What are ‘men’s rights activists’? Men’s rights activists are men who claim to be victimised by the modern feminist movement. MRAs suggest that women have more power over men because of prejudice against men.
On the surface, a lot of MRA concerns are understandable. Divorced or separated couples should both have equal access to their children, all else being equal. Fathers shouldn’t be portrayed as goofy idiots. Men can be victims of domestic violence, too.
Seems right, right?
The first problem is the incoherency of the Men’s Rights Activist movement. Recently, a publication called A Voice for Men sponsored the first International Conference on Men’s Rights in suburban Detroit. The city of Detroit was picked because it was an ‘iconic testament to masculinity’. I guess that means tough, industrious, and down-to-earth? (God, what would that make Seattle? The effete queen of the northwest?) But if you believe that manhood is defined by these things, why would you then act sensitive about women’s assaults against you? Why are you complaining that women are hurting you if you are such a big, burly man? The imagery of traditional manhood contrasted with modern sensitivity doesn’t make sense. At least make up your mind.
But the Men’s Right’s Movement isn’t just incoherent and insecure in its masculine identity–it is also misogynistic. The head of A Voice for Men, Paul Elam, who organised the Detroit conference, declared the month of October to be ‘Bash a Violent Bitch’ month: ‘I mean literally grab them by the hair and smash their face against the wall’. Suddenly, moaning about equal child-care rights turns into an ugly assault on women. And while his rhetoric has ‘toned down substantially’, he claims his movement ‘doesn’t depend on mainstream approval. It’s a subculture’. Sorry, but I don’t care if you’re suddenly cool now because you’ve toned down your rhetoric on assaulting women. You remain a fucking asshole.
Putting aside claims of incoherency and misogyny, the fact is, the Men’s Rights Movement is fundamentally flawed because, in real life, women still have fewer rights than men. And women are less represented than men, even though they constitute about half the population. Right about now, 20% of U.S. senators are female, while 18% of U.S. representatives are female. In the United States, there has never been a female president. How can you complain that women are systemically dominating men? It is purely unbelievable.
Here is the question I meet whenever I venture to broach this subject: ‘Brandon, why should you care? You’re a man.’ The reason I care so much about this subject is that it affects everybody. Everybody. I view misogyny as the ultimate root of evil and prejudice. Obviously lesbians are affected by it, but gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people are affected by it, too, because it derives from patriarchy, which states that men have to be macho and dominate and fuck women and make them walking incubators for their own spermload, which is fucking stupid and not just retrogressive–it is abhorrent. I completely deny this doctrine of life.
Men’s Rights Activism seems to pull from the shady pseudo-science of John Gray, while feminism seems to pull from the substantiated philosophy of Cordelia Fine.