When hate isn’t hate

Vice columnist Kane Daniel wrote a piece about his infiltration of a men’s rights group. It appears Daniel’s intention was to show men’s rights activists as raving lunatic misogynists. Instead, Daniel demonstrated what bad journalism looks like. He wrote in his piece:

I, like most people I know, am indignant at the very idea of men’s rights activists. A semi-organised group of men who believe the sinister spectre of feminism has inveigled itself into the fabric of culture, society and media. A shadowy illuminati who have succeeded in making men an oppressed majority. If you’ve ever had a friend with some, ah, unusual ideas about Jews, then just imagine them talking about women rather than the chosen people and you get the tone.

(Quick note: according to current population numbers, women outnumber men, so men are not “an oppressed majority.)

This is a common refrain from feminists and progressives. They see no validity in men’s complaints about feminism, so in an effort to justify their dismissal, feminists and progressives equate them to racists. This was Daniel’s first step in telling the reader that they need not take these men seriously. The next was to challenge men’s rights activists’ manhood:

The idea of a bunch of little man babies screaming about the evil militant feminists stealing their rights feels galling. Acting as if the Ghosts Of Radical Feminists Past swoop into their homes while they sleep soundly under The Matrix Reloaded bedsheets and magically castrate them while they dream of a Doc Marten stamping on a man’s face – forever.

Note how Daniel shifts the focus off of feminists in general and blames “radical feminists”. This too is a common tract among the left. It allows them to claim that only a tiny set of feminists harbor the hostile views men’s rights activists detest. This is done just in case someone can present evidence of feminists engaging in such behavior.

Yet despite considering men’s rights activists “little man babies” whining about nothing, Daniel wanted to “try and understand something about them outside of their din of blog posts and YouTube videos”.

His decision: infiltrate a Sydney-based men’s group. Daniel created a fake name and burner email address, scoured the forum on A Voice for Men, found an invitation for an in-person meet-and-greet, and contacted them. The men who organized the meeting bought his deception and allowed him to attend.

He noted that the men were concerned about protecting their identities, and specifically asked that no one wear anything that revealed their political views. He also wrote this:

Because many people would be meeting in real life for the first time, the group was identified by a Rubik’s Cube placed on the pub table. A nod, perhaps, to constant claims of being the voice of rationality and logic.

That unnecessary dig gives a hint of what Daniel took from the meeting. He found the introductions awkward, but charming. He also discovered the issues that led these men to the men’s rights movement:

Then, it took the feel of an AA meeting like any you’ve seen in a Hollywood film. People went around in a circle introducing themselves, how they came to the movement and their place within it. This is where things got unsettling. It became immediately clear the vast majority of these men were deeply wounded. There were stories of schizophrenic mothers, abusive wives, lost or estranged children. It’s hard not to imagine their point of view as a way of dealing with this trauma. It’s, perhaps, easier to rail against institutions they feel prosecute and punish their shared manhood than deal with the idea that they suffered an injustice — but that injustice may have been meted out capriciously or through the failure of individuals rather than large-scale systems. I, last man to speak, mumbled something about feminism going too far and being just there to learn. Which seemed to suffice.

Note how Daniel dismisses their experiences and their understanding of their experiences. What happened is not really wrong. They suffered “an injustice”, but the failure, not fault, lies with individuals not large-scale systems.

So when there is a system in place that is set up to prevent abusive parents from keeping children, and that system tends to allow mothers to keep custody despite being unfit, the failure lies with individual judges, not the overall family court system.

When there is a system in place that is meant to stop domestic violence, and that system turns a blind eye female-perpetrated violence because most police departments have written policies telling them to arrest only men when called to domestic violence situations involving heterosexual couples, the failure, not the fault, lies with individual officers, not the overall police system.

When there is a system in place that is meant to address child custody, and that system tends to favor mothers over fathers regardless of the fathers’ level of participation, relationship with the child, or greater financial standing, the failure, not the fault, lies with individual judges, not the overall family court system.

This is at best spurious. The very scenarios these men describe imply a fault on the part of the systems meant to govern those problems. A person could slip through the cracks. Yet to have millions of men experiencing the same set of problems across the world suggests there is something larger at play. Even feminists, despite their misandrous callousness towards male suffering, see this and incorrectly attribute it to “The Patriarchy.”

