Sometimes, I struggle for things to write about; staring at a blank WordPress post for hours, just trying to come up with a new way to say either “Hey, this thing someone in the video game industry said sure is Absoludicrous” or “For the love of fucking GOD Be Excellent to Each Other. Sometimes, on the other hand a topic jumps — unbidden — into my brain and I can’t rest until I get it out. Tonight’s article is definitely that second type, and I hope you’ll stick around until the grand finale, because even though I haven’t written it yet, I’m sure it’ll be a doozy.
Some days, instead of actually doing my job, I sit around in an empty corner office and talk to my pals online. Yesterday was just one such day, as I decided that I could either pretend like I was still doing work I’d finished 45 minutes ago, or I could rant at My pal Rosie about issues like Gender Equality (and later, the greatness of Calvin and Hobbes, but that’s completely tangential to the current topic, so let’s pretend I never said anything, OK?) She said something in jest, that I actually think is a really good point: On the topic of rights, who will speak for men?
Obviously, as a man, I have a very personal investment in the idea of making sure that men have rights, and that I get to keep enjoying those rights. I also believe that the things that are now firmly in the camp of Male Privilege are actually — and bear with me here — Constitutionally protected Human Rights that everyone should have access to. I know, crazy right?
So ok, here we go; Confession Time: In high school, and the time immediately following, I was always about one bad day away from going full-on MRA “Women are keeping me down!” crazy. It’s not a thing I’m proud of, but whattayagonnado? it’s in the past, and there’s no changing it now. I was pretty convinced that modern Feminism was literally tearing America apart, and that all women were — if not directly conspiring against me — at least ignorant of the REAL ISSUES that I as a 17-19 year old white male in central Minnesota had to deal with. I’ll level with you: I was not the smartest kid in the world (unless you believe standardized tests. then I totally was) My only experience with Feminist thought was the SCUM Manifesto, and my conspiracy theory nut of a friend who hung out on sites like TOTSE before it was shut down. You can see how maybe I would have a less than stellar outlook on Feminism as a group.
Here’s the thing though: Just like not all Christians bomb abortion clinics, not all Muslims fly planes into our really tall buildings, and not all janitors are high-level math geniuses that are friends with Robin Williams , it turns out that not all Feminists are Valerie Solanas “no seriously, let’s kill every man ever” levels of fucked up. We don’t judge entire groups based on their outlying fringes.
Which is why I can’t understand the MRAs and their outrage over Feminism (Or “Feminism” in the scariest scare quotes I can manage, because there are some serious Straw Man arguments going on here.) Do you really think that women, as a group, want to take your rights away? That’s just silly. Look guys, I need to make this clear, before we continue: No ladies have ever even heard of Happy-Apathy, and if one stumbles in here — like possibly by accident while looking for information on the not-quite-worth-getting-litigious-over creators of the mobile game eleMENTAL — she’ll be completely turned off by just how completely fucking manly we are, and leave before reading anything so you don’t need to worry about her seeing this, Okay? This is a safe place, and I’m just going to level with you: I agree that there are arenas — both legal and public — that seem to favor women over us. I’m 27 years old, and I’m getting married in like, just over two months. I’m at the point in my life where I have to start seriously considering how to take care of children. I think it’s completely appalling that so few companies offer any appreciable Paternity Leave. I might be an outlier here, but I really want to be able to be there to take care of my kids. I also think it’s kind of insulting that courts overwhelmingly serve mothers in custody cases unless there are serious mental health or abuse issues on her part. And don’t even get me started on how schools are stacked firmly in favor of Not Us.
But here’s the thing: These are all notions sprung from deeply entrenched Patriarchal ideals: Maternity Leave is a thing, while Paternity Leave struggles to gain acceptance because some dude a long time ago decided that evolutionarily speaking, women stayed home and took care of the family while men went out and Got Shit Done. Custodial inequality stems from the same place: Men kill saber-tooth tigers, women take care of babies. The education disparity comes from an ill-conceived — though admittedly very well-intentioned — attempt to rectify the problem of girls not seeming interested in math or science courses in schools. Was the solution they implemented a bit overzealous? Yeah, Maybe, but I’m literally the least academically-minded person I know, and I’m still kicking ass through my admittedly-almost-decade-delayed college degree, so it’s not like men are exactly disenfranchised when it comes to school.
I know change is scary; I’m firmly in favor of books as opposed to digital media, and I have yet to give up my DVD collection in favor of Netflix or Hulu, So I’m totally sympathetic to not liking things being different. The difference though, is that I don’t say that my Fiancee’s iPad is trying to take my books away.
Here’s the thing about equality and the hated word “privilege”: Just because someone else is given the same privilege as you, doesn’t mean you no longer have it. As I’ve mentioned a couple times in this article, I’m getting married in a couple months. Just because the state of Minnesota says that my roommate can get married too if he finds the right dude, doesn’t mean I need to cancel my wedding (I think. I’m admittedly not very well versed in legal matters.) This is ostensibly still a video game website, so I’ll link it back around to gaming culture: Over the past year and a half, Anita Sarkeesian has drawn a lot of fire for being a woman who enjoys games, which are a Dude Thing, apparently. She committed the unforgivable sin of daring to point out that “hey guys, video games are like, wicked sexist” and the two responses she’s overwhelmingly gotten have been “nuh uh.” or “We like our sexist games!” and I’m not sure which response is grosser: on the one hand, liking the sexism inherent to the industry seems worse, obviously, but it’s at least honest. Claiming that there’s no sexism in video games is a lot like claiming there’s no sexism in comic books; it only seems ridiculous if you’ve ever played one. Damseling is a real thing. The Fighting Fucktoy is a real thing . I don’t want to meet the delusional monster that could claim otherwise, because they’ll be wearing my skin before we’re done introducing ourselves with pleasant small talk.
My point got away from me a bit, so let me try to get back on track here in this, the probably soon-to-be stunningly fantastic and inspirational final paragraph of this article: No matter how much you want to believe otherwise, no one is trying to take your rights away. I know it can be challenging, but try to put yourself in the shoes of someone else for five minutes before you say something thoughtless and crass, okay? I know it’s hard, but I believe in you.