Read this today on Rachel Edward’s tumblr blog. (Actually had to create an account on tumblr just to be able to access her writings — my days of remaining a holdout on most social media sites appear to be numbered.) Rachel was formerly involved in the MRM (men’s rights movement) and affiliated with AVfM (A Voice For Men) and its spin-off, the Honey Badgers Brigade, that is until that all ended in recent months for reasons I am still not completely clear on, having just learned of all this earlier today.
Anyway, here is a relevant excerpt from Rachel’s tumblr blog:
The rest of this post can be accessed directly here.
Her thoughts expressed there ring true and sound pretty similar to what I’ve been arguing throughout the last 3 years after first stumbling upon the online “manosphere.” Steeping oneself in a bunch of hate, surrounded by a bunch of haters, particularly when you’re already personally traumatized and in need of healing, is a recipe for disaster, both politically for the group/movement and for the individuals therein. That is my stance, and it’s the same complaint I have launched against feminism in the past. Turning one’s personal pains into political propaganda winds up creating an emotional, reactive movement while also using its members as mere fodder to suit such aims. I don’t know about everybody else out there, but I don’t like being used or having my personal past paraded as little more than another example to bolster other people’s political ambitions.
It’s enough to make anyone batty over time.
One gripe I’ve publicized pertaining to the MRM and AVFM specifically is that there apparently needs to be a division between its marketing efforts and its general membership where people are still struggling with their past problems and in need of resources and quality camaraderie rather than having their dirty laundry aired publicly on the same site. I understand people oftentimes are airing their own dirty laundry on there without being told to do so directly, but through so many choosing to go that route it’s created a hostile, unwelcoming environment for all on-lookers and newbies interested in learning more about men’s rights activism. Instead of being presented with various issues and concerns and potential solutions for addressing them, we outsiders wander in and see a slew of guys lamenting their pain and angrily denouncing all women as “parasitic” and bashing feminists (mostly young internet feminists, mind you). That strategy doesn’t help their cause the way they like to think it does. But you can’t convince them otherwise and I’ve tired of trying to say much to that crew.
People get really upset and claim it’s all really about protecting and promoting men’s rights, while we also learn about drama behind the scenes where higher-ups are angling to make a buck off of the success of this movement (Paul Elam immediately springs to mind). But this is the problem with intertwining the personal and the political — it creates a sticky, disorienting dynamic where damaged folks are prone to be taken advantage of by others who tell them what they want to hear or who convince them to see members of another group (or sex, as is common in this case) as “enemies.” And once enough people get wise to what’s going on, they’re likely to feel even more disillusioned and frustrated. These are all reasons why I’m no longer a fan of identity politics — or politics in general, for that matter.
I can understand the desire to run toward others who claim to have gone through what you’ve recently experienced, who claim to have some answers, who appear to offer friendship and camaraderie within their movement. The allure attracted me back around the time I was 18 or 19 as well in terms of the feminist movement. But try not toeing the line and see how many remain in your corner and friendly. Try asking probing questions and observe how irritated this makes your fellow activists. Or disagree on their ways of going about promoting certain agendas, even where you both do agree on the underlying issue being a problem, just not on the tactics being used to address it. Doesn’t usually wind up remaining a warm and welcoming experience for long when that’s your modus operandi, IME.
Movements are most fond of “yes men” — people who will go along with their agendas without asking too many questions or voicing too many complaints. That may be suitable for conformists and the collectivist-oriented, but it’s not typically a good fit for individualistic-minded folks. Hence why so many movements splinter and factions choose to go their own ways, as began occurring decades ago in feminism. Some people indeed are more herd-oriented than others, but some of us would rather go it alone than bite our tongues and deny our own self interests for the supposed “greater good.” And this is what I’m pointing at when I keep mentioning how we’re not all on the same team and never will be. Differing interests, differing agendas, differing outcomes desired, etc.
Frankly, I don’t enjoy being led by someone unless I am damned certain they are honorable and upright and have their own shit together first. Because otherwise we just wind up trailing reckless egomaniacs and charlatans while they spiral down. Power corrupts, particularly when it comes to people who crave power and yet don’t possess the fortitude and integrity to handle it. Not that I’m claiming to possess such fortitude and integrity myself, for the record — hence why I am not aiming to head (or join) any movement and content myself with playing in this online sandbox, interacting loosely with other individuals who happen my way. Little else.
But I did sign back into AVFM last night for the first time in a coon’s age. Probably haven’t signed on there since 2013. Why? Curiosity, and the desire to interact when the mood strikes. Probably doesn’t hurt to have a few critics around in any movement. I’ve dragged numerous excerpts from their forum back here to showcase over the last 3 years, but it feels worthwhile now to go ahead and speak directly at times. Perhaps because my personal life has finally simmered down so I’m not as distracted with that drama any longer. For whatever reason(s), I’ve routinely felt drawn back into observing what’s going down over in their corner of the internet. I do care about men’s rights, just as I care about women’s rights, hell, human rights. But I really hate to see movements make a mockery out of people’s suffering, and it’s also sickening observing the lack of growth among so many of its members over time. Look, I have a LOT of room to grow myself and am not standing in judgment on that point; just that it seems a pity to allow social and political activism with so much potential to devolve into a mud-slinging, bashing, incessant complaining, label-tossing, sex-separating cesspool. What good does anyone figure will come from that?
But people will do as they wish. So I suppose my job these days is to observe and share resources when I find them. Or help in batting around ideas occasionally. Or questioning faulty logic. Not sure what else is really of value on my part in this respect currently. Certainly not about to donate anymore money, not that I have much to spare right now. So perspective-sharing is what I mostly have to offer, for whatever it’s worth.