Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Men Project Presents MRAs. Part II

[See also, Part I, and commenting guidelines at the end of this post]

Because of interactions like those that I referred to yesterday, and the resounding silence of MRAs who might disagree with some of the more vocal, aggresive adherents of the movement, the GMP exploration of the MRA movement left me with the impression that the movement displays a lack of discipline, rage, entitlement to act out that rage, misogyny, misandry, and sloppiness, at least when they are given a non-MRA forum to present their case. I sincerely hope these characteristics are growing pains and that MRAs, many of whom seem to be in real pain, find more productive and non-aggressive ways of dealing with their rage, resentment, and hurt.

For now, as David Futrelle observes, the movement doesn't seem to be actively trying to implement specific measures that would help their cause:

"At its heart, men’s rights activism doesn’t really seem to be about activism at all. What the movement has turned into is a strange parody of 'victim feminism,' an endless search for proof that men (despite earning more than women, heading up the overwhelming majority of companies and governments in the world, getting all the best movie roles, never having to wear heels, and so on and so on and so on) are in fact second-class citizens."

Yes. My interactions with MRAs in the past have sometimes gone like:

MRA: Men are raped too.
Me: Yes, I know. That sucks.
MRA: [Stares, waiting for me to open a rape crisis center for men]

So, on that point, I would agree that some of the issues raised by MRAs are indeed legitimate. Further, unlike the MRAs who rarely concede that feminists sometimes raise legit points too, I will continue seeing these "men's issues" as legitimate no matter how hateful MRAs are (although I'd likely disagree with them about causes and solutions).

Yet, some of their claims at GMP were patently untrue and also... strange. For instance, one of the items on the "Top Ten" MRA Issues piece was:

“There is no male pill, and there is no way to avoid fatherhood at will.”

To this, I responded:

"Yes there is. A man can choose not to engage in sexual intercourse with a woman. It’s a surefire way to avoid fatherhood."

I suspected that what this particular MRA really wanted was a surefire way for men to have sex with women and not have to take responsibility for a resulting child.
And natch, the MRAs were quick to confirm:

"Men have a right to have sex without being saddled with children or the choices of others if they so wish."

They do? That's, like, a human right? I'm all for a male pill, but what else does it tangibly mean for a man to "have a right to have sex" with a woman without "being saddled" with children? Well, MRA "Denis" put forth his big idea:

"I like the idea of a procreation contract. Sexual activity should not be considered as consent for procreation."

So, we've gone from a legitimate concern about the need for male birth control to the creation of a special legal falsehood for men who engage in potentially-procreative sex. As an attorney who lives in the world of contracts, I wonder what a presumption against consent to procreate would specifically look like. If we say that sexual activity is not considered consent for procreation, does that mean if a man who has sex with a woman without explicitly consenting to procreate with her, then we pretend, for legal purposes, that he has not actually procreated with her even if in fact he actually has procreated with her?

Does that mean that if a woman doesn't consent to procreate with a man she has sex with, we pretend that she has not actually procreated with him? Oh. Right. Unlike a man, a woman can't just pretend a fetus away.

I mean, it's almost like Denis doesn't know that women's reproductive rights are limited in the US (and much of the world), or understand how babies are made, or understand that women don't always get pregnant on purpose, or that sometimes accidental pregnancies happen. So, I suspect his "idea of a procreation contract" has something to do with a belief that women often "sabotage" birth control.

So, specifically, I wonder- if a man and a woman were to agree beforehand in a "procreation contract" that they would have sex but not procreate, who would assume responsibility for any accidentally-resulting child? Would the woman be legally required to have an abortion? Would she have to prove that she didn't, like, poke holes in the condom? If she chose not to have an abortion, would she then assume sole legal and financial responsibility for the child? Would the child be sent to an orphanage?

What if a man and woman signed a contract agreeing to procreate but, during the pregnancy, she developed a condition that threatened her health or life? And, more importantly, if some men are so suspicious and contemptuous of women, why do they have sex with women?

I mean, in this conversation, MRAs talked a lot about men's "right" to have sex with women because of men's "biological urges." As though, maybe, women are penis receptacles that men apparently have a right to have orgasms in without consequence. Because of boners.

And furthermore, these boners make "abstinence" not a fair feminist suggestion for men who want to fuck without procreative consequence.

My point here is that an actual procreation contract would have to address a myriad of hypothetical situations that are far more complicated than "the idea of a procreation contract." And wit this post, I wonder if I've thought about Denis' "idea of a procreation contract" more than Denis has.

To sum up my experience at GMP, I was left thinking that some MRAs have turned their movement into a mirror image of the most caricatured radical feminism they can think of, and that they are extremely dedicated to their cause. I have no idea what their numbers are, but I do question how critically, fairly, or thoroughly such MRAs have addressed, or are capable of addressing, the issues they raise. Even granting them that anger is addictive and lazy to indulge in, I'm not sure shouting their speech through a bullhorn does the plight of men many favors.

[Commenting note: This piece is my opinion based upon what I observed at GMP, and was not intended to misrepresent or refer to all MRAs. Unless you have proof of clairvoyancy, don't question my intent or make accusations of bad faith on my part. Any MRAs who wish to comment on this article are welcome to make civil arguments supported by evidence. At GMP, I saw a lot of reactive MRA comments about critical articles supposedly being "man-hating" or "hit pieces," but little supporting argumentation was provided as to how particular articles were, specifically, man-hating or erroneous. Comments like, "Typical misandrist propaganda" without further explanation or examples are intellectually insufficient and I encourage you to be more thorough. Cite examples and make arguments, not mere conclusions.

Feminists: These guys already believe themselves to be victimized at the hands of women/feminists/society, so I also request that everyone focus criticism on their arguments, rather than calling them douchebags, etc.]

No comments: