The rabbit hole.

Have you ever ventured onto the net on a mission to try and gain a more detailed take on a subject and found yourself, after a number of hours/days/years, focusing on subject matter not directly associated with what your original journey was?

Yeah, you know the drill.

I can’t remember when or how I discovered this thing called the Men’s Rights movement but it’s been a concept that has captured my interest for a few months now. I’m pretty certain that I’d discovered it while looking into society’s general take on the subject of domestic violence and some of the feminist voices and the opposition to them relating to D.V.

I’ve previously opined on my views about the White Ribbon Campaign about how it appeals to men to accept responsibility for controlling violence towards women. I won’t focus on that  mindset, fair minded enquiry alone should put that one to rest.

What I’d like to detail is my understanding so far of the MHRM.

Now, I’m inclined to accept that due to the availability of social media etc, there’s alot about the topic which is emergent in the contemporary conversation around what is spoken of as the MHRM. And it takes time to get your head around who these people are and what they are saying. Suffice to say, it is something that is continuing to grow in popularity each day, even if the naysayers are dismissive of it.

Also, I’m not academically based enough to offer any more or less an esoteric position on the subject as I don’t see myself as knowledgable in that respect. I only offer a layman’s take on the subject as I see it. And as common sense is often a collection of our individual and collective bias and experience I’m cognisant of this influence on my own perception.

That said, I believe, I have an obligation to be aware of the others in this equation as I am a part of a community and the matters being discussed by proponents of the MHRM as they can potentially affect anyone.

As I currently understand it, the reaction to the results of the social policies that effect men negatively, is the primary aspect of the MHRM. And it’s appreciation of these influences that creates these results, a secondary.

Although the current and historical basis of these influences, in my opinion forms the more interesting part of this conversation-as the results are a foregone conclusion for those affected by them, the affects side of the topics covered is where people harmed by this ideas offers more information on a personal basis thus making it relatable to the individual.

I’m not going to go into detail to cover off on the specific personalities that feature in this review but aim more to look at the base concepts and how they’re interpreted in order to collate a picture of what the MHRM is.

As I see it at the moment, the current western social/legal systems, on a global scale, are on a mission to promote the position of women in society. The basis of this movement stems from the claims of the concept of gender inequality.  The issues of D.V, wages and employment, sexual relations and family are all given the treatment by proponents of this concept.

And it’s the concept of inequality, as it’s presented, that deserves scrutiny if you want to understand how people today argue this point. And this is where it gets interesting because this concept appears elsewhere in the misuse of the concept of intersectionality. 

In analysing the idea of inequality and how these social actors define it, you’d do well to first start by web searching the idea as it is represented by the various governmental/activist groups as that’s where this idea gains access to power.

As an example, here in Australia, we have an organisation for human rights, named the AHRC and if you Google their page on inequality you’ll get a picture of what I’m talking about. Condescendingly titled “Face the Facts”, you’ll be treated to an infogragh of their take on the subject. Now it’s right and proper to first acknowledge that the issues they talk about do exist in an abstract sense as described in a mathematical definition but that’s not my issue with their view. As always the devil’s in the detail and it’s when you look at the facts as represented by research you’ll see a different picture as to why these effects are manifest.

Again the internet is a valuable resource to discover the details of this conversation. It always pays off to question the narrative, especially if you find it comforting. And this is where the MHRM really starts to put their rounds on target.

The MHRM currently seems to be at odds with contemporary  and historical feminism and its influence on social policy and historically with a concept called gynocentrism. The political influence (of feminism) can be seen in the everyday take on the subject of women’s rights, reference the general conversation relating to gender politics you see in the media and politics. 

Gynocentrism, in vulgar terms, simply refers to recent civilisation’s apparent predisposition to place femininity in a protected position even if its not portrayed as such initially. Reference the subject of D.V and it’s overwhelming deference to female victims with assistance or the wage gap idea.

The questioning the common acceptance, even if it’s done unwittingly, of these two influences is what the MHRM has offered me thus far. And when I discuss the issues related to these subjects with friends, specifically or otherwise, I find my opponents taking stances that the MHRM critiques and in doing so, I’m reminded of a quote by a British economist on the way the everyday person is influenced by ideas whether they have done their homework on the subject or not.

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

Some defunct economist or ideologue, polemicist/activist etc, the influence is present in the conversation. This is how  faulty ideas survive scrutiny and myths live on.

The failure to grasp the full picture or to solely view a subject through a set of lenses enables a platform to be deceitful. And people are aware of this. This is why ideas such as the freedom of speech exists. You can’t fool everyone all the time.

So for the time being, as I currently see it, those two concepts-gynocentrism and the feminist ideologies are the two leading ideas that the MHRM are leveraging their approach to the topic on.

I’ll endeavour to examine the subjects in writing at another time in order to more fully grasp the angle being presented and see how it sits with what’s happening out there in the real world. I’ll work on being more concise as well. This post seems to jump along the track but it’s a rough collection on my thoughts so far.

36.

At about this time, 36 years ago, my sainted mother was busy getting ready to give birth to me. I ain’t even sure how old she was at the time but as I was the fourth son she had I’m sure the drill was familiar by that stage.

I was born in Brisbane, Queensland at around 21:00 hours, no dramas or complications that I remember or have been told of. 

I’ve only a few vague memories of the place we lived at there. The boat the Ol man had, me nearly drowning in the pool out the back and that spooky sounding ice cream van that’d be weirdly driving the streets after dark. 

I’d always howl like a banshee when I heard that goddamn thing’s eerie soundtrack. 

We moved to various regional towns in Qld, Ingham and Forrest Beach being the earliest ones I have a better recollection of staying at. 

It was there we went through Ma scoring big in the cancer lotto and then it was all hands on deck in an effort to provide for her treatment.

It was during that period we moved up to Normanton in order to run a business that provided a better income source for our needs.

The three youngest of my brothers spent our adolescence working in that business. With our oldest brother, being, well older, participating only periodically as he’d move away then return when things weren’t working out for him.

Those years were a knock down drag out fight that went on for more than a decade. Both of my parents demonstrated a stoicism that drove us through those times. The amount of time the Ol Man spent working nearly killed him. 

Mum beat cancer the first time round and got to see her sons grow, see a couple of them marry and have grand children. She wasn’t so lucky the next time it started to play it’s hand in her life again.

So here I am sitting in my dog box, on another construction project, away from home, casting my mind back to those early years. You remember on days like this, the people you’ve marched that trail called life with and the times together no longer able to be shared.

Those people you call family.

The strengths of evidence.

Recently, at the project I’m on here, we had an admin issue with the safety paperwork for all the tasking that the electrical workers have to legally cover off on before they start the week. As it turned out when the supervisory staff signed off on the weekly review of the paperwork, known as the Job Safety Analysis (JSA), they failed to complete their part of the documents, as the site procedure demands. 

This lead to the HSR’s and union delegates advising the crews to stand down whilst the management completed the sign off on the cover sheets for the JSA’s.

 The delay was to go on for over four hours of the working day so the day’s productivity was limited. As you could understand this lead to some abrupt exchanges between the management staff and the HSR/Union guys.

Anyways, as a part of the aftermath of that situation, our union delegates called a meeting to discuss an alleged assault that had occurred during one of the exchanges between a HSR and a supervisor. This in turn lead to some of the members wanting to engage in industrial action in order to persuade the company to dismiss the accused person. 

I’m not wholly sure of the logic behind this as it turned out in the days after that meeting that the case against the supervisor in question couldn’t be substantiated. But it was interesting all the same to watch some people advocate for a course of action, which was unlawful, without knowing the whole story.

Thankfully, saner heads prevailed and my faith in the average punter was reaffirmed when some members of the union (along with advice from the company employee relations team) brought up the deficit of evidence to support the claims against the accused. 

The response from the floor was to vote up a motion to forward the details of the dispute resolution process to the Fair Work commission in order to formally assess the process. Again another good sign that the members have a respect for due process.

What really pissed me off was the them and us attitude that was present initially and how the acceptance of the choice of unlawful industrial action wasn’t subjected to a long term view in which the case being presented would’ve been seen as weak. 

