You’ve been on the internet, right? You know what it’s like?
The internet is a weird goddamned place. If it can be thought of as a place. Have you ever heard the TED Talk about the “filter bubble“? The internet is a place where you can be exposed to literally every perspective on the planet, where there is this never-ending torrent of information and knowledge and opinion and argument at your fingertips. And yet, do you go to the internet to hear about those things? I don’t. I go to Facebook to see what my friends are up to and what stupid things they’ve been posting and then I go to Reddit to check out all the things that are being re-posted in all the same old subreddits I’ve always been subscribed to. I have about a dozen or two other websites that I check regularly, but I do not go out of my way to explore outside opinions. I never go to Fox or Stormfront, is what I’m saying.
So I see the internet as this thing that has this uncanny ability to alienate people from mainstream society while at the same time connecting them with people that they agree with. If you are fringer with fring-ey beliefs, you are going to find other people that see things the same way as you do and you will associate with them and they will make your beliefs seem normal and okay. They are going to make you feel like you’re right. They are going to reinforce those ideas and make you less likely to find flaws and reject them. No matter how fring-ey your weird ideas are, there are people who think like you. I’m talking about Alex Jones motherfuckers. I’m talking about Stormfront. I’m talking about Nazis and the KKK. I am not linking those bastards, but on your own time, you might find some of those sites interesting from a sort of anthropological perspective. The front page of the KKK’s website is particularly fascinating because it presents this bizarrely wholesome, “family-values” kind of face. Only it’s all about white supremacy…err….separatism, I guess. It’s utterly bizarre.
In particular, the movement that has been plaguing and annoying me is Men’s Rights Activists. I do not understand these people. First of all, bear in mind that MRAs do have a couple of reasonable points. Things like child custody ought to be addressed and discussed. I think in today’s cultural moment a serious discussion of what it means to be masculine–or indeed what we mean by masculinity–needs to be had, especially in response to the strides that feminism has managed to make. Do I think that there are feminists out there that maybe take things a bit too far? Absolutely. Do I think for a moment that this means that men are somehow oppressed? No way. In fact, I truly think that it’s insane to be a man, especially a white man, and somehow feel that you are being discriminated against based on your gender. Just completely insane. You cannot be in the majority–I use “majority” in the sociological sense here–and also be oppressed.
These men believe that feminists have…somehow created an atmosphere of female privilege where all women do is accuse men of rape and abuse and get sweet alimony/child-support awards and live off of men’s hard-earned money. Do these things happen? Sure. But that certainly isn’t the majority of situations. Domestic violence is most often perpetrated by men. Rapes happen all the time and more often than not go completely un-prosecuted (or just unreported).
And it’s also true that there are feminists who have an overinflated sense of the importance of femininity. But what the fuck do you expect after like ten centuries of being told that you’re inferior and suddenly realizing that you’re not?
My take on the whole MRA movement (and honestly, it is a collection of movements on a spectrum…some less absurd than others) is that it’s a bunch of entitled little boys with no girlfriends (or who have been spectacularly hurt by a specific woman) who are cherry picking extreme cases in the media to conflate and distort and revel in so that they can feel indignant.
Let’s look at this from the standpoint of reproductive advantage. There are a couple of different ways that mates can be chosen. Consider a community of chimps. Most of the time, the alpha male and his buddies get to do most of the sex, especially when the females are in heat. Chimp females have unambiguous estrus (unlike human females), so it’s fairly easy to tell when they are fertile. So during that time, they have to hang out with the jocky alpha dudes and accept their manly gifts. There are some other issues that further complicate the matter, but for the most part, this is how things are done. The males choose their mates and the females have little say in the matter.
Now, in birds, it’s almost completely the opposite. The males have a biological imperative to impress a female or he doesn’t get laid at all. He has to have the brightest feathers, build the swankiest nest, and the sing the most beautiful twittering aria to attract a female’s interest.
Human society used to be a chimp society. Alpha males chose their mates, the betas (and lower) got whatever was left over and that was that. We had things like arranged marriages (arranged by the fathers), dowries, female genital mutilation, virginity tests, and all sorts of other horrifying things. Well…we still have that in some areas of the world…a disturbingly large percentage of the world, actually.
But in America, at least, we have changed. We are now something else. But far from swinging the pendulum all way to bird society, I think we’ve become something new. Rather than a male choosing a female or a female choosing a male, I think the cultural ideal (if not the norm) is that the two choose each other. That there is a mutual attraction, mutually agreed upon and consummated and built and worked on. That’s not to mention homosexuality and polyamory, where again, I believe the ideal is a situation where all parties involved forge a relationship based on a mutual understanding between consenting adults rather than one party choosing another and forcing or manipulating the other party into a relationship.
What I think most MRAs think is that we have become the bird society. A culture under the tyranny of women, where sex is used as a tool to manipulate and abuse men and men are now an underclass with fewer rights and privileges. But that’s what happens when privilege is lost and equality becomes the norm, isn’t it? When a tax is proposed on the super-duper wealthy they talk about how it isn’t fair. Fuck you, it isn’t fair. It’s loss aversion. They don’t want to lose something that they once had. It’s nostalgia for a bygone era. It’s like reading Tennyson. It’s a bunch of mopey whiny bullshit from a bunch of crybaby men who wish they could still fuck whoever they want and take whatever they want and be secure in the knowledge that they won’t be ripped apart by the media or by society in general. The fuck of it is: odds are, they probably still can. To a great extent, that privilege still exists.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m making mountains here. I just know a few of these guys and it just seems ridiculous to me. The level of obsession exhibited by them suggests something pathological. Or at least it seems that way to me. To be fair, just about everything anyone says on Facebook seems vaguely pathological or at least mildly narcissistic. But then again, to categorically claim that all feminists are raging bigots is crazy. Isn’t it?
Ein Mann muss tun, was ein Mann tun muss.