I was recently drawn into a conversation about the variety of contrary positions held by Men’s Human Rights Advocates: i.e. individual advocacy for men vs. group advocacy; traditionalist vs. progressive beliefs; women friendly vs. women shunning; gay vs. straight; faith-based vs. atheist; marriage vs. celibacy; victim narratives vs. no victim narratives; Republican vs. Democrat and so on.
That variety is further demonstrated in the contrary opinions of AVfM articles where we read, for instance, the neotraditionalist articles of Janet Bloomfield, versus the anti-traditionalist rants of John Hembling.
How is one meant to build a coherent mission statement out of this mess of contrary opinions?
AVfM’s mission statement gives a few basic guidelines, but stops short of pushing any Thou Shalt commandments. Lets take a look at the current mission statement:1
The past 50 years have been a time of remarkable change in the world of western women. With the help of technology and forward thinking, our society has thrown off sex-based expectations and limitations for women, allowing them important, long-deserved access to the path of self-actualization.
We now live in a world where a woman’s role in life is one of choice, not a destiny shaped by tradition, determined by biology, or forged in law. This, we think, is as it should be.
This revolution in freedom and identity, however, will not be complete until the same standards find their way into the lives of the average man. The absence of that complementary change in the lives of men has created an imbalance that erodes the autonomy of both sexes. Unless this changes, that imbalance will worsen.
Freedom from sex-based expectations for just one sex will never result in freedom for either sex. It is simply a foundation of exploitation on which tyranny is built and administered.
As a society, we are already on that path. The noble idea of freedom and equity between the sexes has been corrupted. It has become a malignancy on our social consciousness. What used to be cooperation between sexes is now gynocentric parasitism that inhabits every level of men’s existence, from cradle to coffin. The efforts to enhance the rights of women have become toxic efforts to undermine the rights of men.
It is time for equity-minded men and women to engage in the final push for freedom for both sexes, and indeed for all human beings. It is time for the interests of humanity to take precedence over the interests of men and women as political factions and social adversaries.
It is time for a movement that truly favors humanity, not a particular sex. It is time for feminism to fulfill its promise of equality, and to quit making a mockery of it.
With those humanist ideals guiding our path, we hereby proclaim the mission of A Voice for Men as “Changing the Cultural Narrative.”
Changing the Cultural Narrative
Since the turn of the 21st century, men’s advocacy has seen a shift toward changing the cultural dialogue on social and mainstream media. That challenge to popular narratives, so many of them gynocentric and misandric, has amounted to a grassroots effort involving a deconstruction and reconstruction, an effort ultimately in the service of creating a greater and better range of choices for men.
A stronger emphasis on cultural narratives forms a legitimate second wave of men’s rights activity in contrast to the lobbying of legislators and requesting reforms to misandric laws that characterized the earlier advocacy of the twentieth century. It is our understanding that, with few exceptions, laws governing gendered expectations are eventually brought into line with the prevailing cultural expectations.
Such an enterprise is not new. Similar narrative revolutions in religious beliefs and social orientations have happened throughout history, where cultural pressures led legislating bodies, and even individual magistrates, to interpret and draft new laws in the light of said expectations.
For this reason we long ago adopted ‘Changing the Cultural Narrative’ as the site’s byline. This makes a clear statement about what AVfM’s mission is and has been since the start, and addresses disinformation spread in some corners of the internet claiming the MHRM, and specifically AVFM, is about lobbying the government for legitimacy and legal recognition. Those claims are about as credible as the SPLC. What they say is simply not true.
AVFM’s mission focuses pretty much exclusively on changing the cultural dialogue. We have never lobbied politicians for laws, we don’t seek a “Violence Against Men Act,” or even changes in divorce and custody law. We admire, report on and support those undertaking such efforts but that is not the same thing as doing them. We are certain, though, that changing the cultural narrative — forcing a new dialogue — opens the door for laws to change in a positive way even if we are not an active part of those efforts.
The interesting thing you’ll notice above is that rather than taking sides on the big issues, most statements are non-committal – no stand on religion, no side in partisan politics, supporting those already in a family unit or marriage whilst strongly cautioning against it’s dangers in the current zeitgeist. About the only thing A Voice for Men takes an unequivocal stance against is misandry, gynocentrism, and the multitude of problems it causes.
Why aren’t the above position statements more absolute in support for one side or the other of popular issues; has AVfM gone soft on mission?
No, not really soft, but smart.
And respectful of individual male self-determination.
Like the endless stupidity that arises from arguing which is the One True God, trying to nail down the One True MHRA Stance on every issue is equally ludicrous. Rather, defining the MHRM becomes partially an act of stating what it is not, of saying neti neti – “neither this, nor that” to every partisan position people attempt to reduce it to. The MHRM can’t be reduced to traditionalism, it can’t be reduced to progressivism, nor conservatism, liberalism, atheism, activism, or any other ism.
Then comes the important question of what the MHRM is – the definition that everyone can agree on despite differences in ideology.
Clearly the movement involves cultural and self-advocacy for males in the face of a misandric world… but to what end? AVfM and the wider MHRM – MGTOW too – is based on men having a choice to believe whatever they damn well want to believe and to be afforded the agency and cultural blessing to follow their dreams. The fight for options, for a greater and better range of choices for men and boys is the Ace-card that trumps all partial positions; eg. the fight for educational equality, for greater reproductive choices, for genital integrity, more equitable health cover, fairer treatment in family court, and so on.
That constitutes the one defining goal that most MHRAs hold in common even when they violently disagree with each other on other issues.
So by all means boast that you’ve won the right to be a traditionalist (though the MHRM denounces the gynocentric aspects of it), or to be a celibate, or intactivist, or to receive a university education as a result of your hard-fought men’s rights activity, and I’ll be the first to offer congratulations. Just don’t tell me that the entire MHRM should be aiming for that one choice you decided to opt for.
Voices for choices, millions of them….. that’s what the MHRM stands for.
 Since writing this article, AVfM’s mission statement has been revised and expanded to include further meta-ideological commitments. The above article has been edited to include the new statement.