Sunday, 10 January 2016

Transcript of my Talk at Simon Fraser University

Toxic Masculinity and Toxic Femininity:

“Were you drunk when you seemed so hopeful before? Have you gone to sleep and woken up green and pale in fear of this idea? From now on this is what I’ll think of your love. Are you afraid to act the way you desire? Will you take the crown you want so badly, or will you live as a coward, always saying “I can’t” after you say “I want to”? You’re like the poor cat in the old story.”
“Please, stop! I dare to do only what is proper for a man to do. He who dares to do more is not a man at all.”
“If you weren’t a man, then what kind of animal were you when you first told me you wanted to do this? When you dared to do it, that’s when you were a man. […] I have suckled a baby, and I know how sweet it is to love the baby at my breast. But even as the baby was smiling up at me, I would have plucked my nipple out of its mouth and smashed its brains out against a wall if I had sworn to do that the same way you have sworn to do this.”

Thanks to everyone for coming, thank you to the SFU advocacy for men and boys society for arranging this event, and thank you Theryn for recommending the topic for this presentation.

I’m not sure whether I’ve ever been handed a more thorny topic to explore and discuss, but I’m going to do my best to keep it clean, level-headed and rational.

I know Theryn had sauce for gooses and ganders in mind when she suggested this topic to me, and I can’t really blame her. Toxic Masculinity is such a commonly discussed (and abused) discussion topic, it barely rates a raised eyebrow when it comes up in conversation. 

On the other hand, Toxic Femininity is a taboo subject. It’s been so taboo for so long, I could probably convince some ordinary people that it’s a brand new idea that has never before been conceived of, let alone discussed and explored. 

Most of the people who talk about Toxic Femininity are called misogynists. Most of those who discuss toxic masculinity call themselves feminists. 

So. How would your average feminist define toxic masculinity? I’m almost positive that, despite how feminist rhetoric comes across, no feminist would define it as the notion that all masculine traits are harmful to men or others. 

They would instead define it as a complex of harmful ideals, expectations and behaviors intrinsic to masculinity and supported by culture, that are encapsulated in the phrase “patriarchy hurts men too”. To quote the website “geek feminism”, which was the first google hit when I searched “toxic masculinity 101”: A set of socially constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

Now, geek feminism is an interesting website in the number and degree of its contradictions. Let’s look at some of their examples of these socially constructed attitudes:

First on the list: The pervasive idea of male-female interactions as competition, not cooperation.

Now I don’t know about you (and no, I’m not a traditionalist), but the basis of traditional gender roles has always been one of complementarianism, not competition. Division of labor and roles was considered as essential in marriage as it is on a football team, because that’s what traditional family was: a team. The majority of both men and women in traditional societies, in our past and today in other parts of the world, tend to share this outlook. Husbands and wives are encouraged to embrace different, but equally important, roles precisely so that male-female interactions are cooperative rather than competitive. 

Love, honor and obey vs love honor and cherish. And oh, how the feminists of yesteryear railed against that one difference. The admonition that women obey their husbands was considered demeaning, subjugating and oppressive. But let’s look at the other side of the equation, through Ephesians 5:25: 

“Husbands, love your wives, as The Messiah also loves his church and gave himself up for her sake.” In other words, he should be prepared to die for her, to sacrifice himself for her benefit.

For centuries, these complementary roles of men and women were taken as a given. 

Then, in 1848, a group of angry, mostly privileged, mostly upper middle class white women descended on the town of Seneca Falls in New York and produced a list of grievances essentially declaring war between men and women. In it they described the history of humanity to be one of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman. In response to this growing trend, female anti-suffragettes writing to the Illinois legislature in 1909 had this to say: 

“It is our fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons who represent us at the ballot-box.
Our fathers and our brothers love us; our husbands are our choice and one with us; our sons
are what we make them. We are content that they represent us in the corn-field; on the
battle-field, and at the ballot-box, and we them in the school room, at the fireside, and at the

Of course, such an attitude of cooperation rather than competition requires a woman’s respect and affection for, and her trust in, the men in her life, an ethic of care and reciprocity by men toward women, and a spirit of mutual human destiny, whereby it is understood that any harm to a woman will be felt as a harm to the men in her life, and any harm to a man will likewise be suffered by the women in his life. In 1909, no less than in 1848, this was the attitude of the overwhelming majority of both women and men. 

And what did that view boil down to? The sexes are not in competition. The sexes are meant to cooperate, each with each, in their own way. The Declaration of Sentiments, out of Seneca Falls, was the opening salvo in what has become 165 years of gender warfare. 

Yet somehow, in 2015, feminists are claiming that a competitive view of gender relations is a traditional, patriarchal norm?


Next on the list of “geek feminism’s” examples of toxic masculinity: The pervasive idea that men cannot truly understand women, and vice versa--and following, that no true companionship can be had between different sexes.

I have one word for you: “mansplaining.” Or how about this: “you have no idea what it’s like to be a woman. Check your male privilege.” I hear this kind of thing from feminists all the time. 

I also hear lots of talk about women’s common lived experience, sisterhood, and women’s ways of knowing… from feminists. I hear lots of talk about women being able to bring something different to the table regarding politics or corporate boards or questions of ethics and policy, as if men cannot be trusted to understand where women are coming from in terms of being capable of representing their interests. Can you guess from whom?

Moving on: The idea that a Real Man cannot be a victim of abuse, or that talking about it is shameful.

I could take this time to cite dozens, perhaps hundreds, of examples of feminist scholars who have for decades minimized or concealed altogether the prevalence of male victims of intimate partner violence. I could take this time to explain how noted feminist sexual violence expert Mary Koss excluded male victims of female sexual coercion by definition during her tenure as consultant with the CDC. I could show you screen shots of thousands of comments I’ve read by feminists (and others) insisting that female on male abuse is infinitesimally rare, and if it isn’t, well, it’s “just different” because it’s not as bad, or not as potentially lethal, or not as systemic, or not as institutionalized or not as supported by patriarchy, or just “because reasons”. I could tell you how Erin Pizzey was forced to flee her home and her country by a concerted decade-long harassment campaign by feminists, all for daring to say that women are sometimes violent too, and men are sometimes victims, and how the mere idea of that inflamed militant feminists to the point of bomb and death threats. I could detail the travails of Murray Straus and his brave colleagues who were the first to publish research demonstrating gender symmetry in intimate partner violence, and name what group it was that put them through the gamut of abuse, shunning, blacklisting, threats, false accusations and career sabotage, but I don’t think you need me to.

It seems to me that within feminism’s paradigm, men, cannot be considered real victims of abuse, or at least cannot be victims deserving equal consideration and concern, and that talking about it is not just shameful in feminist circles, but punishable. And if you challenge their attitudes in any real way, well, you’re probably going to get called a whiny, crybaby loser who lives in his mother’s basement and can’t get laid. That is: not a real man.

Men are just like that: the expectation that Real Men are keenly interested in sex, want to have sex, and are ready to have sex most if not all times

And here, I am just going to quote feminist Mary Koss’s justification for excluding forced envelopment from the category of rape in the CDC’s research:

“Although men may sometimes sexually penetrate women when ambivalent about their own desires…” 

Ambivalent about their own desires? Sounds a lot like she’s saying, “well, they wanted it, they just didn’t realize they wanted it, but they pretty much wanted it…”

“Though not reinforced much in fictional media, in real life it is widely expected that a man would abandon his pregnant girlfriend, and is incapable and/or unwilling to take responsibility.”

This is an interesting one, given that the primary function of traditional marriage has always been to accurately identify the fathers of children, and hold those fathers responsible, financially and practically, for the support and wellbeing of those children and their mothers. 

Shotgun weddings. He’ll do his duty by her. 

Then there’s the fact that our entire legal and bureaucratic structure around men and family is poised to assign and enforce paternal responsibility. Even on men who did not consent to become fathers—and, appallingly, even on men who did not consent to the sex that made them into fathers, such as one 14 year old boy in the US who was raped by a 35 year old woman (a crime for which she served two years in prison) and then forced to her pay child support out of his paper route.

The hard and statistically supported truth is that non-custodial mothers, though less numerous overall, are more likely than non-custodial fathers to be in arrears on child support, are more likely to refuse to pay it altogether, and are at the same time much less likely to be jailed for failing to pay. 

And the judges and legislators responsible for all of it? Mostly men, progressive or conservative, enforcing traditionally masculine responsibilities on other men. I don’t know if you all remember Obama’s father’s day address a few years ago, where he chastised black fathers for being deadbeats? I’m only surprised he wasn’t wearing his “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt while doing it.

The masculinity men expect from each other, and have for millennia, is one that rigidly reinforces paternal responsibility. 

If it is assumed that men will try to cheese out on that responsibility, it is certainly not allowed. Not by society, not by other men, and certainly not within patriarchal traditions. In fact, Legal Paternal Surrender—the right of a man to refuse the obligations of parenthood if he didn’t consent to be a father—is one of the most heatedly opposed policy changes suggested by men’s advocates. It’s opposed by the vast majority of both traditional conservatives and progressive feminists.

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of thousands of fathers across the west who are financially supporting their children while simultaneously being denied reasonable access to them by their mothers with the tacit support of lackadaisical, apathetic family courts.

And what does the largest feminist organization in the US, the national organization for women, have to say about father’s rights groups? 

That they are an abuser’s lobby, campaigning for more effective paternal custody and access rights not out of love for their children, or a sense of responsibility to provide them with nurturance and and support, but out of a desire to abuse and harass their estranged female partners, or to get out of paying child support. 

Sounds like toxic masculinity to me.

Meanwhile, a 2008 study out of Indiana University reported:

“Contrary to stereotypes about sexual performance and masculinity, men interviewed in a large international study reported that being seen as honorable, self-reliant and respected was more important to their idea of masculinity than being seen as attractive, sexually active or successful with women.

“Regardless of age or nationality, the men more frequently ranked good health, harmonious family life and good relationships with their wife or partner as more important to their quality of life than material, self-fulfilling or purely sexual concerns.”

I seem to be seeing a pattern here.

But you know, I want to go a layer or three deeper than feminists tend to in my discussion of toxic gender norms, because clearly, as I outlined above, these ladies haven’t really thought it all through. 

After all, if they oppose toxic masculinity because “patriarchy hurts men too”, and want to change and challenge the attitudes that lead to it, they probably wouldn’t be among the worst offenders when it comes to enforcing, endorsing and normalizing them, would they? I mean think about it. Even Fox News will admit that fathers get a shit deal in family court, and too often lose meaningful relationships with their children for no good reason. It’s only feminists who claim that men fighting for their right to remain fathers to their children are probably violent abusers, or are only attempting to avoid their proper (financial) paternal responsibility by faking a greater interest in a day to day caring role.

So, down we go, into the mess of things. Going a little deeper, the causes become simpler, even as the outcomes become more diverse. 

What feminists claim are expectations that real men should be violent, unemotional and sexually aggressive, we will look at in other terms. 

Men are expected to be competent actors. Violence is a form of action. Sexual aggression (or, on the less extreme section of the spectrum, sexual proceptivity) is a form of action. And emotional mastery, despite what feminists will tell you about women’s greater emotional intelligence, is a form of competence.

I would suggest to everyone here when you go home tonight, to do a search on Youtube. A good search term would be “everyday heroes” or “real life heroes”. There are several compilations out there, all of people doing things, big or small, risky or just thoughtful, to help out people they don’t even know. In one scene I recall, a elderly woman is standing in a blizzard waiting to cross a busy street in Eastern Europe. A man stops his car in the middle of the road to block traffic, turns on his flashers, gets out and helps her to the other side. In another scene, a man waiting for the subway passes out and falls onto the tracks. Dozens of women on the platform start frantically trying to flag down the train, but it’s a man who jumps down onto the tracks. And it’s another man who helps to pull the unconscious fellow and the other guy back up before the train comes. In another scene, a motorcyclist is pinned under a burning car. Mostly male bystanders rush in and push the vehicle off of him and pull him to safety. In another, a truck is stalled on some railway tracks, and a man pushes the vehicle to safety, only narrowly avoiding being hit by the train himself. 

It’s quite amazing, really, when you think about it. 

And one thing you will notice while watching these videos. Almost without exception, time after time after time after time, it is men doing these things. 

Every one of those men took action, and they were able to do so because they had mastery over their emotions. They set aside, intentionally or otherwise, their panic, their doubt, their fear, their anxiety, their own desires or needs, and in many cases their safety, and they acted in the service of a greater good. 

That is the essence of masculine identity in all cultures, through all times. The ability to master one’s own fears and doubts and take action, whether it’s to track down an outlaw, murder a rival, avenge a loved one, run into a burning building or leap into a river in flood to save a stranger, stand fast on a battlefield, take responsibility for a female partner’s wellbeing. 

Or even transform his own rape into a notch on his belt.

I’m going to use the example of an 11 year old boy who was recently raped by his then 20 year old babysitter. The perpetrator had been sexually involved with the boy’s father, and knew the boy’s age. Somehow, she managed to convince the judge that she believed this boy was 15.

And somehow, somehow, the father’s testimony that his son was “sex mad” and saw the incident as a notch on his belt was given more weight than the boy’s testimony that he did not enjoy the experience because he knew it was wrong. 

The woman was given a suspended sentence. Yes, no jail time. She has to register as a sex offender, but only for 7 years, and her probationary supervision and restrictions will only last for two years. 

Her defence attorney had this to say: she was vulnerable and had a hard upbringing, spending two years in hospital with leukaemia between the ages of five and seven. The judge added that she was very immature, reducing the age difference in terms of relative levels of emotional development. 

