#Atheism and the MRA ‘Problem’ – Follow Up

free_thought_white_by_betolaza-d5rp0aeFreethought Blogs, perhaps the most ironically named website since ‘Reasonable Faith’, posted a response to my previous item on this. The article didn’t actually progress the discussion any and merely restated the same issues again, without addressing any of the content honestly. Still, it’s worth a reply to point this out:

There was a piece of research done on the MRA of r/mensrights on Reddit which showed that they are mainly White, Young and Atheist. Now I know there was a bot entering values so it should be discounted but I do think there are is a fairly large representation of MRA or their ideas that are vocal among atheists.

‘Research’ is a strong word for a survey limited to a single site. I do not find it surprising in the slightest that skepticism of feminism – and other ideological claims – is present in atheism. The problems seem to occur when those who hold to these claims are called to defend them, explain them, consider other points of view or are presented with the same sort of skepticism we give to religious claims. Then you get the abuse, the accusations etc and very little – if any – examination of the actual arguments.

This one’s by Grimachu and there are problems with this. And the major one is the request for dialogue while simultaneously excusing bad behaviour. This has always been a problem. See the notion is that we are at fault. That FTB is a monolith. Never mind the fact that I noticed the slymepit coo gleefully over my stance against certain A+ members and indeed feminists over FGM without realising that feminism is itself not a monolith.

Properly dissenting views have been excluded from FTB (Thunderf00t), the blocking etc policies certainly appear to be biased and, well, you can see the problem here. Saying that I am excusing bad behaviour while simultaneously excusing FTB, A+ and feminism as ‘not a monolith’ is just ironic.

While MRA may have become a slur, it is a slur brought on by the actions of MRA. The MRA have not worked to help men but to fuck over women.

Well, allow me to retort. ‘While feminist may have become a slur, it is a slur brought on by the actions of feminism. Feminism has not worked to help women, but to fuck over men’. This is just as valid (or invalid) a statement as the one above. Valid or not, it is the crux of MHRA’s objections to modern feminism.

Except if MRA actually were dedicated to men’s health, welfare and the various discrepancies of power they would not be raising so much fuss. Seriously? We need more support for male victims of rape. No one is saying not to this. People will however say no when you demand the closure of women’s shelters or if you demand women’s shelters also take men when the entire point is that women’s shelters are gender segregated because a lot of women are running FROM men.

They are, from what I’ve seen. While there’s also a bitter, nasty side to it (and I wouldn’t call myself an MHRA incidentally, because I think they make a lot of the same mistakes as feminism) there’s also valid points, same as with feminism. The problem we have, and the source of conflict, is that feminist ideological doctrine is often promoted in a way that does directly and indirectly harm and silence men.

My last tangling with Thunderfoot was over a video from India that he blundered into and floundered about like a tazed octopus. He literally didn’t understand the context of a video or the entire joke. That the women in a video were reciting REAL statements made by famous Indian politicians to excuse rapes. Of women being blamed for wearing leggings under their salwar kameez rather than baggy trousers. Of women being blamed for wearing jeans, talking to boys, going out after dark and eating chinese food. Thunderfoot blundered into that with a spiel about defensive clothing which is laughable because it assumes that there is no rape if you wear a burkha and about body language using a mountain lion as an example.

I have reason to doubt your reading of this. His point really didn’t seem that hard to grasp, being that while, yes, the rapist is always culpable, suggesting ways to minimise risk and threat do not amount to rape apologia. He’s right, but frankly it doesn’t matter whether he was right or wrong on that point or not, it has nothing to do with whether he’s right or wrong on the other points. Which again, in my opinion, he is.

Because it shows how detached from reality the dialogue is if the most well off and benefited group from society thinks it has it the worst. It also shows the entrenched racism within it since places like the Spearhead exist which bemoan the loss of the “White lady” to the dastardly coloureds. It also shows the lack of diversity within it and indeed the lack of any outside views. It is the same as the Republican party. It literally is a poisonous circle jerk that deludes its followers into think the world sucks for men due to dastardly women rather than the world benefits men but has a couple of hand grenades since benefits and power do not come without responsibility.

I don’t think anyone’s claiming they have it the worst – overall – but then each group or subsection you care to look at has its advantages and its disadvantages. The point, once again missed, is that this is utterly, breathtakingly and absolutely irrelevant to the arguments in question. Its fallacious. Being subjectively ‘privileged’ doesn’t make your arguments invalid, doesn’t strip you of empathy and the comparisons with racism are disingenuous at best. More irony in the accusation of ‘poisonous little circle jerk’ which is exactly what the nexus of ‘Social Justice’ and A+ and its ilk is. The world does suck in many ways for men, some of them because of women, some of them because of various other factors. The problem comes when this is twisted into a blame on ‘patriarchy’ and no grander scale form of victim blaming can be conceived of than to claim men control and dominate society for their own benefit and then use it to harm themselves.

The benefits and responsibilities point is a good one, but not in the way the article writer believes I think. Men did used to have many more rights and much more social regard in many arenas. That has, rightfully, been eroded in the name of fairness but the reduction in responsibilities, duties and the strictures of male roles have not been commensurately reduced. Arguably men now put in to society far, far more than they get out.

Ah yes. The bad behaviour of MRA is due to trolls. But Atheism + is due to the movement. Good to know.

Anonymous, anime-avatared non-entities versus proud social justice warriors who are more than happy to use their real identities and to consider what they do to be for ‘great justice’. Yes, I feel fairly secure in stating that this is true in the majority of cases. I’m not an MHRA but I recently joined AVFM’s forum as I have some criticisms and thoughts I want to reach them and because I want to keep as much of an eye on them as I do internet feminism. A ‘professional troll’ there has been posting articles and content recently and has received a great deal of push-back and criticism there. Something I do not see happening within the ‘social justice’ sphere.

Since I defended Melody Hensley I have received hate mail. I ignore most. The one that got me was the charming man who tried to trigger my PTSD with balloon explosions. Rather droll, since my net is poor and “popping balloons” in the title made me turn it off. Had my volume been turned up and I not paid attention it may have shocked me a bit. But the goal was to try and trigger my PTSD.

You ‘defended’ someone misusing and abusing an alleged mental health diagnosis and by attaching yourself to them you attracted trolls. Quelle fucking surprise. I’ve had a great deal of internet abuse, some of which contributed towards my depression, but that was the people who were genuine. Not the trolls who were trying to get a rise. I coped, so can you.

No I am afraid if your argument is that people cannot suffer mental trauma from the Internet then your target being Melody Hensley is fucking small potatoes. Take on Dan Savage and it Gets Better. Go tell those poor gay  kids who are bullied to suicide that the Internet can be turned off and “it is just trolls”.

False comparisons. Though that would be great advice for them. Toughening up may actually be a valid piece of advice, rather than telling people to define themselves by their weaknesses. Here’s a suggested read on the topic.

No. You picked on Melody because the conflation of MRA and Atheist would agree with your harassment. And you wanted to trigger her. That was the goal of all of this. Watson? Really? She just said “do not approach women in closed spaces where you traditionally do not engage in socialisation”. Is your game so reliant on Elevator Sex?

I chose Melody and Elevatorgate because they are two of the most well known and egregious examples of social justice nonsense going off the rails. They are so obviously and utterly ridiculous that the first, and correct, response of sane people is to scoff and roll their eyes. They are representative of the problem.

So your statement is “we shouldn’t respond to injustices”. Then what’s the damn point. What the fuck are for? Your response to racism is to stay quiet. Mine’s to point out that it is bad. I get lumped with more racism thanks to that. Your statement is “see trolls”. Mine is this. If you stand quiet and don’t oppose the status quo of harassment, bigotry and douchebaggery then the status quo remains. You are merely propping it up. Those trolls exist and are validated by the fact that you keep silent.

Of course we should respond to injustices. What you fail to see or to understand is that responding to injustices is exactly what your critics are doing. It’s exactly what the MHRA is doing. It’s exactly what Thunderf00t, myself and other critics are doing. Even if you don’t agree with us, you should at least understand that this is what we see ourselves as doing. You see, I understand that (some of) you think this is what you’re doing, which is why I invest so much time trying to understand how and why you came to this viewpoint, especially while simultaneously claiming to be critical thinkers and skeptics.

When you respond to trolls you are giving them exactly what they want. Attention. You’re responding. You’re getting emotional and that’s what they like. The age old advice of ‘don’t feed the troll’ remains the best advice and that, along with blocking, remains the best way to deal with them.

Think about it. Do you really want to end internet anonymity? Do you want to cut battered women and men off from support structures they can access privately? Do you want to sell out political dissidents around the world simply because someone called you a ‘vile shitlord’ on Twitter? That’s what an end to internet anonymity would mean, and that’s the only thing that would end trolling, and even then not for those with any real computer skills. I think the minimal cost justifies the enormous benefit.

But then, we’re in a weird position now where the Social Justice types are feeding off the trolls and vice versa. Trolls can get a huge reaction, even hitting the mainstream media or making public figures flip out on social media and become international laughing sticks. In return the SJW types can point at the trolls, yell, scream, act like it’s a real and serious problem and bend the ear of government to their cause. Then we get nonsensical trials which are a huge waste of taxpayers money and only reveal what we already knew all along. That trolls are sad little sociopaths parasitising internet controversy.

Where does it end?

You’re into your self-righteous rant and accusatory mode by this point, which was a huge part of what I was criticising, so that’ll be irony again. Still, I think you misunderstood what GWW was getting at by framing Afghanistan contextually and I think you should go listen again. Again, even if she is wrong on that one point, it doesn’t invalidate anything else. She’s meticulous in her research and factual presentations, unlike many other gender commentators who are much more celebrated, and at least deserves some respect for that.

It is the MRA whose entire dialogue is entrenched in the notion that women are all out to get them thanks to feminism. Rather than society is patriarchal and for a long time, men had a major advantage. In losing the advantages men are made to realise that there are some disadvantages to being top dog too. Rather than try and equal out the disadvantages, the MRA are all about opposing the equalisation of advantages.

The people I mentioned are the problem. These are the ones killing debate, splitting and harming atheism and skepticism and even – I would say – harming the causes of racial and gender equality by conforming to what I used to think were outdated stereotypes. They’re the ones driving the discussion and distorting reality.

Western society is not a patriarchy. It was, but it is not now (see previous posts). As we covered earlier, men have rightly lost a lot of advantages, but there has not been a commensurate reduction in responsibilities. Furthermore masculinity is being rebranded, by feminism, as toxic. Men are being treated as though they are all violent rapists. Men get virtually no help or attention where they’re at a disadvantage while women get lots of help, even where they are already advantaged (such as education). When it comes to sex crime allegations even the most basic presumption of the justice system (innocence until proven guilty) is under attack.

If you genuinely think the MHRA are against actual equality, you’re not paying attention and again, both sides think that’s what they’re for but it may not necessarily be true, though in my experience it’s less true on the feminism side.

Veronica Varlow’s ‘Riot Grrl’ feminism is the kind of thing that I recognise as feminism. Equality, not domination, not man hating. I wouldn’t call that feminism though, because feminism no longer fits that definition. That’s egalitarianism and humanism.

Now to address some of the equally shoddy comments:

Sally strange claims that criticisms of feminism:
Yes, but their arguments fall, consistently, and all in the same manner. The observation that the same type of people make the same type of failed arguments is not dismissing the arguments because they come from white cishet men. It is explaining why white cishet men are wrong, over and over again, in that same particular flavor of wrong.

Saying that they fail is not demonstrating that they fail and blaming it on being white is racist, cis is cissexist, and male is sexist, not to mention heterophobic. The arguments do not, in my opinion, fail but rather feminism descends into religious style apologetics and hands-over-ears behaviour rather than deal with it. It’s so much easier to hurl abuse an accusations than to debunk.

Besomyka wrote:
And all that is fine in it’s way. Disappointing and sad, but it’s pretty standard right-wing libertarian things are as equal as we can make them stop complaining arguments. Until he argued that money going into STEM programs should be cut or redirected to men “who it might work on better”. When he brought up the STEM stuff, a bell went off in my head and I knew I had to bow out. I was just going to get angry, and that doesn’t benefit anyone. I recognized the position, it was from Charles Murray. I don’t know if that fellow even knows who that is or that his position mirrors Mr. Murray’s, but it did and I just can’t argue with something that view in good faith, making it seem like they have any validity worth considering at all.

I’m a left-anarchist.

With regard to STEM, a hell of a lot of money has been poured into trying to recruit women into STEM fields whilst participation and educational path choice for both men and women has dropped sharply. We need more people in STEM fields, desperately, but all this effort is not making much of an impact in persuading women to choose STEM careers. My point was, merely, that the money might be better spent encouraging either a) everyone or b) men (who it seems are already more inclined to take STEM careers) to do so, rather than throwing away more money essentially trying to force people who aren’t interested into a field they don’t like.

To extra-clarify, though it shouldn’t be needed, it’s not a matter of capability, but interest. I was good at maths at school, but I hated it and didn’t want to pursue it. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t any good at it.

I don’t appreciate the disingenuous comparison with racists either.

Seven of Mine said:
This sentence is, in a nutshell, why MRAs aren’t taken seriously. They speak as if the ideas they consider crazy are self-evidently crazy. It’s one big argument from ignorance. The resolute pretense that they don’t understand any difference between interpersonal prejudice and systemic prejudice is infuriating, even accounting for the fact that, colloquially, we use “racism” and “sexism” as if they’re synonymous with personal prejudice. When I was active at the A+ forums, and on at least one occasion around FTB, I’ve been involved in lengthy arguments over the definition of these words as “prejudice plus power.” This equivocation (not unlike creationist equivocation between scientific and colloquial definitions of “theory”) is a deliberate derailing tactic right up there with the “we’re not all like that” argument.

Many of these ideas are what I would consider self-evidently crazy. Such as the idea that in an age of freely accessible internet porn, banning Page 3 is a meaningful act, or that we live in a patriarchy, or a rape culture. However, in my experience people do not stop at saying ‘this is crazy’, but go on to explain in great detail how and why it is crazy. They are, then, however dismissed with ‘check your privilege’ or similar, which IS fallacious and empty.

The second half of this about *ism, and just repeats the mistake. Sexism and racism and all the other *isms are not being used colloquially when they refer to prejudice on the basis of race/sex etc. They are being used correctly. ‘Prejudice plus power’ is a fallacy of redefinition, used to excuse the prejudices of the person using that definition. This is a rare, rare case of Rationalwiki getting it right.

It is nothing like creationist abuse of the term theory and no, it’s not a derailing tactic. It’s making sure communication is possible with a parochial grouping that abuses language. Neither is ‘we’re not all like that’ derailing, it is – after all – simply what various anti-prejudice movements have done down the ages. Humanise themselves and point out that stereotyping is invalid.

Not all bitches be crazy, not all bros be dogs.po

F says:
And for those who find some kinship with MRA groups because they have been fucked over by the system, treating feminists as the enemy is about the dumbest thing one could possibly do. Feminists are fighting against that same system. But I haven’t seen any self-identified MRA group ever join feminist groups to fight these problems, they just tend to sling mud at any women (or other men, but the women take the damage) who simply won’t nod and agree with them. They don’t want to fix what is broken in society, they just want to go back to when everything was completely broken in their favor (even if not all of it really was in their favor).

Why would someone screwed over by the system, side with the people who made the system screw them over? Feminists aren’t fighting the system that screws over men, they’re fighting to turn it to their benefit. That’s why feminists don’t campaign on issues where men are screwed over, like custody hearings, reproductive rights, alimony, job safety etc but concern themselves with their own issues – which is fine until they start actively campaigning against men.

Taking things to an extreme, why would the Black Panther Party join with a white supremacist group, even if they’re both – ostensibly – against ‘the man’?

Within the skeptic/atheist movement our positions are not so diametrically opposed. Nor are the STATED positions of the MHRA or modern feminist movements, but the stated positions don’t necessarily match the reality.

Xanthe said:
It’s really quite laughable how MRAs of the calibre of Paul Elam think that putting the word ‘human’ into their acronym to obtain ‘MHRA’ makes their lack of activism and appalling misanthropy any more acceptable. Their human rights are not under any sort of challenge and even if it were, their activism is possibly the worst way of going about it. From the quotes given I see Grimachu seems to have bought into that pathetic rebranding exercise; that says it all, even if he hadn’t gone on to endorse GWW, what a fool.

Adding the ‘H’ emphasises the point I think. That men should also be regarded as human and that men’s rights are human rights. If you think they’re not under threat, I think you’re not paying enough attention. As to the lack of activism, it’s a relatively small movement but I do see more happening from their side, which will hopefully add to the conversation and oppose some of the more excessive nonsense being passed around by feminists, especially on campuses. The constant bashing of GWW who always seems calm, reasonable and well researched to me suggests that insults are all her critics have.

Gillell said:
Why on earth should I want to work with people who don’t see and treat me as a full human being, who don’t think that my gay family members should have equal rights? I know quite a lot of people who are religious and who agree with me on those issues and I’ll choose them over some atheist dudebro every time. Because actions speak louder than words.

