The Merits of Men’s Rights Activism.

(Spoiler Alert: There are none.)

Men’s Rights Activists, commonly known as MRAs, have been gaining ground all over North America in the last decade.

Men’s rights, are they serious? Apparently.

So what is the men’s rights movement?

Well, it has an uncanny resemblance to a child throwing a temper tantrum when someone questions if they need that fifth piece of cake.

The movement began in the 70’s in response to a growing feminism in the preceding decade. As feminists worked towards goals like workplace equality, North American men seemed okay with the idea of their little gals adding extra cash to the bank account, but when discussion of women’s rights took hold, men began to question the movement. Women’s rights? What about our rights?!

The men’s rights movement seems to be a result of some serious FOMO.

Generally speaking, the movement houses a boatload of resentment and produces endless hate speech. The basis for MRA rests on the belief that traditionally oppressed groups have gained control and eliminated/stolen the white male privilege. How have feminized people done this? Well ain’t that a good question.

The men’s rights movement is the North American male response to the terrifying idea of feminism, one borne out of insecurities. Today, the idea of what it is to ‘be a man’ is steadily changing and many males are anxious about the uncertain definition of masculinity. As feminism gradually gains rights and opportunities for women, the MRA population gets bigger and louder.

To these men, a world with feminism means that they will one day soon be farmed for sperm under an unruly female autocracy.

Due to their literature, it is clear that MRAs do not comprehend the principles of feminism. For instance, MRAs often cite preference to women in family court as an example of injustice toward males. What they fail to understand is that feminism seeks equal treatment for all individuals. Such preferential treatment is the antithesis of gender equality, and therefore feminism does not support such a bias.

Certainly, some (definitely not all) issues brought up by MRAs deserve discussion. But that’s roadblock number one; the inherent way in which MRAs operate does not promote nor often even allow for productive discourse.

Last year an anti-sexual assault campaign took place in Alberta called “Don’t Be That Guy”. Each poster hosted a different scenario with messages retorting rape culture. One reads, “Just because she’s drinking, doesn’t mean she wants sex”. Men’s Rights Canada responded to this with its own campaign, “Don’t Be That Girl”. One poster, for example, exclaims, “Just because you regret a one night stand, doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual”.

This is only one example of MRAs choosing a method of attack over dialogue. (Get your google on, it’ll blow your mind.)

But the bottom line is that white men are not being persecuted. Period. Nowhere in the world are they in jeopardy of losing the privileges to which they’ve grown accustom. Pale skin and penises are still the golden ticket in today’s day and age.

I admit MRAs have articulated legitimate issues that need addressing, but the idea of men’s rights is so not legitimate, I can’t even begin.

Males who identify as MRAs and who truly seek equality (rather than maintaining their privilege) should be working towards a collaborative relationship with feminists. News flash: Gender equality is, shockingly, the entire overarching goal of the feminist movement. So if that’s what you actually want fellas, hop on board!

But hearing this from a girl, no less a fed up and sarcastic feminist, isn’t always that convincing. So take it from these guys:

“Are there some problems with specific instances of unequal treatment? Yes. Is there some anti-male sentiment out there? Yeah, that happens too. But turning these issues into a movement is laughable. It is a like a multi-millionaire who whines that a tax loophole was closed and he’s losing 0.5% of his annual income.” James S. Fell, Time Magazine

“Sure, a pretty girl will get into a club before you do, but you know what else a hot girl has to deal with? Six dollars less an hour than I would get for the same job. Even though I’m lazy.” Chris Gethard, Comedian

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11 comments

  1. Right on, Paula!! Well said.

  2. Well said and written Paula.

  3. I’ve got some news for you. Having a pale penis is not a golden ticket to wealth prestige or happiness. While having a pale penis is a requirement to be in the 0.00000000000001% of people with real wealth and power 99.999999% of people with pale penises are just as stuck in the shit as you are.

    Gender and gender roles are not “The Oppression of Women”. Gender roles are interconnected interdependent divisions of labor that places as many restrictions and obligations on men as they do on women.

    If you can find me a feminist that is actually arguing for gender equality NOT “Equality for Women” then I would be happy to work with them. If you can find me a feminist that does not by the objectification of women done by “Patriarchy Theory” I would be happy to work with them. Simply put if you can find a feminist that is not a Feminist, I would be happy to work with them.

    You agree that there are issues that need to be addressed. These issues just can’t be addressed by advocacy for women’s rights. These issues can’t be solved with benefits for women. These issues are outside of what Feminism is even capable of talking about.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      When I referred to the “golden ticket” I simply meant that these things tend to help rather than hinder a life.
      And I think your comments about working with a “feminist that is not a feminist” illustrates my point that MRAs are more often destructive than constructive.
      My feminism, the one I identify with and fight for, does indeed want equality for all genders. It focuses on women’s issues more often because they are certainly more prevalent in today’s society.
      Lastly, I respectfully disagree about the boundaries of feminism and its capabilities. Feminism (my feminism) does not fight for issues that will only benefit women. Yes, we strive for women to receive equal treatment, opportunities, and choices (which benefits society as a whole), but it also strives for men not to be pigeon holed in stereotyped boxes as well.

      1. So your feminism is about equality for all genders? Do you have proof? Can you link a blog post you have already written about the issues men and boys face? I understand that your perception is that women’s issues are more prevalent and deserve more attention, but have you talked about these issues to the exclusion of the issues boys and Men face?

        Note: By talking about “My feminism” you are setting up a “No True Scotsman” fallacy. If “Your Feminism” isn’t the dictionary feminism of advocacy for women’s rights then you can say “No True Scotsman” for anything negative about Feminism.

      2. If you look at my post “Barbie vs Batman”, for example, you can see I am weary to the constraints patriarchy places on both males and females.
        I say ‘my feminism’ because every movement has factions. No two feminists will ever agree on every issue, much in the same way as there was disconnect between civil rights activists.

      3. A question on “Your Feminism”. Is there a singular definition of feminism? A thread that ties all of the various factions together even if the factions disagree on how to address the issue or the extent of the problem? I fully understand that the Militant lesbian seperationaists are very different than the sex positive feminists, but what makes them both feminist?

        On your Post “Barbie vs Batman” you have a grand total of TWO sentences that address boys issues. Neither of which actually address the issues, only plays lip service to the existence of issues. The main thrust of the post is hardly addressing the socialization of boys to fill outdated gender roles.

  4. Very well said!

  5. Herbert Walker · · Reply

    People should all have rights and they should be equal. If you take rights away from men then you are taking rights away from half of the population. That’s a lot of innocent people who are going to get hurt. Sure, some men do bad things. But then, some women do bad things. Neither is an argument for removing rights from all people.

    Of course men need rights. Women need rights, too. If a woman calls the police and says a man hit her…should the man be arrested, put in jail, lose his job, lose his home and lose his children before a conviction?

    The problem isn’t whether or not the man hit her at this point. The problem is that it was nothing more than an accusation. Do you have any idea how dangerous that is? Even if the accusation turns out to be false, there has to be a mountain of evidence showing that the woman falsely accused the man…which would only happen in the most absurd of cases such as standing in front of a judge and saying that’s what you did.

    It’s similar to being called a Witch in 16th century Europe, a Negro in the 19th and most of 20th century United States, a Jew in Nazi Germany, a Communist in the McCarthy era, or a Muslim after 9/11. This is the camp that men have joined at the hands of modern feminists.

    With great power comes great responsibility. Hitler thought the rights of the Germans were more important than the rights of anybody else. Modern feminists think that their rights come before those of men. That somehow by torturing the men of today you pay back the men of the past.

    Women have not had much power in the known history of human civilization. This is true. But in today’s society..they do. They have more power than men in many aspects. If they do severe harm with this hard won oppourtunity instead of showing it respect and vigilance, then perhaps it should be clear that no group has any moral ground to having more authority than any other group.

    No woman should have the power to make a man guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the law. No one should ever be put in that situation in any just society.

  6. One of the disappointing aspects of the public discourse around men’s issues/ MRAs/the MRM, is that so much of it is spent dispensing disbelief or disapproval that the discourse even exists. Why not instead, engage with the issues that are raised? Howabout responding to Murray Straus who still identifies as a feminist, and published the article – Thirty Years of Denying the Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence: Implications for Prevention and Treatment – in 2010? That is feminists among others deliberately concealing the facts discovered through multiple academic studies. What about Christina Hoff Summers, author of Who Stole Feminism?, who also still identifies as a feminist but challenges the idea of “Rape Culture” without in any way being a rape apologist? MRAs have plenty of concerns on that one too. Why not engage with Warren Farrell regarding boys ‘failure to launch’ and the terrible cost to society that that can have?

    I don’t care how someone defines themselves if they are honest and willing to work to find genuine solutions, even with people whose world view differs from their own. Decrying the existence of MRAs/ the MRM won’t make it go away. Disapproving of the way some of them write or express their views won’t make any difference, but engaging in genuine discussion and debate, even if it is heated, might just help us all.

    1. Dave – thank you for your insightful comments.
      I completely agree; there are issues that need attention and this is important.
      My article was to discuss that the Men’s Rights Movement is a hindrance rather than a help to work through these issues.
      “Genuine discussion” is certainly needed and I appreciate your response – we need more people like you to help work through these issues.

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