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antifeminism misogyny MRA oppressed men threats violence against men/women

Amanda Marcotte on the Thomas Ball suicide, and MRA haters

Amanda Marcotte, feminist blogger and Friend of Man Boobz, has been taking a lot of shit from MRAs – and I mean a LOT of shit – for a comment she made here on the Thomas Ball suicide.

As you may already know, Ball burned himself to death outside a New Hampshire courthouse. In a lengthy manifesto he wrote shortly before killing himself, he portrayed his suicide as a protest against a corrupt family court system, and went on to argue that MRAs should quite literally assemble some Molotov cocktails and “start burning down police stations and courthouses.” (You can read the whole manifesto here.)  Despite his calls for violence many MRAs have hailed him as an MRA martyr.

Marcotte, in her comment here, suggested that there might have been other, more personal reasons for his suicide – namely, the desire to hurt his ex-wife:

I’ll point out that setting yourself on fire is an extremely effective tool if your goal is to make your ex-wife’s life a living hell, and if your anger at losing control over her overwhelms all other desires. Which is common enough with abusers, who will ruin their own lives and their own shit and turn their children against them in an effort to hurt the woman they’ve fixated on.

One MR blogger declared this comment “pure feminist evil”; a conservative blogger compared Marcotte to the Beast of Babylon.  Still other MRAs resorted to assorted variations on the c-word.

Marcotte has now responded to this, er, “criticism” with an excellent post on Pandagon. As she points out, correctly,

suicide and threats of suicide are common tactics used by abusers to hurt their victims. Abusers dramatically self-destruct all the time in their desperation to control and hurt the objects of their obsession.  There was just recently a big story about this, in fact: Jason Valdez of Utah, who had a long criminal record that included domestic violence, held a woman hostage in a hotel room for 16 hours and kept updates about the situation on Facebook. He eventually committed suicide.

The notion that suicide can be a hostile, aggressive act designed to hurt other people is hardly a controversial one, whether the person committing suicide is male or female. Threats of suicide are often used to manipulate other people; suicide itself can be an act of revenge.

Marcotte goes on:

Apparently, I’m supposed to pretend that suicide isn’t a disruptive, selfish act in many cases (especially when the suicide victim commits it in a public and destructive way), and that people who do it, while yes victims of their own mental health problems, are also thinking that they’re going to make everyone pay for not indulging them.  In fact, not only is this true in Ball’s case, but he spelled it out in his suicide note.  The “make the bastards suffer” theme of his note is the reason that wingnuts are supporting him.

But you don’t have to take her word for it. Read Ball’s entire manifesto, to the end, and ask yourself if this man is an appropriate “martyr” for any political movement.

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Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

In b4 thread becomes unrelated clusterfuck! Man, if you don’t get in the first 30 comments on these things, you’ve got no chance of catching up…

But this seems self-evident to me, and it also seems like something the MRAs wouldn’t want to deny. If Ball’s suicide is supposed to be a blow against the forces of family court… I mean FYMYNYSM–then don’t you have to acknowledge that it was intended as a blow?

If it’s nothing more than the sad desperate act of a sad desperate individual, then it loses most of its impact, even for their side.

ithiliana
10 years ago

I admit one of my first thoughts was that I was glad Ball had not killed his children which a number of men have done (and yes, women have killed their children too, I don’t deny it) in similar situations.

Holly: If Ball’s suicide is supposed to be a blow against the forces of family court… I mean FYMYNYSM–then don’t you have to acknowledge that it was intended as a blow?

If it’s nothing more than the sad desperate act of a sad desperate individual, then it loses most of its impact, even for their side.

As we say in fandom, there you go applying Earth logic again! Tsk!

But yes, +10000000000000.

I also liked Amanda’s note about how there’s all this hatred among white conservatives for the “sneaky” suicide bombers if they happen to be Muslim! And yet, the praising to the skies for white men who are committing terrorist acts never seems to strike any of them as hypocritical.

Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

Also: I’m determined not to post about MRAs any more on my blog. It makes it sound like they’re this big legitimate movement–maybe even an actual challenge to feminism–instead of about a hundred Internet trolls.

