This is a transcript of Robert Brockway’s speech at the March for Men. Due to time constraints imposed by police on the basis of security concerns most speeches, including this one, were shortened on the day. We present here the original speech that would have been given had time constraints permitted.
Pictured at the March for Men, from the left, are Chani Randazzo (speaker, Women Against Feminism), Robert Brockway (Speaker, Australian Men’s Rights Association Inc) and Sydney Watson (speaker, March for Men organiser). –Ed
- Male Immune System is weaker
- Man-child, and it’s variation man-baby
- Toxic masculinity
- The End of Men
- Men are obsolete
- A curfew for men
- Dead beat dads
- Men are genetically inferior
- Men have a lower pain threshold
- Men are linear thinkers
- Men can’t multitask
- Men lack the capacity to maintain concentration for long periods
- Men think about sex every few seconds
- Masculinity so fragile
- Fragile male ego
- Male privilege
- Men won’t ask for directions
- Special person’s day rather than father’s day
- Men should man up and grow some balls
- A woman needs a man like a fish needs bicycle
- Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them
During this talk I sometimes reference issues men and boys are facing in other countries. Where one wealthy anglosphere country goes the others soon follow. In any case, we’re all in this together. Whether we’re talking about Australia, the US, Canada, Haiti or Venezuela, misandry and the attacks on men and masculinity must stop.
We live in a society that marginalises men and their problems, that routinely ridicules men and boys. We hear about mansplaining in which men are presumed to routinely talk down to women and explain topics to them that they already understand. The concept, but not the term, was first discussed by author Rebecca Solnit after a man apparently explained a book to her, not knowing that she had written it. That terrible man, being unable to read her mind.
And then there are some less well-known examples. Manterruption in which it is alleged men interrupt women when speaking more than the other way around. Some fairly dubious research has been used to try to justify that one.
Most people probably haven’t heard of manslamming, which claims that men seek to dominate footpaths and simply slam into women while walking around. A young woman tried to popularise this by walking around and slamming into men.
The End of Men is an article, subsequently a book, by Hanna Rosin. Rosin covers some of the issues facing men and boys but goes on to argue that these problems have their basis in fundamental problems with being male.
Meanwhile, the Munk Debates in Canada, which are broadcast around the world, had an episode called Men are Obsolete in which four women (but no men) debated whether or not men are obsolete.
Here in Australia we’ve recently had calls for a curfew for men including a newspaper article titled, A curfew for men? What a great idea by Melinda Houston that appeared in various major Australian newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald. Setting aside for a moment what a ridiculous and impractical idea this is, it clearly shows that the actions of a few men are reflected on men as a whole. I’m fairly certain Ms Houston wasn’t serious but it doesn’t matter. The damage is done. Gender relations in Australia have further deteriorated.
Deadbeat dads? Let’s spare a thought for the dads that haven’t seen their kids in years because of a dysfunctional family court system.
Returning recently was a chestnut that has done the rounds for many years. That men are genetically inferior to women.
These claims usually come about as suggesting that the Y chromosome is somehow defective and is ultimately doomed. These claim can occur because the Y chromosome is smaller than the X chromosome, contains fewer genes. These sorts of simplistic claims show a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics.
Every difference between men and women comes, directly or indirectly, from the Y chromosome. To claim that the Y chromosome is a disadvantage for men is to reject everything it is to be male and to reject all of the achievements of men, now and in the past.
We’ve even reached the point where well-known columnist Polly Dunning stated in an article
in the Sydney Morning Herald:
There were dark moments in the middle of the night (when all those dark thoughts come), when I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside me.
In the article, Dunning explained her change of heart following the birth of her son but her comments are still truly disturbing.
Men and boys are often portrayed as stupid. The TV formula so often seen in sitcoms of a stupid or inept (but often well-meaning) man married to a super-woman who can solve all of his problems for him by the end of the episode is so common it is a cliche. The mass media is full of negative portrayals of men. The news media is constantly telling us about negative aspects of masculinity. This has led to a general
perception of men as people to be feared and suspected.
This had led many airlines to maintain a policy of never seating unaccompanied minors next to men. The implicit assumption here seems to be that the men cannot be trusted next to a child. Many men report feeling uneasy around children, fearful that they will be accused of some terrible act. This is a major cause of men avoiding certain industries, such as childcare and teaching.
