5 Uncomfortable Truths Behind the Men's Rights Movement
Until recently, you probably thought that the "men's rights movement" was just a weird fad on the Internet for sad, depressed guys who wanted to vent about their sexual frustrations, no more or less important to your day-to-day life than, say, people raging against bad movie reviews or complaining that their favorite video game company doesn't like them. But then something like the UCSB shooting happens, where a 22-year-old kid kills seven people and blames it on all the sex he never had, and you have to ask yourself: Is this group actually a problem?
Holy shit, yes. I spoke to Frank Meeink, a former white supremacist, and Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology, about the men's rights movement, and I found out that it has less in common with any civil rights or equality movement than it does with goddamn neo-Nazis. Particularly with how ...
They Prey on the Insecure (With Misdirection)
We all know that men's rights activists are insecure -- that's pretty much the only thing the rest of the world agrees with them on. If you go to r/MensRights, r/TheRedPill, or any pickup artist or anti-pickup artist blogs, you'll see people promising to help them be better as men. It's an open invitation to celebrate manliness, like they're the last place on Earth where you can still talk about guns and boobs and tanks and video games.
And screaming into cellphones, according to my stock photo library's definition of "manly."
But it's a trick, because that's not what these places are really about. Check out the very first sentence on a list of the Red Pill's "fundamental beliefs":
Feminists claim they want equality but what they really want is power without responsibility.
Weird ... that doesn't have anything to do with men at all -- it's about women. Let's keep going:
Women are irrational and inconsistent. ... A logical woman is easily baited into becoming emotional; women are easy to compromise.
Women are Machiavellian in nature, this means they are comparatively proficient at being manipulative versus the typical male.
Women love pragmatically and have no capacity to love unconditionally for romantic partners.
"Are you sure you aren't thinking of ... like, seven different species from Star Trek?"
Yes, this shit is internally contradictory and sexist as fuck, but more importantly, it has nothing to do with men. There's no waxing poetic on the joys of fatherhood, the majesty of a properly groomed beard, or the exquisite joy of scratching your own balls; it's all just variations of "fuck dem bitches" and "amiright!?" It's not an ideology, it's just them feeling bad about themselves and directing that hatred elsewhere ... which is exactly how a hate group works. And that's not just my opinion.
"These guys are so recruitable," says Frank Meeink, a reformed white supremacist who recruited teenagers to his old cause, spent some time in jail, and now works with the organization Against Violent Extremism to raise awareness about hate groups around the world. "They're shaken-up soda bottles, and they're just waiting for someone to open the cap and point them at someone."
He pointed out that the insecurities may not actually be about sex -- they're just insecurities, and insecurities are hard to shake.
"The feeling of inadequacy is still in my life," says Meeink. "I'll find myself thinking, 'Did my wife ever sleep with someone who had a bigger dick than me?' ... and then she comes home and I'm ready to argue, when she's done nothing. It's just my insecurity."
But OK, hold on -- let's back up. The basic idea of "men's rights" is, in theory, fine, right? All people deserve equal rights, and it's not exactly unheard of for one gender to oppress another. The problem is that even if you give these guys the benefit of the doubt and read into their complaints, you find ...
They Hate Women Because It Justifies Their Suffering
Over the past few months, I've read hundreds, probably thousands of threads and blog posts about men's rights activism, because something is very wrong with me, please help. Overall, I've found that their complaint about women is ... that they exist. It's the old dichotomy: If they're too selective with whom they sleep with, they're "hypergamous" (they only sleep with people of a higher social standing), and if they sleep around, they're "sluts" and lack any worth as humans. One thread is about a woman giving relationship advice on another thread about what to do after you discover your girlfriend has cheated. She suggested that maybe there were some alternatives to dumping her, and that through communication and healing the relationship could be saved, if he wanted. Apparently, this is the worst thing ever.
Just imagine a girl that quits and find a new job every week because she believes she need to explore her options and "find herself" professionally ... then her resume ends up as a collection of 30+ one-week gigs. Who would ever hire her to do serious work for a serious company?
Then someone else chimes in:
This is a masterful analogy.
If this is how you think relationships work, then hey, I just found the reason you're not in one.
I could sit here and list flaws in their arguments all day, but I think the interesting consistency between them all is that they're searching for an injustice to blame their misery on. They want to know why they feel so shitty about themselves -- like anyone would -- and women are as good an option as any:
Physical violence is outlawed whereas mental abuse is not, this allows women to get their way without being held accountable by a system of law.
It goes without saying that that's a horrifying thing to say, but think about how hard they have to stretch their own thoughts to make that argument: They're assuming that women are fundamentally better at arguing (and therefore smarter) than men, because that's the only way "arguing" being less illegal than "beating the fuck out of someone" could be unfair to one gender. But obviously their argument hinges on women being dumber than men, too (or "more prone to emotional thinking," whatever the flying shit that means). Basically, they're not actually thinking about their arguments -- because they're not trying to convince you, they're trying to explain to themselves why they're so fucking sad. And this particular explanation is so appealing because it gives them a villain. It's tough to rally the troops around depression, or insecurity, or anything else that doesn't have a concrete cause, but have you ever tried blaming other people for your problems? It feels fantastic.
"Awwww yeah, that's the stuff. Thirty more seconds, then I'll do the other arm."
