Leader's Suicide Reveals Frightening, Violent, Organized Misogyny Movement
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After 10 years of custody battles, court-ordered counseling and imminent imprisonment for non-payment of child support, Thomas James Ball, a leader of the Worcester branch of the Massachusetts-based Fatherhood Coalition, had reached his limit. On June 15, 2011, he doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire just outside the Cheshire County, N.H., Courthouse. He was dead within minutes.
In a lengthy “Last Statement,” which arrived posthumously at the Keene Sentinel, Tom Ball told his story. All he had done, he said, was smack his 4-year-old daughter and bloody her mouth after she licked his hand as he was putting her to bed. Feminist-crafted anti-domestic violence legislation did the rest. “Twenty-five years ago,” he wrote, “the federal government declared war on men. It is time to see how committed they are to their cause. It is time, boys, to give them a taste of war.” Calling for all-out insurrection, he offered tips on making Molotov cocktails and urged his readers to use them against courthouses and police stations. “There will be some casualties in this war,” he predicted. “Some killed, some wounded, some captured. Some of them will be theirs. Some of the casualties will be ours.”
For people who associate the men’s and fathers’ rights movements with New Age drum circles in the woods, the ferocity of Ball’s rhetoric, the horror of his act, and, in particular, the widespread and blatantly misogynistic reaction to it may come as something of a revelation. When the feminist Amanda Marcotte, a bête noire of the men’s rights movement, remarked that “setting yourself on fire is an extremely effective tool if your goal is to make your ex-wife’s life a living hell,” a poster at the blog Misandry.com went ballistic. “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black,” he raged. “She is evil and such a vile evil that she is a disease that needs to be cut out of the human [consciousness] just like the rest of the femanazi ass harpies.”
It’s not much of a surprise that significant numbers of men in Western societies feel threatened by dramatic changes in their roles and that of the family in recent decades. Similar backlashes, after all, came in response to the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, and other major societal revolutions. What is something of a shock is the verbal and physical violence of that reaction.
Ball’s suicide brought attention to an underworld of misogynists, woman-haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws, and false rape accusations. There are literally hundreds of websites, blogs and forums devoted to attacking virtually all women (or, at least, Westernized ones) — the so-called “manosphere,” which now also includes a tribute page for Tom Ball (“He Died For Our Children”). While some of them voice legitimate and sometimes disturbing complaints about the treatment of men, what is most remarkable is the misogynistic tone that pervades so many. Women are routinely maligned as sluts, gold-diggers, temptresses and worse; overly sympathetic men are dubbed “manginas”; and police and other officials are called their armed enablers. Even Ball — who did not directly blame his ex-wife for his troubles, but instead depicted her and their three children as co-victims of the authorities — vilified “man-hating feminists” as evil destroyers of all that is good.
This kind of woman-hatred is increasingly visible in most Western societies, and it tends to be allied with other anti-modern emotions — opposition to same-sex marriage, to non-Christian immigration, to women in the workplace, and even, in some cases, to the advancement of African Americans. Just a few weeks after Ball’s death, while scorch marks were still visible on the sidewalk in Keene, N.H., that was made clear once more by a Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik.