Boys are doing significantly worse in school than girls, did you know that? Comparably, in terms of writing and reading, boys are doing as worse than girls than girls where doing worse than boys in science and math in 1950. That’s right, 1950. When was the last time you heard someone talk about this? You probably never have, so I’ll keep talking. Current college enrollment numbers are 60-40. Even if huge campaigns start tomorrow this gap won’t close minimum 30 years. This is just one issue.
Hey! This is going to be a very long answer, anonymous, so I hope you come back to read it. This is also a general statement to commenters and those who might take issue with the video. Anonymous, your answer is in the second paragraph after the break if you are impatient. Not all of this is addressed to you necessarily.
First off - I’m not particularly interested in battling these issues out in a comments section. Not every piece of art is an invitation to a private summit where we will debate it. A cartoonist who drew that one political newspaper cartoon you didn’t like has no obligation to respond to angry letters, and my chosen delivery medium being the internet doesn’t change that. Also, to be frank, the vast majority of critical comments I’ve received in the past 24 hours have been from, not to put to fine a point on it, angry white teens and antisocial 20-somethings. And you, Anonymous, are the first to respectfully bring up a point other than “STRAWMAN/ you are obv a misandrist fag/ you are whiteknighting/ you have seriously never fucked a bitch, bro/ etc.” Even on the few manforums I’ve looked at to see what the more critical reaction might be, the discussion has focused more on digging up unflattering pics of me online (they exist) and discussing how I need to lose weight (working on it, thanks) and look like a women undergoing hormone therapy (yeah because those people are only worthy of disdain, right). This is funny because in their rush to mention how not shallow, hateful and fearful they are, they are still boiling down most criticisms to a question of physical appearance and number of women I have bedded, and how this must render my observations invalid. That is their measuring system of success and authority. This is why I’m not interested in debating this stuff. Additionally, I’m 31. I’m a full-time independent artist. I have relationships and stuff to do. I have several other projects currently in the fire. Spending time jousting with angry dudes online is something most people my age have long since grown out of, or never started doing in the first place. I’m an artist. I make art. If one is looking for a way to combat a piece of art, might I recommend making your own art and culture to communicate your own points? I make things about things that matter to me, not because I want to find people to debate it with online. If I wanted to do that I’d just show up in certain Reddit forums and be like “YO LET’S FIGHT”. It would save time. And really, arguing with misogynists, men who primarily see women as alternately parasites/ fascists / whores, and dudes who spend their waking hours trying to unlock the intricacies of using women for sex holds about as much interest to me as arguing with a racist or a homophobe. While pushing my face slowly into a belt sander. And being menaced by lions full of wasps. On a humid day.
So, Anonymous, to your question. I have heard people talk about this. Anyone who has spent any time looking into MRA whatnot has. Seriously, for whatever else one might say about the MRM, it is not a movement that leaves you with any confusion as to what they might have problems with. However, I think you need to go back and rewatch the video and reread my description of it. I go out of my way to 1) not downplay the actual issues some men may face and 2) to point out that there are some reasonable, non-insane and non-women-hating Men’s Rights Activists. I myself had my own issues and struggles with gender expectations and school growing up. I’ll leave it to literally the entire rest of the internet to debate whether or not the issue you raised is a result of a failure of schools, scary feminists or dudes just being super dumb (it’s probably not the last one). Point is, that was very much not what this video was about. It’s an unfortunate fact that the MRM’s loudest faction ARE extremely antagonistic toward women and dismissive of the real, long-standing institutional chauvinism and misogyny you see in everything from the Bible that enshrined women as virginal property / temptress whores to the Constitution which did not extend to them the right to vote. We’re still sorting that shit out. Men have certainly suffered in this too, albeit disproportionately. Men are drafted because women are seen as weak and motherly, incapable of such rough treatment. Go watch Newt Gingrich in the 90s talking about how women can’t fight because they get their “monthly infection” and that would make trench warfare (which of course we see a lot of these days) difficult. That is utter patriarchal “gotta protect them frail ladies” bullshit that has a very real effect on men as well. Notice how men are portrayed in commercials as hapless morons when it comes to all things domestic. Do you know why this is? Because they are supposed to contrast with the woman, who is totes meant for housework and kids. They are marketing to women by putting a girl-power spin on a woman’s “place”. Men are just caught in the crossfire. And most of these commercials are made by men, because like most industries, it was/is totally a boys club. I work in design and occasionally with agencies. The higher up the chain you go to the older members of the team, the more of a boys club it gets. Funny, that. It’s almost like women are still only getting a foothold in a lot of societal niches that men take for granted. But they get that one scoop of ice cream from the endless ice cream pump and all some men can see is that there is one less scoop for them. And until someone comes up with something better, Feminism is the only game in town really fighting the fight to figure this shit out. If MRA want to take up that mantle, they had best start weeding out the trolls and misogynists before they ask anyone to take them seriously. Because they’ve got more of the latter than the former. I’m all for addressing issues that men face. I am a man, of course. But blaming women and feminism for this shit is just as disingenuous as white people blaming the civil rights movement for removing their special water fountains, whites only housing and- gasp!- attempting to address the institutional inequality in hiring and college admissions. Won’t someone think of the poor white folk?
