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MRAs demonstrate their complete ignorance of feminist history, part 9742

Er, that’s not quite how it happened (Click for larger version)

By David Futrelle

I found the meme above on the front page of the Men’s Rights subreddit today, with 82 upvotes (and counting). It’s a pretty good illustration of the standard story MRAs tell themselves about feminism: Once upon a time there was Good Feminism, it was modest and polite and didn’t ask for much. But then along came Tumblr feminists with their purple hair and they ruined everything!

While some MRAs in the Men’s Rights subreddit thread do take issue with the blatant historical inaccuracies of this meme, the enormous popularity in MRA circles of this narrative about feminism — which bears about as much resemblance to actual feminist history as the Men’s Rights movement does to a legitimate civil rights movement, which is to say none — reveals how little the typical MRAs actually know about the movement they pretty much devote all their time to denouncing. Not that their complete ignorance of feminism keeps them from having many very strong opinions about it, which they would like to tell you about at length.

Of all the dumb things in the above meme, their weird sanitized fantasy version of 2nd wave feminism amuses me the most. Hey MRAs, go take a look at Sisterhood is Powerful or the Redstockings online archive, or something.

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Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@kupo

remembered the nym, so I looked thru my emails. Last 2 times @Leo was here, she argued that Yiannopolous’ abuse wasn’t actually abuse and that it’s better to ignore nazis than protest them. I seem to remember her being relieved of both notions eventually, but fuck if I’m digging thru to find out. Yep, similarly disinclined to care what she has to say…

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

Edit: I meant the abuse Yiannopolous suffered, not the abuse he perpetrates…

Leo
Leo
4 years ago

@Kupo
No, that isn’t it at all! I mean I did do precisely that, let trans folk tell me their experiences, and it seemed that there was some disagreement between *them*. Maybe disagreement is the wrong way to put it, but different ideas about what being trans means etc. Which made me think that it’s reasonable for there to be differing views. That seemed like it made sense, other marginalised groups don’t necc. see things the exact same way.

Of course I’m not an anti-feminist, a specific criticism related to intersectionality, a ‘could do better’ is not an anti-feminist viewpoint, and it’s so often the case with political movements just in general. Socialists too often fail to include feminism. It happens unfortunately, more cohesiveness is needed all round.

@Axecalibur
About Yiannopolous, I don’t fully recall, but I am sure that denying abuse was never my point. I might have asked about his age at the time for clarification (age of consent under UK law), and understood that the power differential was an issue regardless (I think I might have been unsure whether a Priest counts as someone in authority under law, as would a teacher). That was just to try to be sure I understand the type of situation he had been referring to in his comments. I overall felt that, much deserved as a downfall was, it shouldn’t have come about that way, and felt a certain sympathy that, though his comments could be harmful, they were coming from his experience, maybe a coping strategy.

As for the Neo-Nazis/other Republicans, this was specifically on the topic of Berkeley, and was a very specific tactical question (how best to deal with them in such situations), not simply political. Other posters (Alan Robertshaw iirc — who like me is British, I did say I think we might be getting cultural wires crossed, and asked for more explanation of the situation in the US) had also discussed whether the use of force is an effective strategy or not. I felt it was unclear that it would be effective, and that it might place people at very serious risk. I did not refer only to the use of force against confirmed Neo-Nazis, as the demo was ostensibly for ‘free speech’ – we know how dishonest that claim is, but it doesn’t mean everyone does. I think maybe people were, really understandably, upset and scared at the time, and so reacted more strongly – it’s a pretty mild comment to suggest that maybe physical confrontation is best avoided if it’s possible.

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

@Leo
My point is this: you wouldn’t expect two cis people to describe their experience of being cis the same; why would you expect two trans* people to experience being trans* the same? Maybe we’re saying the same thing here, but it came off to me that you’re looking to categorize trans* people in some way.

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@Leo

I am sure that denying abuse was never my point

Well, you literally said ‘his experiences were not abusive’ and that it was ‘confusing’ that he labelled himself a victim

I think I might have been unsure whether a Priest counts as someone in authority under law, as would a teacher

That, you did

I think maybe people were, really understandably, upset and scared at the time, and so reacted more strongly – it’s a pretty mild comment to suggest that maybe physical confrontation is best avoided if it’s possible

Don’t do that. You weren’t reacted to “strongly” cos we were hysterical. You can’t come in and say what you said, while admitting not to know what the fuck you’re talking about, and act like we were the ones being irrational when we yell at you

Leo
Leo
4 years ago

@Kupo
I think we are pretty much saying the same thing here, yup. : ) Not looking to categorise.

@Axecalibur
Can you quote what I said in full, please? I’m genuinely sorry if I had the wrong end of the stick on the Yiannopolous issue, but if I said ‘not abusive’ I think I’d have meant ‘doesn’t meet the legal definition’. I think it would be confusing as to how he felt about it if he used the term ‘victim’ as he seemed to be saying there wasn’t anything wrong with what happened. He was being condemned for supporting pedophilia, so it seemed relevant whether he actually was or not.

