Men's rights activists, MRAs, or meninists: sadboys who are often dismissed as being a "fringe group" of basement dwellers who blame women for their emotional arrested development.
But these men are far from the fringe — they are loud and they are violent, as evidenced by killers Elliot Rodger and Christopher Harper-Mercer — two young men who lived and breathed the misogynistic ideology of these groups, and ultimately took others' lives because of it.
Men's rights activists take to forums on 4chan and other Internet hellholes in order to lament about the progress of marginalized people. The successes of anyone else (e.g. women, people of color), is perceived as an attack on their existences.
MRAs especially hate feminists, who they blame for just about everything. Take fighting against traditional gender roles, for instance. Gender roles not only hurt women, who become limited to what's "expected" of their gender, but they hurt men, too. MRAs usually don't understand that, except what could only be described a miracle happened.
One former MRA recently discovered that actually, both feminists and MRAs are technically fighting for the same things.
In a powerful piece for MEL, Edwin Hodge, who called himself a men's rights activist in his early twenties, details his dissent from the movement, and how he eventually found feminism.
Hodge said that he was first introduced to "men's rights" when he stumbled upon a book about it called "Spreading Misandry."
"I was in that strange, formative period when you’re trying to find your adult identity, flirting with contrarian worldviews, so I thought, What the hell? I’ll read this." he told MEL.
Hodge became pretty engrossed in the subject, and connected with other men online who felt similarly — some of them had even more extreme views than him. In fact, some said that feminists should be killed.
In retrospect, Hodge says that this anti-feminist book and others like it preyed on his fragile emotional state.
"Later, I discovered I suffer from clinical depression," he wrote. "There’s lot of literature on how socially extremist groups — such as men’s rights or white supremacy — exploit young men whose lives are in turmoil, their beliefs in conflict. Spreading Misandry was a recruitment piece and I was an easy target."
But it wasn't until Hodge enrolled in Intro to Gender Theory that he began to shed his former MRA views.
"I read [the assigned books] and it didn’t take long for my men’s rights beliefs to start falling away," he said. "They didn’t stand up to all the empirical evidence I was finally reading — research that was informed by feminist theory and offered actual solutions.
"The only emotions we’re allowed are anger and joy, and in a precious few instances, we’re allowed to cry — like if our sports team loses. As an MRA, I always believed it was women and feminism putting men in this box. But these feminist texts not only validated the crisis of masculinity, they pointed out men are the biggest policers of masculinity."
Finally, Hodge found that what MRAs actually need isn't 4chan forums to vent their frustration — they need feminism:
MRAs and feminists were acknowledging the same problems, but the MRAs weren’t locating the right cause. The feminists pointed out, “No, actually this is rooted in the same patriarchal institutions that are harming women.” It was subtle but profound.
And feminism showed that men of color and queer men experience the world differently than the straight white men who dominate MRA groups and assume all men are fundamentally the same and like them.
I realized all the arguments about male oppression I had bought into were weak. And all the evidence I needed was in feminism.
But still, in his infinite #wokeness now, Hodge adds that the transformation definitely didn't happen overnight.
"I’ve been dating the same woman since 2004, and, oh god, I must’ve gotten on her nerves back then," he said.
You can check out Edwin Hodge's entire piece here, as-told-to John McDermott.