A series of t-shirts and other products produced in the United States a few years ago suggested that “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them.” These t-shirts can also be found in Australia. The manufacturers took no regard for the impact their products would have on young minds.
Here I discuss some of the issues facing men and boys. There are many more.
Women in most nations have the right to choose not to be a parent. This right exists through the option to have an abortion, through the use of adoption or through the use of safe haven drop off points. Many jurisdictions allow the mother to use any of these options against the wishes of the father. In contrast, for men consent to sex is consent to parenthood.
Today men actually lack reproductive rights. Unlike women, in many western countries, men cannot choose not to be a father. In the United States, there have been many cases in which a boy has been raped by an adult woman. The boy was not legally able to consent to the sexual activity and yet when the woman became pregnant the boy was required to pay child support (including back payments) on reaching the age of 18.
Many men have been ordered by courts to continue supporting a child that is not theirs, even after they present conclusive evidence (such as the results of a DNA test) showing that they are not the biological father of the child, and in some cases had no relationship with the child at all.
We want men to have the same reproductive choice that women currently enjoy.
In most nations, today women gain the right to genital integrity at birth. In an increasing number of nations, this right is actively enforced for girls. Boys eventually gain this right too but the exact age at which this occurs isn’t clear. We do know that boys in the United States still do not have this right at the age of five.
Female genital mutilation is now illegal in many countries, and international organisations work to reduce this practice. These same societies often refuse to grant boys the same bodily autonomy that they grant girls the right to be protected from unnecessary medical procedures. We object to male genital mutilation (also known as circumcision) on the same grounds as female genital mutilation. Both violate the human rights of the person being mutilated and both should be illegal. In many countries today all people have protection from unnecessary medical procedures except for infant boys.
Many do not know that the foreskins of infant boys are not destroyed as medical waste but are rather put to a variety of uses. While it is true a few are used for medical research the majority go to cosmetic companies. In some countries, the sale of foreskins by hospitals is a lucrative business.
We want boys to have the same rights to bodily integrity that girls currently enjoy.
Women have always known that they are the mother of the child they birthed. Only recently have men had the chance to truly know that they are the parent of a particular newborn. In some countries, such as France, paternity testing is illegal unless permitted by a court of law.
We want men to have the same certainty of parenthood that women currently enjoy. This could be achieved through mandatory paternity testing at birth.
Presumption of Innocence
The #MeToo movement has seen countless men tried in the court of public opinion without so much as a cursory investigation into the allegations against them.
We also see serious issues with police ignoring exculpatory evidence in sexual assault investigations in the UK and elsewhere. We might see this here soon too. Perhaps it is happening already.
The affirmative consent and enthusiastic consent laws now being enacted around Australia shift the burden of proof and leave men who have sex with women at the mercy of those women and the judicial system. If a complaint is made against a man he is now left trying to establish that the woman consented.
Male disposability is the tendency for societies to be more willing to sacrifice men than women. It does not mean that society will wantonly throw away the lives of men. Rather it means that if it must choose between sacrificing a man or sacrificing a woman society will generally choose to sacrifice a man.
This manifests in a variety of ways. Societies throughout history have expected men to give up their lives for women and children even when they are not related to them or even know them. When someone is in trouble, societies expect men to be the ones to step up and risk their lives and safety to help people they don’t know. This is still very common although largely invisible. While Australia was talking about ‘toxic masculinity’ and ‘a curfew for men’ every single person risking their lives in that cave in Thailand was a man. It would have been the same if it was a girl’s team rather than a boy’s team in danger. Recently two men in South America spent days in the wilderness to find a western woman that had become lost. This was not ‘big news’. There isn’t even any evidence that anyone said thank you. Boko Haram killed boys for years but no one cared. They kidnapped girls and it was global news.
Male disposability, however, is not just about men dying. Many societies consider men’s time to be their resource to dispose of. In most countries with conscription, only men serve, even today. This is despite the fact that most military roles are not combat roles. Even if a nation decided not to send women in to combat there are many military roles in which conscripted women could serve. Israel conscripts women into non-combat roles. Israeli women may volunteer for combat roles while men may be forced in to combat. Eritrea is a rare example of a country that conscripts women into combat roles alongside men.
There is an expectation for men to risk their lives and safety to help others, even people they do not know. Even in the last few years, we’ve seen many media reports in which men were criticised for not risking their lives or safety to rescue others.
We have no problem if a man (or woman) chooses to risk their life or safety to help others but they should not be criticised for not doing so.
Men routinely choose to do the dangerous and dirty jobs in society. Many of these industries try to actively recruit women but have largely failed. To a large degree, both men and women view women’s lives as more valuable than men’s.
Men are significantly more likely to be victims of violence in public but little is said about this in the public sphere. Here in Australia, the government has programs to reduce violence against the gender that is already least likely to experience violence.
We even see widespread violence against men in the media. Men are killed in droves in modern TV shows with nary a mention.
We reject male disposability in the modern world. While it may have made sense for a society in the past to be prepared to sacrifice its men for the survival of the society, we hold that this is no longer necessary. With a population exceeding 7.5 billion that might reach 10 or 11 billion in a few decades, we no longer need the ability to quickly recover numbers and so the original reasons for male disposability no longer apply.
Food distribution following disasters
A very concerning problem relates to the distribution of food following disasters. The world’s largest humanitarian organisation, the World Food Programme, which is part of the United Nations, excludes men and boys from food distribution centres on the basis of gender alone. Men and boys may not enter the food distribution centres. Women are permitted to enter and are then expected to distribute the food to their relatives. These organisations claim that special provision is made for families with no female members but they are light on details.
This has happened in Haiti in the past and appears it may be happening among Venezualean refugees in Colombia.
The prevailing position taken by organisations like White Ribbon Australia and our own government towards domestic violence and intimate partner violence ignores available research.
Domestic violence between people who are in an intimate relationship is today known as intimate partner violence, or IPV.
Reciprocal IPV involves intimate partner violence in which each person in the relationship is both a perpetrator and victim of IPV. The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge (PASK) Project, the largest meta-analysis of DV/IPV research ever undertaken, shows that more than half of all IPV is reciprocal.
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health also found that about half of all IPV is reciprocal IPV. The study examined differences in injury rates between reciprocal and non-reciprocal IPV and found that injury rates are higher in reciprocal IPV than non-reciprocal IPV.
The Duluth Model which is originated in the US but widely influential here treats IPV as something men do to women. Without accepting the true nature of IPV we can never hope to significantly reduce it.
We object to all domestic violence regardless of the gender of the people involved.
Men and boys have higher mortality rates at every age. The difference in life expectancy for men and women in western countries actually widened during most of the 20th century, peaking in the 1990s. One significant contributor to this is the priority that is given to women’s health in research funding.
Even when the evidence against men and women and prior criminal histories are the same, men are more likely to be arrested for an offence, more likely to be charged with an offence, more likely to be convicted of an offence, more likely to receive a custodial sentence, and the sentence will on average be significantly longer. Some states openly advocate on this basis. A UK government commission recently advocated the abolition of all women’s prisons. One of the advantages, they argued, was that these prisons could then be used to incarcerate more men.
Laws that are written in a gender-neutral way are often not applied that way, and this is most often is to the detriment of men.
We want fairness in judicial outcomes and sentencing.
Men experience high levels of violence in society and there is very little recognition of this. Men are close to twice as likely to experience violence as women.
Female-on-male violence is an often ignored problem. Some women, having been taught that violence is gendered, simultaneously object to violence against women but feel that violence against men is inconsequential. One often-repeated myth is that a woman cannot physically harm a man. The many men injured and killed by women are a testament to the erroneous nature of this belief.
Society and the government both ignore and marginalise male victims of violence.
Men are good
Much has been made of negative qualities ascribed to men. These characteristics are often grouped under the heading of Toxic Masculinity and ultimately lead to ridiculous claims like a curfew for men.
There is another side to all of this. The many positive qualities that men bring to societies, their communities and their families.
Men are far more likely to help women, even women they don’t know than to ever harm a woman.
Now when we talk about a father here, we might be talking about the biological father or a stepfather or perhaps another father figure.
Not everyone can have an involved father of course but that doesn’t take away from the fact that many children would benefit from an involved father figure in their lives and that by extension the involvement of men in their children’s lives benefits society as a whole.
