How are MRAs inducted into the movement? I’d imagine the bulk of them nowadays were sucked in after hearing about it online and realizing how much it made sense. But there had to have been the trailblazers who started the movement in the first place, those who realized the necessity of masculism when it was apparent that feminism didn’t offer all the answers (or simply didn’t care about answers when it was only men who were demanding them).
I myself fall somewhere in the middle. I only adopted the label of MRA after learning about the movement on the internet, but I first got the inkling that such a movement was necessary a long time before — specifically, on the 14th of February, 1996.
And no, this has nothing to do with the gender politics of Valentine’s Day or how I was expected to pay for a date. The inciting incident took place in my sixth grade science class.
It was the first of a few capital-E Experiments we conducted in the class, goggles and all. The safety guidelines had been gone over the day before, with me arriving during the middle of the period after just getting braces.
The classroom was split into tables with four students each. I shared mine with two boys and a girl. We were further split into pairs for the experiments, and I was paired with the girl. The teacher announced that we would be graded on a check/check-plus/check-minus basis, and stressed that each student would receive the same grade as their partner.
I don’t remember too much about the experiment, only that it featured water dyed pink to observe the holiday, a chemical reaction that changed it to a different color, and an inverted jar (all of the experiments featured inverted jars for some reason). What I do remember is that my partner repeatedly flouted the precise instructions given to us by the teacher, and the experiment suffered as a result. Though I had followed the directions to the letter, we both got a check-minus.
Every error from my partner was met with a protest from me, supported by the other boys at our table. My partner, however, dismissed all our concerns, and refused to admit to any mistakes even after being given the check-minus.
One of her comments resonated with me. After finally being cornered by our criticisms, she declared that boys did not automatically know more than girls.
Neither I nor the other boys had made any mention of our gender. At no point had we implied that we were better judges of how the task at hand was to be completed by virtue of our gender.
This comment dumbfounded me, but more so it led to an awakening. How many other girls, women even, were inclined to falsely accuse boys and men of sexist thinking when facing criticism from them? It’s a devious ploy, after all, as such an accusation is difficult to disprove.
Eventually, it became clear to me that this debate strategy was not employed solely by my lab partner. In fact, it can be found in the uppermost echelons of my country’s government, where a perfectly valid criticism of a female senator by a male one can be twisted into a feminist rallying cry against evil, chauvinistic men.
Just as many women are, my female classmate seemed to be aware of how to take advantage of conventional wisdom holding men to be the oppressors of women. Why bother engaging in honest debate when you can simply accuse your male opponent of thinking the way he does because of the patriarchy and toxic masculinity?
Of course, years after the incident I realized that if a crime is believed by society to be committed frequently by men against women, and is difficult to disprove having had occurred, women could use that to their advantage. False accusations of misogynist talking points are relatively benign when compared to false accusations of sexual harassment, domestic abuse, and rape.
While it may be verboten by mainstream society to oppose the modern feminist and social justice movements, as long as they’re as prone to tip their hand as quickly as my lab partner did, there will always be MRAs. As I’ve learned a quarter of a century ago today, all it takes is one glimpse into the inner workings of the feminist’s mindset to understand their power should not go unchecked.