This is a thank you letter, from the editorial board of AVFM to the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as other elements of the mainstream and alternative media.
In the last year, the un-funded grass roots movement consisting mostly of bloggers and vloggers – loosely associated and identified as the “So-Called Men’s Rights Movement” has come under increasing attack from not-for-profit organizations, left leaning and right-leaning media organizations, and even comedy web-sites.
However, rather than logical rebuttals or evidence based arguments, the majority of oppositional rhetoric falls squarely into the category of ad-hominem and straw-man argument, along with other formal logical fallacy. One recent “cracked.com” article stated “no REAL MAN has ever come out as an MRA” [emphasis mine] as well as claiming that opposition to feminism is equivalent to burning down a house in response to an infestation of ghosts. The implication in that metaphor being possibly that feminism doesn’t actually exist?
Other commentary condemning the rising mens rights movement focuses in on the obvious and overwhelming privilege of white males, and the clear absurdity of any complaint about unequal treatment in the family court system, the criminal courts system, higher education, employment, homelessness, suicide, criminal victimization, prison rape, life expectancy, sexually-specific health funding, misrepresentation in domestic violence education, and general disposability based on sex.
Of course, the oppositional opinion doesn’t actually address any of those topics, but takes the simpler path of denouncing men’s rights activists as sexual losers, and unemployed, mother’s-basement-dwelling cretins with small penises and a hate-on for women. When you’re a busy journalist trying to meet deadlines, researching your topic is terribly time consuming, and unneccesary if recitation of simple stereotypes will do the job of selling ads and keeping your readers comfortable.
New ideas are scary, and it’s hard to win fans by challenging convention, so we don’t blame writers on the right and left for clinging to convention as “journalism” careers evaporate in a world of online instant information overload. Indeed, as a part of this “So Called Men’s Rights Movement,” we would like to thank all the mainstream and alternative commentators for the continued and increasing attention. However, the absence of any opposition other than childish name-calling will only be effective for a limited time. The problem being that continued commentary on the mens rights movement means an ever greater fraction of your readers are becoming our readers too. This becomes increasingly problematic to gender ideologues as rhetoric and ideas published by the “So Called men’s Rights Movement” are adopted in mainstream journalism. As example, a recent Wall Street Journal article examining reluctance of young men to be sexually entangled with women stated:
“A woman’s “reproductive rights” also include the right to carry a pregnancy to term. The crucial point here is that while the decision belongs entirely to her, in the event that a child is born the law assigns financial responsibility to the male involved. That is what the boy in her study means when he worries about being “screwed for the rest of my life.” Short of sterilization, the only way for a male to be sure of avoiding this fate is to abstain from sex.”
The sentiment of this paragraph could have been lifted from any of a dozen articles on this site, and I thank WSJ contributor James Taranto for his obvious courage to say what others have not dared.
Unfortunately, this trend means the current absence of substantive counter argument in anti-MRA writing is making channels pushing yellow pixels appear increasingly foolish and dishonest.
As a lazy writer myself, a weak opposition does make my job easier, but this movement needs robust opposition, otherwise how will we ever uncover our own false assumptions or faulty reasoning? It is for this reason that this site’s Editor in Chief, Paul Elam published a how-to guide for feminists and other ideologues, so that their attacks on the MRM become stronger and more effective.
In that same spirit, I have included my own helpful guide to the opponents of male human rights, so that they might craft a better attack. We’re aware that for many rhetoricians, being provided an instruction manual on how to field an effective counter argument might seem insulting. We apologize for that, but to do otherwise would be unfair, and unsportsmanlike.
Among bloggers within the “So Called Men’s Movement”, a document has been long-circulated called “the shaming tactics catalog.” This is a list of sixteen common logical fallacies routinely levelled against anyone arguing for the human rights of men and boys. MRM bloggers use this document to quickly identify and then swat aside logical fallacies such as straw-man arguments, appeals to force, ad-hominem arguments and other common tropes of broken and dishonest rhetoric. As an opponent of this movement, you too can benefit from familiarity with this catalog. It’s just 2 pages long, and your attacks will be far stronger if you can eschew such obvious and easily deflected name-calling. Here’s a link to a PDF version for you to download. You’re welcome.
