#Atheism has an MRA Problem?

tumblr_mqkupetBAj1syitgfo1_500A response to this article.

No, atheism doesn’t have an MRA problem and, frankly, I expect a bit better of Patheos than to take sides in this particular, ongoing conflict.

‘MRA’ has become a slur to be hurled at anyone of dissenting opinion in the arguments over gender etc in much the same way as ‘feminist’ used to. Maybe we’ll see that change over time (the shift to MHRA -Men’s Human Rights Activist – is hopeful). It says nothing, it’s just an ad hominem shut-down attack in the same way ‘fedora’, ‘neckbeard’ and other nonsensical terms have become. None of it adds anything to the debate, but these slurs tend to go ignored while trolling gets taken seriously and treated as though it were people genuinely involved in the debate.

It is, perhaps, more appropriate to say that atheism has a feminism problem, in the shape of Atheism Plus.

Atheism Plus and it’s Tumblrist, pseudo-progressive nonsense has driven a wedge clear through the atheist community. The arrogant presumption was that simply because everyone who was an atheist didn’t believe in god they would have to agree with everything else they thought. That’s not the case at all. The only thing that unites atheists is their lack of belief. Otherwise you will find atheists of all manner of beliefs, all manner of political affiliations, all manner of positions on other topics.

There’s some things that are true as a demographic, we will TEND to be more liberal, TEND to be more intelligent, TEND to be more educated, TEND to be more law abiding but a tendency doesn’t describe the whole. Personally, I find the kind of ‘social justice activism’ promoted by A+, FTB and their ilk to be archly conservative, dangerously censorious and perilous to free thinking.

As with our engagements with religion, we find that people are perfectly happy for us to be skeptical in our examinations of any faith but theirs. We are not, it seems, allowed to be skeptical of feminism. As an ideology it seems to be considered beyond criticism, beyond challenge. Any challenge to its ideas, even the crazier ones, is treated as though it were heresy. Little wonder, then, that people like Thunderf00t, frequently criticised for his skepticism of feminist claims, have taken exception to it.

Are we skeptics or not? Do we want to know what’s true or not? Why would we tolerate conspiracy theories like ‘Patriarchy’ and leave them unchallenged when we’re willing to critically examine closely held beliefs that have lasted thousands of years? Why can’t we point out the flaws in the Wage Gap when we can challenge the very claimed existence of Jesus?

There’s a deep inconsistency there.

I also expect better from Patheos than to use fallacies in attacking something they don’t like. What possible difference does it make that MHRAs are white, (racism), young (Ageism), male (sexism) or conservative? An argument stands or falls on its merit, surely? Ah, but then according to some of these people you can’t be racist to whites, sexist to men etc etc. Pure bunk and another idea that should be subject to robust critique.

There’s another false assumption in the article that mass attacks by trolls are somehow the actions of MHRAs or other atheists rather than… trolls. It’s never been adequately explained to me why people think this. I’m sure there’s some crossover of course, but who benefits from treating trolls like they’re serious threats and genuinely mean it? Well, you need only look at how Sarkeesian, Criado-Perez and Watson have profited from their victim status (legitimate or not) to see why someone might take trolling more seriously than it deserves.

Speaking of this, Melody Hensley has come under concerted attack recently. Why? She’s publicly a feminist (a popular troll target because feminists react), she’s publicly an atheist (another popular target for trolls), and she’s claimed to have PTSD – a dubious claim and another big red rag to trolls.

Should she be trolled? No. Is it understandable that she is being? Yes. Can we separate the trolling from the scoffing, skepticism and arched eyebrows? Sure we can. What about the claim itself? PTSD from social media? That sounds unlikely in the extreme and little wonder that a great many people who do suffer from PTSD and other forms of mental illness (myself included) are incensed by what we see as her trivialisation and devaluing of a very real and present problem for a lot of people.

