Commenter RocketFrog contirbuted a really interesting comment. I thought it merited a post of its own because it descibes something I have seen across the manosphere – men who have been disparaged and emotionally abused as little children in some way by adults caught up in the gender ideology struggles of the last couple of generations (Not to say that people weren’t harmed by traditional gender ideologies, but that is a related discussion.)
One thing that stands out in his account is his mother’s recognition of the damage some of these doctrines were having on him and her actions to correct that. That’s humanity overriding belief.
This kind of thing is not restricted to feminism and feminist mothers. People hurt other people with thier ideologies all the time. This is the difference – what RF describes sounds what it would be like to be a black child growing up in a White Supremacist household – and how often does that happen? Compare that to how often boys are raised by radfem mothers
A large part of why I personally read (and post) on gendersphere sites has to do with why Ginkgo calls some of these sites “burn wards”.
I was raised by a feminist mother, although she jettisoned most of her more extreme views when I was still very young – she has later explained to me that raising boys taught her that her former views on male nature were mistaken (and today, her actual opinions on gender are more closely aligned with the MRM than with feminism – she regards it as a disaster that young men do so poorly in the educational system, that they so often develop mental disorders and that so many of them commit suicide). Her friends, however, did not (and neither did the largely female staff of child care institutions I grew up in), and I spent most of my childhood absorbing various nasty views about men, served to me before I really had the critical faculties to understand that I was only hearing one side. I knew that rape was a horrible thing men did to women before I even knew what sex was. I knew that all the things I liked about myself – such as being smart and kind – were considered ”girlish”; these women would often comment that I was so smart that one should think I was a girl. I knew that men were stupid, grunting ogres who watched soccer and liked violence – and I remember vividly how horrified I was to discover that I was going to grow up into such a creature. (It needs to be said that I was hyperlexic, and would sometimes grab random literature from my parents’ bookshelves and read through – my word decoding ability far outstripped my actual comprehension). My father was a quite kind, but also quite troubled man, who I lost contact with when I was very young. My stepfather spent most of his time demonstrating that men could be exactly as horrible as all those women said they were.
I am convinced that many other boys have gone through similar childhoods, and emerged healthy on the other side. The issue of “all things good are associated with the other gender, all things bad are associated with me” is probably also an experience I share with girls who grew up in patriarchal environments. Perhaps the reason that I grew into what I did is just that I have a naturally weak and fragile psychological disposition (which I probably do; things others consider trivial can freak me out completely, as is unfortunately common for autistic people). But at any rate, by the time I was a young adult, I so thoroughly hated everything male that I wished to be castrated or nullified to take myself out of the role of the inadvertent suppressor. I have spent time living in self-imposed “solitary confinement” because I thought that my mere presence in public spaces contributed to oppression of women. The combination of radfem rhetoric and a very literal, some might say gullible, mind, did not help.
I did not grow into a caustic misogynist; I grew into a hateful, self-loathing misandrist. I still am, even though I try my best not to be. I wasted what should have been the best years of my life sitting around hating myself due to my gender. I still struggle to not immediately associate everything male with evil; it is my “backbone” reaction by now. I still view sex as a consensual kind of rape (rather than rape as a nonconsensual kind of sex) unless I take time to think things through and remind myself that this is just because I learned these things in the wrong order. I am practically unable to interact with women in any way but in either a professional or purely platonic context (which is a bit of a bummer, since I am unfortunately heterosexual).
The feminists I grew up with were a very different bunch from most of those I see now, writing on the Internet. Perhaps it is a generational issue. Most of the feminists I grew up with were *extremely* essentialist, they believed that men and women were so radically different that they were practically different species (with men being naturally prone to violence and oppression, and women being naturally peaceful and cooperative). Most of the feminists I see writing online have a different core view, namely that gender is socially constructed, and that the social constructs we currently have for gender are broken and lead to broken human beings. And that is actually a view I can “naturally” sympathize with, because I think I am a broken human being, and gender enforcement was one of the things that contributed to turning my life to shit. It is just that the most militant gender enforcers I have ever met also called themselves feminists.
Some of the voices from the MRM – the more misogynist ones – remind me of a sort of mirror image of the women I grew up with. They are saying exactly the same kind of thing, except that instead of saying that men are violent and brutish and nasty, they are saying that women are deceitful and evil and nasty. They are focusing on negative human traits and making them negative female traits – which I think is not only counterproductive and stupid, it is also wrong (men cannot be deceitful? Male politicians seem to be just as good at manipulating and lying as any woman). This is the personal side of why I do not call myself an MRA or support the MRM – their misogyny reminds me so much of the misandry I experienced as a child; I cannot support people who remind me of that. The less personal and more overtly political aspect is that I will not support a movement that willingly includes white supremacists, heterosupremacists and misogynists – if the MRM criticizes feminists for not denouncing Mary Daly’s genocidal fantasies, all the anti-trans sentiment or the use of racist imagery in Amanda Marcotte’s books, then it is a bunch of hypocrites if it does not denounce its own extremist hatemongers.
I want to heal myself, and many of the wounds I have in my mind are gender-related. By discussing these things in public, I hope that other people with similar wounds might have a slightly less difficult time healing themselves (if it is possible, which I am not sure of for myself). I do not want to hurt women as revenge. Some MRAs seem to want revenge; that is a motivation I do not have (not because I am particularly good, but simply because it will not help anything at all).
Note how much of the misandry he was exposed to was really just re-packaged old traditionalist misandry – the macho, Neanderthal stereotypes, the gender essentialism, all apparently all motivated by a deep sense of male disposability – all chime with traditionalist cultural memes far more than with what most mainstream feminists would claim is mainstream feminism.
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