Exposing Men’s Rights Activism presents:
Impromptu conversation about MRA use of rhetoric
[Content warning: EMRA is openly socialist and feminist in many political conclusions we draw. We do not require you to be a socialist/feminist or a sympathizer to view our content, but we do ask that you keep an open mind and respect the views of those that are in agreement with our politics.]
EMRA: Hi, you’re listening to Exposing Men’s Rights Activism TV. We’re your hosts – this is Kevin, administrator of the Dismantle Misogyny page – and I am one of the leading admins of Exposing Men’s Rights Activism (have been since the page had 38 likes, and now we’ve managed to break 17 thousand today, which is awesome!).
EMRA: So today, we’re in the beautiful San Francisco, California, going to be having a discussion about Men’s Rights Activists, Red Pill activists, and the language that they use in terms of the dismissiveness of the language, especially when it comes to online and with discussions with feminists on feminist blogs, or even on Men’s Rights Activist blogs, where they get into these “brawls” with the feminists or feminist allies and just the nature of their prose is very off-putting, very dismissive, and we’ll be getting to that discussion.
DM: Yeah, and if you really have these discussions long enough, you can see that it gets to the same cycle over and over again, because the rhetoric just becomes so repetitive and you get the same sort of logic used over and over again. So naturally you’re able to pick out the flaws in it, you know, when you’re faced with it over and over.
EMRA: Ad hominem, misandry… You know, the same statements that they try to use to evade real conversations with feminists, especially when you’re on a Men’s Rights Activist group page trying to have a discussion just to see why exactly they think the way they do, you’re usually met with a lot of animosity and a lot of “oh, well, you’re just a feminist, you’re not gonna understand anything about men’s issues”. Well, Men’s Rights Activists, we have a gentleman right here who still doesn’t understand your hang-up with feminism, and I naturally don’t understand it. I mean, I haven’t understood since the whole Steubenville incident, which is when I started first really getting into feminism. It’s just the arguments that y’all come up with – if you can even call them that – basically all I hear is screaming of misandry, of you pointing a bunch of fingers at us and screaming statements like ad hominem, and it’s very dismissive.
DM: Yeah, it ends up being a type of thing where you get the sense that people see feminism as a threat to themselves or their values, when if you look at it, men have a lot to gain. Obviously it’s one of those things where you really have to let go of looking at it from a selfish perspective, and just realize that you’re not fighting for just yourself, just for what you have to gain, that day, or instant gratification (what you see in a lot of pick-up artist communities). You really have to look at it as “well, I have something to gain too, because – you know, as anyone who’s really looked at it – men have a lot of structure and bonds placed on them from male gender roles, but you also just have to look at it as “well, am I trying to do the most good I can, and prevent the most suffering, and help people”. If you’re looking at it from that perspective, it doesn’t even matter whether or not you directly gain from engaging activism; you’re doing it on behalf of other people and trying to create a better “whole” and better community rather than just “get laid”, for instance. I mean, going back to the point about rhetoric that a lot of these sites use and how it just becomes cyclical, obviously there’s the term Social Justice Warrior, which on top of being laughable in its own right, it’s saying you’re attacking someone because they like social justice or they’re passionate about it or fighting for it. I mean, it’s ridiculous in its own right. It’s also a term where the definition as it seems to be used is “this is someone who’s fighting for social justice, or saying something is problematic, or advocating on behalf of a marginalized community”, because you’re assuming that they are doing it as brownie points, or to try to feel better about themselves, when really, it’s an argument where you’re assuming motives and projecting those onto someone so that you don’t have to engage with what they’re saying, and really go point by point – looking at their points and the things they bring up – you’re just saying “well, I can dismiss whatever they’re saying, because —“
EMRA: “— oh you’re just a Social Justice Warrior, I don’t have to listen to what you’re saying because you’re just belly-aching, playing “professional victim””
DM: Yeah, it’s like, can you not concede that someone would actually have a real desire to fix social problems? To make things easier and to make a society with less suffering overall? It’s just one of those things… And you also have the term White Knight, that ties in very closely with Social Justice Warrior, and that’s something that’s specifically aimed at men mostly, saying that “well, you’re only supportive of feminism or women’s rights because you’re trying to get something out of it, usually sex”. I always find it funny, because not only does that seem sort of rhetoric where you’re projecting and assuming someone else’s motives in order to not have to engage with what they’re saying, you can just dismiss it out of hand, because you assume that their motives are selfish. And – let me just say quickly – that even if they were, it’s still a question of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, versus the wrong thing for the “right reasons”, but the real point of it is that it’s projecting an objectifying view onto other men that “oh, they almost think the way I do”, which is seeing women as some type of goal or reward for doing something good —
EMRA: — and a conquest to be obtained.
