I am NOT a Men’s Rights Activist. Here’s Why . . .

Am I going to piss off my reader-base with this post, or what? Fuck it.

Okay, you guys know I’m not a feminist. I’ve been very open about it. It is an ideology that I do not agree with, not even the most basic of tenets that it espouses. So if I’m not a feminist and I actively speak out against the movement, that must mean that I align myself with the counter movement, right? It must mean that I agree with the movement that sprang into existence specifically to act against feminism. Not right.

I am not a men’s rights activist. I know I generally come across as one, what with my anti-feminism and everything. But I am not one. I mentioned in my post on why I’m not a feminist that I see MRMs and feminism as flip sides of the same obnoxious, self-pitying coin. I’ll get more into that later on, but first I’ll say some good things, most of which I’ll just be reiterating and expanding on from my brief mention of MRAs before.

I can sympathize with plenty of MRM points. I’ll get that out of the way right now. I can sympathize with you guys and gals plenty of the time, much more than I sympathize with feminism–and I do sometimes sympathize with feminism, by the way. I don’t think that men’s rights activists are taken seriously, and I think that’s a problem simply because MRAs bring up points that feminism doesn’t bother with addressing despite claiming that it’s a movement for all genders. I don’t think it’s fair that feminism so often gets a get-outta-jail-free card whenever it doesn’t make sense, whereas MRMs get raked over the coals and dressed down for even the slightest transgression. How the movement is treated isn’t fair, and that’s a large part as to why I can sympathize with it so much. Its good points are unfairly ignored, and it’s bad points, though rightly lambasted, are over-acknowledged, as opposed to feminism’s bad points, which aren’t acknowledged enough, if they’re even addressed at all.

That being said, why don’t I give myself the label? I’ll create a handy little list to explain.


 

1.) It seems way too dead set on being against feminism, no matter what.

I get this one. I do. The men’s rights movement is, at its heart, an anti-feminist movement. I can get behind that just fine. It makes sense that MRAs argue with feminists. It makes all the sense in the world. But men’s rights activists oftentimes seem less concerned with productive debate and pointing out the legitimate flaws in feminist rhetoric and more concerned with disagreeing with a feminist for the sake of disagreeing with a feminist. It doesn’t matter what that feminists is saying: They could be talking about how the sky is blue and water is wet, and an MRA will disagree with them. I’m not saying that feminists don’t do this to MRM points–they do, which is part of the problem–but it’s bad when both sides do it, not just them.

I realize that the MRM exists as a counter movement against feminism, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary. Being a counter movement doesn’t mean that you have to disagree with every single thing the other side has to say on principle. It’s not an all-or-nothing deal: You aren’t less of an MRA because you don’t fight with feminists over everything. You can throw your opponent a bone every now and again and still be just as much against them and their main argument as you were before. It actually helps you because it enforces the idea that you’re not just disagreeing with them because they’re the “them” in the Us vs Them situation, and you have to be against whatever it is they’re saying just by default because the bell has rung and we’re fighting now.

It’s like with the Elliot Roger ordeal. It was a tragedy, and I hate how feminists exploited it to talk about how misogyny was the true killer wooo weee wooo, and I hated the YesAllWomen hashtag, and I hated how it was used as an excuse to bad-talk the MRM. I generally hated all the rhetoric surrounding the tragedy because it really just seemed like a bunch of people chomping at the bit to talk about how this mass murder was totes relevant to the -ism they’re fighting against, all while seeming to not really care about the tragedy that just happened outside of how useful it was as a talking point.

With all the demonization the MRM was going through, I fully understand the hostility the tragedy caused, but there were lots of MRAs who weren’t even willing to admit that Roger was a misogynist, like denying the obvious would somehow help them make a point to the feminists. Even Karen Straughan (who makes videos that I actually really like for the most part, and if you like this blog you should really go watch them) seemed to deny that Roger was a misogynist. I don’t get how that helped. I don’t get how that made the debate more constructive. You could acknowledge that he was a misogynist–as he clearly was–and still make perfectly valid arguments about how his misogyny wasn’t what drove him to kill and about how our culture in no way promotes the sexist mindset he had and about how his misogyny was one among many messed up ideas he had, so there’s no reason to act like it’s more important than all the other ones. It was just a case of MRAs being against what feminists were saying just because feminists were saying it, which isn’t good, guys. It’s literally the exact same way feminism treats MRMs. They write off everything you have to say because you gave yourself a label that they have taken it upon themselves to be opposed to.

If feminists are making an actual point, it’s good to address that. It’s good to address when any group brings up something of actual merit, whether you’re against that group or not. Ignoring someone who actually kind of has a point doesn’t help you out in the long run. Part of fostering change is being willing to meet people in the middle sometimes, which neither MRAs or feminists seem to want to do.  

 

2.) It commits the crime of demonization (Just like feminism does–are you seeing a pattern here yet?).

Something you’ll hear from MRAs a lot is that the feminist movement not only sucks now but it has always sucked since the beginning of time. Feminism was never good, it never had any merit, the suffragettes were just a bunch of whiners who wanted more privileges. This goes back to the idea that you can throw your enemy a bone every now and then and have that not be a discredit to you: Acknowledging that women didn’t get to vote for a stupidly long time in this country’s history doesn’t make you less of an anti-feminist. You don’t have to completely and utterly demonize the women’s suffrage movement just because you’re anti-feminists. You can acknowledge when good things have happened. The women’s rights movement of the 20th century was one of those good things.

So the suffragettes were racist. To be more accurate, they were racist as fuck. They only really helped white women out to begin with. That is the fact of the matter. Was it ideal? Of course not. But they still accomplished something of merit–they fought for basic rights for someone. You could do this with every widespread social movement. The thing about social movements is that you have to look at the full picture in which they’re occurring and acknowledge that there was a world outside just that social movement and whatever it was fighting against. People look at the past like it was just the present day, but with a different date. They act like modern values are the values that people had back then, no matter what they’re talking about. The black Civil Rights movement was sexist as hell–it was an unashamed boys club, no girls allowed. The founding fathers of this country were classist dicks, many of whom either owned slaves or were totes okay with abusing Native Americans, who essentially declared themselves above the law because they didn’t want to pay their taxes anymore. Lincoln freed the slaves but did nothing about indentured servitude, which was in many ways worse than slavery. Ghandi was racist. 

So the suffragettes were racist. Yeah. Didn’t really expect them not to be. That doesn’t mean that them being racist as fuck was okay, but it was understandable given the context and not really something you can judge the movement’s and its members’ entire character on. Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on his wife multiple times–are you going to call him a bad person? Excluding black women was the practical thing to do, and I say that as a black woman. Black men couldn’t vote either, so if they included black women in their movement, they’d pretty much be saying that black men should vote too–which was not what the movement was about. I guarantee you that they would get absolutely nothing accomplished if they went to their racist as fuck politicians and not only tried to convince them that women should be able to vote but black people should vote too. You can only hit people with so much at one time, and blaming suffragettes for that is essentially lamenting that they didn’t kick start every American Civil Rights movement all at once, right then and there. It being limited by the misfortunes of the time doesn’t make what they did manage to accomplish invalid. They still did something for some group of disadvantaged people at some point. Could it have been better? Yes. But it wasn’t all bad, and that’s not reason to discredit the entire thing.

And what about feminists now? MRMs utterly demonize feminism as the worst thing ever in every circumstance. I get it–you’re anti-feminists, but you could benefit from some nuance occasionally. Casting your opponents as nothing but evil shrieking harpies who just wanna keep ya down does nothing and helps no one. The typical MRA spiel is that feminism is a hate group and that all feminists are misandrists feminazis, which isn’t a way to earn any points. I’m not tone-trolling–that’s just an obviously not-true claim, just as untrue as feminists saying that all MRAs are misogynistic neckbeards and that MRMs are hate groups. Once again, the extremism doesn’t help. It just opens the door for people who want to disagree with you to point at this obvious hyperbole and use it to discredit any legitimate points you have to make. 