Still, conflating MHRA with troll is just as unfair and dishonest as conflating feminist and troll, and believe me, it’s tempting to do that. I’ve been verbally attacked, threatened, had my jobs come under attack, my work boycotted (failed) and it blows up again and again. Whenever I try to honestly engage in debate and try to understand the Social Justice Warrior position all I get is my appearance attacked, called names, my hat mistaken for a fedora (as though that were relevant), my past scraped over, threats of doxing (not that I’m that secretive) and on and on and on. Something I’ve not suffered from actual trolls or people who just disagree with me – even religious nutters, even Jihadis and right wing terrorist groups like Christian Identity.

I think that says a lot, but I’ll still – try – to take people one at a time.

So what’s really going on here?

I think I’m going to blame ‘intersectionality’. It sounds good on paper, considering the way different forms of advantage and disadvantage interact, but in practice it divides and subdivides a community more and more, diminishing and diffusing any power it has to be a unified voice.

Here’s a radical idea I want to present. So long as we all agree about religion being wrong, let’s agree about that and work on that problem – debunking creationism, promoting skepticism, secularism and freethinking. If we don’t agree on what political party to vote for or whether same sex marriage should be legal or not, who gives a fuck? We can campaign on those individual issues with people who agree with us there.

We don’t NEED to be a homogenous whole.

That’s not to say we can’t have this debate, but let’s make it a ‘goddamn’ debate, not a slagging match.

My door’s always open to sensible debate and there are no sacred cows here. Let’s extend that to the rest of the community.

 

Post-Script:

A few short years ago I would have considered myself a feminist, in that I would advocate for equal rights for women. However, that is no longer what feminism is and that became abundantly clear to me when my defence of freedom in fiction made me a target. ‘The radical notion that women are people’ or the cause of equality is not the feminism of the censors, it’s not the feminism of Criado-Perez or Suey Park, it’s not the feminism of Watson, Sarkeesian or Atheism Plus. It’s not the feminism of holding men guilty until proven innocent, it’s not the feminism of blaming everything on ‘patriarchy’ or using ‘privilege’ to silence contributions. It’s not the feminism that speaks of ‘male violence’ or terrifies people with specious talk of ‘rape culture’. If you’re a feminist in terms of equality, you’re not the kind of person being grumped about.

I’m on the verge of actually ‘joining’ the MHRA movement if only because I see the same kinds of irrational bitterness driving it I also see in feminism and I think it needs more sane voices. I also think the association with the right is problematic, as is feminism’s association with the ‘left’. There are plenty of left/liberal critiques to be made of modern feminism that are going unsaid.

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35 responses to “#Atheism has an MRA Problem?

  1. That is the disappointing part of the whole MRA cause, there are real issues which need advocates, but far to many who id as MRA waste time, engry and good will laying the blame for all the ills men and boys on feminism and feminists, of all kinds.

    • That’s why I’m tempted to participate. To be a voice of relative reason. Even though I’d rather just stay in the middle and be a humanist.

      They mirror the worst of feminism in many respects, though there are exceptions. Girl Writes What is great. CH Sommers is a conservative, but pretty level headed. Warren Farrell is good.

    • I am an MRA.
      Lets see you provide evidence for your claim that MRAs lay the blame for all the ills men and boys on feminism and feminists, of all kinds.
      Lets see a blogpost that lays it out.
      1) The MRM has a concept of ‘male disposability’ as propounded by Warren Farrell, which we claim has been with humanity since time immemorial.
      2) We have explained how traditionalists are not friends of men either. (for e.g see a post called Breaking the pendulum: Tradcons vs. Feminists, by dean esmay which lays down our stance.
      3) We have identified a few feminist women we love. for e.g on my YT channel, I carry videos of Camille Paglia, Wendy McElroy, Darwinian philosopher Helena Cronin. We have numerous ex-feminists in our ranks, such as Erin Pizzey, Warren Farrell, Janice Fiamengo.
      4) By and large, we dont even care for the low-level feminists.. coz they dont hold any power. We fight against those in power.. such as media, academia, feminist orgs like NOW. what difference does it make if ‘some feminists are NOT like that’? They hold no power.

      We dont even care what somebody calls themselves. for e.g take ‘humanist’. Turns out that many humanist orgs are feminist. AHA has a feminist caucus. And its leader Roy Speckhardt has written hit pieces on MRM. Actions speak louder than words.

      Its easy to say that you expect impeccable behaviour from others. In the end, any movement needs results.
      And the feminist movement holds immense power in society for many reasons. Look at the Atheist community itself.. how many leaders have come out to support the non-feminist side? NONE. And on the other hand, there are numerous leaders lending support to the other side. Remember the series skepchick ran (Atheist leaders speak out blah blah)?
      Given the David vs Goliath battle, one’s got to bend the rules a bit.
      “Reason” doesnt get you very far in such battles.

    • The thing is though…. A lot of the issues that mra’s concern themselves with are those that have been influenced by feminist belief and practice so a certain amount of direct confrontation is inevitable. It just sounds like a hollow criticism but, to be fair many people made the same claim against feminism.

  2. “The only thing that unites atheists is their lack of belief.”

    Which is why some atheists started a group that involved atheism and other stuff…which is what the plus is for.

    “Why can’t we point out the flaws in the Wage Gap when we can challenge the very claimed existence of Jesus?”

    You certainly can point out anything you want. Who is stopping you?

    “We can campaign on those individual issues with people who agree with us there”

    That seems to be exactly what they’re doing.

    • Nope, they’re trying to combine issues into one and insisting that everyone must agree with them. What’s stopping us is this sort of thing:

      • “Nope, they’re trying to combine issues into one and insisting that everyone must agree with them. ”

        Insisting how? Using what force? Why do you care that people protest?

      • When it prevents talks, disrupts etc and stifles debate and engagement, the free exchange of ideas, free expression, then I have a problem.

        Insisting by dominating the conversation with shaming tactics, misrepresentation etc.

      • Physical blockades, accusations, removal, bullying, trolling, spamming, misrepresentation, distortion of legal process, doxxing… you name it really.

        Go look into it, maybe start with going back over the Atheism Plus debacles (various) and visiting StudioBrule on Youtube.

      • Not terribly interested. If people are doing things illegally, that sucks and they shouldn’t.

        But they are entirely within their right to disagree with you (or me, or anyone), to be as passionate or not as they like, and to exist and say what they want.

        And whether or not they are acting in ways you or I don’t like, that doesn’t say anything about whether their position is true or false. Which is what you seem to be implying in this article. (I could be wrong about that.)

      • Disagree, yes. Silence, no. Propagandise, no (with the blessing of academia). I want to see a debate on the facts and merits, but they will not allow one to take place.

    • NotAScientist sounds suspiciously like the twitter idiot latsot. The same circular repetition of tired nonsensical sophistry not to win a point by irrefutable reasoning, but by attrition. Beware, latsot is a lonely, single and unloved. The internet and his bedroom are all he has in life. You have zero hope of outlasting him in a continuous, cyclic, nothing-new-to-say tit for tat. He will bury you.

  3. Remember when just being labeled a “misogynist” or “sexist” was enough? Funny how those lost their bite with misuse and overuse. “MRA” will go the same route, while also giving actual MRA’s more exposure.

    So…in other words, the crazies that throw the term round as a derogative are hurting their own cause (i.e: indoctrinating more folk into their ideology). Sure, it’s far more difficult for people (both menz and wimmin) to care for the injustices that men face, but enough that look further into both sides and their gripes (examples: Western women’s “we’re told mean things on the internet!” vs. Western men’s “we’re treated unfairly by the justice system”) with a skeptical eye will come out at least feeling that the complaints of Western Feminists are petty, First World Problems.