I would argue that this video DOES address men’s issues. Men are hurting themselves with this reactionary, angry, fearful shit. Let’s start with that, maybe, and work up to the portrayal of dudes in cleaning product commercials.
A last word on Feminism. Like any other ism, it is a big umbrella with all kinds of people in it. I’m a feminist. A minority of feminists think that men can’t be feminists.* Cool. I respect that. But they don’t own the term. And I certainly do not either, especially as a dude. Some feminists are homophobic, some racist, some classists. I’m not that kind of feminist. Some feminist are super marxist, some are very libertarian, most are just regular people like you and me who are interested in making the world better, and recognize that maybe we can do that together. I’m not really interested in whether or not you call yourself a feminist – I’m interested in what you are doing and what you think. If you want to call yourself something else but still are fighting against the institutional and culture oppression of women, knock yourself out! Glad to have you aboard! Let’s get to work. And hopefully the MRM will get to a point where they are fighting alongside. But they’ve got some work to do.
This video isn’t a hit on “all men”. Most of us aren’t like this! It’s not hate-speech or anything- it’s satire and critique. It’s about a complicated bunch of emotions that pervade a lot of the “manosphere”. These issues of entitlement, of desire, territoriality, transactional relationships, and under all of that, fear - fear that women won’t like you for who you are and so you must learn how to play mind games to get sex because that’s all that matters anyway because 99% of women only like rich hot assholes, amirite? Fear that you will marry a woman and then she will leave you and stick you with alimony payments and take your house. Fear that women are part of a socialist system in which men are expendable drones producing wealth and stability that is taken from them and redistributed among women. Fear that the schools and culture have been “feminized” in such a way that men are being specifically weeded out, and that the recent increase in women in the workforce and in CEO positions is just evidence of their evil plot to TAKE YOUR ICE CREAM. And fear of “western women” (those women from the exotic “Far East” certainly know their place, bro), and how these terrible college-educated radicalized harpies are only there to use and dominate you. It’s fear. It’s fear of feminism, but most of everything I just listed goes beyond that- it’s fear of women. Witness the “nice guys” who feel cheated that a girl they were nice to isn’t responding in kind with sex. Witness the gamers who talk about how women laughed at them in high school and so fuck them, dude, they just like the jocks. Witness the guys who are angry that the woman at the office “just can’t take a joke”. This is all fear, fear of rejection, fear of losing the place in society one thinks men are entitled to, fear of the chaos that having a woman around might cause. Not every viewer is going to see themselves in it. And certainly people are complicated and even dumb ideas are just as complicated. But I think a lot of people (including myself earlier in my life), might see a little bit of themselves in it. Or at least that’s the hope, and the responses I’ve been getting overwhelmingly affirm this.
If you are saying to yourself “I don’t FEAR these things – I HATE these things!”. That’s fine. Replace fear in the vid with hate. I think they’re almost interchangeable for some people. See also: racists, homophobes, your embarrassing uncle at thanksgiving. So before you start haranguing me about it, remind yourself that I’m not being hateful – only criticial, and that your explosive reaction might just make you look a little silly. We’re adults. We can speak like adults.
If you’re a dude and feel like this vid isn’t fair to you or your cause, that’s totally fine. It’s not about you and your specific friends on the specific message board. It’s about larger issues I am asserting are at play here. And maybe just have a look at yourself and be critical.
Oh, and lastly – it’s not a strawman. It’s satire. Cultures that exist primarily on forums and youtube get into this weird echo chamber of Oxford debate rules which is just silly. Trust me. I’m an atheist in 2013. I know all about fisking and getting riled about logical fallacies on the internet. But I’m not debating you. I’m making art. It’s not Hitchens vs D’Souza live from Liberty University. It’s fucking art. Go read A Modest Proposal and then talk about what a strawman Swift has created and then have your lit professor materialize and smack you upside the head. If this vid is close enough to an actual person/idea to be a strawman, maybe that says more about the person and their ideas than my terrible illogical awfulness.
Oh, and that’s probably the last response I’ll be writing to criticism on this. Because that’s all I wanted to say, and I’m not interested in rebutting the inevitable post where someone is going to take this apart chunk by chunk and offer rebuttals. Cool story, bro, but this isn’t debate club. Make your own damn video. Oh wait. Youtube has already done that 1000 times over.
Also – thanks for being cool and awesome, most of you. Your radness has been noted by me, and by others. Good job, internet. You are full of pretty rad people.
*I reworded this paragraph a bit from the original post. I had mentioned that the group of feminists who see it as a women-only thing is small and has no institutional power. A few people correctly have pointed out that this sounds like I’m saying “these women have no power so let’s ignore them”, and especially coming from a man that’s a bit problematic. I was writing this from a dude’s perspective, talking about my understanding of and experience with feminism. I wrote that sentence to assure other dudes that they don’t have to be afraid of being ostracized by other feminists for being a dude, and that there aren’t very many who would despite what scary things you hear. The idea of the scary feminists who shout “no men allowed!” is a bit of a stereotype. It keeps other men (and women) away, and it’s a cudgel that misogynists regularly wield. I was trying to say that this stereotype is just that . But my marginalizing of those who do not agree with me (and have every right to) was also a bad move. The commenters were right, and I changed it. Sorry about that. I reached out to a few of those commenters, so hit me up if you want to talk about it.
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