Anyone who’s seen Taxi Driver will remember Travis Bickle’s late night soliloquy on the “whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, [and] junkies” he saw every night driving his cab. “Someday,” he told himself, “a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”
Of course — SPOILER ALERT! — what he really meant by “a real rain” coming was that he, Travis Bickle, would lose his shit and start shooting people.
Bickle wasn’t the only one to mix his predictions with a heaping helping of threat. Those who predict the end of the world at the hand of gods or men or some vague terrible cataclysm are all too often rooting (secretly or openly) for the civilization-destroyers they are ostensibly warning against. We saw this the other day amongst those MGTOWers who are now talking giddily about how complete economic collapse will serve to put foolish women and their “mangina” pals in their proper place.
And we see it again and again in the Men’s Rights movement, when MRAs sternly warn their detractors that if people don’t start listening to them, and pronto, the men of the world will rise up and, well, kick the shit out of everyone who opposes them. This is a warning only in the sense that a mafioso telling someone that, if he doesn’t pay what he owes, his legs just might possibly get broken, is a warning; by all reasonable definitions, it is a threat. As opposed to the leg-breaking, the threats of these MRAS aren’t very specific threats, but they’re threats of violence nonetheless.
I ran across one recent example of this sort of “warning” in the comments to Paul Elam’s piece on misandry — or at least what he labels misandry — in the Good Men Project’s package on the Men’s Rights movement. (My own contribution to the debate is here.) Here’s “Factory,” responding to another commenter who pointed out that some of his wording in an earlier comment had been awfully violent:
Who said I was interested in proving I wasn’t violent?
In point of fact, I continually warn people that if these issues are not MEANINGFULLY addressed, and soon, there will be a LOT of violence (see: Middle East) that we MRAs won’t be able to stop.
And frankly, if it comes to that, society (and all the women in it along with the men) flat out DESERVES whatever is coming.
Your hubris as a movement is causing a lot of men to be angry. You all vastly underestimate both the anger, and the ubiquitous nature of this anger.
We MRAs do nothing except act as weather vane and map. That’s why we have no central authority, or funding, or organization of any kind. We are average guys mad enough to stand up like we do. There are a LOT more guys that are just as mad, but content to let others lead.
And there are a growing number of men that take Feminist (and ‘official’) dismissal of mens issues as indication that ONLY violent revolution will lead to change.
And speaking for myself, if it ever comes to violence, I will stand aside, and feel bad while all manner of nasty things are done…but I won’t lift a FINGER to stop it.
Just like people like you are doing right now.
Notice the not-so-subtle, and rather thoroughly bungled, rhetorical sleight of hand here. Factory paints the violence as something he won’t indulge in (but won’t stop) — forgetting that in the very first sentence he admitted that he was himself violent. He refers to MRAs as little more than a “weather vane” for male emotion — but somehow later in the paragraph they are leading things. He claims that he will “feel bad while all manner of nasty things are done,” but this is only after stating in no uncertain terms that he thinks “society … flat out DESERVES whatever is coming.”
So, yeah, this is as much a “warning” as the hypothetical mafioso’s reference to broken legs.
Naturally, Elam himself stepped up to second Factory’s emotion, declaring that “[m]en, when disenfranchised and pushed to the edge, have frequently become violent.”
On his own site, Elam has been much more frankly threatening. Recently, telling off one commenter who had the temerity to actually question the gospel according to Elam, he finished off a long rant about male anger with this:
I would not suggest that treating half the population, the stronger half at that, with too much continuing disregard is a very good idea.
Thinking they will never come out swinging is a stupid, stupid way to go.
This kind of logic might best be called the Appeal to an Ass-kicking. The structure of this argument could be broken down as follows:
1) Source A says that p is true
2) If you don’t agree that p is true, Source A (or perhaps some other dudes) will do you bodily harm.
3) Therefore, you’d better fucking agree that p is true.
This is probably the oldest and crudest form of logic there is, and one that is popular amongst many animals as well. (My cat is a master of it, at least when p = “you will give me treats now.”)
Perhaps the best way to respond to it is the way that the commenter calling herself fannie responded to Factory on the Good Men Project:
You’re arguing that men are going to be so angry they’re not going to be able to control their rage and are therefore going to start inflicting mass amounts of violence upon others.
I’m not sure a feminist could be more defamatory of men than you are being.
MRAs sure are misandrist.
I, and feminists like me, think men are better than that.
If you enjoyed this post, would you kindly* use the “Share This” or one of the other buttons below to share it on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or wherever else you want. I appreciate it.
*Yes, that was a Bioshock reference.