I told myself I was going to write about something happier (or at least more whimsical) but I couldn’t let this one pass by. Chloe over at the Bodycrimes blog has some great posts on the topic of Men’s Rights Activism. I wanted to highlight one of her posts because it sums up my feelings on the topic perfectly:
These reactions are rarely about addressing imbalances. They’re about the dominant group trying to stay dominant. Let’s face it, the Men’s Rights movement is never going to get out and campaign for child care in their work place, so they can see more of their kids, or shorter hours for working fathers, or the right to paternity leave. They’re not going to be marching against the sexual abuse of children, or even putting programs in place to support men in prisons and the military who are victims of rape. That’s not what they really want. What they want is for equality to go away and for us to return to some idealised time that never really existed.Let’s face it. They just hate women.
I couldn’t have said it better. The entire post is worth your time. You should go take a look.
One thought on “Men’s Rights Activists: A Follow-Up”
That was a great article. This line particularly stood out to me. “I get what he was about, to be honest. The men-bad/woman-good ‘all heterosexual sex is rape’ strain that ran through second-wave feminism, still up and running in the late 1990s when I did my project, was too black and white. Too inaccurate.”
I think any activist group will eventually get a bit out of control, no matter how good the cause actually is. Once you reach a certain level of exposure, you eventually get co-opted by crazies with extreme agendas, and your salient points get covered up by those fringe agendas. At that point, the group basically has to reform and rally behind a new set of causes.
MADD is a great example. When MADD was formed, society didn’t treat drunk driving as a “real” crime in the same way we don’t treat jaywalking as a crime. A cop who pulled over a drunk driver was more likely to just tell them to “Drive straight home” then take them to jail. The mother who started the group lost two children to drunk driving, and her goal was to raise public awareness of the harms of Drunk Driving and get police to honor laws that were on the books.
Thankfully for us all, MADD’s goal was achieved, and now pretty much every alcohol add includes a plea to ‘drink responsibility.’ However, MADD was co-opted by crazies, the founder was forced out of her own organization, and the group rebranded themselves as “Mothers Against Destructive Decisions.” In this new incarnation, they are little more than a neo-prohibitionist group, and they’ve done such mind-bending things as protesting safe-ride programs for encouraging drinking when a safe-ride program SHOULD be exactly what they support.
PETA is the same. Originally against animal cruelty, they now espouse ideas like “owning pets is slavery,” and “an animal’s life is greater than a human life.” Second-wave feminism followed the same route. A follow-up to women’s suffrage, their original goal was to fight institutionalized sexism. However, at some point, they got co-opted by misandrists who saw sexism in the most innocuous things. Luckily, third-wave feminism came along, which I think tackles many of the real gender issues that are still endemic, and is a perfect refuge for any feminists who are disenfranchised with the path that second-wave feminism followed. I know that I’ve turned people onto third-wave feminism who had previously said “I’m not a feminist! Those people are crazy. I believe in equality!”
Oddly, MRA’s were never co-opted. They popped up as a reaction to what second-wave feminism became, populated largely by those unaware of third-wave feminism who identified all “feminists” as that crazy man-hating stereotype. Unfortunately, as a reaction to craziness, they attracted craziness in record time. It certainly doesn’t help that the proper response to second-wave feminism already existed in the form of third-wave feminism, which I think is just as welcoming to men as women.