Men's rights movement
“”The list of grievances for MRAs is long. It includes the elevated rate of suicide for men, educational discrimination against boys, economic and workplace conditions for men, violence against men, false rape reporting, fathers’ rights in custody battles, rates of male imprisonment and prison conditions, and the horrors of war. Many of these issues deserve a thoughtful response and the force of an organized movement for address them.
It’s too bad that’s not what men’s rights activists are offering.
The men's rights movement (also known as men's rights activism (MRA), masculism or "The Men's Human Rights Movement") is a movement that believes that social, legal and economic discrimination against men qua men is present in society to the extent that fighting it deserves an organized effort mirroring feminism. Its membership is primarily male (duh), though some women also identify with the movement and are sometimes known as "fMRAs."equality in several areas. The movement itself split into two groups: one that largely supported feminism, and one that was strongly anti-feminist. Both movements, but especially the latter — which is overtly misogynist — are generally understood to be to some extent a backlash to feminism.
As the movement found the internet... well, one particular website, a new breed of men's rights proponents found a venue for a highly anti-female view of "men's rights," no longer just focused on generally accepted inequality (like family court issues), but an overall idea that men have it bad because of women. Wonder if they'll miss all the boot-knocking.
Critics of both camps of the movement liken it to reverse racism and argue that men who subscribe to the ideology are merely trying to hold on to privilege granted them by a long history of patriarchy. The term "movement" is itself challenged, since "men's movements" function more as a social salve, rather than actually redressing inequality in the overall social structure. There remain relatively few barriers to men's achievement in the world compared to women's, and few real areas where one can demonstrate a "lack of equality."
Men's rights activists have been criticized for privilege blindness and their tendency towards "mansplaining." Frequently, MRA arguments rely on gross generalizations (often extrapolated from anecdotal evidence) and outdated views ("Men do all the hard work and have to work outside of the home, while women get the easy jobs.") Men's rights activists also have a reputation for palpable anger, based on their personal experiences of relationships, divorce, or the law. This stereotype is common to almost all fringe groups, however, as can be seen from the "angry feminist who wants to destroy men" stereotype (which has even greater currency in pop culture).
"Goals" of MRAs
Some of the claims (listed from more universal and "pro-feminist" to specifically anti-women) are listed here:
- Domestic violence: The legal system sometimes has an imbalance in viewing domestic violence. When a call is made regarding domestic violence in the homes, men are generally assumed to be the perpetrator and women the victim. In fact, some states like Colorado, have a mandatory "removal for safety" law, which requires that if a couple is involved, the male participant must be taken out of the home (or away from the scene) regardless of the circumstances. The idea of domestic violence is a topic that the more extreme, "anti-feminist" styled MRA finds his first unique claims. More extreme MRA positions go so far as to claim that women are the cause of violence, are more often the perpetrators of violence in the home, and that men have to react violently in self-defense. The validity of these claims are discussed in detail below.
- Reproductive rights: Simply put, if you have the right to abort with or without my consent, I have the right not to pay for the child.
- Education of boys: Another claim, far more common in the anti-feminist camps, is that the modern education system is "sissifying" our boys. Our schools today discourage boys from fighting. (Oh noes!) So we should continue the "natural" and "macho" state of problem-solving for big brute men, one supposes. Also, such anti-feminist men's rights claim that schools discourage competition, and "hyper protects" kids from 'natural,' normal, manly roughhousing. For example, after the emergence of evidence concerning the dangers of football, especially to young children, MRAs have held such studies up as proof that "feminist society" "wants boys to be girls." Because of course all young boys need to play football to realize their budding masculinity, and that restricting football on school hours will emasculate red-blooded young boys, leaving them to take up girly things like every other less-hazardous sport they could dream of.
- Treatment in rape cases - The more "universally" accepted claim by MRA is that men are raped, by other men but also by women. And frankly, being hard does not make you "willing." Both the law and society have yet to really come to terms with this. Furthermore, female on male rape is often not counted as rape. In 2010, 1.27 million women were forcefully penetrated and 1.27 million men were forced to penetrate. However, this doesn't show up as "rape" merely because of this definition. The more batshit view held by MRAs include ideas that women usually lie about rape. (See where this is going?) MRAs claim false accusations are common, and women who make false accusations should be publicly shamed or jailed. Every study done by the FBI suggests that false reporting in rape cases is no higher than in any other type of criminal case.
- Traditional values and "women's" roles - some anti-feminist sects of MRAs push the idea that there are definitive differences in ability between women and men that suggest women should not be competing with men for various jobs (although it is apparently all right with them for men to be more socially allowed to be child care givers, school teachers, or maids without stigma). Specifically, these groups argue that macho worlds like construction, the military, fire departments and police departments are no place for women because that's just nasty.
- Health care - one of the odder MRA claims is that the health system is geared for women, and against men. A glance at the money spent on men's issues would expose this claim as ludicrous. There is a socially-created reality that men do not go to the doctor as often or as "soon" as women do, and this often leads to finding problems late into the medical situation, so instead of an easy prevention (say, for example, the onset of diabetes, depression, or knee problems which all can be mitigated) the patients require more serious treatment.
During the 70s-90's it was without doubt that women were given an edge in family courts. Many if not most courts saw the mother as the more important parent, and the courts were therefore more inclined to give custody of children to the mother, all else being equal. This attitude can be found in some courts today, but it is far less common and far easier to challenge.
When divorce first became common, women were often considered homemakers, unskilled or unable to support themselves, so frequently during the 50s-80s, courts gave large settlements of spousal support (alimony) to women. As women have become a force in the workplace, this is far less common. Major reforms in the US, Canada and the UK reflect the reality of co-parenting, two parents working, and women supporting the husband. In fact, a few states in the US do not hear arguments for long term spousal support except where there are extenuating circumstances.
A proto-MRM can be found in The Legal Subjection of Men by Ernest Belfort Bax in 1908, modelled after The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill. Bax also wrote The Fraud Of Feminism in 1913. So, apparently idiocy is a long running problem.
"Men's Rights" movement comes out of the men's liberation movement of the early 1970s, a movement which itself is largely informed by, and often a direct reaction to feminism. While admitting that women were clearly "unequal" in society, and while generally favorable to gender equality, the men's liberation movement set out to explore and perhaps redefine the traditional role of men in society. By the late 1970's as women's issues were being more directly addressed, significantly in the legislatures of states and countries, the men's movement saw a split, as one group supported the equality of women, and the other group felt the need to push back against the new rights and perceived "advantages" women were being given at the cost of men's position in the world. Men's right's activists also generally have asserted since the 80s, that women and feminism "went too far," and have harmed men in the process. Notable MRA Herb Goldberg asserts that women played a larger role in their own sense of objectification as well as the creation and maintenance of their social roles: "I think women didn’t see their side of the coin particularly in their relationships with men; they didn’t see their part of the dance and how they helped to set up a lot of things that they found offensive, how they participated in them." He and other Men's Rights groups also asserts that women have the power in any sexual relationship, and men must "fight" to keep a sense of balance, which is often what leads to actual physical fights as men wrongfully use force to reclaim their power.
With the popularity of the internet, fringe groups of men's rights activists began talking with each other, creating centers for discussion of the poor life men necessarily led in a world so controlled by women. As with most internet "groups," a small to signification portion of them had extreme views, in this case, actual hatred towards women in their personal lives and in the world at large. Feeding off each other, many internet men's rights groups have become cesspools of anti women tirades, name calling, and even instances of verbal violence against particular women who have stirred the pot.
Out side of these extremist voices, men's rights in the contemporary world is a niche market, but groups have successfully helped change perceptions of the laws and application of laws in divorce courts, custody cases and a few other legal venues.
|This section requires updating.|
There are various specific things that MRAs take issue with, some of which are legitimate issues where men are actually discriminated against. All of these arguments included here are taken directly from "Men's Rights" groups. Topics frequently argued at MRA sites include:
|Circumcision is a violation of the rights of male children. In modern media, it isn't given the same treatment as female genital mutilation.
"Women's pain is simply more important than men's pain."
|Though cutting off the foreskin doesn't remotely compare with cutting off of the clitoris (and sometimes even the labia) in terms of damage done, the attention being brought to female genital cutting has increased pressure on countries that practice MGM; ironically for MRAs, it's been the most feminist-friendly nations taking action.|
|The “pay gap” only exists because men work far more hours at high-stress jobs they hate with longer commutes, less flexibility, more physical risk, etc., just to be breadwinners and feed their families, only to die younger and get bashed for “earning more." A study by the Congressional Budget Office in 2002 compared women and men ages 27-33 who had not had children, and found that the wage gap among them was 2%.
Corporations have supported the drive for women to enter the workforce in order to expand the labor supply and drive down wages.
|In developed countries, it has been statistically difficult to determine exact causes of wage gap, however, it cannot be argued that it has diminished to such a point where it is irrelevant. In the developing world, the wage gap can be as high as 10 cents to the dollar. The wage gap does correlate with the age of the workers in question.
A study of lawyers in the United States found that women with no children still earned significantly less than their male partners at the same practice. Even in Canada, women from the ages of 26-35 face decreased incomes in all job fields. Should we be expecting they're all lying on a couch having babies? (And even more absurdly, do you think that feminists want men to have higher-stress jobs than females?)
|Most countries only require men to participate in the draft or national services. This means life is more risky in those countries, simply by being born male and possibly having to go to war.||This borders on red herring as nearly every nation in the West has banned compulsory enlistment. Sweden, for example, was already opposing it in 2002 for the very reason that it was undermining gender equality; they finally scrapped it in 2010. Adding insult to injury, considering reintroduction would probably mean political suicide.
Nations that do enforce the draft for women (e.g. Israel) are in the minority; nevertheless many that single-out males for conscription simultaneously portray women in a harshly negative light (think of the "get back in the kitchen" trope).
|The Violence Against Women Act and primary aggressor laws (laws in some states requiring the man to be arrested in any domestic dispute call, regardless of who the aggressor is) are factors that create environments in which domestic violence perpetrated against men by women is not taken seriously.||The problem with male victims of domestic abuse being arrested instead of their female partners is real. One explanation is that we have created a society in which the valued traits in men are stereotypically masculine, such as strength, stoicism, and ability to defend oneself from a weaker woman, so society will naturally step up to protect the "weak" woman against the "macho" abuser.
Abused men are sometimes reluctant to report victimization because of the stigma of being embarrassed and labeled as "unmanly." It has been suggested that as society becomes more egalitarian, more focus will be placed on male domestic abuse.
|Men do not have any right to force a woman to have an abortion, or carry the child to term. However, because women hold this right in full, men must have a right to declare a desire to opt-out of child support.||It's debatable whether forced child support is good or bad in the general case - whether the freedom for a father to choose not to have to pay child support is worth having the child grow up poorer if the mother doesn't abort. It is something that isn't studied nearly as much as it should be.
However, one must note that the largest burden for childcare, in terms of time and money, is on women when there is an unwanted pregnancy. If a women feels compelled to have the child for religious or social reasons, that child was still the product of two persons, and the simple fact that she can "opt-out" (whether she chooses to or not) does not abdicate a man's responsibility. While a truly reliable, temporary male birth control is not yet available, men do have options, including using condoms and getting vasectomies.
Oh, and there's also the issue of putting the baby up for adoption.
|According to various statistics related to male health, life expectancy, and suicide rates, men's medical issues are not given as much attention as women's health problems.||Health care costs for women are nearly twice that for men in the US. Prior to Obamacare, many states still allowed insurance companies to charge women more for the same coverage. Because they are largely in charge of reproductive control, women tend to visit doctors more often, and their health concerns are often caught before they become out of control. Men's issues have historically been taken seriously whereas women's issues often require a real fight to be acknowledged by the medical community (e.g. where is the female Viagra?).
As for life expectancy, it's true that women currently live longer then men. Whether you're in Iran or Iceland they still live longer. Why this occurs remains vague; socioeconomic factors and genetics may both have a part. If it's any consolation, that age difference is quickly narrowing.
