Any time that it’s not winter = winter is coming.
Any time that it’s not winter = winter is coming.
If you’re a feminist looking for a platform from which to share your opinions, the world is your oyster. But if you’re a maligned male, cruelly discriminated against simply on account of your sex, where do you turn? Fortunately, there is corner of the internet carved out just for you by like minded individuals: the “men’s rights” movement.
From humble origins on an obscure corner of Usenet to a diverse collection of advocacy sites, blogs and forums today, the online presence of the men’s rights movement has come a long way. Yet, just the name “men’s rights” is enough up conjure up images of bitter, misogynistic bastards living at home with their parents, looking for an excuse to vent at the multitude of perceived slights men endure in the media.
I figured there must be a bit more to it than that. So I set out to discover who these men’s rights activists really are.
The English language organisations, blogs and forums are, unsurprisingly, largely populated by people from the Western Anglosphere. The more strident a country’s feminist contingent, the stronger the men’s rights presence. Needless to say,Canada is strongly represented.
At its core, the men’s rights movement is primarily concerned with fighting against discriminatory laws and policies. Much of it is fuelled by active members of fathers’ rights groups. These groups enjoy surprisingly high public support. Fathers4Justice, the UK group who advocate for family law reform, claims to be the highest-supported campaign group in the UK, behind Greenpeace & Amnesty International. It is the active members of these groups who are responsible for most online men’s rights content.
Often, those who are most active have been wronged, or at least believe themselves to have been wronged, by the legal system. Divorce settlements and custody battles are their main points of contention, followed by physical abuse and rape at the hands of women.
No, that’s not a joke. Men’s rights activists don’t just believe that rape of men by women actually exists and warrants discussion. They believe that women are perpetrators of rape against the opposite sex almost as often as men. The exact figure is hotly debated, and arguing over the maths of studies that back their claims is common on forums.
Boys left behind in education, the vilification of masculinity, the uneven distribution of workplace deaths, male incarceration rates, healthcare for men and “male genital mutilation” (a.k.a., circumcision) are all hot topics.
Whatever the numbers might be (and the waters become very murky when calculating estimated numbers of rapes not reported), the anger of of the men’s rights activists that no one else is talking about the issue is… well, understandable, I suppose.
But as much as these people might be branded “activists”, their online presence, particularly in forums, feels more like a victim support group than angry political lobbying. Frustrations are vented and debated with varying degrees of irritation, in what most participants describe as the only space available to them anywhere to do so.
While personal experiences of custody and legal discrimination often draw men in to the movement, men’s rights activists frequently find themselves advocating change over a huge rage of male-centric issues. Boys left behind in education, the vilification of masculinity, the uneven distribution of workplace deaths, male incarceration rates, healthcare for men and “male genital mutilation” (a.k.a., circumcision) are all hot topics.
As easy as their cause might be to mock, they make coherent – and in some cases compelling – arguments. For example, boys in
the the UK are being outstripped by girls in reading skills at an increasing rate, and are now trailing girls by a staggering14 per cent in GCSE English A*-C pass rates. If the figures were reversed, there’d be a national outcry.
If there is one thing that unites the men’s rights movement, its a loathing of modern feminism, particularly as practised by the metropolitan liberal-Left. They charge it with everything from injecting anti-male bigotry into politics to destroying the natural social order.
The hatred isn’t helped by feminists loftily dismissing men’s rights activists outright. Most feminists refuse to accept that men even have issues, let alone that feminism might be the cause of them. Understandably, the majority of anger and vitriol displayed by men’s rights activists is in response to being disparaged by feminists. As popular vlogger ”TJ” Kincaid, also known as “The Amazing Atheist”, puts it in this video:
I think I’ve finally figured out modern day feminism… There’s a lot of these girls and women who are completely unlikable cunts, who are shrill and annoying and evil. And they think that no one likes them because they’re women. But really no one likes them because they’re horrible fucking people.
What’s remarkable about the inter-subculture wars is that it’s the feminists doing most of the shouting. By contrast – with the exception of the above quote, perhaps – MRAs come across as rather meek.
