"What makes you, or any modern American woman think she's deserving of a good man?" asks improbable Internet anti-hero Mark Bellrose, known to readers as Kilmister, in his essay "Most Women Don't Deserve a Good Man." The unapologetically pro-masculinity Op-Ed is both a call to arms and a calling out of women he describes as "typical American females who feel they can behave any way they choose," while still expecting men to "open doors, pay for dinner and send roses to her work on Valentine's Day." Kilmister's blog-style rant quickly went viral (it was re-tweeted more than 2,000 times and garnered 200,000 Facebook "likes"), and inspired both rousing male support and widespread feminist outrage. It also exposed a growing tension between men and women by raising a provocative question: Do men feel that women have become their social oppressors? And more importantly, do they have a point?
"Feminism was an important movement in this country and it helped move women forward to a place where they have all the rights men do. That's great, and that's how it should be," Bellrose concedes.
Yet, many women still want to enforce old school ideals on chivalry. When it's time for a pay raise, they want to be treated as equal to men. But when the check comes for dinner, they may not say it, but they'll usually look at a man who wants to split the check as a cheapskate or loser who will never get a second date.
It would be easy to dismiss Bellrose's views as the mutterings of a bitter "woman-hater," but it might not be wise. Bellrose and others like him represent a growing voice of men who feel that American women no longer seek equality, but to be "treated as superiors" and the sole beneficiaries of outrageous double standards in the dating world. They paint a picture of a modern woman so lacking in self-awareness that she routinely demands men behave in ways she doesn't even find attractive, thus setting men up to fail. American women today, Bellrose explains, feel entitled to attack, degrade and shame men without any fear of social disapproval.
The type of verbal abuse men commonly suffer, explains writer James Desborough, 38, of the United Kingdom, "is the equivalent of 'You're not allowed to hit girls,' which gave girls free rein to smack, push and tease boys at school. If the boy fought back, he would only be confirming the stereotype of the abusive male, so he'd have to sit and take it 'like a man.'"
Desborough claims that by publicly questioning feminist ideals, he has become the target of vicious attacks and relentless Internet bullying.
"I have been subjected to personal attacks lasting months, threats, petitions, threatened boycotts, my job and work prospects placed under risk," Desborough claims. "Any skepticism and questioning of feminist ideology is dismissed with buzzwords like 'privilege' or 'patriarchy.'"
In this sense, Desborough compares today's feminist rhetoric to religious fundamentalism.
"I am constantly struck by the similarities [with religious fundamentalists]," Desborough says. "Not believing the same things, or to the same extent, must mean you hate women (God) and are in favor of patriarchy (Satan). You're not a feminist (Christian)? Then 'something bad' must have happened to you, and so on."
Bellrose concurs that women often respond to his essays with vicious attacks on his manhood, appearance, sexual skill, and other types of gender shaming that, if he were a woman, would be labeled "misogynist" and "oppressive."
"I have never read more vile comments than those that come from women who have read my material," says Bellrose, smiling at the irony. "To say that I'm angry because I'm not getting laid -- how is that any different than my saying that a feminist is bitter because she's ugly or fat and no man wants her?
With the term "slut shaming," gaining media traction as women demand the right to openly choose lifestyles of sexual promiscuity, it may be time to ask whether men can invoke the same privilege. Are women ready to retire pejorative terms like "dog" and "womanizer" when referring to promiscuous men? Has the time come to equally support male expressions of sexuality? Or is "slut-shaming" a man still acceptable?
"Women can't routinely complain there are no good men out there when they do not carry themselves like a 'good woman,' either," Bellrose states. "More and more men I come across are opposed to the idea of marriage or even commitment, because with social media and smart phones they're seeing how shady and hypocritical most women really are."
Bellrose admits that there are "plenty of hypocritical, shady men out there, too," but he argues that women continue to berate men for behaviors they now willfully exhibit themselves, in the name of "feminism."
"If a woman wants to behave like a vulgar, over-sexualized party girl, that is her prerogative," Bellrose states. "But she shouldn't be baffled when men are not opening car doors or laying down in traffic for her."
A man who chooses not to date a promiscuous woman isn't "slut shaming" her, Bellrose contends, but is only expressing a preference shared by both sexes for a partner of substance.
"It's common sense." Bellrose says.
So, what now? If a woman wants a man who picks up the check, opens her car door, sends her flowers and treats her "like a princess" must she stop posting booty pics to Instagram and live-tweeting wild nights out with the girls? Or, has the time come for women to (happily?) accept that men don't have to treat us like "ladies" any more? That they no longer have to ask for our hand in marriage, ask us out on a date, or call us the day after we have sex with them? Are American women truly ready to embrace total sexual equality?
Bellrose predicts we won't have to find out any time soon.
"I can't imagine what it would take to really change the mentality of men and women," he says. "As long as there are desperate men and attention-starved women for them to chase, this dynamic will continue indefinitely. Just be aware of it, is all I can say."