There’s a bloody minded attitude that some exhibit that needs to be sorted out. There’s a certain level of niaviety that drives people’s decision making when they’re a part of a group and this undermines the strengths of the collective position. An over reliance on some one else doing the thinking contributes to this undermining as well.

An old rule of thumb needs to be applied here methinks. That being, always, ALWAYS, do your homework. If you find yourself agreeing with the narrative, question the parts of it, apply the standards of evidence and do your best to understand what is going on. It’ll go a long way to save your reputation and in some cases your bank balance.

Its serves no purpose.

For some time recently, I’ve taken an interest in the MHRM. And whilst I’m getting my head around the concepts being discussed I’ve become more aware of the bigger picture of what inspires peoples activism on topics relating to what’s being discussed in those circles.

I belive there’s a misconception it there that the idea these people are talking against is feminism. When you give the whole conversation an initial examination you’ll tend to see this as the lesser nuanced debaters focus on the ideology of feminism. The reason I say it’s a misconception is after looking into this subject for a extended period of time you begin to question what it is that have given life to all of this, both the pro and anti sides of the debate. You begin to become aware of the historical interpretations of the positions held.

In order to try and articulate what I’m getting at here I’d like to reference something that Erin Pizzey wrote about in her book This way to the Revolution. Early on in this book she spoke about her initial experiences with establishing a DV victim’s refuge and some of the people she came across there and her own reasons for her initial positions of the subject of life for women in the society she lived in.

She writes that she felt the need to empower women due the social settings that, in her own experience left her alone with her children as a homemaker for extended periods of daily life. You get the feeling that she felt deeply that something was missing from her life and she saw a purpose in changing that.

Along with that, I remember watching a conversation on Youtube recently, where the two men talking discussed the impact of the small family unit as an influence on the acceptance of the ideas promoted by feminism in the 50’s and 60’s. In particular the sense of isolation that comes with that approach to family life. This is something that resonated with me as I’m a FIFO worker. Isolation ain’t a good thing for couples and families.

It would only be fair to say that life doesn’t always afford people the lifestyles they’d best profit from but this detail, as minor example, provided an aspect that did away with some of the more vitriolic postions that surround the arguments about feminism and offered a level of depth perception to what may’ve inspired the initial fodder for feminism amongst the everyday women in that period.

Without going into the detail of the individual positions being held (that’d take ages), what I’m angling on here is we don’t kill a weed by cutting off it’s flowers and thorns. We need to analyse the ideas in depth and find the truth values, however marginal they may be, in those positions. There’s a communicative value that needs to be respected there in these conversations we have.

And I know you’ll hear a lot more than what I’m touching on here in these debates but it’s the attention to the details I’m advising needs working on. It’s the truth value of an argument that validates it. It’s the evidence that’s worth the time not the narrative.

So when I see people accepting the positions without validating them I see a lack of seriousness sneaking in, either intentionally or otherwise. When I see people critiquing without exemplifying what they stand for, I see a lack of real strength in their arguments. People need to actually see what you’re describing affects them in their experience without having to adopt an ideology or a school of thought in order to change their world view. Just regurgitating ideas does not validate them.

The phrase “virtue signalling” comes to mind when I observe this level of discourse being conducted. It’s something that utterly disenfranchises those that take the time to hear you out. The feel good that comes from an echo chamber effect when your surrounded by like minds means nothing out there on the mean streets, it just tends to blind you of the experience of the “others” you may find yourself separating yourself from.

So this one goes out the people that are working to gain recognition for mens and boys issues in the face of the “feminist” position. We need to gain an in depth understanding of the subject matter, we need to be able to drive for an acceptance of the needs of these people, the historical and societal understanding of those issues and the need to be fearless in discussing them. The adage “knowledge is power” is crucial to finding your feet on this one. It’ll provide a for argument instead of just an against argument.

Think of it as a soldier knowing his or her weapons and how and when to use them.

And additionally to those of us that have accepted the feminist version of the world. There’s a bigger picture out there and it doesn’t belong to the polemicists or activists you’ll constantly see in the media and government.

We owe it to ourselves, we’re all in this one together.