.

So yeah, what you said. There is totally a club we can kick people out of.
posted by verb at 7:56 PM on March 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "Point is - Family Court sucks. It sucks less than it did, but it still sucks.
Not in the US, so likely things are different, but my experience is that the whole legal framework and the way it is implemented is dramatically better now than it was a couple of decades ago. Having had (through a now-obvious pattern of poor personal choices) the pleasure of twice going through this when, in the first of these, my biggest battle was finding legal representation where almost nobody was prepared to represent me because 'there's no point - there's no way you can gain custody as a man'. In the second experience, I'm pleased to report that the legal language and the process is very much centred not on what parents are entitled to, but what children are entitled to and what is best for them, starting from a position that (unless there are clear indications otherwise and different in the case of babies) children are entitled to spend equal time with both their parents.

Similarly, I don't think single fathers have to put up with the issues that we did those couple of decades ago - things like people asking who cooks and who buys her clothes (things that are minor on the surface but that grind away after a while) and, yes, resistance around taking time away from work to actually be a parent.

It's a real shame that, while the system itself has improved out of sight, it's done so by giving more rights to men without doing anything to improve the intrinsic inequality that exists everywhere else and that women continue to be victims of. The only benefit women have been given from these changes is they are now under less pressure to default to the 'primary caregiver' role, a position that long denied many women the opportunity to participate in the workforce.

verb: "I guess I don't know how a genuinely humane "men's movement" would be all that different from a humane politics in general.
It would look a lot like feminism, I think.

I'm a man and feminism is for me too but, more importantly, it's for my daughters and for my son.
posted by dg at 3:52 AM on March 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Gender is a two-wing prison. Few escape. I will defend anyone who tries – from the transgender, to the genderqueer, to the shaved-headed lesbian, to the prancing, dancing queen. It seems Tovey thinks he has escaped being a “freak” by working out, by passing as heterosexual.

I do not know him, but too many men try to knock themselves into masculine shape: literally, figuratively. I sense their achievement at escaping effeminacy, but suspect they simply cannot see the other bars, the cell. This supposed “passing privilege” of being “straight acting” isn’t a privilege at all if at heart you are someone floating in the middle of the gender spectrum, forced to flee to one side or t’other.
In Defense of Prancing Effeminate Men
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:18 AM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The local dive bar I hang out at on tuesday nights has slowly but surely turned into a place where the regulars bang a gong and boo if someone tells a rape joke.

BRB HEADING OUT TO BUY A GONG FOR THE BAR
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:34 AM on March 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


* This elides the amount of crap men as single parents still have to put up with. I've never seen a woman catch as much shit as I have for taking off from work to take the kid to to doctor, or what have you. Not that it's great for women, either - it's a different set of sucky expectations. Still.

That kind of stuff results in lower access to promotional opportunities and lots of behind their backs talk about working moms routinely. The not hiring a woman because she's newly married and might get pregnant, the coworkers who resent her...I don't have children, but I've seen and heard personally (a former male director griping on a conference call about how a woman was "on baby leave") how unforgiving and dismissive colleagues who don't get the pressure can be to those who have no choice.

At the end of the day, your boss might be able to deal with or have sympathy for you being a single dad, but the way working moms are treated (where a man taking the kid to the doc's might be, in their minds, a one time annoying thing/"why can't kid's mom do it?thing", the calculation for a working mom will be,"Same old story, she's going to do this again and again and I'm going to have to find someone who is more willing and able to be committed to the job instead of stretched between kids and jobs!").

The married guy whose wife can take the kids to the doc, etc., may be considered less annoying than the guy who has to take kid to the doctor, but the working woman with kids, especially the single mom, is treated far, far worse than anyone will ever treat you. And it will show up in her lifetime earnings.

The Pink Superhero posted a great article on the front page yesterday depicting how brutal employers and unforgiving can be to moms.
posted by discopolo at 8:21 AM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


This elides the amount of crap men as single parents still have to put up with. I've never seen a woman catch as much shit as I have for taking off from work to take the kid to to doctor, or what have you.

As discopolo pointed out, this isn't something that exists in a gender vacuum. The guy catches flack because there is a strong cultural assumption that there is a woman who ought to be doing that work instead of him. This isn't to minimize the penalties guys take in the workplace when they act like responsible parents. It's just to point out that women generally take pre-emptive penalties based on the assumption that they will eventually act like responsible parents.

There's an interesting article that just hit Forbes.com touching on this; it's also an interesting example of how enforcement of these gender norms isn't simply a male thing. Women often enforce the same norms as a way of broadcasting, "I am not one of those people you should punish for being female!"

On preview, I think that might be the article that The Pink Superhero posted, too. Hah.
posted by verb at 8:27 AM on March 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Startup tries to sell masculinity with a crate and a crowbar
Looking for a practical present? Try the outdoor survival kit or some personalized barware. Tasteful? A fancy grill kit or an exotic jerky set, replete with kangaroo, wild boar and ostrich meat. Fanciful? How about a zombie annihilation crate, with a hatchet, machete and can of Spam?
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on March 5, 2015


A bar gong is the greatest idea I have heard this week.

I don't think single fathers have to put up with the issues that we did those couple of decades ago - things like people asking who cooks and who buys her clothes (things that are minor on the surface but that grind away after a while)

There's still a lot of damning with faint praise. When the boy and I are out alone I hear a fair amount of it. When grocery shopping there's little statements that indicate what a wowzer it is that I might be able to be there with a list I wasn't provided by mom. I'm more likely to find a place without a changing table anywhere than I am where one is only in the women's room, but it happens and the reactions I get when I complain - politely, though always with the word "sexist" - are kind of astonishing. I guess you see this stuff more starkly when you put someone on the spot; when they have time to think about it they can fit it into their rationalizations.

As verb said, it's obviously far worse for women and it's just the flip side of the same sexist women-exist-to-care nonsense.

I don't have any more sexist friends (that I am aware of) to cut off from the friend club anymore. The last of them went in the last few years over my posting mocking things about the term "friendzone" on facebook.
posted by phearlez at 8:57 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


starting from a position that (unless there are clear indications otherwise and different in the case of babies) children are entitled to spend equal time with both their parents.

This is not a vast improvement. This is the patriarchy reasserting itself. The bullshit, completely ass-backwards idea that it doesn't matter if a man abuses his wife, as long as he hasn't abused his kid yet, he's still entitled to see the kid, and not have the kid removed from his poisonous influence, is far from equality.
posted by corb at 9:34 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would not have read that quoted line and thought that an abusive person would skate past being included in "clear indications otherwise."
posted by phearlez at 12:45 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know, phearlez, I would have thought your way too, but I guess it's not too ridiculous to assume that our society, which is terrible in almost every way and populated by shitbags almost completely, would fail to consider abuse a "clear indication otherwise."

You know, like this situation.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:57 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Startup tries to sell masculinity with a crate and a crowbar

Like racism and (exactly like) sexism, being a bro ironically still makes you a bro.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:11 PM on March 5, 2015


I am well aware of how this happens. But I was responding more to one commenter's response to another's words, not how implementation so often fails. It seems pretty obvious from the context of dg's comment that such a thing isn't what was meant.
posted by phearlez at 1:21 PM on March 5, 2015


Ah! To be clear, my base assumption was that that link had been posted as criticism, not support. Sorry for not making my thoughts clearer.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:37 PM on March 5, 2015


There's still a lot of damning with faint praise. When the boy and I are out alone I hear a fair amount of it. When grocery shopping there's little statements that indicate what a wowzer it is that I might be able to be there with a list I wasn't provided by mom. I'm more likely to find a place without a changing table anywhere than I am where one is only in the women's room,
Yeah, no doubt that's true - there's definitely still an undercurrent that a father out in public with kids is participating in a field trip rather than being an actual parent (which is really just an annoyance and doesn't in any way compare to the constant sexist crap that women deal with all day). The changing table (and public toilets suitable for young children generally) issue is, though, greatly improved as well and many places now have excellent facilities. I'll never forget all those moments of terror waiting for my 'too old to be in a male public toilet but really too young to go into a female one by herself' daughter and the times I've had to ask a random stranger heading into a female public toilet to check on her because she seems to have been in there a long time. It's the same challenge faced by mothers out in public with their sons, of course.

This is not a vast improvement. This is the patriarchy reasserting itself. The bullshit, completely ass-backwards idea that it doesn't matter if a man abuses his wife, as long as he hasn't abused his kid yet, he's still entitled to see the kid, and not have the kid removed from his poisonous influence, is far from equality.
If that were the case, I would agree. But in my personal, albeit limited, experience, it isn't. The example linked above by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese is a horrifying and disgraceful situation to put a parent in and an awful example of putting the rights of an abusive parent ahead of those of vulnerable children. The fact that it is enabled by laws enshrining 'parental rights' is very telling, I think. The model that I'm familiar with is one that explicitly denies parents any automatic right to access to their children, but starts from a position of 'what are the needs of the children and how are they best served?'. I have no doubt whatsoever that sometimes cock-ups happen and kids end up forced to spend time with bad parents - the people administering the system are human and, as with all things in our 'civilised' society, people with the money to pay huge legal costs are always at a distinct advantage.

I understand where you're coming from and acknowledge that we are living in different places and have different experiences. But a system that has progressed from automatically granting a mother custody and denying children access to their father with the only recourse being to take expensive and long legal action with no real chance of success, even when the mother has abused the child to one that puts the child first and considers only their needs in a framework that does everything possible to both keep the matter out of the courts and come to a resolution quickly has to be an improvement. The fact that (in my view) feminist organisations have played a significant part in driving such changes is something that those arguing for mens' rights happen not to notice is, to me, reason enough on its own to pretty much ignore their bleating.
posted by dg at 3:20 PM on March 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


But a system that has progressed from automatically granting a mother custody and denying children access to their father with the only recourse being to take expensive and long legal action with no real chance of success, even when the mother has abused the child to one that puts the child first and considers only their needs in a framework that does everything possible to both keep the matter out of the courts and come to a resolution quickly has to be an improvement.

The problem is, that isn't what has happened. In fact, that's never been what's happened. I would defy you to find me a time in legal history when courts have automatically granted mothers custody and automatically terminated paternal rights as a part of normal divorce process. You are repeating what is a traditional MRA talking point, and it just has never happened. In fact, when biological fathers were prevented, in the past, from contacting the children, it was often exactly in the best interests of the child - for example, to allow the child to bond in a new familial unit with a new stepfather.

Creating a "best interests of the child" standard and then at the same time, deciding that the best interests of the child must be served by equal time to both parents except in cases of egregious misconduct is not, in fact, one that puts the child first. It is often a system that puts children dead last - a system where abused spouses are actually less likely to get custody of their children, as courts decide they will be unlikely to facilitate contact with their abuser. That British situation cited is far from unusual.

I am a domestic violence survivor. I was physically and otherwise abused. In court, getting my motherfucking restraining order which was granted for cause, it said, 'X is not allowed to contact or be within 50 feet of corb, except for facilitating child visitation.' Because a court, while admitting he was so violent that he should never be within my physical presence, didn't think that was a reason to prevent someone from seeing his kid! I mean, you know, a guy's got rights!
posted by corb at 9:17 PM on March 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


corb: " I would defy you to find me a time in legal history when courts have automatically granted mothers custody and automatically terminated paternal rights as a part of normal divorce process."

Who said anything about divorce? Certainly not me. The 'time in legal history', as you put it, is the time when I was in a position where the only 'right' I had was that of paying child support. At that time, in this country, a father that was not married to the mother of his child was explicitly denied any rights by the Family Law Act other than those granted by the Family Court, through an expensive and protracted legal process that involved proving I was suitable to be a part of my daughter's life. This, despite clear evidence of abuse on the part of her mother, as a result of which she no longer had custody of her four other children. Particularly given that she had access to legal aid and I didn't, it was only by a combination of grossly incompetent legal representation (hers) and that she lied to her solicitor, who found herself on the back foot when standing in court against me (self-represented) that I gained not only access, but custody (although, despite the abuse, she was entitled to unsupervised access, which she never once availed herself of). I am not 'repeating what is a traditional MRA talking point, and it just has never happened' - I am repeating my own lived experience and I can absolutely assure you that it happened.