It’s easy to see MRA blogs and forum postings and to interpret them as misogynistic – or even as hate speech. But such accusations do not generally hold water: there are bigots in the men’s rights movement, but they are on the fringes and in the minority. Most MRAs come across as mild-mannered and often bewildered in the face of fury from their feminist counterparts.
Just how nasty can feminists be? Well: on Friday June 15, 2011, a man named Thomas Ball doused himself with petrol on the steps of a family courthouse in New Hampshire and set himself on fire. He killed himself to highlight the great injustice he believed he had suffered at the hands of the family court system. So far, so tragic – but that was just the beginning. The online feminist warriors weren’t going to let the men’s rights activists acquire a martyr. They launched a successful campaign to delete his entry from Wikipedia on the ground he would never become “historically notable”.
His tragic gesture of desperation and despair was effectively erased from history.
Is the men’s rights movement just a cover for woman-hating? I don’t believe so.
A mainstream strand of men’s rights activists believe, in principle at least, in egalitarianism: hardcore equality for all. Far from being the antithesis of feminism, the philosophy of egalitarian Men’s Rights Activists is in essence identical to that of 1960s second-wave feminism. Or rather early second-wave feminism, before patriarchy theory (blaming a millennia-old male conspiracy for systematically disadvantaging and oppressing women) was born.
Is the men’s rights movement just a cover for woman-hating? I don’t believe so. Online misogynists tend to be quite open about their misogyny. MRAs are, by and large, sincere about what they see as miscarriages of justice and unfair societal attitudes, whoever may be the victim of them. They’re two very different groups of people.
Men’s rights activists believe that their brand of social equality is more appealing to the public than the fetishisation of female victimhood and weakness that defines modern feminism. They’re probably right.
Of course, not all MRAs are mild-mannered accountants, whining about only seeing their children alternate weekends. On the fringes of the men’s rights movement and in direct conflict with the egalitarians is the “Red Pill” (embracing the painful truth of reality, natch) worldview.
Red Pillers believe equality of the sexes is impossible. In fact, in Red Pill land, the more men try to treat women as equal, the more women resent them. The Red Pill’s genesis can be traced back to a Washington DC based blogger who goes under the name of Roissy. For the uninitiated, his“Sixteen Commandments Of Poon”is a must-read. Choice commandments include:
Forget all those romantic cliches of the leading man proclaiming his undying love for the woman who completes him. Despite whatever protestations to the contrary, women do not want to be “The One” or the center of a man’s existence. They in fact want to subordinate themselves to a worthy man’s life purpose, to help him achieve that purpose with their feminine support, and to follow the path he lays out. You must respect a woman’s integrity and not lie to her that she is “your everything”. She is not your everything, and if she is, she will soon not be anymore.
If you allow a woman to make the rules she will resent you with a seething contempt even a rapist cannot inspire. The strongest woman and the most strident feminist wants to be led by, and to submit to, a more powerful man. Polarity is the core of a healthy loving relationship. She does not want the prerogative to walk all over you with her capricious demands and mercurial moods. Her emotions are a hurricane, her soul a saboteur. Think of yourself as a bulwark against her tempest. When she grasps for a pillar to steady herself against the whipping winds or yearns for an authority figure to foil her worst instincts, it is you who has to be there… strong, solid, unshakeable and immovable.
At the core of Red Pill theory is the assertion that marriage is becoming an increasingly terrible option for men and that the qualities women say they want in a man are pretty much the opposite from the qualities that would and do make them happy. From this point, the rest of the Red Pill hypothesis flows.
The most surprising thing about the those involved in online Red Pill is a reluctance to accept their own conclusions. Sure, Red Pill has more than its fair share of misogynists, who revel in their self-appointed roles as women’s betters, but they are outnumbered by those who are depressed at the painful truth of Red Pill reality: the reality that men and women have conflicting biological imperatives that are running amuck without a social contract to keep them in check.
Their theory goes something like this: men want to have procreate with women, some men are driven to have as many partners as possible and most want to make one woman happy and have a family with her. Thus mens mating strategy is premised on one question – is she pretty?