"Every time one of these men is driving down the street and they see an attractive girl with a guy, they boil up with hate," Meeink told me. "Try to imagine that life. I lived that life, except I thought about race, and it just eats you up. And it feels good, because there's a reward, and that reward is that you can look down on the entire world. Everyone needs an enemy."
"Feel the burn!"
But there's a deeper reason you can't actually debate men's rights activists ...
Their Enemy is Everyone
The oppression of gay men seems like an obvious issue for the men's rights movement to glom onto, right? It's super easy to find statistics about it, and since it's a major issue in the news, it'd be a great way to get more people to pay attention to their cause. But instead you just see them using homophobic slurs all the goddamn time:
I would rather not see these kinds of "gay, redpill, and proud" posts. Masculinity is in part defined by our attraction to the feminine. If your preference is to be a man-pleaser then you're not expressing any kind of masculinity that's worth celebrating.
Now this, on the other hand ...
Race would be another great topic for them (black masculinity would give them plenty to talk about, right?), but again, it almost never comes up.
This is how all hate groups work: Sure, they have one specific target they like shitting on more than any other, but they're weirdly open-minded about whom they're total dicks to. That's why you see so many different hate groups fighting each other.
"It wasn't any one group -- I hated everyone," Meeink remembers, "I hated people like you, white people who didn't believe the way I believed. And these guys hate men who don't believe the way they do."
And that's why you're going to see so many angry comments about how "this doesn't apply to all men's rights groups!" People are going to say that the Red Pill is a fringe part of the movement, or that PUAHate, the forum UCSB shooter Elliot Rodger belonged to, doesn't really understand what men's rights is about. But the problem is that every men's rights faction thinks that everyone else is a fringe part of the movement. If you're not in the Red Pill, you're governed by "blue pill thinking" and have been compromised by the feminist agenda -- even if you belong to another men's rights community (The "red pill" is a reference to The Matrix: taking the "red pill" means you wake up and realize that women are robots who are harvesting our bodies to charge their batteries, apparently). PUAHate hated the "pickup artist community," even though both groups have exactly the same values: Women are commodities to be acquired and subjugated. They are conquests -- things that determine your worth as a human.
That's not a mentally healthy way to live for about a thousand reasons. Which is why ...
They Have No Sense of Consequence
The entire Men's Rights Movement is so narcissistic it makes Donald Trump look like this guy Tom I know who's super nice to everyone all the time but doesn't get any recognition because generosity doesn't make you famous. For example, while they admit that beating a woman is a bad idea, all the reasons they list are "you'll totally get in trouble" and "other women won't like it." But at the same time, on the same forum, you can find someone saying that some women deserve to die because they are "hypergamous sluts." Notice how that description is internally contradictory enough to cover every woman ever: saying someone is a "hypergamous slut" is like saying they are "elderly infants" or "freezing hot" or "a tasty light beer" or holy shit you can't be "slutty" and "too selective" at the same time that makes no fucking sense.
And stop making up words, you're not writing The Wheel of Time here.
"They complain about manipulation, but how many men have told women they love them just to get in their pants? Men and women do that. God, there is so much shit on this site," Meeink told me, apparently getting pretty exasperated at me for making him read so much Reddit (sorry, Frank). But the amazing thing is that when men's rights activists compare domestic abuse to manipulation, they're comparing a fucking tragedy to something that is, essentially, a rite of passage. Obviously there's nothing remotely "OK" about playing emotional games with your significant other, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure every single person reading this has at some point been in a relationship that featured at least some emotional abuse, especially as a teenager, because everyone is emotionally abusive as a teenager.
It's the only way they know how to be.
Going through that is part of what makes you appreciate a good relationship, once you find one. That's how hate groups work: They manufacture some injustice they've suffered and then repeat the ideas with made-up words like "incel" ("involuntary celibate." That's not a joke) to suppress their own rational thought and replace it with groupthink -- another common trait for hate groups.
They Don't Have a Real Position (and They Don't Care)
So you may not realize this, but it turns out that when I accuse the men's rights movement of being a hate group, I'm actually being kinda controversial. Which is why I asked Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology and author of Angry White Men, what he thought.
"I know that Southern Poverty Law Center labeled MRAs hate groups," he says, "I don't know that I would. I see the men's rights world as many enraged individuals, coalescing loosely in the 'manosphere' on the Web, with little or no organizational structure, coherent policy initiatives, or plans ... But that's only because my definition of 'hate groups' requires concerted action, and the viciousness of many of their cyberattacks against feminist women make me think that those women who have been targeted might have a different story to tell."
Again, you can be sure this guy knows what he's talking about because he has a Ph.D., a sensible Japanese car and probably, like, drinks almond milk (I don't know how adults live). And that "concerted action" requirement is a good point: Other hate groups hold protests and have rallies, while the men's rights movement seems to limit itself to Internet rants and blatantly made-up stories, right?
It's difficult to find this intimidating.
Yes ... for now. But that may change: The "incel" community (which Elliot Rodgers belonged to) still exists mainly online, but they're not exactly shy about using violent language and making plans. They're openly arguing for the destruction of modern society and even talk about "going Elliot." As in, killing people.
I'm not saying that every MRA is on the verge of killing people or even a bad person, because I'm kind of a doofy idealist and I think "bad people" are way more rare than that. But I do think anger is a dangerous emotion. And I know that if you spend all day on the internet trying to make that anger feel justified and righteous, something important inside you will start to rot away.