Though Men’s Rights activists devote an enormous amount of their time denouncing feminism – or at least the imaginary version of feminism that exists only in their own heads – they’re happy to appropriate feminist concepts when it suits them. One that many MRAs seem especially eager to claim for themselves is the idea of the “safe space.”
Of course, their version of the “safe space” bears only a slight resemblance to the feminist original. Feminists seek to create spaces for discussion in which say, rape survivors can discuss their experiences without being triggered by insensitive arguers and trolls and mansplainers in general.
When MRAs talk about “safe spaces,” by contrast, their goal is often to exclude women not just from discussion spaces but from full participation in society, essentially declaring giant arenas of work and play, from STEM fields to video games, to be places where feminists, and women in general, should fear to tread.
And so it’s hardly surprising that more than a few MRAs are arguing that the Zoe Quinn “scandal” proves that women and gaming don’t mix – or, at least, that they shouldn’t.
Consider the little manifesto recently “pinned” as the top post on the Men’s Rights subreddit, in which a fellow calling himself mradiscus lamented what he called “a pattern of female feminists migrating to formerly male spaces, demanding to be accommodated and eventually causing conflict and alienation.”
The “male spaces” he has in mind – the “hacking scene,” atheism, and the video game industry – won’t come as a shock to anyone familiar with the current state of nerdboy rage, but might trouble anyone who thinks that women are, you know, equal to men and have the same rights to choose their own careers and have their own interests and beliefs.
Not only that, but there is just a teensy bit of irony in that the way that MRAs and others are trying to drive off the feminist, er, invaders is by harassing them. That is, MRAs are appropriating the concept of “safe spaces” — designed to protect those in them from harassment and abuse — and using it as an excuse for … harassment and abuse.
But let’s step back a bit, because we still don’t have an answer as to why any of these “spaces” should be defined as male in the first place. How is atheism – the lack of a belief in god or gods – only a dude thing? When did guys get the right to call dibs on the gaming business?
Well, as mradiscus sees it, these “spaces” have traditionally been essentially nerdboy preserves, and should be protected from the pernicious influence of “female feminists” who, presumably, have no real interest in hacking or gaming or skepticism and whose real goal is just to make life hard for already beleaguered nerd dudes:
A scene predominantly populated by rather introverted young males becomes popular and attracts, among others, young women with a feminist mindset. Some of these women then go on and demand to be accommodated. Their demands are mostly met, and so we see the emergence of “gender awareness teams” at hacking conferences, no-means-no campaigns at anime conventions and a whole lot of conference panel slots devoted to “feminist this” and “gender that”.
Mradiscus then offers what I can only call a “revisionist” history of the harassment of feminist women from Rebecca Watson to Zoe Quinn:
What we also see is a whole lot of scandals. What seems to spark them most of the time is a overreaction to a minor offense, blown way out of proportion by a semi-popular feminist and her fan base who then proceed to launch an attack on the whole “misogynistic” scene. The young men feel cornered and unfairly attacked and retaliate with inappropriate and infelicitous measures which only leads to the feminists seeing their prejudices confirmed. Rape threat allegations are launched, there’s doxxing and name-calling all-around and new-found fame for a brave and courageous young feminist who may or may not proceed to make a career out of her struggle.
I should point out that none of the women who have allegedly “made … career[s] out of [their] struggles” actually asked to be harassed and demonized. If the harassers are angry that their harassment allowed Anita Sarkeesian to raise a lot more money than she asked for, they really have only themselves to blame.
Mradiscus ends with an ominous prediction-slash-threat that young men aren’t going to remain “patient” for much longer – and that things could get much worse for feminists venturing into these “male spaces.”
I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the patience of these young nerdy men turns out to be a shallow well that’s drawing to a close. I sense quite a bit of alienation in the hacking and gaming sub-cultures when it comes to feminist topics. What do you think?
I think that you have a very strange notion of “patience.”
Naturally, MRAs being MRAs, mradiscus’ little manifesto – dripping with unexamined misogynistic assumptions and a quiet, curiously passive-aggressive rage – won praise and more than one hundred upvotes from the subreddit regulars.
The most extraordinary response to mradiscus’ rant was also the top-ranked comment, a long screed from a fellow calling himself a0i that argued, with complete seriousness (and occasional very confused references to the theories of Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci), that
The logic of how feminists target predominantly male spaces is very similar to the pattern of locust swarms.
Yep. Feminists are LOCUSTS.
Wherever there are men, there are targets for false accusations, male scapegoats, and fake victims. False accusations can’t happen without men, and neither can feminism. When there are too many women somewhere, you can’t claim that the environment is dominated by men, and feminists have nothing left to justify their presence. Feminists can’t thrive because they lack a scapegoat. They seek out a place where men are, and fabricate outrage at finding too many men in once place, at one time.
They have to find fresh environments with concentrations of male majorities, for “structures of misogyny” to pretend-struggle against. Thus, nerd culture being targeted, video games being targeted, Anita Sarkeesian making up being attacked, etc.
Yep, apparently all those hundreds of thousands of comments you might have seen attacking Sarkeesian all over the internet are nothing but a mirage. That Flash game in which you could cover her face in bruises? You must have dreamed it.
It’s telling that a major feminist concern is for “women’s exclusive space”, while another feminist concern is for “women’s inclusion in male-dominated spaces”. They fight to get in, just to kick the men out. …
Feminists demand unlimited access for women, as proof of men’s commitment to equality, but demand limited access for men, to prove men’s concern for safety.
Wat? I’m pretty sure no feminists are talking about excluding men from video gaming.
This works, despite the irony that — if you believed in their equality, you wouldn’t make special accommodations for their safety.
Uh, no, because if one group faces systematic oppression because of prejudice, the only way to ensure an egalitarian society is by making “special accommodations for their safety.” That’s why we have hate crime laws.
In the case of gaming, and atheism and tech in general, the only “special accommodations” feminists have asked for have been, you know, protection from sexual harassment and assault. Protections that also apply to men.
If there is one principle to understand about the tactics used to engineer women’s privilege over men in society, it is this:
- “what you intend to do to an opponent, you must accuse them of doing to you” …
Frame your victim as your victimizer, put them in a position to want to prove themselves innocent. Frame your attacks as self-defense, frame your transgressions as righteous. Frame the enemy as using propaganda, make this part of your propaganda. Frame the enemy as a threat, before you launch your attack. Pretend to be a victim, while attacking the accused.
Apparently MRAs are utterly oblivious to irony.