Background Preamble / Getting to Know the Problem
As I stated earlier, I've been reading all about gender issues again. This is something that's been on my radar for a long time. I think I first became cognizant of the true extent of misandry and downright unfairness in American society around the time my parents were divorcing in 2001. I have distinct memories of reconciling the giant biological motivators of puberty with the sobering truths (that were pretty self-evident, even in my limited experience with girls in school) offered by a man I knew only on the internet as NiceGuy. I remember, clearly, reading NiceGuy's articles while staying in my dad's trailer shortly after he and my mother divorced, but shortly before my dad pretty much permanently removed himself from my life by moving to California.
I followed NiceGuy as best I could over the next year or two, but eventually I succumbed to depression after having my heart wrenched around by women. Perhaps I will write about my memories of that time at some later date - I've been trying to unearth some kind of written record from back then (as I tend to prefer to rely on facts rather than my faulty and fragile memory) but to no avail. One thing I do remember was an intense desire - that was inevitably dashed - to escape my mother and move in with my father down in California before my freshman year. This disappointment only exacerbated my sullen mood. In any case, I lost sight of gender issues again until my junior year in high school.
Literally the day before junior year began, I was dumped by my first (and so far only) girlfriend. I detailed this as it happened to me. That summary was written only two days after the break up. I did not end up so much bitter at her or beholding of a grudge towards her as I wound up completely unable to trust women even in the most platonic of relationships. For the rest of my life up until literally about now, my feelings were mine alone, perhaps to be shared with my closest male friends who I knew understood me and were bereft of ulterior motives that would poison my trust.
My natural reaction at the time was to attempt to get back into a relationship - after all, I had been denied affection my entire life (hating to be hugged by my mother) and even if I had refused to have sex with Haley, I still found physical affection with a woman to be intoxicating. I was able to appreciate the way I had felt with Haley even if the circumstances of our breakup and the fact she had been cheating on me and lying to me had poisoned those memories somewhat. I was young and willing to try again. But I was not stupid and I was not willing to be hurt again. In my new search, I began to pay a lot more attention to the attitudes of my potential romantic partners.
I came from an extremely liberal area of the country - in one of the larger townships north of Seattle. Therefore, I was completely inundated in a culture that told me I was to blame for all of society's ills, as a white male. And no group was quicker to regard me as a villain than females (I did not fail to note the irony of white females taking absolutely no responsibility for the guilt society tried to shove on me for our decidedly shared ancestry, instead being perfectly content to aid in the pushing). It seems my subconscious memories of NiceGuy's wisdom began to surface and I started questioning all it was I had been taught.
I had always been fed up with school, also, feeling like I had been doing all of my "real" learning on the internet, talking to people who were sometimes twice my age. School I felt was a means to an end - a guarantor of some nebulous future concept of success that I had to tolerate if I wanted to "get anywhere" - but I became increasingly disillusioned with the entire education system. This all came to a head when I was told I had to do a "protest" project for my AP Language class. I was incensed at the idea that I had to protest something - I didn't care enough to be angry and whiny like all those vapid idiots that protested trivial bullshit that didn't matter all day long in our streets! I was initially inclined to protest the project itself, but I decided for a more devious option.
I decided to protest feminism.
I was able to convince a male classmate to tackle this monumental beast with me. Teachers who respected me advised me against it, called it crazy. I took the project very seriously. I bought two or three full length books and read them cover to cover, highlighting the juicy parts. I wrote Jack Kammer and even got an autographed copy of his book with words of encouragement. I tried to have civil debates with females in the library and what have you, and felt vindicated every time I was shouted down by their senseless and shrill accusations I was a rapist bigot. (Rapist? I've barely hugged women, thank you.)
I crafted my essay and showed off my video project - my partner was sick and wasn't there to do the presentation with me. The video was a satirical look at men struggling to deal with the realities of going to a feminist college that was completely unfulfilling to them. It resonated with many of the males in the class, who asked if I had been taking years of video editing classes. (Nah. Just had a clear vision and went with it.) I received an A on the essay and a B on the presentation from a very liberal male instructor (at least men can be reasoned with!) but I don't think I changed the mind of a single female in the class.
