Can’t we just say being a Men’s Rights Activist is premised on “The radical notion that men are people” And that they just want equality between the sexes. I think the temptation is to just call them woman haters or something and suggest they don’t mean it when they say it. It seems like a parallel situation but I think few people would say MRA = Feminist.

Obviously, there is something more going on. Feminists seem to want to advocate for women and most think women have the worse end of the deal. MRAs want to advocate for men and (probably?) most think men have the worse end of the deal. Perhaps some form of both groups are necessarily.

A gender related issue I care about is genital cutting. I’m not particularly able to influence the people who cut women’s genitals with my English language blog, but plenty of feminists could oppose this practice outspokenly but I haven’t really seen it. Maybe they aren’t obligated too but it seems reasonable that someone advocating for men and pointing out the hypocrisy on some level is worthwhile.

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I don't think this would address the heart of Aaronson's concern:

"Reflecting about it on my walk home, I realized: actually, give or take the exact percentages, this is precisely the progressive thesis. I.e., that just like at least a solid minority of Germans turned out to be totally fine with Nazism, however much they might’ve denied it beforehand, so too at least a solid minority of Americans would be fine with—if not ecstatic about—The Handmaid’s Tale made real. Indeed, they’d add, it’s only vociferous progressive activism that stands between us and that dystopia."

If you push back on this with real MRA complaints, you can usually get some acknowledgment that there are issues to fix. For example, father's visitation rights to their children in divorces. It's not hard to find heartbreaking stories in this sphere or a general acknowledgment that the courts and social services are unfair to men. But I've had this conversation with lots of liberals and feminists before and it doesn't really change their mind.

And I think Aaronson's comment here is the core of it. They're truly, in their heart of hearts, scared of 5-10% of the population which they believe is truly, 100% Nazi-dystopian. These people are an existential threat to Aaronson's way of life and he believes that ~80% of the population, while not dystopian Nazis, would go along with them if they took power. And I think their honest mental model of, say, a well meaning MRA dad who's fighting for visitation rights to his kids, is that he's a useful idiot for the dystopian Nazis. That while his individual situation is unfair and unjust, no useful reform should be enacted because this is a stalking horse for the dystopian Nazis, the father's advocacy is strengthening the Nazi's hand, and the longer he hangs out in that space, the more likely he is to become a Nazi.

But, at it's core, I think that's how Aaronson and others would respond to Bryan or "reasonable" MRAs or the like; that these people don't understand just how dangerous the dystopian Nazis are and I think Aaronson would model Bryan as being "blind" to this threat. And this threat outweighs any concrete harms or issues Bryan et al could bring up, because this risk is Nazi dystopia.

I've used "dystopian Nazi" somewhat mockingly, partly because I think they really think this way and it's wrong, but I should clarify that this...meta level of thought is hardly unique to liberals. For example, this is vey specifically how the right models the woke: a small group of extremists who are an existential threat to their way of life pushing sympathetic policies as a Trojan horse for radically extremist views. The idea that you should oppose specific policies and groups, even if they have several good concrete proposals, because they're secretly manipulated by extremist forces who will destroy everything you value, is not only a generalizable view to lots of situations but also, often, a correct analysis.

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Yeah, I think this is a good observation.

I recently became aware that a pair of gay men with whom I've vaguely acquainted decided to leave US, and their reason cited is "fear of the way things are going for gay people". Now, maybe that's not the real reason, but they really did leave the country. For Latin America, of all places.

From where I'm standing I really can't get into their heads -- it sounds analogous to the USSR in April 1945 thinking of abandoning all hope of victory, because of "the way things are going". But I take it as a reminder that people seem to be really bad at thinking about this stuff, particularly when our brains are high on polarization.

Now, I think a Wokeist dystopia is the most plausible of all American dystopias at this time, and the logical reason I would give you is that it's because of Wokeism's immense institutional power, and revolutionary changes normally require highly sympathetic people in high places. It's at least hard to argue that it's a lot more plausible than the "Sharia law" dystopia that some Republicans were expressing fear about (and passing state laws over) during the heyday of the GWOT.

But the profound blindness of people on the other side is probably an indication that we should all consider some epistemic humility here.

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Are you a MRA? For what exactly do you think men need gender-specific activism? There is massive activism to fight against male-on-male violence (organizations against gun violence, drug&gang crime, political initiatives in both parties, etc.), there is massive activism for criminal justice reform, there is massive activism for worker's safety (OSHA regulations), there is the anti-war movement, there are over 30 federal programs helping homeless people, there are many organizations for men's mental health problems and calls for men to get help if they suffer from it, there are veteran organizations, BLM, gay rights organizations, etc., almost all problems that men suffer from are taken serious. Where exactly are MRA needed? I feel like almost every single political and social issue resolves around men, and I'm a man myself.

The only thing I see MRA doing are using whataboutism against feminism and saying "Women were never oppressed in history" and "feminists hate men." And of course, a lot of talk about "hypergamy" and how evil men are supposedly treated in the dating market (for example Aaronson, as he didn't get laid until his mid-20s, a massive oppression).

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I don't think that many organizations working on a particular problem means that there is no need for others to work on the problem. Problems women suffer are taken seriously usually. Few people think sexual assault of women is okay. And yet, it can still be a problem worth focusing on. I'm not sure how productive the MRA movement is or successful, but I'm just saying I don't fully accept your arguments against it possibly being relevant. In practice it might be not so useful but probably a large portion of feminist discourse isn't particularly useful either.

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"Problems women suffer are taken seriously usually."

I have strong doubts about that. Maybe you are talking about feminists taking it seriously? But who else? Many people still say if a woman drinks too much in a party and gets raped, it was her fault. I see a lot of slut-shaming from right-wingers/conservatives in all Western countries. In the U.S., politicians are calling women "too ugly to need an abortion" (Matt Gaetz), pundits are calling women "too ugly to get raped" (Steven Crowder). Where do you get the impression that women's problems are taken serious? Far-left Twitter and far-left college students?

On the other hand, almost every debate around political and social issues revolves around men's problems, and people usually do take them seriously.

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I think it’s right to say that gender advocacy is not zero sum, you can advocate for the equality of both genders in different domains. Perhaps some issues conflict, but largely this is not how feminism and MRA manifest.

Most people aren’t working off a good definition of feminist when discussing, and heavily lean on tropes and no-partisan political assumptions are built into the discussion, at least this is true of pretty much every lay conversation I have in the US.

Overall, I don’t find it hard to believe that many think of gender “advocacy” as being opposed to the rights of the other gender. I’d even go to say Caplan’s 5% guess regarding the population’s conformity horrendous social policy is quite low. That 5% would be probably the explicitly vocal, but I imagine there is a much greater cohort of conformists for a variety of secondary reasons (religious sentiment trend towards conservative values, low political participation/will to push back, the anti-gender platform are grouped with sensible policies, etc).

I imagine lots of Germans were pro-Nazi because the economic reforms that started to turn around the country financially. At some point you take the good with the bad, and inevitably some point to the bad as the cause for the good. This group is probably in the 25-30% range, we already have people voting for tax policy over reproductive rights when those values conflict so not surprising to me at all.

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I just started reading The Handmaid's Tale, and the world it depicts isn't utopian even for the people at the top. There are still rebels belonging to other religious sects, and the narrator shopping for one of the most elite Commanders has difficulty acquiring fruit (the railways are often sabotaged), and he can't eat meat more than one day a week. Most men have lousy odds of acquiring a wife, since so many women are allocated to the elite, and the supply of fertile women crashing is a big part of the premise.

More plausible would be the idea that someone would want to turn back the clock to an existing past, since people actually did live through that and it was neither utopian nor dystopian but normal to the people that lived through it. In the Brexit referendum, for example, there was a big voting divide by age: those young enough that they were born after the Common Market voted to Remain, while those old enough to remember an independent UK voted to get it back.

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Yes, this is all true. I haven’t read the book but I read some reviews and while initially I thought the premise was just pure alarmist fantasy, it at least seems to describe a scenario in which a society responds to an apocalyptic fertility crash.

That’s really the only scenario in which I can imagine feminism being pushed back any further than the status quo circa 2000-2010 or so. If there really were no more children, a la Children of Men, I would expect to see some enormous pro-natal shifts in the Overton Window. Barring that the laws of nature still dictate that pro-natalism will win in the end, but only gradually, in co-existence with feminism.

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>Can you honestly name any viewpoint untainted by at least a few fanatics dreaming of fire and blood?

Maybe Jainism

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Of course, Jainism can easily be described as the pacifist wing of a much broader family of religions. Presumably, families or local communities that have started dreaming of fire and blood have been able to leave Jainism and find culturally accessible non-pacifist belief systems without much difficulty.

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The whole "take us back to the 19th century" is really a silly idea. Are we to believe that it would have been possible to survive as a species in the 19th century with current ideas of gender roles? Certainly there were inequities and regrettable treatment of women in that age, but a large driver of the gender roles at that time was surely driven by what enabled them the best chance of making it to adulthood. Clearly raising children, preparing food, and maintaining a home was a full time job for someone. Acquiring food often required physical strength. The division of labor made absolute sense from a comparative advantage point of view. This does not excuse any abuse of women, preventing them from an education, or other human rights, however those folks were muddling through life, trying to figure out what works, just as all humans at all times. No, (almost) no one wants to take us back to the 19th century, but it's not as though those folks had a choice between how they lived then and how we live currently.

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Women's Rights is just the market responding to new technological frontiers that conquered biological reality (mostly invested by men, deal with it). It seems to me that cultural changes followed technological changes pretty darn fast in the grand scheme of things, not worth complaining about.

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Why can't we just get the consensus to use a neutral word (like egalitarian)? It's absurd that it's peddled that "feminism is actually about equal rights", when the word refers to women exclusively.

I kinda believed it for a while, that feminists actually believe that at least. But I'm from Poland. Recently there was a situation where someone was "asked" to go to mandatory military training for 30 days (and after that, mandatorily pledge to be a soldier).

Also, in a survey, it turned out that 49% of women are for mandatory draft. 47% against. For men, it's 39% vs 58%. https://twitter.com/IBRiS_PL/status/1495785047965765642

It's pretty fucked up IMO.

Anyway, I wrote about it at length in the comments here: https://www.themotte.org/post/229/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/42021?context=8#context

Here's an exchange on Twitter, with female left-wing politician (@AM_Zukowska) (literally everyone voted for possibility of these military exercises, apart from 8 people IIRC who abstained from vote)

@KorolukM: I pay mandatory taxes and expect the government to ensure my defense from that, not treat me like potential cannon meat. If it's not enough, I can pay more.

If you like the state shitting into your face, then by all means, no kink shaming. But don't throw that shit at others.

@AM_Zukowska: That is, how exactly, with whom is it to provide defense? Someone has to serve in the army and in case of war the state has to have trained conscripts. Sorry. Ideally, wars would not exist. But there have been wars since the dawn of mankind.

@nalu__xx: For you to write such a thing.... Well, I won't say that I'm not disappointed

@AM_Zukowska: I wrote that, because I feel responsible for the country.

@MoistureBusters: And is Private Anna-Maria going for training too?

@AM_Zukowska: I do not have a military qualification. I think that, unfortunately, with an eye defect of -7 diopters and retinal detachment I would not get one.

@Vimis23: So then what do you think, compulsory service for men and women? What do you say to that? Everyone for conscription. Equality is equality.

@AM_Zukowska: There has been no compulsory conscription for anyone since 2009. Military service is voluntary. There are, however, military exercises for those with a Category A military qualification. Since 2014, they are no longer only for reserve soldiers, because since 2009 we have less and less reserve.

Also, fragment of a translation of a feminist article about why women SHOULDN'T be treated equally:

> "Where are the feminist organizations when men get drafted into the army?" the graduates of the University of Peasant Reason ask. Let me now explain.

("Peasant's reason" is an idiom roughly equivalent to "common sense")

> If I were to use the same rhetoric as the University of Peasant Reason, which demands compulsory conscription and military service for women as well, and preferably for feminists ("after all, you're all about equality, aren't you?"), I would have to write that you, dear men, have wound the whip on yourselves.

> The patriarchy you have established generates conflicts that are later resolved violently and forces you to be cannon fodder, in certain circles called reservists. You are the ones who have decided that gender determines who is fit to fight and who is not. I don't know about that, but I do know that in your battles - those fought in or out of uniform - women also die.

> The argument "women, now you have what you wanted, now go to war" is in fact a misunderstanding of the flagship assumptions of the drive towards emancipation.

> No - the fact that a woman becomes a soldier, even a General, is not a celebration for feminism. Just as it is not, for example, when women head greedy corporations or referee soccer matches at the World Cup, which violates human rights, exploits, promotes homophobia and sexism.

> While the establishment of quotas in the army may appear to be an equalitarian demand, and indeed rubs the nose in the face of gender stereotypes that assume women are physically weaker than men and unfit for military service, it actually represents an extremely neoliberal and ignorant approach to gender justice that ignores opposition to oppression.


> The army is a generator and reproducer of the violence of oppression against which all social emancipation movements headed by feminism are fighting. Therefore, the half-witted expectation that women should join it willingly, with a smile on their lips and male anointment, is nonsense.

> While we demand recognition and equal rights, we don't want an equal share of the harms produced by patriarchy. We want those harms to be none - or at least less.

> University of Peasant Reason goes on to say, "since we, men, have to go into the army and die, you women must too." (...) it forgets that war means the death of civilians, that it uses a particularly cruel tool - rape. And it so happens that the latter largely involves women, who would often rather die than experience it.

> Shreshtha Das reminds us that "the military and the hypermasculinity it promotes also harms women who do not live in areas controlled by the military." In doing so, she cites a 2004 study by Catherine Lutz, clearly showing that rates of domestic violence are three to five times higher among military couples than among civilians, because "the military as an institution that promotes the idea of heterosexual male supremacy glorifies power and control or discipline, and suggests that violence is often a necessary means to achieve its own ends."

> You read that right. The year is 2023, Poland. The country is in a panic over military mobilization, triggered by media reports of an increase in the number of reservists in the state army. And Polish male hussars are howling on the Internet: "what about women?".

> I'll just reiterate: the main problem of those who insist on the forced conscription of women into the army is that they misunderstand feminism. The coercion to become cannon fodder, on the other hand, is a patriarchal assumption that strikes at any gender.

> Your fear of military service, your disagreement with the state deciding for you without you, however, is not the fault of feminists. It is the fault of the oppression of the patriarchy and men in power in Poland. If you choose to oppose them, we will go with you. But don't expect us to be happy that you wish for us as badly as you wish for yourselves.

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Also, in Poland, women get to retire at 60. Men - at 65. And this was done by a 'conservative' party - but of course, _for some weird reason_, women didn't complain. Feminists didn't.

Translation of this article: https://www.money.pl/emerytury/wiadomosci/artykul/system-emerytalny-emerytury-kobiet-emerytury,160,0,2400160.html

> Women often indicate with indignation that they have too small pensions and that they are discriminated against because of this. This was the situation when the first amounts were set after the retirement age was lowered, when women were calculated at an average of PLN 1540 and men at PLN 2800.

> However, this is only half the truth. Women's pensions are indeed much lower than men's - by up to 32 percent on average. However, it is not correct that women are discriminated against by the system. On the contrary, it is the men who have reason to be dissatisfied.

> Currently, the Central Statistical Office estimates that the average man born now will live about 74 years. For women, this is eight years longer. As for pensions, men must, according to the rules reinstated last year, live 65 years to deserve a payout. Ladies "only" 60 years.

> In other words, the ugly sex will collect pension benefits for an average of about nine years, and the fair sex for 22 years. In reality, these proportions are somewhat different. Men retire at 63 on average, and ladies at 61, the latest CSO figures say. Thus, the time for collecting benefits for gentlemen increases to 11 years, while for ladies it shortens to 21.

> These are the two causes of a situation in which gentlemen make up only 40 percent of pension recipients.

> However, that's not all. Men tend to save longer in pension contributions because they have been working professionally longer. The average length of working experience for a man at the time of retirement is 37 years, while for a woman it is 33 years. The difference is mainly due to the different retirement age for the two genders.

> To summarize - men contribute for 37 years and collect pensions for 11, while women contribute to the system for 33 years and collect for 21.

> Now let's look at the money. The average man earns about 17 percent more than a woman - a difference we estimated, taking into account the trend in the earnings gap in the October 2014 and 2016 CSO surveys.

> Average wages in the economy in 2017 were PLN 4271.51 gross per month. Applying the 17-percent "gender" wage gap to this value, we get: PLN 3919 for a woman and PLN 4604 for a man.

> With such amounts, a total of PLN 765 per month (PLN 382.49 on the employee's side and PLN 382.49 on the employer's side) is contributed to the woman's pension contribution. In the case of a man, it is PLN 899.

> For 33 years of work, the woman transfers to the social insurer a total of about PLN 303 thousand (33 years times 12 months times PLN 765), and the man for 37 years - PLN 399 thousand. So we have a PLN 96 thousand difference to the disadvantage of men.

> Now let's count how much is paid out. The average pension in January was PLN 2162 gross. Men got about PLN 2.6 thousand gross, and women PLN 1.8 thousand (money.pl's own calculations based on data from proportions from the CSO's 2017 report and the increase in the average pension by January 2018).

> If you convert this to specific payout amounts, men will get a total average pension of 345 thousand zlotys over their lifetime, and ladies 450 thousand zlotys. So a man will get about 44 thousand less than he contributed, and a woman 51 thousand more.

> As you can see, the system is "tilted" towards women. So in the case of pensions, formally they have no reason to complain.

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"Since the share of the population that openly devalues men is much larger than the share that openly devalues women..."

This is a bold claim. I understand that measuring the number of people who "openly devalue" a group can be tricky due to edge cases, but are there statistics or data that you are relying on here? I am honestly unsure if this statement holds up when applied to the US population in general.

(I can believe it holds up when applied to the Twitter population, but I don't think Twitter is a representative sample of the whole US, or the world.)

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Aaronson seems to think that the best thumbnail description of the rise of Nazism is something like: "a desire to oppress the weaker group was always bubbling under the surface, and as soon as counterforces became insufficiently diligent, it naturally emerged." I think that's a view of history wrong enough to be called delusional.

A good thumbnail would be: 'German non-elites were actually, thoroughly beaten down by powerful internal and external forces, and they clung desperately to a group that promised to end their feeling of powerlessness, including accepting its choices of scapegoat." Which is to say, it was not weakness, but rather great strength of international political and economic forces (and how that strength was misapplied) that was most responsible for Italian Fascism and Nazism.

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I don't get this argument with "150 years ago." Does Bryan say that if feminism would mean you don't want women to be oppressed like 150 years ago, it would make sense? But he very cearly stated that he believes women were freer in the 19th century than they are today:


So even if feminism would mean that you don't want women to be oppressed like 150 years ago, he would still be against feminism, as he doesn't think women were oppressed back then. Bryan seems to believe that women were never oppressed (at least in the West). So he would have been against feminism even 150 years ago, right?

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"I am not a feminist" means that you are not a feminist in 2022 in the United States. I suspect that, like me, many of your readers are interested in a wider field of information: for what times and places *are* you a feminist? As we look around the world and back into history (and pre-history), we find many different social arrangements, differentially affecting the sexes. When and where do we find men favored over women, and when and where do we find the reverse (and when and where is there balanced treatment of the sexes)? You may rightly complain about the extremely wide scope of the question, but what are your impressions?

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The S.C.U.M. link is broken because it has an extra slash at the end. Manually removing the slash works.

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I'm glad that Bryan is friends with a better class of people, people who don't make their reputations by feeding (many) men's (fake / absurd) sense of victimhood, who have the arrogance to make proclamations about how women (et al) are treated by society.


But thanks for at least publishing Scott's sane take.

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Bryan really lives in your head rent free, huh?

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Female feminists make comparisons between men and women constantly. This involves making claims about how men are treated relative to men. Is this arrogant?

I don’t see how Bryan is more or less arrogant than a woman saying “my gender has it worse.” They are in the same epistemic situation with regard to not living as the other one. (Expert for trans I suppose)

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