Women on the other hand want to procreate with men, but due to the higher biological expenditure of a baby to a woman than a man, they have a differing, two-part mating strategy. First, to obtain the highest possible quality DNA, and second, to find someone to provide for her. Her urge to look for a higher caliber of DNA is constant. Polite Red Pillers call this hypergamy, less polite Pillers call it the-reason-women-are-sluts.
Traditional gender roles kept women’s sluttish behaviour in check, they say.
There isn’t an attempt by the Red Pill community to lobby for a return to these traditional roles. The consensus is that the ship has sailed, leaving men with two options: play the game, or cry in a corner.
The men who cry in the corner title themselves “Men Going Their Own Way”. Their response to discovering that women are out of control hypergamists is to make defiant statements of self-ownership, vowing not to surrender to the expectations of society and women. In practice this means they plan to live out the rest of their days alone. A future free from women.
One suspects this is a future that may have been dictated to them by mother nature long before they became in the vagaries of sexual politics, but there you go.
The Red Pillers who choose to play the “game” are those who provided the foundations for the “Pick Up Artist” community. The principles of game are simple: if women don’t want to play by the rules when it comes to sex and relationships, and live in thrall to their biological urges, fine. Men can fulfil their desire to have sex with attractive women by tapping into said women’s hypergamous needs. In biological terms, this means showing you have high quality DNA; in practical terms it means being masculine, being alpha.
It’s clear that the “all boys are rapists” slur has been taken to heart by many young males, across the online men’s rights world.
The PUA movement is easy to laugh at. Conference halls stuffed full of programmers frantically taking notes as a preened metrosexual at the front eschews the virtues of peacocking are inherently mockable. But the cringe-inducing bravado rife in PUA forums isn’t just impotent rambling. In between rape jokes, the conversations on these boards display the sexual struggles of young men far more honestly than you’re likely to see elsewhere.
They are the words of young men living in world where women have the right to look, to fantasise, to want sex, to enjoy their sexuality, and men need lessons on how not to rape. Little wonder that they rationalise their interactions with women into a game.
It’s clear that the “all boys are rapists” slur has been taken to heart by many young males, across the online men’s rights world. From mainstream forums to PUA boards there are examples of them finally finding catharsis as they purge their bottled up angst and guilt.
Over the past few years, a new line of thinking has emerged that seeks to make sense of privilege and entitlement: a more consumer-friendly version of Red Pill that emphasises evolutionary biology. It’s a view frequently espoused on the YouTube channel of a surprising star of the men’s rights world: Karen Straughan, a bisexual Canadian single mother. In her words:
“Most feminists call traditional male entitlements ‘privilege’. They call traditional female entitlements ‘benevolent sexism’ (because like most people who benefit from their entitlements, they can’t really see they have them). They call traditional female obligations ‘oppression’. They call traditional male obligations ‘rights’ (i.e., the right to earn income, the right to be self-sufficient, which was actually an obligation men complied with or else, and still is) or ‘patriarchy hurts men too’.
“What feminism has really done in the advancement of women’s interests is take men’s patriarchal obligations, apply them to women, and cast them as ‘rights’ that women can choose or not as they see fit. It – with the help of advancements like the pill – has also toiled to free women from their patriarchal obligations while holding onto as many entitlements as they can. Like removing the obligation to marry for life or provide their husband with children that are his in a meaningful way, while keeping the entitlement to his financial support.”
The typical response to “actually, men are on the sucky end of societal obligations” theory can be best understood by reading the comments of young men stumbling across her videos for the first time. The novel suggestion that men are expected to put more into society than they get out strikes a chord with a sex that’s increasingly struggling to find its place in the world. Their comments often indicate that for the first time they have found an explanation for the reality they find themselves living in.
There’s a new generation of educated men, who are finding themselves living at home and scraping around for work as they see themselves outpaced by women in a number of arenas. The number of times they can be reminded of their innate privilege without acting out is finite.
For now, the online men’s rights movement may be relatively small, but with nowhere else articulating the questions, let alone offering answers, more and more of these young adults will find themselves seeking it out – and participating enthusiastically. The question is, will narratives like these ever be allowed to appear in the mainstream media? Or is it too late?