“I don’t claim to have a particular political stance. I’m coming from a position of curiosity. I’m in the process of watching your YouTube videos after seeing you featured in VICE’S ‘women of the men’s rights movement’. I will mention I believe civil rights should be equal across the board. I don’t know enough about any of the ‘movements’ to sympathize, however. What I’m curious about are your thoughts in light of Elliot Rodger and his manifesto. I have, since reading his manifesto, noticed a few men being able to relate to the sense of isolation, even at times entitlement to having a girlfriend. Understand, this was how the man I was speaking with chose to describe his personal feelings. I’m wondering if you feel as though what happened with Rodger could have been prevented? Where do you believe his inner dialogue departed from the men’s rights movement? I understand that associations have been drawn between his rampage and men’s right movement, I don’t intend to imply they’re the same thing. I just don’t understand how this happened and I’d like to know your thoughts, I guess I figured you’d have an opinion on the subject.”
Okay, the first thing to do is to familiarize you with the Men’s [Human] Rights Movement and its goals. What our movement is after is two-pronged:
- Equality in the language of the law
- Equal application of the law
As for the first point, we’re almost there. Many feminists claim to be fighting for “equal rights”; however, there is no right under the law that I can think of that men have and women do not (can you?), while there are some rights women have that men do not.
There are a handful of remnants of old laws that need equalizing, such as the gendered concept of dower rights in Michigan and elsewhere, the lower official retirement age of women in the UK, and the like. More importantly to many people in the MRM is unequal protection from infant genital cutting/mutilation in the West. In fact, some legal and ethical scholars have described the ban on female genital mutilation as unconstitutional as long as male genital cutting/mutilation is legal. Another glaring inequality between men and women under the law is mandatory Selective Service Registration in the US for men alone, and mandatory military service for men alone in other countries. While feminists fought for the “right” of women to serve in the military, the obligation of women to do so has never been adequately addressed in most countries where men are required to serve.
More sticky and difficult is unequal application of the law. One example of this is the “ungendering” of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which should, in theory, offer male victims of domestic violence the same protections and benefits women enjoy. Up until a couple of years ago, the wording of this piece of federal legislation was gendered, and men were specifically excluded from its protections and benefits in more than 60 passages. It was only through a procedural technicality regarding funding and different levels of government taxation that the old law was halted midway through reauthorization and a new, gender-neutral one was introduced. Women’s groups, such as the National Organization for Women, fought hard to keep the language in the act gendered, despite entreaties from LGBTQ groups to reconsider how the language of female victims and male perpetrators failed to serve their community.
So now we have a mostly gender-neutral VAWA. Problem solved, right?
Unfortunately, no. Despite scads and wodges of evidence indicating that violence between intimate partners as well as child abuse are not gendered problems, much of the policy around them, and the implementation of services, is, in fact, gendered. The paradigm used to train police, social workers, counselors, lawyers, judges, medical personnel, guardians ad litem, and anyone else who may become involved in a domestic violence case is based on a disproven (disproved before it was even named!) model called “Duluth”—a brainchild of feminist academics and activists. This model characterizes domestic violence as a microcosmic reflection of “the patriarchy,” wherein men batter their wives in order to assert patriarchal dominance and impose female subordination. It is the most widely used model in the world, despite it describing the smallest minority of domestic violence cases (in cases of one violent partner battering a non-violent partner for, say, burning the toast, women are up to twice as likely as men to be the sole perpetrators).
So we are working from a faulty model when it comes to everything from training judges to counseling perpetrators and victims.
In addition, our cultural values tend to prioritize protecting women from violence and harm while considering most violence against men commonplace and unremarkable and female violence against men justified at best, hilarious at worst.
Predominant aggressor policies (not laws, mind you—just “policies,” so less subject to scrutiny) profile men through the use of sneaky language. They don’t require “the man” to always be the one arrested—they simply require the larger, stronger, heavier, less visibly distressed partner to be considered the predominant aggressor and be subject to arrest. This is no less discriminatory against men than, say, poll taxes and literacy tests at the ballot booth were discriminatory against Black and poor voters in the first half of the 20th century.
On top of that, despite equality under the law, the discretion allowed judges, police, and others has caused men to routinely be more harshly treated by the criminal justice system than women at every stage.
