At left: The Five of Wands (strife) from the Rider-Waite tarot deck.
In this corner, we have The Good Men's Project, a 'men's blog' that is not exactly a Men's Rights blog, but is not exactly NOT a Men's Rights blog. Some feminists blogged there... or used to. (Getting ahead of myself.) Last year around this time, there was a notable Twitter squabble among one of the male writers and several well-known feminists, which made the rounds. As a result, from that point onward, GMP was pointedly not known as a feminist blog, even though they did publish the work of feminists and addressed feminist ideas.
Recently, GMP published two very disturbing posts. The first was titled Nice guys commit rape too (really?) by Alyssa Royse, and the second was titled I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Quit Partying by an anonymous male author. The last piece came with a caveat:
Editor’s note: This is a difficult article to read, and to publish. It is a frank, open confession about a certain commonly-accepted form of rape culture, and readers with rape triggers should probably avoid reading it. We at the Good Men Project do not endorse or support the author’s worldview, but it does speak to a very common experience that is often taken for granted and rarely talked about, except in vague and theoretical terms. We thank the author for being willing to speak openly about it, and share his struggle with his own experiences, though we want to make very clear that we do not agree with his conclusions.And with that, everyone was off to the races.
GMP also offered some follow-up to the hoopla: Giving a Rapist a Public Platform. Alyssa Royse commented further on Facebook about the foofaraw (you knew I would use that word, didn't you?) and was duly quoted on the Yes Means Yes blog. My favorite feminist blogger at GMP (Ozy Frantz) has since departed in disgusted.
The brawl continues. Jill Filipovic at Feministe weighed in, thusly:
The Good Men Project has really stepped in some shit here, with the initial “My friend is a rapist but he’s a good guy because the girl he raped was kind of a slut sending him mixed messages” post by Alyssa Royse. They knew they stepped in shit. Instead of trying to clean it up, they rolled around in it. They doubled down with the follow-up anonymous piece by an admitted rapist with no plans of stopping, and the follow-up to that of the GMP justifying its decision to post the rapists’ piece and the ensuing MRA-fest in the comments.A major aspect of this problem is the echo chamber that develops on successful, contemporary 'big blogs'...which seems to happen inevitably, regardless of the particular blog-focus. Christian blogs do not allow atheist input, or at least greet the atheists with condescension and censorship. Atheist blogs belittle and insult the Christians. There is no dialogue. Feminist blogs prize agreement and empathy, banning the Men's Rights Advocates in short order; debate is hardly possible, or even desired. Feminists who dare to comment on Men's Rights Blogs (raises a bloody hand in witness) can get called stupid hags and bitches, and summarily driven off. There is no dialogue.
And yes, I am feeding into it. I seriously considered ignoring it until I saw how many pageviews they get (and I suspect, by the way, that their writers and editors are paid by the pageview, incentivizing this kind of bullshit). Some of their writers and editors are currently complaining that I am “bullying” them and trying to take them down and destroy them. If only I had that kind of power! Just for the record, they get like 10 times the traffic Feministe does. We may have more credibility in the feminist blogosphere because they’ve chosen to repeatedly torch theirs, but we are not the Goliath here. They have an audience of men who think that the GMP is a marginally feminist, progressive site.
GMP tried to have the dialogue. They tried to bring the various schools-of-thought together, and it got dicey. In the end, we see which side has prevailed, but I doubt this situation would have happened if they were not trying to have it both (all) ways. Then again, I understand why they wanted the big numbers, the huge readership; this is the way one establishes oneself as a Major Blog to be Reckoned With. Undoubtedly, internet-stardom beckoned, and they saw pundit-gigs for themselves at MSNBC, dancing in their heads.
Too much, too soon.
Some are calling for a boycott of the site (there goes MSNBC!)... others are seriously deconstructing the pieces in question. From The Belle Jar, come these astute observations about the anonymous post:
I want to be thoughtful about this. I know that I should be. I should say that this man clearly has addiction issues and needs help. I should offer him my support, because he is also a rape victim. I should be kind, forgiving, generous. But I can’t. I can’t do any of those things to someone who is an unapologetic rapist, someone who is clear on the fact that he will rape again. Someone who views rape as a “trade-off” for having a good time.And that is just plain ugly. There is no getting around it. But GMP continues to try to do just that, in decidedly unpleasant ways. The head-perps at GMP appear patently unable to learn from this debacle.
Rape is not something inevitable that happens because you’re partying too hard, because you drink to excess, or because you’re having too much fun. Rape is a choice that this man makes. This man knows that his drinking and partying will lead to having sex with a partner who cannot consent, and yet continues to do so. This man is an unapologetic rapist.
In addition, they do not seem to want to consider the long-term ramifications of their musings, as anti-violence blogger Roger Canaff sternly warned:
I’m sorry, but the issues at work here are far less complicated than you are attempting to make them. And forgive me, but when you attempt to make them more complicated you are putting more women (and some men) in danger. That’s right- that’s my contention. What you’re doing here is creating an elaborate cocktail party conversation with many willing participants about a highly misunderstood and controversial issue. But instead of clearing the air, you’re darkening it. In so doing, you are in fact being an apologist for the relatively few but highly prolific rapists out there who depend on a well-intended but foolish obfuscation of their crystal-clear intent. Please refrain.~*~
At the same time, it's worth asking: how can we have exciting big blogs that do not turn into boring, repetitive echo chambers? Eventually, they always drive off the people who disagree, and then paint themselves into just this kind of ideological corner... or end up printing something extreme, offensive, and/or ridiculous that becomes known as just A STUNT. (I am thinking also of PZ Myers' deliberate desecration of the Eucharist, and his proud "I'm a bad, bad boy!" post about it, which sounded borderline-deranged.) Were these posts intended simply to get attention and shock, in the same way? LOOK AT US, WE ARE THE BRAVE FRINGE! Punk rock's been done, yall. (Even the Marquis de Sade desecrated the host already, and you might be able to imagine the creative ways he thought up, to do that.) It's all been done already, and lots better.
I keep wondering if these stunts are due to the siphoning-off of blog hits; the fact that blogs might be winding down in importance due to the rise of social media. As I have written before, people want comfy social media, or BIG blogs with lots of high-profile, superstar bloggers, brainstorming and accompanying hoopla. The GMP is possibly now collapsing under this weight. Subtle ideas and thoughtful opinions about social issues and collective change, are pretty boring in these days of Fox News and school-shootings. Those of us toiling in the trenches are not the big story.
And that's too bad, isn't it? Since I always thought we were.