 

3.) It plays the victim card just as much as feminism does, then goes on to discredit actual problems all in the name of being contrary.

This is an offshoot of the Us vs Them mentality that this entire Feminism vs Men’s Rights debacle perpetuates to counterproductive and exacerbating degrees. You can’t just say that someone is wrong, you have to say, “You’re wrong, and I’m right.” What’s that mean? Well, it’s not enough for MRMs to point out the victimology of feminism and point it out as bullshit. It’s not enough to point out that women aren’t the victims of every situation like feminists so often say they are. MRMs have to take it a step further and insist that women aren’t the victims, but men are. Men are the ones with all the odds stacked against them and women are the ones who benefit from all the sexism. That’s just swapping out one form of gendered extremism for another, guys! You might as well start saying that the matriarchy hurts women too for all the sense that makes.

Men have current problems. I fully appreciate the men’s rights movement pointing that out, because feminists don’t really seem interested in that despite many a feminist’s claim that feminism works for men too. I’m glad that there’s a movement that actually cares about male rape victims and guys who get jipped in custody battles and unfair child support laws and prison sentences. I’m glad that you guys care because the feminists don’t. And the fact that feminists pretend to care about those things as opposed to just owning up to the fact that it’s a women’s rights movement and only a women’s rights movement, is a big part of the problem. So men have issues. They have had issues in the past that no one addresses (like being wholly expendable to everyone around them).

Women have current problems too. They have also had issues in the past. Denying the legitimacy of one issue to lend importance to another is a tactic feminists use, and it’s one that MRMs use as well. They write off the problems men face because men have always been the oppressors in order to make women’s issues seem more vital and important and more worth our care and attention. I get that that’s what you’re going up against and that a certain level of vitriol is to be expected from dealing with such a biased and insipid opponent. But being biased and insipid right back isn’t helping matters.

Many MRAs seem to outright refuse to acknowledge that women have it tough sometimes or had it tough at any point in history. They act like women were the fucking Illuminati back in the Olden Days, pulling all the strings, being the Lady MacBeth in the background affecting everything, holding the true power over all of the helpless and hapless men in their lives who were the real powerless victims throughout the whole ordeal, being kept under the over-demanding and matriarchal thumb of women dum dum duuuuuuum. You don’t have to do that, guys. Just like feminists don’t have to turn men into Snidely Whiplash villains to make a point about how women got the short end of the stick sometimes. Yeah, the women of the past weren’t as overwhelmingly miserable with their stations in life as feminists make them out to be and women aren’t all that “oppressed” now, but MRAs seem to take that rebuttal too far in the opposite direction by insisting that women never had anything to complain about ever and have nothing to complain about now, and that it’s men who have always gotten the short end of the stick. It’s a fucking dick waving competition of self-pity. “We have all the problems and you have none!” “No, we have all the problems and you have none!”

Can’t we just acknowledge that both genders have problems? Women in some states not being given access to some form of birth control or objective information about birth control? That’s bad, and it’s a legitimate women’s issue that shouldn’t be downplayed. You don’t have to downplay that issue to point out that men not having much of a say in custody battles is also a legitimate issue. Women not being able to own land back in the Olden Days? It was fucked up. And you can acknowledge that it was fucked up without twisting it into some conspiracy theory about how they might not have owned land but they used their feminine wiles to have true control over the land anyway and make the men their emotional slaves. Men being expected to do all the backbreaking labor? It was also fucked up. You don’t have to insist that one gender had all the benefits while the other had all the hardships just to make a point. Women got the comfort and safety, men got the control and autonomy, and both of those came with their ups and their downs. Feminists don’t acknowledge the upsides that women had or the downsides that men had, but MRMs seem to flip that mentality around. It’s too black-and-white in both regards. It insists upon making a pampered, spoiled enemy out of the other gender instead of looking at things objectively and just acknowledging when one had it better or worse than the other.

 

4.) A lot of you actually do seem like you’re fucking misogynists, and that’s not helping your cause at all.

