Men’s ‘Rights’ Aren’t Right

Aside from the mental illness that many in media keep trumpeting, one of the other things that keeps coming up about Elliot Rodger (yep, another blog involving him, sorry) is the fact that he was quite misogynistic. Basically, he hated women, but mostly this hate seems to have come from the fact that they wouldn’t just approach him, be in awe of him, and then have sex with him, without him having to do any actual work. This is one of those things that has come to be the crazed wheelhouse of a group called MRAs, or Men’s Rights Activists (I’ll link to a Cracked article on the topic, because it’s more amusing than the vitriol I would spew). Essentially, they think that the more rights women get, the fewer men have; rights are essentially, to them, something only one gender at a time can have. This is, frankly, lunacy.

What is not lunacy, however, is the list of things that often, males (and in my case, male nerds) have been taught about life, especially the parts of life involving women. Being a nerd (or geek, I’ve never really been clear on the difference besides spelling), I like to see movies and shows where such characters are portrayed positively. I imagine most people are the same; cat-lover probably don’t want to see movies that show cat-lovers as crazed hoarders of felines, for example. I remember one of the earliest things I saw involving nerds was the movie Revenge of the Nerds. In it, at one o=point the chief nerd, Lewis, is in costume – oddly the same costume as the head jock, a costume that is full-body concealing. He meets up with the head jock’s girlfriend, who is, per stereotype, a beautiful woman, and going along with her assumption that Lewis is in fact her boyfriend, they end up having sex. Hang on, it gets worse. After this, or rather sometime during the sex, she discovers that she is having sex with Lewis rather than her boyfriend, but continues because he is so good – he notes afterwards that “All jocks think about is sports. All nerds think about is sex.” Not only does she not run screaming, but the two of them become an item. Yes, he basically rapes her into becoming his girlfriend. I didn’t get that when I first saw it, but I get it now, and it is really disturbing. This, and other good examples of how nerds have issues with both misogyny and entitlement, is in Arthur Chu’s recent article on The Daily Beast.

It makes me realize that I have certainly been guilty of this sort of thing in the past. I know in years past that I have complained to friends about how women ignore me, not entirely unlike Elliot Rodger. Obviously, I never went to the lengths he did, but looking back and seeing that is scary for me. I saw each of the relatively few times that I ever mustered up the nerve to ask a girl out and was then rejected as another data point telling me how I was doomed to celibacy. My one failed relationship took me years to get over – not because the woman involved was cruel, but because I was just too emotionally incapable to dealing with that kind of rejection, because the image of myself I had built in my head assumed that she would never reject me. Looking back now, the only time that I was actually rejected in a cruel way was when I started to ask a woman a question – not even a question involving asking her out – and she responded mid-question by telling me that she already had a boyfriend and had absolutely no interest in me. 

Nowadays, I think I’m doing much better in that regard; I managed to tell a woman I know here that I thought I might be interested in her, she said she wasn’t interested in me that way, and I accepted that and we are still good friends.  Some time after that, I took some time to think about a friendship I had with another woman, and (with the help of a friend) eventually admitted to her that I had feelings for her, to which she responded that she had similar feelings. That was Calla, and while we aren’t really sure where we fall on that continuum anymore – I’d like more than just friendship, but I don’t want to pressure her into anything that she would end up regretting – we can still talk about our feelings and our relationship like people who aren’t avoiding everything we feel. I doubt that I am in any way totally free of the toxic memes that seem to have been part of my growing up – I’m never quite sure if I am doing things differently around women than around men, and I think I feel a greater need to ‘protect’ women, even if they don’t need or want it – but I think Arthur Chu’s article, and probably many others, are worth a read just because it helps guys like me to examine exactly how things have gone for us in life and the assumptions we make because of that.

Also, and I really can’t say this enough, MRAs are deluded douchenozzles. Which, I think, is something that all right-thinking people can agree on.

 

 

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One comment on “Men’s ‘Rights’ Aren’t Right

  1. Andy Montgomery says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what our culture teaches men about themselves and about women, and I’ve realized that a big chunk of misogyny boils down to the interaction between two specific lessons we’re taught:
    1. You are not a man unless you can convince women to have sex with you.
    2. Women do not enjoy sex as much as men do, if at all.
    Both are bullshit, obviously, but we grow up surrounded by people (and sitcoms and comic books and movies and and and) who insist that they’re true.

    There are a number of different ways to try to reconcile those lessons with each other, and you can easily see the seeds of certain widespread types of misogynistic behavior in all of them.
    A. If I have to do something that women don’t like to be a man, then women’s desires must not matter as much. It’s not a big deal if I commit rape.
    B. If I have to do something that women don’t like to be a man, then men must not be fully responsible for their actions. It’s the responsibility of women to deal with my behavior. It’s not my fault if I commit rape.
    C. If women don’t like sex, but they’re having sex anyway, they must be choosing who to have sex with based on persistence. She told me no, but she must have told everybody that at first too. I’ll keep bringing it up until I wear her down.
    D. If women don’t like sex, but they’re having sex anyway, they must be collectively and systematically deciding to reward certain behavior patterns with sex and punish other behavior patterns by withholding sex. Clearly I should try to imitate the most sexually active men I know, and if that doesn’t work, they’ve broken the rules and must be punished.
    E. If women don’t like sex, but they’re having sex anyway, they must be collectively and systematically deciding to reward certain behavior patterns with sex and punish other behavior patterns by withholding sex, The most sexually active men I know are much worse people than I believe myself to be, so they must be deliberately rewarding bad behavior.

    You can see the roots of MRA ideology especially in D and E–the idea that women are really in charge, therefore problems in society exist mostly because women are oppressing men’s rights.

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