Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MRAs: Just Trust Us On This, K?

[Content note: MRA aggression, eliminationist rhetoric]

Got into a fun convo with some MRAs in the comment section of a truly craptastic MRA article called "Why the US Economy is Biased Against Men" that The Atlantic, for some reason, decided to publish.

Echidne, per usual, does an admirable job of countering the article itself, so I'm not going to take that on today.

Instead, I want to talk about a recurring meme of MRA "argumentation": That if women are outperforming men in school, then that, in and of itself, is "proof" that women have been given some sort of unfair, special advantage over men.

Observe an interaction. In comments, tchalla_wkanda first claims:

"Women do get special privileges, from affirmative action to special, women-only organizations. That much is true."

Note here, that this claim is made as though it's a self-evident truth requiring no further support or evidence. The claim is also, as such claims often are, devoid of the historical context in which "special, women-only organizations" and historical affirmative action programs sprung up.

The affirmative action claim is particularly inapt, since it is now men who are given special preferences in college admissions over more-qualified, more intelligent, more disciplined, and harder-working women in order to even out the gender ratios on campuses. I noted this, saying:
"these days, lesser-qualified men are actually often admitted to colleges over more well-qualified and harder working women, for the sake of 'gender balance.' See also, 'The Quiet Preference For Men in Admissions.'"
Oh my. Did that inconvenient glitch in the "women only do well in school 'cuz they get special favors" narrative not go over well with some of the guys. One frequent MRA commenter (also an MRA blogger) was utterly outraged over my comment, quickly devolving into aggression. He incoherently responded to my comment accordingly:
"Wow, what a moron. Citing YOUR OWN source the government formed a 'Civil Rights Commission's investigation of male preferences in college admissions policies' and sued universities which were suspected in giving male AA. THEY GOT SUED FOR THAT! while in my STEM top 10 university 50% of women are here based on affirmative action. Yes, 50%. I am against all AA, but if it is given to girls it should be given to boys, just to spite people like you."
Now, before addressing this comment, I want to note the entitlement and unwarranted overconfidence in their intellectual "prowess" that can be observed in interacting with many MRAs. That's pretty relevant to the above-mentioned meme of women outperforming men in college, yes?

Some of these guys think they're intellectually superior compared to women, even when they're not, so they just can't fathom the notion of women actually genuinely being better at college than them. Hence, the outrage. Women, we are to believe, are unfairly stealing men's god-given places in the world as the ultimate intellectuals.

Then, there's the entitlement MRAs often have to direct extremely hostile aggression toward women (and men) who disagree with them or, worse, who don't prioritize their MRA concerns. This particular fellow, upon finding out that Echidne and I run feminist blogs, began referring to us in eliminationist rhetoric as "feminist scum," saying that we weren't even worth interacting with because it was a "waste of time" and we'd never change our minds. Like, I thought we're just having a convo, but suddenly dude is screaming in ALL CAPS and calling people "morons."

 Instead of engaging in a serious, civil conversation, many MRAs take the approach of Agree With Us, Give Us What We Demand, Or We'll Tear Shit Up! Men Are ANGRY! RARRRRRR

It's not a surprise that MRAs are now being monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their perpetuation of hate and aggression.

In my nearly every interaction with them, they have railed and wailed against alleged feminist "misandry" while simultaneously creating Internet environments where it's completely acceptable for major (and minor) figures in the movement to call modern women "shallow, self-serving wastes of human existence", and to have no other MRA commenter in the conversation note how frickin creepy and inappropriate that sentiment is. Like, dude's just saying out loud what the others are thinking.

Such a sentiment directed at "modern men" would not be tolerated at the vast majority of feminist blogs.

Relatedly, this reliance on anger, aggression, and (dare I say?) emotion, really seems to get in the way of some of these guys' ability to form solid arguments. Sure, they herald themselves as courageous, supreme, non-PC "truth-tellers," but their rantings are mostly bravado devoid of serious argument.

Note in the above example how this frothing, angry guy seems to sincerely think that his unsupported anecdotal evidence of women getting preferences at his STEM school somehow "rebuts" the article I cited that notes that men are generally given admissions preferences.

Like, can't there be room for both things to be happening? Maybe at some STEM schools, women are given preferences due to the under-representation of women in STEM. But, in many undergrad programs, it's men who are given preferences, for the sake of achieving gender balance on campuses.

