Pop Culture

Mad Max Shows How Anti-Feminism is Ruining Masculinity

That seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? It’s not the usual line that gets thrown around. Mostly people talk about how feminism is gelding the manly man of yesteryear and replacing him with women in domains they were previously excluded from.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s anti-feminism that’s the real nut-cutter, and nothing shows it off better than the brouhaha surrounding Mad Max: Fury Road.

If you haven’t seen the film yet the problem seems to be surrounding Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furiosa (Not the most subtle name but still better than Lord Humungous and just slightly lesser than Master Blaster). Furiosa is a kickass warrior of the wasteland every bit Max’s equal. To the horror of sites like Return of Kings (It’s a Do Not Link because screw those guys) she even has the gall to give Max orders. Orders! From her mouth and everything. What’s next? Will nitro trucks ride us off into the sunrise?

The film even had Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, look over the script and give a talk to the cast on set about the issue of violence against women. Were the Men’s Power Advocates critical of Ensler’s problems with intersectional feminism as I am? Ha, no. It’s just yet another sign that proud American traditions are being burnt to the ground by feminazis.

Yes, Mad Max is an Australian franchise, but don’t tell the MPAs. It’s funnier this way.

Here’s the problem as I see it. I can watch Charlize Theron kick ass all day. The same goes for Jennifer Lawrence. Hell, my favorite show on TV right now is Orphan Black, which is basically watching one woman be badass in 5 – 7 different ways for 48 minutes depending on the episode.

One of the reasons I can do that is because I am both a man and a feminist.

Side note: what do I mean by “man”? A man is a cis man and a trans man. A man can fall anywhere he feels comfortable on the spectrum of sexual orientation. A man is a man in any occupation or as a stay-at-home dad. You say you’re a man? Come sit next to me.

I truly support seeing women in better representations in all walks of life, fictional and real world. I know that a woman’s success is no detraction or threat to my own. If I out-write a woman I wanted it to be because I am in some way a better writer than her, not because something gendered held her back. Stupid things like how not having a male name on a scientific study would make people think it’s less science-y.

Feminism gives you the power to be whatever man you want to be free from a bunch of toxic patriarchal gender constructs designed to hide the power structure from notice. When you stop seeing women as objects or detriments or simply as the life-support system for penis receptacle, when you find that they are your friends and allies. That makes you more powerful, not less.

This temper tantrum involving the Road Warrior makes me seriously question exactly how tight a grip these sort of men actually have on their masculinity. Is their sense of manhood so fragile that it is honestly threatened by a two-hour car chase flick not being 100 percent male power fantasy reinforcement? It’s like they are sharks that can’t stop swimming through the ocean of chisel-jawed he-men gun-ninjas destined for the hot chick to fall into their laps at the end of the adventure without suffocating and dying.

It doesn’t make you any less of a man to root for a woman protagonist. I am equally a man playing God of War as I am having tea parties with my daughter or holding back tears watching an episode of Doctor Who. I can change a tire and I fart when I want, but I also have dinner waiting on the table when my wife wakes up for her job as a night nurse and happily snuggle with the kid to enjoy Jem and the Holograms. I am equally a man in all aspects because my manhood doesn’t require living up to some macho code.

That was one of the things that bothered me so greatly during the Three-Mile Island of the Internet that was #GamerGate. The prospect of any movement away from a constant interactive world where the most sexist tropes are included without thought in every Triple A title that seems to come out alarmed anti-feminists to threats of violence. You couldn’t even question it without summoning a horde that wanted to blast you from the face of social media. If you’d like proof take a look at the comment section of this amazing deconstruction of the feminist themes in Portal from Michael Vincent Bramley. Gaters and other anti-feminists bend so far over backwards to avoid seeing the obvious or admitting that they’d enjoyed was is essentially the most perfect feminist video game yet made that I’m surprised they can’t visually inspect their prostates.

You ever hear of the Macra? Doctor Who villain. They’re giant crabs that feed on the poisonous fumes from our industrial wastes and use mind control to keep us producing the pollution they need. That’s what these folks are. They will go to any lengths to keep the toxic air flowing. Stuff like arguing that we can’t have any female superhero movies because Catwoman was an untended litter box of a film when you head the same company that delivered both the Green Hornet and Hancock. Can you not smell the ass when you say something like that?

Anti-feminism seeks to regress us back to a time when women were blatantly worth only what a man invested in them, but which also assigned a man worth only based on his sexual high score and the ability to provide for a wife and children. As women move forward and insist on their own worth as defined by their own parameters men get left behind because no one told them that they had to do anything about it.

For that kind of cretin Charlize Theron not falling into Tom Hardy’s arms at the end of the film isn’t just annoying them, it’s an attack on the last vestiges of a dying brand of manhood. They need to deserve a woman as a reward for their accomplishments without considering the opinions or wishes of said woman because they have not learned to be man enough to define themselves outside of a woman’s regard. They are only men because an imaginary swooning, helpless woman tells them they are.

That’s how weak anti-feminism makes men. To quote something my fellow writer Nick Hall said to me “Bro-dudes have such loosely attached nuts, it's a wonder we're not tripping over them in the road.” This is a movie where a man plays a flame-throwing guitar for no other reason than because it’s a freakin’ flame-throwing guitar. You’re going to boycott that because director George Miller had a famous feminist contribute to his movie’s portrayal of women and Charlize Theron doesn’t end up in a refrigerator?

You’re a manly man, ain’t you?

Jef Rouner has a new story about robot sharks,"A Senseless Eating Machine" out now in Lurking in the Deep. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner