A fb friend posted this ‘men’s rights’ video yesterday. (I’ve linked it here through donotlink.com as I have no interest in improving its search engine position.) It’s the sort of thing I have a really hard time ignoring. It’s a radicalisation piece, like an ISIL video for misogyny/gender based violence/violence against women. It speaks to people who are disenfranchised and convinces them that the reason things are shit for them is because those who are most marginalized–in this case female identified folks–are actually oppressing them, in this case through violence against men/the absence of men’s shelters/the obligation of men to provide for women and children/the absence of safeguards for men experiencing abuse. It positions men as the victims of women and of feminists more specifically.
(I feel the need to spell out that I think violence against men is a problem, is totally worth talking about, doing something about, but this is besides the point. Also, the sociologist in me wants to point out the shoddy correlations, the misused data and the poor assumptions in the video, but I know it isn’t worth my time.)
Posts like this make me shake. They summon up all of the moments in my life where as a girl and a woman, I’ve felt utterly powerless and afraid. And I think, if some of the men I know, who are quite progressive in a lot of ways, feel moved by this sort of video, I don’t know how to deal with the reality that this hate is so pervasive and ubiquitous.
The crux of the matter is that it is a radicalisation piece. It fuels hate. It fuels entrenchedness. (And it makes me want to post things like this and this and this all over the interweb — which I don’t think will do much to halt the making or sharing of misogynist videos.) This kind of media piece obfuscates the lived reality of so many, makes light of decades of much-needed advocacy, and positions feminism (and services geared specifically to women) as being man-hating and anti-men. And man am I sick of that narrative.
Because just this week alone it’s the Jian Ghomeshi trial, it’s Roosh V and the return of kings, it’s the way we’re talking about the Zika virus and how it’s women’s sexuality that needs to be controlled to halt its spread (in countries where abortion is illegal and contraception hard to come by), it’s the Centre for Disease Control telling women that their drinking leads to their assault, and it’s the infuriating conversations about all of those things where a guy needs to play devil’s advocate. This culture is just. so. poisoned.
I don’t have the energy or desire to debate this with the person who posted it and want men to call out their male buddies for their misogyny. Because, détrompez-vous, this is a men’s issue.
And hey, if you want to talk about male suicide rates, about the deep unwellness of so many men, I’d gladly talk about that because I too am deeply concerned. I’d love to have a real conversation about what toxic masculinity and strict gender rules do to men and boys. And find ways to redefine and reimagine what those gender identities could look like.
I’m going to go back to rocking and comforting my feverish baby boy, and make sure I surround both myself and my sons with enough solid menfolk to break these cycles of brokenness and violence.