My research for the project left me extremely disillusioned with education as an institution. I did not want to believe the facts that I had unearthed, but everything I had experienced in life corroborated them. I was able to find a college that seemed untainted by this increasingly frustrating and frightening agenda and was even accepted, without having to finish my high school diploma (a rare honor that was probably secured due in part to very strong letter of recommendation from Mr. Michel, one of the best teachers and mentors I've ever had).
The catch? In order to qualify for financial aid for this institution, I had to get both of my parents to file paperwork they were completely disinterested in filing. Neither of them were cooperative. I think my mom finally acquiesced but the college never did receive the paperwork from my father, who was in California and impossible to get a hold of. And I was told that even if I legally emancipated myself from my parents, the law mandated that their incomes still be factored into any assessment for financial aid I might have.
I had previously tried to be reasonable with my mother and offer her a compromise where I would stay in Bellingham and try to mend our broken relationship if she allowed me to move out of the house. Rather than be reasonable, she accused me of (among other things) constantly playing the victim and completely incapable of taking care of myself. I would never, ever again try to reason with her. When my hopes to go to St. John's College had been dashed, I quickly turned to a friend, Nathan, for help. Nathan had always been a very good friend to me. (He is 9 years my senior and has a family of his own, and in some ways, I feel as though I am a part of his extended family. I initially met him in Bellingham, but in short order he moved back to the place of his birth - Utah.) He understood why I felt the need to get out of my house and said he would allow me to stay with him for a time in Utah until I could get a job and apartment of my own.
So, at the age of 17, I packed everything I owned (purchased with money I had earned working part-time since I was 15) into two or three boxes and drove with Nate to Utah to start what I hoped would be a new and more fulfilling life, free of the toxic influence of my mother.
Glossing over many interesting details, Utah did not solve any of my problems. I assumed the problem must exist with me, that I was somehow flawed. I needed to do something drastic to improve myself, I thought, and so I (for many, many complicated and complex reasons I will treat another time) decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.
About this time last year, I went on leave after graduating the final phase of my year long training process before going to my first duty station in Japan. I saw my brother for the first time in five years. My brother had been my idol and only parent growing up, and watching him spiral downwards into alcoholism affected me in untold ways. He had finally met a woman he was going to settle down with, and apparently kicked his habit, and he even had a child! My leave was to be a joyous reunion and the celebration of a new nephew named after me.
Instead, I got embroiled in a bitter and brewing custody battle. I spent my nights writing forum posts (let me know if that link works - somehow my IP address has been banned from that forum!) and emailing Dr. Warren Farrell to see if he would serve as an expert witness in the event of litigation my brother might have to get into. Much to my surprise, Dr. Farrell responded within 24 hours of my emailing him, and was more than willing to help if it came to it. I was planning on spending the entirety of my $15,000 enlistment bonus to help my brother if need be. This was my nephew, and I wasn't going to see him mistreated. Even at this time, it seemed like men's advocacy groups were in a minority on the net.
The situation never required litigation, thankfully, and my brother has maintained custody of my nephew. The situation was stressful but fulfilling. It felt good to help my brother. I felt like maybe it was the time to reconcile with my mother, that maybe the whole family could heal by uniting behind my brother and supporting our nephew. I decided to go visit my mother at home.
I was disappointed to learn that my mother did not trust my brother and was still angry with him over disappointments from the past. What's more, she completely denied and decried all of my memories of growing up in her home as ridiculous (even though I corroborated and attempted to temper them with written records like journals, emails and forum posts I'd made during the time, and conversation with my brother).
Mine has been a life characterized by isolation, an infinitely repeating loop of trauma, trying to forget that trauma and once it was forgotten trying to remember it once again. My memory is awful, likely as a subconscious coping strategy to block out pain that would render me immobile for days. In Utah, I remember reading a book that rendered me paralytic for a whole day because of how it resonated with my tremendous and inexpressible pain.
I did some other things on leave that I'll also have to write about later, but which resulted in me feeling like I was ready to try and enter the uncertain world of male-female relations once again. I had isolated myself for a long time (my entire enlistment thus far) from women and from thoughts of gender bias. I had thought that perhaps I was wrong and that previously I had just been buying into a crazy and bigoted world view.
I joined a dating website with the hopes of finding a woman to connect with. Over the past twelve months, I have had conversations with over 300 women from that website that have only served to completely corroborate the facts asserted by men's rights advocates. Recently, I rediscovered NiceGuy's page, and very recently, I decided to start exploring the forums, which led to me finding all sorts of links to a burgeoning men's movement that seems to have cropped up almost overnight.
I spent the past few days reading all these various websites almost religiously, finding catharsis in knowing that I am not alone and that I am not crazy, at the very least. All of these sites and blogs and forums and statistics are excellent at articulating The Problem. I am assuming you already know what I am talking about - if you don't, get acquainted. This is as good a starting point as any, with a well written posts and a billion links to explore for some more of the same. But, I need more than just catharsis and camaraderie. I need a...
There doesn't seem to be too much written about solutions to The Problem. Granted, I have not fully groked the "men going their own way" movement, but it seems at best an embrace of being single. This does not seem like it will fix our society or civilization. Another common solution, and the one NiceGuy adopted all the way back in 2002, is to leave America altogether for greener pastures. While I cannot blame him for going somewhere where he will be more appreciated, if all of our best leave, who is going to pick up the mess? How many innocents will suffer because all of the best people have left to get what they understandably deserve?
No, I can't just up and abandon America. And I don't want to advocate a life of eternal single hood and possible celibacy - I don't think that's an advocacy that can catch on. America was founded on principles I agree with and I do not want to think it is completely beyond salvaging. I am not so optimistic or naive to hope that I will be able to fix everything that is wrong with America in my lifetime, or to enjoy the fruits of my labor, for instance. But that is not why I choose to stay.
America, and indeed, all civilization, was built on the backs of many quiet sacrifices. Every generation sacrifices for the next so that things will be better. If we all pursue only our own happiness, then our species would surely go extinct. So, it seems as though it is necessary for some capable people to answer a veritable call to arms, even if it means they stand to personally gain little in the process. We need realistic and practical alternatives to abandoning women or abandoning nation.
What can be done? I propose that we need to develop and adopt a new philosophical outlook towards life and towards relating to others that is more mindful of the interconnectedness of all people, or at least certainly of all people in a given community. It should be easy to articulate, easy to understand, and demonstrable by easily observed examples. I will devote some energy to thinking about and distilling such a philosophy.
But philosophy alone won't fix this. There will also need to be some kind of activism. Some of us, to include I believe myself, are so damaged by what has happened that we are quite literally unable to trust women. Even women who may be our allies in this fight. That being said, I think it is best for those of us who are so damaged to not talk to women about these things, if we can help it. Our bitterness and resentment will likely seep through and poison our purpose, turning allies against us before they even get the chance to fight with us. We should instead focus our intentions on the still young generation of boys who are still salvageable. If we are able to rescue them, perhaps their successes will provide us with a measure of happiness and resolution and we will then be able to ease our way back into reasonable conversation with the other gender. If not, as I said, we should find satisfaction in our sacrifice to instruct and save the next generation of males from the perils and unnecessary trauma we went through. Were it not for such quiet and sometimes ultimate sacrifices occurring throughout all of human history, we wouldn't be here anyway.
The idea is that we need to find a purpose that doesn't just provide us with a reason for living, but also a reason for dying if necessary. A purpose that, regardless of whatever else we may achieve in life, the pursuit of will be good enough for us even if we do not reap the benefits of its attainment. Necessarily, this is hard decision to make, and I do not expect many will be able to make it. But I will do my best to do this. It is not so different from my duty as a United States Marine. In the words of Kierkegaard: "The thing is to find...the idea for which I can live and die." I think this is one such idea.