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Jul 04 2013

How to Do Men’s Rights Rightly

Ever wonder why MRAs promote hatred or hostility toward women when they actually could be doing at least something worthwhile instead? I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this in the last few days (perhaps because of speculations that MRA affiliation had something to do with Justin Vacula being asked to resign from SkepticInc, but that’s not my network so I can’t speak to that).

I’ve said before that MRA groups could have chosen to work as allies with feminists, respectful of women and women’s issues side by side with their own, even sharing contacts, resources, and models for action, just as many other special interest groups do. But that’s not the road they took.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, MRAs are Men’s Rights Activists. MRA can also mean Men’s Rights Activism collectively, but that is more commonly known as the MRM or Men’s Rights Movement. I shall be distinguishing that category (of those who specifically identify as or with men’s “rights” activists) from another, that of men’s issues advocates. There are many of the latter who are exactly what MRAs should be but aren’t: respectful and sensible campaigners for interests unique to men or affecting men in gender-distinct ways. They just don’t pompously describe what they do as advocating for men’s “rights.”

So what went wrong with the MRAs? Instead of acting like other special interest groups of merit, by and large (there may be exceptions; I rarely see them) the MRM has historically developed as a de facto hate movement, specifically in opposition to feminism (MRAs are often explicitly anti-feminist, and almost always at least implicitly so). In every organized instance I know, self-described MRAs endorse or promote sexism or misogyny in some form, and (of interest to skeptics) promote pseudoscience and conspiracy-theory-style claims about the world that are demonstrably false or dubious, but believed because they support a desired narrative or worldview.

And yet, there are those men’s issues organizations that do not identify with the MRM and are not hate groups, but actually do it right. So today I’m going to talk a little about both sides of this divide, to illustrate what “doing men’s rights rightly” would actually have looked like, if the MRM took its cue from those meritorious men’s issues organizations (and other special interest movements altogether), rather than from a baseline hate-filled worldview of delusional anti-feminism.

Getting Up to Speed

Wikipedia has a decent article about the MRM (Wikipedia on the Men’s Rights Movement), which is very well supplemented by another article at RationalWiki, which will be of particular interest to organized atheists and skeptics (RationalWiki on the Men’s Rights Movement). The Southern Poverty Law Center has articles on the MRM documenting examples of their affiliated sexism, misogyny and pseudoscience (see Misogyny: The Sites, and Intelligence Report Article Provokes Fury Among Men’s Rights Activists, and Men’s Rights Movement Spreads False Claims about Women). Several blogs are also devoted to monitoring and exposing the agenda, bile and delusion plaguing much of the MRM (see, for example, the sarcastically named Men’s Rights Activism and Man Boobz, which has a convenient Glossary).

But beginners (and anyone who likes a laugh) might prefer to start with an amusing semi-serious comedy piece at Cracked surveying the history, content, merits, and flaws of the MRM (see: Men’s Rights). That also discusses what happens when you write articles like I am now, so I will likely be directing a lot of my (inevitable) MRA commenters back to it (and the other links above and below) in lieu of wasting my time with them. But for a particularly apt perspective, there are study papers on the MRM housed at A Men’s Project (a men’s issues organization that actually isn’t evil, a point I’ll be coming to in a moment) under the category Men’s/Father’s Rights. [Edit: There has since been a 20/20 segment and an article in The Daily Beast, which was also covered by Man Boobz, and an article at The American Prospect.]

For some of my own encounters with the “false narrative” brigade in the MRM see here and here, instances where I found MRAs not actually checking their own claims or trying to understand the actual facts, but just selling their “us vs. them” persecution narrative with a ginned-up mythology. I have caught feminists doing the same, of course, but only occasionally and not as egregiously or unrepentantly. Reliance on myths and false narratives and inaccurate facts is a tactic found in many other special interest groups, from environmentalists to radical vegans, too. But it doesn’t typify them, as they appear to typify the MRM. There are always sensible and accurate activists to be found in other movements, and indeed they often dominate. But so far, not in the MRM, not in my experience.

But merely having the facts wrong would just be amusing. It’s the hate that is most disturbing. Though the MRM could have developed as a special interest movement that cooperates with other movements with similar goals for their own constituencies, as nearly all other special interest movements have done, it just didn’t. Compare, for example, the behavior and inter-group cooperation and mutual respect often witnessed among many gay rights organizations; racial, ethnic, and religious minority rights organizations; organizations lobbying for the rights of the poor, disabled, or mentally ill; and, of course, women’s rights organizations, like NOW, the National Organization for Women, whose statement of purpose is “to take action to bring women into full participation in society—sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from discrimination.”

Legitimate Issues, Illegitimate Solutions

Now, I often get weird reactions when I mention there is such a thing as a Men’s Rights Movement (“Wait, what? What rights don’t men have?”), but as many of the above links openly discuss, there are several legitimate issues raised within the MRM, where men are in fact discriminated against in one fashion or another or otherwise become the victims of social injustice merely or predominately because they are men, or where men have special needs not met by other groups. The first category ranges from disparities in prison sentencing and child custody decisions to such overlooked problems as federal insurance not covering a man who suffers breast cancer because the law, perversely and contrary to scientific fact, only specifies women can get it. The second category includes such facts as that men suffer from particular cancers women don’t, and have other male-specific health issues, and men face unique pressures culturally and socially, often in result of outmoded expectations regarding masculinity or gender roles.

In actual fact, pretty much all of these problems are the result of patriarchal cultural assumptions. In other words, they predominately originate with and are sustained by men and are usually based on men’s assumptions about gender roles and masculinity. And thus the primary solution to them is changing the behavior and attitudes of men, more than of women. The MRM, instead, typically blames everything on women and feminism, which is perverse, since their own sexism in doing so is only further sustaining the real evils they claim they are fighting against.

Case in point. Women have done a superb job lobbying and rallying in support of campaigns to cure breast cancer. But men have (until recently) done a lousy job rallying in support of campaigns to cure prostate cancer. MRMs blame women for this. You know, because clearly women looking after their own welfare means they are shitting on men’s welfare. Only that isn’t how it works (gay rights lobbyists aren’t against straight rights, black rights lobbyists aren’t against white rights, they are just focused on their own constituencies).

So the MRM complaint here makes no sense, except insofar as women won’t work with them the way men work with breast cancer campaigns, but that’s entirely because the MRM is so openly sexist, misogynist, or anti-feminist. If they weren’t pissing on women, but actually cooperatively and respectfully working with them, they could make progress on this issue. If, that is, MRAs actually did things like develop campaigns to fight prostate cancer. As far as I’ve seen, most of them hardly do anything substantive beyond complain. (The exceptions are few or feeble.)

If men won’t rally to the cause of fighting prostate cancer the way women have rallied to fight breast cancer, you can’t expect women to pick up the slack. Men have to take the lead, or carry at least an equal share of the load (in volunteering, funding, activism), just as women did. But if the men who care enough about prostate cancer to get angry about it are going to patriarchally blame and denigrate women and frame the whole issue as taking men’s power back and being dominant again, they are shooting their own foot, making themselves so loathesome no one wants to work with them, and many won’t even want to listen to them, and thus any valid complaint they may have had will be drowned in the bathwater of their own bile. Thus by sustaining and embodying patriarchal assumptions, the MRM actually becomes the problem rather than solving it. [Edit: whereas by contrast, to illustrate my point, the Movember campaign against prostate cancer is exactly what doing it right looks like.]

The same analysis follows for every issue the MRM takes up that has any actual validity: they blame the wrong people, failing to see the flaw in themselves, and thus turn their complaints into grist for their hatred for women and anyone who advocates for women’s welfare. And all of it because the MRM still clings to patriarchal assumptions about gender and power and dominance. Read almost any website in the MRM and you’ll see it’s often about sticking it to women, or attacking women, or getting back at women, or putting women back in their place, or how women’s equality has produced male subjugation. All patriarchal attitudes, across the board. (Peruse the leading MRM website, A Voice for Men, long enough and you can’t fail to find examples. Particularly amusing is this take on modern marriage, whose author doesn’t even notice how patriarchal his own assumptions are, even as he thinks he is arguing against them.)

Brief Digression on Patriarchy Theory

I get the occasional pseudoscientific bigot in comments claiming there is no such thing as “patriarchy” anymore, that women and feminists just made that all up, that it’s an untestable theory, and whatnot (indeed, ironically, the MRM champions this point of view, despite itself being one of the most glaring manifestations of patriarchal belief-structures in modern society). In fact, the concept of patriarchy is an empirically testable theory of social attitudes and organization, and the evidence more than bears it out.

For a quick intro to the concept see A Basic Definition of Patriarchy. But the very best, and my very favorite, intro to the subject (showing very well how pretty much all the valid issues the MRM takes up are caused by patriarchalism and not feminism) is Christina Rad’s video Gender Roles, Trolls, and Sexual Harassment Policies (and importantly supplementing that is her video About My Feminism Video). One key fact to understand is that patriarchy is not all-or-nothing: some societies can be more patriarchal or less patriarchal than others, even a lot less and even actively becoming less, and yet still be patriarchal. Thus it does no good to pick some extremely patriarchal society and say our society is nothing like that, therefore our society is not patriarchal, or not suffering from any patriarchal assumptions and behaviors at all. I’ll leave you to explore the above-cited resources for more on that matter. If you haven’t read and viewed those, all the way through, you aren’t qualified to dispute the concept.

Doing It Right

Admitting that women face discrimination and gendered social expectations and unique problems is the first step to recovery. And if you want to see what that looks like, check out what men’s issues groups do.

The only major example based in the US I have found so far is The Good Men Project. That is a website sponsoring articles covering men’s issues from many angles, without any significant sexism or misogyny, but in fact with a lot of respect for women and women’s problems and concerns (needless to say, wannabe MRAs have denounced one of its founders, Tom Matlack, as a mangina…to which he composed a very amusing and educational response). They are also an IRS-recognized charity that provides funding “dedicated to helping organizations that provide educational, social, financial, and legal support to men and boys at risk.”

This is an example of doing it right. That does not mean I agree with everything they say or every position they take, only that I agree with the way they approach men’s issues and the problems men face. And I am certain, overall, they are doing a lot of good. The world is a better place with that organization in it.

Largely thanks to Ally Fogg (one of our new bloggers here at FtB) I have also discovered and become acquainted with several men’s issues organizations abroad. In the UK, these include The Fatherhood Institute, which specializes in helping fathers and dealing with problems unique to fatherhood (including maladaptive cultural assumptions about fatherhood and gender roles); CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), which focuses on combating male suicide (because the rate of suicide among men is two to three times higher than among women, pointing to a real disparity caused by sex or gender, whether biological or cultural or both, demonstrating need for a specialized approach in preventing male victims); and such groups as AMIS (Abused Men in Scotland) and the ManKind Initiative, which deal with male victims of domestic abuse. An umbrella organization addressing many of these issues together in the Americas is AMP (A Men’s Project).

Explore all of these and you’ll see they are free of hate, anti-feminism, sexism, misogyny, and pretty much free of pseudoscience, fallacies, false narratives, and all that whatnot. They seriously fight and advocate for men’s causes without pompously claiming to be taking back men’s “rights.” Many of them actually do stuff (like lobby or fund community resources for men and men’s issues). And they don’t blame “women” or “feminism” for any of the ills they combat.

(If anyone is aware of comparable organizations in the US, please let me know.)

In fact, these organizations often have mission statements or guidelines that spell out exactly what “doing it right” looks like. Even in general, as Ally Fogg reports, AMIS and the Mankind Initiative “always emphasise that providing services and policies to meet the needs of men should only ever happen in addition to services provided for women, never at the expense of women in need.”

Now look specifically at the mission statement of The Fatherhood Institute (Our Work), which is inclusive and supportive of women, not denigrating or disdainful of them. It even declares a commitment to continuing research and accuracy (something you don’t get from MRAs). One of their goals is (with emphasis now added):

To change education so that boys are prepared for future caring roles and boys and girls are prepared for the future sharing of these roles. We want to see children and young people discussing gender inequalities and understanding that mothers and fathers experience pressure to specialise in caring and earning roles, and that mothers and fathers should have a similar range of choices over their caring roles, not limited by gender. We want to see more encouragement of boys into childcare careers.

Notice how different their goals and whole manner of discourse are from MRAs.

In a similar fashion, About CALM explicitly talks about the need and goal of building cooperative enterprises with other groups and popular culture and media generally (something you don’t see from MRAs, who generally take a bunkered and accusatory “us vs. them” attitude that is repulsive to the wider culture and media), and states their inspiration plainly and sensibly–and inclusively (again emphasis added):

We believe that there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times, and failure to be seen as such equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity. We believe that suicide is neither inevitable nor an indication that the individual was a failure in any respect. We’re a campaign for all men…and start with the belief that all of us, at one time or another regardless of gender, will hit a crisis.

Notice how they identify the actual problem: patriarchal assumptions about manhood and masculinity. Not women. Not feminism. Notice, too, how they don’t imagine themselves as in competition with women or resources for women.

A Men’s Project in Particular

The best declaration yet of how to do it right is made explicitly by one of the leaders of A Men’s Project, Michael Flood, who has composed an article on Responding to Men’s Rights Groups. That he, even he, had to write such an article tells you almost all you need to know about the pervasive rot that is afflicting the “Men’s Rights” movement as a label and a brand. Flood’s article is a good survey of the problems characterizing the MRM. It also contains a great manifesto on how men’s issues activism should actually be conducted, which he outlines with four general goals: (1) assert a feminist-supportive and male-positive perspective; (2) take up men’s rights issues, but differently; (3) show that men’s rights strategies are in fact harmful to men themselves; and (4) actually set up services (in other words, stop complaining and actually do something).

I am most impressed by how comprehensive AMP’s official statement of values is, since it’s something the atheist community could take a cue from:

A Men’s Project (AMP) attempts to be inclusive of varying perspectives on issues of concern to men. Being inclusive is not license for ideologies in clear opposition to AMP’s basic core beliefs.

We believe in seeking a world where men and boys:

1.) No longer are hurting women and girls, as well as other men and boys,

2.) Support and nurture children as parents, grandparents, allies and friends,

3.) Try to take better care of our own physical and mental health, and

4.) Help and encourage others who may be or feel “different” including by: race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity as well as in other areas.

We are not supportive of perspectives which seek to blame others based upon who they are, rather than what they do.

We are strongly opposed to bullying.

While we believe that individual women and girls may hurt individual men and boys, we strongly do not believe that:

“women”, “girls” or “feminism” are “the problem” related to many issues facing men and boys.

We also do not believe that: “men” or “boys” are “the problem”.

We wish to distinguish between: “men and boys” and “masculinity” – how we are socialized to “be a man”.

Being a man is important. How we are socialized as boys and men is also important. Fighting to be “on top” at the expense of others and in other ways not respecting and supporting others (as well as ourselves) is simply not acceptable to us.

Men’s Rights and Father’s Rights advocates are highly visible nationally and locally in much of North America. They clearly represent the perspectives of many men. A lot of these men live with a lot of pain as a result of difficult life experiences.

[But] we have serious problems with much of the general focus of Men’s and Father’s Rights Groups.

Men’s and Father’s Rights groups may do some good with some of those they work with. Their basic approach most commonly blames: women, girls and feminism for much, if not most, of the pain that men feel. We do not see such groups working towards the positive changes that we seek. We do not see such groups building a positive masculinity in their work. We do not see such groups respecting women and girls, except in limited ways.

We believe that “feminism” and “feminists” commonly has/have core beliefs supporting the end of gender based discrimination helping girls and women. Our support of “feminism” is not a simple acceptance of all who self-identify as feminists. We do not support those who do not support the positive growth of boys and men. We do not support the blaming of men and boys by our gender, rather than our specific actions and behaviors.

We want to encourage positive masculinity where men and boys lovingly support each other as well as women and girls.

We have responsibilities as men to:

a. Be nurturing, loving, caring people,

b. Be supportive of the women and girls in our lives as well as the men and boys,

c. Confront abusive behaviors and help others become nurturing, loving people,

d. Work proactively to change society in positive ways

To the degree that Men’s and Father’s Rights advocates may oppose abuse, we wish to support such actions. [But] we do not list their websites within A Men’s Project because we believe that their blaming of women in general is primary to their focus. This is not acceptable to us.

That’s doing it right.

Summing It Up

As with many institutions and organizations, I do not agree with every position or argument articulated by AMP. I hold it up as a model only in the particular aspects I’ve mentioned.

For example, they are predominately anti-porn and anti-sex-work, whereas I am a sex positive feminist who has actively promoted expanding the rights of sex workers and improving the standards of the sex industry. Ironically, one of the many gripes MRAs have against “feminists” is that “feminists” are anti-porn and anti-sex-work. I say ironically not only because that’s false–I am living evidence to the contrary, as are several of our fellow bloggers here at FtB, including Greta Christina (a former sex worker) and Yemmy Ilesanmi (a lawyer and unionist actively engaged in international efforts to expand the rights of sex workers) and literally countless other feminists–but also because even those whom by their own standards MRAs would have to concede are men’s rights advocates can be anti-porn and anti-sex-work. So much for their favorite narrative. And their love of the false generalization fallacy.

But I don’t think AMP is evil or a danger or to be opposed simply because it’s wrong about some things. Nor do I denigrate its laudable goals and values because of that. I think it’s a good, if imperfect, example of an organization doing good and making the world a better place. MRAs tar all feminism with the brush of the most radical (“radfem”) feminist nonsense they can find (often decades out of date). Which is a huge fallacy of false generalization, and thus intrinsically illogical. And to stalwartly stick to illogical arguments is irrational. Likewise to attack and deride whole organizations that otherwise do a lot of good, merely for being wrong about a few debatable things.

Yet I have found that it is not the same fallacy to consider the whole self-described MRA movement as mired in sexism and misogyny and ant-feminism, because unlike feminism, the whole self-described MRA movement is mired in sexism and misogyny and ant-feminism (just compare NOW with AVfM). There may be exceptions, but they are very hard to find (or confirm). And thus they would indeed be exceptions. Feminist groups and sites as a whole (or by any reasonable standard of what’s typical) simply do not act like MRAs. There are some, but those are the exceptions. It’s thus night and day.

It has bothered me that the MRA movement can be so pervasively vile and yet rally themselves around a body of legitimate issues, claiming to be their champions. Because this is the very worst thing for alleviating those problems. To have their advocates surround them with such repulsive attitudes and behavior that the taint stains even their legitimate causes, is actually a great harm to men, because it makes it very hard to talk about or act on those legitimate concerns without being dragged into the pit of offal the MRAs themselves have created. (Especially since MRAs so often use that as an actual tactic to derail or disrupt discussions of women’s issues.)

It thus reassures me that those legitimate issues have been taken up by respectable groups, who do not call themselves men’s “rights” groups. We can now cut loose the MRAs and focus on the legitimate organizations and causes wholly separate from them, such as those I’ve described here. Indeed, even feminists are doing more in the real world to end discrimination against men than MRAs appear to have done (it certainly wasn’t MRAs pushing to end the ban on women taking combat roles in the military, for example; likewise, it has mainly been feminists, much more than MRAs, who have been calling attention to aspects of “the masculine ideal” and other outdated assumptions about gender that are hurting men).

Persistently advocating or endorsing hate speech, bigotry, or the harming of innocent people is reprehensible, yet MRA sites have done all of these things (as the resources I linked earlier document). MRM’s live in a fantasy world where all feminists and feminist organizations are the ones doing those things, when in the real world (where the rest of us live) almost none of them do (certainly by relative measure). And that means if someone takes money from and writes for an MRA site or source instead of these other legitimate organizations, they are choosing sides, consciously selecting hostility to women and feminism over genuinely working to better the lives of men in an inclusive and friendly (and actually productive) way.

To borrow AMP’s statement on the matter, “Being inclusive is not license for ideologies in clear opposition to our basic core beliefs,” which for the godless ought to be evidence-based skepticism and rationality, humanist compassion and integrity, and freedom from myths, legends and superstitions. So atheists should all get on board. Most of us are already there.

73 comments

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  1. 1
    John Loftus

    Insightful with a great perspective Richard.

    Camille Paglia is a major feminist who supports women who choose to be in the porn and sex worker industries:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Paglia

    1. 1.1
      Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

      I think it’s a rather egregious abuse of the word “feminist” to apply it to Camille Paglia.

      Nor do I think she belongs anywhere near a real list of supporters of men’s rights (however much the MRAs love her). Her statements on sexuality (yes, read in context: I actually went through “Sex, Art, and American Culture,” proof enough that there is no god) aren’t just offensive to women, they’re highly insulting to men. Someone who writes essays about how violence and rape are just a natural, intrinsic part of male sexuality doesn’t seem all that supportive of men, in my point of view.

