David Futrelle dug deep into the Men’s Rights Movement, looking for some kind of activism. Here’s what he found.
When I started my blog Man Boobz around six months ago, I intended to mostly discuss the issues motivating those in the Men’s Rights Movement, and to highlight some of the sillier misogynist emanations from men’s rights activists (MRAs). But the more I delved into the movement online, the more convinced I became that, for most of those involved in it, the movement isn’t really about the issues at all—rather, it’s an excuse to vent male rage and spew misogyny online.
To borrow a phrase from computer programmers: misogyny isn’t a bug in the Men’s Rights Movement; it’s a feature.
Men’s rights activists aren’t much like any other activists I’ve ever run across. For one thing, for supposed activists they are almost completely inactive. Sure, they complain endlessly about things they see as terrible injustices against men. They just don’t do anything about them. While some of those who consider themselves fathers’ rights activists—a slightly different breed from your garden-variety MRAs—try to influence laws and legislatures, MRAs do little more than cultivate their resentments.
MRAs complain about (and dramatically overstate the number of) false rape accusations, but instead of mounting media campaigns or protests or anything else that would involve trying to bring this issue to a wider world, the overwhelming majority of MRAs seem content to use the issue as an excuse to rant about lying bitches online. MRAs, meanwhile, are quick to raise the issue prison rape (which mostly affects men) whenever rape is being discussed, but generally only to score rhetorical points; very few MRAs seem to even be aware there is an established national organization, Just Detention, devoted to fighting prison rape.
Similarly, MRAs complain that there are virtually no domestic violence shelters specifically designed for male victims, but unlike the feminists and other activists who fought for years to get the woman-centered shelters we have today, MRAs seem content to gripe that feminists haven’t given them shelters, too. The closest thing we’ve seen to an actual activist campaign from MRAs on this issue was when Glenn Sacks, a fathers’ rights activist, called on his supporters to besiege the biggest donors to one domestic-violence shelter serving mostly women—they had run an ad Sacks didn’t like—in an attempt to get them to stop donating to the shelter. That’s right: instead of trying to raise money to build domestic-violence shelters for men, Sacks’ fans instead tried to take money away from a shelter for women.
At its heart, men’s rights activism doesn’t really seem to be about activism at all. What the movement has turned into is a strange parody of “victim feminism,” an endless search for proof that men (despite earning more than women, heading up the overwhelming majority of companies and governments in the world, getting all the best movie roles, never having to wear heels, and so on and so on and so on) are in fact second-class citizens.
MRAs are as sensitive to signs of oppression as the princess from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea,” who was able to detect the presence of a pea under 20 mattresses. No sign of “oppression” is too trivial to whine about; these are people who think that whenever a woman “gets away with” calling a man a “creep”—apparently the worst insult in the world, far worse than “slut” or “bitch” or other insults directed at women that I cannot repeat here—it is a sign that women “sit on a pedestal of privilege.”
Others see themselves as besieged by women … dressing slutty. One would-be patriarch complained on a forum promoting patriarchy that “dressing provocatively and then suppressing male urges is an assault on men’s sexuality.” By “suppressing male urges” he essentially means not having sex with any man who lusts after her. Meanwhile, his idea of “dressing provocatively” includes wearing blue jeans, “because a tight pair of jeans will accentuate a woman’s legs and buttocks. High heels meet the same conflict as tight jeans, while they may not show extra skin, they accentuate a woman’s legs and buttocks. “Even uncovered hair is bad,” as “raw, long hair can excite men.”