The Cut is claiming that Men’s-Rights Activism Is the Gateway Drug for the Alt-Right. When I think of men’s rights activists, Karen Straughn comes to mind. She doesn’t strike me as a fan of the white ethnostate. What am I missing? Is this anything other that yet another mainstream media hit piece on MRAs?
Christopher Cantwell has a knack for getting himself noticed. The 36-year-old white supremacist with an internet radio show and a long history of violent rhetoric was one of the most visible figures at this past weekend’s #UniteTheRight rallies in Charlottesville.
I don’t trust the biased Southern Poverty Law Center (linked), but if you check out Cantwell’s gab feed, you see a number of anti-Semitic reposts, so I think he can legitimately be called a member of the alt-right.
Perhaps the most revealing of his political past selves? Christopher Cantwell, men’s-rights activist.
OK. So a person who is a white nationalist also believes in men’s rights advocacy. If he likes Star Wars, does that mean it’s a gateway to the alt-right too?
During 2014 and 2015, Cantwell posted regular men’s-rights screeds to his blog on subjects ranging from Elliot Rodger’s murder spree to the reasons why men and women “are not, cannot, and should not be equals.” In one particularly overwrought post on “rape accusation culture” that was later republished on the then-popular men’s-rights site A Voice for Men, he warned fellow men of the alleged dangers of false accusations from vengeful women.
Well, I happen to agree that in the rare case that a vengeful woman falsely accuses a man, it is dangerous. In a recent news story, a judge ruled than an Ohio State Title IX official could be personally liable for helping rape accuser lie, which makes me feel that the dangers are more than ‘alleged’. It’s possible for someone to be right in some areas even when they’re wrong in others.
Cantwell is hardly the only alt-rightist with a past as a men’s-rights activist. Media gadfly, “sick Hillary” conspiracy theorist, and self-help guru Mike Cernovich was known for his men’s-rights talk before he turned to Trump and the alt-right — though he now claims to have broken with the movement.
Having watched some of his content, I’ve seen nothing to indicate Cernovich is alt-right. In his own words: “What should also interest you, as a reader, is what every media outlet omits. I’ve written an international best-selling on mindset, broken some major stories (one led to a Congressman resigning), and am in post-production on my most recent film. I’m also a performance artist, fiction writer, and character actor. Oh and I’m also involved in First Amendment and free press lawsuit, and the Associated Press filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting my arguments.”
Canadian YouTube “philosopher” Stefan Molyneux declared himself an MRA long before he became a darling of the alt-right (and he recently conducted an interview with the author of that notorious Google memo, James Damore).
Calling someone a darling of the alt-right is blatant guilt by association. Molyneux is an anarcho-capitalist, anti-immigration, and a ‘race realist’, which is probably why people on the alt-right like his content, but I’ve never heard him say anything that promotes a white ethnostate. James Damore is a pretty liberal guy; why is he even mentioned?
There are good reasons why men’s-rights activism has served for so many as a gateway drug to the alt-right: Both movements appeal to men with fantasies of violent, sometimes apocalyptic redemption — and, like Cantwell, a tendency to express these fantasies in bombastic prose. And both movements are based on a bizarro-world ideology in which those with the most power in contemporary society are the true victims of oppression.
Most MRAs are non-violent. Who are likely to become MRAs? Often, men who have been victimized by the family courts. Calling their experiences fantasies shows your ignorance. Claiming that they are the same as the alt-right is libelous.
In other words, if you can convince yourself that men are the primary victims of sexism, it’s not hard to convince yourself that whites are the primary victims of racism. And it’s similarly easy for members of both movements to see white men as the most oppressed snowflakes of all.
Very few MRAs would claim that men are the only victims of sexism, but they are constantly told that all men are part of an evil patriarchy. Similarly, whites who grew up dirt poor are told they have white privilege. As Steven Pinker said, if facts are kept in the dark, when someone learns the truth, they will search for an explanation. Then you had better hope that they talk to someone like Jordan Peterson (or even Stefan Molyneux) and not Christopher Cantwell.
Several years back, A Voice for Men founder Paul Elam infamously suggested that “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” should be replaced with “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” in which “men who are being attacked and physically abused by women [can] beat the living shit out of them.”
Sometimes, one has to be provocative to get one’s message heard. Elam was making a point that men are victims of physical abuse by their partners too, a fact which is largely ignored. His tactics were arguably misguided.
Men’s-rights activists love to imagine apocalyptic scenarios in which this sort of retributive violence plays out on a global scale. In a comment on his own website, Elam warned feminists and other uppity women that “treating half the population, the stronger half at that, with too much continuing disregard is [not] a very good idea. Thinking they will never come out swinging is a stupid, stupid way to go.”
Elam’s point is that if you keep telling men they are the terrible misogynistic patriarchy and enacting laws that allow their wages to be garnered, their children to be taken from them, and even their freedom to be taken, eventually, they will push back. He’s pleading with you to listen to him before that happens.
MRAs throw a fit whenever they discover women trying to set aside a place of their own — raging against such alleged oppression as women-only gyms — but they insist that their own “male spaces” should remain forever free of lady taint.
Bullshit. They merely point out the hypocrisy: women are allowed to have women only gyms, and I have never heard any MRA complain about them. But as soon as men want the same, the feminists cry misogyny and the government dutifully makes it illegal.
The danger of both of these ideologies isn’t just that they’re both based on bizarro-world fantasies that bear little resemblance to reality. It’s also that, with Trump in the White House, they may have a chance to impose some of their bizarro-world logic on the rest of us. Let’s hope that reality prevails.
That fact that you are painting the men’s rights movement as alt-right makes the alt-right stronger. It also makes the fringes of the men’s rights movement more radical. For example, it’s an often heard saying in the MGTOW movement that “you’re going to be called a misogynist no matter what, so do what is easiest for you”. By saying that all men’s rights activist’s grievances are fantasies, you delegitimize yourself. I’m an individualist and an egalitarian, but I have more sympathy for the MRAs by far than I have for the author of this article.