Now you understand why men don’t necessarily want to work with feminists. The rest is just bizarre and unjustified conflation of nonsense, trying to tar with the same brush and also irrelevant. Secularism – for example – is one fight, equal marriage another. Expecting everyone to agree is what killed Occupy. Spare me the adhom ‘dudebro’.

Thetalkingstove said:
I’d like to see the examples of prolonged, vicious harassment of MRAs with the slurs ‘fedora’ and ‘neckbeard’. There must be lots of them in order to make a genuine comparison to the treatment Watson, Sarkeesian, Hansley et al have received. Right? Or maybe those words are just thrown around occasionally as little jabs and are actually nothing like rape threats and misogynistic abuse. Who can tell! I’m still baffled by this. Someone you don’t know makes a claim that you find dubious. Ok. You’re free to disbelieve them. But why would this *incense* you? Melody’s claim of PTSD is hurting exactly nobody. It makes no one else’s PTSD worse or less worthy of sympathy.

Hie thee to Twitter or Tumblr if you want to see it. There’s plenty. However, you’re comparing apples to oranges, or, rather, logical fallacies (ad hom, poisoning the well) to spurious and meaningless trolling.

Melody’s claim of PTSD is harmful, potentially very harmful if the idea spreads at all. It trivialises a very serious condition and sets the bar incredibly low. It’s hard enough to get mental health problems recognised and taken seriously already without someone claiming to be traumatised over some internet insults. It falls into the same nonsensical category as article trigger warnings and characterising things like misgendering someone as ‘violence’.

Not that I think that my feelings alone are sufficient reason to damn her for it, but I do have a ‘dog in this race’, so to speak.

SMRNDA said:
I tend to find that meme of ‘one isn’t ALLOWED to question feminism’ (or that racism is a thing, or issues involving homosexuals and such) kind of deliberately missing the point. I can question that the earth revolves around the sun, but I still have to actually deal with the evidence. One cannot dismiss something by fiat. It seems many MRAs want to be able to void any and all conclusions of feminism by assertion.

Gender studies and women’s studies courses do not include critique of the assumptions made by those courses. It would be like a political science class teaching everything from the perspective of 16th Century monarchy. It’s just not good practice apart from anything else. Dissent is not allowed, men’s lectures and groups are shut out, protested, accused. The conversation never really gets started.

The claims made by modern feminism, gender feminism if you will (CH Sommers at least has a good term for it) are not akin to ‘the Earth revolves around the sun’. They’re sociological and psychological claims which, to quote Walter Bishop is ‘Not an exact science’ and to quote Peter Bishop is ‘NOT EVEN SCIENCE!’

To get to the truth we have to struggle past all sorts of biases, control for all sorts of factors, acknowledge that the situation is fluid, meticulously craft studies and try to get down to the truth of it. Gender feminism has dominated all these concerns for too long with no real opposing voice, to the point where many of its claims have become dogma – as was seen in this article and the comments.

The wage gap, for example, virtually disappears when you control for all the other factors leaving a small fraction which may be down to innate gender differences. Less than 5% or so. It is simplistic and ‘economical with the actualite’ to cry sexism without a proper, critical examination.

The evidence does not support a lot of the claims, or does not support them to the extent that they are pushed or the zeal with which they are wielded like weapons.

Until disagreement and skeptical examination can be treated as what it is, without demonisation and merely making the same mistakes all over again – as this blog in reply to me did – there’ll be no progress.

2 responses to “#Atheism and the MRA ‘Problem’ – Follow Up

  1. ” a lot of women are running FROM men.”

    And their prejudices should not be encouraged. They are running from SOME PARTICULAR men. And some men are running from some particular women. I might possibly be convinced of the benefits of segregated shelters (unlikely) but in areas where there are not sufficient shelters for one gender, the rest must be open to them.

    • If an organisation has the funding to run more than one shelter, it would not be at all difficult to provide facilities in rough proportion to the abuse each gender suffers, and to make ad campaigns reflect reality instead of strongly implying DV is a man-on-woman issue. But they don’t do it.

      The bit about shutting down shelters is a straw man, possibly from the SNL sketch which also made the claim. Honey Badger Radio (GWW again!) talked about the sketch and mentioned a couple men’s shelters which were shut down by feminists. Projection?

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