For the same crimes in equivalent circumstances, women are on average:
• less likely to be arrested
• less likely to be charged with a crime
• more likely to have their charges downgraded or dismissed
• less likely to be prosecuted
• less likely to be convicted if prosecuted
• more likely to be convicted of a lesser crime if convicted
• less likely to be sentenced to incarceration
• will serve a sentence less than two-thirds the length a man would, if sentenced to incarceration
All of these criminal discounts also apply in domestic violence incidents—in fact, they tend to be amplified in any situation where a man and a woman find themselves in a conflict under the aegis of the criminal justice system.
If women and men were treated equally by the criminal justice system, and by enforcement policies, the ratio of men to women in prison would not be the current 94 men for every 6 women.
Yet just as people used to do with Blacks to justify the status quo in the 1930s, the mainstream looks at the over-representation of men in prison as an excuse to continue discriminating against them, or even to exacerbate that discrimination.
The “logic” goes like this:
• 94% of people in prison are men
• given that, it’s obvious that men are more prone to criminality than women
• men’s propensity toward criminality justifies treating them more harshly than women
• 94% of people in prison are men
• wash, rinse, repeat
There is no law requiring that women receive these discounts when they enter the criminal system, or that men should be more harshly treated, just as there was no law requiring a woman to have a male cosigner when she applied for a loan in the 1950s—there was simply no specific law or legal precedent that prohibited it until the women’s lobby pushed for one.
Of course, it’s more than feminist policies that have led to this disparity in how men and women defendants are treated when they commit crimes—there are social and psychological biases at work as well. In fact, up until very recently, feminists had the rest of society convinced that women were more harshly treated in the criminal courts than men, despite hundreds of years of historical data proving otherwise. People believed them because we are predisposed to notice harms that affect women, sometimes even when they aren’t there, and to be outraged by them.
Okay, I hope that I’ve adequately explained what kinds of issues the MRM is all about. It’s about the equal treatment of men and women under the law and about addressing some of the social prejudices that prevent equal treatment of men and women even when the laws are nominally gender-neutral.
If you want a really egregious example, look no further than the laws against all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the Western world: regardless of how damaging some types of FGM can be, it is illegal in every modern nation to so much as prick a girl’s genitals with a pin to draw a drop of blood for the sake of religious tradition (even if that might prevent some parents from taking their daughters overseas to have a more invasive and damaging type of FGM performed). However, it is perfectly legal to remove half the skin and 60% of the nerve endings of a boy’s penis (without anaesthetic, mind you), which results in 200 to 300 deaths per year in the US, and very few people consider this a violation of equal protection legislation, let alone the basic human right to bodily autonomy. One can, in fact, find people openly expressing their sexual preference for men who have been subjected to this and their disgust at the appearance of the genitals of those who have not. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey can also shill for cosmetics companies that use cells from amputated male foreskins in costly anti-wrinkle creams without mainstream censure.
ANYWAY. The above is the kind of thing the MRM is about. It’s not about getting girls to like you, or not being able to get girls to like you, or how girls not liking you means you’re a failure as a man—even if these are valid concerns and considerations for men in the modern era.
The MRM is not so much about whether you can get a girl to be in a relationship with you—it’s more concerned with what she can do to you, with the assistance and full connivance of the government, once she is in a relationship with you.
It’s not about getting guys laid—it’s more about getting them some rights regarding what their life will look like if there’s a pregnancy or a breakup or an accusation of some sort of abuse or misconduct if and when they get laid.
And in the more philosophical sense, it’s about convincing men they shouldn’t be basing their self-worth on whether they can get a girl to like them or sleep with them. Despite the divisions within the wider “manosphere,” there’s a reason why MRAs and Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) are on more friendly terms than either are toward Pick-Up Artists (PUA).
MGTOW is about throwing off the yoke of female social and sexual approval (and the male policing of it), while PUA is about scoring poon (among other things). I personally have no problems with either group, but the larger MRM is much more at odds with the latter than the former because getting laid means pandering to what women want. And feminists? Feminists want to call Elliot Rodger an “active MRA,” despite not one word in his manifesto about either feminism or men’s rights. Despite no connection to anyone but a couple of PUA channels and a forum devoted to hating PUAs.
And here is where we come to that dastardly metaphor: blue pill vs. red pill.
