What Kind of Person Goes to a Men’s Rights Rally?
On September 28, an international coalition of men’s rights groups converged in Toronto to discuss the topic of “Men and Boys in Crisis.”
Prior to the rally I didn’t know much about men’s rights activism, except that these groups have an established tradition of responding to writers with personal attacks, seen in creatively titled blog posts like “Jonathan Goldsbie: Head in the sand, talking out ass” and “Brad Casey wants to mind-rape our women!” It is because of blog posts like these,previous events like this, anti-feminist diatribes like this, and individual men’s rights supporters with a fondness for Nazi iconography that I had developed a skewed impression of who actually goes to their rallies. I expected to encounter an all-out hate group, when in actuality the men’s rights activists I spoke to held beliefs ranging from reasonable to downright oppressive and sprinkled with a dose of crazy.
Most attendees seemed motivated by a concern for the well-being of men, or a fear of women rooted in their own personal traumas. A surprising number of men at the rally came forward as victims of domestic violence. These men felt stung by misandry—they talked reasonably about the weakness of men’s support networks and the lack of sympathy that they experienced following abuse. Almost everyone at the rally expressed concern for things like the high suicide rate among males, boys falling behind in school, and a systemic bias against fathers in custody battles. Then again, some statistics used by the activists to bolster these issues were hard to swallow: “In 50 years the last bachelor’s degree will be issued to a male in this culture,” said Paul Elam of the organization A Voice for Men.
The MRAs who met in Toronto attribute all of these problems to a single threat—a radical feminist ideology that has taken hold of our institutions and is actively oppressing men, even if most people with power in these institutions are still men. Attila Vincer, who organized the rally to take place outside of Ontario’s legislature, didn’t know if Canada or Ontario had more female or male legislators (spoiler, it’s men). Of those we talked to, not a single person protesting knew what laws they wanted to see enacted.
The VICE crew that went to North Korea with Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters is doing a Reddit AMA right now.
Cody R Wilson, the star of our new documentary about 3D printed guns, is doing a reddit AMA right now.
A Weird Hotel in Houston Is Freaking Reddit Out
Last week, Reddit’s internet detectives swarmed on a subreddit for Houston, Texas after a user called Joelikesmusic posted a mysterious thread asking insiders what the deal was with a bizarre room at the localHotel ZaZa. As you can see in the picture above, the decor in room 322 errs more on the deeply unsettling, Jodorowsky side of a “comfortable, welcoming hotel experience,” with sinister paintings hanging above a concrete floor, what looks like a two-way mirror next to a bed that’s chained to the wall, and a portrait of Stanford Financial Group president Jay Comeaux overlooking the whole distressing tableau.
The room was accidentally booked for Joelikesmusic’s work colleague, who was then supposedly told that room 322 wasn’t meant to be booked at all. And it’s not difficult to see why—it looks like a snuff movie location. But despite the room being an absolute creep-fest, Kyra Coots, the Houston ZaZa’s head of e-marketing, told the Houseton Chronicle that—like the other themed rooms ZaZa prides itself on—the “Hard Times” room is just a “kooky” take on yet another theme: jail.
Being the internet, people have started to throw around entirely unfounded conclusions about room 322, based on wild speculations they’ve made about things they can ascertain from the photographs.
THE THEORIES ABOUT THE PICTURES ON THE WALL
Some think they’ve linked Stanford’s Jay Comeaux to ZaZa President Benji Homsey, suggesting they could’ve been in the same or related fraternity chapters at university. Comeaux went to Louisiana State University, home of the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity and the secretive frat, “the Friars.”
The goal of the Friars is apparently to resurrect DKE’s “Zeta Zeta” chapter—could the name ZaZa itself be a reference to this? Is Benji Homsey the “Benny H.” whose signature is on another of the room’s portraits?
THE THEORIES ABOUT THE ROOM NUMBERS
Others have connected Comeaux and the Friars to the elite Yale Skull and Bones Society, which counts ex-presidents George Bush Jr. and his dad as members. The number 322 is supposedly relevant to the group, as well as the skulls and bones littering the room.
There are websites that claim the Skull and Bones Society dates back to 1832, when it “paid obeisance to Eulogia, the goddess of eloquence, who took her place in the pantheon upon the death of the orator Demosthenes in 322 BC.” The number 322 is also thought to reference the club’s founding in America after originally being established in Germany, it being the second chapter—1832 - 2. Writer on the occult Nick Farrell told me the numbers refer to “Hebrew geomatria—each letter is a number so you can add up numbers to make words; 322 means any of these. It depends on the context, but ‘lamb’ would be a common one and ‘man’ another, but it could also be the number of a demon.”
The guy who’s been injecting himself with snake venom for 20 years (and stars in our recent doc Venom Superman) is doing a reddit AMA. Go ask him a question.
Robert King, VICE’s Syria correspondent, is currently doing a Reddit AMA. Ask him a question.
OUR SYRIA CORRESPONDENT IS DOING AN AMA TOMORROW
VICE Syria correspondent and veteran conflict photographer Robert King will be on Reddit tomorrow at 10:30 AM to answer your questions about what he’s witnessed in his coverage of Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Gaza, Mexico, Iraq, and now the year-long bloody civil war in Syria.
Robert has been embedded with the Free Syrian Army so long that they’ve given him the nickname ‘Haji Memphis,’ after his hometown. He has documented the devastation of the Al-Quasyr Hospital, themassacre at Taftanaz, the burning of the ancient souk in Aleppo’s Old City, and the courageous doctors at the Dar al-Shifa field hospital in Aleppo, which was rocketed into rubble just days ago.
Robert, or the Bulletproof Ghost as we call him, was also the subject of the 2008 feature-length documentary, Shooting Robert King.
You can join VICE and Robert on Reddit tomorrow at 10:30 AM EST with your questions. Check VICE’s Twitter feed or this post tomorrow for the link.
You’re a Pussy if You Think There’s a War on Men
For some men, women—especially feminists—are terrifying. Not in the normal oh-my-God-I-can’t-ask-her-out-what-if-she-says-no way that middle schoolers and characters on Friends experience, but “afraid” in the sense that women will take their money, try to get pregnant on purpose, invent false rape claims, and use feminism to generally abuse men. In this narrative, men are either an oppressed minority (or about to become one), or have to “fight back” against feminists to preserve their rights.
If you want to see what this kind of thinking looks like, take a dip into the river of the Men’s Rights section of Reddit, where a bunch of dudes go to complain about getting raped by women and talk gibberish about how their “clans” are getting attacked by “Statism and Feminism.” Currently, some of the most popular posts on the subreddit include a complaint about how if you owe more than $2,500 in child support payments you can’t get a passport (in the Men’s Rights universe, deadbeat dads are often victims of a misandrist court system); adiscussion, inspired by a Walking Dead plot point, about how getting beaten up is worse than being threatened with rape; an account of some guy squabbling with an obscure feminist blogger (these guys are always getting into internet beef with feminist bloggers, and vice-versa); and a screenshot of some gobbledygook about patriarchy that probably sounded smart to the high-schooler who wrote it. Like a lot of Reddit, the Men’s Rights forum is a way for predominantly white, predominantly rich young men to pat themselves on the back for how smart they are. It gives them something to do, I guess, and it gives the Shit Reddit Says subreddit something to react against.
But the idea that feminism is harmful to men, and women have declared war on people with penises, isn’t confined to Reddit’s nether regions anymore. It’s now mainstream enough for Fox News’s website, which published an awful, troll-baiting op-ed about “The War on Men” written by Suzzanne Venker. Her thesis is that while women want to marry men, men don’t want to marry them because, “Women aren’t women anymore.” She goes on:
“Women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.
Now the men have nowhere to go.”
What she’s describing is a pretty standard anti-feminist narrative: The evil feminists “convinced” women to want things like the same careers and pay and power that men had (they didn’t really want these things, see, but they were persuaded otherwise), thereby causing them to lose the status they were too short-sighted to have valued.