It’s a commonplace fantasy amongst a certain kind of American man: to abandon a world filled with “picky,” “demanding,” “angry” women, infected with feminism and a sense of entitlement, to find paradise in the arms of a nubile, pliable, and above all grateful woman from an exotic place like Thailand, the Philippines, or Eastern Europe.
Not surprisingly, many Men’s Rights websites and forums are filled with angry rants about American (or more broadly, Western) women. “Western men have now had plenty of evidence over recent years of what western wimmin have become as a result of feminist indoctrination and media propaganda,” writes Ledburian, a regular on the AntiMisandry.com message boards. “I reckon it would be a good idea for all western wimmin to be forced to carry tattoos on their foreheads warning all men that they can be a serious threat to male wealth and well being.”
Meanwhile, the “fun bachelor” behind foreignwomenonly.blogspot.com, a site whose URL conveniently encapsulates its message, assures his anxious readers that paradise is within reach of any Western man with a passport: “Date Foreign Women Only, and be treated like a king.”
The reality, of course, is far more sordid and depressing than the fantasy: The reason that some Eastern women are more agreeable to Western men has less to do with culture than it does with economics. Women in the west have more options, and so are less willing to put up with crap from Western men; women in countries where many if not most people are living in abject poverty may decide that putting up with disagreeable Western men is slightly less of a bad bargain than working a poverty-wage job and living in a shithole.
Recently, I watched a sad, powerful short documentary called Bangkok Girl (also known as Falang: Behind Bangkok’s Smile), a portrait of a bar girl in a city overrun with sex tourists from all over the developed world. The whole thing is worth watching — it’s available for instant watching on Netflix and on YouTube — but one scene stood out in particular for me: a street inverview with a drunken British expat who puts his arms around Pla, the girl at the center of the documentary, and declares to the camera that she’s his “girlfriend.” (She’s not.)
It’s immediately and abundantly clear that she wants nothing to do with the creepy lout — but he’s a regular at the bar and she’ll lose her job if she rebuffs him. He’s either completely oblivious to her obvious discomfort, or he simply doesn’t give a shit. This is what “paradise” really looks like, to anyone really paying attention. Watch the scene here.
I can’t help it. This is the image that pops into my head when I read a lot of the comments from MRAs on this blog. So much anger, so little sense, so much … well, so much weird, and sometimes bizarrely specific, sexual imagery. Eww. Double eww.
Just a note: If your comments don’t appear immediately, it’s not because I have banned them. I haven’t banned any comments. It’s just Blogger’s oversensitive spam filter at work. I take the comments out of the spam filter as soon as I see them in it. If that takes a while, it’s because I’m not at my computer 24/7.
EDIT 10/1/10: I have been banning some idiot spam posts. I’m not banning anyone else, so if you’re not writing endless posts in which the word “poopy” is used more than any other word, you’re safe from the banhammer.
EDIT 10/5/10: I’ve deleted one non-spam comment. It was vile and hateful. Anything else that bad will be deleted as well.
There’s something inherently ridiculous about being lambasted for using “shaming tactics” — by someone who has just called you a “mangina.”
A few posts back, as you may recall, I took on an odd little rant on The Spearhead which seemed to suggest that Tea Party nutbag Christine O’Donnell’s 14-year-old comments about the evils of masturbation offered proof of sorts that an evil “pussy cartel” was trying to keep American men from taking matters into their own hands, so to speak. The biggest threat to this diabolical female conspiracy, the author wrote, was “men realizing that their hand will do more for them than a woman will.”
The problem, of course, is that this is completely ridiculous. I myself have had sex on a number of occasions over the years — I mean, with other people — and I have to say that my hand, despite its obvious convenience and considerable dexterity, really cannot compete with, you know, an actual naked lady.
And so I suggested that any man who thought so little of women might have a hard time getting a date. This evidently sent the author of the piece, the man behind the Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Technology blog, into such a tailspin of shame that he wrote not one but two blog posts about me. In the first, after calling me a mangina, he insisted that he did in fact have a girlfriend. In a comment, I told him I felt sorry for her. And I do. What kind of woman would want to date a man who prefers the company of Susie Palmer and her five friends? So he wrote yet another post, this one spelling out in detail the evil forms of “shaming language” I had used.
Men’s Rights Activists are obsessed with so-called “shaming language.” Or at least they have been since a document called The Catalogue of Anti-Male Shaming Tactics started making its way around the manosphere; it’s been linked to or posted on virtually every MRA blog or forum at least once.
The Catalogue is basically a list of allegedly unfair debating tactics used by those who think that MRAs are full of shit:
The list spells out 16 different types of “shaming tactics,” from the “Charge of Irascibility” (“You’re bitter!”), to the “Charge of Fanaticism” and the “Charge of Misogyny.”
And it’s true. People do charge MRAs with all of these things. And a lot of the time, they’re guilty as charged. Some MRAs are bitter. Some MRAs arefanatics. Some MRAs are misogynists.
My most grievous crime? I had used the “Threat of Withheld Affection … The Pink Whip,” in which “the target is admonished that his viewpoints or behavior will cause women to reject him as a mate.” I’ll have to plead guilty on that one, since that’s exactly what I did.
In his second blog post, Pro-Male/Anti-Fem added two more counts to the charges against me: that I had accused him of “Preying On Weak/Damaged/Insecure Women” and “Non-Specific ‘Shameful Behavior.'” I’ll plead guilty on the first count, Your Honor, but innocent on the second: I was pretty specific about what I saw as shameful — his idiotic ideas about the “pussy cartel” and the whole hand-better-than-woman nonsense.
The funny thing about the Catalogue is how deadly seriously so many MRAs take it, and how angry they get whenever one of their opponents, tired of fighting a battle of wits against half-wits, pulls one of the “shaming tactics” out of her or his bag in an effort to bring the fruitless discussion to a close.
The irony, of course (and please forgive me if I shout), is that MRAs USE SHAMING TACTICS THEMSELVES ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Just look at the comments on the post of mine that started this whole kerfuffle, posted, presumably, by MRAs who followed the link from Pro-Male/Anti-Fem’s first post. The bravely anonymous first poster starts off the insult parade by saying “just because you’ve let them cut YOUR dick off doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ours.” (This is a classic example of what the Catalogue calls the “Charge of Invirility.”) After a few more insult-laden comments, we come to this, from another brave Mr. Anonymous:
Yep, the Charge of Invirility again. But even better, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to shout again: HE USES SHAMING LANGUAGE AGAINST ME IN THE VERY SAME SENTENCE IN WHICH HE COMPLAINS ABOUT SHAMING LANGUAGE.
Sadly, our anonymous friend is hardly the first MRA to do exactly this. Take a look at this fine fellow over at (irony alert!) Antimisandry.com:
In all my travels around the angry-manosphere — Charge of Irascibility FTW! — I have run across exactly one intelligent response to the Catalogue from an actual MRA: an essay on The Spearhead by the mysterious Zed, a sort of MRM elder statesman. Rather than simply lament the use of shaming language by the evil fems, Zed urges men to respond in kind, and not just with the standard anti-woman cliches.
I recently found this helpful diagram on MRA crackpot extraordinaire Peter Zohrab’s web site, which is even more ugly and confusingly organized than the diagram itself, if you can believe it. “Indoctucation” is Zohrab’s own word, a bit like George W. Bush’s “misunderstimate” or Sarah Palin’s “refudiation.”
Can anyone explain to me why “Public Opinion & Voting Behavior” has to share a rectangle with “Politicians’ Beliefs & Assumptions,” while “Court Decisions” gets an oval all to itself? Why are these things the only things allowed in “The World,” while everything Feminist only gets to point at the world with giant arrows? Why does “Feminist Training of Lawyers and Judges” point at Public Opinion and Politicians instead of at “Court Decisions,” which would seem to make about a zillion times more sense? Did Zohrab make the diagram, look at it and realize the mistake, and say to himself, like Ed Wood, “Fuck it! Diagram making is not about the little details. It’s all about the big picture!”
And, finally, can I get this on a t-shirt?
Stay tuned for a longer post or two on Mr. Zohrab, the first in what will be a series on Famous Men’s Rights Crackpots. It’s good to know your history..
There are all kinds of bad writers. Some can’t string simple sentences together; others spew thick clouds of incomprehensible jargon. But in some ways the most annoying bad writers of all are those who are bad writers because they think they are great writers.
Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2.
As you may have already gathered, Elam’s flights of literary fancy are invariably hokey and melodramatic. And they’re essentially meaningless. They say absolutely nothing, while giving the impression that they say an awful lot. Indeed, when you try to nail down the meaning of any of his not-so-fine phrases, they simply fall apart.
In the first quote above, he attempts to smoosh together the KKK and the world of George Orwell’s 1984 into some strange symbol of feminist awfulness. Huh? The KKK is a vigilante group; the villain in 1984 was a totalitarian government. They’re both bad, to be sure, but different kinds of bad. Big Brother wasn’t a Grand Kleagle. It’s a sloppy mix of metaphors that represents some pretty sloppy thinking.
So why am I picking on Elam’s writing style? Shouldn’t I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can’t separate the two. Elam’s style is designed to conceal his lack of substance.
Ironically, the person who provides the most insight into what Elam is trying to accomplish with his purportedly elevated prose is none other than Orwell. In his classic essay on “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell took a look at some typically terrible political prose of his day. The two qualities that united all his examples in awfulness were a certain “staleness of imagery” and a “lack of precision.” His analysis fits Elam’s essays to a T:
And why is this? Orwell concluded that the airy abstractions, the mixed metaphors, the grand prefabricated phrases all worked together to conceal the true meanings of what was being said, to offer “a defence of the indefensible,” whether one was a Communist defending the Russian purges or an American politician defending the atom bomb.
With Elam, though, we see something slightly different. He’s not defending the indefensible so much as trying to disguise the sheer insubstantiality of some of his central arguments, which would be simply laughable if he hadn’t gussied them up with ponderously “fancy” prose. Consider this passage, describing Elam’s thoughts after discovering that his spellchecker didn’t recognize the word “misandry”:
Reduced to its essence, though, Elam’s claim here is simply absurd: Because “misandry” isn’t a common enough term to include in his computer’s dictionary, our culture has no way of expressing the notion that certain people and ideas are man hating.
Really, Paul? We’re “limited to talking around the subject?” I really haven’t noticed much of that. The term “man-hating” gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “feminazi.”
In the crowd you hang with, I imagine you hear this kind of talk all the time. Surely you’ve noticed it.
Stick with this style, Paul. It may not be pretty, but at least it’s true to your nature. You’re not a grand philosopher; you’re not a literary lion. There is nothing smart or sophisticated about anything you ever write or think. Basically, you’re a dick. So write like one.
Like many online forums, the Men’s Rights subreddit on Reddit.com is a mixture of the good, the bad, and the very, very annoying. The good: A fairly large number of decent people there, ranging from moderate, non-misogynistic men’s rightsers to a few brave souls willing to stand up to the fanatics. The bad: The aforementioned fanatics, posting douchey rants, and quick to dismiss all opinions coming from women (“cunts,” “bitches”) and/or supporters of women (“manginas”). The annoying: The moderators of the subreddit, a touchy, ban-happy fellow who calls himself Kloo2yoo, and his ineffectual sidekick, Ignatiusloyola.
It’s Kloo who started up the subreddit, and Kloo who wrote the confrontational message that greets every visitor:
The men’s rights movement is just a collection of people who are tired of being taken advantage of, taken for granted, and lied to. Millions of people who have independently come to the same conclusions, usually the hard way. … This is not a feminist subreddit. It was created in opposition to feminism.
We are a million armies of 1.
In case you didn’t get the message, he adds:
kloo2yoo believes that there is an international, feminist, antimale conspiracy, and encourages peaceful, but direct, action against it.
Message received: Feminists are the enemy. You are not welcome here. And indeed, visitors to the subreddit who display an excess of feminism have a tendency to get banned. (In some cases, after much protest from the decent folks in the subreddit, Kloo has relented and let them post again.) Quite a few people on Reddit now refuse to post in his subreddit because they don’t feel like wasting their time in a forum from which they can be arbitrarily banned at any point. (Ignatiusloyola doesn’t seem altogether happy with all of Kloo’s behavior, but will not stand up to him.)
It’s because of Kloo that I’ve put the Men’s Right’s subreddit in my “enemies list.” Now, I have nothing against him stating his own personal opinion, however stridently he wants. What I do have a problem with is his purporting to speak for everyone in the subreddit, many of whom think his talk of an anti-male “conspiracy” is more than a little loopy. And the banning. I hate the banning.
Yes, as you may have guessed, he’s banned me from the subreddit already; I had made only a handful of posts, most of which were straightforward and relatively nonconfrontational and, indeed, well-received by others in the subreddit. But Kloo saw his subreddit on my enemies list, and saw red. Never mind that he had already put feminists like myself on *his* enemies list.
Weirdly, after banning me, Kloo decided he wanted to debate some of the things I said in my Men Behaving Worse post, which had referred to his strange defense of the Women Behaving Badly posts that litter his subreddit. Only he wanted to debate me in private messages. I’m not playing that game.
So here’s my message to you, Kloo-dee: If you want to debate me, debate me publicly, in a forum where I have the right to respond. Debate me here, in comments; I will not ban you no matter what you say. Or unban me from the Men’s Rights subreddit, and debate me there.
Confidential message to Kloo: You just posted something in Men’s Rights about your troubles tracking down a particular blog post from a particular feminist from a year ago that you had lost the link to. Heh. I know exactly what post you’re talking about (and boy are you misremembering what it said). I’ll happily post the link for you in the Men’s Rights subreddit, but, in order for me to do that, you’ll have to unban me first.
This is one of the reasons it makes sense to keep talking to your “enemies.” They often know shit that you don’t.