So there’s a young woman who attends a “a small liberal arts school.” She majors in Philosophy, and minors in Women’s Studies. And she has a job as an aide for one of her feminist professors.
Her big brother disapproves of her academic choices and the fact that she’s a — wait for it — feminist. And apparently he expresses his disapproval to her at every opportunity. He’s a Men’s Rights Activist, you see, and arguing with his sister is evidently an important form of activism for him. He writes:
I cannot have a discussion with her without it turning into a huge fight. I try to debate, discuss and challenge her to at least entertain ideas that oppose her own – and I get accused of ‘mocking her principles’ and ‘not taking her career choices seriously’ – because apparently I am not allowed to take men’s rights seriously, it could only be a joke with the sole purpose of pissing her off.
So she writes him a note asking him to stop:
‘men’s rights activists’ as I have experienced them not only oppose everything I think, hope for, and fundamentally believe, they hinder the progress of it. They take examples of injustice where men are the victims (of which I will never deny there are plentiful) and they take quotes of some mostly second wave feminists (of which most modern feminists disagree with) and conflate it to fight against feminist agendas. They seem to see that as male oppression.
This seems to me to be a pretty accurate summation of Men’s Rights Activism as I have experienced it too. She continues:
Everything I want to do with my life, my passions, my academic pursuits, my role models, etc. are all put in jeopardy by the ‘men’s rights activism’ I have seen. And when you send me these articles to try to… I don’t know, explain your position, show me why I might be wrong, etc. it hurts me and deeply saddens me because it makes me feel like you’ve never given much thought to my life.
Now, if I were having constant arguments with someone in my family about an issue close to their hearts, and about which we had major disagreements, and this person sent me a note like this, I would, you know, stop arguing with them about it. Because whatever disagreements I had with them would matter less than my relationship with them. And because people who are not assholes generally try to avoid doing things that hurt and sadden those they care about.
I mean, there are limits. If someone in my family became a literal Nazi, I might react differently. But someone in my family majoring in something I think is a dumb thing to major in? Not really any of my fucking business.
So what does MRA Brother do after getting this note?
He goes to the Men’s Rights subreddit to moan about what a terrible ideologue his sister has become, and to get advice on more effective ways to, well, keep doing the things he’s doing that she’s explicitly told him make her feel like shit.
Naturally, the Men’s Rights regulars support him in his quest to be an ongoing asshole to his sister.
One thoughtful fellow going by the name IHaveALargePenis responds directly to the sister’s comment about how her brother’s actions are “hurting and sadden[ing] her,” saying:
Glad we’re making a difference, but what really strikes me is that she can’t deal with being questioned/criticized and this usually applies to a lot of feminists. If their points had merit, then why the fuss? I honestly think it’s because for 50 years or so they were completely unchallenged and were able to get away with insane claims like 1 in 4 women are raped, etc. Now all of a sudden people are asking for sources or stating that yes, women make less, but it’s not due to sexism.
I honestly think you should keep challenging her. She’s been in an echo chamber full of people constantly agreeing with those feminist ideals for far too long and is now convinced everything is true without even questioning it.
Irony alert! Code RED!
Tim8080 is even more blunt:
You may still love her but she almost certainly doesn’t love you anymore. I’ve seen this type of transformation before with one of my friends from highschool. Trust me its only going to get worse.
The creatively named SarcastiCock adds:
Aside from her opinions, she’s completely fucking useless and unemployable. … She’ll be looking for a sugar daddy some day.
JabCross vaguely remembers that some famous philosophers were themselves misogynists:
If she studied Kant at all in Philosophy then she should be shaking her head at the Womyn’s Studies bullshit.
But frankly, a lot of women love to feel like the victim and will subvert their own intelligence to believe it’s true.
MRAMoment suggests that a young woman like the sister in question is unlikely to respond to reason, and suggests that the brother instead try to, well, trick her into seeing the world his way:
I would hazard a guess that she’s currently living in a bubble. She’s on campus, completely enveloped in the ideology without any outside force acting on it. You are her brother, likely her older brother so she views you as some sort of fuddy-duddy who’s opinions don’t matter.
Rather than use reason, expose her bubble to the needles it needs to pop it. Bring her to places where her ideology clashes with reality. If you ever have time to mutually consume entertainment, watch a movie that will bait her into the objectification framing of it and follow up with a counter view of male disposability. Place the debris in the oyster and watch the pearl of doubt grow. Ask her to come volunteering with you at a homeless shelter, and not one specifically aimed at women.
Ironically, it is the generally repugnant OuiCrudites who offers the brother the most straightforward and sensible advice. Oh sure, he declares the sister “a supremacist ideologue demonstrating dangerous levels of solipsism & superiority complex.” But then he adds: “I would just stop talking with her about it.”
Alas, brother makes clear he’s not going to follow this bit of advice.
“I’m more concerned about her dedicating her life to this,” he writes, “than having a peaceful relationship.”
And the mansplainers mansplain on. Because clearly a bunch of random dudes with penis-related usernames on the Men’s Rights subreddit know more about feminism and philosophy than, you know, some dumb chick actually studying those specific subjects and hoping to devote her life to them.
