A Voice for Men… um, okay…

In a recent post I took aim at radical feminists who hold exclusionary positions against transgender women – dubbed ‘TERFs’. I have offered up at times via this site criticism of radical feminism (or certainly elements of it), but now it’s time to look at the other side of this coin – the so-called Men’s Rights Activists.

What exactly is an MRA? Well, the idea behind the movement has its roots in the Men’s Liberation Movement that began in the early 1970s, as a response to the rise of feminism in the 60s. The MLM was split into two factions, one of which was actually critical of the constraints a patriarchal society placed upon men. The more conservative elements of the movement felt feminism was a threat and the MLM dissolved toward the end of the 70s, with the conservative elements opposing feminism under the guise that it sought to oppress men, and the other faction merging with the feminist movement (it’s all a bit more complicated than that, but bear with me, I am just getting started).

The outcome of this split is the presence of men’s rights activists, who feel that feminism undermines men and will actually strip away rights from us. In the 80s and 90s they argued that traditional gender roles (the man goes out and works, the woman looks after the home) was a better arrangement for society, and they have long argued against the feminist idea that society is arranged to bolster men and hold women down.

Furthermore, there is the argument that feminism has taken rights away from men by overstepping its original intentions, and MRAs reject the idea that feminism addresses problems men face in a patriarchal society.

Is there any truth to MRA Claims?

If you’re a man reading this, especially a man in a western nation, you have never had greater freedoms than you do right now. Ask yourself what you can’t do. What restrictions are placed upon you because of your gender?

You get better pay in most circumstances (despite claims to the contrary). Your chances of being assaulted by a woman are less than a woman’s chances of being attacked by a man. Sexual exploitation of women (through the porn industry and prostitution) is more common than sexual exploitation of men. There is nothing holding any man back from going for any job, anywhere in the world. We can get equal custody of our children in the event of a divorce, despite the claims of groups like Fathers 4 Justice.

In other cultures the disparity is even worse. Women may not be allowed to work at all, or a re required to dress by a very specific code. They might have no voice whatsoever in society, let alone politics or business.

In short, we have it good.

Do MRAs damage Men?

It may be that in some cases MRAs are not actively thinking ‘how can we undermine women’, and they may well believe what they do is a fight for genuine equality. Personally, as outlined above, there is no need for any such quest – men as a whole (especially globally) enjoy more privileges than women.

What tends to happen is that radical feminists (not all, I must once again stress) will highlight the most extreme examples of MRAs (who will often post on radfem blogs), which makes an already hard-to-sympathise group look even worse. The most abusive examples are the ones given the most attention by radfems, who hold them up as the be-all-and-end-all of not only MRAs but in some cases men in general. It’s effectively fuel for the fire, which in turn powers the MRAs, who will hold up such examples of radfems the be-all-and-end-all of not only radical feminism, but feminism full stop.

The men posting the angry comments to radfem blogs need to realise they are doing us no favours as a gender. They reinforce the stereotype that radfems project about men, and they don’t seem to realise they’re doing it. I would urge them, first and foremost, to leave radical feminist blogs alone. If they feel they must converse with them (despite radfem blogs usually making it pretty clear they are spaces for women only), they should be aware how their behaviour reflects upon not only MRAs, but men in general. In fact, if all men stopped to consider how their behaviour (publicly, socially, and online) influenced perceptions of us, and made the effort to treat women with more respect, we might actually get somewhere.

11 comments

  1. I am one of those men who also thinks the patriarchy hurts men too. I never realized that makes me pro-men’s rights, since I am absolutely pro-feminism. We certainly have it better in most tangible aspects (as you explained), but the only way either men or women are really free is total equality. I have always viewed men’s rights people as anti-feminist. I never knew there was the other faction. Great post.

    Also, can you add like buttons to your posts? I don’t always have something to add, but like to let people know I like what I read.

    1. Hi Josh, thank you for your comment. I don’t know if I can add like buttons or not – I recently changed my WordPress theme and haven’t completely worked out the kinks, but I’ll see what I can do!

  2. I read your blog and- since the internet is a place for this- I figured I would offer my opinion-

    It is true that as a man in a western nation I have never had it better. And the same applies for women in western nations. There are several shortcomings that our society has in terms of equality for women, yet that does not mean there are not shortcomings for men as well. Men have been forced to partake in a war they may not wish to participate in, often at the cost of their lives. Women have not. Men do have lower rates of winning custody battles (70% of cases result in sole custody for women and 9% for men) and I am not taking that from any male rights website. Men also face longer prison sentences for the same crimes.
    I’ve heard various claims from feminists regarding feminism. Some claim it is about equality for both genders, some claim it is only to help women. What I have seen from social media- which I admit is a terrible source for finding those educated on a subject but a great place to find what the masses believe- it’s the latter, and often holding the view that men don’t matter. To make an easy point, I recently was scroling around facebook with little else to do and came upon a post on a feminist page. To sum it up it claimed that people should be empathetic, if a woman says something offends her then listen to her, if a black person shares his view then listen to it, etc. No mention of men, only minorities. A female posted a comment essentially saying “this also applies that when a man shares his view you should also listen to him.” it was immediately shot down and she was accused of trying to make it about men. Since it is becoming more and more obvious that feminism isn’t just about raising the bar for women, but ensuring that men do not have a voice, it seems that the existence of MRAs is necessary to ensure that men still do maintain a voice; especially since the voice that feminism claims to have for men seems to be a rather demeaning one.

    1. Hello Billy, thank you for your comment.

      In respect of war, no one wants war – it’s violent and destructive and yes, men die fighting them. Women don’t tend to be soldiers so they don’t die fighting on the front lines, but this is not so much by choice as by men tending to be more attracted to such roles than women. Women do face the threat of violence and rape from invading forces.

      Custody: women might win more custody battles but more and more this is not based on a man vs woman arrangement, but rather, a detailed look at who is the primary caregiver:
      http://www.divorcenet.com/resources/divorce/for-men/divorce-for-men-why-women-get-child-custody-over-80-time#b

      The custody decision doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

      This may also come into play with regards to prison sentences. Is the man more likely to re-offend than the woman? Is the woman the primary caregiver (women usually are)?

      It’s also important to realise that feminism has different branches. Often the MRAs will focus in on the worst examples, whilst ignoring the many voices out there who reject the radical elements.

    2. Hello Billy,

      There are shortcomings for men as well – the big question is, what are these the result of? Feminism? Or the organisation of society as it stands?

      We make crutches for ourselves as men, all the time. We are taught (through the sexualised imagery of both men and women)

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