Children with involved fathers benefit in a number of ways. This list is not intended to be exhaustive.
Children with involved fathers commit fewer crimes than those without. This is also true for violent crimes. Children with involved fathers also commit less bullying.
They are also less likely to experience depression and anxiety. Partly because of this they are less likely to engage in illicit drug use.
Women who grew up with involved fathers showed lower incidence of teen pregnancy as well as better and more stable relationships with men later in life. Research also found that women with involved fathers tended to be less likely to be derogatory towards men and boys.
Presence of fathers in the lives of their children even improve physical and mental health. Children with a dad in their lives are more likely to graduate from high school and overall do better academically.
Men play so many important roles in society.
A lot is made about financial independence these days but the truth is most of us are only independent within the narrow constraints of an industrialised society that keeps us safe and well fed. Few people are truly independent.
There are many jobs in our society that are almost exclusively done by men. Without these jobs our industrialised society would not function. Many of these jobs are unglamerous and some of them pay better than others. What they all have in common is that they are almost exclusively performed by men. We sometimes call these invisible jobs as the majority of people, safe and secure in air conditions apartments and offices can easily forget any of this is going on.
Invisible jobs include:
- High rise window washers
- Road crews
- Garbage collectors
- Deep sea fishermen
- Electrical linesmen
- Heating mechanics
- Air conditioning mechanics
- Refrigeration mechanics
Each of us should think about this the next time someone says that men are obsolete or that there should be a curfew for men.
A call to action
We need help. Only a small minority of our supporters ever become active. Some are afraid of the repercussions of involvement but the reality is that there are many jobs that need to be done out of the limelight and every little bit helps.
There are many groups that agree on the problems facing men and boys. Feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia, conservatives, liberals, movements like MGTOW and the men’s rights movement all broadly agree on the problems facing men and boys. Where we differ is in what to do about the problems.
The men’s rights movement, despite claims often made by our opponents, is not intrinsically right wing. In fact, the men’s rights movement does not easily fit into a left-right paradigm. With a strong emphasis on equality before the law and the rights of the individual the men’s rights movement can initially appear to be similar to Libertarianism but even that is a superficial appraisal. I offer these objectives for the men’s rights movement:
- To engage in reasoned peaceful advocacy.
- To eliminate gynocentrism and male disposability.
- To resolve certain issues facing men and boys.
- To achieve equality of opportunity for all.
- To oppose enforcement of traditional gender roles.
It’s this last point that I want to focus on today. It’s often claimed by our opponents that we want to wind back the clock and put women back in the kitchen. This could not be further from the truth. Many MRAs refer to enforcing gender roles as telling men to get back on the plantation. That alone should give a good indication of how the men’s rights movement views gender roles. But our movement is all about choice and that is why we will not discourage a couple if they prefer to maintain traditional gender roles in their relationship. That is a matter for themselves.
It’s important to mention Barry Williams and the Lone Fathers Association of Australia. Barry and the Lone Fathers association have been campaigning for court reform for decades.
The Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation Founded by Amanda Sillars seeks to reduce the prevalence and impact of parental alienation in the Australian community.
The Parental Alienation… Family Violence Lost in the FOG conference will be held in Hobart from October 17-19, 2018.
The Australian Brotherhood of Fathers, founded by Leith Erikson, has been campaigning for reform in the family courts for several years. The ABF was also involved in establishing EndAllDv House on the Gold Coast.
Before concluding up I’d like to finish up with a brief story. Back in 1137 the castle of Weinsberg in Germany had endured a long siege. Finally, a surrender of the castle was negotiated. All of the women would be permitted to leave the castle while the men, remaining inside, would be executed. The women would be permitted to take out as much as they could carry on their backs.
Soon after the castle gate opened and each woman stepped out, labouring under the weight on her back, for each woman was carrying her husband. King Konrad who was leading the army besieging the castle was impressed by this clever deception and let the women pass unimpeded.
The misandry so common in society today devalues men and boys. It focuses on the negatives only. Rather we need widespread recognition that we’re all in this together and that women won’t be better off in a society where men have failed.
It’s time to stop the shaming of men and boys. It’s time to stop the name calling. It’s time for the entire community to come together and end misandry.