As anyone in the men’s movement not living under a rock is aware, there was a recent flurry of activity, not to mention anger, around a blog entry made by Jenna Myers Karvunidis on her blog space at ChicagoNow.com. In her article “Keep Dads out of Pre-school Potty Duty,” she had posted standard misandric fare implying that men, as a class of human beings, should be excluded from being in a bathroom with children at a preschool, as compared to women.
She was seemingly quite pleased with herself, celebrating an apparent victory in her own comments as she announced that the school had relented to pressures from her, and agreed to formulate policies based on her concerns.
Then, men’s advocates got involved.
Since that time, Karavunidis has placed herself on a very public emotional roller coaster, alternating between hostility, to contrition, to fear and back several times. Two days ago I received the following from her in my email, which I now present unedited and in its entirety for your review:
Message: Hello, is this Paul?
I would sincerely like to make amends with MRA. Please hear me out. I am very regretful of my unwitting attack against men in my blog post that earned me a profile on this site. My initial responses to criticism were harsh, that I “didn’t care” if I was a bigot etc. The truth is, I didn’t know who was behind the screen. I was confronted with fire and my natural instinct was to fight back with fire. I was not thinking clearly.
I now realize many of the men so outraged at me were victims themselves. It sincerely hurts my heart to have caused any damage to a group of people. I had never heard of MRA before this incident and am saddened to learn about the plight of men in this modern world. It indeed must be terrifying to live under the constant possibility that a woman’s word will be taken at face value and ruin your life.
Please know I did not consider any of this when writing my original, I realize now hurtful, post.
I did remove the post in question within 24 hours. The first time it was removed was by administrators to turn off comments (I don’t have that editing power) but the decision to pull the final plug on the post was all mine.
Please allow me to make this right. True, I am concerned about my online presence to a degree and the thorn my profile here has caused. More so troubling me is the fact that I spoke out having NO idea of the harm my speech could do.
I would be more than happy to post a sincere apology on my blog along with better statistics, perhaps shedding light on a topic so many people are in the dark about. MRA issues are a completely new concept to me, but indeed a worthy one.
I am also willing to make a significant donation to your site.
Please consider my offer.
Jenna Myers Karvunidis
This signals a huge shift in perspective and even what might be called and awakening on the part of Karvunidis. And to my knowledge this is the first time I have ever seen the offer of an apology from a self-identified feminist blogger for the furthering of hostility toward men, and an offer to correct bad information.
And while it is not a textbook example of contrition, this is an apparent attempt to follow through on her word. However, her latest post regarding this matter, “An Apology to Men’s Rights Activists,” is a mixed bag.
In it, Karvunidis does, in fact, apologize. And she does, in fact, (marginally) address the issue of the disinformation by saying the following:
“I now have greater awareness that women abuse children as well.”
Greater awareness? Perhaps, but this statement is a far cry from what was promised in her email to me:
“I would be more than happy to post a sincere apology on my blog along with better statistics, perhaps shedding light on a topic so many people are in the dark about.”
I want to say with no sarcasm and with all sincerity that I do not wish to pour salt in this person’s wounds. Indeed, a sincere apology to men, to men’s advocates and especially to the numbers of abused men, along with corrected mistakes, coming from a self-identified feminist is in some ways the brass ring on the carousel. It is what most MRA’s see as a turning of the tide in our battle, and something, were it to issue sincerely from a growing number of feminists, that might help move us back in the direction of sanity and unity.
But the fact remains that Karvunidis proclaimed that 99% of all sexual predators are men, and she has still not effectively owned that mistake and presented thoughtfully researched information to clear it up.
Another thing that muddles her “apology” is that she continues to play victim to the outrage that she herself inspired, however unwittingly, even threatening to remove her apology if anyone says anything negative about her.
Conditional apologies are not apologies, they are lip service.
All that being said, I think there is room for this to develop in the right direction. Personally, I am not shocked that anyone might feel shell shocked and a bit jumpy in her shoes; even highly defensive. Even the strongest of blue pill people being force-fed a sudden, massive dose of prescription strength red pill reality can’t be expected to have a smooth and seamless reaction. So on some of the continued defensive posturing, I give her a pass. Even for some of the defensive side-stepping that flows through her apology post.
What I can’t support, however, is the lackluster attention to the core of her original problem. She targeted Fathers and used misleading and unreferenced stats to paint them all as potential abusers. Now she has now offered a band-aide to put on a very deep cut.
One of the defining aspects of integrity, to me, is that when a mistake is made it is corrected, with aplomb and with an utter disregard of ego. Integrity demands that the lesson not just be learned, but demonstrated.
That is important because it is important that Karvunidis and others learn that this is not just about offending advocates. It is about human decency and about teaching fear and hatred to our children. It is about teaching our daughters that men are to be viewed generally with suspicion and distrust. And it’s about teaching our sons to react to females with an equal but different kind of fear and apprehension. It teaches them to see women as dangerous.
Yes, we need to teach caution to all of our children. But there is a wide gulf between healthy lessons for personal safety, and inculcating paranoia based on stereotypes, prejudice and lies.
To drive this point home we need only ask ourselves one simple question. Can we take the word “Dads” out of title of Karvunidis’s article, and replace it with any other group of human beings?
How about “Keep Blacks out of Pre-school Potty Duty” No? How about this? “Keep Gays out of Pre-school Potty Duty”? Might sound good to Pat Buchanan, but no, most of us have moved past Socon idiocies. O.K., how about “Keep Hispanics out of Pre-school Potty Duty”? Still no good, eh? Let’s see, I suppose “Keep Moms out of Pre-school Potty Duty,” is dead on arrival.
That is the problem. And that is the problem with the socially cultivated vilification of men. In so many circumstances, we commit ideas that if applied to any other segment of the population, would be rightfully construed as bigotry. Yet when we figuratively don white sheets and burn crosses on the yards of men, we delude ourselves into calling it public awareness, social service or just the personal opinion of one happy suburbanite “Mom.”
That is something that people must be educated out of, even painfully if necessary. I truly hope that for Ms. Karvunidis, this lesson has not been a waste.