Daniel goes on to mock the men’s complaints about the difficulty of instituting change. He complains about their comparison of feminism to communism. He bemoans that the men did not condemn the “more rabid, troublesome edge of the movement”. Granted, perhaps Daniel’s understanding of the conversation was skewed because:

It was a rambling, unfocused discussion made less clear in my head because of the riot of anxiety generated by my deceit.

That deceit did nothing to change his opinion. He states, “[…] looking around the table, they looked exactly how I thought they would. Self-awareness has its limits, I guess.”

More concerning to Daniel was:

[…] how easily anti-feminist rhetoric came out of my mouth, how easy it was to lock into a hateful groove – even if it’s a groove you want to be out of as quickly as possible. How the inertia of feeling accepted into something can start to make any opinion sound credible. How the subterfuge came easy, how simple it is and furrow a brow and listen to someone share their pain. How real twinges of empathy stirred within yourself. Which makes me think these men need a support group more than they need a movement.

That is often the final tract of the feminist argument. That happens when feminists see that the men complaining about feminism are real people with real feelings and legitimate complaints. Rather than accept this, however, feminists continue to dismiss it, this time chalking the men’s feelings up to being wounded.

What Daniel describes is not empathy. It is not even pity. It is guilt.

He feels guilty about conning these men, as he expected them to be crazy and found that they were quite sane. He expected their objections to feminism to be unreasonable and found they were perfectly reasonable. He expected to see hate mongers and found wounded men.

That does not work for Daniel. He wants men’s rights activists to be sexist, fedora-wearing jerks, so he continues to argue that they were hateful without presenting a single example of the men saying anything of the sort.

Remarkably, most of the comments on Daniel’s piece criticize him for his spurious attacks. The general argument is that these men are clearly hurt, and rather than support them or at least present them as human beings, Daniel engages in invectives and ad hominem arguments. In short, he behaves exactly like men’s rights activists state feminists behave: cold, callous, and hypocritical.


20 thoughts on “When hate isn’t hate

  1. Great article. Something tells me mangina ‘Daniel’ was first in line to sign up for the ‘HeForShe’ campaign. I wrote a blog post about that campaign and endedup with 85 issues I had with it… I could of probably hit 100, but you have to stop at some point…

  2. “What Daniel describes is not empathy. It is not even pity. It is guilt.” Ah, yes. And it’s interesting that he could not at all see nor readjust given that little signal. It should help you pay attention to something, adjust course.

    I find compassion for everyone to be a great teacher (that includes my “enemies”). What’s so sad about our politics today is that compassion is so absent or politicized by feminist notions of priviledge.

    “Given the fact that I had to defend the whole idea of concern for one group of human beings, let alone the notion that we should treat others as we would want them to treat us, I would say that we are entering a new dark age.” –Paul Nathanson

  3. I kept wanting to give the writer a break, as though he was setting up his ultimate revelation with his unfounded bias.


  4. This is where I’ll be perfectly honest, I have come across a lot of racist non-sense with individuals in MRA/MRM circles. It crowds out, many times, the very legitimate points that are made in regard to this societal imbalance in regard to who gets heard and who doesn’t. It can also be said, however, that in order to not deal with the reality that study after study has shown that women are equally or more violent than men in relationships, women’s groups, and those who support them, level the charge of racism.

  5. This is where I’ll be perfectly honest, I have come across a lot of racist non-sense with individuals in MRA/MRM circles. It crowds out, many times, the very legitimate points that are made in regard to this societal imbalance in regard to who gets heard and who doesn’t.
    Yes there is such nonsense. However I can’t help but notice that anti-mra types have a tendancy to simply state “MRAs are like white supremecists” with absolutely zero evidence.

    In that article he says, ” If you’ve ever had a friend with some, ah, unusual ideas about Jews, then just imagine them talking about women rather than the chosen people and you get the tone.”

    But as far as I can tell he doesn’t even bother linking to an MRA expressing such sentiment to show that it is similar to anti-semitism.