      And sure, she’s “supports” women who are sex workers–for a given value of the word “support”. It always amuses me how she can go from saying that prostitutes are the “ultimate liberated woman” to complaining about how feminists are all privileged, white, and middle class. Because nothing shouts “privileged white middle class” to me more than statements about how “liberated”–especially sexually!–the average prostitute is. Oh, I’m sure the high class call girls she has cocktails with are the ultimate in liberated womanhood, in control of their lives and their sexuality. But I’m afraid all the girls I’ve met–friends from rehab, meetings, women I’ve stood in lines with, slept next to in the shelter, worked with–have given me a rather different understanding.

      That’s not theory. That’s from the lab practical.

  2. 2
    wtfwhatever

    “In every organized instance I know, self-described feminists promote pseudoscience and conspiracy-theory-style claims about the world that are demonstrably false or dubious,”

    Patriarchy – the sky demon that rules society

    1. 2.1
      Richard Carrier

      That would be an example of the fallacy of black or white thinking. Or the reification fallacy (if you were serious).

    2. 2.2
      Richard Carrier

      [In case people weren't aware, WTFWhatever is mocking my statement, in the article, about what I have found of organized MRA's, by rewriting it to say it's also true of all "self-described" feminists, which is demonstrably false, and that it's false was even a major point in my article. That WTFWhatever presents no evidence or argument for this only further shows how out of touch with reality they are. They likewise insist patriarchy is a non-existent sky-demon, even though my article extensively demonstrates, with facts and links, that it's a real thing. Again, by contrast, WTFWhatever presents no evidence or argument to the contrary, they just gainsay it. This is the intellectual giant we are dealing with here.]

    3. 2.3
      Cindyfork

      “This is the intellectual giant we are dealing with here”

      That would be an example of ad hominem, unless you meant it?

    4. Richard Carrier

      I didn’t say he is wrong because his method of arguing is childish and incompetent. I simply pointed out that his method of arguing is childish and incompetent. That’s a plain statement of fact. It is also a valid reason not to bother reading or heeding him anymore, because it means you are unlikely to find anything better there, so listening to him is a waste of time. Because otherwise, I addressed his arguments on their own terms. I then concluded from that that his method of arguing is childish and incompetent (the exact opposite of an ad hominem; an ad hominem occurs when one reverses this premise and conclusion).

  3. 3
    The Lone Apple

    The men’s rights movement has it wrong in my opinion especially in the workplace because they are not focusing on the number one problem for men: other men.

  4. 4
    jenny6833a

    I don’t know who is to blame, or who started it, but it seems to me that elements of both men’s and women’s advocates are heavily at fault. I don’t read widely on the topic outside of FtB, but I see some thoroughly despicable posts and comments here.

    Terrorism is not the way to fight terrorism. McCarthyism was not the way to fight communism. And McCarthyism is also not the way to advance the legitimate feminist movement.

    1. 4.1
      Richard Carrier

      It’s the “heavily” that’s incorrect. The fact that men’s issues advocates are not causing any problems demonstrates that you can’t false generalize like that. The fact that women’s issues advocates are predominately (by far) more like men’s issues advocates than men’s rights advocates dispels entirely the “pox on both camps” simplification.

      Even narrowing to the small subset of events called “comments at FtB” (hardly a place to generalize to the whole population from), there is nothing going on here even remotely comparable to terrorism or McCarthyism. (Crommunist makes the point elegantly and thoroughly.)

      In actual fact, speaking out, criticizing, attacking persons for their own individual actions, colorful language when truthfully employed, petitioning leaders for a redress of grievances, are the exact opposite of terrorism and McCarthyism; they are in fact the legitimate modes of effecting change that terrorism and McCarthyism were developed as illegitimate replacements for.

  5. 5
    intergalacticmedium

    Excellent rundown on the issue, thanks Richard

  6. 6
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Speaking as a feminist of many years, I’d be very, very happy to work alongside the groups you’ve cited, because these are real and serious issues, and because they’re trying to do something about it. Ally Fogg is an excellent addition to the network, because he’s clearly dedicated in exactly the way you’re suggesting here. I don’t always agree with him, but when I don’t, I never worry that it’ll be over false accusations or misogyny. And if I did see such, I’d be comfortable with asking him to consider them, because he’s clearly dedicated to doing it right.

    I agree completely with your assertion that the MRM makes life much more difficult for men, because of their unthinking hatred of anything to do with women or equality, and because their tactics exactly match the very same ones the kyriarchy (my preferred word for the patriarchy concept) always uses in its defence.

    If they could simply ever reach the ability to recognize that equality is Not a Zero-Sum Game, they’d find feminists there waiting for them, and willing to work with them as we do with anti-racist groups, anti-transphobia groups, anti-homophobia groups, et c..

    As long as they proceed with the insistence that all their problems are caused by women’s advance towards equality, they will remain my implacable enemies, because they have declared my humanity as their war-target. I can have little choice but to fight against that, as I do against would-be theocrats and racist apologists and nativist terrorists, because DUH, Niemoeller.

    Great post, Richard. And good luck, I don’t envy the response you’re likely to get, but it could be sort of like an online museum: talk about this with reason and empathy, and you get swamped with misogyny and cries of your mangina-ness.

  7. 7
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    I think one of my biggest frustrations with the MRAs I’ve encountered (beyond the disgusting misogyny, I mean) is that, often, buried under all the lies and pseudoscience and hate are some decent points. There are issues that are important to address, and needs that have to be met. But they’ve also chosen to completely focus on bashing women and whining about those problems, rather than working to fix them.

    Take the issue of men’s shelters, support for men who have experienced rape and/or violence. This is a very important issue. I do a lot of work with veteran MST survivors (Military Sexual Trauma). There are a lot of men–maybe more than women, though it’s hard to get the numbers–who have experienced rape in the military. And as shitty as the situation is for women (there are no words to explain what these women have gone through) I think it’s actually worse for men, because at least women have support groups (sometimes), places for them to go, people to talk to. There are so few resources for men, comparatively, And it’s the same in the civilian world. If MRAs devoted even a quarter of the time they spend bashing women to helping male rape survivors, I would applaud them. I’d probably work with them, support them as much as I could. But they don’t. In fact, they make the situation worse, because so many of their comments and articles contain homophobic language and triggering language for rape survivors, along with their contempt for “feminized” men and the graphic terms used to describe them, which obviously make the groups unsafe and damaging for male survivors of rape and violence.

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve had an MRA throw out the statistics on male shelters vs. women’s shelters, like it’s my fault. Directly accusing feminists of hating men, and using those numbers to “prove” it. Now, I hate the assumption that women should be focusing their attention on fixing men’s problems, because it all goes back to the idea that women should put their energy towards helping men, first and always, from the house to fighting for male medical problems instead of women (the prostate cancer/breast cancer thing), to making sure men have just as many shelters as women do. (Oh! And then they can boast about how men have done all the creative, artistic, scientific, inventive work, attributing it to men’s natural greatness rather than, oh, where they were just demanding women put all their energy!! Whew, sorry, rant over, this just gets me going so bad.)

    Anyway, that drives me nuts, but that’s not my biggest issue. The thing that gets me is this: I, as a woman, can’t create those shelters and groups. I can’t create a safe place for men. I can’t put together a support group for men overcoming rape and abuse. The way men experience, deal with, and heal from rape is very different from my experience. I can care, I can love, I can offer support, but I can’t create those spaces for healing, even if I wanted to. We need men to do what women did forty years ago: look around, realize that if they don’t do the work, no one will, and get off the computer and start doing work on the ground. (Or hell: use the computer, and create safe spaces on the internet for survivors to meet, connect, and heal.) Women can’t fix this one for them.

    And that pisses me off. That those places go unbuilt, undeveloped. That the needs of male survivors go unmet.

    But, hey, I also hear most schools have misandrist chairs unsuitable for male asses. Sure glad those brave souls are fighting for their rights.

    (After re-reading this post, I want to add this: I know that there are men working for these things. You’ve pointed out several, yourself. It’s not enough…but then, it never is, and I don’t want to come off like I think all men think or act in this way, or that all people who complain about these issues do nothing to actually help. It just sucks that MRAs have stolen the name of a movement that might have actually done some good, and made the entire concept of “men’s rights” ridiculous, instead of something other civil rights groups would have supported, as you said.)

    1. 7.1
      Richard Carrier

      I think one of my biggest frustrations with the MRAs I’ve encountered (beyond the disgusting misogyny, I mean) is that, often, buried under all the lies and pseudoscience and hate are some decent points. There are issues that are important to address, and needs that have to be met. But they’ve also chosen to completely focus on bashing women and whining about those problems, rather than working to fix them.

      That’s what I was trying to express with my “it has bothered me” paragraph, but this is so much more elegantly worded. Thank you!

      And your added observations are an asset here. Thank you again. I appreciated hearing about that. And I think other readers will benefit from it as well.

      (Oh! And then they can boast about how men have done all the creative, artistic, scientific, inventive work, attributing it to men’s natural greatness rather than, oh, where they were just demanding women put all their energy!! Whew, sorry, rant over, this just gets me going so bad.)

      I know. Me, too. And this reminds me of the AVfM link on modern marriage I included, which starts with how men invented all the housekeeping conveniences women rely on, like washing machines and whatnot, and I immediately had a doubt that they actually checked to confirm no women were involved in their invention or improvement.

      (If anyone reading this knows of examples of women engineers/inventors who played key roles in the development of “modern home conveniences” I’d love to collect some, so please post here. In lieu of that, my article on that whole mode of argument in general is Are Women Just Stupid? [the question is a deliberate joke, of course].)

      And that pisses me off. That those places go unbuilt, undeveloped. That the needs of male survivors go unmet.

      It looks like they are starting to be in the UK, however (as I pointed out with AMIS etc.) Which has led me to wonder whether there is some fundamental difference between the UK and the US that is impeding such efforts here, or whether the US population being so much bigger, I just haven’t noticed our analogs (which is why I asked for readers who knew otherwise to list US examples in comments here if they know of them). Even medical professionals seem to have a hard time finding them. There is a really good article on the male victims of domestic abuse at WebMD, but even that says the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men is the only such help group they could find here (although many domestic abuse hotlines do say they can help both genders, so possibly they have specialists on hand, too). Although that article still doesn’t mention shelters or other on-the-ground help services (an important job, IMO, is free training for police and law enforcement so they can police it more effectively and sensitively).

    2. 7.2
      Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

      an important job, IMO, is free training for police and law enforcement so they can police it more effectively and sensitively

      Oh, yes. Absolutely. And it’s another thing that women just cannot do as effectively. I mean, sure, I can make a presentation on sexual assault and domestic violence. I can include information on male victims (always do, actually). But, from experience, I can tell you that part of the talk, more than any other, gets the shuffles and the chuckles, rolled eyes, and I’m sure some “PC” jokes once I’m done.

      Most effective thing I’ve experienced was my freshman year of college. In one of my classes to get a certificate in community health work (I think it was a speech class?), we all had to do presentations on issues related to community health. Similar to what a lot of us were already doing, really, or would be doing in a few months. I only had to tweak my standard lecture on birth control a bit. Anyway, towards the end, a guy got up. Your typical BMOC-type, slim but definitely muscular, star wrestler with swept, blond hair and a polo shirt. His female partner announced that their topic was male victims of domestic violence. A lot of people giggled. Hell, I think I might have giggled. (I know I at least smiled–yes, I was an insensitive, obnoxious, sheltered kid. Still working on it, actually.) But then he started talking. He quietly explained how he spent a year in an abusive relationship. How his high school girlfriend managed to isolate him from everyone who loved him. How emotional abuse eventually became physical abuse. How cultural training wouldn’t let him even defend himself, much less strike back. How he was terrified of anyone finding out. How there was no one for him to turn to, not when she was done. How, after he finally worked up the nerve to leave her, she turned it all on him, making him out to be the abusive one, driving any possible support away–and she’d twisted his mind to the point that even he believed it, for a long time. How, afterwards, no one believed him–and, how he knew if they did, they’d find it funny. How there was absolutely no one to talk to or to go to for help. He spent his 12-15 minutes describing the situation plainly, ending with the paucity of resources, the one hotline number to call. I guarantee you, nobody laughed or spaced out during his presentation. We barely breathed.

      I could never do that. Nor can I do much more than hand out that number and a hug when I’m approached after by someone (or, usually, “someone who has a friend”) that needs help.

      Over on the Manboobz blog (well, the forum), a group of us had been trying to pull together a more comprehensive list of resources and organizations. (Realizing that, while laughing at the MRAs was all well and good, we weren’t much better than they were if we didn’t make an attempt to help the guys we said we cared about.) Actually, this has reminded me to go back and check on the project, maybe give it some prodding. Hell, I’m not really doing anything right now, and I can at least take advantage of your crowdsourcing as well to pull a list together. I’ve got enough html skills for that. The hard part is finding groups that meet all the qualifications we set (secular, for men, that don’t discriminate against gay and/or trans* men, PoC, PwD, etc.)…much as I don’t want to, I wonder if I might have to broaden the criteria, so we can have more than one number on the page…

      (Want me to drop you a link when the project gets finished? It will get finished…and thanks again for this post and your reply! It really reminded me to follow my own advice to get off my ass–well, metaphorically–and do something, instead of complain!)

    3. Richard Carrier

      Yes. Definitely link here when you think it fitting. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’d like to see referenced in comments here.

  8. 8
    Michael Brew

    I’d been having a debate in one of Ally’s posts, and this is a really great summation of what I’d been trying to articulate. The contrast with legitimate men’s issues orgs really clarifies how antifeminist MRA types are so off-base.

  9. 9
    AUSloth

    Unfortunately for us (in Australia) the AMP link in your blog refers to a North American group set up by George in Seattle. I have been unable to find a group here that even comes close to the ideals expressed by AMP. We are beset with drongos like this from the Mankind Project, much like your MRAs.
    Link to drongos http://mkpau.org/

    1. 9.1
      Richard Carrier

      Interesting. I didn’t know that one. Notice that’s The Mankind Project (MKPA), not A Men’s Project (AMP). They aren’t related. The MKPA looks like a commercial self-help group (with a little woo), although I didn’t find anything explicitly anti-women or anti-feminist there (the site assiduously avoids ever using the word feminist or its cognates; and the burn test: nowhere present is the word “cunt”).

      Note that AMP itself references a third and different site, The Men’s Project, which is a laudable (and science-based) Canadian men’s issues organization, which would definitely go in my category of good orgs catering to men and men’s issues.

      I see that AMP was started by an Australian but appears to be based in North America (catering to the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean), so I have emended my article accordingly.

      For Australia, see comment below.

  10. 10
    Suido

    Another positive organisation in Australia is AMSA. Here’s a section from their about page:

    So what is so special about this new type of Men’s Shed? Most men have learned from our culture that they don’t talk about feelings and emotions. There has been little encouragement for men to take an interest in their own health and well-being. Unlike women, most men are reluctant to talk about their emotions and that means that they usually don’t ask for help. Probably because of this many men are less healthy than women, they drink more, take more risks and they suffer more from isolation, loneliness and depression. Relationship breakdown, retrenchment or early retirement from a job, loss of children following divorce, physical or mental illness are just some of the problems that men find it hard to deal with on their own.

    Good health is based on many factors including feeling good about yourself, being productive and valuable to your community, connecting to friends and maintaining an active body and an active mind. Becoming a member of a Men’s Shed gives a man that safe and busy environment where he can find many of these things in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship. And, importantly, there is no pressure. Men can just come and have a yarn and a cuppa if that is all they’re looking for.

    Members of Men’s Sheds come from all walks of life – the bond that unites them is that they are men with time on their hands and they would like something meaningful to do with that time.

    Along with other projects like movember, which raises money for prostate cancer and depression research, I think that there is plenty of hope that the problems men face in modern society are getting the attention they deserve. And no, it’s not a zero sum game with respect to women’s rights and issues.

    1. 10.1
      Richard Carrier

      Cool. Shed looks almost like a Boy Scouts for men (even state supported).

      Movember is a great example of just what you said, a smart example of doing it right, targeting prostate cancer with a campaign as savvy and friendly as any for breast cancer. But do note that for a long time I thought it was only a UK thing, since I only ever saw it advertised there. It was only very recently that I met someone in the US who had even heard of it. So apparently its marketing campaign here is starting to gain ground. According to Wikipedia (Movember) apparently it was started in Australia/NZ and then started expanding to other countries, the US most recently. And it is a real player, having significant and recognized international impact.

      Definitely doing it right.

    2. 10.2
      Donnie

      Movember is really big in the professional hockey leagues (NHL specifically) where playoff beards dominate – movember was a natural extension with lots of athletes getting behind the initiative:

      http://www.thegoalieguild.com/2011/10/26/jonas-hillers-special-movember-mask/

    3. Richard Carrier

      Awesome.

  11. 11
    Nothing

    Now this is some impressive good stuff! Can’t wait to see how the slime’s gonna try to misrepresent your words this time.

  12. 12
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Yeah, John Loftus, I’m not sure most feminists are all that jazzed about Paglia’s feminism these days. She’s said some weird, women-blaming stuff on a number of occasions. She’s no Schlafly, but she’s no Steinem, either.

    1. 12.1
      Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

      Heh, shoulda scrolled down to see someone had beaten me to it, instead giving a long-winded, anti-Paglia rant above.

      I don’t know what it is about that woman that sets me off. Well, okay, her many comments about rape victims obviously, but there are (sadly) a lot of women who write that brand of bullshit. And, as you say, she’s no Schlafly…though, I’d almost prefer Schlafly, upon reflection. Schlafly is, at least, honest about her hatred of (most) women. They’ve both built a career out of attacking women, but while Schlafly has no pretensions and gives a full-frontal assault, Paglia tends to stab women in the back–while expecting accolades for her exertion, and with the belief that doing so makes her the only Real feminist.

  13. 13
    John Loftus

    Yes, I know CaitieCat. It’s just that Paglia defends women in the porn and sex worker industries, that’s all.

    1. 13.1
      Richard Carrier

      Libertarian Feminists are another example of (usually) pro-sex-industry feminism that at the same time is oppositional to certain other liberal values or aims and and thus whom many of us might not wholly agree with, yet by that fact demonstrating that feminism is very diverse and in-and-of-itself politically neutral (since it spans the whole political spectrum). See, for example, ALF and iFeminists and the positions espoused by Students for Liberty and Center for a Stateless Society. One more true fact the MRA false generalization factory chokes on.

  14. 14
    Avicenna

    One small correction…

    Prostate cancer is harder to treat than breast cancer because it’s such a silent killer. Breast cancer has better visibility when it comes to detection and the nodes of metastasis are clear and linear.

    The problem with the prostate is that it’s heavily supplied with blood meaning metastasis is common and invariably fatal because it normally goes to the spinal cord and brain. It’s just the logistics.

    A more apt equivalent is testicular cancer.

    But otherwise bang on *high fives*

    1. 14.1
      Richard Carrier

      Oh, yes, good point.

      That reminds me (as I mentioned in one of the links in my article where I originally discussed the “cancer funding disparity” argument in comments elsewhere) to remind everyone else that all manner of medical distinctions have to be taken into account when comparing cancer A with cancer B (especially if you’re going to make generalizations from any specific A:B comparisons).

      Although, again, testicular cancer is more to be compared with ovarian cancer, since they are essentially the same organ, distinguished by sex. A prostate gland, by contrast, is always much larger in men than women and thus even more distinctively a male problem. I thus took breasts (mammary glands) as the better analog for the same disparity.

    2. 14.2
      Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

      The other problem I see with the breast cancer/prostate cancer comparison is that both men and women get breast cancer, while prostate cancer is only a male disease. I really don’t know of a good comparison (as you say, testicular cancer is basically ovarian cancer)…maybe cervical cancer? That’s definitely a silent killer, and as exclusive to women as the prostate is to men. (Um. Using “women” and “men” in the purely genetic sense, and not meaning to exclude people who are transgendered. Obviously, some women have prostates, etc.) Except cervical cancer is going to be nearly eliminated in a generation or so, thanks to the vaccine (as long as the religious nuts and the alties don’t succeed), so that’s not the best comparison anymore, either. Hmmm.

      Okay, this is an absolutely pointless nitpick on a brilliant article, and I’m contributing just because I find it interesting, not because I actually find your writing on the issue lacking, Mr. Carrier. (I’m totally bookmarking and sharing this post.) I appreciate that you’re having this discussion at all. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot (obviously, as I can’t shut up), even talked about with like-minded folks on places like Manboobz, but this is one of the first times I’ve seen it presented on a general (ie: not devoted to feminism or Anti-MRA), high traffic blog, by someone with a reputation–and career!–of independent, critical thinking. and research.

    3. Richard Carrier

      Actually that first point is not true. Women can get prostate cancer. It’s just extremely rare. (The prostate gland in most women is very much smaller, and fewer cells means lower probability of an associated cancer. See discussion here and here, the latter pointing to several serious problems arising from the assumption that women don’t have them.)

      But cervical cancer is another example of a “part” prone to cancers (albeit largely virus-caused) that men generally don’t have (or whose anatomical correlate is much less susceptible). Women have a few more of those than men I think (uterine cancer, for example).

  15. 15
    Texas !

