A response to Chris Gethard

Recently, comedian Chris Gethard shared a message to “woman haters” and “ranted about the underground Men’s Rights Movement”—because apparently these two things are one in the same. His message and subsequent response to a response by Ramz Paul were so steeped in straw men and genuine misunderstandings that I decided to explain the problem with his line of thinking. Enjoy.

Mr. Gethard, you present a fundamental misunderstanding of the topic you chose to oppose. You speak as though the main premise behind men’s rights activism is that “hot girls are keeping us down.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The men’s rights movement has nothing to do with “hot girls” keeping anyone down. It is the basic understanding and awareness of how societal norms disadvantage men and use men as tools to keep the world functioning.

Getting into clubs is not a goal of the men’s rights movement—at least it’s not one I have ever encountered. Attempts to demean the advocacy for men’s basic human rights by framing it as a desire to get into clubs is a straw man that will not shame us into silence or submission.

Your assertions about the gender wage gap are mathematically unsound and entirely false. The myth that women are paid less for the SAME work is the myth that just won’t seem to die, despite having been refuted time and time again. I understand that you’re a comedian, but you’re doing a great disservice by perpetuating well-refuted myths. It is not helpful to anyone.

You say that if someone feels scorned by women, participating in the movement of villainizing women will lead to a vagina-free life. For starters, addressing and raising awareness about issues faced by men in society is an entirely legitimate response for someone who has been on the receiving end of a legal system that disadvantages men and works to substantiate a woman’s scorn. Additionally, the men’s rights movement has nothing to do with villainizing women. I can understand how, in a world that infantilizes, pedestalizes, and prioritizes women, treating women as fully capable and responsible adults can seem like villainization, but they are not the same. The men’s rights movement works to recognize the humanity of men and as a byproduct allows women to step down from a pedestal and take responsibility for their actions. Finally, it is truly telling that you assert that men advocating for their human rights will result in them being unable to attract women because we all know that that is how the value of men is derived—by whether or not he can get women to like him, right? I assure you, advocates for the rights of men and boys have more important issues to focus on than being concerned about whether or not someone LIKES them.

You also joke that advocates for men’s rights DESERVE not to find love. Despite being a “joke,” this statement is also truly telling. Men and women are speaking out against injustice and discrimination faced by men, and you joke that they deserve not to be loved because of this. Do you think the reverse of such a joke would be well received? Saying that all women who speak out against the injustices and discrimination they face do not deserve to be loved? Understand that this is what your joke is undermining: men who come together to speak about their experiences and bring justice to an extremely biased world.

You went on for a while about people having a hard time in adolescence and school. I can only perceive this to mean that you believe that the men’s rights movement comprises a bunch of maladjusted adolescents who haven’t come into their selves yet. This portrayal is just as inaccurate as everything else you have said. The majority of people involved in the men’s rights movement are well-adjusted adults who have either been lambasted by a system that operates at the behest and benefit of women or who have men and boys in their life whom they love and care about (fathers, brothers, husbands, sons); people who are capable of seeing the ill treatment of men in our society and feel responsible for speaking out against it.

What I really want you to realize is that your insistence that it will “be okay” comes across as a silencing tactic, even if you don’t meant it that way—and I trust that you don’t. The issues we speak out against—violence against men, discrimination against men, men’s health, men’s lack of bodily integrity, the concealment of the victimization of men—none of these issues will just “be okay” unless we speak out against them and bring awareness and change.

I found your comparison with Jay-Z quite interesting. Without realizing, you chose an example STEEPED in male disposability. Maybe you’re not familiar, but not long ago, Jay-Z was physically assaulted by his sister-in-law in an elevator, causing many people to ask, “What did he do to deserve it?” This is a common problem: people asking what men did to DESERVE being assaulted. THIS is a men’s rights issue.

I think it is also incredibly authoritative to purport to know what others want in life. Goals and desires are entirely subjective. What works for you does not necessarily work for someone else. It is entirely incorrect to assert that everyone just wants a certain lifestyle—especially one that largely exploits men.

I also want to address some problems with your response to Ramz Paul.

You assert that Ramz Paul’s statement that people should “fuck who they want to fuck” is gross. You seem to express this as fact when it is merely your opinion of someone else’s lifestyle. Also, claiming that such a statement is “just rapey” is essentially based only on the grounds that you say so. What part of telling people to sleep with whomever they want is rapey, sir? Nowhere did Paul say anything about having sex with anyone against their will. Last I checked, feminists call it “slut shaming” when women are condemned for sleeping with whomever they want, but condemning a message directed toward men sleeping with whomever they want as rapey is perfectly fine, right? There was nothing rapey about Ramz Paul’s statement. He never said anything about non-consensual sex—just sex. Last I checked, SEX is consensual; RAPE is not.

You then suggest that men taking advantage of the same social freedoms that have been given to women is “vindictive,” a “circle-jerk of validation,” and “pulling one over on women.” Do you have ANYTHING to back up these assertions that you keep throwing out there? As I’ve said before, these men have come together to share the negative experiences they have had and the way that society has used them up and spit them out. Exactly what part of men’s rights activism do you perceive as “pulling one over on women”? Fighting for equal recognition as equal victims of intimate partner violence? Fighting for equal treatment under the law (as opposed to men serving over 60% more severe sentences for the same crime)? Fighting for the right to raise their children instead of being used as a walking ATM machine that is only good for paying to raise children? Nothing that men’s rights activists are fighting for involves “pulling one over on women.” Men’s rights activists don’t need to “pull one over on women” in order to have men’s humanity recognized and respected. This is not a zero sum game.

You ask why men’s rights activists don’t show people respect and be “decent about it,” and what the purpose is for an “anger-driven message board culture.” For starters, respect is earned. I trust you understand that not everyone DESERVES respect. The fact that respect is demanded on the basis of gender frequently in our society is a problematic one. It is often said that boys need to be taught to respect women. I respectfully disagree. Women do not deserve respect simply on the basis of having a vagina. All people have to earn respect. When it comes to “being decent” and the reality of angry individuals, I trust that you have not yet been lambasted by the system. I trust that you have never been falsely accused of a sex crime, failed to obtain a job due to affirmative action because a less competent woman has been placed in the position you applied for simply because the company is required to staff a certain number of women, been forced to financially support a child that you were duped into believing was your own, been arrested for a domestic dispute when in fact you were the one being assaulted, and so on. Many of these men have been absolutely destroyed by a system that is designed to support women. It is entirely understandable that they are pretty pissed off. You may not like it; it might make you uncomfortable; but it is entirely justified. It has also been addressed many times before that being quiet and polite is not the way to get attention when you are trying to bring about change. In addition, the emotion behind one’s argument does not alter the validity of that argument.

You assert that if someone is confident, they should be able to leave such a movement behind—or the way you identify it, a “message board culture.” Maybe that is the problem, though. Maybe you have seen a handful of angry message boards and thought to yourself that THAT is the men’s rights movement in its entirety. If that’s the case, then I’m more than happy to inform you that you’re wrong. The only reason to leave behind such a movement is if and when change occurs and men’s issues are no longer being marginalized.

I do appreciate that you acknowledged your failure to do much research on the men’s rights movement, yet it would seem that it hasn’t stopped you from making fallacious assertions about the goals and actions of said movement. You state that the men’s rights movement turns sex into a game in which men win and women lose. I have to ask, Where have you seen this? The more assertions you make, the more it seems that you are talking about pickup artist communities and NOT the men’s rights movement. The men’s rights movement seeks only to protect men in sexual relationships with women—protect them from being falsely accused of abuse or assault; protect them from being extorted and forced to financially support a child whom they didn’t agree to have or whom is not theirs; and so on. The men’s rights movement does not seek to establish a win/lose situation between men and women but rather a win/win situation in which neither party is exploited. Your arguments and beliefs about sex being a win/lose situation would be valid if they had ANYTHING to do with men’s rights. But they don’t.

You make a great deal of unfounded assertions about Ramz Paul, and it is pretty clear that the only thing you are basing them on is the fact that you do not understand or agree with his position. You are basing your disagreement on a straw man and using it to claim that a strong, confident man who refuses to be used is scared and deceitful.

It seems as though you are a bit sensitive to words and are bothered by being called “faggot,” “mangina,” and “white knight.” You also condemn Ramz for the comments of the people who viewed his video. These are comments he did not make himself, yet you find it appropriate to condemn him for them, as if he somehow controls the conduct of everyone who views his videos. Do you? I may not agree with people who call you names—as it is not entirely productive—but I will fight to the death to defend their right to say it. Also, just so that you are aware, the words “mangina” and “white knight” have nothing to do with “respecting women” and everything to do with pedestalizing women. As I said before, women don’t deserve respect simply because they are women. Like everyone else in the world, they need to EARN respect. Pedestalizing women or respecting women who have not earned respect does, in fact, make someone a white knight.

You assert a lot of confidence in your position and state that the majority of people who view the exchange between the two of you will agree with you. Your ratings bar suggests otherwise.

It’s interesting—and kind of sad—that you can claim that men’s rights activists are nothing more than bullies. As if standing up for those who have been beaten down and standing up to ideological lies, propaganda, and BULLYING is nothing more than bullying. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you and challenges you does not mean they are a bully. That is rational discourse. Claiming someone with a differing worldview is a bully makes you sound like you are playing the victim, and there is nothing empowering about that.

Then you just had to refer to the men’s rights movement as a “He Man woman haters club.” Really, Chris? Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that ideologue who conflates the challenging of societal norms that benefit women and exploit men with the hatred of women. Men’s rights activism does not encourage or condone the hatred of women. Does challenging misogyny automatically make someone anti-male? If you said no, then how can you assert that challenging misandry automatically makes someone anti-female? It doesn’t. Stop with the straw men.

You also seem to conflate validation with camaraderie and communication, but this does not make them one in the same. Someone can seek out other individuals who can empathize with their situation and offer support without seeking validation.

You say that you can look your mother and potential future daughter in the eye and be proud that you have never said the things about women that Ramz Paul has said. What exactly are those things, Chris? Are they things that are truly misogynistic, or are they genuine and legitimate criticisms of SOME—not all—women? But good for you. Personally, I can look my father, and my brother, and my husband, and my son in the eye and be proud that I have never said the things about men that convene to fight against injustice and exploitation that you have said.

The final grand assertion that you make that you have ABSOLUTELY no way of validating is that no one is out to kill anyone else’s soul. So you have met every person in the world and NONE of them are narcissistic or vindictive enough to desire the destruction of someone else’s soul? Not a single one? Sorry, “dude,” but I’ve met enough narcissistic, vindictive individuals to disprove your claim that NO ONE wants to kill anyone else’s soul—despite the fact that that is NOT what Ramz Paul said.

But, hey, if you want to talk about paranoia and being delusional, let’s have a little chat about feminism and the global patriarchal conspiracy, rape hysteria, and the wage gap myth that you yourself alluded to.

Jessica Kenney

Jessica Kenney

Jessica leads a non-stop existence as a wife, mother, K9 Pack Leader, and Veterinary Assistant, as well as managing the Facebook page I Don't Need Feminism, writing pop culture reviews (often about Disney cartoons, as toddlers tend to control television consumption), and occasionally finding the time to blog about ideological hypocrisy and propaganda. She obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and her Master's Degree in Business Administration before finding her calling working with animals by day and battling ideologues by night.
Jessica Kenney

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