Both Men's Rights Activists and Feminists are right, and you should ignore them.
Yes, we suck, and yes, we need to work together.
After floating in the highly unloved space between men's rights activism and radical feminism pretty much since I was a teenager, I've come to get a feel for the perspectives of both camps.
What I saw in these spaces was victimhood—a lot of it, and a lot of it authentic and viscerally convincing, on both sides. What brought me to feminism in my youth were startling moments of predation by older men, particularly after my father died. They did not seem like they saw me as a person or were really there, giving me a head start in instinctively understanding ideas like "objectification." Later, when I got interested in men's rights, their stories were just as horrendous, their metanarratives just as compelling.
It seemed like predators stalked the land, from divorce-rape to rape-rape, men and women callously used and abused each other. It was in the nature of the game, the dual star system of patriarchy and gynocentrism hurtling through the ages. The best thing you could do was rig the game in your favor - which barely evens the odds, according to both sides - or simply stay away.
Both have a vision of an other that is predatory, privileged, and whose evil is understated and underrated by most of society. Both are egalitarian movements, trying to square circles, challenge brick walls with their foreheads, and gain territory that was never even on the map.
It's human nature to take the unavoidable business of suffering and attach meaning to it by turning it into a narrative. No story is as close to home as the long dance we are biologically compelled to have with the capricious opposite sex. The most effortless narratives come pre-packaged, take your very particular blend of suffering and generalize it to feel like a cosmic predicament. The sisterhood absorbs and absolves you. The brotherhood soothes and delivers. It's not nearly as much about the other as it is about us.
After briefly simmering in both these memetic soups and their many realizations, I believe the truth is that, yes, individual men and women are fundamentally at odds with each other. We often have conflicting interests, something to gain from the other's losses and live for drama that can only be extracted from endless tests, ego deathmatches, or steely emotional aloofness. Some carry on nasty family attachment patterns. Some are simply scared and lash out. We can torture each other in infinite ways, and yes, it sure comes easy.
But we have more to gain from collaborating than stand to lose as individuals. To frame life simply as the interaction between individuals and their "utility functions" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there is no overarching and more valuable us to strive and sacrifice for, there is no breaking out of the tit-for-tat battles of the individual man and the individual woman. There is always someone younger, always someone richer. There is always more novelty, more pleasure, and more grass that is blindingly greener on the ever-receding horizon, urging us to trade-up, to self-care, and to "fulfill our potential." The other individual in your bed has many good reasons to go around you to mine a drop more of utility, and you know it.
If what's ours isn't metaphysically, unreasonably superior to what's mine, the game isn't worth playing.
Love, and through it, marriage and children comprise one long game of prisoners' dilemma that can make or break your life. If you see the other person as a defector by default, while you may never suffer catastrophic losses, you simply can't win.
I'm hopeful for the growing number of people I see who have gone through the "labyrinth of gendered suffering" and made it out to the other side. Many have done so in time to play a better game beyond living in the MGTOW, rape panic, Redpill, glass ceiling - padded cell that a lot are still trapped in, guarded by their particular amalgam of demons.
We have nothing to prove and much to gain. But it requires a sincere, unflinching meeting with the mysterious, terrifying, and miraculous other and, most of all, with your future together.
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