Sunday thoughts on collectives and groups, feminism and MRAs

I continue pondering over here where to take the conversation on feminism. Having made a couple videos speaking out against feminism and a couple in general response to MRAs I’ve come into contact with on youtube, I haven’t really fleshed out the topic in greater detail on this blog. Been hesitant to do so because I’m still collecting my thoughts. But one thing remains a constant: I continue to care about the rights of womankind. Just as I also care about the rights of mankind. My own views, however, break apart from the politically-minded feminist bandwagon, because I do not believe social problems can be remedied by legal means alone or primarily (as I will keep repeating). Much of what we face today stems from economics, which cannot help but deeply impact the social sphere because we are its workers competing for wages and we are its consumers. Our economy is largely backed by our government, so we are in a serious conundrum at this point. What’s even more unfortunate is how people have come to view everything as a legal contest and join sides and battle one another as groups on ideological grounds, creating deeper divisions between the people and painting complex issues with broad brushes that ignore relevant nuances and undermine further attempts at effective communication. In other words, people are declaring war, social and legal war, on other groups of people.

That I am tiring of. Is there not enough competition already to satisfy us that we must create more?

I do not automatically view men as my enemy, nor do I automatically view women as my enemy, nor do I automatically view members of either sex as compadres. This life has shown me firsthand some horrible people of both sexes, and wonderful people of both sexes, to where I am unable to take gender-related generalizations too seriously. People are people, it is true. We are individuals who must be known as such, and these generalizations tend to dehumanize us, robbing us of our individuality, ignoring our perspectives and histories and choices, rendering us nearly invisible to those who lump us into association with whoever or whatever else appearing to possess something in common, no matter how trivial or tenuous, and then dismiss us out of hand on that account. How is that respecting individuals? So many claim to care about individual rights, and yet they have blinders up when it comes to the individuality of those they stand in opposition to. Blinded by group affiliation, people demonize the “others.” As has been common all up through human history.

Makes me wonder why we like to boast how we’ve come so far when it is apparent we have so much farther to go, assuming we are able and willing.

There are men who had dramatic impact on my life. I do know what it’s like to be mistreated a bit, by men and by women, by family members and people I once looked up to, as well as relative strangers. I do not live in some fairy tale where all has been given to me or where others have walked as if on eggshells to appease and protect me (though perhaps to avoid arguments — I do get riled up at times). The reality I’ve witnessed, whether directly or through those I’ve met along the way, has been raw and has left scars that I am coming to terms with being a part of me for the rest of my life (as I’m certain I’ve left scars on others). There is nowhere to run to escape the reality we’re all helping bring about, so I turn to us—to myself and to others—to seek remedy. Because the power has always lied with us, much as we struggle to grasp that concept. Changes take time and there’s no way to rush these processes. But there are ways to hinder them, and we’re proving to do a fine job at that.

I don’t particularly get along well with other people. (Laughter and grimaces there — it’s not by deliberate intent, but whatever, that’s a separate topic.) With a few I do, and I love them dearly. But I don’t expect to win many more friends in this lifetime, and that’s all right. Striving for popularity never made much sense to me, because then you wind up acting in accordance with what members of your group expect from you, which is limiting. It cages you in and polices your thoughts and words, ridiculing you for speaking out of turn or saying something they don’t want to hear. Much has been documented about group dynamics and how we tend to behave differently when group-minded or in a group setting versus when we act and think on our own accord. But I do not say any of this to give the impression that all groups are worthless all the time — no, they have their benefits and purposes. But when group membership or classifications come to eclipse the individuals therein, as they always have, we then lose ourselves to them, and this I take extreme caution with.

Out of loyalty for the group, we tend to overlook the fanatics and extremists within, preferring to ignore them, thinking their views will shrivel up and die away eventually. Just as the majority of religious persons assume to be the case with fringe cults — until those cults gain enough followers to seriously challenge and contend with the wider religion, as happened over and over again. Extremists draw attention and their words appeal to the core where we desire radical change, tricking some into believing shortcuts are possible if they are willing to go on the offense and use whatever tactics are at their disposal to undermine their “opposition,” even if that leads to outright war. The more tensions mount on each side, the more that members within either “camp” become unwilling to criticize their own, especially publicly, because they are locked into a contest where they don’t wish to display “weakness.” Admitting there is flawed thinking within the ranks of the group you belong to apparently is viewed as “weakness” to people in a competitive mindset. So the extremists within each camp continue on largely unchallenged except by the supposed “opposition,” and the silence of their more moderate group members is taken as a sign of consent to the message being put forth. With no obstacles aiming to challenge the extremist message, newcomers take it in as representative of the larger group. If that weren’t the case, debate would be taking place, isn’t that so? And this is how feminism is being framed by people calling themselves MRAs. And I see where MRAs are doing the exact same thing without realizing it, as the video above helps point out.

I don’t know what to think of humanity most days. Not sure where we might go from here. Not convinced we’re willing and able to change direction from this path of least resistance, this descent into incessant bickering and fighting and feuding and competing. If enough people want it this way, they will have it this way. If people prefer to fight rather than seek outside the box for possible solutions and ways to work together, we will experience history repeating as it has so many times before. And we will demonstrate that we have not evolved near as far as we like to think we have — despite all of our modern technological gadgetry and scientific innovations, we are animals at war with our own selves, with both our potentials and our base natures. Collectively this problem cannot be adequately addressed because fundamentally it is an individual concern that requires each individual to grow as we are able. Collectives tend to take on lives of their own and come to discourage this sort of personal growth and exploration so as to use its members to suit its own political or social ambitions (and whatever those ambitions morph into over time).

And now I must head back out to work. I hope to return to this subject later today, if I feel up to it.

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