Fear and Loathing

I have become accustomed to accusations of hatred of women by people, who are either intellectually lazy or dishonest or confused about what I say in my blogging and writing. I have always seen these accusations as a sort of surrender from people I’ll call my philosophical opponents.

In debate over ideas, accusations of bad character, bad hygiene or bad ju-ju are nothing new for debaters unable or unwilling to address what’s actually being argued. I have thought too that the difference between a rational argument and groundless insult of character was glaringly evident to observers. When certain self identified radical proponents of a view I find unethical have habitually heaped accusations on me, ranging from sexual impotence, personal unattractiveness and deviant behavior – I’ve dismissed those insults and accusations, confident that those actors only painted themselves into an increasingly narrow corner of implausibility.

However, as many people are already aware, a high profile organization with an established reputation as proponents of human rights and opponents of bigotry and prejudice has recently announced that a movement I am a part of – along with a collection of other movements and organizations, advocates or promotes hate. This was the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Thankfully, several respected publications and channels have publicly objected to the recent pronouncements of the SPLC – confirming, for me anyway, that I have not woken up the only sane human being on a bizarro planet of the demented. Included in the protest were the American Spectator[1] and Reason Magazine[2] who both called baloney on the SPLC’s new list; Reason-Magazine doing so in several articles including the perfectly titled Fearmongering at the SPLC.

However, the repeated justification for inclusion of writing within the men’s rights movement in a list of hate groups is that such writing frequently takes an openly oppositional position to an ideology calling itself, in various forms and flavors: feminism.

If you believe feminism represents a movement seeking equality of human rights between women and men, then a movement in opposition to it might indeed seem misogynistic. Misogyny is, of course, the most common argument against human rights advocates arguing that men  are mistreated by the nation’s family courts, sentenced unequally in criminal courts, characterized as either buffoons or villains by most media, and variously marginalized, shamed, silenced, and told to shut up, man up, and get back to protecting, providing, and dying when convenient.

Arguments for fair treatment in the courts, the workplace the education system and elsewhere are, by this logic, transmuted in oppositional commentary as hatred of women.

This is why in my own writing, my answer to accusations of misogyny (the hatred of women) is to explain, as to a child, that a group of people (women) and an ideology (feminism) are not actually the same thing, and that opposition to an ideology, particularly one based on hatred or violence – does not translate to hatred of women.

However, this all depends on a shared understanding of just what is encompassed by that most flexible of labels: feminism. If a reader equates feminism with women’s rights, then opposition to it is logically an argument against women’s rights. Clarity of understanding of just what anybody means when using the F-word (feminism) is hindered by the reality that widely different philosophical positions all use the word feminism to identify themselves. To any proponent of any of these ideologies – they likely appear so widely different that shared use of the feminist brand name presents no problem, however, to an outsider, and subscriber to none, the differences can appear superficial at best.

This is not simply a problem of which is the real feminism – as all these variations are arguably real, but also a question of who is at the politically potent centre, and who occupies the fringe of this thing we all rather sloppily call feminism. This can be answered in two ways. I know a number of men and women who self identify as feminists, and whose activist goals, although not identical to mine, point in the same direction. That is to say: the pursuit of equality of legal rights and opportunities in employment, education, representation, and protection from harm under the law. Their goals are largely the same as mine, and although they might not use my nomenclature – for clarity in this discussion I will call them humanist feminists. Another group, or set of groups, also calling themselves feminists have a decidedly different list of objectives and these goals are – from my point of view – monstrous.

The reduction of men to a tiny fraction of the population through eugenics. The eradication of human rights for “male animals”. The de-coupling of “human society” from “male society” to create a feminine utopia free from “male predation”. Male targeting infanticide, sexually selective abortion and so on.

These feminists call themselves radical, and it’s easy to take that word as a synonym for absurd. However, the usage intended is based on the classical Latin verb radicalis, which means “of roots”.

Radical feminism then can be better understood by calling it a feminism pursuing replacement of the fundamental root and branches of the basic tenets of human society. The proponents of this particular flavor of the ideology being similar in character to fundamentalist adherents of an Abrahamic religion, substituting the writings of Dworkin and Solanas for the holy writings of early desert dwelling religionists.

Because of the rabid and often overtly violent tone of radical feminist rhetoric, the public conception of radical feminists has been that they were fringe elements, barely functional, unemployable wing-nuts, living in cat-filled apartments, and subsisting on food stamps; or naive, but equally fanatical freshman women’s studies students who after graduation and contact with the real world – we all expect will grow up and stop being such idiots.