This is a problem with rhetoric in the same vein as feminist disrespecting someone’s accomplishments just because they’re a white male. I’m not going to say that MRMs have lots of misogynists just because I don’t know. The internet isn’t a good place to judge that anymore than judging whether or not the feminist movement has lots of misandrists. The internet is just too full of vocal minorities as a general rule to make any firm assumption about the demographic/ideological makeup of either movement. So yeah, I’m not saying that MRAs are misogynists. That would be dumb and overgeneralizing. I don’t know you. But I will say that you often come across like misogynists, and that’s coming from an anti-feminist woman who hates throwing around buzzwords like “misogynist” and would otherwise be perfectly willing to support you.

This is where the extremism becomes totally off-putting. With the other examples, I’m critical of the extreme way MRMs go about things, but I can understand it. I understand why you have to be so aggressive and contrary: You’re going up against feminists who use unfair discrediting tactics against you all the time and sometimes it’s all you can do to be confrontational because people won’t listen to you otherwise. I get that. I understand that sometimes you have to choose being loud over being collected. I understand that going up against feminism can be really, incredibly frustrating, and I understand that living in a country that values feminism so much despite all of its obvious flaws is a really trying experience. I’m with you on that. 

But some of the comments MRAs make in the name of being anti-feminist are not okay. Going after a feminist not with logic and reason but with rape threats and gendered insults and vague comments about how women just don’t know their biologically determined place is not okay. Talking about how men have been emasculated, about how women need to be more respectful to men and stop being so slutty and manipulative, about how women just want to steal the good jobs and treat men like shit, about how women being empowered turns them into bitches, about how women “in power” don’t respect families, about how wanting access to basic birth control makes them greedy whores, that guys who are in love are just pussy whipped and henpecked . . . the list goes on and on, and it’s that kind of rhetoric that seems both common and counterproductive. It doesn’t prove your point. It doesn’t make the people more inclined to agree with you. It doesn’t make it seem like you have a point and that your opponent is in the wrong. It just gives the feminist another reason to cry victimhood and actually affirms feminism as an ideology as opposed to fighting against it. People who make those kinds of comments are derailing the conversation entirely and making the entire men’s rights movement look terrible.

If you disagree with a feminist, fine. Go right ahead. But actually disagree with them. Use talking points and logical arguments that make it seem like your position as an MRA is thought out and reasoned and humanistic and not just your reaction to not betting laid for the last five years and blaming that on the female gender as a whole. Don’t just call them a cunt who deserves to get raped. You’re NOT HELPING. And if that’s all you have to contribute to the conversation, please just STFU.


 

I have my problems with feminism. Boy, do I have my problems with feminism. But one of my main issues is that it generalizes. It refers to “men” like what’s in between your legs is some major aspect of your entire existence and something that everyone rallies around as a unifying factor no matter what. And that’s wrong. Two men are probably no more alike than two women and probably have wildly different ideas and opinions on most topics. But where feminism seems to see “men” as some unrealistically unified and homogeneous group, MRMs seem to do the same thing with “women.”

I know I’m asking a bit much from the human race here, but can we just stop fighting over labels, please? Is that too optimistic? I think it is. Can we deal with issues without killing each other over arbitrary disagreements? Both feminism and men’s rights movements are gender movements, for crying out loud. Shouldn’t you guys be working the fuck together on this? Yeah, feminism has some shit ideas, but MRAs have their faults too. That doesn’t change the fact that you’re both supposedly working for equality of the genders, which means that you should see each other as allies in application, even if you’re not in theory. I can work with someone with different beliefs than me if we have the same goal. Don’t you think having an ally who you disagree with a lot is better than having an enemy who you have to waste time fighting?

I’m not against a men’s rights movement existing just like I’m not against a women’s rights movement existing. It’s probably a good thing that they both exist because it’s unrealistic to say that one movement can deal with all the gender issues. Feminism makes the claim that it can, and it’s doing a piss poor job, so it’s good to have MRAs picking up the slack. You pick your battles. You guys chose the battle for a certain gender, which is all well and good. But don’t be contrary just for the sake of being contrary.

