I am not a part of the men’s rights movement, nor am I a men’s rights activist. I link to a few of their blogs and forums because, unlike feminists, men’s rights activists discuss issues that concern me. The sites I link represent, in my opinion, the balanced views of the men’s rights movement.
This does not mean that there are no other balanced views out there. However, there are also a lot of hostile views on men’s rights blogs, and I do not want to associate with people like that. There are plenty of movements that began as anger-driven machines. Few of those movements managed to get anything done until the more reasonable members stepped forward.
However, as much as I think vitriol and hostility have no place in rational discussion, I understand these men’s anger, particularly the anger directed at feminists.
The dynamic between the men’s movement and the feminist movement is akin to that of a younger brother and older sister. The older sister spends her youth demanding her place at the family table and asserting her power. She often does the latter by bullying, harassing, and abusing her younger brother. This goes on until one summer the brother stands up for himself. He copes with his sister’s actions and fights back, and now he has size on his side. His sister thinks twice about slugging him in the face. Of course, the moment the younger brother dishes the abuse back, the older sister complain to their parents, something her brother could never do. And of course, when the sister tells, she conveniently leaves out all the crap she put her brother through. He is the bully. She is the innocent victim.
This is the refrain one hears from feminists about men’s rights activists. As cruel as some of those men can be, they have nothing on feminists. Feminists have spent 40 years going for men’s throats, saying, writing and singing all sorts of horrendous things about men and boys. Feminists often reserve their most cruel and insidious comments for those concerned about men’s issues. For every men’s rights activist who resorts to insults out of sheer hatred of feminists, there are dozens feminists doing the same thing towards men, particularly anyone concerned with men’s issues.
Of course, few feminists admit this. Many feminists regard themselves as innocent victims of MRA vitriol. It never occurs to any of those feminists that perhaps the men’s rights activists who launch into them might do so because they detected the undercurrent of abject hatred of men that those feminists try to hide.
fannie, I think it’s a classic case of false equivalence, as if MRAs and feminists are both equally right and wrong. It’s like saying the Klan and the NAACP have two different views on race relations. It adds respectability to the indefensible. That’s not to say, as I always point out, that MRA anger and pain isn’t real. But it’s woefully misdirected and involves a staggering refusal to take responsibility.
When Blanchette asked if all men’s rights activists were akin to Klansmen, Schwyzer responded with:
No, not all MRAs are like the Klan. Then again, I’ve yet to encounter an MRA who won’t call me (either at his own site or at mine) a “mangina” or worse. I haven’t met one authentic MRA — not one — who won’t turn to ad hominem sooner or later. They’re not worth debating when they do that. I don’t talk about “small dick gamma males in their mama’s basement festering with sexual resentment”, but I get plenty of anti-feminist invective hurled my way with the tacit complicity of every leading MRA out there. (Okay, one exception: Glenn Sacks, who is often denounced by other MRAs for being too moderate and too civil.)
Those who argue (as Zeta and others do) that feminism is a system of oppression are indeed akin to those Klan types who argued that the end of Jim Crow was a kind of anti-white racism. I think the analogy stands.
This is not the first time Schwyzer stood by an indefensible comment. However, it is one of the few times that Schwyzer dropped his false sincerity and revealed his actual opinion of the men’s movement. As I stated in a comment which may or may not appear on his blog, in order to counter insults against him, Schwyzer threw out one of the most insidious invectives and ad hominems imaginable against people he disagrees with because they think it is wrong to rape boys, deny fathers visitation, or screw over boys in school. All his comments do is demonstrate that the “misdirected” anger at feminists is on target. He tries to present himself as reasonable, yet his views and positions are neither reasonable or defensible. If they were, he would not need to resort to invectives and ad hominems.
His comments make me feel much more justified in my distrust and repudiation of feminists. The average men’s rights activists has no real effect on the outside world. Schwyzer, however, is a tenured professor whose articles get published in local, national, and international papers and magazines. He has been interviewed by media outlines. His comments reflect part of the mainstream feminist view, and that does effect the outside world.
Granted, I do not care about Schwyzer’s opinions. What irks me is the dishonesty he engages in. Yes, some MRAs attack him, some of probably out of anger or hatred. Yet how many do so because they see through the veil of false sincerity and catch that when Schwyzer talks about men what he really means is “those Klan types”?
In that sense Schwyzer is very much like the older sister who bullies her little brother and then plays victim when he gets her back. The little brother is not right to bully his sister, but the older sister is not right to bully her brother, nor is she right to pretend that her brother’s actions come from nowhere.
Schwyzer does not have to agree with or like the men’s movement or men’s rights activists, but he is no position to claim the moral high ground.