Whether you’re an MRA, a PUA, or a MGTOW, you’ve taken the red pill. You see things for what they are. You’re not going to believe it when someone tells you that women are more harshly treated by the criminal justice system. You’re not going to believe it when you’re told that the men that women get all soggy for are respectful gentlemen who treat them reverently. You’re not going to believe it when Obama says, “77 cents!” or “1 is 2 many, so step up, men!” You’re not going to assume that the woman who wants you to propose, who will be handed a loaded gun by the state and the equivalent of diplomatic immunity when you marry, won’t use it if and when she gets bored with the relationship. You aren’t going to believe that random hookup when she says she’s on the pill because you know what will happen to you if your trust is misplaced. And you know there’s no way to win the game—you can be an asshole and get laid and have feminists call you “rapey,” or you can be a decent guy and be taken for a chump, with the entire weight of the state ready to milk you for all you’re worth.
Elliot Rodger was blue pill all the way, with a boatload of racism, classism, and mental problems thrown in.
He stumbled across the PUA community and rejected their advice to get his shit together, “man up,” and give women what they respond to rather than what they say they want because his classism wouldn’t let him be anything other than the “perfect, magnificent gentleman.”
If he’d stumbled across the MRM or MGTOW communities, they’d have told him to stop measuring his self-worth by his sexual conquests (or lack of them), that women are not goddesses, they shit and fart and burp and the rest just like men do, and to stop feeling guilty and sinful for watching porn, and I expect he’d have rejected that advice too. We’ll never know because, as far as I know, he didn’t even know the MRM existed.
What I do know is that the MRM is a non-violent movement and they would have tried to help Rodger rather than let him fester in his confusion and resentment. And I’m almost positive that he would’ve thought we were losers and crybabies, even as he himself wallowed in self-pity until he broke himself (and six other people) on the altar of his ideals.
He didn’t view women as objects to have sex with, as feminists in the mainstream have repeatedly claimed, blaming “male entitlement to women’s bodies” while decrying those who talked about mental health as “excuse-makers” interested in shifting blame from the perpetrator. If he did see women that way, he’d have been a 22-year-old rapist, not a 22-year-old virgin. He viewed women as the yardstick by which he, as a man, should be measured. He viewed them as his judge and jury, the arbiters of his happiness and self-worth, goddesses who held his masculine identity in their hands, to be stroked or crushed as they saw fit. And he viewed himself as someone deserving of godhood but unable to pass the test of it.
He had a god complex and couldn’t attract the affection and sexual attraction of a hot, White, blond goddess to validate him. The fact that some of his confusion and concerns are mirrored in those of the young men you know is … well, it’s beside the point. Or, at least, it’s beside this point.
The vast, vast, vast majority of men, even the staunch blue-pillers, are not Elliot Rodger. The vast majority of men do not feel entitled to women’s bodies, and the few who do don’t tend to die virgins. The vast majority of men face certain forms of discrimination and prejudice that simply don’t affect women, most of them exacerbated by race, sexual orientation, and other factors outside of their control. Many of those forms of discrimination are at their worst when men come into conflict with women—in cases of divorce, parenthood, violence, sexual assault, and the like.
And feminism, for all of its talk about “equality” and “justice,” has done little but lie to us. Like the feminist MPs insisting to backbencher Philip Davies (linked above) that the justice system is gender-blind, despite all evidence to the contrary, and like the feminists who instituted the Duluth Model years after the first studies were published demonstrating gender symmetry in domestic violence, feminism has misled us eight ways from Sunday.
Most men are just trying to make their way in the world, trying to find and hold on to relationships and a sense of self in the face of a million conflicting messages. They hear feminists say, “Men should be able to express their feelings; ‘Boys don’t cry’ is a ‘patriarchal norm,'” and then in the next breath, those same feminists accuse MRAs of being “whiny manbabies” and tweet pictures of themselves wearing shirts that declaim “I bathe in male tears” the moment a man objects to his treatment in society.
You said in your follow-up email that you don’t know how all this stuff got politicized, but the MRM is not the group doing the politicizing. We are trying to redress inequalities that have existed for centuries, now that our environment no longer justifies them, and counter the feminist narrative that keeps men in their roles (stoicism, duty, support, protection) while simultaneously freeing women from any and all traditional expectations (chastity, fidelity, obedience, dependence).
The women’s movement has been politicized for over 150 years, since the Declaration of Sentiments blamed men as a collective for the blanket oppression of women (over the objection of a substantial percentage of women, FYI).
That was the opening salvo in this gender war. A manifesto of bullet points all beginning with the word he but that were about “equality” and not about “blaming men.”
The purest testament to the forbearance of men and their love of women is that it has taken 150 years for them, as a collective, to get pissed off enough to return fire.