Friday, February 02, 2007

Mired in MRA-Land

I couldn't sleep last night, so I surfed the net and ended up reading all sorts of posts which led me to the Men's Rights Activist sites. This is never a good idea for a feminist but especially not in the middle of the night. Lots of anger and hatred blaring into my house from the screen, and the night-time brain is eerily open to begin with. So as a form of self-defense I decided to start trying to find what it is exactly that these activists are saying. What it is that feminists have destroyed so badly in this country, and what it is that makes men the truly oppressed gender.

But to do that I had to try to clean out the other stuff, the stuff that whirls around in the very air of those places,the stuff which is dangerous to inhale because it makes you stupid and slow. This post is an attempt to report on that cleaning process. I will write about the more substantive stuff on Monday.

This is the first of the odd wriggling creatures I caught by the neck:

According to many if not most MRA-guys, the whole world is ruled by a small cabal of radical feminists. George Bush doesn't run this country; the ghosts of radical feminists do, and what these ghosts want is not equality but female supremacy. They are driven by their deep hatred of men and every feminist proposal ever made has been intended to destroy men. Even more surprisingly, proposals and laws which feminists opposed and have fought are still attributed to them. As an example, I read that it is the feminists who don't want women in the military to be in combat roles and that it is the feminists who keep women out of firefighting so that they don't get killed as often as men do.

Now this is clearly delusional thinking. A cabal of radical feminists with such powers these men believe they have would surely have gotten rid of men altogether by now. Instead of that, we don't even have paid maternity leave in this country. So why is it that so many men seem to firmly believe in this fantastic scenario?

Perhaps for similar reasons as the ones that make people believe in black helicopters hovering over the United Nations building. But there is an additional reason, and that became evident when I managed to isolate and cage the next weird creature messing my brain up: The hermetically sealed and distorted set of "evidence" used in the MRA circles.

The same incidents crop up again and again, quoted as final proof of the perfidy of feminists. A famous rape accusation that may turn out not to be rape at all: Proof that almost all rape accusations are false. The case where terrible state laws put a young teenager to prison for ten years just because he received a blowjob from a minor: Proof positive that all sentences for sexual crimes are wrong and somehow proof positive also that feminists were behind this particular (and very old) law. Only certain cases are quoted and no attempt is being made to look at the actual numbers of different types of examples.

The more statistical evidence cited in these circles is also fascinating: The same few studies are mentioned over and over again, usually in a context where it is clear the person mentioning them didn't understand the study. And what studies these are! They come from the famous conservative gals of the Independent Women's Forum! Did you know that there is no gender gap in wages at all and that schools are run by feminists to destroy boys? They come from the guy who wrote the book Why Men Rule! Did you know that men earn more than women because they do all the dangerous work in this world? These are mostly really poorly made studies or perhaps not studies at all, in some cases, but they have been turned into the eternal truth in the MRA circles.

I'm not sure how one could calmly debate anything with these guys. Their whole world view is set.

I finally caught the most slippery of the nasty creatures, and despite the many colors and forms it took, I think it's called just plain old-fashioned misogyny. It is intertwined with everything that is said on those sites. Everything.

Misogyny makes it very hard to know what some of those men are saying. For one thing, the word "feminist" is often used as an euphemism for "woman that I can hate openly" and so what is being said about feminists really applies to women. Most men I read seem to think that equality of the sexes means going back to male supremacy and that this is necessary because feminism is destroying families and men and because women are quite stupid and weak and can't be garbage collectors and don't even want to be garbage collectors even though they try to usurp men's roles in life!

But many men also complain about what one might not call feminism-created women: Women who stay at home and who don't earn enough money to support themselves and the children that the man didn't want in the first place but was forced to bear. Indeed, both uppity women and downity (?) women are bad women.

It also occurred to me that some of these sites are guilty of blaming others for what is in fact in themselves. Thus, the idea of feminists as all man-haters sounds hollow when it comes from the head of a misogynist, and someone calling women illogical in a sentence that contains five major logical errors is disconcerting, to say the least.

More about this topic on Monday.