|How the hell did I get mixed up in all this?|
The manosphere is in an uproar about a public service TV ad from an anti-violence group that portrays a baby boy as a future rapist. Some MRAs are attempting to refute the ad’s implication that improperly socialized men are prone to violence by posting and upvoting … violent comments and veiled threats online. And apparently some non-veiled death threats as well.
A few days ago, you see, W.F. Price, head honcho at The Spearhead, wrote a critical piece about the endeavors of one Josh Jasper to draw attention to sexism in Super Bowl commercials; Price also pointed out that Jasper, CEO of the Riverview Center, a nonprofit serving domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Illinois and Iowa, had put out an earlier commercial that, in Price’s words, “impl[ied] that baby boys are all potential rapists.”
Despite the source, that’s actually a more or less accurate description of the ad, which depicts a happy little baby boy as a future rapist. I’m just not quite sure why that’s so objectionable; after all, every baby, male or female, is a bundle of possibilities, some good, some bad. (Hitler was once a happy, gurgling baby.) The point of the ad is that parents can have an effect on how their kids turn out; if you raise your son to be a violent, misogynist asshole, he may well end up a rapist.
As much as I agree with this basic sentiment, I’m not going to defend the ad. It’s terrible. Generally, I’m not a fan of using babies to make political points — it’s trite and manipulative, to begin with. And in this case, it’s worse than that: portraying a baby as a future rapist seems rather hamfisted, given that babies are often victims of abuse themselves.
Judge for yourself; here’s the ad.
All this said, the flaws of the “rapist baby” ad in no way excuse the response it’s gotten from some of the more hotheaded in the Men’s Rights Movement and the manosphere in general. On his website, Peter Nolan declares that the ad “promote[s] hatred of male babies”; on The Spearhead, Poester99 goes even further, accusing Riverview Center of “promoting violence against baby boys.” Which is, of course, completely absurd. (Even besides that, as Jasper has pointed out on his blog, the Riverview Center serves male victims as well as female ones.) It’s hard to know if the people spouting this nonsense honestly believe it, or if they are using the baby in the ad even more cynically and opportunistically than Jasper is.
Unfortunately, the MRA reaction has gone well beyond simple rhetorical overkill. A number of comments on The Spearhead, many of them with dozens of upvotes, are essentially threats — some vague, some not-so-vague — against Jasper himself. duke writes that:
Mangina creeps like Josh Jasper should suffer the same fate as Nazi sympathizers after WWII-taken out and shot after a five minute trial.
If men really were as violent as he claims they would have shut him up long ago. One good beating and this mangina would never open his mouth again.
Firepower, meanwhile, goes after Jasper’s … first name:
So long as males tolerate sissified males named “Josh” – pissing even on our SuperBowl – these gender traitors will only feel encouraged to increase their anti-male slurs.
Over on A Voice For Men, meanwhile, MRA elder Paul Elam insinuates that Jasper, far from being a sissy, is a violent “alpha puke” — and calls on his fans to dig up dirt on him:
This man deserves consequences for his actions.
Some history on Josh is known. We know he was a marine and we also know that he was a Los Angeles police officer. Two areas for sure where the capacity for violence is a plus. Add to that the fact that he was on a Domestic Violence task force and this bad apple starts to stink a little more. …
Anyone want to take any bets on whether this alpha puke ever busted heads as a cop, simply because he could? It leaves one to wonder – especially given the intellectual violence he is so obviously willing to inflict on male children – just what sort of skeletons are in this douche bag’s closet.
If they are there, I would love to get my hands on them and rattle them together for the world to hear.
And on Men-Factor, antifeminist blogger ScareCrow (who used to regularly post comments here) posts the email addresses of The Riverview Center’s mostly female board of directors, urging readers to “vent your anger” on this “bitch-hive,” adding “I aim to destroy it.”
I don’t have the patience or the stomach to sort through the comments on the YouTube page for the ad to see what other vile shit has been posted there.
I can only hope that most of this violent language is just standard internet tough guy talk, and won’t result in real violence in the real world. Even if you believe that Jasper’s ad commits a sort of rhetorical violence against male babies — which I think is a ridiculous reading of the admittedly idiotic ad — it does not justify actual violence against anybody.
EDIT: I should have let this one sit a little before putting it up. I’ve made various changes to strengthen and clarify my argument.
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