My colleague Paul Elam mentioned in his Guide-for-attacking-the-MRM that for most oppositional writers, target selection is a badly underdeveloped skill. He was right, and frankly gentlemen and ladies, your target selection sucks. The “angry white man” trope seems to be popping up with increasing frequency, and this is just sad. Even as an angry white man myself, I pity those whose point of attack remains fixated on racial and gender stereotypes. Some readers of this piece might be aware that AVfM, in addition to maintaining a web-site also produces two weekly radio shows. (whoops, now it’s three)
In addition to Paul and myself, these shows are co-hosted by several extraordinary women, namely Dr. Tara Palmatier and GirlWritesWhat. On “my” radio show, I know who the rising star is, and I am not her. In addition, AVfM features the writing of authors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, sexual identities and orientations. TyphonBlue, Barbarossaaa, B.R.M., Izzy, J.White, Valdez, and the incandescent GWW all being high-profile, and sharply incisive contributors outside the “privileged white male” cartoon-reality regularly referenced. In fact, the “So Called Men’s Movement” has been largely unaware of race or sex or sexual orientation until the recent rise of “angry white man” rhetoric drew our attention to the idiocy of that claim. Gentlemen and ladies, sharpen your pencils, please, you’re embarrassing yourselves.
Missing the point.
Also, one of the most unfortunate and foolish tropes regularly regurgitated is the claim of the threat of violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center, whose half-baked attacks tried to paint male human rights as a dangerous hate movement is being funded in part by a group of radical feminist bloggers whose most famous rant calls for the eugenic extermination of men and the sex selective abortion of infants.
Arthur Goldwag, author of several of the SPLC’s attacks on the human rights of men and boys gave the call-back to the eugenics enthusiasts over at radical-hub in a twitter shout out. Does this even need my commentary?
In fact, rejection of violence is a principal driver in much of the writing from the “So Called Men’s Rights Movement” in opposition to feminists who advocate child-murder, or who use staged shootings in promotion of hate literature adapted for school children. A group of swedish feminists were exposed by writers on this site after portraying the execution style murder of a newspaper reading man, following in thier promotional video by the text “do your part”. This video posted on youtube stayed online for more than a year, in promotion of a stage adaptation of Valerie Solana’s infamous hate literature, the “Society for Cutting Up Men Manifesto”. The writing from the “So Called Men’s Right’s Movement” opposing this murder advocacy was transmuted by gender-ideologue commentators into an endorsement for violence – attributed to “So Called MRAs” including myself. The problem being that the names of individuals advocating murder were published by this web-site.
To oppositional writers, please understand this clearly. The men’s movement is an anti-violence movement. If if your enthusiasm you forget yourself and publicly endorse child abuse, physical violence, eugenics, or murder, we will publish your name. Not because we wish for harm to befall you, no. We will do this because a civil society cannot continue to function when mainstream media becomes a conduit for the advocation of violence.
For readers to whom this is stunningly obvious, and appears condescending, I sincerely apologize. Sadly for many who now earn a living behind a keyboard, this clarification is unfortunately necessary.
So, here’s one more tip for effective rhetorical attack against the “So Called Men’s Rights Movement.” Try not to call for violence. It makes you look stupid, and might even get you arrested. If that happens, then somebody else will have to attack us, and we’ll have to educate them as we’ve tried to educate you. As mentioned earlier in this article, many “So Called Man’s Rights Activists” are lazy, me for example. And I’d much rather not spend my time in repetitive tasks.
I sincerely hope that these several points will be helpful and informative to the opponents of this movement. The quality of attack must improve if those fielding opposition to advocates for the human rights of men and boys are to provide a useful foil for MRA writing.
However, I do wish to repeat my thanks to all those writers and commentators providing continued exposure of the movement seeking human rights for men and boys, and I look forward to working with all of you in promoting the “So Called Men’s Rights Movement” into the center stage of mainstream discourse on human rights.