“confessions of a former MRA”
Reader BraveGamgee — who drew the Angry Woman Power Beaver — sent me an interesting email recently, which I am reprinting here with his permission:
I’ve been a longtime reader (about 12 years, I think), and have been itching to write to you for the longest time. You see, I owe you a debt of thanks helping to change the way that I think of women (and in turn, men as well). I grew up in a small Mennonite community, and was surrounded by a way of thinking that definitely put men in charge, and had women in the “supporting roles”. There was nothing to contradict it, except for one girl I went to school with who identified herself as a feminist. Unfortunately, the principles she stood for weren’t truly feminist. She liked to say that everything men said was stupid and/or evil, and that all men should die. As this was the only thing I had to go on in regards to feminism, I was fiercely against it. I rallied against anything she said, and eventually came to think of myself as a Men’s Rights Activist. I honestly didn’t even know this was a thing outside of myself. I was just dick-headed enough to think that I was the only one who knew how truly downtrodden men were, and that women weren’t respecting the “sovereignty of men” (disgusting, I know. Please bear with me).
Around 12 years ago (shortly after I graduated university), I stumbled upon your site. I was so incredibly annoyed with you, at first. For disliking movies that I liked. For focussing so much on representation of women rather than just enjoying the films for what they were. But then… well… I decided to pay attention to the things you said were problematic in movies. I mean, I focussed on these things only so that I could prove you were imagining things (gosh, I was a dick. I realize now that thinking that women’s problems were all things they imagined was part of that patriarchal society I grew up in). But yeah, I had a mission. I was gonna study this, and prove you wrong. But the more I watched for it in films, the more I realized that you were right. It took me a few years to identify as a feminist, because that word had such a horrible connotation to me. But now I am so gung-ho about feminism. I still have many MRA friends, but have slowly been turning several of them into feminists over the years.
You are one of my heroes, MaryAnn. I know that every time an MRA douchebag comments on your site, it seems useless to respond to him. But please know that you may just have the most amazing effect on their life. You rule.
I asked BraveGamgee if I might post this because (as I told him) things are very bad with me right now: I’m very disheartened over the lack of interest that the Where Are the Women Project? has gotten, and I’m debating what to do now with the six-month duration of the project coming up (but that’s a post for another day). I’m once again seriously considering having to give up writing about film because I’m really tired of being broke and living like a student at my age. It often doesn’t seem like I have much of an impact and that I’m wasting my time. So it was nice to hear from someone that my work hasn’t been totally in vain.
I would be very interested in hearing other stories like BraveGamgee’s, even if you prefer that I not post them.