Having Been Human
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Thu Jul 12 17:08:59 2012
Inside the mind of men's righters

I spend a lot of time arguing with MRA (Men's Rights Advocates), considerably more time than I do with other problematic groups (racists, libertarians, third-wave activists, and so on). I get the impression that they generally see society as something they leave home to go out into, deal with other people's rules for as long as they can, and then retreat into "their castle". That castle, and the family housed within, are inviolate and a source of safety. It's frustrating because unlike most of these other philosophies, breaking the worldview involves breaking a lifestyle; just like with the other philosophies I argue against, I consider it something to study and break (for example, with libertarians some of the best arguments are thought-experiments where people have a wide range of legal rights that they lack the funds to exercise, for third-wavers exposing the arrogance behind discoursive use of the word "privilege" works as well as bringing up the older philosophical concept of a privileged/default argument, and with racists getting personal and talking about family often puts them in a tough spot). Still, how do we move people from a "homebase" model to one where they see safety in the kindness of society? My attempts to argue that no family can be safe from a completely hostile society have never gone down well; it was a predictable failure as showing "there's no way you can be safe enough that way" just makes them more scared based on how they currently see the world.

I can hold my own with any of these groups, and generally only move against foundations when I know someone's going to listen (either to the real me or a sockpuppet; some people have weird qualifications for who they think is allowed to have an opinion, and fake selves are necessary to get around such nonsense), as it's a long conversation to really get past the surface layers, I need to make them feel safe by showing I'm openminded and civil and won't push ideas at them faster than they can respond. I still don't know how to deconstruct MRAs in a way that can lead to convincing. Still thinking about other angles.

I have recently made quite a bit of headway in pulling someone out of the third wave, based on recent work at deconstruction the discourse-standards and theory of that; I have no idea if she'll go back or not, but I think it's shown that provided someone's still single-activism-enough on whatever their activism is and provided they're willing to listen, I have a method that can work. It's probably not as good as the means I have to pull people out of libertarianism yet, although libertarian-philosopher-types are probably always going to be easier both because they're pushing against natural human empathy and because they pride themselves in being able to out-argue others through sheer persistence; they're already primed towards trying to outtalk me, and tossing them a few bones to make them feel safe makes them open up quickly.