There has been an infographic floating around concerning the men’s right subreddit. The graph shows that most people on the subreddit are white, teenage male conservatives. Wil Wheaton, of Star Trek fame, made this comment about it:
Survey of /r/mensrights turns up pretty much exactly what you’d expect.
White, male, 17-20 years-old, and disconnected from reality.
Nice burn. Except when one actually reads the infographic it also says that these men are have no religion and support marijuana legalization, two very non-conservative things. A little digging revealed that the person who created the survey found that it did not go as planned. Rhumar writes:
My original plan with this survey was to submit the same survey to /r/Feminism, wait until the responses petered out, and then analyze and compare the data. This was not going to be used to prove anything, as there are many biases which could very well have an effect on responses, but rather it was an exercise simply conducted out of curiosity.
Unfortunately, it appears that the /r/MensRights survey was brigaded with bots, or maybe even some very dedicated trolls. Regardless, the results for the survey of this sub are clearly compromised. I apologize for the disappointment.
Here are the results of the /r/feminism survey. Frankly, I was going to make my own nice result graphics but the whole brigading thing has left me disappointed with a lack of motivation for this thing anymore. I fixed the “issues” graphic though. [link]
Factors which could potentially cause bias in the responses include, but are not limited to:
Survey was not a random sample (data may not be representative of the sub as a whole)
Possibility of individuals completing survey with the intent to skew the data
What people would possibly want to skew the results of an anonymous survey about r/mensrights in order to make men’s rights activists look bad?
Other feminists followed Wheaton’s lead. Amanda Marcotte wrote a piece of Raw Story full of her usual misandrous nonsense. She linked to Stephanie Zvan’s post about it. Zvan attempted to explain the survey was inaccurate yet accurate because she played with the math to get a number she found acceptable, a number that conveniently confirmed her view that most men’s rights subredditors are teenage white boys. She ended with this:
So the average Men’s Rights subredditor is a very young, white, irreligious man who leans libertarian to conservative except as the law affects him directly.Do we actually know that they’re atheists when they show up from there to try to shut us down? No, we don’t know, per se. But we can do the math.
Below is my response (I am posting it here because Zvan, like all open-minded atheist feminists, moderates the comments on her blog and only allows certain comments through):
That assumes the initial survey was not trolled or highjacked by bots either. The men’s rights subreddit is frequently trolled by feminists and progressives, so it would not come as a surprise that any survey posted there would end up skewed. What makes the results particularly questionable is that if you read the posts and comments made by the average men’s rights subredditor, they do not match the results of the survey.
More so, the initial men’s right survey received three times the responses than the feminist version of the survey, despite r/feminism having a much larger audience. That makes no sense at all, unless one allows for the possibility that people–in this case most likely feminists–trolled the men’s rights survey to skew the results.
That in turn makes it impossible to determine the actual make-up of the men’s rights subredditor, let alone men’s rights activists in general. That will not stop anyone from stereotyping them. As shown here, many people are more than willing to engage in confirmation bias. And I agree it far easier to think that someone pushing for recognizing men’s issues is a whiny non-religious conservative 17-year-old white boy than a 41-year-old black agnostic libertarian man with a legitimate complaint.
Yet that does not make the results true. Given the situation, one cannot trust any of the survey results (and to be fair, the only reason the feminist version is somewhat trustworthy is because of the low response that compliments the comments and posts one reads in r/feminism). One would need an unbiased survey, one better controlled, in order to determine who makes up the audience of r/mensrights. We do not have that.
That does not mean feminists have to take men’s issues seriously. No one is suggesting that you consider it important, for example, to acknowledge male rape victims. You do not have to, and as a male survivor and advocate I would prefer feminists stay out of that conversation because male survivors do not need more victim-blaming, shaming, and guilt-tripping. However, I do think feminists should be careful about so gleefully rallying to a clearly inaccurate survey.