  6. He deserves credit for doing actual reporting, but unless you gather new information with an open mind there’s little point to it. I can’t imagine a reputable journalism outlet allowing a reporter to go to a meeting of, say, Irish people to see if the Irish are really “backward, ignorant brutes who would rather get drunk and fight someone than look at them.”

    He writes “how easy it was to lock into a hateful groove”. Well yeah, you already proved yourself to be a contemptful person with the previous portion of your article.

  7. Since we’re sharing personal experiences, I’ve seen very little racism in the MRM. Certainly, A Voice For Men (my main source) is a veritable MRA rainbow coalition, with articles by black Americans as well as writers from India, Iran, and South America.

  8. And women are in a unique position of power just by virtue of being the majority of the electorate. In a democratic society, if all women agreed that something should be made law, they will elect a politician who promise to bring such law by sheer virtue of being the absolute majority of the electorate, and there is nothing short of violent revolution that men could do to prevent it. It doesn’t matter if the politician who passed the mandatory arrest and predominant aggressor policies are male, or if the police applying them are male. If, as a male, I lived in the US, had a girlfriend and she bludgeoned me with a baseball bat, breaking several of my ribs while I ran away and called the cops, all the male politicians would not change the fact that I would be the one sitting in jail for having been beaten half to death with a baseball bat. If all women agreed men’s role is to be sex slaves, you can bet I will have a collar around my neck. If all women agreed I deserved healing for being a victim of rape, you can bet I will have access to rape support group. In both case, short of taking up guns, there would be nothing men could do to oppose it. In a democracy, a group comprising more than 50% of the electorate holds all the power by default, and only internal disagreements can prevent them from using it.

  9. In a democratic society, if all women agreed that something should be made law, they will elect a politician who promise to bring such law by sheer virtue of being the absolute majority of the electorate, and there is nothing short of violent revolution that men could do to prevent it.

    That is untrue. Women make up a slight majority of the electorate, and while that gives them a certain amount of political power, women still lack the ability to enforced any of the laws they want passed. They would need a group of people to do this, and it is difficult to think most male politicians would enforce something that would turn them into slaves.

  10. Who said they had to elect a male politician? In the (totally hypothetical, in France there’s around 70 million people, and there’s no way you’d get 35+ million people to all, and I do mean *all* agree on anything (and let’s not even talk about more populous countries) short of science fiction style stunts such as wide-area mind control) scenario that you’d get 35+ million people to *all* agree on the same agenda, wouldn’t some of them be politicians and couldn’t the group vote for them? The only thing preventing such a stunt is the difficulty of getting 35+ million people agree on things as extreme as that. Of course, if you meant that after the politics had their way, they would have to actually apply the laws, I did leave the option of violent revolution open in my hypothesis.

  11. Elisa, I assumed your hypothetical would start from the current situation with most politicians and law enforcement officers being male. If this were the case, women could pass a law yet have no means of enforcing it.

  12. Well, if we start from the current situation, and take my unrealistic hypothesis that you’d somehow got 35+ million people to agree on a single agenda, here is what would happen. If I remember right, in France it would take at most 6 years to replace every politician through democratic process. Less if you off some of the key ones, thereby forcing a reelection, but let’s assume full democratic process here. Once you have full control of the politic sphere, replacing the entire police force gets pretty easy: impose harsher penalties for sexual harassment that include jail time. Reform the prison system so that prisoners can be more easily isolated, and give more power to the guards. They’re just prisoners, no one will care. Introduce progressively harsher guidelines on sexual harassment in every government work until pretty much every interaction a male cop/soldier has with a female counts as sexual harassment. Then, the process accelerates at an exponential rate: the more female cops/soldiers there are, the more potential you have to interpret every action the male ones do as sexual harassment, thereby jailing more and more of them that you have to replace, which would be female of course, which means there will be a greater proportion of females even… The key here is not go too fast, you want to boil the frog alive, not spook it into jumping away from the fire. Justify it with bogus stats. In two years, you’d have arrested practically your entire police and military force, not at once, but over time, and make sure each cop/soldier you introduce as a replacement is a female. In 8 years, you’d have replaced the government, the army and the police. You can now enforce the laws until either an armed revolution succeeds into taking the power back or your alliance dissolves through infighting or diverging goals. Of course this all depends on getting 35+ millions people out of 70 millions to agree on that agenda (including mothers, sisters, cousins who have a son, brother or male cousin they care about, social workers and mental health professionals who choose their line of work out of personal conviction and have worked with abused boys, among others), so good luck actually pulling this off right now. That is what women could do if they all agreed to. The only thing in a democratic society preventing them, as the absolute majority of the electorate, to actually pull such a stunt is the fact they do not agree on it.

