Zek J. Evets doesn’t see any “side” in gender conflict that can help him come to terms with his bad experiences.
I was 18. She was 16. She had just falsely accused me of rape.
It was one of those moments when you realize you believed people were basically good, rational, understanding—and then those naive cobwebs were being ripped off my shoulders.
Flash-forward to the present. I find myself seemingly caught in the fray of today’s gender issues from extremes at all angles. The SPLC calls men’s rights a “hate movement” at the same time as Republicans are attempting to deny women the right to control their own fertility. On the radio women are being verbally attacked for speaking out on public policy and across the Atlantic there are men suffering from domestic violence with no resources to support them.
But where do I fit in? Pro-feminist, anti-misandric. Where do I fit in this Men’s Rights Movement? I’ve got Paul Elam supporting legally abused fathers who can’t even see their own children, but simultaneously testified that he won’t convict a man who has committed rape even in the face of overwhelming evidence. I’ve got David Futrelle mocking misogynist bullying on Reddit, but his comments-section hosts bashing of male survivors and men falsely accused of rape, including me.
How do I reconcile the cognitive dissonance of living as Schrodinger’s rapist and supporting women’s rights? How can I square the virulent misogyny of Roissy Heartiste to the intense social ostracism of my fellow gamer-nerds?
When she accused me of rape, I couldn’t believe it. I stared at her, but not at her. I stared into the space your mind becomes when you’re suddenly hurled into the torrent.
I’d dumped her weeks ago. She kept arguing with my friends, and it was awkward dating someone in high school even though we were only two years apart. But that didn’t stop her from stalking me—at work, at home, at my college classes. I once caught her going through my garbage. Yet I didn’t say anything to anyone. I didn’t tell my Dad. I didn’t tell her parents. I didn’t tell the police. I kept it to myself, thinking I could just deal with it.
But I couldn’t. After my Dad and I moved to a new neighborhood, she started calling me every day. At 2:43 AM she threatened to chop my balls off. At 10:27 PM she was screaming that she’d shoot me with her Daddy’s gun. At 5:56 PM she left a message telling me that I’d pay for “breaking her heart”. She told me she had to do it because it was “empowering”; I had seemingly oppressed her by refusing her.
I eventually resigned myself to a meeting. I thought, well, if she can get some insults in, maybe try to slap me a bit, maybe she’ll leave me alone then. I was so anxious, so tired, so over it.
When we met up that day in Redwood park the first thing she said was she’d told her Dad. Told him what?, I asked. That you raped me, she said. She said it so casually, affecting nonchalance, that I almost laughed at it. But she didn’t smile. She just watched me. My mind and mouth sputtered in unison. That’s impossible, we’ve never even had sex! We barely made out…
She didn’t care. Told me it was for what I did to her, that if I went to jail for statutory rape I wouldn’t ever break up with her again. Despite my teenage feeling of invincibility, I got scared then. Very scared. I knew what happened to young guys in prison, how dudes in the locker-room would always joke, “Don’t drop the soap!”
I ran home. Started doing research. I called attorneys from the phone-book and pleaded for help. I went to the police, and they didn’t even believe my story. It took meeting her lawyer, alone, with nothing but statements from my friends as alibis and playbacks of the voicemails she left, for the nightmare to dwindle. The lawyer walked away when I played the message of her voice screaming that she was going to kill me. Her Dad started noticing holes in her story, but only after I showed him pictures of her waiting outside my intro to Anthro class. They eventually dropped the charges.
I came that close to being handcuffed before a judge. I came that close to becoming just another one of the 1.36 million men in prison.
But I soon learned that my kosher ass was the exception in a long line of falsely accused men, from Scottsboro to Hofstra. I soon learned that Black & Hispanic men don’t walk away from false rape claims like I did. I soon learned how poor boys and men went to jail because they couldn’t afford the cost of DNA testimony or a decent attorney.
Hyperventilation was the least of my worries on future dates. I took a long time to recover. I was afraid of women. I was afraid to trust, to even be alone with them. I dropped my social life and became a full-time Dr. Pepper & hot-pocket, cyber-cafe, World of Warcrack addict. It was so much easier to lose myself in some pixelated landscape, pretending to be a hero, than to think about going to bed alone every night and having nightmares of bars slamming shut, looking out towards a disembodied woman’s smile and some convict’s hands pressing me up against the wall a la American History X.
It was 4 years of celibacy. 4 years without a date, a kiss, or even a smile.
Today I have a beautiful girlfriend and a healthy long-term relationship. It’s strange how things change, and how they stay the same.
Meanwhile I shake my head at how much male advocacy is wrapped in coatings of misogyny & misandry so thick that I can barely stomach the taste.
What do I say to the girl at my bus-stop reading the biography of Lorena Bobbitt after putting on make-up to cover the bruises her ex-boyfriend gave her? Sorry, I’m too busy worrying about teh menz? What do I say to the pick-up artist who wants to sexually use women like they used to emotionally abuse him? Get away creepster, women are more oppressed so we don’t have time for you?
Still I wish. I wish this Men’s Rights Movement was more about helping poor boys in bad schools go to college, instead of exploding Vesuvius-style over the latest Gawker article. I wish feminists wouldn’t justify their racism and transphobia in the name of women’s rights. I wish girls didn’t feel pressured to objectify themselves. I wish fathers had rights.
I wish, I wish, I wish. But it doesn’t build me any bridges. I don’t fit neatly into these shoeboxes made of outrage. I don’t know how to play this zero-sum game. Maybe I lost the instruction manual somewhere along the way between my own false accusation and the first time my girlfriend told me why she was afraid to walk alone at night.
But do you know what I wish for more than anything? That if or when I have a son, I can raise him to be a good man—whatever that is—that there’s a men’s movement out there to support him, and all of us. So instead of constantly antagonizing feminists for not being masculists, or wasting my time apologizing for a patriarchy I didn’t create, and which hasn’t done me a damn thing, I’m gonna make a break from partisan politics. I’m gonna go out and actually do something.
Is anyone with me?