An Objectivist’s Case for Men’s Rights Advocacy
It’s been roughly over a decade since I’ve more or less taken a critical stance against contemporary feminism. In retrospect a large part of the reason I’ve opposed it was that in my mind, feminism relied heavily on collectivism and tribalism to promote its ideology, and I’ve seen early on enough telltale signs of its rampant misandry as shown in the college I attended as well as outside it, one idea circulating among students being “Schrodinger’s Rapist”, basically a way of saying all men are potential rapists. Mind you, these weren’t radical feminist students promoting this idea, but regular run of the mill students, usually women. I didn’t realize the impact of this at the time, but looking back this was a way radical feminist ideology crept into the mainstream via the college culture. Despite my acknowledgement of the existence of so-called “individualist feminists” even then, I had no doubts in my mind that they were far from the status quo.
It has likewise been about a decade since I’ve established myself as both individualist and libertarian in one form or another. Although I’ve been a gigantic fan of Ayn Rand and her works, which I still identify myself as to this day, I didn’t classify myself as Objectivist until early 2013, after a great deal of thought on the subject. In any case, the decade was largely spent on preoccupation with individualism in terms of economic matters as well as philosophical.
It was not until the latter part of 2019 that I opened up to more serious problems regarding male-female relations in society and the creep of radical feminist ideas more and more into mainstream thought, not long after the advent of #MeToo and bromides such as “toxic masculinity” became household terms as it seemed. I had previously hoped to remain in a “neutral” position where I could pursue the advocacy of the dignity of the individual without resorting to sex-based collectivism as I perceive feminism had fallen into basically from its inception. Until I involved myself in hearing out the positions of the Men’s Rights Movement, I perhaps had misgivings about the MRM – that, they were going to make the same mistakes feminists have been making. I consider myself to have been wrong, and I will detail how I have come to the position that I, as an individualist and more specifically an Objectivist, can also classify myself as an advocate for Men’s Rights, with the philosophies hand in hand.
Alleged Value in Disposability
Even as I had immersed myself in an antifeminist perspective, one concern I had was the hardline traditionalist bent taken by many critical of feminism. While they have indeed defended men, too often they base their appraisal of men based on the fact that men have sacrificed – for society, culture, family – their resources and their entire beings. Always the appraisal based on what they have given, sacrificed, lost, and mutilated themselves, for the sake of others. Always the appraisal based on their self-sacrifice, and not how they have attained and achieved for their own sake. Men apparently receive praise strictly for being disposable, and not for valuing themselves.
My eyes opened up to how vastly encompassing the idea of gynocentrism was no matter who’s promoting it – be it a feminist or a “tradwife”. Whereas I had understood the existence of gynocentrism in some form previously but admittedly took for granted how prevalent it was, I was now understanding that it can’t go unaddressed.
I was fortunate to have encountered minds that cared for Men’s Issues while also being critical of the traditionalist gynocentrism that affects even many antifeminists. I was glad that the idea of disposability and the idea of male pressure for self-sacrifice was actually being addressed seriously by those in the Men’s Movement.
I would like to take a few steps further than what I’ve seen thus far in the Men’s Movement, however, in addressing a commonality between it and Objectivism, and that is the objection to a man’s treatment and expectation as a sacrificial being. In addressing the problem of alleged value in valuelessness, that is, value in disposability for a man, I think we can find common advocacy for a man’s dignity as an individual, not sacrificed to the expectations for others.
The idea of sacrifice has long been praised as an act of good and an act of heroism by society…at least, it seems, when society is the beneficiary of such a sacrifice. In recent years, Jordan Peterson (a man whom I admire and respect in many ways and I consider myself a fan of on the whole) had been speaking vastly on the idea of sacrifice as a necessity to move forward with their lives. I will talk more on Jordan Peterson and my agreements and disagreements with him hopefully more in detail in future essays, but for now I will say that his appraisal of sacrifice is a major point of contention on my part.
Consider the quote by Ayn Rand in Galt’s Speech in her novel Atlas Shrugged, “If you exchange a penny for a dollar, it is not a sacrifice; if you exchange a dollar for a penny, it is.” When I first read this in my initial immersion into Rand’s works, I had a hard time integrating it and understanding its pertinence. Over the years in my efforts to understand fundamentals about capitalism and free markets, I had come to realize that the quote exemplifies the very idea of any given trade, assuming it is done voluntarily.
