Man Boobz at Northwestern University
Yesterday, David Futrelle of Man Boobz spoke at Northwestern University as part of NU Sex Week. (Fun fact, every single year, Sex Week is scheduled during Wildcat Days, when all prospective students are invited to visit the school with their parents.)
His talk was entitled "How to hate women and have terrible sex: Misogynistic sex myths, and how they ruin sex for everyone". Interesting and cheerful, no?
The focus was the Men's Rights Movement, an anti-feminist, anti-woman group of wingnuts which Futrelle's blog is devoted to exposing and ridiculing. Previous Skepchick posts on the subject can be found here and here.
I was fantastically excited about this occasion. I badgered my friends about it, wrote it on my calendar and circled it–who doesn't want to have terrible sex?–and then realized I had class at exactly the same time. Womp, womp, womp. Being sadly bereft of a Time Turner, I resigned myself to a lecture on the statistics of psychological testing.
But! Luckily for me, perhaps because no professor actually wishes to teach a three hour class from 6-9 at night, I managed to make it to the tail end of the lecture, and for the whole of the discussion. It is the discussion I wish to discuss.
In the spectrum of optimism, from Pollyanna to predicting the end of the world in 2012, I fall far closer to cheery and chipper. That aside, I expected to arrive in a room filled with women and more women. My expectations were shattered in best way possible. There weren't 'token' men–there were just men, hanging out with women and making fun of anti-women rhetoric.
MRA stands (loosely, and inaccurately) for the Men's Rights Activists. More correctly, the MRA movement has enveloped a terrifying sector of the population that feels women and particularly feminists are devoted to squashing the given rights of men in every way. This ranges from belief that women deserve abuse to abusing evolutionary psychology to claim that women are just genetically inferior and will remain that way.
The Men's Rights movement is best known for their marauding behavior on Reddit. The Southern Poverty Law Center classified their specific subreddit, r/MensRights, a hate group. Making the SPLC naughty list wasn't enough, and MRA's have recently gone the way of pirates, taking over subreddits that originally catered to women or feminism. r/2XChromosomes and r/feminism have been overrun.
Seriously, these guys think they're out for equality.
But, back to the discussion. I watched something wonderful. A man passed on the name of a few feminist subreddits he'd discovered that were still MRA free. A woman paraphrased a favorite quote of hers: "Being a slut is a woman exercising her ability to say yes, and the friend zone is a women exercising her ability to say no". You know what happened after she said that? The whole room nodded.
There is hope out there, my friends. It lies in the guy who mocked ridiculous attitudes towards women's clothing as "Little House on the Prairie cosplay", and in the rest of the room giggling along. It lies in a bunch of college students who spent a few hours in a basement classroom agreeing that feminism isn't a dirty word. It lies in a man who can make a popular blog mocking misogyny, and in the people who read it.
Equality is coming, and its standard bearers are bending stereotypes.
David Futrelle pointed out that, in his experience, the men he investigates are not religious fundamentalists. Many are secular. Many consider themselves enlightened or liberal.
Man Boobz has a contingent of MRA commentors, but he has never (to his knowledge) changed any of their minds.
Picture via Ms. Magazine. Another fun fact: when googling to find images this article, I discovered that it is inadvisable to type 'man boobz' into a search engine. Consider yourself warned.