I still remember the look in my father’s eyes when I first learned to ride a bicycle.
It was rough going – I crashed and crashed but I was determined to get it right. Dad both encouraged me and made it clear that I could always try again tomorrow with no loss of his love or respect. Finally – finally – the wobbles damped out and I made it all the way down the street, and back, without falling.
Dad was crying. I didn’t understand his emotion then, but his little boy was growing up. The milestones of life are often wet with tears.
As one grows and matures, one’s understanding of life’s complexities grows more profound. Whether riding a bike, mastering the nuances of formal logic, chess, forensics, video games, quantum physics, or individual spirituality, the growth of our mental and physical processes is a remarkable testament to our humanity, our humility, and our roles in community.
Our growth gives us valuable, and even critical insights into both the world and the people around us. The cost of growth can be high – we shed the innocence of youth, the idealism, and the friends we can no longer relate to. Often, those former friends misunderstand our growth as a betrayal of those core principles that informed those friendships.
If, for example, you were friends and allies with Suey #CancelColbert Park, but you come to the startling conclusion that white men are people, too, then Suey will hate you like the treacherous sea swallows ships:
Salon: What is the best way to work with white people, to get them on our side?
Suey Park: I don’t want them on our side.
You don’t want them on your side.
This is not reform, this is revolution.
So what do you want to see happen in your revolution?
I mean, it’s already happening I think. The revolution will not be an apocalypse, it’s gonna be a series of shifts in consciousness that result in actions that come about, and I think that like, at this point is really like, ride or die, in terms who’s in and who is out. I don’t play by appeasement politics, it is not about getting my oppressors to humanize me. And in that sense I reject the respectability politics, I reject being tone-policed, I think we need to do away with this idea that these structures are … that the prisons can undergo reform and somehow do less violence as a structure. But any example like that.
Wait, can you ask that question again, I got distracted real quick, there was a bird outside my window.
Ah, the sweet, easily distracted idealistic stupidity of youth! Oops – I just humanized that bigot. Yikes.
Many Men’s Human Rights Advocates despair of debating with feminists and I share their concerns – feminists seem trapped in a stage of moral development devoid of the understanding of either societal morality (obeying laws as a part of the social contract) or universal morality (principles of justice that require us to treat the claims of all parties in an impartial manner, respecting the basic dignity of all people as individuals).
Instead, feminists are mired in a care-and-concern group-based morality where “relations of special obligation to family, friends, and group members…often include or presuppose general obligations of respect, fairness, and contract”. Because men are demonized through the feminist “patriarchy theory” (or “rape culture”; take your pick), men are the OTHER in the feminist world, and hence, NOT worthy of respect, fairness, nor contract – nor even basic human rights.
That is how and why feminists laugh at male suffering, ignore the intense misandry of other feminists, protest and pull fire alarms at lectures about men’s problems, and treat accusations of the rape of a woman as equal to a conviction – men are the ENEMY, guilty by default, and worthy of less respect than a slug. Men bad, woman good.
This wretched state of moral development is identical to racism – othering a person because of his differing race and embracing a bigot of a similar race. It is identical to religious hatred – the extremist Christian who hates all Muslims, or the extremist Muslim who hates all Christians.
Without a universal understanding of morality – one that values all people, man and woman alike – feminists doom themselves to an eternal echo-chamber of hatred, and engaging in any sort of dialog with them seems both pointless and hopeless.
But as much as feminists try to “other” me as a man, I reject the urge to other them as women, or even as feminists. I choose to hold on the hope – however faint – that they can, as individuals, grow out of their group hatred into a more nuanced understanding of the problems we face – the human problems.
One feminist, at least, is now showing signs that she is breaking out of this echo-chamber. Who could believe it would be legendary man-hater Amanda Marcotte?
Marcotte is famed in feminist circles for her othering of men: “misandry”, to her, is a nonsense word, She insists that “women aren’t raised in a culture that tells them they’re entitled to attention from men” but God help you if you disagree with her or tell her “no”.
Marcotte even tried (and failed, spectacularly) to rape-shame RAINN – the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network – into buying into her beloved rape-culture crap.
But recently, Marcotte has been tinkering with a more nuanced tone to her writing about men and feminism. The differences are small but telling, and once other feminists figure out that Marcotte is going a bit soft on man-hating, they are going to go insanely angry, like Jessica Valenti did when the New Republic wrote about Paul Elam and A Voice for Men.
The specific article by Marcotte was published by Slate, and relates to the sexual peccadilloes of U.S. Representative Vance McAllister and a married female staffer, Melissa Hixon Peacock, who were caught kissing for 30 seconds on camera.
Marcotte rightly questions the judgment of other feminists (Rep. Jackie Speier and Jarvis DeBerry, among others) who characterized the obviously consensual face-sucking as “sexual harassment”. A veteran of the John Edwards presidential campaign, Marcotte has experienced enough on-the-job high jinks to where she can distinguish between actual harassment and plain old screwing around:
This difference is not trivial. Anti-feminists already love to accuse feminists of being uptight prudes for speaking out against coercive and harassing sexual behavior. It’s probably wise to avoid giving them ammunition by tying the word harassment to a situation where both parties appear, on tape at least, to be throwing themselves into it whole-heartedly.
Now, of course, the supposed “prudery” of feminism has never been a major concern of the Men’s Human Rights Movement – the lunacy of the “all Penis-in-Vagina sex is rape” crowd is obvious to everyone who is not a feminist, and Marcotte is not signing up for the Sammich Mines just yet, but look at how far she’s come:
- Instead of ignoring or dismissing (othering) “Anti-feminists” out of hand, she engaged their concerns in open discourse.
- Instead of blindly supporting her feminist allies, she called them out on their logical (and tactical) fallacy.
- Instead of blaming hegemonic male sexuality, she recognized the sexual agency and enthusiasm of that Peacock woman.
Small victories, and perhaps short-lived ones, but cracks in the foundation of feminism have a way of spreading – and Men’s Human Rights Advocates are the ones swinging the sledgehammers to good effect.
You haven’t earned a big old Texas hug and a smooch yet, Amanda, but here is a small nod to the growth of your moral and mental maturity, and we can hope that there is much more to come.
And no, those aren’t tears on my cheeks. It is hot in here; it is raining; the sprinklers went off with the fire alarms.
Feature image by James G. Milles