Editor’s note: Elizabeth Hobson was recently interviewed by feminist Colette Fountain of ‘Screenshot Media’ (no, we’ve never heard of the website either), who proceeded to misrepresent both Elizabeth and the Honey Badgers in a train-wreck of an article titled, ‘Inside the anti-feminist world of Honey Badgers, where women put men’s rights before their own.’ For the sake of accuracy we are publishing the full, previously unpublished interview with Elizabeth below.
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Colette Fountain: I guess to start with it would be interesting to know how you came to be involved with Men’s Rights Activism and then how this led to your position with J4MB? Were there particular studies you read that changed your views on gender or anything like that or was it just gradual?
Elizabeth Hobson: How long have you got? Gosh… I’ll give you a lot of information and you can edit as you like (but can I please publish Q’s and A’s in full on WokeFather?).
I was raised pro-feminist (as is standard). I remember turning to my Mum when I was new in high school and gushing over a Germaine Greer comment from Newsnight or somewhere where she said “When people say I’m not a feminist, I say ‘Well, what are you?’” – which I thought tremendously cool. Germaine Greer, as an aside, I have a respect for. I think she’s misguided in many respects but there are times when she is startlingly right. She has a real skill for listening to women. Changes her mind quite appropriately sometimes. Let Neil Lyndon quote her when all of her crazy sisters said no and made a new father bingerewrite scores of direct quotations into paraphrase…
I went to an all girls school, we had good times, but we were taught half truths and full fictions about our British Suffragettes. Feminist indoctrination. Still pro-feminist not fully fledged at this point in my life.
Then my partner and I discovered that we were having a baby. Now, we had been party people… But the whole pregnancy thing was magical and we just wanted to be together. So we’re at home not out and I get into… Stories about natures mothers… And feminism. Which I imagined was about equality and sisterhood.
It quickly became clear it wasn’t. It was equality when it suits and they’re total cliquey bitches, almost to a feminist (male and female).
Then I’m just totally puzzled online and I start bumping into anti-feminists and MRAs and THEY are about equality! THEY are about truth, and sex peace, and comradeship! And this diverse community is so supportive. We all go through stuff in life and I could not have a better bunch of people who all have my back, and I hope they feel the same about me too!
I practised debating and writing for a few years and then I noticed a post on the J4MB blog looking for a volunteer to do communications work. I applied. We chatted, and it was very engaging, and then he asked what experience I have with that work and I told him that I had absolutely none. He said that “That’s more than anyone else who’s applied so far, you’re hired!” Mike is a really warm and funny, totally idiosyncratic, work horse of a man. A really good friend. I stepped down from the party after I’d been working very intensively in the care sector for a few months and realised that I just couldn’t commit regular enough time to be able to contribute appropriately to the party. But Mike and I have shared some awesome interview hosting duties recently, a British politician and lioness – Ann Widdecombe, Don Lofendale, a retired lawyer who has some incredible insights into the abortion situation. And more! They’ll be aired as part of The International Conference on Men’s Issues 2021, online.
I’m now working for a living and writing for a great site called Woke Father. Pulling together information for my ICMI speech which is provisionally called Sins of Eve and is about how women’s misbehaviour is like totally whitewashed and goes relatively unpunished for various interesting reasons (including anti-male sexism). Plus a very exciting project that a dear friend and a mentor of highest regard to me is founding that will become clear before too long…
Colette Fountain: Looking at the manifesto for J4MB, quite a few areas are covered so if you could expand on where your own beliefs lie that would be great because from my research, Men’s Rights Activism seems to cover everything from men’s mental health to people opposed to women having the right to vote so it would be helpful to know where you lie on that scale and which issues you feel need to be tackled first?
Elizabeth Hobson: Jesus Colette, kudos for the great questions but I’m gonna be here all night!