So the conclusions in this case are as follows:

  • the boy essentially wanted it, and was not harmed by it (even though by his own testimony he did not enjoy it and believed it was wrong)
  • the woman was at the mercy of her own emotions which she could not be expected to control, because the circumstances of her life had been difficult
  • the boy managed to convince her that he was not 11 but 15, despite the fact that she knew he was 11, and so he brought it on himself
  • men commenting on this case are much more likely than women to say “I only wish I was that kid” or “lucky bastard” or any number of other sentiments that erase the fact that he was a victim of something he did not choose or want

There are very few cases where the difference between the assumptions and expectations of masculinity and femininity are more clear than this one.

Masculine identity centers almost entirely around perceptions of agency (one's own perceptions, and the perceptions of others). 

Feminine identity, on the other hand, is much more capable of assuming "object" status (and please let me be clear. I’m not using the word “object” in the sense of dehumanization. There's a very good paper that essentially discredits the idea that objectification necessarily = dehumanization, and I can provide the links if anyone wants them after we’re done). 

For the purpose of this talk, I am going by these basic definitions:

Agents make things happen. Objects have things happen to them.

A great deal of our cultural discourse around men and women (including a huge amount of feminist discourse) is about the things men DO to women and the things women SUFFER at the hands of men, reinforcing men's status as agents and women's status as objects.

Admitting that you have been victimized, that something has happened to you that you did not want, choose or cause in any way whatsoever, is much easier for women than it is for men, and much easier for others to accept and acknowledge regarding women than men, because it does not conflict with the cultural or inner perception of what is Woman. 

A woman can be a victim and still be perceived as a woman. A man cannot be a victim and remain a man in the eyes of others and often even himself. 

This is particularly true regarding the ways men are vulnerable *because they are men*. I can’t even convey to you the number of times I’ve managed to convince a man that yes, males are the majority of victims of violence, and that yes, no matter the gender of the perpetrator, violence is more likely to be perpetrated on a male than a female, and that yes, this pattern begins before age 1, when parents start hitting their sons 2 to 3 times as often as they hit their daughters…. only to have that man stick to his guns and insist that violence is a bigger problem for women, and that society doesn’t take it seriously enough. That the VAWA and the thousands of beds in shelters and the mandatory arrest policies and all the rest of don’t go far enough to deal with the problem of violence against women. And they will often say this moments after they have conceded that violence is a larger, more ubiquitous problem for men, and even when they have accepted that women are as likely to be violent with men as men are to be violent with women. 

If toxic masculinity is exemplified by the assumption that men cannot be Real Men if they are victims, then toxic femininity is the assumption that women are uniquely victims, and that their identity as women is partially defined by their victimhood. Their victimhood at the hands of men, at the hands of patriarchy, at the hands of the beauty industry, at the hands of rape culture, male privilege, toxic masculinity and institutionalized sexism. It is the assumption that the multitudes of studies demonstrating that they are often not unique victims—that men are equally likely to be victims of sexual and physical violence, sexist assumptions, negative stereotypes and rigid gender expectations imposed on them by all of society, including progressives and feminists—that these studies are wrong or false or “problematic”. 

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I have actually convinced a black man that “driving while black” is actually “driving while black and male”, and that it would probably never happen to his mother or sister, only to have him insist less than a minute later that his maleness is not a factor in his experiences of being targeted by police, and that he’s never felt discriminated against for being a man, and that black women still have it worse.

Anything to not be seen as a victim, or a potential victim, because you are MALE, because THAT, my friends, means that you are not an agent, and therefore not a real man. It is women who are acted upon. It is women who are objects who do not act, but rather endure the acts of others. If WOMEN are the victim class, then a man who admits to being a victim cannot remain a man. 

And when it comes to interactions with the opposite sex, this tendency is even greater, because of that pesky notion that women don't actually do things, but instead have things done to them, while men are the ultimate cause of things happening.

What could undermine a man's sense of agency, which is so central to his cultural identity, more effectively than being raped by an "object"? Much better to treat that rape like a notch on your belt, and pretend to revel in the high fives.

You can see this in relation to physical violence too. A man hits a woman? There's no excuse that can ever justify it. There is nothing she could possibly have DONE to deserve it. A woman hits a man? "I wonder what he DID to deserve that? I bet he was cheating on her... Maybe he was getting fresh with her..." All of these actions we will attribute to him in our own thoughts, kind of automatically, that will transform her action into a *re*action to some initial action on his part. Our instant assumption is that her violence was provoked, or self-defensive, or even due to some other thing outside of her control, like PMS or a mental disorder or whatever, because we will resist seeing her as an agent in whom a desire to act can can be originated and then taken. 

And our assumption regarding the victimized man is that he chose or caused what happened in some way (or at the very least, he could taken some action and stopped it from happening). He remains the agent in the scenario.

So let’s go back and see what we can discern of toxic femininity in some of Geek Feminism’s list of toxically masculine norms, shall we?

First up: The pervasive idea of male-female interactions as competition, not cooperation.

What has feminism been but the demand by a minority of women to do away with male-female cooperation and redefine men and women as opposing teams? Redefine marriage as an institution designed to exploit women for men’s benefit? Redefine the sexes as if they were nations at war. The first inklings of this mindset can be found in the Declaration of Sentiments, and they linger even now in feminism’s constant lament about wage gaps and the lack of female representation in STEM or on corporate boards. 

This assumption is not a patriarchal norm. It’s a feminist one. It’s not toxic masculinity, it’s toxic femininity.

Or this one: “Though not reinforced much in fictional media, in real life it is widely expected that a man would abandon his pregnant girlfriend, and is incapable and/or unwilling to take responsibility.”

Traditional masculinity has been constructed largely to hold men responsible for the children they help create. In fact, it was part of what could be considered to be a tradition of masculine honor, socially constructed and institutionally reinforced by males themselves. If there are any feminists in the audience, I would like to ask you: do you agree with legally enforced child support? Do you think men should be held legally financially responsible for children they didn’t agree to create because they gave their consent to the obligations of parenthood when they had sex? 

More than this: what about women? “If she didn’t want kids, she should have kept her legs together.” Is that acceptable or appropriate to say? Then why is it acceptable or appropriate for people, including many, many feminists I’ve talked to, to say, “he made his choice when they had sex.”?

For women, largely due to feminist advocacy, sex and reproduction have been decoupled. While there is such a thing as an accidental pregnancy, there is no such thing as an accidental birth, nor accidental motherhood, since even after birth women have a de jure and de facto right to walk away from that obligation. Motherhood is not the result of an accident, and it’s certainly not something men do to women through the massive patriarchal power of their ejaculations—not in this day and age. It’s the result of a series of unilateral decisions on the part of any given woman. No woman in the west is forced to consent to becoming a mother just because she had sex.

Yet feminism has only further codified the patriarchal norm that men should be held responsible for the children they help create, despite the fact that nowadays women hold unilateral power of decision over whether or not they themselves will become a parent.

When I talk about Legal Paternal Surrender, the impression I get from feminists is that a man’s single decision and action—to ejaculate—is to them as powerful, if not more powerful, than a woman’s entire gamut of autonomous reproductive decisions.

He “got” her pregnant. And the baby? Well, the baby just “happened”. 

