Lost in translation. That is what Tom Matlack, the founder of The Good Men Project, stated about his online magazine’s foray into addressing the men’s rights movement.
In a comment on a feminist blog he stated:
As the founder of The Good Men Project I greatly admire and thank you for our candid response here. Honestly we have been under attack by the MRA for some time now […] and rather than shy away we decided to go right at the problem and try to do what we set out as our mission: spark a rational conversation about what it means to be a good father, son, husband, worker and man for the benefit of men and women alike, not to mention our kids.
If that was their mission, they failed at it in a spectacular fashion. Little conversation, rational or otherwise, occurred. At best a handful of men’s activists and feminists bantered back and forth, more or less ignoring the rational and moderate comments.
This failure began with the introduction article. As Lady Gyoo notes on A Voice for Men:
The goodmenproject.com claims to be taking an in-depth look at the men’s rights movement. I don’t think so. Far from it. I think it was more like insulting the movement, softening the audience with indirect slurs and then throwing them into a pre-arranged firing squad of those who hate them.
Just imagine that the “good men” project was doing a piece on introducing the Black Civil rights movement back in the 60’s and 70’s. Would they introduce them with this sort of statement:
“It would be easy to write these Black activists off as nuts and not give them a second thought”
Or maybe something like this:
“Once dismissed as the looniest and fringiest of the lunatic fringe, Black civil rights groups have “gone mainstream.”
“imposing their views on our national conversations around race and a host of other social issues.”
“Black civil rights advocates can be easy to dismiss as crackpot extremists. Perhaps best known for descending like outraged locusts on southern towns… ”
I remember from the days of the civil rights movement that some media did indeed respond to the activists in a similar fashion. We now see them clearly as bigots. Somehow it is easier to see when framed with race instead of sex.
But, it gets worse. Just as they introduce the Black activists with slurs and offer some writings from Blacks on their civil rights issues the host then says that they want to also offer a counterpoint. So what do they do? They ask George Wallace and a KKK member to offer their ideas about Blacks protesting for their civil rights.
Does the host want a fair introduction and an in-depth look?
I don’t think so.
I do not agree with Lady Gyoo’s KKK analogy. I just took a feminist to task for doing the same thing, and I will not support it coming from a men’s rights activist. It is not right, not fair, and not even accurate. Feminists have done more than their fair share of harm, but to my knowledge none of them burn crosses in men’s yards or drag men behind cars to their deaths. People need to stop with the hyperbolic language and insults. We can disagree without taking it to the extreme.
That said, Lady Gyoo has a point. What happened on GMPM is akin to Fox News inviting gay rights activists to discuss gay marriage and then allowing Bill O’Reilley, Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck to comment on the gay rights movement. That is not an in-depth look or a rational conversation. It is just an attack on a group of people who thought they would get a fair shake.
So many questions come to mind: where are the prominent faces of the movement, like Warren Farrell and Glenn Sacks? Were they even asked to participate? Why were people openly hostile to the men’s movement invited to participate?
I want to give Matlack and his project the benefit of doubt, but those questions and the absence of their answers make that difficult to do.
Matlack goes on to state in his comments:
A lot got lost in translation as the worst MRA advocates have tried to hijack, and to some extent succeeded, the debate. As a result we have begun to think about revising our commenting policy and generally think more carefully about how we approach the most controversial topics. That said, we are glad we did it. If not us then who? We can’t be afraid to address the most difficult issues surrounding manhood, whether the MRA crowd, porn, race, if we are going to get anywhere.
Except, the worst men’s rights activists did not hijack the debate or try to. Both feminists and men’s rights activists behaved badly. There are just as many insults slung at men and men’s rights activists. There are just as many ad hominems coming from feminists. If Matlack wants to revise the commenting policy, fine, but it is rather unfair to blame that on one group of jackasses while overlooking the other.
To an extent, I get it. Matlack and most of the people working for The Good Men Project are feminists. As a result, there are certain issues and perspectives they do not care about or support. They are going to play to their base. However, if you want to talk with people you disagree with, you must extend to them basic respect. Last week’s feature was not that.