    Any discussion about whether feminists are hateful as MRA’s is incomplete without mentioning Jezebel.

    Two reasons: -It is BY FAR the most popular feminist website. (To get an idea of how huge Jezebel is, go to Alexa.com and compare it to sites like Feministing and Amptoons. Jezebels wipes them all away.)
    -It’s published some really hateful shit. For example:
    -A puntastic article which not only made of a man who was raped, but victim-blamed him.*
    -An article making fun of a man who’s sex tape was released without his consent. The article included a screencap of the sex tape and a link to the full video. (The post appears to have been removed after a lawsuit, but you can read up on the controversy by Hulk Hogan sex tape + Jezebel +Gawker.)
    -An editorial in favor of paternity fraud. **
    -Article titled “Have You Ever Beat Up A Boyfriend? Cause, Uh, We Have”.***
    * http://amptoons.com/blog/2012/04/16/jezebel-continues-its-long-slow-decline/
    ** http://jezebel.com/5819959/i-may-have-a-son-but-ill-never-know-for-sure
    *** http://jezebel.com/294383/have-you-ever-beat-up-a-boyfriend-cause-uh-we-have

    Now I’m not saying all feminist are hateful. But the largest feminist website sure is.

    1. 15.1
      Richard Carrier

      I think you need to check your definitions. Jezebel is a “women’s gossip site” (their own words), part of the tabloid system gawker. They are therefore more in the category of a woman’s online fashion/entertainment/gossip magazine (indeed, closer to supermarket tabloids), not a feminist organization (much less an activism related or informed social commentary site). Indeed, since you make a point about the hit counts, if you actually look at the Alexa stats for Jezebel.com you’ll see that a lot of its hits are misdirected or irrelevant traffic (most people who go there are searching for non-feminist related things, like cronuts or, as one might have guessed, the biblical character or trope of Jezebel itself).

      So in the present context, this is a false comparison. Jezebel isn’t a feminist website at all (they don’t even market themselves as one). There are at most a few feminists who occasionally write there, even about feminism (e.g. Lindy West), but then you’d have to start making the distinction of which writers you are evaluating, which makes this no different from comparing divergent feminist blogs (and likewise ignoring all the writers and content that aren’t feminist to begin with).

    2. 15.2
      Texas !

      This is like saying “The Family Research Council isn’t anti-gay. After all, they never describe themselves as anti-gay. And besides, they spend a lot of time talking about things besides gayness.”

      It’s a large jump between “Jezebel calls itself a gossip site, and covers non-feminist topics” to “Jezebel isn’t a feminist website.” Visit Jezebel on any given day and you will see multiple posts defending the feminist perspective on some current event. Survey the Jezebel readers and you will find that the super-majority identify as feminists. Look at other feminist blogs and you will find links to Jezebel. If it quacks like a feminist…

    3. Richard Carrier

      That’s just silly. If you can’t tell the difference between actual feminist organizations and websites and a glam & gossip rag, you have a problem I can’t fix.

  16. 16
    Glenn

    Hmmm, so why wouldn’t Richard invite someone from say, A Voice for Men to present the MRM instead of doing a hatchet job on it? I’m not going to play pseudo-intellect back, but rather just ask some straightforward questions:

    1. Does the MRM have a belief that compares with say the Feminist “Rape Culture” meme?

    2. Does the feminist movement not contain vicious, man hating – but well “respected ” – academics such as Andrea Dworkin?

    3. Have feminists relaxed the standards for prosecuting sexual harrassment and rape on college campuses to ridiculous levels, and introduced other Orwellian practices such restrictive speech codes and mandatory indoctrination to feminist orthodoxy?

    4. Are there no legitimate criticisms of the centrality of “Patriarchy” as an overwhelming tool of oppression?

    5. Are there no valid criticisms of the Social Construction theory of gender?

    Funny, on a place called “freethought blogs” one would think skeptical inquiry to politically correct dogma would welcomed. While it is true that there is misogyny expressed in the MRM, I see much misandry expressed in the feminist movement, and in fact posit that anything beyond first wave feminism involved an overtly demeaning and derisive view of men. In your article you acknowledge the presence of man-hating in feminism, but dismiss it as somehow less or not as frequent – without any attempt at quantifying that. How convenient.

    It seems that your acceptance of the absurdly reductionist, and in some cases, trivial ideas of Rawlsian “Social Justice Theory” (read Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia, published shortly after Rawl’s Theory of Justice, some 40 years ago to see the basis for my characterizations of Social Justice Theory) as ground truth gives license to your presumptuous view as to the innate morality of third wave feminism. In case others reading don’t know, Third Wave Feminism collapsed it’s beliefs with Crit Theory and Social Justice derived ideologies – making it a melange of Progressive and Marxist worldviews.

    So, Richard, are you claiming there is no legitimate criticism of all that? That as an atheist I must accept the rubric of Critical Theory and Rawlsian Social Justice, or be considered morally defective? Wow, you must be utterly ignorant of vast criticism on offer across the academic spectrum regarding these ideas. Again, “Freethought”? I’m left giggling.

    Let me close by saying there is much to criticize in the MRM, but their core complaint and observations about the incredibly vicious and politicized ideas of third wave feminism have real merit. Anyone wanting to hear a reasoned disposition of some of those ideas can go to GirlWritesWhat on YouTube and hear a woman take such critical view of feminism in a very thoughtful way. Without misogyny.

    1. 16.1
      Richard Carrier

      Hmmm, so why wouldn’t Richard invite someone from say, A Voice for Men to present the MRM instead of doing a hatchet job on it?

      It always intrigues me when people think I’m supposed to have other people write my blog, particularly the people I’m finding fault with.

      Imagine an atheist blog where we invited Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps and the KKK and the Muslim Brotherhood and William Lane Craig and Dick Cheney and so on to write the articles about the things they approve of that we find fault with.

      Oh wait, that would make exactly no sense at all.

      And then the questions you ask are just dumb.

      1. Maybe you should actually learn what “rape culture” means first. Then the answer being “no” will then be (you might realize) like asking is there anything Creationists believe that compares with “unguided evolution by natural selection.” That the answer is “no” is precisely what’s wrong with them. Yet you, delusionally, think it’s the other way around. Because (I suspect) you have a delusionally extreme notion of what “rape culture” means that corresponds not at all to what it actually means in common discourse.

      2. Andrea Dworkin is dead. Get over it.

      (Then read a little Martha Nussbaum instead.)

      (BTW, isn’t Dworkin a bingo hit?)

      3. Yes. (Because “they” never did that to begin with, and the women [who, being intelligent human beings, think for themselves and thus don't all think alike] actually pursuing such policies debate different approaches and usually achieve reasonable outcomes in that area. False generalization is a fallacy. Reference: Dworkin.)

      4. The words “centrality” and “overwhelming” are fantasies of your own paranoia. I never mentioned either of those things, and neither do most people who seriously discuss patriarchy as a social problem. They don’t even use the words “tool” and “oppression” without significant qualification, a fact you seem unaware of.

      5. Gosh. Maybe you should read what this feminist (me…hi!) said about that. And then stop with the black and white fallacies and learn about the fact that there are different versions of that theory and different claims within that umbrella just as there are for evolution theory, so the question of whether there are legitimate criticisms depends on which version or claims you are talking about (analog: there are legitimate criticisms against many arguments and claims in evolutionary science, yet evolution by natural selection remains overwhelmingly and indisputably true).

      Funny, on a place called “freethought blogs” one would think skeptical inquiry to politically correct dogma would welcomed.

      I engage in skeptical inquiry into “politically correct dogma” here all the time, even the claims of some feminists (case in point).

      In your article you acknowledge the presence of man-hating in feminism, but dismiss it as somehow less or not as frequent – without any attempt at quantifying that. How convenient.

      I did verify the relative frequency point I made. Extensively. For years. That’s in fact what prompted me to write this article. Anyone who actually checks around using an objective standard rather than a fallacious one will find what I did. I also, BTW, gave examples illustrating the disparity. Which you ignored.

      Challenge: find me one explicitly MRM website or blog that doesn’t contain any significant sexism, misogyny, or anti-feminism.

      Prediction: I can find fifty feminist sites and blogs that do not contain any significant sexism or misandry or hate speech or attacks on legitimate men’s interests.

      Math: simple.

      It seems that your acceptance of the absurdly reductionist, and in some cases, trivial ideas of Rawlsian “Social Justice Theory” (read Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia, published shortly after Rawl’s Theory of Justice, some 40 years ago to see the basis for my characterizations of Social Justice Theory) as ground truth gives license to your presumptuous view as to the innate morality of third wave feminism. In case others reading don’t know, Third Wave Feminism collapsed it’s beliefs with Crit Theory and Social Justice derived ideologies – making it a melange of Progressive and Marxist worldviews.

      I always wonder where people get things like this. I never said here, nor have ever in my years-long career, any of the above. Yet somehow you magically know all this about me. All this stuff that is actually false.

      Indeed, to think that third wave feminism (all of it!) is both “Marxist” and “Progressive” (a contradiction in terms; and after I had just cited several links for Libertarian Feminism, no less!) is just more paranoid delusion. Next you’ll be blaming the Jews for feminism. (Dog forbid what will happen when you go and check the racial-cultural background of Karl Marx.)

      So, Richard, are you claiming there is no legitimate criticism of all that?

      Right, because in an article where more than once I mention being at odds with some feminists, I clearly was claiming there was no legitimate criticism of anything any feminists say.

      Oh wait, no. That conclusion makes no sense at all.

      Amusing, too, is that you wheel out straw men (ridiculous extreme versions of things, none of which I advocate, nor do most feminists) and ask if I am claiming there is no legitimate criticism of those things. That’s a nice way to completely ignore the totally not extreme things I actually did say.

      [Ladies and gentlemen, you have just witnessed an irrational and delusional tirade that typifies the anti-feminism, illogicality, and bizarre paranoid thinking of an MRA.--RC]

  17. 17
    Jackie, all dressed in black

    This may be OT, but I was watching the local access channel last night and The local DV shelter was discussing the frequency of DV in the area. Sadly, 50% of assaults and murders in my area are DV related. On a more positive note, however, one of the guests made sure to state that some of the DV survivors that utilize their services are men. So while DV is still a huge problem, at least male survivors are a part of the conversation now.

    Still, I wish there was no DV to converse about in the first place.

  18. 18
    Lou Doench

    First, don’t put a link to Cracked in the very beginning of your post, thus delaying the finishing of said post by the reader (me) by a good 45 minutes. It’s as bad as a TV Tropes link. ;)

    In all seriousness however, as a stay at home parent and husband, a situation that comes with its own patriarchy based difficulties, I’m painfully aware of the damage the “Men’s Rights Movement” are doing to discredit actual advocates for men’s issues. Thanks for the links and information.

    In my own run ins here at FtB and elsewhere I can’t stop thinking of the MRA’s as philosophically akin to “Denialist” based movements like Creationism, AGW deniers and 9/11 truthers. They all fall back on outdated and spurious pseudo scientific “evidence”, cling to their preferred narratives in the face of mountains of real evidence debunking their claims, and most importantly they leap into any discussion tangentially related to their theories to relentlessly repeat them. That’s what is so frustrating whenever a new blogger tackles this subject they descend out of the ether to repeat their same tired old tropes.

    BtW, the obsessive anti-FtB contingent behaves in almost exactly the same fashion, there is certainly some overlap between the two groups.

    1. 18.1
      Richard Carrier

      I concur with everything you said.

  19. 19
    rrede

    @ John Loftus: You say Paglia “defends” women in the porn and sex industries — I’d be interested in your sources for that claim, and what you consider her “defense” to consist of.

    My sense (and I’ve taught some of Paglia’s work in various classes since I try to cover a range of claims/arguments/theories and methods) is that her “defense” of them is more claiming that they are proof of her “pagan theory of sexuality” and are immensely (if symbolically, she sometimes limits the claim) powerful because men will give them money for sex or stripping.

    She’s also happy to use them (symbolically) to beat all the middle-class “prissy” “anti-sex” feminists over the head while simultaneously promoting capitality and great male artists who are all about Dionysian excess.

    That is, I see no sense of Paglia defending the human rights of women who participate in sex work, or fighting for changes in laws that penalize the people selling sex more than the men buying it, or engaging in any actual work or support for women in the sex industries (nor have I seen any of the blogs or web sites created by women engaged in that actual work quoting Paglia, or citing her work, or giving her credit–do you know of any sites I am not aware of that do so?)

    Some places to check out her quotes (I’ve dropped the http colon and double slashes because of so often ending up in moderation with the full URLs).

    en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Camille_Paglia

    The feminist line is, strippers and topless dancers are degraded, subordinated, and enslaved; they are victims, turned into objects by the display of their anatomy. But women are far from being victims — women rule; they are in total control … the feminist analysis of prostitution says that men are using money as power over women. I’d say, yes, that’s all that men have. The money is a confession of weakness. They have to buy women’s attention. It’s not a sign of power; it’s a sign of weakness.

    As quoted in Sexuality and Gender (2002) by Christine R. Williams and Arlene Stein, p. 213

    From: “No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality”

    Pornography is art, sometimes harmonious, sometimes dissonant. Its glut and glitter are a Babylonian excess. Modern middle-class women cannot bear the thought that their hard-won professional achievements can be outweighed in an instant by a young hussy flashing a little tits and ass. But the gods have given her power, and we must welcome it. Pornography forces a radical reassessment of sexual value, nature’s bequest of our tarnished treasure.p. 67

    Google Books: Sex from Plato to Paglia

    My favorite critique of Paglia (by the incredible Molly Ivins): grigr.com/2011/09/i-am-the-cosmos/

    Bottom line: I don’t see Paglia as a defender as much as an appropriater who has spent several decades presenting herself as a major intellectual radical one true feminist while actually operating as an anti-feminist.

    1. 19.1
      Richard Carrier

      That’s a useful analysis, rrede. As someone who had never even heard of Paglia before, I appreciate it.

  20. 20
    rrede

    Longtime lurker, commenting for the first time here today.

    Thank you for this fantastic, detailed, evidence based, close-reading and commentary of the MRM/MRAs compared to legitimate social justice groups.

    I’m bookmarking it to use in future discussions.

  21. 21
    hoary puccoon

    How many men are dying prematurely of prostate cancer? My own, dear father died of it, but he died at 91. Most men who were born the year he was never saw eighty. How much effect would finding a cure have on average longevity?

    I’m asking because there are other health issues– for example, heart attacks– that disproportionately affect men’s longevity, and which have been the focus of a lot of productive research. But they haven’t been called “men’s issues.” They’ve been treated as important health issues, period. The reason breast cancer research became a women’s issue in the first place was because a lot of women were dying of it at relatively young ages and not a lot of research was going on.

    Looking at how much money goes into research on health problems *labeled* “men’s issues” or “women’s issues” gives a biased picture unless you first consider which group is most at risk for health problems which are the focus of a lot of research resources, but aren’t classified as specifically men’s or women’s issues.

    1. 21.1
      Richard Carrier

      Yes, always worth pointing that out, too. I also mentioned “other male-specific health issues,” and that would be one. I only chose the one cancer comparison as just an example illustrating a broader point. But as I mentioned in comments myself, there are many aspects of various diseases that make MRA-style comparisons problematic, for the reasons you note as well as others.

      For example, you raise another point that I also mentioned in one of the links in my article (this one): that we need to count also general disease research which benefits both genders, and I made the point even for cancer: most money, by far, goes to general cancer research, and thus disparities in gendered cancer funding are practically washed out by the gender-neutral funding of cancer research generally.

  22. 22
    Freja

    I agree with the majority of this article (also, a big thanks to EEB for bringing some perspective from ‘the field’, so to speak), but I’d hesitate to label The Good Men Project “good”, especially given their stance on rape.

    1. 22.1
      Richard Carrier

      I am not aware of what you mean specifically. Please provide some links. In the article I said I don’t agree with everything they may say or advocate. But I haven’t seen anything alarming about that.

    2. 22.2
      Freja

      I was such a big controversy that I figured pretty much everyone in contact with (American internet) feminism had heard of it, especially if they knew about GMP. I don’t want to give them more hits, so here’s a link to Ally Fogg talking about it, which should contain links to the GMP articles if anyone is interested:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-did-the-good-men-project-publish-a-blog-by-an-unrepentant-and-unconvicted-rapist-8406311.html

    3. Richard Carrier

      I’m not sure Ally’s article accurately or fairly represents the facts.

      The article he is referring to at the start of his piece (Nice Guys Commit Rape, Too) was not written by a rapist, but by a woman (Alyssa Royse), relating the story of a male friend, whom she concludes did rape someone (while both he and his victim were drunk), and it’s about that very fact, and is rather sensibly written. It is similar, in fact, to stories I’ve read that were written by feminists who made much the same points, from the victim’s perspective (that not all rapists are malevolent villains of stock imagination, they can be perfectly nice people otherwise, but it’s still rape). Only when that article was extensively criticized did the GMP consent to let the rapist, who was now being attacked in the media because of Royse’s piece, write a response (which is the only thing “written by an unconvicted rapist” there [came later]: I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying). The [latter] article now appears (I don’t know if it originally did) with an editorial disclaimer as follows:

      This is a difficult article to read, and to publish. It is a frank, open confession about a certain commonly-accepted form of rape culture, and readers with rape triggers should probably avoid reading it. We at the Good Men Project do not endorse or support the author’s worldview, but it does speak to a very common experience that is often taken for granted and rarely talked about, except in vague and theoretical terms. We thank the author for being willing to speak openly about it, and share his struggle with his own experiences, though we want to make very clear that we do not agree with his conclusions.

      Indeed, with those caveats especially, it’s a valuable piece, because it exemplifies a particular problem in addressing rape culture that is more subtle than the usual bitches-b-lyin or it-aint-really-rape narrative that you might expect. The author represents a target audience different from the usual anti-rape campaigns, and a different kind of male mentality well worth being aware of and understanding (if for no other reason than to combat it).

      I see nothing wrong with what the GMP did here.

    4. 22.3
      Freja

      The article he is referring to at the start of his piece (Nice Guys Commit Rape, Too) was not written by a rapist, but by a woman (Alyssa Royse),

      Yes, that was at no point denied.

      relating the story of a male friend, whom she concludes did rape someone (while both he and his victim were drunk),

      The issue is not that they were drunk, the issue is that she was asleep, and he seemed to have been fully aware of that when he decided to use her for sex without her consent.

      and it’s about that very fact, and is rather sensibly written. It is similar, in fact, to stories I’ve read that were written by feminists who made much the same points, from the victim’s perspective (that not all rapists are malevolent villains of stock imagination, they can be perfectly nice people otherwise, but it’s still rape).

      I disagree. The point of every feminist article I’ve read (in this case about male on female rape) has been that rapists are aware of what they do (even if they don’t define it as rape), that they don’t rape by accident. They don’t act like monsters, but they still have very problematic views about women and their right to bodily autonomy. The most reliable studies indicate that the majority of rapes are committed by a small number of serial rapists who have 6 victims each on average. It’s not a coincidence, it’s a pattern.

      Royce acts as if her friend just stumbled into committing rape because he was confused, but study after study confirms that rapists are not so much confused about what women want as they are indifferent to it. I find it highly implausible that Royce’s friend really believed that because he’d been flirting with a woman, it meant she had agreed to become constantly sexually available to him in the future, whenever he wanted it, however he wanted to do it, regardless of the circumstances, with or without protection, with or without an audience etc..

      I’ve been in bed with multiple guys, in obviously sexual situations, and yet not a single one of them thought sex was initiated by ripping away my panties and start humping, with no regard for what I had to say. The only guy who felt that way raped me, and he did so by first testing my boundaries (doing things I wasn’t comfortable with but too shy to object to), and then quickly getting me alone, with his pants coming down seconds after he closed the door. He didn’t just stumble, and neither did Royce’s friend.

      That’s the big issue with that article. Libby Anne at “Love, Joy, Feminism” sums it up:

      “The Good Men Project may acknowledge the existence of rape culture, but I think at some level its writers fundamentally misunderstand what “rape culture” is. Rape culture is not a culture where it’s easy to “accidentally” rape someone. Instead, rape culture is “a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and,media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.” In other words, rape culture is not about poor confused guys accidentally raping girls, but rather about people making excuses for guys who rape girls. The Good Men Project writers think that they’re valiantly fighting rape culture, but what they’re actually doing is feeding it.”
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/12/the-good-men-project-and-accidental-rape.html

      Only when that article was extensively criticized did the GMP consent to let the rapist, who was now being attacked in the media because of Royse’s piece, write a response

      That wasn’t the rapist from Royce’s piece, it was a new rapist. The first rapist started penetrating a sleeping woman and didn’t want to be rapist, this rapist is OK with being a rapist because he thinks it’s normal and just a risk women have to take which he doesn’t give a shit about.