Again, we force men into the role of active agent who can affect those around them, and women into the role of passive object at the mercy of outside forces. And if an abortion is more difficult or costly to obtain than a haircut? Well, she’s the victim of that, too, isn’t she?

We assign him agency even when he doesn’t have it, and hold him responsible, yet for all her power, she is still the victim.

So. Here we kind of come full circle. If much of “toxic masculinity” is based on the assumption that men are agents, much of “toxic femininity” is based on the assumption that women are objects who are acted upon, and therefore unique victims.

And this is where things get sticky, because as Warren Farrell once said, “men’s greatest weakness is their facade of strength, and women’s greatest strength is their facade of weakness.”

So why? Why would this be? Why do we see men and women in these ways? Why do men avoid being perceived as victims (at least in terms of being victims AS MEN), while women increasingly seem to revel in an identity steeped in how they are acted upon?

Well, in my opinion, it’s for the same reason societies have always gone out of their way to preserve women and children, often at the cost of men’s lives. 

A feminist recently posed the question in the comments section of another feminist’s video: why are women cold all the time? Why does the air conditioning make me shiver while my husband feels just fine? 

The answer is, because for the most intense period of human evolution—the pleistocene, or ice age—a period where a half dozen other bipedal hominid species went extinct, women shared their immediate environment, including its hazards and comforts, with their much more vulnerable children. Women can survive the cold as readily as any man, but they are more sensitive to it because their children could not. Being sensitive to the cold meant that women were alerted to the risk of it to their children, who were more vulnerable to it. That increased the chances of survival for their children.

On the flip side, men were expected to venture far afield in all types of weather to bring in food. For men during that period, being insensitive to the cold increased the chances of survival for their children. 

This is just how men and women evolved. We evolved in tandem. We evolved in roles that reflected a division of labor. 

And that brings us back around to Lady Macbeth.

The bit of Shakespeare I quoted in the beginning is an archetypical literary example of toxic femininity. A woman, hungry for power and status above her own, goads her husband to murder the king. She goads him by undermining his masculinity. She goads him through shame. She goads him by revoking his man card. And at the end, she goads him by telling him she’s more of a man than he is, more honorable in her promises, and more willing to sacrifice something dear to her to preserve that honor.

Shakespeare knew men and women at least this well, though I have often wondered if his view of lady Macbeth was a little rosy. Later in the play, driven mad by guilt over her role in the murder of King Duncan, she commits suicide. I have always wondered if a fan-fiction alternate ending might have been more realistic—one where she feels no guilt, and where, standing in a field of dead, her own husband among them she attaches herself to the nearest powerful man and regales him with stories of how Macbeth was a cruel and vicious husband with no love in his heart. 

Why would I think Lady Macbeth would do this? Because she can, yo.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Script of my response to SFU's GSWSSU's open letter...

On December 8, 2015, Simon Fraser University's Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Student Union wrote an open letter to SFU's Advocacy for Men and Boys Society in regard to my November 8 lecture on Toxic Masculinity and Toxic Femininity.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

I posted a video response to their letter, which can be found here. Some individuals have asked if I could post a transcript. I'll post here the script I used when filming, which will likely differ slightly from the video version

To the SFU Advocacy for Men and Boys Club,
We the Communication Graduate Caucus and the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Student Union write this open letter to express our concern with your November 8 2015 event, “Toxic Masculinity & TOXIC FEMININITY” co-sponsored by the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) and the Canadian Foundation for Equality (CAFE). We are not alone in our concerns. Both the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) and the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) are troubled by this event and by what seems to be the rise of anti-feminist and anti-woman activism on campus. SFPIRG will be releasing their own open letter soon.
We believe that your student fee-funded club is not organizing in good faith and that you are using men’s issues as a way to attack feminism. 

For decades, men’s advocates attempted to organize in ways that did not oppose feminism’s stated principles nor its underlying methodologies. Many of these advocates described themselves as feminists and were active within the broader feminist movement. Not only were their efforts ineffective in raising awareness for the problems faced by men and boys, their most vocal opponents were the very feminists who had been their allies. 

During the 1970s and 80s, the men’s movement split into two main factions: the mythopoetic men’s movement which remained firmly allied with feminism, and one comprised of non-feminists and anti-feminists that has become the modern men’s rights movement.

Which of these movements has been more successful in bringing public attention to the problems faced by men and boys? 

More than this, men’s rights activists did not start this ideological war. Since 1979, researchers like Murray Straus and philanthropists like Erin Pizzey have been systematically silenced, marginalized and intimidated by feminists for the sin of unearthing and disclosing facts that run counter to feminism’s “patriarchy” narrative. 

People conducting solid social science research into family violence have been attempting to address the existence of male victims and female perpetrators for almost 40 years, and it has been feminists blocking them at every turn. 

That these individuals and many others have set themselves in opposition to feminism is not “using men’s issues to attack feminism”, but rather a necessary component to the addressing of men’s issues. Governments across the west are using a feminist model of family violence that men’s advocates believe is wrong-headed and inadequate. This model is the primary barrier for male victims seeking victim services or justice in the criminal system. There is no way to remove these barriers without removing the feminist model from our laws and policies, and there is no way to remove the feminist model without saying, “feminists got it wrong.”

That is not “attacking feminism” for the sake of attacking feminism. It is simply reality. 

You seem to be framing feminism and efforts to address sexism as being in necessary opposition to the interests of boys and men – we see this as a false polarity. 

Feminism no longer gets to enjoy a monopoly on describing what sexism is, or mandating how to address it. Where feminism stands in opposition to the interests of boys and men, men’s rights activists will necessarily stand in opposition to feminism. 

If and when feminism ceases to be a barrier to addressing men’s issues, many men’s rights activists will gratefully cease to oppose it. When governments cease using the feminist model of family violence, or when feminists adjust their model to comply with reality rather than their ideology, men’s rights activists will no longer have a reason to stand in opposition to feminism on that issue. 

Until that day, men’s rights activists will necessarily oppose the feminist model and the theoretical framework it was based on. 

You claim that your club and your events are not anti-feminist, even as you invite anti-feminist speakers […]

Groups which are not specifically feminist or anti-feminist may be interested in hearing both feminist and anti-feminist speakers. 

It is called a free marketplace of ideas. It is called not existing in an echo chamber. It is called diversity of discourse.  

[…] and brand your posters with a biohazard graphic surrounding a sign historically used in Western culture to symbolize womanhood. That is an extremely offensive, hostile, and aggressive move coming from a group that claims not to hate women and seek only to help men and boys. 

A poster that uses a symbol for “toxic” and a symbol for “femininity” to advertise a talk that would explore the idea of “toxic femininity” is somehow inappropriate or hateful of women? Would the GSWSSU be raising the same complaint if the talk had been about toxic masculinity and had used similar symbolism on its posters? Would you be crying misandry and hostility? Would you take offence? It was feminism that first put the word “toxic” side by side with a gender. To now complain about visual symbolism that accurately reflects feminism’s own choice of words (toxic), simply because men’s rights activists served up some sauce for the goose, is sexist and reactionary.

