Editor’s note: This article is also available in Spanish.
So, you’ve heard about men’s rights activism. You are curious to know more. How could such a maligned movement possibly be valid? You stumble upon A Voice For Men. You see outrageous headlines. They confirm your fears that the movement is full of misogynists. You laugh for a while. We’ve all been there. The activists seem bitter and angry. They say some very inappropriate things.
The question in your mind is this: Why do people get drawn into this movement? I was one of those people drawn in, and I’ve stayed. So I know the answer.
We all know how bad women have it. We’ve read about all the rapes. We’ve read about how women are questioned and disbelieved when reporting rape. We’ve read about the single women struggling to raise children with an absentee father failing to pay his child support. We’ve read about FGM. We’ve read about domestic violence. We’ve heard about the sexualization of women in the media. We are, quite frankly, disgusted with the behavior of men.
Maybe you accept that men can have it hard in some ways. But that doesn’t invalidate feminism, surely? OK so men might have it hard sometimes, but you wouldn’t go as far as saying they need a movement, right? You wouldn’t be that extremist, right?
The following are areas of men’s rights activism, and how they relate to extremism. This list is by NO means complete!
1. Domestic violence
We know women are victims of domestic violence. So why deny it? The thing is, men’s right’s activists don’t deny it. We say that domestic violence is 50% by men, 50% by women. This statistic comes from 300 different studies, as shown in the Fiebert Bibliography. (1) MRA’s belief that both genders are victims is shown on whiteribbon.org.
In other words, MRAs believe the problem isn’t any gender’s fault. Which position is more extremist? Saying that just one group of people is responsible for everything bad, or sharing the blame equally?
2. Genital mutilation
We all know that women are the victims of FGM. Why do men’s rights activists have to derail the conversation? Why distract us with male circumcision issues all the time? The thing is, cutting off the foreskin is the same as FGM type 1, which also removes outer skin. In some circumcisions, the frenulum is removed. This is the same as removing the clitoris in FGM type 2. The rarest and worst type of FGM is type 3, which has no parallel in male circumcision.
But… you may note that FGM is illegal in every single western nation on the planet, (2) and has never been practiced in western culture throughout the whole of history. And we live in the west. Our campaigns affect the west. So which is more extremist? Focusing on an issue which causes 0% of the suffering, or focusing on an issue which causes 100% of the suffering? No child is capable of choosing mutilation, regardless of any minor coincidental medical benefits. It has always been a religious practice designed to oppress men’s sexuality.
3. Sexualized body image
We all know that women are portrayed sexually everywhere in the media. The thing is, so are men. After you’ve finished walking down your local Walgreen’s or Rite Aid’s makeup section, take a walk down the aisle dedicated to muscle supplements, or look at the fitness magazine covers, or the deodorant adverts. Take a look at the romance novel section. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a man looking that good in real life? Ask yourself how easy it is for a man to live up to that body image? Are they photoshopped?
Which position is more extremist? That only women suffer from sexualization, or that only men suffer from sexualization? The answer is neither. The thing is, MRAs don’t deny women are sexualized. They only point out that men are sexualized too, because who else will say it? Surely the middle ground is pointing out that both genders are even. It may be hard on us all, but we all have a basic instinct to look good for the opposite sex!
4. Child support
We all know of the deadbeat dads. They run off and leave a poor woman struggling to raise children on her own. Did you know that 70% of divorces are initiated by women? (3) That women desire custody of the children in 90% of cases anyway? Did you know that 75% of men fall into child support arrears because they lost their jobs? (4) Did you know that even when they can’t pay, they are imprisoned, lose their driving licenses, and can’t vote?
So which position is more extremist? Focusing on deadbeat dads and blaming them for the helplessness of single women? Or, focusing on men as victims of a situation beyond their control? Isn’t it more extremist to blame the victim? Men are more often in the situations which we, as a society, put them in and want them in.
5. PatriarchyWe all know that men are at the head of everything. As owners of the system, they dominate and control women who have no power. By extension, men are to blame for everything. This is patriarchy. However, what are our gender roles? Men carry out their roles for society, just as women do. Women have always crossed those bridges men designed and built. They have always lived in those houses. Whether through taxation benefits or marriage, women have always shared in wealth of even the highest earning men. Children become what you make of them. Did you know that almost all children are raised by women?
So which position is more extremist? Believing that men are in charge of everything, so by extension, we live in a patriarchy? Or believing that women control us all for the first third of our lives, encourage us to succeed in our gender role, then spend our money? In this way, we could extend blame to women for literally every ill in the entire world. It’s matriarchy. But here’s the thing. An MRA may believe in smashing a matriarchy. Or, he sees traditional gender roles as even and fair. He’s either just as extremist as a feminist, or, he’s taken a middle road and isn’t extremist at all!
So next time you read A Voice For Men, read all the anger, the parody, the farce, and see the ridiculous jokes, ask yourself if that anger is justified.
If the opponents of men’s rights see us as extremist, ask yourself if that’s really the case. If someone saw your views as extremist, and they were wrong, ask yourself if you’d take the mickey out of those people? Ask yourself if you’d joke about them? Ask yourself if you’d write sarcastically?
Imagine that you are not an extremist. And still, nobody listens to your important concerns. Imagine if your important concerns being so frowned upon that you got blamed for everything bad that has ever happened in the entire world. Wouldn’t your humor be tinged with bitterness? Wouldn’t you confront those telling lies about you?
I think you would.
Any word anyone writes on the Internet is there to be judged by all. That’s the nature of the beast. All we ask is that you judge with your mind clear and your eyes open.