So over on the Men’s Rights subreddit, the regulars are engaging in a bit of self-reflection. Well, that may be a bit of a generous description on my part. They’re discussing the question “Are we fanatics?” Not surprisingly, they conclude that they aren’t.
Yet this is the most upvoted comment in the thread:
Those of you who have studied twentieth century history may have remembered Lady Hitler’s war on the Jews, the Romani people, and homosexuals; the Great Feminist Purges of Lady Stalin; the Cultural Revolution of Lady Mao. (Oh, wait, there actually was a Madame Mao, and she was a pretty evil gal, though she owed her power largely to her husband and was ousted shortly after his death.)
Moving on from all that war and starvation stuff, let’s return to that first sentence, since MRAs are so fond of blaming eeevil feminists for the draft.
In August 1914, at the start of the First World War, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order of the White Feather with support from the prominent author Mrs Humphrey Ward. The organization aimed to shame men into enlisting in the British Army by persuading women to present them with a white feather if they were not wearing a uniform.
It’s worth pointing out that at the start of WWI, people of all political stripes and in all the countries involved were pretty gung-ho for the war. Even the big socialist parties of the day quickly forgot their pledges of international solidarity in favor of supporting their national war efforts.
So where do the evil feminists come in? Well, a couple of the most famous British suffragettes signed onto the White Feather crusade: Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. And yes, they supported compulsory national service — though they supported it for both men and women: men would go to war, while women would be required to work in factories.
Of course, the Order of the White Feather didn’t represent all feminists at the time. Indeed, it didn’t even represent all the Pankhursts: Christabel’s sisters Sylvia and Adela were pacifists.
Even aside from all that blather about feminists being responsible for wars and concentration camps, it’s highly misleading to present the story of the Order of the White Feather as “proof” that feminists are warmongering all-male-draft-lovers. As a quick visit to Google will demonstrate, feminism has a long history of antiwar activism, dating back to the 19th century — when feminists first organized Mother’s Day as a protest of war.
But, hey, MRAs, if you want to invent your own mythological version of history, knock yourself out. You only make yourselves look like the fanatics you are.
Thanks to this thread in the AgainstMensRights Subreddit for pointing me to this most edifying discussion.