Your reputation is what other people say about you.
While you, as a mature adult, don’t care what strangers think, we do live in an existential nightmare where potential employers and vigilantes can and will look you up and get their first impression of you from other people. For that reason, your identity must be protected in our interconnected world.
Of course this makes participating in politics awkward, because adopting a political label means associating with controversies around that label. For this reason, identifying with a label is a serious decision with real consequences. People will write demonstrably false lies about you, and there is no lie about your character so laughably ridiculous that your political opponents won’t spread it.
AVFM’s primary audience is young men aged 18–24, but I conjecture that they seem to be the least active demographic if we consider activism away from the computer. Note that I said “conjecture,” since I cannot find any data to prove this directly. I can only point to data showing that whippersnappers tend to limit their political activism to actions performed on the Internet using social media (which comes with the obvious benefit of a pseudonym).
As the youngest man on staff at AVFM, I have not been around long enough to establish the social and financial support that will keep my career and my future secure. I infer that the risks involved with my circumstances are probably what keep other young men like me behind their aliases.
The fact of the matter is that men’s rights is still a hotbed of controversy that can ruin reputations. But a 30+ year old adult with a stable job and good friends has much less on the table than a young man still trying to get secure footing in the job market. No one wants to hire a rape-advocating, misogynistic chronic masturbator, which is what people will most likely call young men who dare to speak up for themselves.
I want to encourage more men aged 18–24 to come out and stand for their own rights.
You have heard some variation of the following statements in passing:
- If you believe X, you are a Y. (conditional association)
- You are X. (declarative association)
Both of these statements are always uttered by someone trying to speak for others without permission. As I insinuated earlier, labels carry obligations. If someone labels you, they are indirectly assigning you obligations attached to the label. Learn to interpret this as disrespect towards you as a participant in politics.
Obviously, I aggressively forbid anyone to tell me “If you believe in equality, you are a feminist” because I don’t want to be anywhere near that fucking label. But to some people’s surprise, I also won’t even let people label me as a libertarian or as a MRA (note the missing “H”), even though my values are comparable to what the labels currently represent.
Do not let anyone label you without your consent, even if the label seems to describe you at first glance. Only you get to label yourself through your actions and your values.