“A gang is where a coward goes to hide.” – Mickey Mantle
There have been many criticisms of the bulk body of feminism (or, rather, the second and third wave feminisms in which people are most familiar with) by people who identify as men, claiming that advocation of “safe spaces” (or, rather, the strawman concept that most people think is a safe space) or even feminism as a whole coddles women and other marginalized groups.
But in all reality, those arguments are spouted from a nest of settled, longstanding privilege. When examined closely, the demands of marginalized groups for safe spaces and respect come from a position of long endured abuse and struggle, and often those who are privileged who encounter even the slightest opposition are quick to return to the safe spaces that have been established for them and that they refuse to recognize.
Whether or not you agree with various forms of discourse, it is unquestionable that marginalized groups do suffer and tolerate backlash better than non-marginalized groups. Whether that group is demarcated by race, gender, sexuality, or class, privileged individuals have a nasty habit of advocating violence while being unable to handle violence directed at them.
Take the example of Roosh V, the peak meninist and rape advocate. From his sheltered corner of the internet, he speaks to an echo-chamber of other disenfranchised men. However, when faced with criticism and the possibility of threats, he retreats to established centers of safety put into motion to protect individuals not unlike himself. His gang of like-minded individuals is quickly dispersed in the face of mainstream disdain.
Movements such as feminism and black rights have existed in the face of many, many similar threats. Yet you don’t see individuals retreating in the same way – because there are no safe spaces for them like there are for Roosh. Many online activists who experienced harassment have found the police unwilling to help, while Roosh V got a response to his 911 call. For someone who is so quick to call women inferior and weak, Roosh himself is a coward – these individuals certainly have to deal with much worse than Roosh has ever encountered.
I am not advocating for the use of threats in activism. I believe that one’s ideas prove themselves, and the potential for humanity’s goodness and empathy will eventually win the day. But I find it quite unsettling that those who are so quick to advocate for violence are equally hasty to take advantage of the very privileges that they wish to deny people unlike themselves.