  4. It’s all easier if you just stop paying attention to the howling monkeys at Atheism+ and FTB. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I stopped caring about anything Atheism+ does and stopped visiting virtually all FTB blogs. The only one I still go to is really on the cusp, they don’t talk a lot about radical feminism, but I really don’t want my visit to provide FTB with a single red cent of ad revenue. If you stop paying any attention on Twitter and Tumblr and anywhere else these morons post, life becomes immediately better and less frustrating.

    I view that as a positive.

      • I don’t see it spreading at all. It has a number of very vocal advocates who spend their time running around screaming that the sky is falling. There are also a number of people who follow them around from the opposite perspective, also screaming that the sky is falling. Both groups are relatively small and equally annoying. I’m ignoring both sides as it doesn’t affect me or my atheism one bit.

  5. More to the point the Men’s Human Rights Movement has an Atheist and Humanist problem that in time will sent the movement down the same garden path of tyranny taken by the Marxists and Communists.

      • Atheism does away with God while Humanism substitutes man as God and the end result is tyranny.

      • You can’t do away with something that isn’t there. The most democratic, most fair societies on Earth at present are the most atheist. Religion is the ultimate hierarchy, the ultimate dictatorship.

      • 1) The American Democratic Republic was founded by Christians upon Christian Principles found within the Holy Bible which that believed to be the Word of God.

        However knowing how Early Christianity was corrupted by the Roman Catholic Church into a tyranny over both the lives and souls of Europeans. The American Founding Fathers created a democratic form of government that was secular – yet guranteed the rigtht of all to worship as their own consciences dicitated and prevented both religion and the government from encroaching and interfering with each other. This form of government was limited to three branches with each acting as a check against the other to deter the fledging American Democratic replublic from decaying into tyranny.

        Atheism the absence of belief in a God or gods is itself a belief whose adherents have turned to the secular religion – system of ethical beliefs – known as humanism.

        Both Atheism and Himanism are at the very core of Marxism that led to communism whose leaders ended up harming the very ones they claimed to liberating. Take a closer look at the democratic societies you claim to be the most fair due to their belief in athesim and you will find a nation slowly decaying into tyranny.

    • DaPoet plays the ostrich-head-in-sand-game.

      Violence (domestic, street and sexual), teenage pregnancy, abortion rates, STDs, divorce rates/ family breakdown, substance abuse, poverty, corruption etc. are all directly proportional to the degree of religiosity. This gets proven each and every time a study is conducted.

      This is why northern European countries, where godlessness is the norm, have the least of the above problems. Similarly, in the US, New Hampshire and Vermont, the least religious states are the same. Now look at the American mid-west and south, where churches outnumber pubs 10:1 – they are always at the top of the list having the highest rates of the above social cancers.

      Stop talking nonsense.

  6. Well-written post. Before you get too enthusiastic about the “Men’s Human Rights Movement,” however, consider two things:

    1: It’s full of guys like DaPoet above. And he’s not even that bad, comparatively. Sure, you can say you’ll try to be one of the sane, left-wing voices there, but the phrase “crying out in the wilderness” comes to mind. I can think of a handful of lefty MRAs/MHRAs/manospherians around, but they never get too far without their “comrades” screaming about how they’re “progs” or whatever.

    2: As bad as feminism may be–and there are plenty of cogent critiques to be made of the movement, I’m the last person who’d go to bat for it mindlessly–it’s a very open question whether or not the “manosphere” or even the supposedly related “Men’s Human Rights Movement” is much better. Tod Kelly wrote a couple of articles explaining why very well, IMO:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/20/the-masculine-mystique-inside-the-men-s-rights-movement-mrm.html

    http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2013/10/20/take-two-red-pills-call-me-in-the-morning-the-sudden-and-surprising-rise-of-the-mens-rights-movement

    Just some food for thought you might wanna consider before diving into that scene all the way.

    • I’ve joined their forum and hope to be a voice of reason. I went in expecting a mirror image of the bad side of feminism and I got it.