We ask, how does that help raise awareness of men’s issues or help them in any way?

How do feminist discussions of toxic masculinity help raise awareness of women’s issues or help them in any way? Toxic masculinity has been a fixture in feminist discourse for decades, yet somehow the mere broaching of the concept of a toxic femininity is off limits to men’s advocates? 

This is nothing but special pleading, sexism and a knee-jerk defence of feminism’s ideological turf. Will feminism now claim that there are no socially reinforced attitudes and behaviors attached to femininity that are harmful to women, men or society? Will feminism now claim that toxic behaviors ascribed to femininity do not have the capacity to harm men or boys? 

Again, feminism has enjoyed a monopoly on these types of discussions for too long, and has become little more than an echo chamber where robust debate and the vigorous challenging of their ideas is framed as misogyny. This hegemony feminism holds over the discourse should be regularly contested and scrutinized for that reason alone. 

Whether my talk helped raise awareness of men’s issues is a question that should be asked of the people in the audience. 

You claim that your use of this is justified because feminists discuss toxic masculinity, but the idea of toxic masculinity has nothing to do with declaring men or masculinity to be inherently toxic. Rather it is a critique of dominant discourses of masculinity, and the belief that these forms of masculinity harm people of all genders, men and boys included. 

And here I discover that you didn’t watch my talk, or if you did, you were not being an “active listener”. At no time did I claim feminism declares men or masculinity to be inherently toxic. In fact, I specifically stated at the outset that feminists would not define toxic masculinity in that way. 

I used a definition of toxic masculinity from a feminist website that was the first google hit using the search term “toxic masculinity 101”. 

My own talk was a critique of dominant cultural discourses of femininity, with an emphasis on how these forms of femininity harm people of all genders, women and girls included. 

Further, when feminists talk about toxic masculinity, we ask what we can do collectively to remedy its effects. 

Again, someone was not “actively listening”, given what was discussed in the Q&A section. 

We do not invite speakers like Karen Straughan who promote ideas that men are irrational subjects who commit violence against women because they cannot find consenting sexual partners. But you do.

Given that you linked to a comment thread with almost 600 comments, rather than to whatever comment it where you claim I said this, I simply have no answer to that. If the GSWSSU wants me to address a statement they believe I have made, it might behoove them to link to that statement. 

You claim that men are oppressed by feminism. 

Who claims this? Is this part of the mission statement of SFUAMB? If so, I can take no responsibility for it. However, there is only one instance of any variant of the word “oppress” in the entirety of my speech at SFU, and it was in reference to feminist beliefs regarding women’s oppression.

You seem skeptical of the validity behind social issues such as men’s violence against women and the gendered wage gap, presenting flimsy evidence in an attempt to discredit us and deny our incredibly well-documented lived experiences. 

The most credible social science research demonstrates that no matter the gender of the perpetrator, violence is more likely to be targeted at men and boys than women or girls, starting before the age of 1. 

Male violence against women is a thing. It exists. What does not exist is a culture or a system of institutions that condones and normalizes it. We have legislation and policy enacted specifically to address male violence against women because 1 in 3 women will be raped or assaulted in their lifetimes. For the 1 in 1 men who will be, we have nothing special. 

The wage gap is a thing. It exists. What does not exist is a 23 percent wage gap where women are paid less than men for the exact same work. Even the American Association of University Women was compelled to admit as much in their most recent research on the topic. I’ll convey to them the “flimsiness” of their evidence if you like. 

These claims are ridiculous and insulting. 

So what? 

But we will acknowledge some of the valid points you make. You cite elevated suicide rates, workplace injuries/fatalities, and child custody decisions as examples of issues men face. Many feminists acknowledge that men deal with these issues and actively work on them. 

Citation needed. Please, show me one feminist organization who has successfully backed a shared custody bill. I can show you many who successfully quashed one, despite overwhelming bipartisan public support for it.

That is why some of us specifically focus on challenging hegemonic models of masculinity that sanction men for expressing emotions. 

Is this where you call MRAs whiny piss-babies? Maybe take a swig from your male tears coffee mug?

Oh, wait. Now I get it. If we just convince Joe Schmoe that it’s okay to cry, the judge will totally give him reasonable custody of his kids. We don’t need changes to the laws or policies—what we need is for men to change themselves and thereby society’s conceptualization of masculinity before they’re allowed to maybe have equal parental rights. 

This is why many feminists support socialist governments that fund mental health. It is why many feminists support unionisation and occupational safety efforts to end worker exploitation. 

Why yes, I’m sure you’re willing to allow men to benefit as a side effect of your advocacy for women. But somehow, the ratio of deaths and maimings on the job has remained constant for decades, and men’s suicide rates have actually increased in many western countries, not only as a proportion of suicides, but as a proportion of population. 

It is also why so many feminists seek to end women’s economic dependence on men by challenging the wage gap and the patriarchal assumption that women are “naturally” suited for childcare. 

But not by supporting alimony reform legislation, or shared custody bills, nor by opposing flawed models of family violence that assume men are always the primary aggressors and therefore less likely to be fit to parent. 

Instead, you feminists do it by calling father’s rights groups not a movement for justice but an abuser’s lobby, whose primary goal is to help men abuse children and ex-partners and to get out of paying child support. 

And yes, you feminists challenge the wage gap. #giveyourmoneytowomen How about the “man tax” that feminists have suggested? Or giving bonuses based on vaginas that one university in Australia is doing? Government programs to help women make ends meet? 

Where do you think all that money is coming from, ladies? It’s primarily coming from men. If women are getting bonuses and men are not, those men are subsidizing those bonuses. Men pay over 75% of the taxes into the system. Every government program to help mitigate the wage gap depends on men’s money. 

So your answer to the problem of women being economically dependent on a man is to make women economically dependent on all men. Brava!

Those of us working on these issues believe that our work benefits everybody, and yet you still cling to the belief that our work advantages women while disadvantaging men.

Florida’s chapter of the National Organization for Women convinced the governor of that state to veto alimony reform legislation that enjoyed 80% support from the public and had passed both houses with overwhelming bipartisan support. Why? Because it would disadvantage women. Thereby harvesting gallons of male tears to fill feminists’ coffee mugs. 

How did that benefit everybody? 

If you are serious about improving life for men and boys, you might want to learn from those branches of feminism working from a broad commitment to ending all forms of oppression instead of attacking an imaginary monolithic version. 

Or I could learn from the stymied efforts of the mythopoetic men’s movement, who accomplished little more than organizing group therapy sessions in the woods. And I’m not disparaging the value of that to some men—being able to unload all your trauma and baggage in a safe place among people who understand your pain is valuable and useful. But I’d rather concern myself with preventing that trauma and baggage in the first place. 

When I first became interested in the men’s rights movement, the attitude of most feminists toward it was blanket ridicule. They laughed. They mocked. They belittled and insulted MRAs. A bunch of losers who can’t get laid. Over a very brief period, that attitude changed. Soon, instead of mockery, we were subjected to accusations of misogyny, violence, terrorism and the like. Now we weren’t a bunch of losers, we were dangerous reactionaries who need to be stopped.

