A short guide to the Men’s Rights Movement: Emily Shire’s generalizations

Emily Shire of The Week has written a Short guide to the Men’s Rights Movement. While this writeup appears to be part of a growing trend of reporting somewhat more accurately and less hyperbolically and hysterically about the Men’s Human Rights Movement, we still must fault Ms. Shire for several critical oversights. We believe these should be (politely) pointed out to her:

  • Shire states that the MRM started in response to the growth of Second Wave Feminism.

As the work of historian Robert St. Estephe shows, this is not the case, although there can be no doubt that the rise of so-called 2nd-wave feminism was a contributor to the movement’s growth. She is correct, however, in noting that many of the 1970s and 1980s Men’s Rights Activists considered themselves feminists. Many current MRAs were feminists at one time, including Paul Elam and much of the AVfM editorial staff. The publisher of The Spearhead (an unaffiliated but generally respectable, if more right-leaning and sometimes more incendiary publication) is himself married to a feminist.

  • Shire describes Warren Farrell as “moderate,” insinuating this “moderation” is a stark contrast to AVfM.

In reality, when it comes to the issues, it is difficult to find anyone at A Voice for Men, the largest men’s rights publication in history, who disagrees with anything Farrell has ever said or argued, not to any substantive degree anyway. Farrell is a supporter of A Voice for Men and has given us written contributions, statements, and interviews. The only major difference between AVfM and Farrell is that AVfM is more inclined to use harsh tones and tough language. In terms of advocacy, equal rights before the law remains our core issue and our most fervent desire, as our resounding and sincere call for revival and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment attests.

Shire implies that we have somehow changed from the position that all human beings regardless of sex deserve equal treatment under the law. That’s the exact opposite of the truth. Indeed, our “Fuck Their Shit Up” mentality comes, as we have often stated, from the abysmal failure of polite people meekly asking for their human rights to be granted. We realized after decades of advocacy that being polite didn’t work. We got ruder about it. Now you notice us, Emily, and you find us troubling? Did you find us even worth noticing before we started demanding instead of asking for our human rights? Did you find us worth noticing when we ignored the hateful bigots instead of calling them out?

  • Shire uncritically accepts claims and characterizations by feminist Jaclyn Friedman while failing to acknowledge any of the spiteful, hateful, volatile, or just plain wrong things to come out of Jaclyn Friedman or her feminist “sisters.”

Indeed, Shire fails to even acknowledge that the most harsh criticism of Jaclyn Friedman has come from female contributors to our site, most notably Diana Davison, whose work exposing Friedman as a mean-spirited and hateful ideologue has been either ignored or quoted without attribution so people might not notice the dirty little secret that Shire and others appear to be unaware of: the Men’s Human Rights Movement is full of passionate women who support the cause and deplore hateful and censorship-minded demagogues like Friedman.

  • Shire makes the common error that there is any one unified “Manosphere.”

This is like implying that there is a “ladysphere” and it is owned or controlled by feminists, and that everything from Ms. Magazine, Cosmpolitan, Feministing, Good Housekeeping, Jezebel, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are all part of it–or even like implying that Shire herself is part of some so-called “ladysphere.” This is utterly incoherent. Publications like A Voice for Men have no more to do with the likes of Peter Nolan (whom we have specifically condemned) than we do with GQ or Playboy. As has been repeatedly pointed out (and which Shire could as a researcher have just asked us about, since our contact information by phone and email are readily available), AVfM long ago disassociated from anything called the Man-o-sphere, precisely for the purpose of distancing ourselves from multiple elements that we find irrelevant or outright repellant–although we do carry multiple links to sites whose work we find noteworthy. But even then, we don’t claim to be affiliated with them.

  • When referring to AVfM as more than “just…a platform for misogynistic rants” she makes no effort whatsoever to acknowledge the brazenly misandrist nature of prominent feminist web sites.

I mean, she quotes Jaclyn Friedman. Without irony. What more can we say?

  • She suggests AVfM posts “contact information” on women we claim male false accusations in rape, pedophilia, and divorce.

AVfM has never posted “contact information” (which we take to mean phone numbers, email addresses, home or work addresses, etc.) on any person we have accused of making false allegations. When we do identify an individual we do not give out that sort of information. We don’t believe our standards on what information we release on individuals we identify are substantively different from what any mainstream newspaper or news magazine would when giving out information on public cases.

Also, by putting us in the same class with Peter Nolan’s web site, she fails to inform her readers, as mentioned earlier, that we repudiate Nolan’s work and his methods.

  • Shire mentions a so-called “smaller branch of MRM” that is trying to “tackle real problems.”

She does not identify who this “smaller branch” is, except to link an article on The Huffington Post which mentions one group, CAFE. Fascinating. While we have no direct ties to CAFE we have often supported their fundraisers, interviewed their principles, promoted their work, and even donated money to them. She also appears to have missed the multiple specific issues AVfM has been directly involved in, including direct help in establishing men’s groups on North American campuses, interviewing prominent researchers in areas like Domestic Violence and sexual violence, successfully advocating for specific men wronged by the criminal justice system (such as Gordon Smith and Vladek Filler), projects to lobby state legislaturs, or much of anything else we’ve done that is substantive and direct activism, leaving her readers with the impression that we do nothing but spew hate at women and publish names and addresses of women we don’t like, neither of which is true.

  • She recycles Cathy Young’s tiresome allegation that we don’t need a men’s rights movement and that we just need a “humanist” movement.

Meanwhile, she doesn’t seem to be aware that not just the men but the women of this movement have taken Young to task for inaccuracy and faulty logic. Indeed, whether intentionally or on purpose, Shire has continued to feed into the myth that we are “misogynists,” and contributed to the continuing practice of mainstream media of ignoring and marginalizing women–that is, the women of the MHRM and what they have to say, even though it’s hard to get through a day on AVfM without encountering one or more of them.

Emily Shire, I have to ask you: why is Jaclyn Friedman’s opinion more important than Diana Davison’s? Why is Cathy Young’s opinion more important than Aimee McGee’s? Is your opinion more important than Tara Palmatier’s, Suzanne McCarley’s, Janet Bloomfield’s, or any of the other women in this movement you failed to acknowledge even though they are quite prominent around here?

For that matter, were you even aware that the Don’t Be That Lying Feminist and Don’t Be That Bitch were the brainchild of one of our female senior editors? You know, if you’d contacted us during the course of your research, we would have told you that, and told you which one (hint: she’s on our masthead).

Also, how did you get through an entire piece where you mention Men’s Rights Edmonton but didn’t mention that their most prominent spokesperson is a woman named Karen Straughan?

Here’s our suggestion for Ms. Shire: since your position is “researcher,” we would like to suggest that in any future research on us you contact and consult us before putting words in our mouths or accusing us of doing things. As I’ve mentioned, our contact information is startlingly easy to find, and if clicking on that link is too much for you or any other reporters or researchers, the news desk’s phone# is (202) 738-1456 and the editorial department phone# is 313-334-4887.

We’ll be looking forward to your call, Emily, or the call of any else who wants to do an honest and well-researched piece featuring us or our work.

In the meantime, we would like to suggest that AVfM readers check out Emily Shire’s short guide to the movement, and politely–politely!–let her know what she got right and what she got wrong. And thank her for at least linking the site in an honorable fashion, so readers could come here and see and decide for themselves what they think of the content, which is something the likes of Jaclyn Friedman were not honest enough to do.

In the meantime, we’ll look forward to Ms. Shire’s call.

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