      Indeed, with those caveats especially, it’s a valuable piece, because it exemplifies a particular problem in addressing rape culture that is more subtle than the usual bitches-b-lyin or it-aint-really-rape narrative that you might expect. The author represents a target audience different from the usual anti-rape campaigns, and a different kind of male mentality well worth being aware of and understanding (if for no other reason than to combat it).

      But the GMP doesn’t combat it, they defend it. They don’t describe what is wrong with this attitude, they only claim that the rapists are confused because consent is hard and they received the wrong signals. Royce makes a huge deal out of all the things the victim did, but doesn’t explain for a moment what led her friend to commit rape. She says he thought the flirting would lead to sex, but that’s beside the point considering that non-rapists think the very same thing, and yet they don’t decide to initiate intercourse when their partner is a asleep and has no chance to influence the conditions of said intercourse.

      I see nothing wrong with what the GMP did here.

      You may not, but the GMP is an example of a zero-sum game. It’s promoting/denying rape-culture while most of feminism opposes rape-culture. You can be on one side or the other, but GMP is not an example of the men’s rights and women’s rights movements being aligned. And if you think Ally misrepresented the articles, he’s definitely not alone. In addition to his piece at The Independent and the “Love, Joy, Feminism” article I linked to, Ozzy Frantz, main contributor of “No Seriously, What About the Menz”, which had moved to GMP, left because of those pieces (hir blog is down now, so I can’t link to the articles about it).

      There is also Feministe:

      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/12/08/what-in-holy-hell-is-this/

      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/12/10/and-just-when-you-thought-the-good-men-project-couldnt-get-any-worse/

      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/12/12/inside-baseball-with-feministe-and-the-good-men-project/

      Yes Means Yes:

      http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/good-men-projects-rape-faceplant-predators-and-the-social-license-to-operate/

      http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/a-public-service-announcement-from-the-good-men-project/

      http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/good-men-project-royse-versus-royse/

      Alas! A Blog:

      http://amptoons.com/blog/2012/12/21/the-good-men-project-how-not-to-have-a-conversation-about-what-it-means-to-be-a-good-man-part-1/

      XX Factor:

      http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/12/20/the_good_men_project_buys_into_rapists_defense_it_s_the_mixed_signals_fault.html

      Feministing:

      http://feministing.com/2012/12/13/the-good-men-project-thinks-men-are-bad-easily-confused/

      Are Women Human?:

      http://arewomenhuman.me/2012/12/13/boycott-the-good-men-project/

      The Pervocracy:

      http://pervocracy.blogspot.dk/2012/12/we-are-95.html

      There are more, but these are just the relatively major ones (or the ones known by me) I could dig up in 2 minutes. So it seems plenty of feminists find those pieces to be not at all similar to what has been written by feminists from the victim’s perspective.

    5. Richard Carrier

      The point of every feminist article I’ve read (in this case about male on female rape) has been that rapists are aware of what they do (even if they don’t define it as rape), that they don’t rape by accident. They don’t act like monsters, but they still have very problematic views about women and their right to bodily autonomy.

      I agree. But I don’t think Royce was claiming anything else (she doesn’t conclude it was “an accident” but indeed exactly what you just said). For example, Royce wrote:

      Without letting anyone off the hook for committing rape, we have to look at how we are all accomplices in making women’s bodies and sexuality a prize and something to which some men feel entitled, especially when they’re wrapped in pleasing packages and smiling in an inviting way. So while the individual rapist is solely responsible for the rape he committed, we all—as a society—are responsible for the culture that created the confusion.

      So I agree with everything you are saying, it just doesn’t have anything apparent to do with the GMP. They didn’t do anything significantly wrong by publishing these two articles, certainly when prefacing the second one with their editorial note. Indeed, even by your own conclusion, Royce appears clearly to me to be writing against rape culture. You somehow seem to think she wasn’t. And I don’t get that. Nor do I understand how you can think the GMP was promoting rape culture, when their editorial preface very clearly communicates otherwise. Since you seem to think their editorial note also said something else (that it somehow defended rape culture), I reproduce it here:

      Editor’s note: This is a difficult article to read, and to publish. It is a frank, open confession about a certain commonly-accepted form of rape culture, and readers with rape triggers should probably avoid reading it. We at the Good Men Project do not endorse or support the author’s worldview, but it does speak to a very common experience that is often taken for granted and rarely talked about, except in vague and theoretical terms. We thank the author for being willing to speak openly about it, and share his struggle with his own experiences, though we want to make very clear that we do not agree with his conclusions.

      So, in short, I don’t understand what complaint you have against the GMP. There is no evidence to back the things you’ve accused it of. And all the evidence on the table so far argues plainly the contrary.

      What am I missing here?

    6. 22.4
      Freja

      The issue is that, contrary to what Royce and the anonymous rapist claimed, most men are not like that. The guys who do these things might act normal, but their behaviour is not normal. Even without the studies confirming that male rapists (especially serial rapists like the one from the second article) are a small part of the male population, I can observe that by observing the men I have been with, sexually or otherwise.

      Only one guy has initiated sex in a way that gave me no option to influence whether and how it was going to happen (like the first rapist). Only one guy, a different one, has used his state of being drunk as an excuse to violate my sexual boundaries (like the second rapist). And ironically, after that guy made an actual effort to change his attitudes, he never did it again, even when he was too drunk to walk straight, talk clearly, or remember what had happened the next day.

      I think the last article I linked to phrased it best:

      There’s one big lie that rapists tell. Most of the other lies are just part of it. “Consent is complicated and confusing and there are a lot of gray areas.” “She dressed/acted/talked like she wanted it.” “She never said no; how was I supposed to know?” “She just regrets having sex.” “We were both drunk and the alcohol muddied things.” “He sure seemed like he was enjoying it.” “I guess I just got caught up in the heat of the moment.” “People do this all the time and only paranoid feminists call it rape.”

      The one big lie at the center of all these little lies is: “If you were in my place, you could have done the same.”

      I mean, who among us has not been confused in the process of sexual communication? Who has not thought someone was interested in them and then found out they read the signals wrong? Who has not had a partner enjoy sex less than they’d hoped? Who has not felt “swept away” at some point during sex? Who has not done something stupid while drunk? Who has not felt that the things their ex said after the breakup were awfully unfair? The rape-apologist narrative taps into some nearly universal experiences.

      And then, in that one big lie, pretends that these everyday insecurities and disappointments could lead anyone to rape. “It could have happened to anyone,” say the rapists. Especially to men. And to themselves.

      It’s the Steubenvile rape all over again. People acting like the rapists are just normal, confused boys. People pretending the victim should have known that it was likely to happen (because it’s so normal). People claiming the rapists didn’t know what they were doing because the rapists say so. People blaming it on “mixed signals” that made it hard for the rapists to know what they were doing. People making a huge deal out of how both parties were drunk and conveniently skip the fact that only one of the parties were awake. People acting as if the fact that rapists often act normal (if a bit more violent, douchey, and misogynist than average) is a stunning new revelation which changes everything.

      And these excuses are a major part of why rapists can get away with what they’re doing. The GMP didn’t post any artirticles about rape victims telling their stories, to counter that we were only hearing about it from the rapist’s POW. It also didn’t offer any counter to the claim from the self-confessed serial rapist that he had no choice but to continue to rape if he wanted to get drunk and party, and the comments below seemed to largely agree with his assessment. That’s not bringing in a valuable perspective, that’s giving rapists an uncontested platform from which to preach rape.

      In regards to the first rapist, Royce made sure to keep her statements condemning him vague, never going into details with why his actions were wrong (“she was sending mixed signals, but he still shouldn’t have done it”). She didn’t mention whether he knew the girl was not conscious (I’m guessing he did, because otherwise the article would have read “He thought she was awake and consenting”), or which type of reasoning made him think that was OK when the majority of men (including several rapists) already know it’s not. She doesn’t talk about all the things he already knew, but which he chose to ignore in order to justify committing rape.

      She talks a lot about the behaviour or the victim, and how confusing it all was for the rapist, but she never bothers to say “They were alone/he used protection/he initiated foreplay first/the form of intercourse he chose was one she had previously talked about liking”. That’s pretty relevant, because mentioning that he had thought about which type of sex they were going to have and under which conditions reveals him as being more calculating than she portrays him as, but making it explicit that he didn’t care about any of this reveals him to be more similar to the ‘evil’ rapist type she doesn’t want him to seem like. So she acts as if he just stumbled, even though that kind of stumbling is really only possible by displaying an extreme disregard for your victim.

      Royce and the GMP reveal the kind of excuses that enable rapists to get away with it. “It’s confusing”, “It’s normal”, “My friend is a rapist, but I still want him as my friend, so his rape can’t have been fuelled by a lack of empathy and a de-humanising view of women”, which is indeed very useful to have in writing to refer to in discussions fo rape. The ideas expressed in those articles, that rapists are just nice guys who got confused, or that it’s impossible not to commit rape if you get drunk often enough, are excellent illustrations of rape culture. But the GMP are not reporting and criticising the excuses, they’re making them.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m friends with a guy who committed sexual assault myself (the drunk guy I mentioned earlier), but I don’t for a moment believe he was confused, and neither does he. He was a violent criminal with issues, which were only amplified by people making excuses for him, and the issues didn’t go away until they’d cost him so much that he was forced to revise his assessment of himself and what he was doing. He made amends, and after I had observed him for a couple of years, we started to renew our friendship. But he didn’t get there by claiming it was the alcohol, and his assessment of the GMP articles is even less flattering than mine.

      Anyway, I didn’t mean to highjack this thread to talk about rape-culture, it just seemed like you hadn’t taken the GMP rape controversy into account, which you obviously hadn’t if you’d never heard of it. But if you think those articles were completely OK, that’s your prerogative, and we’ll just have to agree to disagree about whether they do men’s rights right.

    7. Richard Carrier

      The issue is that, contrary to what Royce and the anonymous rapist claimed, most men are not like that.

      I don’t think Royse ever claimed they were, only that there are men like that, and therefore we do need to include men like that in any anti-rape campaign we engage.

      That’s in addition to the kind of rapists you are talking about (which do indeed also exist, and might even be more relatively numerous, although I’m not sure who has counted so as to know…I know of one study bearing on this, but its interpretation has been variable).

      Royce and the GMP reveal the kind of excuses that enable rapists to get away with it. “It’s confusing”, “It’s normal”, “My friend is a rapist, but I still want him as my friend, so his rape can’t have been fuelled by a lack of empathy and a de-humanising view of women”, which is indeed very useful to have in writing to refer to in discussions of rape.

      You do realize that Royse’s entire article is about combating those excuses and explaining why they don’t fly, right? She is not in any way endorsing them, but actually arguing against them. If you missed that, you really need to re-read her article. Likewise the subsequent article’s editorial preface makes the same fact clear. There is simply no evidence the GMP or Royse is endorsing these excuses. They are both saying these excuses need to be rejected and nipped in the bud with education.

      (I should also point out that unless you are saying she or her friend are lying, “lack of empathy and a de-humanising view of women” was not at issue in her friend’s rape, but rather a sense of entitlement and privilege, combined with assumptions about appropriate behavior, which do not require “lack of empathy and a de-humanising view of women” to lead to behavior that harms women, even in general, not just in this case–and for us to assume all rape only occurs because of “lack of empathy and a de-humanising view of women” is dangerous because it blinds us to cases where the causes are more inherent in the culture and its failure to educate men like her friend…indeed, that’s her whole point: if we assume only men who “lack empathy and have a de-humanising view of women” commit rape, then a lot of rape isn’t rape…exactly the opposite conclusion you want to reach. That men who do usually empathize with women and don’t generally entertain dehumanizing views of them can also commit rape is an actual thing…and as such, is an actual problem, one we’d better address–that is, in addition to the problem of rape actually caused by “lack of empathy and a de-humanising view of women,” which of course a lot of rape also is. I’m here assuming by “lack of empathy” you mean something correlating to dehumanization and not the mere fact of failing to think something through from someone else’s perspective, since the latter would entail everyone lacks empathy, since everyone has done that at some point and generally often, and Royse clearly is saying that’s what happened in this case and thus can’t be accused of denying it…so I am assuming you mean something more pervasive or severe.)

    8. 22.5
      Ally Fogg

      Richard: “What am I missing here?”

      I wrote a HetPat blog which might just help to answer that question better than the Indy version did, which was a bit more general.

      Royse goes to enormous efforts to insist she is not attempting to excuse or justify the rape, but to “understand.” Unfortunately the understanding she comes to is deeply, deeply flawed.

    9. Richard Carrier

      That’s still no reason to accuse the GMP of rape apologetics or of defending rape culture. That’s just a disagreement over the approach of one writer to understand or describe the role rape culture played in motivating her friend to commit what everyone agrees is rape.

      It’s also a questionable disagreement. That’s beside the point actually being discussed here, but since this question was raised I need to digress on it:

      You write:

      I simply cannot accept that any reasonably intelligent and informed man (and by the description I’m assuming this man is both) doesn’t know full well that just because a woman wanted to have sex with you earlier in the evening, or last week, or last month, does not mean she necessarily wants to have sex with you right now.

      Actually, there are men who don’t know that’s rape, and he is actually one of them (as she demonstrates in her account of the process it took to get him to realize it was rape…and I hope you of all people aren’t implying everyone involved in this case is lying).

      And in fact, that is precisely the problem Royse is trying to address with her article. If anything, your not getting that is part of the very problem she is aiming to address. You are making assumptions about all men that are not universally true (and the case she describes is one example demonstrating that; I could name others known to me). And Royse is saying making that assumption is dangerous (because it allows rapes to occur that wouldn’t be if we’d admit and address the problem). Because combating rape requires (among other things) educating men like her friend, and that requires not assuming he (and countless men like him) already knows what you (rightly) want to teach him.

      I don’t see that as “deeply, deeply flawed.” If it’s flawed at all, it is only so by not emphasizing as much as Royse could have the points you yourself make in your response. Yet she does make the same points, so she can’t be criticized for not doing so at all. For example, she writes (emphasis mine):

      So while the individual rapist is solely responsible for the rape he committed, we all—as a society—are responsible for the culture that created the confusion.

      You all but imply she didn’t say that, e.g. you write against Royse, “No…the fault is not ‘all of ours’ it is his, and squarely his.” But she did say it was his fault. Moreover, with this statement you seem to be saying that rape culture is not a problem we need to address, that the blame is “all on rapists” and therefore there is no causal factor played by rape culture itself, and therefore we don’t need to understand or address rape culture, and we are not in any way responsible for perpetuating the culture we live in (all of the points Royse was making). I find it hard to believe you really think that. Which suggests to me your article may be even more flawed than hers. Or at the very least, perhaps you both commit the same sin: of giving the wrong impression as to your actual point and its implications. Although I easily understood hers, yet from the way you critique her it does not seem to me you did. I don’t know why. And that’s why I am still wondering if I have missed something.

  23. 23
    Astrokid MHRA

    Carrier,
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    Families Need Fathers (Southport Branch)
    The ManKind Initiative is committed to:

    Removing gender politics from the issue of domestic abuse and ensuring that both male and female victims are treated as equals.

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    05: Domestic Violence – Introduction

    LOL

    1. 23.1
      Richard Carrier

      You’ll need to give me something better than some random YouTube video that selectively quote mines and stitches together a narrative neither person you named was responsible for manufacturing.

    2. 23.2
      oolon

      I’d be dubious of anything that includes Pizzey given she is a supporter of various MRM delusions …
      http://manboobz.com/tag/erin-pizzey/

    3. 23.3
      Richard Carrier

      That’s better. (I also just found plenty corroborating that bizarre ranty stuff on her website.)

      But that only means someone who is arguably an MRA (or at least a British analog to Phyllis Schlafly) has actually given money to a legitimate men’s issues organization. In other words, they did something other than complain.

      That alone is not enough to impugn the MKI (as long as they aren’t doing or endorsing distinctly MRA things; so far as I can tell, none of her bizarre anti-feminist worldview has leaked into their public materials or website, but then, maybe there is something about its operation I don’t know).

  24. 24
    blorf

    I really wonder, if Ally could be persuaded to repost this word for word, what the response would be. It seems the rabid MRAs follow his blog religiously and would have to respond, no? A negative reply would further highlight the absurdity of their anti-feminist rhetoric while a neutral or positive one may indicate that they are capable of reading for comprehension after all. Either one would hopefully tug this particular Overton window back this way a bit, right?

    1. 24.1
      Richard Carrier

      Oh, we just got one. There are also two other comments here that have a whiff of MRA behind them, but I’m giving them a benefit of the doubt.

  25. 25
    karmacat

    Speaking of women inventors, it took me 10 seconds to find this:

    In 1886, Josephine Cochran invented the first practical dishwasher (from the website:
    http://inventors.about.com/od/womeninventors/Women_Inventors.htm)

    1. 25.1
      Richard Carrier

      I was certain I had heard something like that, so nice job finding it. She even founded KitchenAid. Details here.

      Also according to that same page: Marion Donovan, invented the disposable diaper (and the plastic diaper cover before that, which is also still in use).

      Amanda Jones invented vacuum packed canning (certainly a staple of home economics today).

      Margaret Knight invented the manufacture of square-bottomed paper bags (a staple of grocery shopping even still, and certainly for many decades).

      Patsy Sherman invented ScotchGuard.

      (Although not a home convenience, I like the fact that kevlar was invented by a woman, Stephanie Kwolek; and the actress Hedy Lemar invented spread-spectrum telecommunications, which is still in use, by the military and commercial satellites–the latter I had known before, from my military background.)

  26. 26
    culuriel

    I’d really like to know if the any Men’s Rights or Men’s Issues organization is going to address the problem of “Lost Boys” from the FLDS. These young men, sometimes still minors, are kicked out of their communities for something as small as a CD from a non-approved artist, no friends, no family, no nothing. All so the elite men of the FLDS compound can have additional wives. It’s exactly something that a good Men’s Rights organization would confront and tackle.

    1. 26.1
      Raging Bee

      Patience, my friend, they’re still looking for a way to blame feminism for that.

  27. 27
    Alex McCabe

    Looked up the ManKind Initiative, and I’m not sure they support your argument as well as the other charities you’ve listed. They’re pretty virulently MRA.

    1. 27.1
      Richard Carrier

      You should bring this to the attention of journalist Ally Fogg (comment here) who may have more to say on that subject.

      But be aware that the Mankind Initiative has removed Hughs as chairman and disavowed what he wrote. Though he is still on their board of directors, he is also over ninety years old and is presently listed as “retired.”

      So your information appears to be out of date.

    2. 27.2
      Alex McCabe

      Well, I certainly hope they’ve stepped up their game since then, particularly since he isn’t the only major player they’ve had who was involved in MRA stuff. Another was Stephen Fitzgerald, who was a frequent interviewee for the rabid mens-rights site Man Woman & Myth during his time as a director of the Initiative. He remains a patron, along with the abovementioned Erin Pizzey, though I don’t know how much power that grants him in regards to the running of the charity.

  28. 28
    DeepThought

    There’s a lot right with your post, but also a lot wrong with it, and it’s (AFAICT) because, as willing as you are to check your privilege on the basis of sex, you do not see things the same way when it comes to a question of class. Working-class males are, and have always been, seen as disposable, in a way that working-class women are not (which doesn’t mean they don’t face sexism in their own milieu). BOTH rich and powerful men AND women have a vested interest in continuing to see them this way, because otherwise, who is going to do the heavy lifting? Yes, it is true that rich and powerful men have convinced many of them that “feminism” (e.g., women) is the problem, but the mere fact they have misidentified the source of the problem doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there.

    In actual fact, pretty much all of these problems are the result of patriarchal cultural assumptions.

    Yes.

    In other words, they predominately originate with and are sustained by men and are usually based on men’s assumptions about gender roles and masculinity. And thus the primary solution to them is changing the behavior and attitudes of men, more than of women.

    No. THIS is the VERY point of departure. Patriarchal cultural assumptions are ALSO sustained by women and are ALSO based on WOMEN’S assumptions about gender roles and masculinity and these are ALSO (sometimes, but not always) based on women’s self-interest (other times, they are against women’s self-interest in the aggregate; but individual women can and do support patriarchy for reasons of individual self-interest).

    So, YES, feminists are right to criticize assumptions about gender roles and FEMININITY, but if they do not also rightly criticize gender roles and masculinity, they will be rightly held as hypocrites.

    1. 28.1
      Richard Carrier

      Class is not relevant to anything I have discussed. Classism, for example, does not warrant sexism or misogyny. As Ally Fogg has repeatedly said, “wrong target.”

      As far as women participating in maintaining patriarchy, that’s true, but still subordinate to the fact that change has to begin with men, precisely because patriarchy privileges their point of view. Women can’t change men. Only men can change men.

      (I’m not sure why you think feminists don’t criticize problematic conceptions of masculinity. They do that routinely, and are almost the only ones doing that.)

  29. 29
    Richard Carrier

    I have added to the article two new links:

    There has since been a 20/20 segment and an article in The Daily Beast.

    1. 29.1
      Richard Carrier

      And now an article at The American Prospect (which I have also added).

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