Our old nemesis The Pigman — the MRA blogger and one half of the cartooning team responsible for atrocities like this — has some thoughts on the Aurora shootings, specifically on the men who lost their lives to protect their girlfriends from gunfire. Their heroism makes him angry, much like the fellows on The Spearhead we looked at the other day. Here’s his complaint:
How’s that for inequity? How’s that for disposability? These guys appear to have sacrificed themselves for these people primarily because of their sex.
Well, no, I think they sacrificed themselves for their girlfriends because they loved their girlfriends.
After all, where are the guys who jumped in front of their best mate, or their dad or brother? And above all, where are the women who died saving their boyfriends?
There were many heroes in the Aurora shooting. Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves died protecting their girlfriends. Stephanie Davies risked her life to keep a friend shot in the neck from bleeding to death. Other acts of heroism had less storybook endings: Marcus Weaver tried to shield a female friend. He was wounded but lived; she died. Jennifer Seeger tried to drag a wounded victim to safety, but fled when the shooter returned.
But the Pigman is interested in none of this:
This isn’t heroism, this is male disposability at its worst and by praising it society is encouraging it.Cheering these men’s actions is as reprehensible as it is stupid and discriminatory.
The heroes in Aurora acted quickly, and on instinct; they didn’t have time to stop to think. Is it possible that, in the cases of those men who tried to shield the women with them, gender socialization had something to do with what their instincts told them to do? Almost certainly.
But “male disposability” has nothing to do with it. We live in a society in which heroism, as an idea and as a cultural ideal, has been gendered male for thousands of years. In the stories we tell ourselves, the video games we play, the movies we watch (including The Dark Knight Rises) , the “hero with a thousand faces” is almost always male, and the damsel in distress is, well, almost always a damsel.
The Pigman ignores all this, instead attacking the three dead men as
foolish enough and unfortunate enough to fall for a lifetime of anti-male propaganda telling them to die for the nearest woman whenever the shit hits the fan.
I have no doubt that many are concerned with the feelings of the dead men’s survivors and wish I would just shut up.
But then he barrels ahead anyway:
But this is a simple case of “What you praise, you encourage,” and I for one think calling out those who encourage men to waste their lives for people worth no more than themselves is more important than being “sensitive”. Die for a child if you must, die for some guy on the verge of finding a cure for cancer if you must – die for someone no better than you simply because you have been taught to and you are a fool.
Had these men died protecting male buddies, would The Pigman have applied this calculus of worthiness to the beneficiaries of their heroism? Would he have suggested that the dead men thought they were worth less than their friends? Of course not.
The three men didn’t do what they did because they thought they were worthless or disposable. They did what they did because they wanted to protect those they loved. Others in the theater, like Stephanie Davies, risked their lives for friends, or people they didn’t even know. There’s nothing foolish or “wasteful” about putting yourself on the line to protect others. In every major disaster, whether natural, or like this one man-made, ordinary people emerge as heroes precisely because they are willing to put the lives and safety of other people ahead of their own.
Do these real-life stories of heroism play out in gendered ways? Often times they do. Men may be more willing to risk their lives to protect their wives or girlfriends; mothers may be more willing to risk their lives to protect their children.
In real life crises, it’s hardly surprising that people sometimes act like characters in these stories we tell ourselves. If you want to change how people act, you need to change these stories.
MRAs like to pretend that men are the “disposable sex” but in their hearts they know that’s not true. They’re well aware, as are we all, that our cultural narratives of heroism privilege and glorify men and put them at the center of almost every story. MRAs like The Pigman aren’t interested in expan ding our cultural narratives of heroism to include female heroes — nor are they willing to even acknowledge that there are such things as female heroes in the real world. They certainly don’t want more stories, more games, more films featuring female protagonists.
Instead they’d rather wrap themselves in the mantle of victimhood, and attack real heroes like Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves as “white knights” or “fools.”
How people react in a crises reveals a lot about them. How MRAs like The Pigman, and like the Spearhead commenters I quoted the other day reacted to the Aurora shootings has certainly revealed a lot about them, none of it good.
Unfortunately, attitudes like theirs aren’t confined to the fringe that is the manosphere.
After hearing the stories of Blunk, McQuinn, and Teves, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto tweeted “I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice.”
After numerous readers responded to his remarks with outrage, Taranto offered an apology of sorts, along with an explanation that suggested he really didn’t understand why people were angry in the first place. When someone does something noble and heroic out of love, it’s not up to you to second guess their actions or their love. Taranto’s words not only dishonored “the the girls whose boyfriends died to save them;” it dishonored the heroes as well.
Like The Pigman, like the Spearhead commenters, Taranto has failed this test of his humanity.