By David Futrelle
We’re awash in a wave of male political violence.
On Saturday, a man radicalized by the so-called alt-right online walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered 11 mostly elderly Jews. On Friday, authorities arrested a man for mailing more than a dozen bombs to prominent Democratic politicians and other critics of Trump. On Wenesday, a white supremacist man shot and killed two elderly black shoppers at a Kroger supermarket after first trying to force his way into a black church, his real target. I’ve lost track of how many far-right thugs have been arrested in recent days and charged with violent crimes, but they’ve all been men as well.
The fact that these terrorists — and that’s what they all are — have all been men is not incidental. Men are far more likely than women to resort to extreme violence to “make a point,” either personal or political. The vast majority of terrorists are male. Almost all mass killers are male.
The alt-right, which inspires and commits most of the political violence in the Unites States right now, is an overwhelmingly male movement. While there are a few prominent women in and around the movement, most of the leaders and almost all of the footsoldiers, are male, like those in the male-only fascist street gang known as the Proud Boys.
You might think that all this might be cause for a tiny bit of self-reflection on the part of those who call themselves Men’s Rights Activists.
But if you take a look at the current top 100 posts on the Men’s Rights subreddit — the largest Men’s Rights forum online, with close to 200,000 subscribers — there is only one topic devoted to the recent wave of terrorist violence. And it’s a post complaining that men aren’t being given enough credit for being the ones who “stand in harm’s way” during such incidents because the vast majority of SWAT team members are male.
Meanwhile, the subreddit is filled with stories about female criminality and violence. In addition to the usual parade of stories about female sexual predators, there’s a link to a Daily Mail article about a woman in China who slashed more than a dozen kindergarten students with a meat cleaver, and another link to a sloppy blog post about a prolific female poisoner … who lived in Italy in the fifteenth century.
“She killed at least 600 men,” the OP says of her. “Sounds like a good candidate for a feminist hero.”
Yes, he’s getting mad in advance about the hypothetical possibility of feminists today ironically embracing a female mass murderer who lived nearly 500 years ago and about whom very little reliable information is known (including her actual body count).
What are some of the other issues that Men’s Rights Redditors have collectively decided are more important to discuss than the hate murders and attempted assassinations of the last week, all carried out by men? Here are a few. (Click on the screenshots to go to the discussions on Reddit.)
And here’s one that’s clearly a burning issue for millions of men:
To be fair, most of those commenting on this particular issue think it’s stupid. But it’s still there in the top 100.
But the discussion that stood out most for me was this one, less for the topic itself — cis men’s supposed “right” to abortion, a perennial Men’s Rights favorite — but because of the charming way the OP decided to frame the debate.
He goes on for a couple more paragraphs, bringing up the idea of “financial abortions” — that is, a legalized version of deadbeat dadding — but I do love the idea that providing for a child that you have sired is as traumatic as someone literally forcing you to abort your baby.
As a men, I think that’s bullshit.
I know it’s not news that MRAs would rather talk about their hurt feelings when comedians make jokes about men being big dummies than they would any topic that forces them to possibly acknowledge that there are aspects of masculinity that are, indeed, toxic. But I’m still struck, even after all these years of tracking MRAs, by just how relentlessly avoid even the barest minimum of self-reflection on these issues.
No men’s movement that doesn’t in some way address the problem of male violence will ever be anything but a reactionary boys’ club reinforcing the most poisonous parts of toxic masculinity.
Discuss that, dudes.
CORRECTION: I corrected some incorrect info about the Kroger shooting (I had misstated the day on which it happened and the gender of his victims).
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