Having said that, I agree that it all sounds like a typical MRA story (albeit with a different ending to the usual anecdote trotted out as proof that men are 'discriminated against'). There is, I think, a kernel of truth in the issues the original 'mens' movement' was trying to address, but one that has both been grossly distorted in the transition to a 'mens' rights movement' in the interests of not only dragging back the small gains in equality that have been won for women, but pushing the pendulum even further towards denying women their rights. I've said here (more or less) that I think 'equal rights for men' are best achieved through the feminism movement. I doubt, though, that MRA arseholes have the same vision of what equality looks like that you and I do.

I am truly sorry that you have gone through the experiences you have. There is no way the situation you describe is just or right or, in my view, sane. It is stupid and unfair to an extent I don't even have a word for.
posted by dg at 1:07 AM on March 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


[Comment removed; I feel like we're getting pretty deep into the weeds or reading into and passing judgement other people's experiences here, maybe let's back away from that at this point.]
posted by cortex at 8:19 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Moving from the personal to the more general, here's a few good articles about the perceptions and realities of the court system and custody disputes. Slate's piece does a good job of the realities and misperceptions as well as acknowledging changes over the decades.The HuffPo piece makes a valid point about the fact that the vast majority of custody cases aren't decided by the courts and even including binding mediation makes for the minority number of cases.

The core point being that the Men's Rights nutters aren't really playing honest when they talk about the court system as if it's indicative of how men really fare in custody. Those battles are numerically the edge cases so you can't view them as if they represent all agreements. It's also disingenuous on their part to not acknowledge the ways the system is stacked against the group more likely to have fewer financial resources - statistically, the women in those edge cases.
posted by phearlez at 9:02 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks, phearlez. I've spent enough time around the court system to be certain that there are plenty of individual men and women who have been treated unfairly, but the studies cited in those articles you link to suggest the biggest barrier to men being involved in their children's lives post-divorce is the men themselves and not the court system. (It sounds like unmarried fathers could be in a different situation, but I haven't read or experienced enough to comment on that.) I'm sure the family court system can use some reform (when couldn't we say that?), but the bigger focus of a genuinely positive men's movement would be to encourage active fatherhood. Not whining about it on the internet, but actually spending time parenting your children. In a broader sense, redefining masculinity so that there is a much bigger focus on caring for others (something we may see too much of in conventional notions of femininity.)
posted by Area Man at 9:51 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not denying the experiences of anybody here, but in my real-life experiences I've never known any fathers - never-married or divorced - who TRULY WANTED to share custody of their children and were prevented from doing so by thr courts.

I've known men who were prevented from getting full or partial custody, but, to a man, they either didn't want it or didn't want it for its own sake. Some of them wanted it because they resented paying support, some wanted it to hurt or denigrate their exes, some wanted it because of pressure from their parents or a new partner, and some just wanted it out of spite.

There are several men in my extended family with primary cutody of their children after breakup, and not a one of them had any more trouble in court than the mothers did. The biggest stumbling block any of them had was the cousin who had to take a DNA test to prove the child was his.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:12 AM on March 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Area Man: "I've spent enough time around the court system to be certain that there are plenty of individual men and women who have been treated unfairly, ... the biggest barrier to men being involved in their children's lives post-divorce is the men themselves and not the court system."
Yes, absolutely agree with this. Regardless of any improvements in legal rights, men need to step up as fathers and stop whining that someone else didn't look after them.
posted by dg at 12:46 PM on March 6, 2015


also, sorry, cortex - I started getting too personal and then wouldn't let go
posted by dg at 12:48 PM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


nadawi: "so apparently they want abusive partners to be awarded custody on grounds that dating someone who turns out to be abusive is WORSE than actually being abusive?

and, this is actually how it works out a significant percent of the time. abusive men are more likely to seek custody and they use their ex's mental state, a thing they caused, as ammunition against her, and it works.
"

I unfortunately know of something like this that happened. The father would get angry at the baby when it was crying. When they got divorced, he still fought for custody and won it. Even though he makes considerably more than his ex-wife, she still has to send him child support since he is the primary custodian. I wonder what MRMs would make of that situation.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:01 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I imagine they'd consider him something of a hero that beat the odds and defeated the evil feminists, to be honest.
posted by dg at 11:37 PM on March 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


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