DM: Yeah, whereas no, there’s reasons that people wanna support others and want to be an ally to groups that have been historically marginalized for the past several thousand years, more than just wanting to do it to trick them into wanting to have sex with them. It’s really indicative of their logic when that’s the first conclusion they jump to, like “well, oh, this male is supportive of women or feminism, well clearly they’re only doing it to trick them into having sex with them or get on their good side or out of the “friend zone” – I mean, that’s a whole other topic – but it’s just really aggravating.
EMRA: A good point about that is, is that when you’re going and stating… calling men who proclaim themselves to be feminists as White Knights per se, not only are you being very dismissive of the argument and not providing a sufficient argument back, and lending yourself to a very childish notion of arguing or debating if you wanna even call it that), what you’re doing too is you’re giving in to a very wrong notion that all men do to function is think about sex. So that’s the drive to them wanting to become feminists is for them to eventually obtain this thing that – for thousands of years – people have just assumed that all men think about is sex and all women think about is just wanting relationships and wanting to get tied down to somebody. It’s a very false notion; a very wrong thing to assume that something that is really built into the fabric of our society, because really, these so-called “natures” have only been in recent development into the whole existence of the human species, because it’s only been about 10 thousand years that class society and gendered oppression and a lot of gendered violence has taken place. Before then, it was more like a very egalitarian, primitive, communism-type structure, wherein people had equal ground and you didn’t have that rigid gender norm/gender binary to base off of. You had men, women, and then the recognition of people who were in-between or either agender who didn’t really recognize themselves as [men or women], anything that modern day would just see as the so-called “norm”, very cis-hetero-normative idea of people just being men and women and having this biological attraction to each other and a dependency on each other – biological determinism – that they can’t essentially break away from, which is completely not the case and is really an only recent development within the ideologies of human existence.
DM: It’s a pure argument based on nature and saying that in a cultural context or social upbringing doesn’t have a role in it, when if you look at – historically – in for instance Ancient Greece, the culture narrative there was that women were the ones thinking about sex all the time. So you really have to look at these things relatively, and not just take them unquestioningly as being “the way things are” from an essentialist perspective, you have to apply a social constructionist lense to gender, and really say that a lot of these things we kinda take for granted and a lot of these roles and assumptions and these boxes that we put people into… People don’t really fit into them. It’s not a clean-cut thing. I know that that’s an easy way to think about it, but really we’re supposed to get out of black and white diametrical thinking when we’re children, that’s an easy way to think: up/down, black/white, left/right. You’re supposed to evolve beyond that and really – while we’re on the subject of rhetoric – I just wanted to know what your thoughts were on the argument that “well, feminism has a prefix “fem” so inherently it can’t be about equality”. That’s another wording or rhetoric-based argument that I hear a lot, and something that I bring up is, well, you have organizations like the NSSAP that are clearly about fighting for equality, and we accept that on a cultural level, or the LGBT community. Those things are about fighting for equality and I think most people recognize that, and yes, they can do that without having to have an S in LGBT for straight, or the NAAWP, you know? But yet, feminism is something that still gets subjected to this really intellectually dishonest attack of saying that “well, you’re trying to do to us what we did to you” – not to have an us-vs-them idea about it – but is it just the fear that we’re going to have the tables turned? But no, that’s not the case at all, and I’m just so tired of that line… I’m just wondering what you kinda thought.
EMRA: Yeah, I see that a lot of times coming from Men’s Rights Activists especially, where there’s an argument that there’s the prefix “fem” in feminism and so what it means is that you want a dictatorship of women over men, you want the reciprocated version of patriarchy, you don’t want an egalitarianism—
DM: — which, by the way, is admitting in patriarchy in itself, something that people deny in the same sentence, saying “oh, patriarchy doesn’t exist—“
EMRA: “— oh but by the way, you want the same thing that we’ve been doing to you for thousands of years” so… really? There’s an inherent contradiction within that logic, you might wanna restructure that if you want to stand any chance against people who know how to debate. Aside from that though, back to the question at hand… To be quite honest, I personally see that with a lot of people coming from a very reactionary point of view when it comes to black rights, when it comes to trans rights, when it comes to women’s rights, and you get people who have historically been privileged getting really upset over the fact that the under-privileged are actually wanting to fight for their rights and wanting to fight for the right to exist and to be equals to the people who have benefitted from these privileges for an extensive amount of time. So, what I really see that as, is kind of a reactionary way to derail a conversation by, first of all, completely dismissing the fact that within the dictionary, the definition of feminism the “equality of all genders”, it doesn’t mean “fem over all else”, sorry.
DM: That’s a good way to put it.
EMRA: Yeah, and what this really boils down to is people’s misunderstanding of language in and of itself, like the roots of the language and the origins of the word. It really comes down to just trying to embody and caricature an entire movement and an entire base of people off of a stereotype that evolves when the feminist movement was first starting to get powerful.
DM: Yeah guys, these anti-feminist arguments have been around for… you know, since the suffrage movement. You’re not doing anything new; I hate to break it to you —
EMRA: — you’re not new, you’re not original —
DM: — it’s been the same thing “oh, feminists are all ugly, they’re all man-haters, blah blah blah…”
EMRA: “Feminists are all older, new age women who are divorcees”. I mean, one of our most recent posts on Exposing Men’s Rights Activism is the statement where feminists are all socialist, child-hating, divorcees, new age women… Well, new age, yeah, I guess I could be. But number 1: no. It’s not just all women, obviously. Number 2: it’s not just based off of what you perceive as the gender norm and the gender stereotype of just being this dynamic between men and women. We have a lot of trans feminist activists as well, so feminism is a very broad spectrum that you have to look at, it’s not just this isolated where a bunch of privileged people get to gather around and start complaining about all of their problems (like Men’s Rights Activists, cis rights activists, white rights activists, bourgeois rights activists, for example, are getting upset because “how dare the working class decide to question our norms, and as for their rights, who do these people think they are? ”). And that’s essentially what Men’s Rights Activism is, is men who have historically been privileged for the past 10 thousand years at least.
DM: Yeah, and guys, can I just say quickly that just because not everything has gone your way in life, or because you feel sad sometimes, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have certain advantages, or at least the opportunity.
EMRA: Look at it from a group perspective and not from an “individual isolated incident” perspective.
DM: Yeah, or, you have to look at it historically and understand that in certain ways we’ve all benefitted, and you don’t really have to see it as an existential threat to yourself or taking away your pride or whatever, it’s just about helping people.
EMRA: Mhm. Precisely. So what about the – like, I’ve always noticed this when it comes to Men’s Rights Activists and Red Pill activists is that a lot of them tend to be heavily influenced by libertarianism, especially the troll sites when it comes to the sites known as “I got PTSD from a feminist post that didn’t have a trigger warning” or whatever the name of it was… these ridiculous, extensive names that go along with these pages and these blogs where 4chan hang out.
DM: Apparently they’re really obsessed with the whole trigger thing, it’s weird. They can’t understand any emotional trauma.
EMRA: You know, to speak to that actually now that we’re on the topic of trigger warnings and of trolls, I’m gonna speak as a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from rape and from parental abuse, these trigger warnings are very helpful. Reason number 1 being – especially in the United States – we have a healthcare system where a lot of people can’t afford to go and see psychologists to get officially diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and sequentially treated, so we have to be cognoscente of the people who don’t have access to these resources (hence the trigger warnings we place upon our posts on both of our pages, and we will continue to do so, by the way). So as a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, personally see to it that the people who don’t have access to the same things I have access to when it comes to healthcare are still spared and given the option of deciding if they want to be exposed to trauma that could be potentially triggering or not – within an article, within a video, within a discussion or what have you. So trigger warnings do have their place within not just feminist discourse, but with all discourse, because a lot of things could be potentially triggering. Racism can be triggering, because there are millions of people that have been greatly affected by racism, at least within the United States when it comes to the black liberation struggle, when it comes to Australia with the Aboriginal struggle, when it comes to —
DM: — look at South Africa —
EMRA: Right, exactly, and especially now with what we’re facing with the Palestinian liberation. A lot of racism there, a lot of Islamophobia, like there’s a lot of things that could be potentially triggering that need to have a trigger warning attached to them because there are people who have experienced a lot of trauma at the hands of racism, sexism, transphobia, you know… thoughts of suicide. These are all traumatizing experiences and it could potentially place people back into the same state of mind that they had once they were experiencing trauma (flashbacks is another term for it). So trigger warnings are here to stay.
DM: Also, by the way, they’re not censorship. I’ve heard that argument a lot, that you’re putting a trigger warning on something therefore you’re censoring it, well no, that’s not censoring it —
EMRA: — that’s not the point of the trigger warning —
DM: — and by the way, they’re not a joke. I’m really glad that a lot of you haven’t had to go through anything in life or have certain experiences or mental illnesses where you wouldn’t be affected in that way, but all I wanna ask is does that give you the right to be as callous as some people really are consistently? To dismiss those and to not understand that other people have different experiences? Like for instance, anyone who’s dealt with suicidal ideation or even attempted or anything like that, whether it’s traumatic events, or depression, bipolar, anything like that… It’s one of those things where certain types of content or reliving certain experiences… um… Oh, hi dog, just ran into the camera —
EMRA: — we’re in a park, so —
DM: — yeah, hazards of filming in the beautiful sunshine here… But, like I was saying, it’s one of those things where – unless you’ve personally experienced that – you’re really not qualified to just dismiss that, or to belittle it or undermine it, and also, you can just ignore it.
EMRA: Well even if you had gone through those experiences, you’re not really qualified to dismiss those experiences because people are affected by things differently, so, where somebody might not have been traumatized by a rape situation, somebody else is greatly affected by it.
DM: You just have to be understanding.
EMRA: Yeah, exactly. Be sensitive to the matters at hand. I feel like this goes back to the whole criticism of the Social Justice Warrior (yes… that is a derogatory term, by the way).
DM: I still can’t believe that. It’s like an 80’s cartoon show, like ~SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS~
EMRA: Right, right, exactly. Like the Justice League… Well, it is a derogatory term. But essentially, you making statements about how we’re Social Justice Warriors just lends to the fact that you don’t really understand dynamics of oppression that people have been facing for centuries, and you have a tenuous grasp – at most – over historical development when it comes to shifting of ways society has been structured. These things don’t just erode and evaporate after a revolution, if you will, or after a change of scenery, or a change or leadership. That’s not how politics works, that’s not how society works or social structures work. So to state that Social Justice Warriors are people who are extra sensitive about matters at hand… you know, these matters haven’t really dissipated and they’ve still become an issue and arguably – at least from our perspective as socialists – these matters are being exacerbated by the capitalist system, as a way to divide and conquer the working class and to re-traumatize people with various types of oppressions that have existed for hundreds of thousands of years. Just the fact that you’re sitting there trying to throw derogatory terms at us for having the audacity to call out oppression where we see it really gives way to your lack of understanding of the historical development of, not only the United States, but the globe as a whole.
DM: Right. That’s a topic that we would like to get into more in the future, is the interplay between the structures of patriarchy being where males can occupy the positions of power and where gender roles play into perpetuating that structure, and how that also fits into capitalism, the interplay between feminism and capitalism not being compatible ideologies.
EMRA: A discussion on that to come soon in the series.
DM: Yeah, because it’s such a fascinating topic, and each one uncovers things about the other if you really look at them in conjunction. I guess while we’re going through these topics, something that I was interested in asking you is that “what would you say to men who see feminism as a threat?” whether it’s their masculinity or as somehow oppressing to them, or if you look at a lot of the things that Men’s Rights Activists at least pay lip-service to defending, which is really essentially just fighting against male gender roles… I mean, my feelings on it are that feminism is addressing all those concerns anyway; so, you’re essentially doing yourself a disservice while also actively fighting against the empowerment of other people, which is really in your own benefit as well. I’m just interested in what you would say to people who question that, who really see it as bad for them, or somehow a threat?
