And how I Found my way back
I went through a nasty divorce when I was twenty-five. Yes, I got married young. I’m not going to go too deep into it, but my marriage was abusive by the end.
I was reeling, sometimes suicidal. I remember sitting in a dark room thinking about the bridge that was half a block away. A few years earlier, a friend had jumped from that bridge; he didn’t survive. So I was sitting there thinking how easy it would be to take that leap, follow in his footsteps. The only thing that prevented me from doing so was my son, knowing the effect this would have on him.
During that time, I went on a forum for survivors of abuse and talked about my experience, what had happened to me. I was hurting and needed someone to listen. I didn’t feel like I could talk to people in my circle. People on the forum told me that my experience didn’t matter. That what women faced was institutional and that what I was dealing with was just individual, so I shouldn’t talk about it.
That destroyed me again. I think for the most part that conversation is better now, but I don’t know. I just know that what happened to me wasn’t okay.
Around the same time, I was invited to do a guest post on Glenn Sacks’ website. It was the top men’s rights site back then. My post was defending feminism and the need for it. I put together a post and published it. I had several points that I thought were self-evident, persuasive arguments for feminism. I was (kindly) eviscerated. The other people on the forum tore my arguments to shreds, and the counter-arguments they presented were complete, well thought out, untouchable from my perspective.
I’m pretty driven by facts and am someone who is willing to change his mind when presented with new evidence. My inability to counter those arguments left me easily swayed. The thing is, a lot of the points they made were valid. I still believe a lot of them; I still think we need to address a lot of those issues.
The Side Effects
It becomes a rabbit hole, though. It keeps getting deeper and deeper. Those reasonable, valid points lead you to a bunch of feminists who are arguing against them, who are fighting for things like closing men’s shelters. Yes, those feminists do exist. You start to see those feminists as FEMINISM and stop seeing the movement as a whole. You begin seeing entitlement and identity politics as the whole thing. It’s louder, and any criticism of feminism that’s a criticism of those people ends up being defended against by feminists who are among the mainstream.
On the flip side, once you are in the MRM and surrounded by it, you see the actual landscape. Someone criticizes Roosh V from the Way of Kings and labels him a Men’s Rights Activist, but because you are in, you know that Roosh V isn’t one of us. You know that he hates the Men’s Rights Movement almost as much as he hates women and that the Men’s Rights Movement feels the same about him. We didn’t usually take the circle the wagons approach by the way. We said, nope… he’s not one of us. Yes, everything you said about him is right, and he’s an awful person… just, that has nothing to do with us.
It’s not even the No True Scotsman fallacy. Those people didn’t claim to be us, and we didn’t claim they were us. It was just that from the outside it looked like they were.
Ideas became more entrenched. I mean, nobody was countering our points, they were going after PUA’s (pickup artists), The Red Pill, Incel’s, TradCon’s, etc. and those weren’t us. It’s too bad because we had a lot of points that were ripe for the picking and we were probably unprepared for real argument, at least most of us.
There is no point in coming at most members of the MRM with the wage gap — we know all the counter-arguments. Rape stats? Yeah, we covered that. Unless you are an academic researcher, you are probably not going to win that argument (if you are though, well, most of the MRM doesn’t have that level of knowledge). Violence stats? That’s going to go poorly. It’s a non-starter. We’ve already covered that ground at great length. The pink tax is something you should never try to go up against an MRA on. The MRA will show you why your argument is invalid.
Recovery is a Process
Then something changed. It was something my mother said actually. We don’t talk about gender politics. She’s a staunch feminist from before my birth and is unlikely ever to change. I grew up in that world, with hippies and feminism as the background noise of my life. That meant I never experienced the world of sexism that my mother grew up with. It was alien to me, and I didn’t have a visceral feel for it. That meant I never related really. Everything she said, that was the dinosaurs, a different world. Our world wasn’t like that. My son didn’t think men could be doctors when he was little because every doctor he had ever encountered was a woman.
Then my mother told me that when I was a child, she needed a man to sign his permission for her to open a bank account. Not when SHE was a child, when I was a child. That statement hit me like a bomb. It resonated in deep parts of my consciousness. It gave me a starting point.
Where I Ended Up
What I started thinking about was control. Someone who is pampered, given everything, never has to work, they have all the advantages, right? Well, not if they don’t have a choice. Not if those things are thrust on them and they can’t choose anything. Women have often been in that situation (well, not exactly, a lot of women worked very hard, sometimes harder than men — but the lack of choice was always there). Even wealthy women often had little say over their own lives. Now, it’s true that men didn’t always have options, but on the whole, they had more. That’s still true in many ways. It’s social, not legal now so it can change based on people not following the social mores — but the flip side is that we seem to be backsliding here in North America.
Canada still seems more open than the US, but the US is scary. I would not want to be a woman in America right now. In the end, isn’t that the measure? If the idea of having the life a woman leads is not one a man would want for themselves, doesn’t that mean we should be working to change it?
That changed my mind, opened my eyes. I was able to see what was going on with the women around me with clearer eyes, not as blinded by the filter of my feminist childhood.