What one Gentleman makes of men’s rights activism

ImageOver at Slate, Troy Patterson has been answering reader questions in the persona of the Gentleman — a nattily-dressed (as pictured), socially-conscious, and culturally-savvy correspondent with perspective on all your issues of living well as a well-balanced male in the modern moment. His writing style is sparkly and performative, and his advice is often quite nuanced. What catches our attention today is this reader’s question:

What are your general thoughts on the men’s right movement? Specifically regarding their main talking points regarding child custody, domestic abuse, and the wage gap?

Whoa! This is no mere matter of sartorial etiquette or toilette savoir-faire; this matters more. Let’s see how a Gentleman responds:

Thank you for your question.

I have no general thoughts on the men’s right movement. I am familiar with the fact that a number of dudes out there feel themselves categorically oppressed, and I have the sure sense that a number of people with whom I generally tend to agree about things regard these dudes with a combination of sadness and spite, and I have been ambiently encouraged to believe that the movement in question is defined by the grotesque rhetorical excesses of its biggest creeps. Though that last point greatly helps me to feel OK about not really caring about any of this, it is not the crux of the matter.

Promiscuous side-picking is among the plagues befouling contemporary political discourse.

I have made an attempt, greater than cursory, to look into the issues you discuss. A reading of the popular press convinces me that the topic of domestic violence against men deserves much broader discussion than it now enjoys, and it should be obvious that any reasonable person who believes that family law systematically discriminates against men in custody cases deserves to be heard. But I am uninspired to do the research necessary to “pick a side” in either matter, partly because promiscuous side-picking is among the plagues befouling contemporary political discourse. Is it not acceptable to abstain from developing pointed ideas regarding events that are neither momentous nor interesting? Doesn’t good critical thinking involve deciding what not to think about?

To answer that last rhetorical question: for sure it does, but this does mislead. For we must know enough about the issue to know whether we want to shove it forward, backward, or off our radar. What do we think, readers: should a critical-thinking member of society waste time thinking about Men’s Rights Activists?

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