Men’s Rights and Feminism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

I found this video of one of my absolute favorite Jezebel writers, Lindy West, through the Skepchick blog.  Lindy speaks to a lot of the experiences of female bloggers, especially feminist bloggers.  The amount of hate and vitriol that is directed towards female bloggers is absolutely nauseating, and it seems to be increasing in intensity.  Offhand, I can think of two bloggers I love who have been the target of some particularly nasty stalking and abuse lately, Laci Green and Surly Amy.  My dear friend, Nixie Pixel, has also been a target at times.

I attracted the attention of the MRA (Men’s Rights Activists) subreddit a few months back, due to my Dark Side of Geek Feminism post.  I had some pretty severely conflicting emotions about the fact that, by and large, they all agreed with the post.  Until that time, my only experience with the Men’s Rights movement was through some grumblings on a few of the feminist websites I had been frequenting.

I spent a lot of time on the subreddit, and read a lot.  I cringed every time I read something that was clearly sexist, whether biased towards men or women (a few instances of the posters referring to women that they perceived as acting entitled as “cupcake” really irritated me).  Overall, though, I was surprised to find myself in agreement with a lot of the threads.

I believe it is a tragedy that men who are raped are not taken seriously, and have a harder time getting access to necessary mental health treatment.  I find it infuriating that there are women who actually use rape accusations as a form of bullying, extortion, or to smear a man’s name.  I think that the courts should stop being automatically biased towards women in custody hearings.  These were the main points I read about, and I no longer think of the MRAs (as a whole) as a bad movement.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this shift in my views.  I honestly believe that both sides could use a little more positive PR.  It is my understanding that both sides are trying to draw attention to injustices and attempt to rectify those injustices.  Feminists and MRAs just want to be treated with respect and as though their gender doesn’t determine how they should be treated in everyday life, in the workplace, and by the justice system.  Both sides have their trolls, and their radical elements, but in the end, we all want to be treated equally.  In order to do this, we have to stop vilifying each others movements.  We have to stop accusing entire genders of being culpable for the actions of those few who behave badly.  Yes, making that mental shift is difficult, but it has to happen if we are actually wanting equality for all.  Otherwise, we are undermining our own movements, and creating an Animal Farm mentality, where some are “more equal” than others.

I still think the PUA (Pick Up Artist) community is full of crap though.  Sorry, Lindy, I don’t foresee my thoughts on that group changing anytime soon.

Posted on October 8, 2012, in Feminism and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. dumbguyscene28

    I appreciate your post, and came here from /r/mensrights, and would ask you to remember to say this the next time you find a feminist, or a PZ Myers, or a David Futrelle, or a Skepchick, or anyone rotely maligning mens issues or fathers issues. (Which I admit, in the bullying environment of today’s Internet, can take some guts).

    In the meantime, I do speak up for feminist issues that I agree with (namely equity feminism) and against the rote demonization of either women or feminists.

    • Absolutely. I am constantly learning that instead of taking someone’s word at face value, I have to go and research the topic myself. I am regularly appalled at how biased or misinformed opinions are. Imagine my surprise at learning Fox News isn’t REALLY fair and balanced!

      • pumpkinwhiskers

        I personally identify as an MRA, but I will call out bullshit in my group if I see it.

        And there are histories of me calling out bullshit on the MRM. I will go against MRA’s who say all feminists are like that. While it does have some truth to it, when it comes to a few actions of institutional feminism (NISVS and FBI definitions of rape, for example), I find that it does not help, because I’ve known feminists who are extremely open-minded and do not fit the description.

        I go against the people who say feminism is a hate group or is invalid. I personally believe it’s an ideology, and like most ideologies, it’s not perfect. I think feminism is still valid in modern society, and it shouldn’t end just because it can hurt men in the process. I just think that popular representations of it should be questioned, since feminism is not a monolith.

        That being said, I think there needs to be a separate Men’s Rights movement along with a feminist movement, and here’s why: Any group that calls themselves neutral is biased, but will never admit it. Men’s Rights needs power to stand up on their own merit, rather than simply be taken on by feminists, because the only issues that will be adopted are issues that feminists unanimously or near-unanimously approve of. It’s kind of like getting Christianity to adopt the entire issue of gay rights. It won’t work, in my opinion.

  2. I will say this about the pickup artist community.. I was never apart of it but I have dabbled in the more positive aspects of it. The PUA community helped me get over my fear of approaching women an opened my eyes to the fact that women aren’t bitches. Women are just tired of the same old thing, PUA taught me how to better present myself an increase my value.

    • I’m going to be researching into the PUA community after a discussion with Fiance. I might be changing my mind there too.

      • geminiunleashed

        Some are out to get laid an some are out to increase the chances of finding the right woman. So careful of your sources they can be misleading. I think of it as the art of tearing down walls an planting trees of hope!

  3. The trouble with “Men’s Rights” is that all too often it is equivalent to “menz are the underdogz now, and women control everything”, which is basically an insane position to take. The fact is women, despite the few areas where they are “better off” in society, are still generally treated as second class citizens.

    There is no need for a “Men’s Rights” movement at all. Feminism is sufficient. Feminism, calling for equality for all, means that courts should not be biased, rape victims should get the support they needed regardless of their gender, sex, or sexuality (or any other factor), parental leave should be available to whoever the primary care-giver is, etc.

    I’m not opposed to “men’s” groups. Men’s health is a serious issue, and support groups or “men’s health” groups are useful in promoting healthier lifestyles, regular check-ups, or even just providing social occasions.
    But, unless “men’s” groups focus only on issues that affect men only (such as men’s health) they are too easily attracted to anti-women positions, anti-feminism or similar positions that are more of the same “patriarchy no longer exists, it’s all matriarchy now” (or even worse, “women are inferior”).

  4. Thank you for this. I don’t consider myself an MRA, but I do find some of the stereotypes about men distressing. Moreover, though I retch at the suggestion that women have somehow ‘gained enough’, I think that the implication that institutionalized misogyny is an excuse to ignore instances of institutional discrimination against men is similarly retched. After all, positive discrimination is still discrimination, which is just as true for men told that their struggles are invalid as it is for women who deal with ‘positive’ stereotypes of being ‘the fairer sex’, etc. My moderately, though admittedly only moderately, learned opinion is that anything supposing to be feminist thought cannot come from a place of hate though it may come from a place of anger. Likewise, any advocacy for the rights of men and males must strive to establish itself as a philosophy associated with the advancement of liberty for all, lest it continue to posses it’s harsh reputation as a mere shadow of the feminist movement and a haven for misogynists.

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