And now we have some bizarre hybrid of these strategies, combined with something new: “feminism is working on these issues. You shouldn’t hate feminism. You shouldn’t oppose feminism. Feminism fights for men’s issues, too. Feminism is the light and the way and the solution to all of men’s problems.”

We have Emma Watson trotting out men’s issues at the UN and extending her formal invitation to men to sit at the equality table because feminism cares about them, too, only to pull a bait and switch and direct people to a website where men pledge to work to end sexism and violence against women and girls. 

But feminism sure cares about men’s issues. Suicide’s the leading killer of men under 40 in the UK? Well, the solution to that is for men to pledge to end sexism against women! Natch!

Feminism at its best is firmly grounded in a commitment to things like anti-racism, decolonization, disability justice, justice for all gender identities, and so much more, and when we work from this model, we are an immensely strong and effective movement. We recommend doing the following to strengthen your activism and broaden your work:

All I’m hearing here is “feminism has a habit of co-opting other people’s issues so they can continue to seem relevant.”

Need I remind you that the president of SFUAMB is a transgender woman? And that I’m a gender-queer, bisexual woman? And that some of the men’s rights movement’s most admired individuals are women? People of color? Transpeople? Disabled people? 

These people are attracted to our movement not because we are exclusionary, but because we have a solid mandate. We get that discrimination against men often disproportionately affects poor men, men of color, gay men and transpeople. We get it. But we’re not interested in co-opting issues of race or class or sexuality or gender identity and dragging them under the rubric of our movement. If the gender gap in the criminal justice system is 6 times larger than the race gap, then our efforts to close that gap will benefit men of color just as much, or more, than white men. 

Consciousness-raising: The personal is political. This means that the issues that people face are not simply individual and privatized but collective and social. 

Erin Pizzey has a different definition, one she acquired while participating in the early women’s liberation movement: You take your own personal damage and project it onto all of society. If my dad was a shit, it means all men are shit.

Consciousness-raising occurs when people gather and discuss common experiences to build a group identity, and we can see that you are doing this. 

Scientologists say this kind of thing as well. So do the agents of ISIS in Canada who recruit and radicalize young people. 

I am not in this to build a group identity. I’m in this to hopefully inform people of what’s going on. Group identities are inherently tribalistic, and I want no part of that. 

But consciousness-raising is more than just that. It also involves engaging with new information and the perspectives of people who are different from ourselves. 

Really. From everything you’ve said here, I can’t imagine the authors of this letter listened to any of the “new” information presented in my talk, or effectively engaged with my perspective. Everything in this letter is designed to protect the hegemony of a group called feminism. 

It involves naming the many systems of injustice that are working together to shape our society, and acknowledging how members of our own group or community are advantaged/disadvantaged along the lines of race/ethnicity, nationality, class, sexuality, disability, and more. Consciousness-raising asks people from privileged groups to acknowledge how they benefit from, and even perpetuate, certain forms of oppression themselves. 

So you will now concede that feminism is privileged in terms of its voice within the gender discourse? It will now ask itself how it benefits from this hegemony? It will ask itself how it might be perpetuating certain forms of oppression?

Yeah, didn’t think so. 

Does your group actually consider the evidence that sexism works to harm girls and women, and at the same time creates a narrow and rigid understanding of what a ‘real man’ is, thereby doing harm to boys and men? 

Did you even listen to my talk?

Do you talk about the ways that some men oppress other men, and how they can try to unlearn or challenge these patterns and behaviours?

Did you even listen to my talk?

Structural analysis: Intersectional feminism has come a long way from forms of feminism that simply identify patriarchy as the sole cause of women’s oppression. Due to the efforts of women who are facing multiple forms of oppression—and indeed people of all genders who are multiply marginalized—that narrow understanding of sexism is being challenged. 

So what you’re saying is you took a bowl of male privilege and female oppression, added some croutons, dried cranberries, mandarin slices and grilled chicken, and voila! Suddenly it’s not salad anymore! It’s something that’s not salad, even though it’s pretty much salad.

Globally, many feminist movements examine how racism, colonialism, imperialism, economic exploitation, heterosexism, ableism, and other forms of injustice affect women and indeed all of society, at both the local and transnational level. 

Uh huh. You know, I notice how you were very quick to provide a link when describing what a rape apologist I am—a link that requires the reader to pick through 600 comments, but still, a link. Yet you provide no links to back up your claims here.

We must name the systems that harm us and discuss how they harm us in order to help each other heal – but feminism doesn’t stop there. 

No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t ever stop.

Sometimes those who dislike feminism frame our work as playing the victim, but quite the contrary – around the world, feminist movements are working to empower people to take action in ways that actually address the root causes of oppression. 

Citation needed. Evidence needed. Proof of what are and are not the root causes of oppression needed. 

Your group seems interested in the rates of violence men face during times of war and incarceration. This is an incredibly important issue, and yet we see little evidence that you are interested in confronting militarization or the prison-industrial complex. 

Well, considering you didn’t listen to my speech before commenting on it, I’m not confident that you looked very hard for evidence of that. 

Nor do we see signs that you are working to identify how racism, colonialism, and poverty lead to men of colour, Indigenous men, and poor men’s overrepresentation and victimization in these institutions. 

You mean how there are 3 to 4 times as many missing or murdered aboriginal men than women in Canada? You mean how Adam Jones’ article regarding the establishment’s erasure of these men at the National Post was posted on the men’s rights subreddit, and how his work on gender and genocidal violence is cited all over the place by MRAs? 

Where are the feminists standing up and telling the Canadian government that missing and murdered aboriginal men should be included in a public inquiry? 

Given how necessary it is to address root causes of injustice in order to achieve meaningful levels of social change, we ask, which structures you are working to dismantle?


We are under no pretence that feminist movements are immune from critique. 

Could have fooled me.

Those of us who identify as feminist regularly find ourselves in conflict as we wrestle with systems of injustice that cut through our communities and organizations. And of course, there are many versions of feminism. 

Ah, yes. So many versions of feminism, it’s like swordfighting a fart. No matter what feminists do, other feminists can come in and say, “well, no true feminist” or “that’s not what feminism means to me” or “a real feminist would never”.

We all have our knowledge gaps and social movements often contain divisions, but we are all committed to ending sexist oppression by placing women’s diverse lives and experiences at the centre of our inquiry, analysis, and activism. 

Yes, we know. We know you put only women’s diverse experiences at the center of your inquiry. Well, and not all women’s. Anti-feminist and non-feminist women can go fly a kite. And if we keep making waves, you can just cry “internalized misogyny” and continue to ignore us.

If you want to work alongside feminist efforts to build a more just world, while focusing on boys and men, we support that. 

I wouldn’t touch feminism with a ten foot pole soaked in disinfectant. 

