When the truth offends
By Rod Van Mechelen
Giving gratuitous offense is one thing; telling our truth is another.
Poking a literary needle into the pimple of our discontent
1995 Bellevue, WA- Sometimes I worry that I'm too outspoken. That we need to be careful of giving gratuitous offense. During the past few months, I've received many angry calls in response to what has been said about us in newspapers and on the radio.
Aside from the fact that the mainstream media often misrepresents us, their complaints still got me to thinking. "Are we crossing line, offending simply for the sake of being cute and clever?"
I worry about these things. I'm a sensitive guy, after all, and indecision, as any politician will tell you, is the key to flexibility.
It was in this frame of mind that I got smacked vigorously in the chops with an intellectual gauntlet. Well, actually I attended Camille Paglia's lecture at the University of Washington.
"The problem with feminists today," she snapped, "is they never confront men; all they do is get in their groups and whine, whine, whine." (Well, yes, but what about all the aforementioned feminist-types who left me nasty voicemail?)
Then, when someone asked if she was concerned about offending the elitists and not being taken seriously, she guffawed. Like, it's really worth worrying about.
"Today in PC Anglo-American society, everybody is stuck on words." (Well, yes, they do seem a little too sensitive, but ...)
"What has happened to the boldness of the sixties?" (Boldness is one thing, but it's no excuse for insensitivity.) "It is good for women to have men swagger." (Yes, but masculinity is poison to a man's careers. If a man wants to get ahead, he has to sublimate his sexuality. Channel it. Suppress it.) "When you suppress (working class) issues, they re-emerge on the right." (Uh, well, ... uh ...)
"There's a way that women don't grow up sexually in America." (Oops! Run that by me again.)
"I am in favor of moderate sexual harassment guidelines. ... However, built into my proposals are strict penalties for false accusations." (This makes sense!)
A couple of years ago when I and other members of the Gang of Six (sometimes known as the Network to Eliminate Vaginally Elitist Rabble, or NEVER -- "It's N.O.W. or N.E.V.E.R.) were first conceptualizing The Backlash!, we thought of it as the press corps for the men's/fathers' rights activists and as a medium for boldly denouncing androphobia and proclaiming our right to be proudly, shamelessly male. Then something happened. People began taking us seriously, and so we began to take ourselves seriously, too. Too seriously. (That's "French," as my father would say, for "worrying about what others might think.")
But now, Paglia has challenged me. Smacked me in the chops with a higher standard. Giving gratuitous offense is one thing; telling our truth is another. We are poking a hot literary needle into the pimple of our discontent. If any are offended by that, too bad! Thanks, Camille, I needed that.
Rod Van Mechelen
Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ Backlash.com. He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.