In a trade, we really do transact in a way similar to the quote. Using an example particular to myself, I pay $15 for a certain Magic: the Gathering card I really want, say a “Mind Over Matter”. That “Mind Over Matter” is almost like a $20 bill for instance that I am trading in for my $15. I make a transaction where I give something I want less, for something I want more than my $15. Else the transaction would never have been agreed to. Such is the nature of trade, and profit.
It is my guess that the analogy of trade is the basis on the advocates of sacrifice, such as Peterson, make their case. In their minds, a sacrificial offering, often something of high value, is given in exchange for what they think is something higher. This may seem consistent at first, until we consider just who is collecting these sacrificial offerings.
A sacrifice, consistently, seems to take the pattern of a subject offering something of potentially immense value to appease an entity or entities that the subject is beholden to. The entity or entities offers nothing much in return except its own current contentment, and perhaps at best the prevention of a loss on the part of the subject. I am constantly reminded about fantasy scenarios about villages sacrificing one of their virgins to appease some dragon or demon so that their village may live another year.
A sacrifice, as I see it, is distinct from a proper trade. A trade is by its very nature profitable on both ends, assuming again that it was conducted voluntarily and without coercion. A sacrifice however has the element of the beholden – something of value exchanged with something that the subject is better off without; in other words, less valuable.
Who do the practitioners of sacrifice bestow their offerings to? A collective good? Others for the sake of beings others, by virtue of not being yourself? Ungrateful mobs whom you should never apologize to but you keep on doing so as they keep making more demands?
Peterson consistently makes the case that you get to “pick your damn sacrifice”. It seems to me that every important step such a person takes in their life involves a sacrifice, with the ability to choose one’s sacrifice being the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, as it were. But it also seems to me that people who accompany every important action and decision in their life with a sacrifice cannot act without sacrificing more and more, like one who sacrifices their health more and more with each dose of a hard drug. Again, perhaps we should consider who is collecting and benefiting from these sacrificial offerings. In a free trade, both sides exchange a penny for a dollar. If you catch yourself exchanging a dollar for a penny, take a hard look at why you are doing it, and whether you shouldn’t instead forsake the one you’re making the transaction to.
Sacrifice is one side benefitting at the expense of a subject that consoles himself that it’s survived another day.
Gynocentrism – The Collector of Spoils
Now, WHY was any of the above pertinent to men’s issues when it may seem like a variant of an economics lesson? Simple – a calling out of the idea that a man has value only because of his sacrifice. Again, I do in fact praise Jordan Peterson for being a major voice on the behalf of males that has gained the acceptance he did. However, if anybody talks a lot of sacrifice it is he, and by and large the traditionalist take on male and female relations calls for male sacrifice for society, culture, family, and importantly, women. Gynocentrism is the premise that males make sacrificial offerings of their values and themselves entirely, beholden to female collectors.
It appears to me that the only difference between a feminist and a traditionalist is that the traditionalist purports to thank the male for their disposability.
What if a man were to say, “No thanks, I don’t elect to be disposable and at the beck and call of women or society or culture, I am going to pursue my own goals”? Well, he would rather immediately be branded a loser and either dismiss them altogether or demand that they become, in essence, a cog who owes his services to society, to culture, to family. And no, I am the farthest thing from anti-family but we’ll get to that.
To not further beat around the bush, I will call gynocentrism for what it really is – a call for male altruism.
But being altruistic and selfless is good, most of you reading this might say! I do note that incredibly intelligent people who make great points seem to think so. But this is a huge point of disagreement I have with them, and I am not sorry for that. By now you should realize why this essay is entitled “An Objectivist’s Case for Men’s Rights Advocacy”, not merely “An Individualist’s Case etc”.
Altruism, “altruisme” coined by Auguste Comte, can be thought of as made from “alter” meaning “other.” Altruism is literally “otherism”. This “otherism” can be thought of to mean service of others at the expense of the self. Hence this “otherism” is synonymous with selflessness, that is, devoid of the involvement of self. The self doesn’t factor in, with the exception of its strict absence.
Imagine defining selflessness, contextualized again for emphasis as “devoid of the involvement of self”, as “compassion”, “brotherly love”, “interested in others”, and even morality itself. This defines the act of kindness, compassion, and love as something in which a self is completely uninvolved, meaning it is conducted beholden to the demands and whims of others. But that’s what’s been going on for so long and it is basically second nature to the majority of people on the planet to think of kindness as an act in which self is not involved, for selfishness is supposedly evil.
Moreover, the selfless act of “otherism” is something we seem to be told to do because it is right by virtue of it not being for one’s own self-interests. It stops being selfless altogether if the practitioner derives any sort of gain, and gain for the self and not the other is condemned on this basis. The gynocentric demand that males dispose themselves selflessly so they can sacrifice for the gynocentric society is an act of “otherism” in action.
Society bemoans the selfishness and individualism of one they demand as a sacrifice, but odd is it not, that nobody seems to bemoan the “selfishness” of those collecting the spoils?
“Me Me Me” is about Altruism, Not Selfishness
One thing I appear to have at odds with the rest of is the context thereby which feminists are described as the ones going “Me Me Me”. I don’t disagree with the fact that feminists and SJW types endlessly prattle “Me Me Me”. What is do disagree with is the subsequent disdain of it as if it were some twisted form of individualism or selfishness and that the solution is to partake in “otherism”.
When anybody decries the alleged “selfishness” of one person, it is usually accompanied by a kind of “What about me??” spoken aloud or not. I would go ahead and call this “Me Me Me” phenomenon a “Whataboutmeism” (not to be confused with “Whataboutism”). In decrying the individual selfishly pursuing his own goals for himself, the decrier demands that the individual instead direct his energy towards others, the decrier usually being the first of the others. Nobody seems to be going after the “selfishness” of this weasel-like moocher parasite demanding that others do things for him, instead of taking responsibility for his own life.
If taken seriously the following won’t jive too much with the Objectivist appraisal of the idea of selfishness (or rational egoism), but I have always enjoyed this definition out of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary:
SELFISH, adj. Devoid of consideration for the selfishness of others.
I truly love that. In its own way it tells a truth that the naysayers of the selfish can ever recognize: if an individual doing his own thing selfishly is evil, what do you call the would-be collector of the things he would inevitably be forced to sacrifice?
“Me Me Me” is the demand to the producer, the creator, to sacrifice and provide for these Others. “Me Me Me” is a call to altruism. It is the opposite of true selfishness. It is the opposite of rational self-interest. It is the opposite of individualism. A true individualist going his own way does not bother demanding others’ things by default and yell “Me Me Me”, “Mine Mine Mine”, or “What about me?”
For an Individualist and Self-Interest Based Approach to Men’s Issues
In my own way I hope to promote, in light of the problems above I see within and surrounding Men’s Issues, a self-interest based approach to Men’s Issues. In a world where many prominent voices that purport to be about the well-being of males still promote the form of gynocentrism in which males are appraised primarily if not strictly by their disposability and their utility in making others’ lives content, I honestly think that the individualist (dare I say Objectivist?) case for Men’s Right’s Advocacy can be made, so men can realize that they can take unabashed, selfish pleasure in the great things they do for themselves and yes, for the ones they care about in their lives.
Men, or anybody for that matter, should not have to care for other people for the sole virtue of them being “the other”. Individuals can absolutely care about others but it would follow that they hold those specific people (NOT for being the other) in high esteem and in genuine value. Individuals can care about other individuals for their own genuine reasons, not for being the other.
I will use myself for some examples. I care about Men’s Issues not out of altruism or selflessness. I am genuinely interested in the issues as I know it can affect myself potentially as a man, and even if it doesn’t happen to me directly it happening to men in general can resonate with me in a way that I am invested. With regards to genuine issues women face, it’s basically the same idea in that I resonate with them as individuals with the same humanity and dignity as an individual as a man.
I care deeply about the problem of male genital mutilation and I am not even circumcised myself (thankfully!) but I don’t need to be just so I can care about the issue. I absolutely am invested in putting an end to it and spreading awareness to a Western world that continues to try to justify it. I don’t claim to be doing this selflessly by a longshot.
To revisit a point I made about sacrifice to family, I will again say that I am the farthest thing from anti-family. To clarify, I believe that the best family is forged out of actual self-interest in raising the family. A man (and woman!) can and probably should have a mindset of self-interest, personal investment, and love in seeing their family grow and flourish. There is self-interest to be had in passing down wisdom to one’s children as well as caring for them. If there are any “selfless” examples of family, look to the kinds of parents seeing their children as a chore or burden and hating every moment of their parenting and taking every opportunity to shirk it to others.
All in all what I am hoping to contribute is a sense of men and boys being esteemed and loved for being men and boys, as individuals that offer the best versions of themselves to the world at no loss and sacrifice to themselves. I would suspect that many already tell the same message, if perhaps in a somewhat different philosophical language.
Original Story on AVFM
Author: Vernon Meigs
These stories are from AVoiceForMen.com.