But if your activism continues to spread lies and misinformation about women and feminism, agitates angry men online without giving them a way to address destructive systems and heal, and attempts to restore an historically unjust imbalance of power, then we do not think that you are working in the interests of men and boys. 

Examples, please. 

See, here’s the thing. 90% of my emails are from men. And strangely enough, they’re mostly from men who tell me things like, “you’re the reason I didn’t commit suicide.” Or even more interesting, “I was starting to hate women, but then I found your videos.”

Now you tell me. If you received more than a dozen such emails every week, would you have reason to believe you were working in the interests of men and boys?

You accuse me of inciting male hatred and anger toward women, but the majority of men who contact me tell me that it is my work that calmed all that shit down. That gave them reason to hope. That made them realize that maybe there was someone out there who understands what they’re feeling. 

And you think I’m dangerous. 

And please, let me be clear. I am dangerous. Not because I “agitate angry men”. These men are already angry and agitated. I’m dangerous because I’ve given these men moral permission to not like feminism. To not like how it has consistently maligned men from its inception, all the way back to the Declaration of Sentiments. To not like how it casts them as the villains of history. To not like how it treats them as second class citizens by ignoring their pain and excusing the women who’ve hurt them. To not like how feminism can engage in hashtag campaigns like #killallmen and #giveyourmoneytowomen, all while drinking from “male tears” coffee mugs, and then in the very next breath tell these exact same men they’re man-babies and misogynists for complaining that these campaigns upset them, while simultaneously telling them that suppressing their emotions is toxic masculinity. 

I am dangerous. Not to women, or to society, but to you, feminism. 

Right now your “activism” not only reads as thinly-veiled misogyny, 

Thinly veiled? Now that’s a change of pace. Usually MRAs get accused by feminists of blatant, in your face misogyny. 

but, we believe, it also harms men and boys by failing to address the social, cultural, political, and economic issues that affect them. In short, you are doing a disservice to the people you claim to want to help.

Yes, you care so much about men and boys. We get it. Men and boys are more likely to be raised with feminist values than at any point in history, and yet their suicide rates are soaring. But I’m doing a disservice to all those men who contact me to tell me I changed their minds about suicide. Have you ladies EVER considered that you might be wrong? That what you’ve been doing might be having negative effects on men, or women, or children? Or is your moral high ground so unassailable that you can’t even conceive of the possibility?

We hope that this open letter sends a clear message to SFU AMB as well as members of the broader university community. 

Your message is loud and clear. Feminism is to be the one and only voice on gender issues. Heterodoxy will not be tolerated.

The rise of what has been framed as “men’s rights” activism on university campuses is sadly in line with other conservative reactionary groups

That’s a very interesting statement when considering SFUAMB is led by a transwoman, no? When the speaker you’re criticizing is a bisexual divorced mother of three. When some of the most popular voices in the movement are women. When our movement is comprised of men and women of all ethnicities, nationalities, races, religions, sexualities and gender identities. When the majority of MRAs are pro-choice and pro-marriage equality. Isn't it interesting that you would say that? 

(e.g. White supremacist student groups, Gamergate) 

Uh huh.

that often use the language of liberty and free speech to both discredit the experiences and voices of marginalized groups and commit co-ordinated campaigns of terror against them when members of those groups speak out. 

How do we do that? Free speech necessitates that the voices of marginalized groups be heard. This is a very bizarre statement coming from an ideology that has had a stranglehold on the gender discourse on university campuses for decades, particularly when it targets a fledgling group with marginal institutional support. 

Coordinated campaigns of terror? Last I checked, it was Gamergate that had received threats credible enough for police to evacuate buildings and search them for explosives. Last I checked, it was not feminists ejected from conventions for not toeing the ideological line—it was a diverse group of men and women who didn’t agree with feminism who were ejected, and then had the police called on them while they were picnicking in the park two days later. 

Have you ever had four cops with two police vans show up to one of your events because of reports that you’re violent and dangerous? How would that measure on the “campaign of terror” scale? You do know that police have guns, right?

Until SFU AMB can demonstrate that they are interested in doing anything more than blaming feminists for problems that are in fact rooted in patriarchy, racism, colonialism, heterosexism, capitalism, ableism, and other forms of oppression and exploitation, we encourage other members of SFU to join us and speak out against them. 

And that’s your right. Please, continue to oppose us. We’ll make the best use of the resulting press that we can, to highlight the issues of men and boys, and to illustrate how totalitarian and abusive feminism has become.

In a campus climate where women are always already dealing with intolerable levels of institutionalized sexism in the form of discrimination, harassment, and violence, 

Citation needed. 

SFU AMB’s insistence that we should allow this “activism” to go unchallenged in the name of liberty and equity is perhaps the most intolerable of all.

Oh please. Please challenge us. Please keep giving us a reason to challenge you. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

My summary of the Thunderf00t vs Laughing Witch controversy

So as many a YouTube denizen will know, there’s been yet another insane dust-up in the internet atheist community.

The central characters are YouTube science vlogger and atheist/skeptic juggernaut, Dr. Phil Mason, AKA Thunderf00t, and four relative pipsqueaks of hyper feminist bent going by the names Jenny McDermot, Laughing Witch, Hannibal the Victor 13 and Bewildered Ape.

As well as making videos on the wonders of science and his love of research, Dr. Mason has a longstanding habit of debunking bullshit, from creationism to Solar Freaking Roadways. His videos have attracted a massive following of ardent fans, with his channel boasting over 400k subscribers, and some 95 million video views. During the Atheism+ fiasco that split the community a few years back, he began taking a closer look at certain brands of feminism, and, well, he spotted bullshit.

Feminist icon and professional victim Anita Sarkeesian has become a perennial favorite target of his to take the piss out of. Her videos and public behavior are loaded with bullshit, and there’s significant overlap between fans of his skeptic videos and the saner elements of the gaming community, who’ve been undergoing a similar social justice onslaught to the one the atheist community is still struggling with, an onslaught spearheaded by Sarkeesian. Mason’s videos on Sarkeesian and other popular internet feminists are some of the most viewed on his channel.

Enter our four intrepid feminist dunces. They were not at all pleased at Mason’s targeting of Sarkeesian, arguing that his videos were largely responsible for the “waves” and “barrages” of harassment and hate the poor dear receives. After all, the mere act of criticizing Sarkeesian or her ideas acts as a literal call to action for one’s loyal evil minions to embark on campaigns of sustained abuse. Of course, the takeaway message from this would necessarily be that no criticism of her ideas should be allowed at all.

At first, their antics involved mild pokes at him in the form of videos spreading lies and misrepresentations of his positions. Next, Bewildered Ape, the only member of this “not exactly fantastic four” to have never shown his face, took it into his head to write Mason’s employer in hope of getting him fired. 

The accusation? Holocaust apologism and nazi sympathizing. For Mason, who lives and works in the Czech Republic, this was a bit of a problem, as like many European countries, the Czech Republic considers this type of speech to be a criminal offence. 