OK. I call myself an anti-feminist gender equality activist but I’m also:
A passionate classical liberal who values freedom
A pragmatist who wants to work out answers that work for as many people as possible
A non-gynocentrist who refuses to accept the fact that so many boys – beautiful, magical, innocent boys – look set to grow up into a world that values them less because of their sex, who have fewer choices because of their sex, who are more harshly treated in many arenas because of their sex
An individualist who smiles wryly whenever someone points out that the smallest minority is an individual. I don’t go in for radical identity politics. That’s why I stopped self identifying as an MRA and started calling myself a gender equality activist. I am naturally interested in gender politics, maybe it’s not natural maybe it’s accidental! But I am interested and I am utterly concerned about women as much as men. But… The the correction of the host of disparities that disproportionately disadvantage men (and boys) in our society would be a rising tide lifting all boats.
A libertarian who is very live and let live, loves tolerance and peace – non aggression principle, hell yeah!
A WGTOW – like a MGTOW but W.
Kids’ relationships with their fathers post separation I want fixed right now. That is the most messed up shit. Dads need kids, kids need dads.
I would like babies protected – both in the womb and from unnecessary surgical procedures on their genitals.
I would like an end to the Sex War based on the fact that the truth, as history shows, is that men and women have loved each other, struggled together, been partners in every positive development in ever! We need gratitude to them; and hope and trust shared by us as sexes.
Colette Fountain: How would you say the majority of activists get involved with / discover the movement. I’ve seen several Reddit threads, as well as on sites like twitter or do you find most people congregate on places like A Voice For Men, or at the conferences you have organised? Have you noticed a difference in US and UK based groups?
Elizabeth Hobson: Another great question. I’ll have to think… It’s a real mix you know. You have women like Karen Straughan who NEVER fell for the bullshit. Women who fell hook line and sinker and really resent it! (Usually) older men (and often their female family members too), where there has been state sanctioned abuse – parental alienation, false accusations, lack of support escaping abuse – against him. Younger men who are just plugged in and switched on.
I found my tribe on Twitter. It’s all over the internet though. If anyone has a natural curiosity or a puzzling experience that doesn’t accord with prevailing feminist narratives, they’ll stumble across one or another of us. Into the rabbit hole.
I don’t know that I do see a difference between UK/US actually. In fact when I look for something in my mind I come across similarities. There’s a lot of patriotic Americans for their part. And a lot of admiration for our brethren living in the only country ever founded on philosophy (how gorgeous is that?). I have two copies of The Constitution and Bill of Rights. I’m sitting in front of a Dali painting based on the birth of America. There’s a book actually… Naomi Wolf, terrible feminist but, great on matters of liberty and conscience. It’s called ‘End of America, Letter of warning to a young patriot’. She wrote it during the presidency of George Bush Jr. She was seeing things happening – Guantanamo (she’s been there), suppression of the free speech… – and, being of Jewish descent, she says that she just kept thinking “They did this in Germany” to herself. And that prompted an exploration into the steps that would-be dictators take when closing down an open society. She returned to the subject under Obama (it got worse) and now with our Covid-busting-civil liberties-busting thing that we have going on, it’s worse again. They always invoke a terrifying internal threat – all the better if it is genuine but can be hyped… Anyway, it’s important work and I hope that you can excuse my detour! I suppose perhaps what I’d like you to take from that is that being in this community has encouraged me to be open minded. I don’t open a book by a feministt hoping to hate it. I liked Black Widow. And Ladykiller by Lush. I rate various feminists – Greer in her way, Paglia, Patai/Koertge, Roiphe, Sylvia Pankhurst (to go back in time considerably). We are like that. We have a culture of genuinely listening and arguing in good faith with good evidence. It’s super cool. UK/US have different interesting projects happening of course, but I don’t think there’s a huge difference in character.
Colette Fountain: Obviously Men’s Rights Activism is often seen to be in direct opposition to feminism, something which has led to many supporters calling themselves anti-feminist, yourself included – what do you feel is the reasoning behind this? Why is there such hatred for feminists, especially within the female members of the Men’s Rights Activist community? Do you not feel that supporting Men’s Rights is in opposition to your own rights? How do you feel about the elements of the community which are perhaps more violent towards women, particularly within more extreme groups like incels with the recent Plymouth shooting – do tragedies like these affect your belief system at all or change how you feel about the group as a whole?
