Defying stereotypes of the submissive Japanese wife, Akie Abe publicly contradicts her husband’s policies. She’s anti-nuclear while he is adamant it’s needed for energy; she opposes his tsunami-protection levee plan; she enjoys Korean culture while he battles with Seoul. The prime minister calls her the “domestic opposition party.” Akie Abe even joined in a gay pride parade earlier this year, in a country not known for discussion of LGBT issues, and has publicly discussed her infertility treatments and how the couple once considered adoption, a highly unusual practice here.


A huldra is a seductive forest creature found in Scandinavian folklore. The hulder is a stunningly beautiful naked woman with long hair, and has an animal’s tail. In Norway, she has a cow’s tail, and in Sweden she may have one that of a cow or fox. Further in the north of Sweden, the tail can be entirely omitted in favor of her hollow or bark-covered back.

Associated with Christianity, a tale recounts how a woman had washed only half of her children when God came to her cottage; ashamed of the dirty ones, she hid them. God decreed that those she had hidden from him would be hidden from mankind; they became the huldrer.

The hulder has long been associated with hunting; she might blow down the barrel of a huntsman’s rifle, causing it never thereafter to miss a shot. Some men are not so lucky, or perhaps skilled, and escape her only after surrendering their sanity.

Relations With Humans


A hulder, although mostly malevolent, can be kind if treated with respect.

A boy in Tiveden went fishing, but he had no luck. Then he met a beautiful lady, and she was so stunning that he felt he had to catch his breath. But, then he realised who she was, because he could see a fox’s tail sticking out below the skirt. As he knew that it was forbidden to comment on the tail to the lady of the forest, if it were not done in the most polite manner, he bowed deeply and said with his softest voice, “Milady, I see that your petticoat shows below your skirt”. The lady thanked him gracefully and hid her tail under her skirt, telling the boy to fish on the other side of the lake. That day, the boy had great luck with his fishing and he caught a fish every time he threw out the line. This was the hulder’s recognition of his politeness.

Hulders are said to kidnap men and lure them into the underworld. In some traditions, they seduce men into the forest to engage in lust and kill the ones that do not satisfy them, or reward them if they do. She sometimes steals human infants and replaces them with her own ugly huldrebarn (changeling huldre children). In some cases, the hulders force men to marry them, and sometimes represent their unintended child they had together. Stories of such relationships were common in Norway a long time—an elderly man from Valdres claimed he had a child among the hulderpeople on Norwegian Radio Broadcasting. 

In some stories, the huldra marries a local farm boy, but when this happens, her beauty is lost when the priest lays his hand on her, or when she enters the church. Sources state that marriage to a Christian man will cause her to lose her tail, but not her looks. However if she is treated badly by the husband, she will remind him that she is far from weak, often by straightening out a horseshoe with her bare hands, sometimes while it is still glowing hot from the forge or even lift up a tree trunk.

If betrayed, a hulder can punish the man severely, as in one case from Sigdal, when she avenged her pride on a young braggart she had sworn to marry, on the promise that he would not tell anybody of their secret relationship. The boy instead bragged about his bride for a year, and when they met again, she beat him around the ears with her cow’s tail. He lost his hearing and his wits for the rest of his life.

One of the questions I used to ask, when I was lodged in the Unicorn Zone, was “why can’t she just be honest with me and tell me she’s not interested?” The fact that I was less than fully honest with her was usually left out of the complaint, but let’s just pretend that we’re dealing with a friended person who is perfectly plain about his interest and a friender who is ambivalent about hers. There is a perfectly cromulent explanation for why a woman might not feel comfortable outright rejecting someone, rather than gently leading him to arrive at his own conclusions based on her not stripping for him.

I turn once again to the conversations around street harassment to point out that women are often forced to play lion tamer to male anger and frustration. At the most extreme end of this phenomenon is a guy like Eliot Rodger who responded to perceived rejection with murderous anger. At a slightly (but not much) less extreme level is what happened with Jon Koppenhaver (a.k.a. “War Machine”), a mixed martial artist who repeatedly and brutally assaulted his ex-girlfriend out of what appears to be jealousy (among several other things). We can move incrementally down the ladder of the consequences of male anger at being rejected, but the conclusion we must arrive at is that there are completely legitimate reasons for women to particularly fear rejecting men directly rather than obliquely. Not only is there the risk of violence, but a wave of blame directed at them for rejecting a man, rather than unequivocally at the man for responding with violence.
Renaming Men's Rights Activism

MRA. Men’s Rights Activists. If you’re a feminist or even just alive and conscious on the Internet, you’ve probably heard the term at least once. For those of you who don’t know what a men’s rights activist is, here’s a little primer: the basic idea is that men are victims in modern society, and they are victims because of feminism. To say that feminism, the core tenet of which is equality between the sexes, oppresses men is patently absurd. This absurdity is compounded by the fact that feminism is one word that covers a very diverse set of philosophies – from anti-natalist male population control to the sex-positive working professionalism of Sex and the City. To make matters sillier (worse?), many of the problems men’s rights activist cite are either non-issues or problems caused by binary gender roles and the patriarchal capitalist system they prop up. But enough about their philosophy – it has been discussed ad nauseum and with much great depth elsewhere.

I am here to talk about names. 

It is time for feminists to stop calling them Men’s Rights Activists and start calling them what they are – Male Supremacists.

By using their language, we acknowledge their victim-hood. To the public, it looks like feminists are fighting against men’s rights. This plays right into MRA’s narrative of being oppressed by feminism. The onus is on Feminists to prove they don’t hate men, not on Men’s Rights Activists to prove they don’t hate women. Calling them male supremacists not only provides a more accurate picture as to what these people actually believe, but it places the burden of proof back on them.

Right about now, I can imagine more than a few people reading this and thinking – not all Men’s Rights Activists hate women! Not all of us are Male Supremacists! Not all men!

Then prove it. Prove you don’t hate women. Don’t make feminism your enemy. Don’t let other men be male supremacists. Fight for equality for all. Fight to make the world a better place.

Great work. You are no longer a Men’s Right Activist. You are no longer a Male Supremacist.

A brief note on abbreviations – I acknowledge that MRA is a great abbreviation. Here are some possible options – MSAs, Male Supremacy Activists, Male Supremacist Activists, Male Supremacist Organizations. Let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments.