Eric B. described his experience with the men's rights movement in America's least necessary political movement mansplains humor to Nancy Kaffer at Michigan Liberal.
A few years ago, I took an objective look at the men's rights movement. I'm mostly a single dad, so I thought maybe there was something in it for me. There wasn't, and I wrote a column saying so and that I was happy that Mike Cox was aggressively pursuing deadbeats ... and was deluged with e-mails from members of the men's rights movement. They all basically followed the same format: My crazy bitch ex-girlfriend/wife gets all my money and I don't even get to fuck her anymore ... which I wouldn't do because she was lousy in the sack. One correspondent in particular lamented the idea that if he earned a salary of $1 million that he be expected to fork over half of it for the care of the child he helped create. It was revealing and disturbing at the same time.I had a similar experience eight years ago with with the men's rights movement, which has managed to get into the news lately for all the wrong reasons.* It was with the regular posters of soc.men when I was a regular of alt.usenet.kooks (AUK) from 2005-2009. I quickly came to the same conclusion about soc.men that most of the rest of the regulars of AUK had already arrived at; the posters were a bunch of fruits and nuts (one of our nicknames for the group was soc.fr00ts) and their group was an outpost of macho posing that the regulars of AUK called Fort Machismo. We didn't think very highly of them or their cause. In fact, we thought they were both repugnant and ridiculous.
A year after I started posting to AUK, I got recruited into a proposal to create a moderated version of soc.men. It was intended to be a troll, but it had an ostensibly serious purpose--to contain the men's rights movement in a controlled environment where the ideas could be discussed civilly without external disruption. On the one hand, the effort succeeded; the moderated group was created. On the other hand, it was a dismal failure; the men's rights advocates didn't want a moderated group. They much preferred an environment where they could continue to be disruptive bullies. I was even less favorably impressed with soc.men after that.
Since I am a good environmentalist who recycles, I'm reposting my comments at the time about the experience and how it cemented my opinion of soc.men as a representative of the online men's rights movement, along with an update of my thoughts about the men's rights movement in light of recent events. Follow over the jump.
In response to a question about whether the effort was a troll or was designed to keep out trolls, especially the cross-posters from AUK (the real answer was yes to both), I offered the following post-mortem of my experience helping create soc.men.moderated.
My answer is, originally, yes, especially on Jayne's part. Many other people on soc.men complained about the crossposting. I was originally skeptical about that claim. However, there seemed to be some justification for it. I looked at the correlation between traffic, both number of posters and number of posts, and the top five groups that shared crossposts with soc.men each year. The only group that consistently appeared when traffic declined was AUK. My initial conclusion was to agree with Jayne and the others who blamed AUK for the problems with soc.men.Yes, these guys were even bigger assholes that I had first thought.
Now, I don't believe that conclusion any more. What I've seen from the various threads about soc.men.moderated that I've read since I've got online is that the AUKers were, if anything, more supportive than not about the creation of the group, and, for them, very well behaved. They managed to sustain civil, if not friendly, debate about the merits of the proposal, and nearly always refrained from crossposting back into AUK, indicating their sincerity about discussing the proposal, instead of merely mocking it. I was impressed.
On the other hand, the most vocal regulars of soc.men were inflammatory, paranoid, rigidly doctrinaire, and downright hostile to the idea of creating a group that, by its charter and moderation policy, would protect them from the crossposting into and out of AUK that they blamed for their troubles. They were being offered a group that included the solution for their problems, as they themselves said they saw it, and they rejected it because it would be insufficiently pure for their tastes. I mean, really, who cares if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice?
In retrospect, while I'm sorry I wasn't around to help Jayne for the last 2 RFDs, I don't regret not being involved in the discussion here on news.groups and soc.men at all. I found the behavior of the soc.men regulars, the people who this proposal was supposed to help, downright shameful. I now think that the problem with soc.men wasn't the AUKers crossposting into soc.men, but the vocal regulars who escalated and became more hostile and extreme in response. Thank you...for convincing me of that; I was on your side, and you guys blew it.
So, I still agree that soc.men.moderated was intended to protect the regulars from trolls. It's just that I now believe that the trolls that the users of soc.men.moderated will be protected from will be the internal trolls of soc.men, the ones the AUKers have labeled as kooks, not the AUKers, who I expect will find nothing in soc.men.moderated to attract them. In the meantime, the men's rights extremists I listed above will remain in the unmoderated soc.men, subject to "attacks" crossposted from AUK and allied groups, like alt.fan.art-bell and alt.fucknozzles. As far as I'm concerned, they can stay outside, where they are unprotected from ridicule, until they are ready to behave and follow the rules of a moderated group.
My part in creating soc.men.moderated earned me the first of three awards for excellence in trolling. In my acceptance speech, I offered a final dig at the garrison of Fort Machismo, calling it "one of the great dens of k00kery on USENET."
During my stint as V. Cordero, I came to realizeI'm not snickering anymore. Like the sovereign citizen movement, the men's rights movement has graduated into a real threat.
that the core posters on soc.men are nearly as big a bunch of loons as the collection of kooks who post to alt.fan.art-bell, with the distinction that the garrison of Fort Machismo actually work together almost as well as the saucerheads of alt.astronomy. That combination makes the soc.fr00ts almost dangerous. *snicker*
*On that topic, here are the relevant passages from Nancy Kaffer's opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press that inspired Eric B.
Reading the website of a men’s rights group planning to hold its first conference in Detroit later this month made me feel a little sick, but I wasn’t particularly moved to write about it. Despite the vitriol some such groups hurl at women, they’re fringe groups, not truly representing — as I strongly believe — the vast majority of men.She's right about that last point. The majority of posters to AUK who criticized soc.men were also men, who thought that the garrison of Fort Machismo reflected badly on the rest of their sex on top of being complete nuts.
Back to Kaffer, who called this "a week in which I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about the men’s rights movement (and an online community in the related “manosphere,” that has gleefully adopted the term “going Elliott,” a reference to California man Elliott Rodger, who murdered several woman because he felt they owed him sex)..." That's the way that the men's rights movement has managed to get into the news. These people may now be more threatening than ridiculous, but they're no less repugnant.
Expanded from a comment at Michigan Liberal.