  13. “Look, I admit that I am biased against the idea of MRAs, and vitriol is dripping from every word, but you should still take me seriously for some reason.”

    I’ve seen similar articles from Vice before, but I recall the tone of the comments being more anti-MRA than pro.

    @Chester: Please don’t use the term “mangina”. At the very best, people will twist it into misogyny.

    @Peterman: “He deserves credit for doing actual reporting, ”

    You flatter him.

  14. Elisa, the problem with this concept is that men and boys would still have the means to fight back. They could overthrow the government with force. Banning them from having access to weapons would not work because many of them already have weapons. A friend of mine wrote a story following a similar concept, although it was set in a medieval-like period. He concluded that the only way for women to wrest control on the scale you mention would require killing most males, enslaving the rest, and then enacting the harsh penalties you mentioned. He reasoning, which plays out in reality, is that large populations of disenfranchised men with no hope of changing their social status would rebel.

    This would happen in the scenario you envision. You could not leave half the population that obviously disenfranchised and expect them to sit still.

  15. SYABM, I think the reason the tone was different is because many of the people commenting are men’s rights activists or sympathetic to the movement. There may also be a few people who saw the article as transparently biased, which it is, and questioned it.

  16. Toysoldiers, I will quote myself:

    “You can now enforce the laws until either an *armed revolution succeeds* into taking the power back or your alliance dissolves through infighting or diverging goals.”

    Yes, I accounted for that, and explicitly stated that it would only last so long before collapsing.

  17. Yes, I accounted for that, and explicitly stated that it would only last so long before collapsing.

    I forgot about that. However, I am not sure how possible it would be to create the society you mention without force and violence to begin with. People do not give up rights easily, even when done over a period of time, without a very convincing argument. I cannot see the “women need special protection that results in men being punished harshly” being a convincing argument. Even the passage of the “yes means yes” law in California faced immediate blow back and will likely face worse once someone tries to apply the policy.

  18. “Yes means Yes” was just too blatant, too soon. It is obvious for anyone who thinks about it that this law protects no one. People using roofies, violence or blackmail are not affected in the slightest by this law. Good luck pinpointing a perpetrator you don’t remember if he was careful not to leave DNA on you (yes, most date rape drugs are popular because they mess with the process of forming memories and leave “missing time” to the victim, which means it is actually a feature of the drug and not a bug), or some violent person hiding his face and altering his voice if he doesn’t leave DNA evidence. As for blackmail, the reason you play along is because you don’t want that person to do what they threatened to do, and reporting someone who blackmails you means your secret will be out (if someone was willing to drop the hammer if you wouldn’t have sex with him/her, the person will be willing to drop it upon being reported to the police). If you were willing to take the chance in the first place, you wouldn’t have played along, and “Yes means Yes” changes nothing to either of these facts. In fact, legislators blew it big time on that one, because I am sure that a law criminalizing every sex out where the woman “feels” afraid of what “could” have happened to her if she refused, regardless of any actual threatening behavior that could be observed, would have met much less resistance and would have accomplished just about the same result (just check the predominant aggressor policies in the US. They checks for intangible things such as “who looks the most distressed”, and I can’t see much backlash against that, despite the fact that as soon as justice allows anything intangible as evidence it opens itself wide open to abuse.). The fact that Canadian legislators are considering including “femicide” (the killing of a woman by a man) as a worse crime than plain regular murder in criminal law and I can see very few people protesting it (I see some of them, but I haven’t seen mass protests) makes me doubt that justice and fairness overrides willingness to protect women at the time being. I’ll watch to see how it plays out, but frankly, I won’t hold my breath.

  19. Some of the people in charge are white. Some of them are male. ALL of them have more money than anyone has a right to. Income disparity is the patriarchy, not patriarchy.

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