“Can’t we all just get along?”
It’s an argument we’ve heard over and over from sources critical of the men’s human rights movement. It gets handed to us by individuals who think of feminism and the MHRM as two opposite ends of an activism spectrum, with feminists representing women, and the MHRM representing men.
The latest version of it, a Boston Globe editorial by Cathy Young, is a sugar-coated rehash of the same tone argument feminists have been using to try to shame MHRAs into silence for years; shaming language, claims that MHRAs are too loud, too brash, too rude, and talk too much about the problems the movement exists to address. She could have snatched the last few paragraphs of her article almost directly from the plethora of feminist commenters who have made the same argument in men’s forums all over the internet. The writing doesn’t reflect an epiphany or even an original idea.
It’s the feminist company line.
The article is dishonest and self-contradicting. After describing all of the reasons why a men’s movement is needed, she went on to try to use a vague, unsupported accusations to shame into silence those responsible for bringing men’s issues into the public view.
Let’s take a closer look at them.
Unfortunately, any movement championing one gender seems doomed to devolve into victim politics and demonization of the other sex.
This generalization is a direct contradiction to her previous statements. Up to the paragraph containing this sentence, Young did a pretty decent job of explaining why the men’s human rights movement exists, listing off several important issues. Her writing discussed some areas in which men are victims of discrimination and in which female abuse of men is facilitated by discriminatory law. After prefacing her personal version of “shut the fuck up” with a conciliatory description of issues the movement exists to address, she went on to hypocritically deny their impact by referring to discussion about them and efforts to address them as “victim politics,” and “demonizing of the other sex.”
What she has said there, in the context of the whole article, is “Yes, I know men can be victimized by women, and I know that society and the law are structured to make it easy for women to victimize men, and I know that there are women who take advantage of that… but shame on you for talking about it.”
Some leading men’s rights websites such as A Voice for Men offer a steady diet of vulgar woman-bashing that discredits any valid points they may make.
At first glance, the statement looks like an attack only on A Voice For Men.
It isn’t. Though the sentence mentions the site, it’s an inclusive statement, referencing leading websites. It’s an attack not only on this site, but on every site where men’s rights advocates dare to gather. It’s an attack on all of us – every men’s rights advocate who has the nerve to speak out about men’s issues.
It also isn’t an honest statement. Discussion on leading men’s rights websites centers on highlighting the issues men face, the causes of those issues, and changes in law, policy, and social norms which would be necessary to fix those issues. Among the issues noted in Young’s article, many involve ways in which women benefit from laws that discriminate against men, and as she noted, feminists have opposed men’s efforts to remedy that. Discussing those issues is naturally going to include pointing out the abuse itself, which in turn means pointing the finger at its female perpetrators and their feminist defenders. It will also naturally include challenging popular opinion on aspects of those issues, and challenging popular opinion on related women’s issues.
In labeling such discussion “a steady diet of vulgar woman-bashing,” Young is really saying two things; first, that women must be exempt from criticism, even when discussing issues that are a result of female dysfunction… and second, that feminist ownership of women’s issues must not be challenged by alternative viewpoints. This is simultaneously an incredibly tight control to place on gender-issues discussion, and a leash that can be placed on those unruly female MHRAs who fail to toe the feminist line.
Between the lines, she’s saying a third thing that most people won’t pick up – the same thing feminists everywhere say between the lines when they invade men’s issues forums with the “Can’t we all just get along?” argument. To pick up on it, you have to realize that criticism of feminism and female dysfunction can’t be vulgar woman-bashing unless one assumes that all women are feminist, and all women are dysfunctional.
MHRAs cannot discuss women. Women are the proprietary territory of feminist writers. Discussion on women’s behavior and women’s issues must always be shaped by feminist ideology, or anything you say will be considered misogyny.
The sentiment goes beyond male discussion. It’s not just a statement of ownership of the topic, “women.” It’s ownership of women. It’s also the use of castigation of men’s speech to shame women who support the MHRM. That can be further seen in Young’s subtle claim that the MHRM is not a gender equality movement.
Perhaps what the 21st century needs is not a women’s movement (which was once essential to secure basic rights) or a men’s movement, but a gender equality movement.
That paragraph isn’t the invitation to inclusion it’s intended to appear to be. It’s “shut the fuck up, MHRAs.” Strip off the nice intro, read that paragraph by itself, and what you have left is the same thing we see in this type of argument all the time. Her point isn’t “we should be working together,” but “I want to convince you the MHRM has no legitimacy as a stand-alone movement.”
A women’s movement ‘was once essential to secure basic rights,” but when men’s basic rights have been attacked and compromised, a men’s movement is not needed to remedy that. Feminism has gone too far, as she pointed out in an earlier paragraph, but apparently a men’s movement isn’t needed to remedy that, either. Contrary to Young’s insinuation, it can be acknowledged that feminism is not a gender equality movement, because there are demonstrable examples of feminist efforts to create or maintain discrimination against men and boys in law, policy, and social conditions. That’s not gender equality advocacy.
What Young fails to understand is that the MHRM is a gender equality movement. The movement doesn’t attack women or women’s rights, but instead treats women with a respect that feminism has tried to kill – the application of standards. We don’t have to be identical to men to be equally valued, and we don’t have to damsel to get them to listen to our opinions, even those with which they disagree… but we do have to live up to the same expectations of character that men are accustomed to being expected to display.
Feminism is degrading. Feminist advocacy strives to normalize and excuse female dysfunction, and the expectation of special treatment. Feminist theory imposes helplessness on women to support an agenda. Feminist leadership uses the concept of total female vulnerability for political fodder, and in doing so, unnecessarily pits us against men. That is not empowering. It’s disturbing and creepy.
Feminists reserve a special hatred for female MHRAs, because we refuse their exploitative advances. That reduces the size of their stable of proxy victims to whore out for public sympathy, in three ways:
We deny them the ability to use us directly.
We show how dishonest they are in imposing perpetual victimhood on others.
We call them out on it when they do that.
That kills their monopoly on the female end of the gender-issues dialogue, a tool they’ve been using to wrangle funds and political power for decades. When we buck the self-perceived authority of feminist leadership, we threaten their income and status. Bad honeybadgers. No snake guts for you.
The hidden message for female MHRAs in the “Can’t we all just get along” argument is get your ass back in line, bitches! How dare you!
How dare you side with the enemy!
How dare you call the enemy a human rights movement!
How dare you contradict your feminist overlords!
Don’t you realize if you do that, we’ll make you look mean, and ugly, and nobody will like you?
What women like Cathy Young don’t understand is that this particular method of attack – the “can’t we all just get along” tone argument – does not work on either the men or the women of the MHRM.
You’re not going to shut men up by castigating them over the tone of their speech.
You’re not going to shut female MHRAs up by treating the movement as an outrage.
We are not withering violets, afraid that our words won’t be accepted, our opinions not liked, and our methods not approved.
We’re not here for a popularity contest. We’re here to draw attention to issues people want to ignore.
We’re here because we’re not your political property.
We’re here because fuck perpetual victimhood.
We’re here because feminism hurts women, too.
We’re here because men’s rights are human rights.
Sincerely, the Honeybadger Brigade
Karen Straughan (GirlWritesWhat)
Alison “Asha” Tieman (Typhon Blue)
Hannah Wallen, aka Della Burton
Janet Bloomfield (Judgy Bitch)
Amy Dee (Correctrix)
Dr. Helen Smith
Dr. Tara Palmatier
Susie Parker (100% Cotton)