By David Futrelle
Two days ago, a young Men’s Rights Redditor called PropaneElephant decided to “commemorate” the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique Massacre in a uniquely MRA-ish manner: by typing out a screed demanding to know why he, as a man, should give a shit about female engineers.
“First,” he began,
I would like to take a moment to commemorate the fatal event that occurred 30 years ago on this day, the École Polytechnique Massacre.
Normally, when someone makes a statement like this, you can assume that they’re talking about commemorating the victims of the shooting, 14 female students at an engineering school. But it quickly becomes clear that Mr. Elephant’s views are closer to those of the killer, who targeted female engineering students in an attempt to strike a blow against feminism.
After getting the “commemoration” out of the way, Mr. Elephant launches an attack on one of his teachers who used the anniversary of the tragedy to make broader points about the discrimination that women going into mostly male fields like engineering have faced over the years.
Today, one of my teachers decided to bring up this topic by having us create a list of jobs that women wouldn’t typically do, then showing us a video of women working in the engineering field. The point of her lesson was to show us the stereotypical ideology that women were unsuitable for certain jobs back in the day, and how that has transformed into women working in higher level jobs nowadays.
But apparently Mr. Elephant felt that this discussion of women in engineering was deeply flawed because it had too many women in it.
The video was discouraging, it felt like a punch in the face. There were women, and only women. Women, women, women. Women’s rights, women are being paid less than men, women should become engineers. Why would I, a man, want to care about female engineers?
As I read this, I thought about the extraordinary failure of empathy required to type out this last sentence on the anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of fourteen female engineering students.
I also thought about the number of times I’ve seen MRAs indignantly ask what feminism has ever done for men — and then dismissing every example given to them showing exactly what feminism has done for men. I thought about the feminist friend of mine who volunteers at a rape crisis center that serves those of all genders; I thought of the feminists I know who work at domestic violence shelters that provide shelter and service not only for women but also for men fleeing female abusers. I then thought about the giant pile of nothing that MRAs have offered both of these groups of men in crisis.
Back to Mr Elephant, still ranting:
Instead of forcing feminism upon us and telling young girls to become engineers simply because they’re a woman, scrap the idea of talking about equality on school grounds entirely, or talk about equality instead.
Huh. Stop talking about equality and talk about equality? Has Mr Elephant simply lost the plot altogether?
Women are being given too many advantages over men. There are women’s programs that give scholarships to only women and organizations that unnecessarily discuss gender equality issues that don’t exist anymore.
Dude, you’re madder about being “forced” to watch a short film on female engineers than you are about the man who murdered fourteen future female engineers, so obviously there are still “gender equality issues” in the world.
And my teacher didn’t stop there. She then had us make a list of jobs that men wouldn’t do and showed us a video of men working as nurses. What the fuck? You’re telling all girls in the class to aim higher and telling us to aim lower? How does that solve anything?
Er, dude, the point was to get you to ask yourself why jobs in fields that are mostly female tend to pay less than jobs in fields that are mostly male But evidently this is too much for the big brained Mr Elephant, who sees the exercise only as a sneaky feminist attempt to get men to “aim lower.”
Showing us a video of all the innocent women murdered 30 years ago and then showing us a video to promote engineering? That contradicts. Why do you think women would want to work in engineering after you show us a video about the women who were killed for that reason? And besides, people don’t openly discriminate against women that much nowadays.
Once again the whole point of the exercise whooshes right over Mr. Elephant’s head.
After a paragraph complaining similarly about an anti-bullying video shown in class on another occasion, Mr. Elephant wrapped up his rant:
In short, avoid talking about discrimination in school as it makes certain groups look better than others. Focus on equality instead.
Stop talking about equality and talk about equality!
Forget the past, it only makes people feel worse.
A “history is bunk” for our time.
Mr Elephant’s post received, naturally, dozens of upvotes and zero criticism from the Men’s Rights crowd on Reddit.
Well, maybe one bit of mild criticism: One commenter suggested that Mr Elephant had been wrong to suggest that stereotypes of women as unsuited for careers like engineering are a thing of the past. Because the commenter, right this minute, thinks that this stereotype in indeed true:
“Women are still unsuitable for certain jobs,” he wrote
This is why we have to listen to all this bullshit about how we have to change STEM so that women will be able to work there, instead of women just doing the damn job. Stereotypes are usually accurate.
Yeah, not so much — though stereotypes about Men’s Rights Activists being angry, narcissistic man-babies are certainly more accurate than most, as Mr. Elephant’s post and the welcoming response from other MRAs both make clear.
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