Trigger warning: MRA nonsense, physical abuse
Edited with clarifications because apparently my writing is not conveying what I want it to here.
I cannot stop laughing.
Look, I know that MRAs are terrible people who do terrible things and have made many women’s lives utter miseries. But have you read this Buzzfeed article on Paul Elam that Angel H. quoted and linked for us the most recent open thread? (Thank you, Angel H. You are the best!)
He is obviously a terrible person, comparing child support payments to Jim Crow, to say nothing of treatment of his daughter, a braver and kinder person than he’ll ever be. But look at this:
Men’s rights activists often cite the first time they realized it’s a woman’s world. They call these “red pill” moments, after the scene in The Matrix when the main character is faced with the decision to swallow a red pill and recognize the true nature of the world or take a blue pill and continue living a lie. For Elam, that revelation came at age 13, when his mother tried to force him to take his diarrhea medicine.
Elam’s brothers held him down on the kitchen floor while his mother screamed and hit him with a wooden spoon until a concerned neighbor knocked on the door. “I felt like I was engaged in the battle of my life,” Elam said. “I was a rebel from that moment on … I’m still that 13-year-old kid on the floor that won’t take the medicine.”
When Elam was 17, his mother grabbed a photo of his high school crush out of his hands without asking him first. When Elam took it back from her, his father belted him. Elam’s analysis of the incident was that his father’s life was solely about serving his mother — “and nothing else.”
[New paragraph: This is the evidence Elam adduces to show, the moment he realizes that women run the world. His mother had power over him when he was a kid–so did his father and his elder brothers, but never mind that–and uses it to abuse him in one example and, well, just be kind of rude in the second example, and this–this–is the proof that men–grown men, mind you, grown men with agency, who apparently hit their kids of their own free will (Elam goes on to spank his grandson for opening a fridge door, and his mother isn’t around to blame for that one)–are being shafted in this society of ours.]
Lo, truly, the oppressed peoples of the world are throwing their arms open to welcome their beleaguered brother–police murder of black people, sexual violence, institutionalized transphobia, gay-bashing–all pale in comparison to what men suffer when they can’t get over their mommy issues. Truly Elam is under the bootheel of the female oppressor if anybody is. [Edited to add: This is what the MRA view of the world comes down to: it’s good old-fashioned mommy-blaming. Father did wrong? Elder brothers did wrong? It’s Mom’s fault. You can add it to the list of things mothers have been blamed for over the past 150 years, everything from schizophrenia to “inability to deal with color blindness” (I am not kidding). It’s not even new or innovative misogyny. It’s just mommy-blaming.]
I realize that child abuse is no laughing matter
, though I have to say that what Elam suffers here is significantly less than what I went through. But…dude, really? Your mother, your brothers, and your father physically abuse you, but somehow it’s all your mom’s fault even though most of your abusers were older males? Um, OK, Elam. You…keep telling yourself that.
Elam, my misguided flower, that’s not a gender dynamic. That’s a parent-child dynamic. You want to do something about that? Advocate for children’s rights. (
But seriously? I went through worse for worse reasons and…I’m finding it hard to see you as a poster-child for abuse survivors. Both my parents went through far worse and neither one is a misogynist asshole.)
What do you think he imagines adolescence is like for girls? [Added: Does he think we don’t get hit?] That we don’t have to take medicine when we’re sick and our teenage crushes are treated with respect and delicacy? Lo, his mother grabbed a photo from him without asking first! How can he bear up under the strain? My mother made fun of how the boy I had a crush on looked and my father laughed with her! My scars, let me show you them.
“I followed in many ways in my father’s footsteps,” Elam said. “If I was attracted to a girl … it was my job to please her, and to be and do anything to please her….”
OK, dude? Again, that’s not oppression. Wanting to please the person who turns you on? That’s just…being human. What do you think your reaction to being into someone should be?
This confirms everything I’ve always thought about MRAs: they’re fainting flowers who can’t actually handle the exigencies of normal life, or in other words, wimps. Dude. Try navigating through life when you have an actual problem to handle and then get back to me.
And I can’t. stop. laughing at them.
I swear I have a long, thoughtful post coming up. I just…dude. Diarrhea medicine? Your mommy? Paging Dr. Freud, here, I think.
Edited a la Kitty’s point in comments. What I had wanted to convey was that child abuse was clearly no excuse for misogyny, but as I said in comments, clearly my own issues came into play instead. And then edited once more because if Fashionably Evil, a regular, thought it was the abuse itself that I was finding funny rather than the inept reasoning based on it, then the writing needed clearing up.