The courage of building bridges

The theme of our upcoming October conference on men’s issues, ICMI 15, is Building Bridges Between Men and Women in the 21st Century. On the surface this may sound easy but the truth is harsh:

Bridges are a bitch.

Whether you are trying to cross a chasm, a treacherous sea or a raging river – or all three – the task of bridge-building is daunting and the cost is enormous. The weather, the tides, the floods – and even if you build a beautiful, state-of-the-art structure, unforeseen factors like harmonic failure can kill your bridge catastrophically.

Yet as difficult as it is to build a physical bridge, building a social / political / ideological bridge is harder and more fraught with pitfalls for the brave souls that try it.

When you reach out and attempt to build such a metaphorical bridge to an opposing force, your friends and allies will view you as a traitor to your cause and the opposing force will see you as a charlatan, a dilettante or a dupe – or perhaps all three.

  • Neville Chamberlain, the ill-fated British Prime Minister on the eve of World War II, attempted to build a bridge of peace with Germany’s Adolph Hitler. Chamberlain is remembered with scorn as a naïve politician who kowtowed to a tyrannical maniac – Wikipedia still (as of this writing) uses Chamberlain as its introductory example of odious political appeasement.
  • Paul Elam, founder of AVfM, was trying to build a bridge between married men and MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) when he once remarked casually that he would not judge the claims of married men who felt as if they could aspire to be MGTOW. Fueled in part by a few disgruntled former associates of Paul, the MGTOW community at large turned on him and fractured with some factions reacting harshly against Paul and AVfM even though AVfM consistently denigrates marriage as a wise or even viable choice for men and supports MGTOW without reservation.
  • Karen Decrow, who served as president of the feminist flagship NOW from 1974-1977, was disowned by feminists when she tried to build bridges into the men’s rights community in the early 1980’s. As recounted in an article in The Atlantic, “Just as the Supreme Court has said that women have the right to choose whether or not to be parents, men should also have that right,” she told The New York Times, calling this “the only logical feminist position to take.”
  • Warren Farrell, also a former NOW official, fell from feminist favor when he reached out to men by noting the ways that women have power –  and exercise that power over men.
  • Charlotte Taft*, a firebrand feminist who became the innovative, utopian and courageous longtime director of the Routh Street Women’s [Abortion] Clinic in Dallas, was dumped by feminist abortion referral services when she dared to build a bridge to anti-abortion groups with language designed to build understanding and conciliation.
  • Emma Watson’s “He For She” effort to build a bridge between men and feminism gave lip service to men’s issues but pressure from feminists prevented her campaign from openly recruiting women to help men – their official pledge, taken by over a quarter of a million male sycophants, reads “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.” [emphasis added].

One can recount these cases of bridge builders endlessly. The highest of motives – ensuring peace, resolving differences, saving lives, solving problems, building understanding and coöperation – are all worthy, worthwhile goals that can crash and burn catastrophically when good intentions run into the meat grinder of human greed and history.

And no one is greedier than a feminist.

Much of the activism of AVfM comes from our confronting and exposing the greed, hatred for men, lies, rape hoaxes, and malevolence of feminism (malevolence that is sometimes deliberate and sometimes unwitting). Despite their facetious rhetoric to the contrary, feminists work to thwart efforts to address men’s issues at every turn:

Recent attempts by feminists to reach out to men are seen by men as scabrous, insincere attempts to bully men into compliance, and are attacked by other feminists as the acts of traitors.

Feminists for the most part are just too cowardly to risk alienating their base by making genuine, heartfelt appeals to men. A great example of this is Lindy West’s obtuse bridge entitled “If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?, which was an orgy of man-hate and victim-blaming of men for all the shit that feminists do to them. This is the essay that “Big Red” Chanty Binx plagiarized in famous videos of her feminist “love” for men.

Jessica Valenti argued that the act of women hating men is inconsequential to bridge building because men are too callous to be affected by women’s disapproval: “If a woman hates men, it has approximately zero effect on any given man.” Seriously, that was her point.

At the other extreme, feminists like Christina Hoff-Sommers (arguably a FINO, feminist-in-name-only) who rely on evidence and support evidence-based men’s concerns, have their books actually burned by feminists.

Another promising (and now former) feminist is newcomer Alexandra Blue, who made a wretched anti-male video “Dear Men” but quickly changed her perspective in the aftermath. She is now planning on making a video about men’s issues and is asking for both donations and video submissions by men telling their own stories.

Of course, because she is a bridge-builder, she is still catching shit from both sides of the divide. I like her, I find her convincingly sincere but I do not completely trust her.

Bridge building is a bitch. It can work, Nixon DID go to China. It can also fail, and fail horribly.

I admire the courage of Paul Elam and AVfM in their choice to try to build bridges between men and women at the next ICMI conference. I’m enthusiastic to be one of the speakers there.

But man, our work is cut out for us.


*Author’s note. I knew Charlotte Taft personally during the 1980’s. We have had no contact since then.

For any that are confused: no, I am not advocating building bridges between men’s rights advocates and feminists. Never in a billion years. Feminists are useless; that would be a bridge to nowhere.


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