I absolutely did not say nor imply in any way that anyone was hysterical, I said that it was understandable people were upset and scared. I was worried myself, that’s why I said what I did in the first place, I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or killed by some Neo-Nazi thug. Others made the same suggestion and did not get the same reaction. It’s a pretty standard, reasonable statement when talking about tactics and use of force, most people would feel it better to avoid getting into conflict and using force if possible – while it doesn’t make them right, it does make it the kind of thing one might reasonably say in good faith, and it’s not a horrible statement to make.

If I express doubt it’s in the sincere wish for clarification. I was/am willing to consider alternative perspectives.

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@Leo

Can you quote what I said in full, please?

Hold the fuckin L! Fine:

Milo is British, as am I, and stated he was 17 at the time as far as I’ve seen? (though confusingly then describes himself as a victim) The might be a legal thing I’m missing but it wasn’t statutory rape, was it? Even if there’s one of those ‘age of consent higher for same-sex acts’ things, while it would then be a crime, then I’d be more inclined to say the law is wrong, there. Or do Priests count as someone in position of authority, like teachers? (which would make sense)

^Just part of the comment, but notice no mention of it being confusing on account of his general demeanor. No, you seem to consider it confusing, cos you’d assumed it was legally OK. Which is 8 different kindsa nonsense, and brings me to…

if I said ‘not abusive’ I think I’d have meant ‘doesn’t meet the legal definition’

Not sure why you made that connection in the first place. Bit odd. Just cos something is legal doesn’t make it not abusive. Beyond that, and I’m not gonna quote this directly for the sake of convenience, you, at 1st, said it wasn’t abusive. Then, in a subsequent comment, you said it was, but still disputed whether it was illegal. Therefore, I’m led to believe that you didn’t believe legality was the arbiter of abusiveness. Again, hold the L

Listen here, fam. It’s generally a bad move to ascribe intent to yourself from months ago. You keep saying what you think you meant. Not only does the record not support you, but it really doesn’t matter what your intent was. You fucked up, you admit you fucked up. Fix your ideas or fix your communication skills. The L. Hold it

I absolutely did not say nor imply in any way that anyone was hysterical

You implied it pretty heavily actually. When you say that you were reasonable and everyone else was reacting strongly cos they were scared and upset, the implication is that they wouldn’t have been so strongly reactive were they not so emotional. Implication made…

Leo
Leo
4 years ago

Thank you. Ok, that looks a lot different in context. Look at all the question marks and the qualifying statements (‘The[re] might be a legal thing I’m missing’) that acknowledge uncertainty. That doesn’t show someone who is dismissing abuse, it shows someone acknowledging the person’s own account of what they experienced, seeking clarification and trying to be careful that they understand the situation – after all, there had been the question of whether Yiannopolous had indeed defended paedophilia or not. The legal question comes into it because of the statement made about it having been statutory rape (sexual abuse was what I meant above, by abusive), which I was uncertain whether it had been legally. The age of consent is 16 in the UK (that’s maybe actually a fairly big cultural difference). I do not think that legality is the only arbiter of abusiveness, but if Yiannopolous wasn’t underage and saw it as consensual, it’s not automatically easy to be sure what the situation was, though I certainly see an issue with power dynamics (didn’t I say that?). In saying ‘confusingly’ I did not intend to imply it was Ok, but that the situation is unclear. Maybe this will help clarify: Do you feel it’s definitely always abusive if it’s a relationship between an adult and an of-age teen? I’m not sure I really know the answer to that one, although my feeling is still that adults should not be sexually/romantically involved with teens.

I have a pretty decent memory, so I’d probably remember my intent at least if not exact wording, and the record supports me in that respect. It’s clarification seeking, not dismissive.

I can’t really change my ideas unless I understand the issue.

You implied it pretty heavily actually.

That’s not my implication. There’s a big difference between a) acknowledging that people might have understandably been upset and scared, which is a valid feeling, and that might affect how they react in the moment, and b) calling people’s feelings ‘hysterical’, which is just dismissive and invalidating. The former offers a chance to hopefully smooth over any misunderstanding, with feelings acknowledged – as I said, I was worried by the situation, too, which was why I was moved to post. It’s not a matter of one person being reasonable and others not, but that our feelings can affect our behaviour for all of us. I also noted that it wasn’t just me, but that other posters had discussed similar ground.

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
4 years ago

@Leo
I don’t want to have a part in that Milo discussion, but, assuming you are just a pedantic person (who isn’t these days) instead of a troll, here’s my take on the whole gender thing:

Yes, trans folks have lots of different oppinions on sex / gender, just like cis folks and one should acknowledge that. However, if we keep it there and do not strive to discuss a unifying theory of sex that describes most of us and analyzes and informes our practice then we vote to leave discussion to the most potent rumors (which usually flat out denies that trans is even valid) or elevate compromises born from social pressure to the state of nature.

As (mostly able, white, cis…) women have already been trough all that hazzle, can we please at least start there and acknowledge the social side of the problem instead of only listening to a select few voices of trans people who just so happen to fit incredibly well within a social binary view of sex that claims to be biologistic?

Leo
Leo
4 years ago

@Lyzzy
Careful, rather than pedantic, I hope – after all, don’t serious issues deserve to be treated seriously? Especially when they’re often very sensitive issues? There’s really no reason to think I’d be trolling about it.

On the gender issue, I’m not 100% sure what you’re saying tbh, but can see the idea that a unifying theory would clarify, at least, at least. IDK. : /

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
4 years ago

@Leo
I’m not currently a good judge of people’s prose so I won’t try to interpret the connotations of small textual statements in the larger context of this community and a very touchy issue. All I can say is that I know the struggle of writing sympathetic to the audience, authentic to one’s beliefs and clearly at the same time. To put it more bluntly, your readers generally don’t have the context of your experiences and will normally not go to great lengths to discern it, especially when you (as can happen by accident) seem to simultaniously open up a lot of ideological battlefields with standard anti-feminist talking points.

Regarding the gender/sex discussion I favor a multifaceted analysis that acknowledges the harsh realities of sex, childbirth and carework, the societal utilisation thereof, the need for bodily autonomy, some aspects of evolutionary theory and economy but also a lot of sociology (race, gender, ableism, class, large scale groups dynamics). This would help unite individual struggles for justice that currently get played out against each other.

One of the bigger problems I see with this is less in it’s complexity (humans are good at that) but more in our mode of hierarchical communication which is so ingrained in most of us, that it turns a whole discussion on truth and justice into some sort of slugfest.

Leo
Leo
4 years ago

@Lyzzy
While I’m aware I can inadvertently sabotage the clarity of my own writing by throwing in too many clarifications (actual OCD), I’m generally pretty careful with writing, my degree is an English one.

I referred to ‘American imperialism’ in my opening post and the impact of the intersection of race/economic class on opportunity, that is not a standard anti-feminist talking point (anti-feminists be all ‘we white dudes fight in wars to protect our wimminz, why u no grateful!’). Nor are disability rights, and attributing the main issue to ‘weak analysis’ rather than to lack of care or outright malice is also very different to what an anti-feminist would do. I have indeed however seen lack of care on disability rights from other feminists – it shouldn’t be a big ask to listen to someone mentally ill if they ask that political opponents not be called ‘mentally ill’ and that statements like ‘they should be sectioned’ not be made, especially with a clear explanation that it adds to stigma having been given. I think there’s the odd bit of privilege blindness, too, no reason feminism should automatically be immune to it, the aim is to try to overcome it. I still see that as linked to weak analysis, with a stronger one, they’d see all the threads of the different, interrelated, issues.
In general I do think there’s an issue sometimes where comments on what a justice movement could maybe do better on, are taken as opposition to that movement.

I think with intersectionality being pulled off right, there’d be no need for those struggles to be (seemingly) played out against each other. : )

Lyzzy
Lyzzy
4 years ago

@Leo
I don’t know what to tell you, it can be hard to follow an argument against ones feelings and you really raised some flags for potential troll. I’m glad you aren’t really one. Also, I’m German and my English is far from perfect.

It too frequently fails by leaving class, even race, out of the equation, or treating it as though it justifies an injustice (eg. poor brown people join in the army as a defence of the military, rather than looking at the circumstances behind having few good job options and the impacts of American imperialism) rather than something to change in itself.

This hard to parse sentence, which I wasn’t the intended recipient for anyhow, can but does not seem to have to mean that class and race are interwoven burdens to opportunity. On my first few reads it rather suggested that imperialism was bad, that some obstacles to employment for poor black people existed and that both class and race could be part of that reason without clearly stating either. The “class, even race” further suggested “possible troll”.

I absolutely do not trust any wave on disability rights issues. When there is an issue, it’s usually down to weak analysis rather than any one specific time period, though.

I agree. We have to figure out a way for disability rights that is not pure paternalism (maternalism?). Ideally this would also prevent isolation of disabled or disablealized groups.

anti-feminists be all ‘we white dudes fight in wars to protect our wimminz, why u no grateful!’

Nah, those are the easymode anti-feminists. The better ones are generally like “We do all the hard thinking and work so you beauties can shop for trinkets”, “I am a real learned scientist who believes in women’s equality, but they are just not ready yet (even though you might be an exception)” or even “This is a secondary contradiction in capitalism which we must fight first”.

Nor are disability rights, and attributing the main issue to ‘weak analysis’ rather than to lack of care or outright malice is also very different to what an anti-feminist would do.

Sadly, this too is a standard marxist argument.

I have indeed however seen lack of care on disability rights from other feminists – it shouldn’t be a big ask to listen to someone mentally ill if they ask that political opponents not be called ‘mentally ill’ and that statements like ‘they should be sectioned’ not be made, especially with a clear explanation that it adds to stigma having been given.

Absolutely and I’m sorry that you had to endure this rubbish.

Regarding criticism and peoples tolerance thereof I think I really like your hopeful last sentence:

I think with intersectionality being pulled off right, there’d be no need for those struggles to be (seemingly) played out against each other. : )

I hope so too 🙂

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