"And the Obsidian wants to paint it all black...as he is justified."
Effectively immediately, I resign my position at Just Four Guys. This has been a decision not made in haste, but only after quite a bit of time in quiet contemplation. It is abundantly clear to me that there are conceptual, creative and philosophical differences so deep that it is no longer productive to attempt for me to bridge; and so it is time for me to move on.
However, I think it important to, for the record, give a bit of background and context to my decision.
J4G was my idea; it was something born of my coming across three other guys by way of Hooking Up Smart's (then) commentariat. Morpheus, Han Solo, Ted D and I, were regular commenters on that website, and I always said to myself, that if we could organize and focus our talents, we could really make some waves not just in the Manosphere, but beyond. J4G was an experiment to see if a group of guys could be something more than their individual parts. Whether that experiment was a success or failure, is something for the history books to determine.
What informed my idea for J4G wasn't just my extensive experience of being one of the relatively few Black male bloggers inside the Manosphere itself, but also what I saw taking place on the ground around me in the many years prior to that - Men, no matter where I turned, not only seemed to be failing, but seemed to be hastening their downfall. And increasingly, it was Women who were making things happen - I've mentioned before my involvement with a local town watch. Of more than 50 volunteers, some 75% were Women, and the remaining 25% were Men, and the chief organizers were Women themselves - and of that number, the only ones consistently out on patrol in our own neighborhood, was a handful of us. The ones who actually stopped a car jacker was me and another Brotha out on patrol, on a rainy night. By then all the White guys had left, on the grounds that they were just too busy. The ladies were scared to death, rightly so; a number of shootings, several of them in broad daylight, had occurred in the 'hood, at least one resulting in a death; a number of Women were raped in the area as well; and one streetwalker had been strangled to death and her body wrapped in a carpet only a few short blocks away. The overwhelming majority of those committing the crimes were (Black) males; but the males in the community, Black and White alike, in the main, simply couldn't be bothered.
On any given night anywhere in Philly, it is not at all unusual to see those being involved in their communities being Women much more than Men from parent-teacher night to "Oldies in the Park", almost to a Woman, the events and community civic involvement is made up of Women. Nor is this unusual or an aberration unique to time and place; this same phenomenon has been well documented and easily accessible online. Men have just given up, and not in a good way. And from where I sit, a lot of Men simply do not seem to care. That this occurs in the birthplace of the very liberties some in the Manosphere pay flippant lip service to - brought into existence by White Men themselves - is an irony one just cannot make up.
It is against this backdrop that I tried to see if putting together a diverse group of voices online, could have the possibility of moving the conversation that often takes place in the Manosphere ahead - beyond the usual and to be honest, all too familiar talking points - onto some new ground. And to be sure, many of those talking points were highly legitimate. Unfortunately, the loudest voices in the room, just so happened to be the ones least interested in doing anything more than being loud voices - in fact, it's been my consistent experience that said loud voices will actively attempt to undermine any effort toward actually getting anything done, on the grounds of a litany of, reasons.
Nor are my observations unique; over the past five years, and as recently as earlier this month in one instance, I've been quietly talking to some of the heads of the biggest venues in the Manosphere, and all of them have agreed, separately, that what I had been seeing - the apathy, the self-destructiveness, the rationalizations for it all on the part of the vocal contingent of the Manosphere commentariat (and some bloggers themselves) - was a very real thing. It's something they are rightly embarassed to discuss openly, for fear of giving the loyal opposition a bone, and, to be frank, fears that no one else may be left if they rooted said voices out.
The irony gets deeper; the Good Men Project and A Voice For Men, both of which I think it is fair to say, are among if not the biggest Men's Issues blogs/websites out there, just so happen to be the blogs/websites that has a highly visible presence of and very active participation of Women, who have proven their organizational ability yet again, and, at bottom, just plain willingness to work. And on any given day at either venue, the ones most making the "complaints" will be, to a Man, Men - who will be quick to cite their litany of, reasons, for being so.
I could go on, but you get my point - there is a very extensive "backstory" for me that led to the creation of J4G. The Manosphere NEEDS something new, and it needs it NOW. J4G was that attempt to be something new.
Which brings me to J4G itself.
Aside from the ever-increasing differences between myself and at least a few of the remaining members on the team, I think it important to clear the air about a few things.
For starters, I never intended to "take over" anything; far from wanting things to be "Obsidian's Show", I actually wanted more Men to be involved, and found it increasingly difficult to get this to happen among the core team members. On some levels this was understandable, and expected; life happens, especially if you're married and have a family; fair enough. But this was more than merely being busy with life stuff; after all, lots of Women, many of them single mothers, remained highly actively involved in a range of activities - see above. No, this was something else. The same kind of something else that continually plagues the Manosphere particularly, and Men in our time more generally - the malaise, the listlessness, and in many cases, the active rationalizations and defenses of same and worse. It was "the Obsidian show" not out of ego-aggrandizement, but out of sheer necessity - if I had not stepped in to keep fresh content going on the site, there'd be no fresh content at all. And the same goes for moderating the forum, which brings me to the next point:
While I hear and respect Ted D's offhand remark/desire to see J4G become a "locker room" that Women have the "privilege" of being able to peer into, I've never had any such desire to be in such environments; I consider the notion juvenile and immature, to be frank. My memories of actual locker room environments as a teenager in highschool are something that I have no desire to revisit, and it boggles my mind as to why any Woman would want to "peer into" such an environment either; in my view, they're not missing much. While there is a very real concern on the part of Men in the Manosphere and beyond about the perniciousness of Political Correctness - many of the talking points on which I share - I also reject the notion that the corrective is to swing the pendulum in the other direction, and advocate for a Wild West kind of environment - where people not only have to tolerate gratuitous mean-spiritedness on the part of some voices, but have to be dragooned into a false idea that holds that "real" Masculinity is somehow part and parcel with general coarseness. Nor do I think that people should have to abide by a kind of gladiator-style environment where "Olympian detachment" reigns supreme; that's not high-minded at all - that's the Lord of the Flies revisited, and it is nothing I want any part of. It is indeed possible to Keep it Real, AND, Keep it Classy - and I utterly reject the idea that any Man, must choose between the two.
Since I'm pretty sure this is likely to make headlines, let me also say this to the critics: please, do not use my name as fodder for your vendetta against the Manosphere. I did what I did because I care about the issues Men and boys face in our time, not because I just want to take potshots at the small number of shrill voices within it. You, on the other hand, don't really care the issues themselves or the forces that brought about the Manosphere to begin with - which explains how and why you never honestly address them. Your obsession with those I've addressed only bears out the fact that Like Attracts Like - that YOU, have quite a bit of Nutter in YOU - and it is this tou cannot accept, deal with and move on, that explains how and why you spend huge chunks of your waking hours following every jot and tittle of the Manosphere, then running back and gossiping about it to your friends, regardless of the ostensible topic or "mission". If indeed the whole of the Manosphere is out to lunch, and you have it all together, WHY are YOU spending so much time gawking at them? I find that you are just as much a part of the problem as those I am dealing with within the 'sphere itself; please do no fool yourself.
TL;DR: Men and boys in our time are in very real, deep trouble - and if the Manosphere is the best "answer" we have to it, they and we, are doomed.
So, that's it. I wish my brothers well in whatever they wish to do with J4G moving forward and their future endeavors individually. But to be brutally honest, I'm tired and a bit burnt out. I need some time to decompress and think about what I'm going to do next, if anything at all. For anyone wanting to keep in touch, you may do so in the following ways:
The Obsidian Files
On Twitter @ObsidianFiles
Best wishes to one and all.