Badger Beginnings: Not all Feminists are like that | HBR Talk 38

During our journey down memory lane, we’ve revisited some experiences that helped us understand divisions among women who engage with or are part of the men’s rights movement. We’ve focused in particular on the division between those who maintain a gynocentric perspective versus those who don’t. It’s been a recurring thing, really - every so often the movement draws the attention of yet another first-“good”-feminist-ever to talk feminist-sense to those poor, misguided angry men, and the usual litany of Things That Have Never Before Been Explained To “The MRA”™ gets thrown at us. 

We just don’t understand, you see. We may be right in identifying areas of male suffering, but we’ve got the rest of it all wrong. All of those issues are really the fault of men, masculinity, male power, and male society, okay? Because it’s the epitome of logic to simultaneously claim that women are oppressed because they don’t have power, but men are oppressed because they do. No glaring, screaming, in-your-face contradiction there, at all.

We’re further told that feminism is not responsible for any of its contributions to the legislative causes of men’s issues, certainly not for feminist-lobbied gender-discriminatory family and criminal law. Not possible, our elite critics say, because men outnumber women in congress, and that’s who passes laws. What about the fact that they did so after years of pressure from feminist lobbying groups like the National Organization for Women? What about all of the women voters who, having had the franchise since 1920, elected them into office? Irrelevant, you see, because power only matters when men have it. 

We get to hear, yet again, from feminists who have done nothing to stem the tide of anti-male rhetoric and lobbying from the feminist establishment, that Not All Feminists Are Like That, and therefore it is unfair to draw any association at all between feminism and the discriminatory law and policy that only exists today because the feminists who are like that demanded it. 

We criticize ideological, societal, and legislative indulgence of dysfunctional behavior among women, from the irresponsible to the malicious. That criticism stems not only from the damage that behavior does, but also the fact that those same dysfunctions in men elicit disproportionate social, civil, and authoritative backlash. In response, we’re advised that the disparity is because women don’t generally engage in such behaviors. #MENareviolent… amirite, guys? Providing evidence to the contrary in the form of examples, news articles, and statistics elicits accusations of misogyny and the admonition that we will never be persuasive with “that attitude toward women.” Feminists use “feminist” and “female” interchangeably when defending against such criticism, despite the fact that the majority of the female population doesn’t identify as feminist. 

God forbid our criticism isn’t cushioned with caveats to the sensibilities of feminists and other gynocentrists waiting for something to take personally. That goes double if we, or at least the men of the movement, do so with fiery language, angry or bitter sarcasm, or gender-flipping parody. Obviously, if men’s objections to the abuses men experience are accompanied by expressions of outrage, anger, and pain, it isn’t because outrage, anger, and pain are legitimate reactions to being abused.

It’s because you hate wimmin, right?

What can you do in the face of such nonsense? How do we appeal to the sympathies of people who cannot even be troubled to take a moment to consider men’s human experiences? Do we pay the toll, stroke their delicate egoes, watch our tone… fight for your rights with one hand tied behind our backs?

To HELL with that! Backing down is not going to result in some kind of a diplomatic win. It will only hinder the movement’s ability to demonstrate the human reality of men’s issues, limiting us to the hypothetical, the academic, and the abstract. I’m not saying we cannot consider the ideas of any critics of the movement, or that we have to shout “all women ARE like that,” but that it does us no good to acquiesce when falsely accused of either failure. 

Gynocentrists wrongly treat our petition for compassion for men as an attack on women. There is no level of concession that is going to satisfy them that it is not, and going on the defensive would only lead to more and more ground being incrementally nagged and dragged away from us, until all that’s left is to grudgingly agree that real men don’t need human rights.

So we do what we always do. We do not bow to the tyranny of weaponized victim-signalling. We do not crumble under the torrent of demonization. We do not cater to defenders of the gynocentric pedestal. We do not let them define our terms, and we damned well do NOT accept theirs. We do not forget that we’ve gotten involved in a war - not the so-called battle of the sexes, but the battle between ideology and reform. That ideology has forced a rift between the sexes for its own purposes. Its proponents’ exploitation of that rift has left scars throughout our society, from the structure of the family to the heart of civil rights like due process. 

We fight for reform, for balance and practicality, and for a pathway to a point where beginning to heal that rift will become possible. That pathway is looking to be a long, arduous road over formidable terrain, and through nasty weather. If we are going to succeed, we cannot, must not abandon our resolve at the first sign of that hardship. No, we square our shoulders, set our jaws, and we slog through every measure of it - every bump, every bend, and every load of bullshit that gets drop in our path. When it rains down, we shrug it off. When it gets deep, we grab a shovel. 

We do not melt. We are not snowflakes. 

We are right, and we will badger on.