I respect what you do here, David; it’s a niche blog and it can be fun (or sort of exhausting) to read, but I think that mainstream feminist blogs in general should just ignore these guys. Of all the real threats and challenges out there in the world, they’re… gnats. Loud, obnoxious, and ultimately powerless and meaningless gnats. They don’t deserve attention.

You want to know the real reason Ball’s suicide wasn’t some kind of MRA victory? Besides the fact that it was horrible and it proved nothing except his own mental problems? Because Ball, like most people on Earth, had probably never even heard of the MRAs.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective.

filetofswedishfish
10 years ago

Holly- that was where I was all weekend. No way I can catch up here unless I spend the whole time on the thread.

Also, I can offer a data point here to support Amanda- My dad used to frequently threaten suicide and self harm to hurt my mother, my sister, and I. It garnered him attention in the process. Now, pops had some serious issues with depression, which needed treatment. But he was fully cognizant of what he was doing, too.

Ami Angelwings
10 years ago

@Holly that’s how I feel too… is it rly worth the effort to rant about conspiracy theorists? o_O I mean I could have post after post after post about the crazy things certain trans-exclusionary rad fems say too (I think I have 2… and about 2 for MRAs too xD ) but what would be the point? :3

besides MRAs see feminism, and women in general as being just white straight cis abled and middle class : we alrdy have way too much of a focus on that in feminism in general sometimes… and this is just keeping the focus on that :

Ami Angelwings
10 years ago

says the girl who made the magic cards xD I know xD. I just find the whole worldview to be hilarious and absurd and I like satirizing things :3 (also making magic cards) but I dun rly see a point in needing to “refute’ what they say or nething xD Sometimes it’s rly hilarious tho… XDD

Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

Ami – I think it’s okay to do on this blog, where it’s the entire raison d’etre, or however they say it in Franceland. It’s a mockery blog with a very specific target. But I’m leery of MRA-mockery leaking out into general feminism blogs. That’s making them look bigger than they are and giving them attention they don’t deserve–when they’re treated as a threat on par with people who have actual political power.

Ami Angelwings
10 years ago

@Holly yeah that’s what I meant :3

Papr1ka
Papr1ka
10 years ago

I can definitely relate to what Marcotte is saying. In high school, I dated a girl who would often threaten self-harm and/or suicide to get her way and in order to keep me from breaking up with her. It took me several months to work up the courage to end the relationship.

The point is, self-harm can be a powerful means of control in a relationship, whether it is actually committed or merely threatened. Self-harmful behavior does not only hurt the person who is doing it, it hurts everyone who loves or cares about them. Especially when one is being blamed for another person wounding themselves.

Ion
Ion
10 years ago

But I’m leery of MRA-mockery leaking out into general feminism blogs. That’s making them look bigger than they are

Well, I don’t think you have to worry about that. On most feminist blogs, an MRA (or really anyone who disagrees with the official party line) will receive a torrent of abuse and be banned in short order. The only time MRAs get any attention in those places is when they’re being smugly mocked, kind of like here.

Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

. On most feminist blogs, an MRA (or really anyone who disagrees with the official party line) will receive a torrent of abuse and be banned in short order.
Good. Troll control is important.

Tabby Lavlamp
Tabby Lavlamp
10 years ago

Ion, the way to avoid being mocked is by not saying stupid, mockery-worthy bullshit. If the MRAs stop setting themselves up for it, we’d have to move on to other things.

Ion
Ion
10 years ago

Yep, it’s a beautiful tool when you don’t like dissent or being questioned.

Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

Ion – Dissent and questioning are things that can only happen after the obvious, hateful, few-but-loud trolls have stopped shitting up the discussion.

For example, feminists are currently divided over the Slutwalk movement. Some (such as me) feel it’s an important blow for sexual freedom. Others feel it’s cheapening feminism or projecting a sexualized image of women.

Neither of these groups can get a word in edgewise when some dickbag is yelling “HURR SLUTS HURRR WOMEN R DUM DUM EVIL LAZY SLUTTTTS” in the comment section.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
10 years ago

I disagree with Holly. MRAs aren’t nearly at the level of feminists, but they’re out there. Mostly on the Internet, but not entirely. And there are a LOT on the internet. It’s on the way up. I’d be quite surprised, for example, if Ball hadn’t at least read and been sympathetic to MRM rhetoric.

Life is What You Make It
Life is What You Make It
10 years ago

It’s going to be interesting watching the direction the MRM is heading with the bullies they have leading the charge now. The MRM leaders who have emerged are going to destroy what credibility others have worked so hard for in no time. They may be more well-known than they are now, but not in a way that will be favorable to them.

Ion
Ion
10 years ago

But I’ve seen more than one guy who was actually quite articulate and polite being labeled a troll, attacked, called names and ultimately banned on feminist blogs simply because he held his ground and kept answering back. In one case, the blog owner finally said something like ‘a man shouldn’t be posting here, this is a space for women’s voices’ and banned him. Whatever, her blog, her rules, I guess. Just saying it’s kind of pointless to say “troll control is important” when you get to decide who the trolls are, and they are whoever you don’t like.

Ion
Ion
10 years ago

As an aside, I’ve never liked Amanda Marcotte much. Although she’s a good writer, and I sometimes even agreed with her points, there’s always an underlying nastiness, with hints of contempt for men, that makes me uneasy. Even her post on The Good Men Project supposedly providing guys with dating advice as an alternative to PUA methods had a sneering, mocking tone. So yeah… unpleasant.

Rosie
Rosie
10 years ago

Somehow I think I would have noticed if 25% of the women and children in the United States were homeless. Just to put that out there.
I am entirely confident that this man was an abuser. He shows no empathy for victims, and acts like the horror of living without a man is worse than the horror of living with a man who beats you and/or your children. This absolute denial of the reality that many people are in danger as a result of domestic violence is the type of attitude which enables violence to occur. What an asshole.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

Re. troll control: Have you never been to an MRM blog? They’re even worse, in my opinion. I tried commenting on one of Roissy’s posts once — not to disagree with him, even, but only to add something to the conversation that he had conveniently left out, and he wouldn’t post it. Coward.

I agree with Amanda’s basic point about Ball. I said it at least two or three times on that thread, but even though we can’t know exactly what he was thinking right before his suicide, if he did consider it at all he absolutely must have known that the people who would be hurt most by his death and his suicide letter were his ex-wife and his 14-year-old daughter. Either he wasn’t thinking even that clearly, he didn’t care, or that was his goal. Hard to say.

Holly Pervocracy
10 years ago

Ion – I don’t agree with making a comment section single-gender, but I do think there’s some value in feminist-only discussion spaces.

If you’re trying to run a cat blog and talk about cats, and someone keeps barging in asking why you aren’t talking about dogs and sharing their feelings on dogs–it’s not hatred to ban that person. It’s not even necessarily an anti-dog thing. It’s just making room to have a civil discussion about cats, uninterrupted by people who aren’t interested in cats and have no desire to learn about cats.

Spaces where dog people and cat people can talk together do exist… and they seem to be where the dog people show their true colors.

I think the metaphor has broken down but you get my drift.

cynickal
cynickal
10 years ago

But I’ve seen more than one guy who was actually quite articulate and polite being labeled a troll, attacked, called names and ultimately banned on feminist blogs simply because he held his ground and kept answering back.

Keep answering facts with stupid and of course you’ll get banned.

That being said, I’ve seen thousands of women routinely passed over for promotion and when they finally get thier day in court they are told “You can’t possibly know what you’re talking about because there is a clause in Walmart’s HR handbook that says discrimination based on sex is forbidden. QED your little lady brains aren’t being discriminated against, you’re just not good enough to ever be promoted.”

Crap, I’m feeding the trolls and off topic.

@Holly, the MRA movement as it stand “Officially” may be a minority, but it’s a consistent thread that weaves through most of those who accept that women are not real people.

I’ll agree that calling them out empowers them, because they thrive on victimhood. But I believe there are enough cases of parallel evolution of this kind of hateful thought that it needs to be exposed for the harm it does to everyone.

Johnny Pez
10 years ago

Because Ball, like most people on Earth, had probably never even heard of the MRAs.

Amanda seemed to be making the point that Ball knew all about the MRM, and his interactions with it contributed to his decision to kill himself and make his suicide a public spectacle.

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