      However, GWW speaks well and backs her points, Fiamengo also and Farrell. There’s the seeds of a balanced approach in there but also a lot of understandably bitter men.

    • @gunlord:
      Tod Kelly is a buffoon.
      I have been part of the Atheist movement, which is dominated by Left-wingers and they are blind to the “good” that some of Right-wing brings, and the “bad” that some of the Left wing brings. for e.g Right-wing Feminist Tammy Bruce wrote a book on the Totalitarian Left back in 2002
      http://www.c-span.org/video/?169711-1/book-discussion-new-thought-police

      Ms. Bruce talked about her book, The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds, published by Prima Publishing. The book discusses the Left’s impact on cultural issues in the United States.

      What she talked about is now out in the open for everyone to see.

      And this shunning of Right-wing is in-spite of psychologist Jonathan Haidt explaination of the moral underpinnings of liberals and conservatives, and has actually called for MORE conservatives to be brought into the fold.

      When you have only one lens to look at the world.. then there is a serious problem. The Leftist-Atheist community does that. The feminist community does that.
      The MRM has a mix of people.. Atheists, Christians, Left and Right. Some on the Right have “purity-tests” that Right-wing-only is the way to go. A lot fewer Left-wingers feel that Left-wing-only is the way to go.
      There is some crazyness, as in any swathe of humanity, but I find it beneficial to listen to all sides.

      Best skepticism advice I heard .. from David Byron

      I hadn’t really thought in terms of “skepticism” as a concept but it matches a lot of what I have thought independently. It’s a good word. Here is what I think: people are not good at seeing things from different directions. They are very good at one direction. But trying to do two is very hard work. There’s an easy solution which is to get two people together with different views. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. That is how you learn to think better. That is why I go to places to meet people I know I will disagree with because I want to know more stuff and have better thoughts.

      People ought to do it but they do not.
      I don’t understand though, why skeptics do not do this already. Is it because there’s too much science not enough philosophy? Maybe you do visit eg. religious boards but just don’t know how to handle being on the other end of things?

      I tell you this because I want you to know that talking to people isn’t easy. It’s hard. It’s very hard. It’s so hard that we are probably not going to be able to pull it off. I happen to think if it’s even 1% likely then I’ll give it a try

    • @gunlord:
      Let me explain why Tod Kelly is a buffoon.

      1) He didnt research the history of the MRM. Its been around for much longer than people realize, but somewhat noticeably and stable since the 70s. for e.g NCFM since 1976, National Center for Men in NY led by Mel Feit since the 80s.

      2) He didnt talk to ANY of the old timers. esp the most decent Glenn Sacks of ‘Fathers and Families’ who put forth ALL the arguments in very polite and reconciliaory terms in the 2000s. glennsacks.com

      3) He doesnt understand the strategy of today’s MRM towards achieving its goals. A strategy based on understanding its failures in the past, and feminism’s totally undeserved success (How do you like a President lying about a Wage Gap? Surely he’s not an idiot that cant see through the wage gap myth)
      Here is NCFM president Harry Crouch explaining why both political parties support women only, and would not support mens’s issues.

      The Hyper Active Agency Detection isnt the only delusion/psychological bias hugely impacting humans. ‘Women are wonderful effect’ is even more powerful.
      How do you like the fact that Boko Haram killed about a 100 boys in the last year, but there was no media hubbub. And now that girls have been kidnapped, everybody is concerned?
      http://www.mediaite.com/online/why-did-kidnapping-girls-but-not-burning-boys-alive-wake-media-up-to-boko-haram

  7. Dear Grimachu, i had often wondered why MRAs tended to wax dramatic. Now i understand – it’s the non-belief, a materialistic mindset, which eventually leads to frustration, blame-gaming and despair.

    • I think you have that backwards. MRAs come from all walks of life. However the atheism/skepticism community has reacted badly to feminist claims because they don’t match up to reality.

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