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Last week, the Sexist tackled a couple of issues of particular interest to men.

First, with the help of my Sexist Beatdown partner-in-crime Sady Doyle: a discussion about why men don’t recognize themselves as victims of sexual assault, and instead dream up hilarious feline metaphors (“cheetahs”!) in order to discuss the phenomenon of predatory women. Then: a follow-up post on how we use anatomy to justify assaults against men (hint: an erection does not equal consent).

The examination of sexual assaults against men got an interesting response from some feminist commenters over on Sady’s blog, Tiger Beatdown (Yes! This is a special guest edition of Sexist Comments of the Week!) Namely: Don’t feed the MRA’s!

MRAs, for the uninitiated, is shorthand for “Men’s Rights Activists.” These guys are kind of like feminists, only instead of focusing on reproductive rights, objectification of women, and sexual assault, they’re more concerned with other systems of oppression—-like divorce court, the Selective Service, and male circumcision. Because—-say it with me—-the patriarchy  oppresses men too, there’s no reason that MRA’s and feminists shouldn’t get along. Except for one minor detail: MRA’s tend to believe that feminism is the root of most of these problems that affect men, and we tend to see that’s pretty much bullshit.

The unfortunate result of that divide is that feminists have sometimes discounted important issues to our movement—-like violence and sexual assault against men—-by relegating their discussion to the MRA community, where the issues can sometimes take on . . . interesting twists.

Kristyn wrote:

I think this article is very, very relevant, and totally true, but at the same time it definitely borders on the “fodder for MRAs” territory.

“See, you lying whore, you weren’t raped because WOMEN RAPE MEN!!! Like, ALL THE TIME!!! But men are just TOO AFRAID to say so because THE WOMEN have BULLIED THEM and WE ARE SO SCAARED like TIGER who got beaten BY A GOLF CLUB!!!! Who’s to say you horrible cheetahwomen aren’t going to HIT US with GOLF CLUBS because you HAVE MORE POWER blah blah blah blah WHITE GUYS ARE THE MOST OPPRESSED PEOPLE EVER blah blah people are too PC blah blah blah.”

. . . So how can we talk about this type of thing WITHOUT breeding women-hating assholes who think all lady-people are sexually manipulative golf-club-wielding animal metaphors?

Helen added:

Further to what Kristyn said—-Yes, and the legal system is going to take this meme and run with it re. proving any allegation of rape.

“M’lud. I put it to you that not only did Ms Z totally ask for whatever was coming to her by getting in a car with the defendant, but that she was planning to rape him.

Happy days.

Sady drafted a really well-reasoned and important response to those criticisms. I wanted to reproduce her thoughts here, because she really summed up my thoughts on this issue:

If we refuse to say things—-things that we know to be true—-because some MRA or whoever could take them and twist them into untruth, then we’re letting the opposition determine the terms of the debate for us. A particularly fringey and known-to-be-nuts variety of the opposition, at that.

This is actually something that drives me a wee bit up the wall, about feminist conversations: sometimes I’m afraid we oversimplify certain principles, or refuse to say certain things, because the actual complexities or truths at hand don’t feel “safe” or in line with our predetermined talking points and agreed-upon theories. Whereas it’s precisely those complexities and uncomfortable truths we should be focusing on, really, because that’s where we need to improve our understandings. We need to go out beyond the edges of what we already understand and feel comfortable with, in order to find anything new to say.

It seems like every time I write about some not-so-admirable thing that ladies do, someone weighs in to say that I’m not presenting the gender positively enough and/or giving aid to the enemy. And I don’t shitting care about that, to be totally blunt. For one, I don’t think The Enemy reads Tiger Beatdown, and for two, I care about writing the truth, because I don’t feel feminism is served or ever can be served by ignoring the truth and instead telling each other whatever is most uplifting or whatever we most want to hear. Writing this chat felt really vulnerable, for me, which I think is a good thing, because it was confirmation that I was being honest and that I wasn’t just repeating someone else’s lines throughout.

Plus, if some MRA ever decides that feminists. just. don’t. CAAAARE about bad stuff that happens to men, or will just never ever ever admit that women can be abusive, this is one concrete incidence – one of many – that someone can point to in order to prove them wrong. It won’t make a difference to them, of course, because they’ve already committed to ideology over reality. But for people who are committed to reality, it will be evidence against them.