The Gender Libertarian David vs. the Feminist Goliath
By Rod Van Mechelen
When feminists aren't cheering the Slut Walks and naked Femen protests, they turn into prudes and use the power of the pointed finger to shame and blame men into silence for being men. Their purpose is power and control, and toward that end they scold, whine and huff when we stand up to them.
A Personal Donglegate
2013 Olympia, WA - Long-time followers of The Backlash! know I have a unique talent for stomping through feminist mine fields. Unlike well-paid comedians (some of whom troll my content for material), I don't do it on purpose. It's a special gift that just comes naturally, though I'm innocent of any evil intentions.
About a year ago I ran afoul of this when I sent an email to one of my uncles, a couple cousins and one of my best friends. Here's what it said:
This afternoon I went to (a local bead store) to buy some bolo tie strings. After snaring the strings I wandered around, picked up a couple more items, and went to check out. A very attractive young woman with long black hair zipped past, stepped behind the counter and told me to step up. In addition to her great genes...er, tight jeans, she was wearing a VERY low cut...something, I didn't notice. Shirt, blouse, whatever, it was a nuclear top: there was danger of fallout! Later it occurred to me that it was a little slutty for work. Whatever, I think I'm in love! ;) Too bad I'm old enough to be her grandpa!
For my main email account I use the venerable but increasingly outdated Eudora. (I keep hoping Mailforge will evolve into a fully functional replacement, but so far it won't even import my Eudora mailboxes and the link to the Support page for Windows users leads to an Error 404 page, so I'm not holding my breath.) I have hundreds of people listed in my Address Book and dozens of group aliases with anywhere from a few to a few hundred recipients, and like most people I forget the actual addresses for each entry. So when I sent out that mildly PG-rated comment of the kind you can find on early-evening comedy shows I had long since forgotten (if I ever really took notice of it) that one of my cousin's addresses went to both him and his wife.
Like Edmund Burke I have a ribald sense of humor, but just about everybody has more sex than I do, and this one particular cousin has a reputation in the family for not being particularly faithful in either of his marriages. So had I remembered that he and his wife share the same email (perhaps so she can monitor who he corresponds with), perhaps I would not have been surprised when she fired back an email bubbling with self-righteous indignation.
Not the sort of thing I put up with. Moral outrage over humor says more about the morality--or lack thereof--of those who are upset than it does about the people toward whom they direct their wrath. In my opinion. So I brushed her off and removed their address from my list. (And since I keep the family updated on developments that are of concern to us all, most of them want to be on my email list.)
But several months later when I tried to speak to my aunt, his mother, she echoed her daughter-in-law's rage. This, from a woman whose late husband was one of the raunchiest men I have ever known. He was an affable, likable guy with an avid interest in all things lewd. The first time I saw female pubic hair was on a pin up in his shop, and I have a very clear memory of him and my aunt laughing with glee as they tried to goad my mother to "do a little strip tease" one morning over breakfast of clam fritters after we got back to camp from digging razor clams. For this woman to become so indignant over a comment that was mild compared to the kinds of things I had heard her joke about over the years was, candidly, disgusting. She lost a lot of my respect that day.
The recent ruckus over Donglegate reminded me of that.
Not About Donglegate
But I'm not writing today about Donglegate. Others have done and are doing a great job of commenting on that. One of my favorites, thus far, is from Karen Straughan, AKA GirlWritesWhat:
Donglegate: A Tale of Two Innuendos
I have nothing more to add to that. What I want to write about today is an almost-insightful piece from Alice Marwick, in Wired:
Much has already been discussed about the “Donglegate” incident, from how everyone lost (both were fired) and what Richards should have done instead, to the very dangers of asking what could have been done differently at all. The resulting brouhaha is the kind of zeitgeisty moment that only happens when inflammatory topics combine: sexism in tech, social shaming, and the potential of social media to generate intense and unwanted publicity. - Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists, by Alice Marwick, Wired, March 29, 2013
Marwick makes one or two very good observations, her best being: "MRAs and feminists have completely different, often contradictory, worldviews." Unfortunately, she mentions that only to drop it. Before and after she makes several typically feminist comments. Here's one of the goofiest:
While feminists believe it’s important to call out people for sexist remarks to address structural gender inequality, another group believes calling out sexist remarks is just another example of women exaggerating harm, censoring reasonable behavior, demanding “special rights” beyond what men have. - Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists, by Alice Marwick, Wired, March 29, 2013
Her underlying assumption--as it is with all of the dominant flavors of modern feminism--is that anything to do with male sexuality is inherently sexist. An attitude that, in itself, is sexist, as it condemns the biology of men. When people of one race condemn people of another race for a racial characteristic, most of us recognize that is racist. Genetically, there is a greater gulf between the sexes than there is between the races, yet feminists presume to judge the biology of men and to instruct us to become more like women.
