2015 Villain: MRA Crusaders
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2015 Villain: MRA Crusaders

Nominated for: being the whack-a-mole of toxic masculinity.

Torontoist is reflecting on 2015 by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until midnight on January 7. At noon on January 8, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

MRA Crusaders by Hana Shafi

While self-styled Men’s Rights Activists deserve a perennial spot on pretty much any list of villains, in 2015 they took things to a new level of ridiculousness. They spent their time on some truly unnecessary activities: decrying some of the year’s best movies for promoting a feminist agenda (Mad Max: Fury Road) or for not having a 100 per cent male caucasian cast (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), abandoning any and all interactions with women, and getting upset that some women began using a precious portmanteau to describe a very real, if specific, issue in public space (manspreading) were just a few things MRAs wasted their time on this year.

Evidently the MRAs are onto us, and have figured out that our big plan for 2015 was to secretly infect the guileless moviegoing public with our insidious message of… women and people of colour being interesting characters. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa and John Boyega’s Finn, in Fury Road and The Force Awakens respectively, enraged a certain type of white man who feels his very being threatened by a couple of well-written characters who don’t look exactly like him. It was a quintessential MRA problem, in that it wasn’t one, and yet the internet its time—any time was too much—considering and then dismissing the idea that George Miller had finally been given free reign to create the matriarchal hellscape he’d always wanted the Mad Max world to be.

Some MRAs actually decided to do women a favour and take their unpleasant social interactions elsewhere. Men Going Their Own Way, or MGTOW, have congregated online (obviously) to share horror stories of living in a world where feminism has run amok and the only way to survive as a man is to reject all women at all times.

Anyone could be forgiven for rolling his or her eyes at the term “manspreading:” its cuteness, in some people’s minds, detracts from the serious meaning, which is that cisgender men by and large feel entirely too comfortable taking up more than their share of public space. On public transit and in conversations, men often fail to see the ways in which they inconvenience others. The outsized reaction to just naming the behaviour was also, arguably, a prime example of the behaviour itself. Congratulations on becoming an ouroboros, MRAs. Please don’t stop with the tail and devour your movement wholesale.


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