I met Davis Aurini at the start of November at Zen Men’s (formerly Kennesaw State University Men) Male Students in Peril conference. Actually, I spotted him in the area outside the conference room and went over to introduce myself.
We chatted it up a bit and met later in my hotel room so he could interview me for his and Jordan Owen’s very important documentary project, The Sarkeesian Effect.
I am sure that if Davis and I talked long enough, we would find things to disagree about, but it did not happen that particular day. He struck me as an informed, thoughtful man with a developed sense of decorum. I enjoyed visiting with him.
Recently he wrote an article for his blog and granted us permission to run it at AVfM. He brought up some very salient points, to which I would like to respond in agreement and expand upon.
Also, he missed the mark on a couple of items. I want to address those first because they are actually the least significant items, so better to dispose of them at the outset.
Aurini is somehow under the impression that at some point in 2012 AVfM was suffering from ideological drift because of Marxists in our ranks, but that we have solved the problem. That does not jibe with the reality.
I remember, I believe it was in 2012, that we got rid of one individual. It was not because she was a leftist. It was because she wasn’t smart enough to keep herself from using YouTube to attack men for Going Their Own Way. That is kind of a deal breaker around here, so out she went.
The truth is that no one has ever been invited into, or forced to depart from, AVfM because of political ideology. Just as true is the fact that I don’t know the political orientation of most AVfM staff. I don’t know because I don’t care. I never ask.
I assume that most of the political spectrum is represented, but the thing is that people who are more wed to governance politics than men’s advocacy generally don’t show up to help. They only show up in the comments to say we are too left or too right. We like it that way. At least, I do.
So where Aurini got his impression about AVfM and Marxism, I don’t know. In the end, it does not matter because what he gets right in his piece is a lot more important than the single misstep.
What he did was actually quite remarkable. His article was not just an important olive branch, it was a rare, spot-on analysis from “outside” of what AVfM does and why it is so important. In that sense, he nailed it. He groks AVfM and what we are doing.
I want to seize the opportunity he has presented to take a deeper look, starting with the manosphere. Aurini points at the ongoing friction between the Men’s Human Rights Movement (MHRM) and the amalgam of other online communities—Game, Men Going Their Own Way, Pickup Artists, etc.—and notes quite rightly that there is a stark difference in standards of expression and sensibilities between the MHRM and the others.
If AVfM is a civil but heated arena of public controversy, the manosphere is a chicken-wire roadhouse. For those of you who don’t know, a chicken-wire roadhouse is generally a rural establishment where the band plays behind a chicken-wire fence so they don’t get hit when patrons throw beer bottles at them to express their disapproval of the performance.
Aurini also points out correctly that AVfM is more of a collective effort, whereas other forums tend to be run and frequented by lone wolves.
It’s a solid observation that led exactly and correctly to his analogy of guerilla warfare versus individual snipers. There is, however, some more to that picture.
I think the explanation of why there is friction between the guerillas and the snipers lies just under the surface of his assumptions about the average guy in the manosphere:
If you ask most denizens of the manosphere, they’ll describe AVfM as nothing more than “feminism for men.”
He’s correct on his assessment. You will see that sentiment fairly often in what most of us would call the manosphere. You will hear it despite the fact that there is nothing in it resembling reality.
You will never see AVfM pushing for a “Violence Against Men” act, or for legal intervention on pay inequities that favor women (they do exist), or any other governmental program to identify men as a victim group in need of special victim money. We might be willing to say that letting women who commit murder walk and sexually mutilating male babies as a standard operating procedure are bad, but that hardly seems comparable to Anti-gamergate SJWs and slutwalks.
What AVfM does, just as Aurini asserts, is force a change in the social narrative about men and women. We undermine lobby groups as much as possible. And if I may say so, we are pretty damned good at it.
In the process, we do point rather directly to the hypocrisy of gynocentrism, which may be confusing enough for some people to conclude that men’s activism is “like feminism.”
It’s still an illogical conclusion. And it ignores the obvious in that the only thing AVfM is invested in is making people reconsider their worldview about men and women.
With all respect to manospherians, you can’t get that done with just snipers. It requires an organized effort that will not be divided by politics, race, sex, sexuality, or any other of the typical walls we construct between human beings.
And it is a critical change to pursue. The more the narrative changes in the direction that the MHRM wants, the more things become user-friendly in the world in which denizens of the manosphere are born into and forced to live.
In the end, whether we like to admit it or not, the MHRM and the manosphere are both products of the inevitable reaction to runaway gynocentrism, though some are more proficient at it than others. Discrimination against men and the increasing infantilization and depraved privileging of women are the fuel for what most of us do. We just handle it in different ways.
Aurini points out with a hint of humor that AVfM even allows women. Yes, we do, and as a matter of fact we have lessons to learn from them, primarily the social-networking skills needed for our end of this struggle to change the zeitgeist.
I doubt if there are many, if any, participants in the MHRM or the manosphere who will argue that men have not had their asses handed to them, largely by women, over the past 50 years. We did, in fact, have a gender war, and the guys got their asses kicked.
The fact that they chose not to show up and fight, or rather that the ones who did fought for women, had a lot to do with that, but in the end an ass-kicking is still an ass-kicking.
Why did this happen? Only a few snipers and no guerillas.
Men took a severe beating because when it comes to circling the wagons and sticking together as men we are pathetically inferior to women. Indeed, we have a lot of men, maybe most of them, who take pride in how inferior they are at social connectivity. They call it independence, if you get my drift.
Feminism has raised literally billions of dollars and amassed incredible power because women stick together and are efficient at recruiting men to help them.
Or another way to put it is that feminism has raised billions of dollars and amassed incredible power because men suck at supporting each other and recruiting women to help them.
Paint that with a “fiercely independent” happy face all you want, it still results in an ass-kicking.
That is not to say that lone warriors are unneeded or ineffective. It is just that what makes an army an army is warriors working together in a chain of command. There is no other way to build an army or run it.
Some may argue that what I am saying about armies is proof that masculine virtues infer some sort of social bonding and productive cooperation. And they do. After all, how could we have built the pyramids or landed a spacecraft on a comet without men working together? Men, working together, built civilization as we know it. It is just that somewhere along the line we suddenly found ourselves getting the note that we were no longer welcome here.
And the “men cooperate” argument only plays up to the point when men try to form an army to fight for themselves. Then it all, at least until now, falls apart. It is why there has been men discussing these same issues for over a hundred years and getting exactly nowhere.
Zed did not coin the term “circular firing squad” for nothing.
One of those “masculine virtues” that we don’t talk about too much is that men are wired to compete more than cooperate. That wiring makes some men very successful at the acquisition of sex and money. It also makes most men malleable in the hands of women and other men.
That competition is the friction that Aurini is addressing. It is the source of “the split” he referred to.
I am not saying that is all bad. Competition is a great motivator, and I agree with Aurini that the split actually did some good for both sides.
But I also think that his stance on chilling out the resentments is a hell of a good start on better perspectives and a better chance at change.
As for the manosphere, I can honestly say that I have nothing against any of those guys. After all, I spend my life advocating for them, even if they don’t like it.
Part of this will never go away. It is human nature for men to climb over each other’s backs, even over petty shit.
Still, looking back over the history of AVfM, I also see that it is possible for men to do what they have been previously incapable of doing. We have circled our wagons and begun to take care of each other.
I have to send some props to Davis Aurini for noticing, and to say that I have no hatchet with him that needs burying.