This article is mainly directed at those MHRAs who are still in the closet – no, not that one. I am referring to the closet in which many of us conceal the true extent of our involvement in the MHRM from some – perhaps even all – of our family, friends and colleagues. There are a variety of reasons, some more valid and compelling than others, why MHRA closet cases have chosen to keep their affiliations with A Voice for Men on the down-low, so to speak.
While those close to me couldn’t possibly have failed to notice that I am not feminism’s number one fan, for many years, only my family, my partner and a select number of friends actually knew that I had written articles for A Voice for Men and that my level of commitment to the rights and welfare of men and boys ran deep.
I have lived and worked overseas for more than twenty years and only return to Australia for one month every year. I spend this time with my family and the ever-dwindling handful of true friends whose loyalty and support I value more than they will ever know. Needless to say, discussing social issues and gender politics is not how I have chosen to spend what little time I have each year to catch up face-to-face with these cherished people.
Towards the end of my visit last August, my decision to speak at the Second International Conference on Men’s Issues in Houston made it necessary for me to inform these friends that I was, in fact, a MHRA. Reactions were mixed. Let’s just say that the main difference between coming out as a gay man and coming out as a MHRA, is that when you come out as a MHRA, no-one gives you a hug and tells you that they’ll always love you anyway.
The guys invariably thought it was great – especially the ones who have had their guts ripped out in family court. The women, however, have largely been a very different matter. Most of them asked, “What’s a MHRA?” Upon being informed, their open-mouthed silence indicated that they simply didn’t know what to say. I didn’t read too much into their reactions, as I’ve been doing this long enough to know that the notion that men are human beings whose rights and welfare matter just as much as everyone else’s is a novel concept for many people. They probably just needed a little time to get used to the idea, then, they’d be absolutely fine with it.
This is the point at which more experienced MHRAs will be rolling their eyes wondering if Andy Bob may have accidentally smacked himself upside the head with the stupid stick. I prefer to call it a mixture of naivety, optimism and wishful thinking – which, I suppose, is just a polite description of the stupid stick.
Andrew DiKaiomata’s article, “Feminists have their heads up their cant” http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminists-have-their-heads-up-their-cant/ reminded me of a recent telephone conversation I had with one of these women, a dear friend whom I shall call Debra – because that’s her name and I want her to read this. It is a conversation which left me disappointed, frustrated and more than a little bit angry. This is partly due to the fact that it was so painfully typical of the kind of phenomenon which Mr DiKaiomata discussed in his article, and partly due to the fact that I did not expect Debra to engage in the kind of nonsense she pulled throughout our conversation.
The conversation, and my response to it, can be summed up in the following letter to Debra:
We have been friends for thirty years, during which you have given me nothing but love, loyalty and lots of laughs – but I wasn’t laughing after our recent conversation. We hadn’t spoken since I told you last August about my involvement in the MHRM. It was pretty obvious to me that you didn’t know what to say, probably because you weren’t sure what it actually was.
I suspect that sometime in the past five months, you have done some reading up on the MHRM and formed a negative impression of it, which is hardly surprising considering the amount of lies and misinformation that feminists have spread about the MHRM and the people involved in it. The reason I suspect this is because when you asked me to tell you something about the MHRM, you were prepared with what can only be described as a grab bag of tired old feminist slogans which you fired off in the misguided belief that they actually formed some kind of argument.
Silly me thought you really wanted to discuss some of the key issues which are having a devastating impact on the rights and welfare of men and boys, but all you wanted to talk about was the oppression of women. When I told you that one of the MHRM’s key issues was refuting a gendered approach to domestic violence because such an approach ignored both male victims and female perpetrators, you responded by saying that men were becoming more violent and society had to do something about it. When I told you all about Erin Pizzey and her research findings, you responded by saying that men had always had more power in society than women.
In fact, you responded to nearly every point that I was trying to make, by interrupting in order to spew feminist dogma at me, all of which was clearly intended to convey the deeply offensive, shockingly bigoted and provably wrong idea that only women can be ever victims because blah, blah, blah patriarchy. In my not inconsiderable experience as a MHRA, this is the roundabout way that feminists use to justify their belief that the MHRM has no reason – or right – to exist.
You asked me if I had seen the ABC’s Q&A programme about domestic violence, and told me how wonderful it was that such an issue was being publicly discussed. I pointed out that it wasn’t an honest discussion about domestic violence because it only addressed part of the story by presenting all victims as women and all perpetrators as men. An honest discussion would have presented domestic violence as something some men and women do to some other men and women. You tried to refute this by mentioning that, five minutes before the end of the programme, ‘Steve’ was allowed to talk about his experience as a DV victim of his former female partner.
When I pointed out that the feminists on the panel told ‘Steve’ that most victims of domestic violence were women, so his experience didn’t matter, you made some comment about how important it was to bring men in on the conversation. Why? So male victims of female-perpetrated violence can be told by a government representative on national television to basically shut up because there are more female victims than male victims? That is beyond disgusting. Imagine someone suggesting that suicidal women should be ignored and deprived of support services because 80% of suicide victims are men. After all, it’s the same reasoning, is it not?
The Q&A panelists didn’t have a conversation about male victims of DV. They shut it down, which is exactly what you tried to do by hurling tidbits of Feminist Sacred Babble at me in order deflect attention away from what must have been some uncomfortable truths about the sanctity of female victimhood. When I gave an accurate description of the Duluth Model, which has heavily influenced Australian DV laws and social policy, you accused me of making it up. I have to admit, I’ve never heard that one before. I even spelt it for you so that you could Google it. Did you? If not, why not?
When I began to throw more bricks of logic than you could handle, you uttered the following four words: “I am a woman.” This was obviously intended to shut me up. It did momentarily, but not for the reasons you probably assumed. I was gob- smacked by the sheer arrogance and entitlement implied by making this completely irrelevant comment. What exactly did you mean by “I am a woman”? Do you believe that being a woman gives you some kind of ownership of the topic of domestic violence? Was it an assertion of some kind of moral superiority over me because I’m ‘just a man’ and should shut up when a woman is talking? It takes some gall for you, a person who has never even heard of the Duluth Model, to talk down to someone who has been researching, discussing and writing about the issue of domestic violence for years – and justifies it on the basis that you have a vagina and I don’t.
What annoys me the most is that you claimed to want to have a conversation about men’s issues, but we didn’t really have one, did we? I attempted to talk about them, but you kept diverting the focus back to women. You see Debra, that’s the problem: women’s issues, both real and imagined, are the only ones society ever wants to talk about – it’s all about women, all the time. Society doesn’t want to talk about men’s issues any more than you do, and you didn’t really want me to talk about them either – especially when they veered so dangerously away from feminist-approved narratives. I had no idea you were so fond of them.
This is exactly why there needs to be a MHRM, and why it needs platforms like the International Conference on Men’s Issues, in which I will be proudly participating. Serious men’s rights issues, domestic violence being but one of them, can be discussed openly and honestly, without being constantly disrupted by feminists and their enablers. The real reason why you derailed our conversation at every opportunity is probably because it somehow frightened you. For someone who has always described herself as an equalist, you certainly have all of those wheezy old feminist memes and tropes down pat. It was a deeply disturbing eye-opener for me to discover that you find such comfort in embracing ideological myths that I have long considered to be bigoted and dishonest.
I have no intention of apologizing for believing that men’s rights are human rights, and that they should be regarded as equally valid and important as women’s rights. My only hope is that one day, you will believe the same thing, and we can actually have a real conversation about the human rights of all. To put it as succinctly as possible, the MHRM is an egalitarian movement and feminism is not. This is why I am a MHRA instead of a feminist. It really is as simple as that. I am a MHRA, and I will not be silenced. You’re just going to have to learn to deal with it.
For me, the most challenging part of coming out as a MHRA hasn’t been putting up with people altering their perceptions about me – it has been discovering things about those people that I’d rather not have known. It can be a quite a shock to realize just how many otherwise decent and intelligent people, who ought to know better, bleed radical feminist bile – even when they’ve only been lightly grazed by a brick of logic.
Coming out as a MHRA, like coming out as a gay man, is easier for some than for others. Both can be traumatic steps rife with obstacles and risks, but they are also very liberating steps, and have the priceless advantage of leaving you in no doubt about where you truly stand with people. It’s just a matter of asking yourself whether or not you really want to find out.
I sincerely hope that Debra responds favorably to this letter. Ouch! That stupid stick really hurts.