Of course, nothing came of it. Dr. Mason was not fired, as his employers apparently have IQs at least equivalent to that of Forrest Gump, possibly higher. Indeed, Mason made a video roundly scolding the Ape for such underhanded tactics, and indicating on no uncertain terms that further attempts would in no way jeopardize his employment nor his good standing in his field. You know, because they’re not retards. He also reminded Bewildered Ape that fraudulently making such allegations is a crime, and that taking internet disagreements and differences of opinion into meatspace sets a dangerous precedent that could potentially backfire.

Bewildered Ape shot back that his actions were “performance art”. I’m not joking. And the not so fantastic four retreated back to bitching and moaning on their mostly empty channels to people at least as crazy and intellectually challenged as they are. Hannibal the Victor uploaded a particularly lovely rant wherein he threatened Dr. Mason with physical harm and swore that it was now his life’s mission to utterly destroy him.

And then just this month, these feminist crusaders blatantly and publicly organized a letter writing campaign similar to the Ape’s erstwhile self-described performance art. 

This time, the letters were sent not only to Mason’s employer, but to the local police and various news outlets.

One has to wonder what kind of moral certitude is required for four gnats such as these to pit themselves against a goliath when they were well aware he had 400 times as many minions as they did, and when they seemed to genuinely believe Mason’s minions are capable of sinking to any level of depravity and atrocity.

If there was an award for self-destructive, deluded ideologue of the year, Laughing Witch put herself in the running. Over the course of several videos on her since-deleted channel, she was observed to have boasted that as a “boss” within a small business her husband owns, she’s untouchable. She can’t be fired. She was observed to have boasted, providing video evidence, that her email to Mason’s employer, the police and the media, was written under her real name. 

In other words, believing herself immune to the type of attack she was about to launch against a superior power, she doxxed herself. 

And in a follow up video, believing he’d been fired from his job, she gloated and celebrated it as a victory.

Mason’s response, on October 20th, was more circumspect than it might have been. In a video response to the campaign, he informed her that he had not been fired, and showed clips of her own videos that demonstrated her megalomaniacal levels of hubris, including the one in which she generously gave the internet all the information it needed to attack her—her real name. He also questioned the ethics of a woman who gives glowing online reviews to a company she co-owns and helps operate and negative reviews of other companies. And he warned her that her delusions of immunity were just that: delusional.

Oh the morbid deliciousness of it all. He deliberately and unerringly gave the internet everything it needed to detest her even more than it already did, and everything it required to exact revenge. And in a masterful demonstration of cynically preserving the moral high ground, he demanded a grovelling apology from her—not to him, but to the internet in general, which is populated by people who work in coffee shops and PR firms and insurance companies and software firms, and whose jobs are not as resilient to such attacks as his own.

Mean? Certainly. Intentional? Oh yes. But I have a hard time pitying Laughing Witch. 

Within hours of Mason’s video going up, Laughing Witch’s business’s Yelp page began to be flooded with bogus one-star reviews. Most were obviously fake, my personal favorite being, “I hired these guys to renovate my bathroom, and all they did was paint swastikas everywhere.” I’m not sure if Laughing Witch realizes what a courtesy that is—reviews that are obviously fake are easy to spot and remove, making the damage to a company temporary rather than permanent. They’re also easier for potential customers to spot and dismiss as pranks. 

Laughing Witch then deleted her channel, hoping to minimize the damage.

On the 24th of this month, Laughing Witch’s husband quietly uploaded a video to their business’s channel, narrated by him, and describing the situation in the most Sarkeesianesque terms. I shall paraphrase it thusly:

"My wife 'stumbled across' Thunderf00t, and [something something vague something that's not her fault because she dindu nothin other than just be a feminist online] and now there are dozens of misogynistic trolls posting 1-star reviews of our company on Yelp just because my wife 'stumbled across' this hateful evil guy and he decided to attack her for no good reason. Also, I was disabled in a work accident years ago, and the recession, and here's a picture of my dog with a sad face... My wife didn't do anything to provoke this, other than find herself in the evil Thunderf00t's line of sight. Please send us innocent victims your money, or these 14 employees will go hungry, because my wife came across Satan and Dick Cheney’s love child online and even though she was nothing but friendly to him he decided to destroy her life.”

They linked this video to an indiegogo fundraiser asking for 25,000 dollars to help them weather the damage that was incurred by this completely unprovoked and unjustified attack that was a result of Laughing Witch falling afoul of Thunderf00t for no reason whatsoever and by no action of her own. They have so far raised a little over $2000.

The next day, Laughing Witch created a new channel for the sole purpose of uploading the apology TF had demanded. She said she was sorry, and I believe she was. But not because she believed what she had done was wrong, or because she felt bad for the harm she might have caused TF (3 to 5 years in prison, if someone in power took her allegations seriously), but because the blowback from her actions had hurt her husband’s business and other people she cared about. There’s a huge difference between, “I wish I hadn’t done that because it could have hurt someone” and “I wish I hadn’t done that because it backfired and hurt me.”

Of course, the sincerity of this apology is undermined by the fundraiser video, in which Mason is described as “evil” and Laughing Witch as an innocent victim who just happened to stumble into his view. As one commenter on the debacle said, “it’s hard to trust the honesty of someone who’s waving a white flag when they’re still shooting at you…”

Since then, notoriously neutral and fair YouTube skeptic Agent of Doubt has revealed that a court judgment was levied a few months ago against LW’s company by a bank to the tune of about $25,000—what a coincidence! An update was quickly posted on the fundraiser’s page indicating that the company was already in trouble, and had filed for bankruptcy protection before any of this debacle started. Another update indicates that Laughing Witch and her husband have contacted their state senators and the FBI in hope of criminally prosecuting…….someone. 

Of course, Laughing Witch is not the only massive casualty in this debacle. The denizens of chan-life reportedly released Hannibal the Victor’s real name along with that of Jenny McDermot, and certain individuals intent on proving once and for all that no, Hannibal was not actually studying anthropology at an accredited institution of higher education, stumbled upon the uncomfortable news that he’s a sex offender fresh off the the registry, convicted by way of a police sting operation of attempting to procure a sex act from a minor. When his dox dropped in chanland, he deleted his channel and hasn’t been directly heard from since. 

Meanwhile, during the heat of the confrontation, Jenny Mcdermot, so outraged at the completely unprovoked attack on Laughing Witch who had done absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever, uploaded a video wherein she publicly engaged in criminal extortion, demanding that Mason somehow, someway, call off every single one of his 400k subscribers he doesn’t know from Adam, and anyone else who might be involved in the “cyber attack”, or else she’ll send letters portraying him as a nazi to pretty much every media outlet that has ever given Anita Sarkeesian any screentime. As an added twist, she then set conditions even more outside of his control—if her video got more than X upvotes or Y downvotes, she’d send the letters regardless of what he did or didn’t do. 

Oh the drama. Oh the stupidity. Oh the human carnage. 

It’s looking like the only member of the less than fantastic four who might emerge from this dust-up unscathed is Bewildered Ape, that master of performance art, who has never shown his face to the public.