Instead of being cognizant of any sort of nuance, dude is ignoring my argument and suddenly writing in all caps and calling people morons and scum. And that, make no mistake, is entitled behavior. He's hostile. He doesn't make a good argument or write clearly, but he expects people to agree with him.

And, the truly sad thing is that he (and his MRA compatriots who "liked" his comments) seem to think he's making awesome, stellar "counter-points." Some really Big-Time "gotchas." (See, eg, Dunning-Kruger). They're like the raving, paranoid men who hang out at popular MRA sites and upvote comments about how Modern Western Women Are Useless, Slutty Sperm-Burglars Who Live Off Of Vaginamoney From the Government.

 (Yes, really. Apparently "vaginamoney" is a thing).

The general purpose seems to be to cut women down in order to build men up. It is, of course, no surprise that the men I was engaging with in this particular discussion quickly began trying to denigrate me by calling me a "bitter spinster" and suggesting that I lived alone with my many cats (commentary that many of their brethren "liked").

These interactions demonstrate that many of these guys just do not think rationally. They only think they do because they've been socialized into thinking men are rational, competent, and superior and that women are hysterical, incompetent, and inferior. And they still think that women, apparently, consider it The Worst Thing Ever when men withhold their approval from us and strip us of our sexual appeal in the eyes of the apparently all-important heterosexual male gaze.

Likewise, some boys and men are socialized into thinking that the world is their oyster, and so when they find out that shit isn't just going to be handed to them, that they might have to actually compete with women as equals, and that people won't just automatically agree with them just because they're Saying Things While Male, they can't handle it. They see it as some sort of feminist conspiracy, evidence of "misandry" and "discrimination" against men.

Accordingly, they often cite the fact that women outperform men in college as proof, in and of itself, that men are being "discriminated" against. As though, women can't possibly be doing better than men because we're, on average, less entitled, we work harder, or we are more disciplined (or gawd forbid, more intelligent) than men. Nope, apparently our success is only because we've been given "unfair advantages" and the whole entire system is rigged against boys and men. Observe how Rafael chimes in:
"To be more clear boys are discriminated against in public school earning lower grades in high school. Secondary schools undo some -but not all - of this discrimination in order to restore some of the gender balance."
Okay. But how? How are boys discriminated against, exactly? Who is doing this discrimination? What exactly is happening? This unsupported conclusion is supposed to be convincing to other people why now? I'm open to a convo about the topic, but will I just take his word for it that the whole entire economy and all our schools are being "unfair" to men?

So, I noted:
"Citation needed. That boys earn lower grades, in and of itself, is not 'proof' that boys are being discriminated against. You have to support that contention with evidence and arguments."
To which "Parry" responded:
"Stop trying to use references as an excuse. Everyone knows that they are. It's common fact."

Don't you love the notion that asking a man to support his arguments with evidence is just an "excuse"? As though, ah yes, it is a man speaking, let us all all bow in deep reverence to his truth-telling ways and accept his statement as objective fact.

Like I said, sheer entitlement: There's a War On Boys. Er, um....just trust us on this one, kthx!

Again, this unwillingness to support their arguments is a recurring theme in my interaction with MRAs. The sketchy substantiation was also noted as a glaring flaw in the original Atlantic piece.

Likewise, when The Good Men Project ran its feature on MRAs, and I noted that one of the pieces purporting to explain the "Top 10" MRA issues lacked supporting evidence, several MRAs instructed me on how to use The Google and said I should find references to support the MRA author's claims myself. Because gawd forbid anyone expect Boy Genius to, you know, actually support his arguments in his freakin' MRA manifesto that he was using to try to persuade people into agreeing with him. It's like, you ask an MRA to support his arguments and, jeez, we're being so unfair! Can't we all just, like, believe him about stuff? Men are angry RARRRRRR!

So, instead of backtracking and supporting their claims, they instead often just get even more pissed that people, for good reason, don't take them seriously.

It's like much of the movement right now is this vicious circle of anger, hostility, persecution complex, entitlement, venting, feminist-bashing, and incompetence. To expect them to back up their arguments, think critically about the laundry list of statistics they sometimes parrot about men's issues, and, let alone, to do anything that actually impacts the issues men face is to expect entirely too much.

After all, if they can't just snap their fingers and make things better for men, there's no point in even trying.

No comments: