By now, most of you will have heard of Robert Fisher, the NH state rep who was recently discovered to be a promoter of some reprehensible ideas about women. You probably already know that he founded a website called Red Pill[i] which had about 200,000 followers and framed itself as a platform for men’s rights.
Bypassing the tempting subjects such as how women are boring except for sex, which is why men put up with them, or how to manipulate them into having that sex, I want to talk here about a principle underlying another quote you’ve probably seen—“Rape isn’t an absolute bad, because the rapist I think probably likes it a lot. I think he’d say it’s quite good, really.”—and another you may not have noticed about how oppressed men are, because masculinity is the victim of the “feminine imperative”.
Fisher is, as one smart friend put it, a walking colostomy bag, but outrage over his egregiousness masks three more important points. The first is that he is not new and he is not alone; The Men’s Rights Movement has been around since the second wave of feminism in the early 70s, and is all over the internet. Fisher is just the one we saw scurrying away when an investigative journalist flipped over the rock. The second important point to notice is his premise that men have a simple right to take what they want from women, whose experience is not of interest. This is the foundation of Rape Culture and directly linked to why women get tired of being told to smile by strangers. The third point, and the reason I sat down to write today, is that loss of privilege is sometimes experienced as oppression even though it is not.
I find it easy to believe that Fisher and his kind sincerely believe that their rights are being taken from them. It is the pattern that we see in any dynamic in which power is being readjusted in a more equitable direction, including gender, racial identity, class politics, and patterns of colonialization. When we are granted something taken from someone else under cover of social sanction, we assume it is ours. Restoration of appropriate balance then feels like someone took OUR toys.
I actually do agree that current gender arrangements have costs to men. The burden of being the assumed breadwinner, of not being allowed healthy emotional expression, and the assumption that the mother is always the preferred custodial parent erode men’s experiences in ways I’d like to see changed. However … I do not agree that one of these costs is that men are now an oppressed class because women no longer want our appeal and usefulness to men to be the most important thing about us.
That right to have and control our own humanity I go on about? It still holds true. If someone taking theirs back makes you feel ripped off, that’s kind of not their problem.
[i]The source of this name is explained about halfway through this illuminating article. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/warren-farrell-mens-rights-movement-feminism-misogyny-troll