Sex + Dating

My Up-Close Encounter With Men's Rights Activist Trolling

Hell hath no wrath like a troll’s scorn.

Over the last few weeks, I've been at the center of a mud-slinging firestorm enacted by of an angry mob of guys who think they're discriminated against, along with several women who love them.

The men who run the MRA have said they don’t affiliate with the groups of rape-mongering trolls that make up the bulk of their following and online popularity. Make no mistake, the leaders of the MRA and their trolls are one and the same. There’s no separating the hateful trolling from the core of the movement.

This is something I learned first hand.

How it all began: a night with the Men’s Rights Movement

Weeks before the stalking, internet trolling, and backlash began, I read one particular article about this "movement" that claimed the MRA attracts young, angry men. I had to wonder, How many men fitting this description there could possibly be? As it turns out, there are A LOT.

The Men's Rights Movement (MRM) is a subset of the Men's Liberation Movement that splintered in the early 1970s. It's seen as a backlash to feminism, largely for its outspoken views that men are actually the sex being discriminated in our society. These perspectives are among those aired in the documentary The Red Pill.

I found some of the points the movie made interesting, though mostly inherently problematic. The points made on the startling male suicide rate as well as the lack of paternity rights were redeeming.

I felt emboldened by the film and said so -- publicly, on my radio show where my boyfriend and I discuss all things relationships, gender, and sex. I said that feminism is actually good for everyone and that many of their arguments in the film are extremely flawed.

As soon as my podcast was live, the safe bubble of equality that I was living in was soundly popped.

The Men’s Rights groups and their followers came after me in droves

The flocks of furious men this group attracts came in multitudes, barbing me through every one of my social media platforms.

I’ve been sent a variety of colorful tweets, emails, Instagram comments, Facebook comments, Soundcloud comments, Medium comments, and direct messages. These correspondences have ranged from angry to violent: calls for me to be raped and murdered, wishes for me to get cancer, and insults including but not limited to calling me a “disgusting misandrist c**t.”

So, I guess you could say I struck a chord. I’m not the only woman who has received violent death threats from members of the Men’s Rights Movement. You can read countless stories about women being harassed, arguably the most famous being Lindy West’s.

As the trolls tried and failed to do damage, their leaders chose to incite them further by going after me.

Here enters the saddest and most offensive group of all: the Honey Badgers. After days and days of blocking and muting the barrage of insults, a Honey Badger has made a YouTube video about me and my podcast, sending yet another wave of vicious threats and insults my way.

I think there is something deeply wrong with you as a person, let alone a woman, if you spend your time and energy expounding upon the rights men apparently don’t already have.

You are who you inspire

I can’t believe I have to write this, but I absolutely love men. And I understand that there are many men who experience discrimination (namely, the smaller populace; men of color and gays). But men’s rights activism is ridiculous.

Men with checkered pasts, cruel exes, and failed careers did not experience this sordid history due to their manhoods. The MRA members don’t seem to have a clear understanding of what male privilege actually is. And while the group purports to represent ALL men, it's impossible not to notice the overwhelming whiteness and straightness of its leadership and the rest of its contingency.

The leaders of MRA say they don’t support groups of radical trolls like the ones attacking me; instead, like everyone entrenched in hate groups, they claim that the those found in the chat rooms of Reddit and 4chan are just “fringe" characters who don’t represent the majority.

As of this writing, however, not one leader from the MRA has publicly told his followers to stop using words like “rape-tard” and “feminazi" -- nor distanced himself from these most vocal players. In a Vice documentary, that focused on the women involved in the movement, one Honey Badger says they’ve “Left them behind.”

But this just isn’t true. The angry young men who follow the MRA are the bulk of their followers. They are people this group attracts. Without them, they are truly nothing. They have no power. Of course they won’t denounce them, the idol worship of their hatred is just too intoxicating. It makes the leaders just as sick minded as the trolls.

The leaders of the MRA have to be fully aware of the violent harassment it inspires. Knowing this fact and not actively stepping in and attempting to curtail it is just as bad as engaging in the harassment yourself.

These men have the right to say whatever they want, but perhaps they should stop being a bunch of cowards and just own up to the pathetic, woman-hating infrastructure they’ve created around their trolls. At least their trolls are honest.

Free speech for all, just don’t pretend you don’t support the vile hatred, OK?

Being a lady on the Internet is challenging for all women. Being a feminist adds just another layer to the ridicule one experiences online. It’s definitely not just the MRA shooting daggers at me. I've been called every ugly name in the book, and been attacked by men who bothered to make multiple Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of harassing me (and many other women).

I respect the right of the MRA and everyone associated with them to say what they want, make what they want, and advocate for whatever they want. I’d only ask them to respect my right to not listen to the insanity, respect it, or, frankly, give a rat's ass.

Given everything that has been going on in the media surrounding sexual assault, now seems like the right time to talk about this. In a time when the way men speak about women is finally being questioned, this group deserves the spotlight. It needs to be said.

The people who have harassed me (and countless other women) have only reaffirmed what people largely already know about the MRA: that they are angry, confused men who think they are the class-victims in society. The aggression and threats have done nothing but classify these men as the pseudo-alpha, woman-haters we know them to be.

A big shoutout to all the trolls, MRA activists and Honey Badgers alike who have only made me a stronger woman, feminist, and activist. Thank you to the hundred-something other people who harassed me (and continue to harass me) online.

I’m not afraid of you. Not even a little bit.

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Gigi Engle is Thrillist's Sex and Dating Staff Writer. She is over the MRA and their pathetic nonsense. Follow her lovable crazy on Twitter, iTunesFacebook and Instagram: @GigiEngle.