Dan Moore of MenZ magazine gives his perspective on fundamental men’s rights issues, breaks down MRA sub-groups, and answers the question: Why do MRAs hate feminism?
My involvement with the Men’s Rights Movement began nearly two decades ago, before Reddit gave MRAs (men’s rights activists) a place to gather, and before I founded MenZ magazine. Back then, there was a thing we call the “Lace Curtain,” a reference to the media’s unwillingness to take a male-sympathetic view of anything, even to the point of suppressing any pro-male comments or letters to the editor. We used to send out an email alert whenever someone got a letter to the editor published in their local paper. It was so rare, we had to celebrate it.
We’ve made a lot of progress as a movement since then. But what kind of progress, exactly? It’s obvious we exist, and that we’re angry and loud—but what do we believe in and stand for today? Explaining the MRM involves exploding so many of the cultural myths we live with that it would take more than one article to cover them. But, if you’ll bear with me, I’m going to try.
Men have no reproductive rights throughout what we would call the Political West. Men have no right to choose if they are ready for parenthood post-conception, even though women have that right (and staunchly defend it). While the morality of letting men abandon pregnant girlfriends is left in question, the base inequality of the current situation is not. We have a blatant legal double standard, based solely on the sex of the person involved. Either give men the same rights as women, or restrict women’s rights to equal those of men—I don’t care which. But to fail to do so is to promote sexism as official government policy.
As the Department of Health and Human Services concedes,”historically, unmarried fathers have had fewer rights with regard to their children than either unwed mothers or married parents.” For example, as an unintended consequence of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which required single mothers seeking public assistance to identify the father and put states in charge of collecting child support, millions of men across the U.S. were declared dads by “default judgment.” As Matt Welch wrote in a 2004 issue of Reason magazine:
[W]hen the government accuses you of fathering a child, no matter how flimsy the evidence, you are one month away from having your life wrecked. Federal law gives a man just 30 days to file a written challenge; if he doesn’t, he is presumed guilty. And once that steamroller of justice starts rolling, dozens of statutory lubricants help make it extremely difficult, and prohibitively expensive, to stop—even, in most cases, if there’s conclusive DNA proof that the man is not the child’s father.
Many states have since passed reform bills, but paternity fraud is still a problem.
While we’re talking about family court, how about those child support tables? They were based in part on hysteria created when sociologist Lenore Weitzman concluded, in a 1985 report, that after a divorce women’s standard of living went down 73 percent, and men’s went up 42 percent. “For several years after the publication of her book, she did not make her data available to other researchers,” according to the Associated Press. In 1996, she admitted that her calculations were faulty. A re-analysis of her numbers “found a 27 percent decline in women’s post-divorce standard of living and a 10 percent increase in men’s—still a serious gap, but not the catastrophic one that Weitzman saw.”
But by that time it was too late. According to the 1996 AP report, Weitzman’s bogus statistic had already been cited in 348 social-science articles, 250 law review articles, 24 appeals and Supreme Court cases, and in President Clinton’s 1996 budget. “This has been one of the most widely quoted statistics in recent history,” said Anne Colby, director of Radcliffe College’s Murray Research Center at the time.
All this is done under “no fault” divorce, which basically means there’s no reason needed to initiate divorce and no acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Even in cases where one spouse is decent and hardworking and upstanding, and the other cheats and drinks too much and is addicted to gambling and takes off with the kids, there can be no assignation of blame. Alone, this is no big deal until you factor in the misandric culture we live in, where accusations of wrongdoing are gendered in the media.
Speaking of the law, men have particular concerns when it comes to the justice system. There has been a massive spike in incarcerations in the U.S. over the last 30 years. Nearly all of those are men, and nearly all of those men are poor, and usually black. While some might see this as our society being tough on crime, I see a society locking their “undesirables” out of sight. And while black and white men are often treated differently, the differences in treatment between men and women are substantially greater.