In the last month in particular, I've been spending more and more time on the MRA sites and boards. And stopping for a moment and looking objectively at where my mind has been going, I'm a little concerned.
I started exploring this because, when I found these sites, I found a lot of what struck me as genuine problems facing men and boys today which could do with close scrutiny. These were issues like health, divorce law, education, domestic violence and apparent cultural misandry.
I also found a lot on these sites I did not agree with. Many, if not most, of the men (and women) involved in the MRM are politically conservative - some extremely so. Not all, but a lot. Being a liberal myself, that can be problematic, particularly when it comes to their views on society, and also women. Sometimes, it feels more that what they really desire is a return to pre-femenist ideals. Either that, or women are just the enemy (I don't frequent the Men Going Their Own Way sites, but there are quite a lot of them). Then, of course, there's the whole tricky world of Game tied up with the MRM, something I'm not comfortable with at all, but seems to be gaining prominence, particularly with Paul Elam, who is one of the leading MRA figures. The pattern often seems to be more about victimising yourself and 'protecting' yourself, over actually working or campaigning to make things better (not always, mind - once again I will reference Glenn Sacks, whose Fathers&Families group is doing a lot of good in the US).
There is also the problem that a lot of the debates that occur with feminists come from the more extreme wing of the feminist movement (in honesty, they're the ones most likely to be blogging and commentating), resulting in a very real 'us vs. them' mentality - which quite often doesn't actually translate when you step out your door and walk into the real world.
But, besides all of this, I found issues raised that in my mind still stood. And so, in order to examine those, I decided to start this blog. The intention was, as I said in my introductory post:
really trying to figure a lot out of it in my head – how it affects my life, what I can do, whether I agree with or believe some of what is found in the MRA (men's rights activists) blogs and forums
Finally, one last thing, just to be clear: I am not here to play victim.
Having written that, I jumped back onto the MRM sites with renewed vigour, constantly reading them, checking up on them, and absorbing what they've been saying.
It would appear that over the last month, such dedicated following has removed my objectivity. I appear to have stopped looking at them critically, picking the wheat from the chaff of their discussions and ideas, and begun taking it all as read.
Interestingly, this appears to have impacted on my emotional state - I've noticed a sharp decline in my mood overall, and an increased tendency to get angry with little provocation. I sometimes feel as though I am looking or waiting for something misandric to rear its head so I can confront whoever or whatever it is. In short, I think I allowed myself to start believing the confrontational rhetoric constantly being pumped out, even whilst telling myself that wasn't the case.
Now, I wouldn't entirely say that this is a bad thing - for one, it gives an indication of quite how easy it is, and a possible further explanation for why so many of these men are so angry, egging one another on and on, day after day, month after month, year after year.
But mostly it was a bad thing.
Of course, what it has meant for this blog is that, rather than look at the issues that initially bothered me (aside from rape anonymity), I began trying to define the ideological beliefs of the MRM - many of which I had originally intended to question - in essence, to re-say what other people had said. Instead of critically questioning it, I have regurgitated it as absolute truth. In fairness to myself, I've not written anything which I necessarily believe to be factually untrue, but have automatically accepted the political and ideological explanations of them with increasing vigour (I may not have posted many yet, but there has been a check-list of posts waiting to be written up).
And then, suddenly, *snap*. Something changed. It was almost like waking up suddenly. I looked at what's here and just thought "That's not right. That's not what I wanted. It's not what's important. And it's not my thinking." And I felt a sudden need to redress the balance, hence Ribbons for Prostate Cancer.
So there we have it: a lesson in being careful in getting caught up in political and idealogical movements without keeping a check on yourself.
What's my plan now? Well, I'm going to keep going, though I'll take a short breather. I thought about deleting some of my previous posts, but actually, I'm not going to - it seems like cheating, somehow. What I will be trying to do from here on in is hopefully demonstrated better in my last post: a look at one of the issues raised in the MRM, hopefully some analysis of the problems, and my own thoughts on the issue.
*Sigh*. Nothing worth doing's ever easy, is it?