|Generally tied into the above issue is that men pay more for insurance then women.||This is sort of true. Men actually pay less for health insurance, but more for auto and life insurance. But men are getting cheaper health insurance because men don't go to the doctor as much, they have more expensive auto insurance because they are more likely to be in accidents (now you see the problem with stereotypes), and they have more expensive life insurance because they don't shop around, live shorter lives, and lead riskier lives (this might be related to the whole "live shorter lives" part). This is still a legitimate issue of concern because it paints all men with the same broad stroke in a negative way, but the people fighting to end the practice are largely feminists.|
|In the United States, the federal government has one program designed to support small businesses that are owned by women, but does not have a similar program targeted uniquely at men.||While the American government supports small businesses regardless of the gender of the owner in a variety of ways, the program supporting small woman-owned businesses is a direct response to the extreme rarity of female executives and business owners. There is no similar rarity of male executives. It is affirmative action, but one that most people would argue is rather important.|
|They're unhappy about the "women and children first" protocol in maritime disasters, for example the Titanic in 1912, where 74% of the women survived but only 20% of the men did.||The so-called "Birkenhead Drill" has never been codified as international maritime law, and studies even suggest that survival rates favour men in general accidents. The only preferential treatment occurring today appears to involve disabled or pregnant passengers. When the "women and children first" trope has been applied, it is part of a macho patriarchal culture which is ultimately condescending to women, lumping them together with children as people who can't look after themselves and need to be protected.|
|In the United States, women receive significantly shorter prison sentences than men for the same crime.||This is indisputable. One of the arguments against the death penalty today is that a greater proportion of men are convicted of capital crimes, and receive longer punishments for that crime. Out of the 1,300 or so executions in the US, only 12 of them were women.
Believing that feminists are responsible for this rather ignores a core tenet of feminism: equal treatment, and that would also mean for committing the same crime.
|Marital rape laws are misandrist because the wife automatically consents to sex whenever the husband desires as part of the marriage contract. A less severe formulation is that marital rape laws are unfairly biased against men because regular rape laws should cover it.||This argument is so mind-bogglingly offensive that any competent observer should be able to dismiss it out of hand. Unfortunately, as the Republican Party attempts to redefine the definition of sexual assault (à la only criminalizing "forcible rape") this argument has found unexpected new ammunition. The weaker version, while more plausible, neglects to point out that many existing non-marital rape laws make exceptions for husbands, meaning that ending marital rape laws "as a separate category of rape" would require changing the non-marital rape laws, or effectively decriminalize marital rape altogether in many jurisdictions.|
Equal rights vs. sexism
While "men's rights" is often currently used as a cover for sexism, there are men's advocacy groups that genuinely promote equal rights. The Good Men Foundation, for example, promotes activism on men's issues, supports charitable foundations such as boys' and girls' clubs, and publishes an online magazine dealing with men's issues that also acts as a forum for dialogue between feminists and men's rights advocates. They focus on criticisms of traditional male gender norms, father's issues, factors affecting at-risk boys in inner-cities, sex and health.
There are also a massive proliferation of men's rights groups that use "men's rights" as a front for misogyny while claiming to be for gender equality, as well as a few that openly support patriarchy. Since they haven't gained much influence as of yet, their activity seems to be mostly limited to whining about the "feminazis" or "femtards" on the internet.
One sub-group of the men's rights movement is called Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), which is like Going Galt for sexists where the aim is to escape the "male-hatred" of our society, which has been poisoned by the cabal of feminists and their vile ideology, (which is, somewhat ironically, not too dissimilar to some types of separatist feminism). This puts them in a dilemma, as they still want to have sex but have vowed off any relationships with women. The result: Sex bot obsession! Liberation will soon be at hand as the sex bot nears perfection!
Many of these sites lean right-wing in the political ideologies they promote—e.g., the feminazis are attempting to steal men's hard-earned money through socialist policies. Of course, the irony meter is again through the roof here. Their ramblings tend to read like the communist tracts they also rail against: All feminists are evil (extending to all women for the MGTOW crowd) and seek to bring about matriarchal domination (i.e., become the "ruling class"). They cook up their propaganda in their nefarious women's studies classes in academia and spread it through woman's advocacy groups. This has supposedly caused most men to become indoctrinated into a false consciousness, thereby causing them to abandon "true" masculinity (class traitors) and actively work against male liberties by becoming mouthpieces for and enforcers of the feminazi agenda (useful idiots, or "manginas" in their terminology). They also blast feminists for their "man-hatred," but they dump copious amounts of hatred on men who don't
subscribe to their agenda share their persecution complex. If you don't eat beef jerky for every meal, idolize Chuck Norris, and tell your bitch to make you a damn sandwich, you're probably a mangina and responsible for the ongoing "feminization" of our society.
There is, however, a third class of MRA, who are sadly difficult to distinguish from the second. While still right-wing, this class of MRA tend to hold views that fall within the standard limits of a libertarian ideal, but, for some bizarre reason, seem determined to wrap these ideals in the most misogynistic-sounding language possible. Basically, women earn less money because the free market says so, and by attempting to change it, you're the devil. An example of such an MRA is Paul Elam, host of the internet radio show "A Voice for Men," who posts on YouTube under the name TheHappyMisogynist.
A somewhat unusual case of MRAs putting their money where their mouth is can be found in another YouTuber named RockingMrE. Mr. E agrees with the MRA sentiment that wages are driven down when both members of a household work...and thus he has opted to become a stay-at-home dad whose wife works. How this helps either side is a question in of itself.
- Anita's Law
- Gay rights movement: A movement that aims to gain both men and women further rights concerning their sexuality.
- Men's movement: Woo unrelated to the above.
- Masculinism, as made famous by Wikipedia
- Men's Activism
- A Voice for Men's own list of their goals.
- The National Coalition for Men
- How Men's Rights activists get feminism wrong
- Man boobz (blog mocking sexist men's rights sites)
- Leader's Suicide Brings Attention to Men's Rights Movement, Southern Poverty Law Center
- All Hail the Matriarchy, And a Note to the Dudebros, Feministe
- The MRAs have a wiki. Goat help us.
- ↑ Prospect.org - A Good Men’s Rights Movement Is Hard to Find
- ↑ http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/activism/entering-a-new-era/
- ↑ For those who don't know what "salve" means...
- ↑ Michael Messner, Politics of Masculinities: Men in Movements (1997), Sage Publications
- ↑ http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf
- ↑ http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Legal_Subjection_of_Men
- ↑ http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Fraud_of_Feminism
- ↑ Messner (June 1998). "The Limits of “The Male Sex Role”: An Analysis of the Men's Liberation and Men's Rights Movements' Discourse" in Gender & Society vol. 12, 3: pp. 255–276.
- ↑ Arsehole
- ↑ Messner, June (above)
- ↑ http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/more-fathers-getting-custody-in-divorce/
- ↑ One Norwegian group's report on the issue
- ↑ MenWeb
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on Circumcision and law.
- ↑ NCFM
- ↑ NCPA
- ↑ "The Spearhead"
- ↑ Equal Pay Act
- ↑ http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/the-gender-wage-gap-around-the-world/
- ↑ Catalyst. Women's Earnings and Income. April 2011.
- ↑ Wage gap and lawyers
- ↑ See "The University Payoff"
- ↑ http://www.sss.gov/PDFs/MSSA-2003.pdf
- ↑ CBC
- ↑ Won't anyone please think of the men for once?
- ↑ http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/14/a-domestic-violence-victim
- ↑ http://www.adfvc.unsw.edu.au/PDF%20files/Men_as_Victims.pdf
- ↑ http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/07/feminism-domestic-violence-men
- ↑ http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus05.pdf
- ↑ http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-lies-feminism/feminist-lie-3468-obamacare/
- ↑ This US Govt study suggests some of that cost is the result of domestic violence. Heh.
- ↑ If you want to check the statistics for every (206) sovereign state, here you go.
- ↑ http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20050228/us-life-expectancy-best-ever-says-cdc
- ↑ As seen here
- ↑ Health insurance, Automotive Insurance, and Life Insurance
- ↑ http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/programs/wosb/index.htm
- ↑ http://www.catalyst.org/file/412/2010_us_census_women_executive_officers_and_top_earners_final.pdf
- ↑ http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenceo1.html
- ↑ http://www.anesi.com/titanic.htm
- ↑ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16576289
- ↑ http://www.nek.uu.se/Pdf/wp20128.pdf
- ↑ Unless you're a total sociopath, this is something that MRAs and feminists can both agree upon.
- ↑ http://masculistadvice.blogspot.com/2007/09/women-lenient-prison-sentences.html
- ↑ http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/women-and-death-penalty
- ↑ See here and here.
- ↑ Naturally, the Good Men Project is actually the "Good Mangina Project" and is secretly a tool of Ms. Magazine, according to the sexist element.
- ↑ Patriarchy Works, The Spearhead
- ↑ Sex bots and artificial wombs, Anti-feminist tech
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHappyMisogynist
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/user/RockingMrE