Why do I care? Because it’s interesting. This is a fascinating movement to behold since it’s all laid out here online for any of us to read and observe. The internet’s changed so much since I began following feminist sites and blogs online over a decade ago, having cooled off on that all quite a lot between 2005-2007 (meaning my past involvement with internet feminism came prior to the advent of youtube, so it was mostly about following blogs of interest and reading editorials and essays — in the early 2000s I read some stuff on Feministing and similar sites, but mainstream feminism never did much for me so my interest rapidly waned there) before abandoning the feminism inquiry nearly entirely (up until last year when I ran across GWW’s videos and the Atheism+ forum).
Who I am talking to here? The universe. And whatever niche appeal I draw. That’s what this blog project appears to be about. So, on to examining the internet and the neo-tribes created by it…
To other newbies and rock-dwellers like myself who don’t already know, the AVfM (A Voice For Men) is a site and forum created by Paul Elam. To lay out the extent of my involvement there, a bit of backstory is called for. I stumbled across the site initially at some point in the latter half of 2012 after GirlWritesWhat (Karen) discussed it, then moved away from it, only to have a guy going by the handle Grumpy Old Man/MrDeltaDeltaHotel (Dave) comment on a couple of my videos a few months ago, which led to him letting me know he belonged to AVfM and had posted a video of mine there in the forum. So I went and checked it out — it’s titled “Byenia rocks the world.” Then he posted up a couple other videos of mine there. He seemed kinda odd to me right from go, claiming my Aurini slut response video brought him to tears, giving the impression he was pulling my leg (we all gets lots of “trolls”). But ah well, I decided to go on ahead with giving him the benefit of the doubt. (Update in August 2014: I actually still get along with Grumpy Old Man. Seems we’re not as opposed as I got to thinking earlier.)
Anyway, back in October 2013 when I went and checked out AVfM for the second time and read responses to what he had posted along with several other random threads, I also read realityisabitch’s (Diana Davison’s) intro for female newbies and realized right there that my participation would have to involve me censoring myself and that likely it’d be just a matter of time before I wound up booted. I posted a few comments on two threads and then opted to bow out. The tension felt to be rising, and I can be a sucker for being drawn into what turn out to be unproductive arguments. But it doesn’t matter since that’s not allowed there, at least not for me, because I am unable and unwilling to leave the fact of my gender/sex and all the experiences entailed at their door. I’m not a man and can’t pretend to be one. Can’t pretend to be completely neutral either. I come as I am. Not interested in more double-standards, and I can pretty much guarantee I’d have had a few choice words to a couple folks on there had I stuck around. Wouldn’t likely have gone over well. Decided that’s their space, better to head back to my own.
Between the dumb Bar Bar ordeal and that AVfM introduction in October, I wasn’t feeling all that jazzed about continuing interaction with those sorts of folks. While I’ve since left Barbarossa’s channel alone (he banned me anyway, as he likes to do to people), curiosity did drive me back to the AVfM forum and articles to keep figuring out what these folks claim to be about. So I continued lurking on there periodically over the last couple of months, moreso recently. Discovered there are a number of people on there I particularly gravitate toward and get more out of how they impart their messages. Some more than others, and it depends on the topic in question, but I’ve discovered it does not appear to be a site brimming with “cultists” or full-blown “misogynists,” not the majority at least, though some folks on there are positively abrasive, no question about it.
Why am I sharing this? Because my curiosity led me to more closely observe the forum dynamics over the last couple of weeks when quite a bit has broken out. The issue with the new members being given a hard time unnecessarily was where it began this go-round, but then the men there began challenging one another over their expression of ideas and attitudes presented and what they think the goal of their interaction in the movement is intended for and so on. That interests me because these are real issues needing to be hammered out in some sort of way, lest the forum continue to alienate newbies and current members alike. My aim isn’t to interfere but rather to observe and ponder in my own space where I can speak freely.
Some I agree with to whatever extents, others show themselves as abrasive to a fault. This is unfortunate since real disparities exist out here in society that deserve to be addressed, and men as much as women deserve to be recognized in all that’s going on as human beings who do matter. Why wouldn’t someone support that notion? I just prefer not to affiliate directly with idiots and assholes while doing so, that’s all. My sympathy goes out to the ones who vocalize reasonable concerns and exhibit honest desire to call attention to issues impacting men disproportionately. But it’s a movement after all, and that tends to make shit sticky quick, as these folks are finding out.
One big problem with movements is they ask the individual to subjugate their own interests to the collective interest of the group. That can play out a lot of different ways, both positively and negatively. That’s not intended as a value judgment, just an observation on how things like to go when individuals group up in support of various causes under one unified umbrella. Feminism has a lengthier and more publicized history and obviously much more mainstream acceptance, so its influence can be encountered anywhere and everywhere. Not so with the men’s rights sphere — they must be sought out to be learned about.
Anyway, moving along to what’s happening on their forum currently. I am seriously wondering if JohntheOther has taken up a coke habit or something. Because, damn — the man is awfully fucking riled up and acting out like he’s some top-dog. Personally, I don’t care for the guy. Watched a number of his video over time and read plenty of what he’s had to say in comment threads and on AVfM recently. The dude has issues. Complexes. He’s spoiling for some sort of fight and is acting as if majorly on the offense all the damned time. Why? The people he’s hurting most belong to his own clan. That’s unnecessary roughness is what that is.
The thread I’m focusing particularly on this evening is this one titled “Shove Polite Up Your Ass”: http://forums.avoiceformen.com/showthread.php?tid=8195 (posted by his lovely girlfriend <– blatantly intended as snarkiness).
JtO starts out being a dick on page 3, and on page 4 Victor Zen responds, though in a reasonable and respectable way I thought (after having posted reasonable comments throughout the thread up until then). Victor Zen strikes me as a sensible guy after reading a good many of his comment contributions, even where we may quibble or disagree. He doesn’t come off as antagonistic but rather appears truly devoted to the health and furtherance of their movement. Paul Elam weighed in on page 8. But John would have none of that healthy shit, as expressed on page 11. Damn. What a megalomaniac. Wow.
That’s as far as I’ve read in the thread thus far, having read every single comment up until there.
Btw, while I don’t personally share Prince_Tybalt’s appreciation for politically-correct speech, I can grasp that it is up to our own selves to be mindful of what we say and do. And I admit to being notoriously bad at this myself, but it’s something I do work on. However, that doesn’t mean I shun the use of the word “retard” or other pejoratives depending on the context in question. I prefer to take it as I see it — there’s bullying behavior and then there’s colorful language, though the line can seem awfully thin sometimes (or overlapping). While he’s right though that we really don’t have power over whether others choose to use such words or throw them around with the intention of belittling or dehumanizing others, we each do reserve the right to interject with our own opinions and viewpoints. Going to get us heated mad with one another sometimes, but so long as many aim to approach such matters with decent intentions and in good faith, people will make it through eventually. Might not all turn out to be friends in the end, but there’s always the possibility of learning a thing or two through interacting and being challenged, even where we do offend. It’s when assholes and bullies take center stage and rule the place that it puts people on the defense and breaks down communication.
The goal is, hopefully, to work to keep communication channels open, even if some must step away and take breaks, and even if some never can fully see eye to eye. We work with one another with what we have, and that calls for some effort put forth by each individual at the table. Such is human life and social engagement.
Okay, so reading on now…
Eriu is a rude butthole without a point or purpose. Enough said there.
On page 15, Vance stated:
You guys think that being purposely offensive is good because it is bringing attention to the movement? I wholeheartedly disagree. The kind of attention that is getting is not the good kind. I can get your attention by punching you in the face, but you’re not going to listen to anything I have to say after that. Have you not noticed that the people who are taking notice of you because you are offensive are not actually listening to you? On the other hand, GirlWritesWhat is logical and reasonable, and she has likely brought more people’s attention to the issues of this movement than all of you combined!
What is also bringing positive attention to the movement is the fact that feminists are becoming more brazen in their absurdity and thus inadvertently waking a lot of people up. Being offensive is not doing any good whatsoever.
Once this movement really gets on its feet, I am certain you will see things naturally change.
People like Victor Zen will be leading the movement.
People like Paul Elam will still have a place in it.
People like John the Other will be disavowed by anyone in it.
Word. Good calls. (Except VZ rejects the notion. *shrugs*)
Some of us out here were drawn initially by the hyperbolic, angry assertions, then lost interest and dismissed AVfM as a bunch of angry crazies (coupled by the angry crazies populating plenty of YT video comment threads on related subjects). I was brought back around because my videos were being discussed, so I signed up and came on in. It wasn’t long before recognizing I was destined to be banned if I said much more, all because I don’t toe some line being drawn in the sand by some of those characters. Well, that’s just silly. I’d personally prefer to interact in a neutral space or at least somewhere where I feel my and others’ contributions won’t be heckled every step of the way. Because really, what’s the benefit in behaving like that toward people who aren’t aiming to shut you up? They don’t like being censored and harshly policed, well who does? Not anyone with half an ounce of respect for themselves. Wouldn’t even sign up at the Atheism+ forum on account of that sort of shit being blatantly obvious, and I’ve long since abandoned feminist forums due to this same sort of nonsense. It’s a pain in the neck to deal with.
I can appreciate Dean Esmay’s comment near the end where he talks about how forcefulness was needed to push the issues solidly into view. Yes, I don’t doubt it. But as Victor Zen proferred, there comes a time (or phase; context) to change gears, and once someone is in your space and is willing to learn and respectfully interact is a good point to lay off on being so aggressive. Lest those guys wish to only talk to themselves and others imbued with bitterness and spite, even at the expense of their movement’s objectives. It’s shit like that that leads to factions separating, as is pretty common among movements of all stripes. And perhaps that’s the way cookies must crumble.
As for myself, why do I care? Part of me does and part of me doesn’t. The part that doesn’t is just burnt out completely on political shenanigans and the jockeying for position and claims to authority that tends to go on within movements. But the part of me that cares despite any of that is legitimately concerned about the plight of people. Injustices trouble my soul. It’s good for us to stand up and reckon with the powers-that-be however we’re able, and we won’t all share similar tactics or even areas of focus. Hell, we won’t all deem the political/legal realm the best place to wage our battles, and that’s just the way shit goes. But in my view we look out for one another where warranted because what comes around, goes around.
But ah well. At the end of the day I realize my views are only my own. My days are being spent watching the wheels go ’round and ’round, observing how little cooperation seems possible among the vast majority of folks out in society. Communities are broken down and people are being atomized and set adrift in separate orbits, making it all the more difficult to come together long enough to address problems, let alone agree on a course of action. We’re caught between a rock and a hard place with individuality at war with collectivism in all of its forms. It’s anyone’s guess what potential remedies might be or where the future might lead.
[For the record, I’m filing this post under “Idiots & Assholes” in reference to JohntheOther, realityisabitch, and Eriu. Haven’t yet read any on there who are more malicious and arrogant than those three.]