Why are we demonizing the “others?”

Right after I wrote a review of The Red Pill, a documentary film positively introducing Men’s Rights Activities, someone asked me a question: “Why do you think this film was protested by so many?”

The immediate answer to the question is that it is because MRAs are actually a hate group. It is well-known fact that Paul Elam, the founder of A Voice for Men, wrote an article “Challenging the Etiology of Rape,” which is deleted now, and the article contains passages like these:

Do women ask for it? … What I mean is, do women who dress and act provocatively; who taunt men sexually, toying with their libidos for personal power and gain, etc., have the same type of responsibility for what happens to them as, say, someone who parks their car in a bad neighborhood with the keys in the ignition and leaves it unlocked with the motor running? … But are these women asking to get raped? … NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED. They are freaking begging for it.

They wrote articles like this and didn’t offer an apology, as far as I know. So we protest.

The answer above is concise. And a concise answer almost always fails to reveal complexities of the real world. In my opinion, there could be another answer, which is not necessarily competing to the answer above, partially explains the phenomenon.

According to social psychology, people have a tendency to form a social group. And we favor members from in-groups. The phenomenon is called in-group favoritism. There’s another universal tendency to favor information which confirms one’s existing beliefs. It is called a confirmation bias. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook influence people’s thought by mechanisms like a filter bubble and an echo chamber. These are mechanisms amplifying pre-existing biases.

What is the result? Minor differences between groups tend to exaggerate. Over time, we demonize members from the other group. Furthermore, in the case of MRAs and feminists, differences between groups were not trivial at all from the beginning.

I’m not trying to pretend to be in a neutral position. I don’t believe in neutrality. It is impossible to achieve and unworthy goal to pursue. I think it is right to protest. What I’m trying to say is that the phenomenon itself is so natural and almost inevitable to avoid. The answer above is not an advocation, but an explanation.

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