[TRIGGER WARNING: EXTREME MISOGYNY, DISCUSSION OF SUICIDE, RAPE CULTURE]
So I managed to get through this rather long piece by a guy who went out and interviewed a self-identified MRA face-to-face and did phone interviews with Paul Elam of A Voice for Men and Roosh V of those books that teach you how to get away with raping women.
The internet is full of men who hate feminism. Here's what they're like in person.
I'm a bit exhausted.
Really, this article didn't tell me much I didn't already know. It turns out that, when speaking face-to-face with a cishet white man, an MRA is not much different from your typical MRA online before you start pushing them. The only difference is that when the white cishet man starts poking at the MRA's poor arguments and challenging their worldview, the real life MRA doesn't start calling the author a fat cunt.
But his arguments are all the same. You have the misleading suicide rate, the falsehood about family court being biased against men, the draft, and the dirty, dangerous jobs that men try so hard to keep women out of. And underneath all that is the dude's real problem - that he feels women are gaining too much power and that there won't be enough left for him.
On thing I did find interesting/infuriating is Paul Elam's origin story - the self-proclaimed moment he realized that "something had to be done" about these uppity women.
"I was standing outside the group room and we were waiting for her to go in, just chatting for a moment about our work," he says, "And just before going into the group, which she was being paid quite a bit of money to do, she says, 'One of my favorite things in the world is to take men's macho bullshit and shove it down their throats.' I saw a lot of this in the treatment field," Elam says, "It's just she said it in such a particularly stark and direct way. At that point I thought, Something needs to be done about this."
Paul Elam used to be a substance abuse counselor, by the way, which should fill you with concern about the kind of people they let be counselors.
And what he says later is incredibly revealing.
He recites a litany of charges against modern psychotherapy, its anti-masculine focus on effusively articulated feelings.
A lot of MRAs and other terrible people spend a lot of time fretting about the modern "attack on masculinity." But one of the standards of traditional masculinity is to be the stoic dude who never expresses emotion except anger. Boys don't cry. Men don't talk about their feelings.
Psychotherapy, by definition, has always centered around talking about feelings. Literally. This is not new. This is not a feature of "modern psychotherapy" - it is psychotherapy and has been since Freud first said "how does zat make you feel?"
Also, anyone who knows anything about mental health knows that you cannot have good mental health without talking about your feelings. Improving emotional health absolutely requires talking about your emotions. And feeling them. And CRYING.
MRAs pull the fact that more men die of suicide than women out all the time yet they lament about the loss of the incredibly unhealthy tendency of men to keep all their sad feelings to themselves and never cry. Somehow, they are unable to connect the dots.
What MRAs advocate for will continue killing men. What feminists advocate for will save them. Taking men's macho bullshit and shoving it down their throats is exactly what they need. Just like my own therapist's action of kicking my ass a little (verbally) for apologizing for my own existence was exactly what I needed.
But what men like Roosh V believe is that ridding men of what feminists have long called "toxic masculinity" is a direct attack on men and that it's teaching them to hate themselves. Because they can't seem to grasp the possibility that masculinity is a social construct that clearly goes against nature. Human beings experience more intense and complex emotions than any other animal. That's why we're social animals. That's why we need to explore and talk about them. That's why we evolved the ability to cry when intense emotions occur.
Seriously, why do you think water pours out of our eyes when we're really sad? Random useless mutation/god made a mistake? It happens for a reason. It's healthy.
But all that traditional masculinity allows men to do in terms of expressing emotion is to get angry and lash out. Become violent. Hit people and destroy property. However, this doesn't mesh well with a civilized society that has laws prohibiting the random punching of people in the face.
And so, thanks to toxic masculinity, men bottle up their emotions, release them in the only way they feel they are allowed, and are then punished for it. That is a pretty fucked up and unfair situation.
MRA's respond to this unfairness by blaming feminists for not allowing men to randomly punch people in the face, in spite of the fact that it doesn't take feminism to see why such an expression of emotion is a problem. Feminists respond by saying "hey guys maybe deal with your problems and release emotions in a healthy way. Crying doesn't have to be bad or mean you're not a man."
I think the feminist response works much better.
In spite of revealing a lot of the obvious and the author relying a bit too much on the ol' thesaurus, I did enjoy the article's ending. The author follows up with the MRA he interviewed face-to-face after GamerGate goes completely out of control and Anita Sarkeesian and others have to flee their homes. As it turns out, MRA feels somewhat remorseful of his previous habit of lashing out at people like Anita online via shitty comments and harassing tweets. But
"I don't know, man. You know. It's all so quick. You see something and it bothers you and you feel annoyed and, like, without thinking about it, you just, like, lash out a bit. Shitty Facebook comment or tweet or whatever. We've all been there. You're, like, right then, pissed or whatever. It's just an in-the-moment thing. You feel bad about it the next day."
"Do you apologize?"
"For being critical? No, I mean, they were still wrong."
Haaaaaa. Classic MRA.