Misandry, MRAs and the Myth of ‘Female Privilege’
‘Shut up and sit down. Women like you should be raped into submission.’ This is an actual reply I received when I commented on an article online which equated feminism with man hating (something that irks me no end). It was from a self identified ‘men’s rights activist’, who subsequently went on a rant about ‘misandry’ and the ‘myth’ of male privilege. For the uninitiated, men’s rights activists on the online ‘manosphere’ spout this ideology with fanatic fervour. MRA philosophy is rooted in the idea that feminism is a conspiracy to render men obsolete and how in modern Western societies, men are socially disenfranchised.
There is a specific language used by men’s rights activists on this forum. ‘Swallowing the red pill’ refers to joining the MRA movement, and is a reference to the Matrix, where Neo chooses to leave a simulated illusion and face ‘reality’ by swallowing the red pill. To give you an taste of the ‘red pill’, the overarching ideology of this movement can be summed up as follows:
A woman is a lock and a man is a key. If a key opens a lot of locks, it is a master key. But if one lock is opened by lots of keys, it is a dodgy lock. –Redditredpill
MRA strongholds include websites such as ‘A Voice for Men’ and ‘Return of Kings’, as well as the Reddit ‘Red Pill forum’, and a quick browse reveals the core tenets of their philosophy. Discussions and writing center around ideas of ‘female privilege’ and ‘female bigotry’. ‘Female privilege’ encompasses being able to speak to men without being considered predatory, being able to keep a child in a custody battle, being able to make the choice to leave a marriage and the supposedly ‘privileged’ status of being a rape survivor. On the topic of rape, MRAs believe taking a woman’s word for rape allegations is ‘female bigotry.’ These discussions are underpinned by the belief that men are systematically discriminated against. They believe that false rape accusations, paternity tests and women’s supposed ‘sexual power’ over men are forces for male oppression.
There is a belief at the core of this movement that feminists (dismissed as ‘feminazis’ or ‘misandrists’) have upset the natural order, rendering men obsolete.
They lament the bygone era of the 1950’s where men and women fulfilled their designated, ‘biologically determined’ roles. They attempt to substantiate these ideas using evolutionary biology- citing the idea that men and women are ‘inherently different.’ They believe women have the role of ‘nurturing and raising children’ whilst men should work and have sex with women.
Sex is a central preoccupation of the MRA ideology. ‘Pick up artistry’ has a sinister symbiotic relationship with the MRA movement. ‘Pick up artistry’ is basically a collection of pseudo-scientific techniques designed to coerce women into having sex with the pick up artist. The rules of the ‘Game’ are nothing but a thinly disguised manual on how to rape (with the veneer of it being consensual sex). Like the rest of the MRA movement, it is underpinned by a sense of entitlement, as a man, I deserve to have sex, therefore I am not violating the rights of the woman (the concept of the ‘Friendzone’ stems from a similar impulse). Rather, I’m taking what is owed to me through aggression and harassment. It relies heavily on curtailing the choices of women and disregarding consent through persistence, and sometimes even through violence, such as Julian Blanc’s campaign of ‘#ChokingGirlsAroundTheWorld.‘ (This is a man who said: “Just go through Tokyo, grab girls and yell ‘Pikachu’ and put her head on your dick.”)
As well as discussing these abhorrent ‘seduction’ strategies, MRA forums also have a focus on self improvement and becoming ‘alpha’, with members updating each other on progress ‘building muscle’ at the gym. All of this fits in neatly with their dogmatically hetero-normative ideology, with any non-conforming males branded as ‘beta’ or ‘white knights’.
The dogmatism that characterizes this movement means that attempting to have any intellectual discussion with MRAs provokes a ‘shut up and get raped’ reaction, as illustrated above. Feminists are discredited as ‘humourless, hysterical, ugly’ etc. and feminism is a conspiracy for the evil misandrists to carry out a mass emasculation.
The fact is, there are issues that men face- custody law, domestic violence against men, rigid social constructs of masculinity. However, instead of focusing on having a mature, reasoned discussion on those issues, MRAs spend most of their time attacking feminists and spouting fabricated statistics to back up their dubious arguments, with no appreciation for nuance and complexity.
For instance, the MRAs attempt to hijack discussions about domestic violence with shrieks of ‘Not all men!’ and completely fantastical statistics like ‘50% of domestic violence victims are men!’
Yes, men can be victims of domestic violence too. However, that does not belittle the fact that women are the overwhelming majority of victims, and the assumption that male victims of domestic violence suffer in an equal and opposite way to female victims is factually incorrect. Furthermore, the overwhelming number of perpetrators of this kind of violence against women and men are men.
It’s easy to dismiss MRAs as a fringe, radical group, but their ideology of misogyny has terrible consequences (remember Gamergate or the Elliot Rodger shooting last year?), and is symptomatic of a much larger problem. It’s a movement that is appealing to the vulnerable and those who feel rejected or isolated from women, a rallying point for men who feel they’ve been ‘denied’ their rights.
No matter how much MRAs bleat about ‘female privilege’ and the ‘victimization of men’, the end goal of their ‘activism’ is maintaining power and privilege over women. The ‘equality’ of women is perceived as a loss of their rights, and women are the focal point of blame for all the perceived ills of society.
So to all the MRAs, I say, in the immortal words of Leslie Knope: