Off-putting title aside, Mark Greene has written an eminently quotable piece for The Good Men Project, called Why I’m Proud to Be a Men’s Rights Feminist.
We must self identify as heretics in the cathedrals of accepted wisdom. I’m making this my life’s work because feminism and men’s rights are too important to be left in the hands of the true believers.
It’s a cry for nuance during this awkward phase of society and culture. One can acknowledge privilege, the natural limits of understanding, actively work toward balancing inequities, but it doesn’t submit one to being a passive, unwearying punching bag at the individual level, nor does it justify the condemnation of an entire gender, race, etc.
Similarly, one can’t take extremist reactions (sometimes justified in premise, but not in execution) as a reflection of anyone beyond the individual expressing them, or at most specific parts of their ideological foundation. The collateral damage of pursuing ideological purity constitutes a wholly new crime, or the broadening of the original. Without nuance, recognition of WHO differs (who isn’t wholly on ‘your side,’ or totally against you, but would agree/disagree on specific questions), and how (what those questions are), potential allies or neutral parties get caught in the crossfire; bad in itself, and it fosters resentment that will perpetuate the unhealthy cycle(s).
One ought to take responsibility for their individual actions, and the privileges that benefit them whether they wanted them or not; and one ought to defend and advocate for their rights, but this, too, bears the caveat of doing so responsibly, and not becoming the abuser.
To talk about this abstractly is largely pointless, though, as is ideology in general. The rubber meets the road on an institutional level, where the status quo is actively preserved. We can/should do our best as individuals, to adjust our ‘programming,’ and perhaps influence (or be influenced by) others — this is worthwhile — but eventually, the seats of power must be overturned before justice and equality can be more than surreptitious, small-scale rule bending, or gaudy, symbolic pacifiers. This applies to anyone being placed at a disadvantage by institutional artifice.
On a personal note, I have a stake in this… I do want everybody to do what they can/should/must to get along, and stop fucking up each others’ lives (or allowing lives to get fucked up; their own, or otherwise). I’m not naïve enough to imagine calling a political cease fire, so to speak, wouldn’t just leave the balance of power as thoroughly entrenched as it is; I know there is work that must be done, ugly presumptions of our own we’ll have to confront, so I want this to happen deliberately, intelligently… we should know why we make the choices we do, and leave room for adjustment… until true equality and justice are the norm (or are at least possible).
A simple, though not in itself easy, step toward this is to interact with people outside your typical circles. Once you do that, you’ll see that few ever really fulfill the tidy little stereotypes we all cling to subconsciously (if only for lack of any real experience). Knowing the variability of people and ideas makes it harder to project, to caricature, to dehumanize — ultimately, it makes it harder to treat people like shit.
I say this having spent childhood in a fucked up, folk-Dworkinian personal hell. Being a boy meant being eyed like this time bomb that’d become an abuser without intervention by ‘well-meaning’ ideological dabblers — who’d helpfully warn me of my innate proclivities toward exploitation and general shitness as a human being. That’s… how you make a serial killer, not how you develop someone’s character.
Good thing I fucking knew better. I didn’t buy into it, but it was unpleasant as fuck, and I still resent those (specific) people.