When Bad Men Do Good Things

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About Justin Cascio

Justin Cascio is a writer, editor, and activist. He has written on food, lifestyle, gender, and sexuality for The Good Men Project, xoJane, and other publications; his work has been selected as Editor's Picks on Open Salon.
Justin is a former managing editor of The Good Men Project Magazine and editor of The Good Life, and a founding editor of Trans-Health.com. You can follow him on Twitter, Google, and Facebook.

Comments

  1. Aw, come on! Play nice! The folks at Fathers and Families appear to be good men –and women– doing extraordinary things on behalf of fathers and children.

    • What’s not nice? I acknowledge that men are doing the work in my article, and women are doing the work, too, though this was not what my article is about. I also point out how rare it is for anyone to do anything that’s truly different and good, as a movement for justice does.

      And yet I believe it will happen. Why? “Because the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

  2. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Thanks, Justin! Neat article. I’m personally fascinated by moral entrepreneurs, who often become oppressive by doing good, but can’t see it. People who got after the supposed nursery school molesters (mainly trumped up) fall into this class. I often have problems with feminism or the Left (and I’d include myself in these categories) for this reason, too. It’s what Jung called “projecting the shadow.” We see the evil we think we are in others (but don’t consciously see it.) Some of the biggest moralists are prisoners who beat up sex criminals in jails, even though they too have lived exploitive lives. Also, as someone who is naturally poly, although out of practice at the moment, I wince every time I see something about “cheating.” Sex is one of our biggest areas for projection.

  3. The Southern Poverty Law Center has written on at least a couple of occasions about the actions of men’s rights activists—individuals who have killed, including the murder of more than a dozen women in an engineering college, down to anonymous trolls on the internet who spew misogynist hate and threats. A couple of websites get named by the SPLC, but the organization has not named any single men’s rights organization as a hate group.
    One thing to be mindful of is which acts are actually perpetuated by MRAs and those that are done by other types of men (and maybe some MRAs with ID with it). I wonder if you are talking about Polytechnique when you say, ” including the murder of more than a dozen women in an engineering college” because from what I understand while he was very much an anti-feminist he was not an MRA (unless you know something I don’t maybe).

    I think the first thing that needs to be done is actually get a clear bearing on who we are talking about before going around declaring them bad.

    • You may have a point here, Danny. Very often we assume a person’s ideology. And you’re correct about the killing being specifically anti-feminist, but not specifically pro-men’s rights. There’s an article here on the SPLC website about violence against women that makes these connections.

      • And that article pretty much proves my point. It went from mentioning what Lepine did and then slides in to mention some of the incorrect stuff some of today’s MRAs believe. But as far as I know Lepine had to claims or ties to being an MRA. He was a disturbed and violent anti-feminist but just feminist doesn’t equal man-hater its also worth keeping in mind that violent anti-feminist doesn’t equal MRA.

        Slights of hand have been pulled like this before like when Hugo Schwyzer and Manboobz tried to say that Anders Breveik was MRA when the only chatter I saw out of MRAs on that massacre was saying he needed to face justice.

        There are no doubt some vile MRAs out there and some MRAs who have both vile and valid ideas (such as Paul Elam) but I have to ask if they are so bad then why go to such lengths to smear them with lies and made up connections?

    • Mostly_123 says:

      “The Southern Poverty Law Center has written on at least a couple of occasions about the actions of men’s rights activists—individuals who have killed, including the murder of more than a dozen women in an engineering college.”

      Danny, you got there ahead of me, but I’ll add in my post anyways…

      Justin, just one historical point of note: If you and the SPLC are referring there to the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique shooting in Montreal, I am incline to point out that it would historically false to refer to the shooter, Marc Lepine, as a Men’s Rights Activist.

      Lepine was a profoundly disturbed individual who’s violent and delusional paranoia (against society, against women in general, and feminism in particular) was articulated only in his suicide note found after the shooting. He not a political activist of any sort, made no statements prior to his death, nor was he involved with anything akin to a men’s rights movement, as there was no such thing (at least, as it is known and understood today) in 1989. Regardless of one’s stance on the MRA, and regardless of abhorrence of extremism within & without it, it would be historically inaccurate, to say the least, to characterize Lepine as a ‘men’s rights activist’ and/or a product, or purveyor of it.  

  4. Men focusing on their own rights are shamed as selfish, myopic, or weak.
    Because just like any walk of life someone that tries to speak up against the mistreatment they suffer is bound to get mistreated. For any number of reasons they don’t want to speak up (or at least not speak up in a certain way).

  5. Nurse Payne says:

    Enjoyed the article Justin!
    I am certainly not an expert on any of the issues raised in your article, and most certainly not into any political “left” or “right” stuff..just a reader of on the site, supporter/fan of “The Good Men Project”. I am a woman but have two sons who are “good young men”, ages 19 and 20. I feel the Project is a worthwhile cause and I enjoy the site.
    I am wondering, though, if maybe the article complicates issues needlessly. Or maybe I just over simplify things..I feel like people are neither “bad” nor “good”. We all make choices that are “bad” or “good”. Humans, however, gravitate toward what is good, or rewarding. We are creatures of pleasure, not pain. People are influenced by nature and nurture to make choices that result in actions that are “bad” or “good”. Subsequently, if that person who makes a choice to do something “bad”, later perpetrates an act of kindness and goodness, why would we not, as a society, give the person “full credit” for that action? Holding someone’s past mistakes against them is counter-productive and just plain cruel. It smacks of Nurse Ratched in Ken Kersey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. I spent several years as a nurse in a correctional facility. I know from experience that even people who have committed heinous crimes have the capacity to do good. Given the right circumstances, they can develop the ability and the desire to do so. We can’t expect people to rehabilitate if we don’t show them respect, dignity, and kindness. Saying their act of kindness or goodness has less meaning than ours is not affording them those things.
    Albert Camus said, “To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today.” We, too, are human, and to err, is human.

    • Mostly_123 says:

      Nurse Payne- really enjoyed reading your post there & very much agree with your sentiments. I often feel individuality (talking about ‘people’ rather than us/them, women/men) gets lost in talks about gender roles and such. Thank-you.

  6. OirishM says:

    I’ll stay away from the “MRA or not-MRA” debate – I think it’s incredibly important that we do validate good things done as good, maybe to some degree independent of who does them. I think it’s all the more important that when troubled individuals do make correct/better choices, we validate and encourage them, no matter how difficult that may be.

    One may be uncertain whether a person is doing good acts as part of an overall plan to commit evil, but ultimately I think our problem is a tendency to oversimplify people. We like to paint them as either good or evil, and it’s never that simple.

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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