EMRA: It’s kinda the same idea as talking about people who see – in any variation – their historical privilege and historical power being usurped by people who have been historically oppressed is that they see it as a threat because they see the oppressed people as a threat. They see it as a threat because they see equality as a threat. So there’s a motive behind that, either the lack of understanding and ignorance that comes along with the inability to either being raised to be very anti-feminist, or just not allowing oneself to read the proper material on it, or to even engage in discussion with the feminists… There’s a multitude of reasons, but what it essentially boils down to when you have people who are very anti-feminist, very anti-egalitarian, very anti-equality, and don’t see emancipation as the oppressed peoples as something worth gaining and fighting for. They’re really stuck in the whole status quo, the whole modus operandi of things. They really don’t want to see any type of changes to the system, meaningful changes that could bring about a better way of living for people who have historically been oppressed. They want things to stay the way they are because that’s where they benefit the most from, and you especially see this from cisgender white men who have something to lose from women gaining some type of ground, or conservative cisgender men who have something to lose from the loss of the establishment of the rigid gender binary, of heteronormativity, of an oppressive system that keeps people who are not men – cis men – from gaining any type of ground.
DM: I know it’s an uncomfortable thing to admit, saying that “well, I’m put in a position to have certain advantages and succeed in certain ways because of things that I didn’t earn” but that’s just the nature of the situation that we live in, which unfortunately we’re still in the system where that matters. What we’re trying to do is basically… we wanna get to that point where it doesn’t matter, where those things don’t automatically give you certain advantages. And like I said, even if you’re looking at it from a completely selfish perspective, there’s still things that men have to gain. I mean, a metaphor that I look at is that it seems like a lot of people are opposing social change in a reactionary way, specifically in terms of women’s rights, LGBT community rights, all those different areas including race… It seems like they see themselves as part of a group here that has gotten to where they are by —
EMRA: — hard work and perseverance —
DM: — and here’s marginalized community “X”. They see that as “well, they’re trying to bring us down, they’re trying to oppress Christians” or they’re trying to say that being a man is bad —
EMRA: — to reverse the oppression, “reverse racism” —
DM: — and bring that group down, when really, what’s happening here, is that we’re trying to level the playing field, bring everybody up. OK yes, I see how you see that as a threat, saying “they’re trying to drag us down”; you see it as an existential threat, whereas really, we’re just trying to give everyone the same opportunities and the same kind of right to life and right to exist on their own terms that you have. I’m sorry to straight cisgender white dudes, but you are allowed to exist on your own terms and be a sovereign individual, which I know is easy to take for granted when you’ve never really have to think about it, but that’s not a given for all people.
EMRA: Well, it seems we’ve gone 32 minutes with our discussion, so, like I said, this is Exposing Men’s Rights Activism television with Kevin from Dismantle Misogyny, and me from Exposing Men’s Rights Activism. This is an experiment with our videos to see if we can gain any traction with these discussions and try to engage our audiences and try to engage our followers with this discussion as well. If you have any feedback for our videos, if you have any feedback for any topics we’ve discussed – of course, we moved through quite a few of them – or any questions —
DM: — yeah, think of this as like a sampler.
EMRA: Right, exactly. This was an impromptu conversation; this was not scripted, as you can tell by a lot of my whisper words here. So, if you have any questions, feel free to leave some questions or even any comments, leave some comments for us so that we get some feedback for our next discussion that we will have. Also, you should stay tuned, we will be doing some segments on Social Reproduction Theory, and if you don’t know what that means, there’s a – we’ll leave it in the comments section – there’s an author known as Lise Vogel that discusses Social Reproduction Theory. So this is part of an extensive project that we’ve been meaning to work on for a while. Again, thank you for listening, thank you for taking the time to watch our discussion here and we’ll hope that you’ll tune in next time.
DM: Yeah, much appreciated! See you later.
EMRA: See ya!
[Thanks for watching!]
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