Burning The MRA Playbook (Or, #YesAllMRAs)
The other day I wrote this thing — “Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men” — with the goal of pointing folks toward the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter, where women talked about their stories, experiences and fears when faced with the spectrum of male entitlement and rape culture.
That post generated a little heat, and eventually (also unsurprisingly) attracted the attention of some of our finest citizens and charming charmers, the MRAs, or Men’s Rights Activists.
Now, not every comment was a septic slap in the face — but for every comment I let slip through, I got another two that weren’t so nice. Many were from self-identified MRAs, some of whom seemed to think I was a woman? A bearded lady, perhaps. They called me “cunt” and “fucking bitch” and one of them said I was probably single and had a lot of cats? I dunno. No idea. Some didn’t think I was a woman but instead wanted to compare me to a woman, which is obviously the worst insult they think they have in their arsenal. Many of them echoed similar sentiments, ones I’ve seen on Facebook recently, too, that seem straight out of the MRA playbook: calling mothers to task for raising shitty men (either weak men or abusive ones); women tricking men into pregnancies; women abusing men; women falsely-reporting rape to get men in trouble; inequality is a myth; not all men; men are entitled to love (this person did not say “sex,” but intimated that “love” included the physical). And so on. Often with, to be honest, a great deal of misspellings and dogshit grammar and the reading comprehension of an aging, mule-kicked spider monkey.
I did not win bingo, though, as none of them threatened to rape me, so I guess there’s that.
Then, I saw that the folks of Posthuman Studios, makers of the game Eclipse Phase, wrote a post about MRAs which, in essence, told MRAs to fuck off from their forums and their fandom. A quote from that (though I recommend you go on over and read the whole thing):
“Here’s our stance: If you self-define as an MRA, please fire yourself as an Eclipse Phase fan. We don’t want you. We want our forums to be open and inclusive, and we don’t see the point of debating with you anymore. You have other places on the internet where you can wallow in the awfulness of your male privilege.”
I did get a few emails from men who self-identified as MRAs and these emails were polite enough and they pointed out correctly that, hey, sometimes men’s issues are real and worth caring about. Not to the exclusion of women’s rights, but hey, you know, some things are a bit wonky for dudes. And they’re not wrong. Prostate cancer is a tough row to hoe. Men can be the victims of domestic abuse and rape, and it often goes unreported because the harsh whip-sting of male jerk culture sometimes lashes back and catches us on the chin.
Men have issues, too.
Real issues that need to at least be discussed.
I agree with that.
You knew that was coming, right?
You can be concerned about men’s issues without portraying that as a loss of our rights. You can care about advocacy for the issues surrounding boys and men without joining what is very traditionally a misogynist group who, to remind you, has a very distinctive (and notably shitty) playbook when it gets into arguments. It isn’t nice to (or about) women. The movement claims in one breath to want equality for all humans, but then in the second breath spits venom on mothers and rape victims and it dismisses and denies and derails, attempting to refocus the conversation to: HEY FORGET THEM LYING CHEATING LADIES, WHAT ABOUT THE POOR MENFOLK.
Reframing the argument again about men.
And, further, portraying men as the victims in all things.
(And ironically, many of the issues surrounding men are, in fact, caused by men. Gasp!)
Let’s shift gears and look at it this way.
I am concerned for animal rights.
I like animals.
I admittedly also eat them, but whatever.
I think it’s wise to treat our animals ethically. And so you might say that I am a Person who is interested in the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and if you were to pluck an acronym from that you might see that I should be a member of PETA. Except, I despise PETA. They kill animals. They just linked autism with dairy in a dubious claim. (Click here to see their awful “Got Autism?” advertisement.) Just because I like animals doesn’t mean I’m going to join the ranks of a toxic group like PETA. Liking German history doesn’t mean you have to join the Nazi party. Being interested in white linen bedsheets doesn’t mean you join the KKK. And —
Being interested in issues surrounding men doesn’t mean joining the MRM.
Maybe, just maybe, you’re a nice guy who self-identifies as MRM.
Because the MRM is ugly business.
It’s full of misogynistic, mansplaining, self-entitled nastiness.
It promotes a culture of victim-blaming, victim-shaming.
It wields its privilege like a weapon while yelling about not having any privilege.
It acts counter to feminism instead of alongside it.
It is thick with PUA (pick-up-artists) clowns.
It often comes accompanied by racist, homophobic, transphobic throughlines.
The MRM is attempting to further rig an already-rigged game. And it does so in the same way that our political process sometimes duct-tapes awful legislation to good legislation to slip it through the door — the movement claims to care about men’s issues, some of which are legitimate and worth looking at, and then suddenly once in the door starts yelling about sluts and the myth of rape culture and paternity fraud and how age of consent is oppressive. In other words, it claims to be about men’s rights, but really, it’s all about women’s rights.
Meaning, it’s about taking them away.
It doesn’t want to improve the rights of men, but diminish the rights of women.
It doesn’t love dudes. It just hates ladies.
So, consider, if you’re sympathetic to the MRM, maybe think about what that connects you to. Think about what that says about you. Think for just a second about, is this a group that’s actually going to address issues? Or is just going to spin more hate and spit in the eyes of women just for being women? Even if some elements of the group want to change things, MRA is marked. Indelibly. Tattooed with ink brewed from its own shittiness. Who’s going to listen except other MRA-types? I mean, consider that one of their issues is the bullying of boys, okay? Bullying is a genuine issue and a real problem, and yet they want to address it without acknowledging that the attitudes explicit inside the MRM are what help cause that bullying in the first place because boys tend to bully other boys. And then MRA members use bullying tactics on women and men to get their point across, thus proving that the concern is utter bullshit. (“BULLYING IS BAD. AND PROBABLY A LADY’S FAULT. DON’T BULLY OR I’LL BULLY YOU BECAUSE SOMETHING SOMETHING DUDE YOU’RE SUCH A GIRLYPANTS MAN-GINA.”)
(I mean, c’mon, y’all. As I have noted in the past, vaginas are like, 1000x times tougher than testicles. Those ladyparts are basically tough as tractor tires. Our balls are as tough as tissue paper. We get flicked in the nuts by a badminton birdie we’ll double over for 20 minutes, moaning and rocking back and forth. Our balls are like little yarn-bundles contained in a thin, wifty sack of outlying flesh. They unspool like bobbins of delicate thread when damaged. Women on the other hand push entire people out of their lady-realms like divine fucking beings. So, maybe that vagina-analog isn’t the best insult, misogynist dudes. Kay? Kay.)
MRA tactics are over the top, unnecessary, and often incredibly nasty.
They want to burn down a perfectly nice house to get at a few mice.
Because they’re extremists.
You can love animals without hating people.
You can be an environmental activist without sinking boats.
You can be Muslim without blowing up buses.
You can be Christian without bombing abortion clinics.
You can be a man interested in issues surrounding men without hurting women, without shouting them down, without perpetuating rape culture, without being a misogynistic jerkoff bully whose claim to having a meaningful agenda is lost the moment he opens his mouth and says something awful. (Or types it on the Internet without the ability to spell or put words together in a cogent, intelligent way — as all too often seems to be the case.)
Care about men’s issues all you want.
Just don’t do it according to the MRA playbook.
Be a good man. And teach your sons and fellow men the same.
And P.S. — MRA fans? I don’t want you either. You’re not going to like my books anyway.
And P.P.S. — comments off because really, what’s the point?