To be fair, it's not just feminists. Male chauvinists have done it, too. In My Fair Lady, for example, Henry Higgins laments, "why can't women, be more like men!" But even then it was intended to be humorous rather than demeaning, while the feminists do and intend to demean men.
That reveals one of the differences between feminists and the Mens Rights Movement (MRM): feminists hate, we do not. Another is that it's only called the "Mens Rights Movement" because it started with men reacting to feminist excesses. But in reality, the MRM is not just about men's rights, but about women's rights, too, because we took over when the feminists dropped the ball on real gender equality.
Feminists Refuse to Engage
Marwick correctly observes that there isn't much of a dialogue going on between feminists and what we used to call Men's Rights Advocates but are now called Men's Rights Activists, or MRAs:
MRAs and feminists have completely different, often contradictory, worldviews. “Lewis’s Law” (coined by journalist Helen Lewis) holds that “the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” So when we read such comments, we see lots of people arguing but not really engaging. They’re like two ships passing in the night, talking past each other... - Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists, by Alice Marwick, Wired, March 29, 2013
Rather than asking why, she follows the typical feminist path of lecturing men on why and how we need to change. But had she done a little investigation she would have found thousands of examples of MRAs reaching out to attempt to dialogue with feminists, only to be smacked down. One notable example of this was in 2012 when Paul Elam and John Hembling and Karen Straughan, among others at A Voice for Men invited feminists to a debate. None responded. And that's pretty much how it has been since the mid-1990s.
Starting in the 1980s but really taking off in the 1990s, men representing real gender equality began meeting feminists on radio and TV talkshows to debate the issues. In almost every instance the feminists looked and sounded like fools and bigots. So they stopped.
In politics when an incumbent holds the upper hand and is challenged by a scrappy opponent to a debate, the incumbent has more to lose by engaging in debate than their opponent, so they often refuse. That's what the feminists did. Since at least the mid-1970s feminists have held the high ground in the media and politics. Representative Patricia Schroeder, for example, once bragged that all she had to do to get legislation passed in the House was to claim that it would support women.
In the media and legislation feminists have the upper hand, but in the 1990s with very few exceptions--feminist lawyer Gloria Allred is a very potent speaker and excels at debate, plus she was not above threatening to file a lawsuit to silence her opponents--they began to lose every debate with MRAs. So they walked away, and continue to refuse to engage in any direct debate or discussion. When MRAs go onto feminist forums--such as the Feminist group on Reddit--they are immediately banned from participating in discussions for making even the most reasonable and respectful hints of disagreement.
It's not the MRAs who are refusing to engage, but the feminists, because feminism is a hate movement, and the MRAs represent the real movement for gender equality.
MERGE: Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality
Participants in the Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality, or MERGE, represented primarily by MRAs, have tried and continue to attempt to engage in reasoned discussions, but feminists respond with attacks, accusations, and refusals to engage. Backlash author Susan Faludi, for example, lied about Myth of Male Power author Warren Farrell, and then refused to appear on talk shows with him to discuss that or anything else.
Meanwhile, for decades the Family Courts have routinely given primary custody to mothers while socking fathers with sometimes crippling financial obligations.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett wrote in A Lesser Life: The Myth of Women's Liberation in America that "every revolution requires its polemics since oppressors are usually deaf to reasoned whispers." There was a time for feminist polemics, but the polemicists took over and turned feminism into a hate movement a long time ago, and there's no reasoning with hate.
In Women and Love Shere Hite wrote that, "When you can't get through, after a long period of time, out of frustration, either you take it out on yourself and become suicidal, self-destructive, or you challenge the society -- and one way is to become 'terroristic.'" The women and men of MERGE don't want that, but despite the press the MRM is tiny compared to the feminist movement, and most of what we see comes from individuals who are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore."
Their anger is often justified, but until feminists writers, pundits, politicians, the courts and the media start paying attention to and begin working with the proponents of real gender equality, which is inherently Libertarian in nature, this will continue to be a one-sided fight with the outgunned Gender Libertarian Davids on one side, and the Feminist Goliaths on the other.