Could we as feminists maybe not call college students, who tend to be over 18, girls? That would be awesome.
Pecunium — I assumed that her borther was quoting her note, but you’re right, it’s as reliable as what everyone says about Dracula (which I’ve finally started reading again, so now I’m in the middle of two books >.<)
Borther (noun), a brother who’s a bother.
I think a lot of younger feminists end up trying to distance themselves from the Second Wave because of cultural perceptions about it being anti-male, about hating sex, and so on. And sure, I’d prefer that they didn’t do that and it is a form of capitulation to stupid ideas that the culture holds about feminists, but I wouldn’t go from there to assuming that the women in question don’t actually know what the Second Wave was about. Much less ask “what are they teaching this girl in her liberal arts college”, the reads as really patronizing to me.
Argenti: You might enjoy, “The Dracula Tapes” by Fred Saberhagen.
As is this:
Let’s not assume young women are stupid, thanks.
I was wondering why no one else was side-eyeing that.
I really enjoyed Saberhagen’s Dracula books. 🙂
Argenti, I’m on my tablet (which makes copy/paste way too hard, if you’re lazy like me) but you can always find the dancing goalposts over on my blog.
I remember dealing with some 2nd Wave feminists in a socialist organization once, who were irritatingly stupid about racism and other things; other 2nd Wavers in the same organization were not nearly as obtuse though. I’ve never really seen them as being anti-men as a block, although clearly some can be read that way.
Joins in the side-eyeing…
Sorry for referring to the young woman in question as a ‘girl’. No disrespect was intended but I was wrong to use that word.
I am a bit tired of having second-wave feminists thrown under the bus by women who are eager to prove that they’re not “that kind of feminist”.
Thanks cloudiah! And thanks for the recommendation pecunium.
Thanks for apologizing, SamBarge. I guess I’m wondering what constitutes throwing second wave feminists under the bus? I think it’s fine to both recognize that first and second wave feminists accomplished many things, while still being critical of their weaknesses and blind spots. It’s a difficult discussion in any case because second wave feminism isn’t a monolith*, and I do think a lot of the theory is misread (intentionally or not).
*Some socialist second wave feminists, for example, were often better on issues of class and race, while still missing the boat on trans* and other issues.
I understand the frustration. I just don’t think that talking down to them is going to help, you know?
If the brother’s comments are to be believed, though (which, yeah, not so sure about that) I think that’s what’s going on rather than the sister not understanding the theory.
No one is throwing them under the bus, but it would be stupid to pretend that second wave is without its problems. Like TERFs and being anti-sex (hi, mom, ugh).
The older I get, the more I am “that feminist” but I try to check my shit vis a vis privilege and be inclusive, because it ain’t always about my white, middle-class, sexually fluid, semi-kinky, cis ass. You know?
I hear what people are saying about the problems with second-wave feminism – although it wasn’t a monolith and it was a lot more diverse on the ground than it was in the leadership that the media chose to focus on.
But that’s not what the letter to the original poster said. Assuming the young woman exists and that she wrote that letter (and that this isn’t all a figment/creation of an MRA who wants some sympathy points from his MRA friends) the problems people are pointing out with 2nd wave feminism aren’t the things MRAs are worried about. Not inclusive enough of race, class and sexual orientation or gender identity? Yes, that argument can and has (repreatedly) been made. I know there are feminists (of all waves) out there writing/speaking who still fail to acknowledge their privilege and it’s upsetting for those of us that want the movement to grow and be about true equality. I don’t think MRAs are worried about those things though. That was my point. The letter/note to her brother indicated that the quotes/writings of 2nd-wave feminists were understandably upsetting to MRAs and many modern feminists disagreed with them (commence bus throwing under). I mean, no one thinks she’s suggesting that MRAs are upset that 2nd-wave feminism isn’t sufficiently inclusive of our trans-sisters and aware of cis-privilege, do you?
So what is it? The anti-sex quotes? Except the anti-sex quotes are misrepresentations or fakes, for the most part. 2nd-wave feminism certainly acknowledged and spoke about power in sexual relationships and fighting the assumption that a woman needed to be (and wanted to be) conquered. Enthusiastic consent didn’t just emerge fully-formed as an idea in 2010. Decades were spent determining what it meant, that a woman wasn’t a slut for wanting and having sex, that birth control was our right and even acknowledging that your spouse could rape you. It wasn’t illegal for a person to rape their spouse until 1983 in my country. Women were being raped; it just wasn’t illegal if you had once said “I do.”
The idea that 2nd-wave feminists were anti-sex makes me laugh because we were having wild monkey sex at every opportunity. We had the pill, after all. We could finally do it and not be popping kids out all the time. And we were doing it – contrary to everythig we had been taught growing up about what “good” women did.
My snark about what they’re teaching at college was just that. A snark. I hope that people in women’s studies were learning the truth about what feminists were thinking, saying and doing in all ages rather than repeating the same old canards about Dworkin et. al.
Of course, like a couple of commenters have said, there is no evidence that this woman wrote this note or that, if she did, her brother quoted her faithfully rather than through his MRA-lens.