And that’s why I’m not an MRA. I think you should listen to people when they have something to say. Sometimes those people turn out to be humanists, sometimes they’re seculars, sometimes they’re Democrats, sometimes they’re Republicans, sometimes they’re MRAs, and sometimes they’re even feminists. I don’t think labels we give ourselves should define who we associate with or who we give credence to by default. Don’t make an enemy where you would have had a natural ally. And that’s something that both feminists and MRAs seem to do all the time.

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8 thoughts on “I am NOT a Men’s Rights Activist. Here’s Why . . .

  1. Whilst I agree with that ‘labelling’ yourself as being part of a movement often connotes certain things, I think you are wrong in your view of what feminism is really about. I’m a feminist, and I advocate men’s rights (my own blog has a number of posts which state exactly that). I think the issue is that for SOME (not all) feminists, they have misunderstood what feminism a) strives for I.e GENDER equality and b) has actually already achieved. I completely agree that Men’s Rights activists are on the same political spectrum as feminism in some ways, but I think they are striving for different versions of equality. As a patriarchal society we neglect the emotional needs of men and that needs addressing by whoever is brave enough to stand up for them.

  2. First of all men’s rights is primarily focused on men’s rights. MRA’s and the MRM do not pedal a theory of historical and systematic oppression by women and then use this theory to justify certain political policies and social behaviour.

    Anti feminism basically means anti patriarchy theory. It means you do not agree that men have deliberately and systematically acted like total sociopaths and oppressed women for your benefit and at their expense. And you do not agree that women were so inept and weak throughout history that they were unable to negotiate their own gender roles in society….. or play a role in defining men’s gender roles.

    If one disagrees with patriarchy theory one is necessarily anti feminist. Which is to say if one believe men are NOT all-powerful sociopaths and that women are NOT weak, imbeciles with no agency or self motivation then one is necessarily anti feminist.

    > I’m not against a men’s rights movement existing just like I’m not against a women’s rights movement existing.

    Feminism (patriarchy theory) is to women’s rights what the KKK is to white people’s rights. Demonising some ‘other’ group (men/ blacks) and portraying them as a threat to civilised society is not the same thing as as celebrating or advocating for your own group (women / whites).

    • I can agree with that. I would say, though, that MRMs cross the line into admonishing another group in favor of advocating for their own–not as much as feminism, of course, and MRM’s theory doesn’t involve any “matriarchy” that I know of, but it still oftentimes comes across as an acceptable line of thinking to downplay women’s issues just to emphasize the importance of men’s issues.

  3. Bombe 20 says:

    First off, let me say that I have no problem at all with you not calling yourself an M(H)RA. That is your choice to make and I respect that.
    I actually do follow and respect quite a few people who prefer to be egalitarians, humanists, “anti-bullshit” or just “a guy with an opinion”.

    But I do disagree with a lot of your arguments. And that starts with your basic premise of the MHRM being at its heart anti-feminist. No. At its heart, the MHRM is pro-male. And as such, it obviously needs to be against anything that negatively affects men, which certainly includes (an overwhelmingly large part of) feminism, but also for example traditionalist conservatism. I’ve heard quite a few MHRAs argue that traditionalism is actually more dangerous to men’s well-being than feminism because feminists benefit from traditionalist beliefs.

    Most of the rest of your points suffer from your basic premise being false, but often you are also generalizing to the point of strawmanning. I’m not going to go into too much detail because that would make this comment really long, but can you point me to a single M(H)RA seriously claiming that women never had any problems at any time in history? You say that there are “many”, so that should be easy.

    In the same vein, I have literally never seen a self-identified M(H)RA make a rape threat against anybody. Although I have seen rape threats being attributed to MRAs that in reality came from people who didn’t even know that the MHRM existed, and would probably have called MHRAs “whining pussies” and “not real men” if they did.

    So, I can understand you not wanting to wear a label that will make you be viewed as a member of a group that is seen by some/many as being the way you describe here. But that is a different issue from the MHRM actually being the way you claim — which it isn’t.

