I’ve been pondering something of late. In the wake of the positive and balanced coverage of Women Against Feminism (along with the usual negativity anyone critical of Feminism receives), I’ve been feeling a little vindicated, both personally and politically. For some time now, I’ve been viewing the “heavy hitters” of the MHRA world, and noticing something: The women get listened to by outsiders. I’d been saying, wherever I can, that we needed to take advantage of this, but ideology kept happening to me. The idea that men aren’t listened to, are tarnished by the misandry of Feminism, or the cruel exigencies of evolutionary psychology, is an outrage.
Ideologically, the solution to getting men’s serious concerns addressed is to shout at this problem until it goes away. Demand that the world not see middle aged white men with beards the way they see middle aged white men with beards. Funnily, this has had about as much effect as Feminists telling men to stop liking porn. Some things just are. They may suck, they may be cruel and unfair. Trust me, I know.
In my struggles with mental health issues, I eventually learned a term for my own worst enemy: Willfulness. The urge to demand the world not be unfair, that reality reshape itself to suit one’s needs. This urge lead me to homelessness, depression, mental hospital and suicide possibly more often than any other single psychological mechanism, and for those who don’t know me, that’s a lot of all of those things for any one cause to be associated with. “It’s not right! It’s not fair! It shouldn’t be this way!”. These sentiments have lead to exactly zero change, nil effect, on anything I ever applied them to. However, I was caught up on one horrible cognitive flaw: I kept asking the wrong question.
Is it right or wrong? Is this situation playing out as it should, in a perfect world, or are some of the harsh realities us adults have to face making it, well, wrong. Classics like rain on dole-form day, or people misjudging me after I’d made a joke that, whilst it pertained to bigotry, was more about it than in line with it. These things would stop me in my tracks, as I tried to cope with the dissonance between what should be, and what can be.
Then, in therapy, I came across the solution: Change the question. Don’t ask what one should or shouldn’t do to change what can be changed. Instead, ask: What is effective? What will get me from problem to solution? Rather than crying when one is playing chess, and looking at losing a bishop, work out a way to make that work for you. If you have to lose a piece, make it count. Don’t, I repeat, don’t just flip the board over in disgust.
To be fair, it’s harder some days than others, but I do find that previously intractable problems do have solutions, so long as one looks for them. In the MHRA sphere, there has been a huge problem: No-one in the mainstream would listen. People tried being nice and polite (and male) and it didn’t get anywhere. So then people tried being loud, brash, strident and more than a little confrontational, and it got us noticed, but rarely in a good way. Meanwhile, there was collective regard for the notion that women were listened to, and men were ignored. This was viewed as part of the problem, and a further obstacle to overcome. The problem with it was, it didn’t work. Sure, few of us would be here if some people didn’t listen, but lawmakers? The mainstream media? All they heard were the Feminists equating MHRA’s with rape-apology and misogyny, and all the loud, brash, calculated rage that was spewed in response changed all that.
Oh, wait, it didn’t, it just reinforced it. Oh well, maybe the next outrageous article will somehow change that. Nope? Let’s try it again then, but more offensively.
Or… Maybe, just maybe, if we look at the cards that are on the table… Hmmm… Women get listened to… Our detractors use our masculinity to imply falsity… Misandry is commonplace, yet women have significant social power…
So, thanks to my therapy, I saw this problem, and commented on it in a few places. Quite frankly, so much that’s out there in MHRA-land is so… Saddening… I can’t ever use the label to describe myself. However, I do think male homelessness, genderless domestic violence, child genital mutilation and child custody issues are all really serious. They are huge, profound, scary, painful, shameful things. Many, if not most of these are either a direct result of Feminist dogma, or progress on these issues is actively fought against by Feminists. This is an outrage, an embarrassment, and makes me weep for those harmed. Honestly, some days I look at some Feminist arguing that, because (some) FGM (occasionally) causes more lasting harm to (some) girls than (absolute best-case) MGM does (some) boys, and I despair for our species. That those claiming to be champions of the weak get to tread on those who won’t ever have a powerful voice, even once they’re old enough to speak, well… *shakes head*
Still, to dwell on that may well be “right”, but it’s not effective. That level of despair isn’t something I can sustain and still function for very long. So I do what’s effective, and put it out of my mind. Right or wrong, it’s the only way I can stay in a place where I can do anything at all. So, when MHRA’s deride the suggestion we do what works, and instead insist we do what’s done almost nothing, well… I try not to dwell on that either. I’m just glad that Women Against Feminism happened in my lifetime. Some people did what worked, while others whined about the unfairness of it all.
I know which side I’m on.
Jacob Shaftoe is an odd little duck. Sometimes he writes poetry, sometimes he packs trucks, and he definitely prefers the company of free thinkers to that of ideologues. He will however, engage with either because we’re still all humans just trying to make sense of a ridiculous world. Through dealing with his own mental health problems in the past he has learned a lot about himself and about people in general. He’s a sensitive man and lives in Sydney, which is proof that he’s not yet entirely sane. He assists in updating the Facebook page