Elizabeth Hobson: I reject your hypothesis – speaking personally, I don’t “hate feminists”, I hate feminism. Around a decade ago I identified as a feminist and I don’t hate myself for that. It was the most reasonable course of action based on the information that I had to hand! The information was bad, and I hope that my understanding of gender politics has improved with my knowledge, and I hope that in some small way I can contribute to other people’s journeys out of feminism. Maybe that’s part of why I specify that I’m anti-feminist publicly. I do find that people often hear that and react. They may have their interest or their anger peaked – but either way it can start a good conversation! Another part of why is my truth-addiction! I was fiery as a girl but I had a major depressive episode after a miscarriage in the early twenties and I shut off from communicating completely. I was like a mute, except for my eldest son who was toddling at the time. I crawled out with the aid of honesty. I started talking to people, and it helped. And I got absolutely addicted to telling the truth. It’s a great feeling!
Regarding rights – I’ll define a couple of things in a personal way to make sense of what I will say to you. The kinds of inalienable rights that I believe in – that essentially boil down to being protected from predation and being free to live your life however you want to as long as nobody else is hurt – are absolutely strengthened by the concept of sex-blind justice. The kinds of rights that women have in practice (which I would call privileges): choices (reproductive, financial, professional), to be treated with compassion within services, an unlimited veto over father involvement in our children’s lives… My ideas are in opposition to them, yes. “Equality would be a step down for women” – but also lift us up to contribute to society more positively and protect the men & boys who we love.
We are a peaceful movement. Or a collection of peaceful movements who respect each other and therefore do collaborate. We largely seem to have very similar analyses of the problems between men and women today. We do have different ideas about how to solve them and I doubt that any of the prevailing narratives within any of our brethren movements are entirely right or wrong. Portsmouth was an absolute tragedy. So awful. I’m waiting to hear more before I draw conclusions about what potential motives and triggers may have driven Jake Davison to do what he did. Those events didn’t change my perspective at all though, no, I absolutely question the claim that he was radicalised in incel forums and I firmly believe that incel communities do more good than harm. They’re messy. They are messy. But they’re supporting each other and I hope a lot of them are growing as a result.
Colette Fountain: Finally it would be interesting to know what you hope for the future of activism and gender equality – what would an equal future look like in your ideal world and how do you think this can be achieved?
Elizabeth Hobson: I’m really impressed that you asked that question. I think it is fundamentally wrong to engage in any kind of activism or advocacy without a clear idea of what it is that you want! It’s a question I’ve asked to many feminists and not really got a proper answer. What I want is something like this:
When there is an assumption of 50/50 shared parenting in the Family Courts.
When there is an equitable amount of money and effort expended researching cures for ‘male’ illnesses and ‘female’ illnesses. When there are male contraceptives.
Paternity fraud – prevented with compulsory paternity tests and punished proportionally if discovered later (pay costs plus therapy eg)
When men are valued by society, and we see as much virtue signalling about that as we do regarding women’s inherent value- and as little misandry as we see misogyny.
When we have equitable services for male victims of DV.
When men and women receive equal sentences for equivalent crimes.
When we get rid of affirmative action quotas and let people succeed on the basis of their merits.
When the Women’s and Equalities Committee drops the ‘Women’s’ from their title and the UN Women’s department is either dropped or equal led with one for men.
When we embark on concerted efforts to make the world safer for men, as well as women.
When each sex is protected from infant genital mutilation.
When ‘forced to penetrate’ is classified as ‘rape’ in the criminal justice system.
When men have a right to opt out of fatherhood and the legal responsibilities.
When the non-feminist sector is given a representative voice in politics, academia and the media.
When feminist ideology is no longer written into law and public policy
Something like that! I just want for men and women to have equal rights, opportunities, choices and treatment. And I think we could really have a good time if we did. Onwards and upwards!