    As a random final point, if feminists and MHRAs both want equality, why don’t they work together? Well, most MHRAs have no problem at all working with feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers or Wendy McElroy.
    But how do I collaborate with someone who believes in things like “patriarchy” and “male privilege” when trying to achieve equality? That’s like trying to send a rocket to Mars working together with someone who believes that the Earth is flat.

    B20

    • Granted, I should have worded it better, but I stand by the idea. I said that MRMs are, at the core, anti-feminists not because that is the core tenant (I know the core tenant is being pro-male), but because they arose in large part to counter a movement perceived as anti-male (in this case, feminism).

      “Can you point me to a single M(H)RA seriously claiming that women never had any problems at any time in history?”

      Sure: Karen Straughn, in her Disposable Male video (which I actually mostly agree with), didn’t outright say that women had it perfectly fine and a-okay, which I can commend her for seeing as how feminists constantly make that claim about men. But a reoccurring notion throughout the video is her painting the women unhappy with their treatment as spoiled and ungrateful whiners who had nothing to complain about compared to men, who, of course, were the ones who were constantly miserable and mistreated yet silent in their suffering. It’s typically not an openly stated idea in MRMs that women shouldn’t be complaining now and shouldn’t have complained in the past, but the general notion is still floating around in a fairly blatant fashion.

      I understand that sexists on the internet are often written off as MRAs by judgmental people with no reason to think they are, but that laundry list of “problematic” comments I put up there come from a brief browsing of AVFM comment sections. Granted, those weren’t the majority of comments, and I don’t even think the people who made those comments are sexists–probably just tactless–but I think the MRM could do way more to disown that kind of counterproductive mentality, all the same.

      • > It’s typically not an openly stated idea in MRMs that women shouldn’t be complaining now and shouldn’t have complained in the past, but the general notion is still floating around in a fairly blatant fashion.

        I think a distinction needs to be made between just ‘complaining’ and ‘complaining about deliberate systematic oppression by (privileged, sociopathic and all powerful) men’.

        Of course women throughout history have had plenty to complain about (as did men, children, cats and dogs), but feminists frame the hardships experienced by women as male oppression. People like Karen Straghan are not saying women had no reason to complain, just that they had no grounds to complain of systematic male oppression, and by men who were privileged and had it easy.

        Part of the problem is that feminist narrative is so over simplistic and polarised it sets the tone for any debate. It’s hard to rebut feminism’s ‘us vs them’ arguments without retaining some of that ‘us vs them’ mentality in your counter arguments.

        “Women suffered x, y and z”
        “Yes but men suffered A,B and C which is worse than x, y and z”

        People like Karen do a great job of transcending the ‘us vs them’ mentality and looking at the bigger picture.

  4. Awesome post, you tell ’em! 🙂

    I’m not an MRA either because I also see it as the flip side of feminism, simply a reflection of the same old coin. It’s almost as if feminists take their brokenness and turn it into an ideology and now the MRA’s do the same thing. The personal becomes the political and everyone wants to change the world without ever changing themselves first. Sometimes I just want to scream, is anybody interested in actually healing or are we just competing for the position of most persecuted?

  5. cypherhalo says:

    I’m curious if this whole “men’s rights” thing will ever turn into a legitimate movement. For now, I’m with you, I refuse to call myself by that label. Largely for the reasons you cite, too much nasty rhetoric, too much extremism, ridiculous claims about the plight of men. I mean, really, there are problems men are facing and there’s a lot I don’t agree with feminists on, but men have it pretty good all the same.

    Overall, the feminist response is really not helping. Rather then acknowledge some of the actual good points being made, they largely just try to demonize them, I think this just helps lead to extremism. If their ideas aren’t taken seriously, it just leads to people flocking around the MRM banner and it leads to extremism on their part because there’s no real dialogue, just a lot of shouting. Given that it doesn’t seem to be going away, I have to wonder if eventually more respectable voices will rise up and make the “men’s rights” movement more of a legit movement. Sadly, given the cyclical nature of humanity this would probably just lead to the MRMers becoming just like modern day feminists and thus requiring a new feminism to fight against them. *sigh*

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