These radicals are obviously at the fringe, and “mainstream” feminism is the equality-seeking human rights movement which a number of my friends advocate.

That’s what I used to think too.

In November of 2011, the news aggregator web site Reddit.com published a link to a radical feminist blog posting, calling for male-targeted eugenics, infanticide, direct violence against male children, and male-targeted sexually selective abortion. This by itself wasn’t enough to draw community-wide attention and dismay; from lone-nut bloggers this type of violent rhetoric is not so unusual. However, rather than eliciting condemnation – the comment thread on this article took the author’s suggestions of eugenics and hatred and doubled down, amplifying the enthusiasm for violence, murder, infanticide and psychological and physical abuse of children.

The savagery and hatred demonstrated in the comments thread led some human rights activists to inquire just who was advocating such a violent and hateful direction for the movement claimed by some to be nothing except “the radical notion that women are people.”

When it turned out that the article’s author was Simon and Schuster published novelist and former lawyer Pam O’Shaughnessy – and that the commentators taking calls for eugenics and murder to the next level of violent-and-crazy were tenured professors, child care workers, teachers, civil rights activists and other professionals internationally pre-eminent in their respective fields – a re-evaluation of radical feminism’s apparent occupation of the fringe was necessary.

What came to light next was a collection of Swedish feminists producing and performing a stage adaptation of Valerie Solanas’ SCUM manifesto for Swedish school children, and advertising their performance with a realistic staging of the execution-style murder of a newspaper reading man, followed by celebratory dancing and the text message “do your part”.

The play, staged for school children, based on Solanas’ published rant which in the opening paragraph calls for the extermination of the male species.

The incandescent hate which characterized Solanas’ work was adapted for school children and advertized with the simulated murder of a man by 6 giggling women. Based on on-line Swedish language reporting, translated using Google – the play features on a Swedish national holiday called “Hetero Hate Day.” If I were properly multicultural, I might suggest the holiday be made more inclusive, extending it to a full weekend with the second day being Homosexual Hate Day. Unfortunately, I can’t really get behind hating people for their sexual preferences – or even for their arrangement of reproductive organs. I also can’t muster the energy to give much care for the levels of melanin in somebody’s skin, or whether they worship the appropriate diety. People with peanut allergies though, I really hate them. Passionately and with vigor.

After writing about Swedish murder cheerleaders and hetero-hate advocates, I, along with several other writers at AVfM wrote about a movement within the Australian civil service to craft legislation which appeared to have the purpose of stripping human rights from men, and propagandizing the factually false narrative used by the grievance industry that all domestic violence is male on female. This narrative is of course false, as the peer-reviewed research shows.[3][4][5][6][7] In domestic violence, “women are as violent or more violent than their male spouses or partners”.

Australia also hosted an international feminist conference called “the SCUM Conference” in late 2011, named in unambiguous reference to Solanas’ violent and furious anti-male hate literature.

But the radical feminists, the violent-and-crazy feminists driven by hatred, and arguably mental illness; we continue to think of them as the fringe, the ineffectual and the irrelevant. It is increasingly obvious that radical feminism is the potent, politically connected and central driver of change within feminism’s wider ambit. Humanist feminists, arguably far more numerous than their radical cousins – are sadly the ineffectual fringe.

Thus, opposition to feminism – without any prefix of “radical” or “violent” – is not an opposition to the human rights of women. However, due to ignorance of the power and tenacity of those we might instinctively relegate to the disregarded fringe, the general public still equates the label of feminism with a humanist, civil-rights movement.

The sloppy research identifying human rights activists as a hate movement and absence of due diligence by a formerly prestigious human rights organization whose principal active members are licensed legal professionals, on the other hand, is not excusable. The former prestige of the Southern Poverty Law Center is now shame. And it is deserved.

[1] http://spectator.org/blog/2010/03/02/the-great-hate-hype-are-libert

[2] http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc

[3] http://csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

[4] Headey, B., Scott, D., & de Vaus, D. (1999). Domestic violence in Australia: Are Women and Men Equally Violent? Australian Social Monitor 2:57-62

[5] Dutton D. G. (2007). Female Intimate Partner Violence and Developmental Trajectories of Abusive Families. International Journal of Men’s Health, 6, 54-71
[7] Archer J (2000). Sex Differences in Physically Aggressive Acts between Heterosexual Partners: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 651-680

[6] http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/facts/1-20/2006/3%20crime%20victimisation.aspx

[7] http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/V74-gender-symmetry-with-gramham-Kevan-Method%208-.pdf

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