My Own Private Guantanamo

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I Am Not a Good Man

May 29, 2012

I have a confession to make. I am not a Good Man. But, for a few months I pretended to be.

From February 8th until yesterday, I operated a Twitter account called GoodMenzProject which spoofed the often ridiculous headlines tweeted by popular men’s blog The Good Men Project. The jig is up. I’ll explain why in a moment.

But first, for those of you who aren’t familiar with The Good Men Project, it was founded in 2009 by Tom Matlack, a former venture capitalist and noted cuddling enthusiast. The site’s grandiose mission statement proclaims:

“The Good Men Project is not so much a magazine as a social movement. We are fostering a national discussion centered around modern manhood and the question, ‘What does it mean to be a good man’?”

The site is best known in the feminist blogosphere as a repository for a litany of male grievances– a watered-down variant of the countless “MRA” (Men’s Rights Activist) blogs on the internet complaining about the evils of feminism and the victimization of men.

Above: The Most Popular Posts at the Good Men Project on January 15, 2012.

I suppose this is not entirely fair. GMP also features many personal stories and essays about manhood, that don’t wade into the minefield of gender politics. And feminism was not always its principal target. In 2011, one of the site’s most popular contributors was controversial professor Hugo Schwyzer. Unlike Matlack, Schwyzer was proud to claim the title of “feminist” and used GMP as a platform to address a male audience.

In December of last year, Schwzyer resigned after a high profile fight with Matlack over the latter’s increasingly vocal attacks against feminism. With Schwyzer gone, Matlack took the editorial reins, ushering in a period of weirder and more aggrieved attacks on feminism. GMP‘s headlines, always a source of unintentional comedy, became even more attention-grabbing and odd.

Dig around and you’ll discover that The Good Men Project is a treasure trove of weird, creepy and clueless ruminations on gender. There’s the astonishing advice column which answers questions like “How Do I Respectfully Grind With Someone?” and “What do I do with my penis during spooning?” There are creepy headlines like “The Accidental Rapist” and “Why Your Daughter May Be the Most Popular Drug on the Street.” There are the horrible attempts at humor exemplified by ”Women Are Like Cats“ and “In Praise of Small-Breasted Women.” There’s GMP publisher Lisa Hickey’s chipper pean to essentialism  ”Why I Love the Gender Binary” and Matlack’s brotastic “Why Being a Dude is a Good Thing.” My personal favorite headline is the master troll “Patriarchy Shmatriarchy.” And here, by the same author, an op-ed arguing that we should distinguish “unwanted sex” from rape.

In other words, The Good Men Project is perfect fodder for satire. So on February 8th, I began to think like a Good Man. I started my spoof account and began tweeting fake GMP headlines, gathering a small following of readers from the feminist blogosphere. When these spoofed tweets mingled in Twitter timelines with actual tweets from the Good Men Project, they were often the source of confusion, causing a few people to invoke Poe’s Law which states that “without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”

The phony headline above anticipated an actual headline three months later.

 


Somewhere along the way, even Matlack became a fan, if we are to believe the endorsement above.

In mid March, Noah Brand was hired as the new editor of the Good Men Project. Though I find some of Brand’s writing problematic, his work lacks the truly knuckleheaded quality that made Matlack’s clueless headlines so lulz-worthy. It was the beginning of the end for my little spoof account.

The real end came just a few weeks ago when Brand contacted me about running my article on gynecomastia on the Good Men Project. Of course I wanted my article to reach a wider audience. And, I rationalized, if they wanted to publish my work, it could only be a sign that Brand was slowly moving GMP on a more righteous path.

So, I agreed. Brand suggested the title “That Guy’s Got Tits?” Pretty good, I thought. But I’d been practicing at writing Good Men Project headlines for three months, and I was sure I could do better. It needed just the right mix of tasty linkbaiting and pop culture reference. “Dude Looks Like a Lady: Living With Man Boobs,” I countered. Brand agreed.

And so it was written. Things had come full circle. It was the last headline I would ever write for The Good Men Project.

  • http://www.shesaidhesaid.me/ Joanna Schroeder

    Amazing!! I’m Senior Editor over at GMP and I was crying laughing at your tweets, as were many of the other editors. Personally, I decided we must be doing something right to be noticed and satired by someone so talented. 

    My favorite tweet of yours was the gaslighting one… 

    Man, you sure did screencap a doozy of a day in Popular Posts!

    Also, as the “She” in She Said He Said (the mistress of “How Do I Respectfully Grind With Someone?”) I can tell you 100% that those questions are all REAL! and delivered anonymously to our inbox. And I cannot tell you how earnestly grateful people are to have such a question answered. 

    Swear. 

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  • http://mattcornell.org/blog/2012/08/huffpostfeed/ My Own Private Guantanamo

    [...] I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve retired my Good Men Project spoof account on Twitter. Meanwhile, my OccupyLAPD spoof account is all but irrelevant now that the love affair [...]

  • Standup2p

    Hah.

  • Charles Douglas Sleep

    If you read this article, I don’t see how you could continue to find the fact of his tweets complimentary.

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