Finally, a more skilled opponent.
For years, Men’s human Rights Activists have been asking for some opposition beyond the boringly predictable shaming and accusatory rhetoric of the feminist public sphere. A Voice for Men’s founder and publisher Paul Elam and I have both written several articles each attempting to provide guidance to oppositional writers in fielding a more effective attack against the movement for male human rights.
We really do hope for those opposing this movement to sharpen their pencils, as the exercise of repeatedly swatting aside empty accusation and ineffective attempts to invoke shame do little to develop our own skills, or advance the public discourse. Sadly, until the present, all such advice has gone unheeded.
In 2011, despairing of the flaccid character of the opposition’s rhetoric, I wrote an article originally titled “Where is the Counter Argument”. It’s conclusion was that in the continued light of no substantive effort at any honest opposition from either the mainstream or feminist spheres, I was no longer interested in the apparently futile project to cultivate honest debate.
From that article:
“I don’t mind telling you, I am no longer here to debate, or to reason, or to converse, or to hope you may be reached by logic or evidence.
I AM HERE TO FUCK YOUR SHIT UP.
And in that, I am not alone. Now I don’t mean to stoop to the use of lies or violence. You are practiced at those tactics, and frankly, I don’t need them.”
But finally, it appears the Men’s Human Rights Movement has raised enough eyebrows that somebody other than a complete dunce is willing to bestir themselves to do more than copy-paste “rape apologist” from their clipboard of thought-stopping cliches.
Enter R Tod Kelly, a journalist presently writing for Newsweek. He interviewed me via Skype this morning for an upcoming article to be published by Newsweek/The Daily Beast. As I expected him to do, he questioned me very politely. I also expect him to savage me mercilessly from his keyboard. Well, not just mercilessly, I expect him to do so effectively, with a minimal reliance on regurgitated cliches like rape-apologetics, misogyny and small-penis/mother’s basement and other insults so common in the writing of those typically opposing the Men’s Human Rights Movement.
Kelly, for his part, is not an idiot, and he’s going to get a few things right, probably. I mentioned the workplace death rate at least a few times in our call. Here it is again: 93% of those killed on the job in north America are men. And even after years of talking about this number it still shocks me. I mentioned the male-weighted rate of suicide. 4 male corpses for every woman dead by her own hand. I also mentioned the devastating impact of false accusations on men, and the flippancy with which such accusations are delivered in a social climate where being female maps to the public perception of victimhood, particularly at the perceived hands of a male offender.
I spent a little over an hour in my Skype call with Mr Kelly, and we had what I think is a most productive discussion. The conversation ranged from the utility and power of even informal false accusations to the long term economic and social consequences of feminism in a big-government society. Kelly asked me about the origins of my own interest in men’s human rights issues, and we even plumbed some speculative theories connecting central banking, the funding of early feminist organizations and the complicit silence of mainstream journalism during feminism’s rise to pre-eminence. (Tin-foil hats and all)
However, although R Tod Kelly will likely mention some of these issues, he’s still going to try to mow me down from the driver’s seat of the number 10 express to downtown. Wait, what? Didn’t I just say we had a productive and friendly discussion lasting over an hour? Well sure, but Kelly asked me for the interview by email, in the following terms. It’s a long swath of text to include in this discussion, but still only part of what Mr Kelly covered in his email.
“The editors and I agree that the both the need for a men’s rights movement and the uphill challenges the movement faces might be better communicated by focusing on a single person’s battles.
A few weeks ago I think I might have considered other people, but right now I think the perfect person to focus on would be you.
You are, if I may say so, probably the most intriguing person in the movement today. You are, I believe, one of the only (if not the only) paid staff person in the entire movement. You are young and passionate, articulate, and most of the movement regards you as a leader. I have seen a number of your videos, including a local TV interview you did, and was dutifully impressed. Most of the people I have spoken with are happy to write on the internet and let it be; none of the other younger members of the movement I have encountered other than you has gone the extra step to begin work on starting a non-profit to advocate formally. I know that folks like Paul have had a lot to do with what the movement is today, but I believe that you more than anyone else might help sculpt what the movement becomes in the next 10-20 years.
So you know, my thought would be for the article to focus on your story – how you got involved, where you’ve had successes and failures in bringing about change – and then use your personal story to springboard to the larger movement.”
Admittedly, some readers might, in a fugue of naiveté, view this torrent of naked flattery as positive indication that Kelly would give this movement, or myself as an actor in the movement some sort of favorable treatment.
I was young and stupid once, too. The bottom of the bus is where I’m about to be, in whatever treatment Newsweek or The Beast offers up — despite Mr. Kelly’s assumption of my pathological narcissism and his over-the-pathetic-top attempt to manipulate me.
Some possible spin:
I’m a conspiracy theorist. The straps on my tinfoil hat are too tight. It’s the Bilderbergs, the Rockefeller group, the new world order, Alex Jones and David Icke’s lizard-man overlords from planet X.
I’m paranoid that all sexual encounters carry the potential of entrapment, all rape accusations are false, women’s sexual organs are sinister, and all the wimmin-folk wants to steal my sperms!
I’m a sexual loser, a professional failure – and barely one step from living in my mother’s basement – addling myself with porn because no real woman will step within 100 meters of me.
O wait. No, it cant be that one, that’s straight out of the shaming tactics catalog.
How about: “Money for nothin’. Chicks for free”?
Possibly, I’m a swindler, scamming the general public with the pretense of human rights activism while pocketing all the loot to fund addictions and disgusting sexual habits. After all, the paypal account associated with Vancouver’s local men’s rights activist group is listed as the grandiose sounding American Human Right’s Education Foundation. And despite that official sounding name, there is no 401c charity or nonprofit group with any legal recognition whatsoever. And hey, I’m also one of the only activists in this movement taking home a paycheque (if I am generous enough to call it that). Surely that can be spun into a story that we’re all in it just for the dollars. Or maybe only I’m in it for the dollars.
I’m actually hoping this might be included in the attack, simply for its novelty value.
Another approach might be the standard dismissal of evolutionary psychology. It’s my opinion that general public indifference to male-impacting pain has its roots far deeper in our brains than simply an ideology of gender popularized and mainstreamed in the last half century. That ideology trades heavily on some natural tendencies shared by our hominid ancestors. That’s one of the factors making the public recognition of issues affecting male human rights so challenging.
I can hardly wait to meet my doom under Tod Kelly’s keyboard. But at the end of our discussion, he mentioned that he’d be in my town within the next few days, and we’re all buddies for the moment, scheduled to meet for beers some time this weekend. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m scheming to make Tod cover the tab.
Feature image public domain, wiki commons.
AMMENDMENT: [Sunday 20 October 2013] R Tod Kelly, writing for the Daily Beast has finally delivered, and published his article. After waiting for months for his attack – he did what none of us expected. He wrote a thorough, well researched and comprehensive summary of the entire Men’s human rights movement, including Paul, who Kelly calls a rock star, and myself he calls a superstar. Admittedly, he also offers some criticism of the movement and of me – but Kelly’s article is inarguably the best addressing this movement ever published in the mainstream. The Superstar characterization was obviously over the top. But clearly, I’m not the only writer occasionally indulging in hyperbole. And I was wrong in my prediction of the same old attack. Well done Mr Kelly, very well done indeed.
To everyone besides Mr Kelly, go read it. Seriously.