Reddit's "Men's Rights" subcategory, r/mensrights, doesn't seem like a terribly friendly place for rape victims — one recurring topic is the supposed inflation of rape statistics. But earlier today, a user identifying herself as a "feMRA" (female men's rights activist) posted the following question:
A number of users accused throwaway of trolling, assuming she was posting a fake question in the hopes of generating offensive comments and showing, as one Redditor put it, "that MRAs are misogynists and rape apologists." And some did offer the expected counter-accusations and victim-blaming, especially when throwaway said she'd been raped by someone she knew when she was too drunk to consent. For example:
However, a number of Redditors were more sympathetic:
Throwaway hasn't responded to our request for comment, so we don't know what led to her decision to post this question. But raw discussions of rape have something of a history on Reddit — earlier this year, a thread called for rapists to explain their motivations. A number of self-described rapists did post, offering reminders that ordinary-seeming men can commit rape, and raising questions about whether pickup-artist culture could contribute to sexual assault. The thread was disturbing, but it sparked thoughtful discussion both on Reddit and off.
Even r/mensrights itself isn't a unified front of misogyny. In another thread today, a user posted a photo of a child in a carseat, with the caption "On the way home from the courthouse. All mine now :)" (child custody issues are a major topic for men's rights activists, many of whom feel family court judges are biased against men). Said one critic, "Cause that's all that's important, who wins. Not that the children are the ultimate losers when one parent is marginalized." And another, "You sound kind of pretentious when you say 'all mine'. Perhaps some background info is in order. Is there no way to work something out with the mother?"
r/mensrights isn't going to be a safe space for rape victims anytime soon. But Reddit in general has recently been home to more nuanced and less terrible discussions of sexual assault and gender issues than its reputation would suggest.