The firing of James Damore has been circulating throughout men’s rights and other social media. The incredibly moderate, and many would argue, pro-feminist stance that James Damore’s memo took has been cited as an example of feminist extremism. Discrimination against men, especially in areas such as technology, is one of the arenas where men’s rights feels most secure based on its incredible obviousness.
This whole scenario actually represents a rather comical turn on De Certeau’s primary conclusions. This is because public intellectual figures such as Dr. Jordan Peterson or Stefan Molyneux, who are tangentially associated with the men’s rights movement, were some of the first people that Damore chose to interview with. Both of these individuals are primarily famous for their Youtube presence, each of whose channels has earned hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Google owns Youtube, and thus current enemy number one for Google, James Damore, has received considerable press, support, and attention from the very strategy that Google created. Google created the strategy that is now being used handily against them with new tactics.
I. Convince people that violence against men and boys is as important of an issue as any other kind of violence.
II. Show the harm that can be caused by domestic abuse of men and boys.
III. Show the horrific effects of domestic violence.
IV. Help viewers see men as people.
V. Humanize male victims of domestic violence.
Recently there has been some conversation on men’s rights social media about the positive nature of the movie, Dunkirk. This is a war movie focusing on the events of Dunkirk during WWII, and in the interest of full-disclosure, I have not watched the movie. These posts however emphasize one of two things, either how positive the emphasis on sacrifice is, or how positive the recognition of sacrifice by males for the rest of society is. I think this is particularly interesting given the popularity of both this movie, and Hacksaw Ridge, both created by famous directors as the culmination of a several year project. Both movies also point out a problem in Habermas in my opinion, or at least something that was missing from our discussion.
Movies represent a serious political discussion but are almost entirely withdrawn from the public eye, instead only reviewed retroactively by total gross revenue. However, the power that the public has over these series have been considerably increased in recent years by the trends of social media (for instance much of modern advertising campaigns are done on social media, for free) and by the trend of movies becoming series. Series involve somewhat of a discussion with audiences, and require serious understanding of what made a movie popular. I think this top-down approach to political discussion was somewhat missing from Habermas’ analysis. Perhaps because while social media has strengthened our ability to communicate and talk about politics, technology like movies, over plays, have decreased our direct interaction with the creators, which additionally might be the reason that the liberal-dominated film industry is dying a painful death; the only survivors are large franchises that must respond to consumer demands, and often target larger audiences by trying to remain unoffensive.
One thing that has been in discussion for men’s rights groups is the meeting that took place between Betsy Devos and several groups identified by some as men’s rights groups, related to the discussion of college sexual assault. This is interesting because it may mean welcoming men’s rights group into a mild position of some power, something historic for the MRAs. One discussion that came into play is the possibility of changing rules that the Obama administration changed, back to their original form. This would increase the standard of proof for college sexual assault cases. This is an interesting example of a group changing from tactics to strategies, since MRAs might gain enough power to actually create strategies. In fact, some are in favor of dismantling federal, college-associated, tribunals of sorts for sexual assault, instead turning power back to police. This would be an example of truly changing strategies. Whether that is done remains to be seen.
One item flowing through Men’s Rights social media circles recently was the occurrence at VidCon last week. Essentially, several people who could be said to be part of the men’s rights movement, notably Sargon of Akkad and other large-audience youtubers, showed up to an event on harassment online being held by Anita Sarkeesian. She called out those audience members for their videos critical of her and her content, which she perceives as harassment. The exchange mostly ended after Sarkeesian called security, who decided not to intervene, since the youtubers had not done anything, not even speaking to Sarkeesian. Many men’s rights groups and twitter feeds appear to be posting things about this, with very little pushback from anyone else. This exchange is an interesting example of some of Corder’s ideas, since both the youtubers and Sarkeesian have deeply conflicting narratives. These incompatible narratives were driven home as questions from the audience criticized Sarkeesian and the other panelists’ ideas on harassment. Neither group tried to understand the other side, and so there was not conversation or dialogue, as Sarkeesian became defensive, and the audience questions clearly attempted no common understanding.
De Certeau’s essay also had interesting implications on this exchange. One of his main distinctions between tactics and strategies was that those who implemented strategies had power, whereas those without power used tactics to use the tools created by the powerful in new and different ways. In this case, the powerful, Anita Sarkeesian, took part in a panel discussion about harassment at a significant public event, VidCon. Meanwhile, the less powerful youtubers, with most of their presence represented by anonymous subscribers online, used the event in a new way, both by simply appearing, and by other people in disagreement with the panel asking tough questions, that the panel often refused to answer. This is a good example of De Certeau’s distinction between tactics and strategy.
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