I Went on a Date With a (Closeted) MRA
I’ve been doing the online dating thing for a while now, but never had I had a date so negatively noteworthy that it affected me for more than a few hours after, until a couple of weeks ago when I found myself on a date with closeted MRA.
I’m on OKCupid (again), Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish and Happn; I go on many dates. Sometimes there’s fiery chemistry and the date lasts for hours and hours. Other times there’s such an absence of any sort of spark or attraction that I genuinely mourn the time wasted. But even the worst date I had had didn’t come close to being as bad or emotionally trying as the one with the closeted MRA.
Now, the “closeted MRA” description is purely my own and based on the conversations we had on our six-hour date. I met him on Bumble and thought he was better looking than the average guy. We had a cheeky, playful repertoire on text and I had fairly high hopes for the date. Hell, I was even looking forward to it.
Everything started off okay. He wasn’t as attractive in person and I didn’t like the way he talked, but I gave it a chance because he seemed to be intelligent and capable of conversing like an adult. We butted heads immediately when talk about military and war came up (he completed the mandatory enlistment in Israel and I’m a staunch anti-military pacifist), but it was amicable. I took him home that night, but he couldn’t keep his erection. So, we took a break to see if it would return in a little while, and this is when we ended up talking about real feminist issues.
I don’t know how we got on to the topic of men’s safety, but we did. He claimed that men get attacked and assaulted more than women do. This fact was verified with a Google search, but he failed to listen when I pointed out that it was also men who committed most of the crimes against men and women alike. This line of talk inevitably led to talk of domestic violence. He claimed that men were victims of domestic violence just as much, if not more, than women—a fact that Google disproved, but he conveniently ignored this. We moved on to talk of parental rights: he said that, unlike women, men could not legally give up their paternal rights, which is actually true in Canada. I agreed with him that that was a sexist law and pointed out that while feminism works to repel gendered laws like that, its first and foremost responsibility is to women. His response to that was, “When feminists champion for men’s rights as much as women’s rights, then I will consider them allies.”
This entitled son of a bitch literally stated that a movement started by women for women to better the lives of women was only worthwhile if it catered to men as well. I was sputtering with anger at that point, and it only got worse when we began talking about abortion rights.
“If women had the option of removing the fetus and letting it grow outside their bodies, would abortion ever still need to be necessary?” He asked me.
“Yes, absolutely,” I replied immediately. “It’s a woman’s right to decide whether she wants a fetus to grow into a child—inside or outside her own body.”
“But if the whole abortion debate is women fighting to control their own bodies and the fetus doesn’t need the woman’s body, then women have nothing to complain about.”
At the time I didn’t really have a response to this except to weakly argue that the last thing the world needed was more kids who needed families and tried to change the topic.
He claimed feminists issues weren’t issues at all because statistics pointed to men being the worse off because women have it better when it comes to employment, education, divorce, child custody and healthcare. I tried to debunk this belief by pointing out how a woman is paid approximately $0.79 for every dollar a man makes (and that’s just white men and women), and this guy smiled the sinister smile of the sort of asshole who gets off on telling little kids that Santa isn’t real and said, “The wage gap is a myth.”
It was two in the morning, I had been up since six am the previous day, I hadn’t gotten laid, and here was a man telling me—a woman of colour—why I had it better than the average white, heterosexual male. I must have looked visibly distraught because this stain on humanity retorted with, “I really love having intellectual debates like this.”
Before this date, I had only encountered people like this guy in the comments sections of feminist websites. It’s one thing to fight against a person like that from the safety of a keyboard where you also have the time to calm yourself after hearing wildly sexist opinions, but it’s wholly another experience to meet the beast face to face. The people—mostly men—who genuinely believe that women have more rights nowadays because feminism has done its job do exist; they aren’t just internet trolls. They are as passionate about this as I am about my feminism, and i’m damn passionate.
In his great article on Everyday Feminism, Andrew Hernann disproves these common men’s rights arguments by pointing out that it’s the patriarchy that is responsible for all the strifes that men suffer—and they do suffer, of course. However, Hermann is also adamant to point out that women suffer more. The issues that most men’s rights activists claim to support—the Canadian law that disallows men to give up parental rights, the domestic violence that men also face, the high rate of male suicides that are likely the result of undiagnosed mental illnesses—are already being fought for by feminists. Feminism is fighting the patriarchy, which is the source of all these problems and what few men seem to realise is that the patriarchy is not a pseudonym for “all men.”
This horrendous date left me shaken. I fell into a depressive rut for a week following, self-harmed for the first time in months because I had the epiphany that despite how much progress feminism has made, we are still miles and miles away from achieving the goals of intersectional feminism. It’s exhausting enough being a woman who is “woke” enough to realise the state of the world and while there is a healthy group of us championing for equality, there’s still such a long, long way to go. We’re only just now starting to even recognize and accept that women aren’t all oppressed in the same way—that race, has a lot to do with it and that amongst racial minorities, there are even more hierarchies of oppression.
A Black woman is not opressed the same way as a Latina woman. As a brown woman, I am not oppressed in the same way as an Asian woman; my mother, a light-skinned South Asian woman, isn’t oppressed in the same way her light-skinned mother in Pakistan is oppressed. Many people think that all doesn’t matter, which only goes to show how far we actually are from the goals of feminism. The acknowledgement that oppression isn’t a uniform experience is crucial for any social justice warrior because it’s the only way we’ll be able to come up with the unique solutions each of these situations requires.
Women like me who are loud and unapologetic about pointing out the problems in society are regularly hounded, harassed and even assaulted, simply for daring to speak out and point out how fucked up things really are and how we’ve gone long enough in ignorance. Sure we’ve made great strides and are a long way from our foremothers, but the battle is far from over. What we need are egos—of all genders—to be put aside. We need to see the world as it is not only from our individual points of view, but as a whole society. Only then will we be able to accurately pinpoint and begin to really solve the problems. We need more progress, and men like my fruitless date and the alarming number of seemingly well-adjusted men who hold similar views are only creating more problems and unnecessarily prolonging the battle. And, I’m embarrassed and disheartened to say that I’m starting to get tired of fighting.