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MRAs misunderstand feminism

Paige Gorsak
Arts & Culture Editor
Jan 23, 2013

The original version of this article described Return of Kings as a “men’s rights activist blog.” This was erroneously added during the editing process and is not reflective of the author’s opinion. The Gateway regrets the error, and offers instead a description of the blog quoted directly:

“ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished, shamed, and—in some cases—outlawed, all in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that is allowing women to assert superiority and control over men. The site aims to be a safe corner of the web who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed.”

Last week, the blog Return of Kings posted a list of the nine ugliest feminists. But even more unfortunate than the list itself is that the blog is not alone in its view. Columns and websites that are misogynistic and openly anti-feminist plague the internet, where screen names protect identities and allow for so-called free speech. Even Edmonton has its own chapter of Men’s Rights Activists.

It’s important to define what men’s rights activism is. Coming from the local group, an MRA is a man or woman concerned with issues like “male circumcision, men’s reproductive rights, domestic violence awareness, antifeminism, misandry, chivalry and false allegations.” These vague descriptors are explained in further detail on the website site, but the basis of the legitimate causes are explained and argued for in the framework of anti-feminism.

When it comes to defining anti-feminism, don’t look to Edmonton’s MRA for the answer. They choose to brush over it, instead linking to other websites that are just as skewed in their view of feminism. avoiceformen.com “regards feminism as a corrupt, hateful and disingenuous ideology based in female elitism and misandry,” calling feminists individuals who deserve “no more courtesy or consideration than Klansmen, skinheads, neo-Nazis or other purveyors of hate.”

It has to be acknowledged that MRAs don’t spread the same message as Return of Kings. They don’t have the same mission statements or the same content on their sites. Further, advocating for men’s rights truly is an important cause — rates of suicide and homelessness are higher in men than women and rampant workplace injury and even death is a scary reality. As well, court cases typically see women gaining custody of children.

However, what certain MRAs do share with Return of Kings and what makes them just as hopeless is a common dogma of anti-feminism and a nasty habit of spending more time attacking feminists than on actual activism. In the end, this is the reason neither should be taken seriously.

Take for example MRAs’ belief that male circumcision is wrong. Instead of explaining the issue and giving evidence to support their cause, they pose their argument as a response to feminists and the ‘double standard’ of female genital mutilation being illegal. One of these procedures can result in fatal hemorrhaging and infection, not to mention the complete removal of the individual’s ability to experience sexual pleasure. The other is an outdated practice that can lead to complications, but causes much less harm when compared to female circumcision.

By framing their argument as a retort to another very real issue, the MRA minimizes their own claim. It sounds like whining instead of advocacy. It sounds like tearing someone else down in hopes of building yourself up. And this is only one example. Every tenet of Edmonton’s Men’s Rights Activism is phrased this way, as though feminists are the ones causing the problems. The
reality is that feminism is fighting for feminist’s goals and nothing more.

It’s the anti-feminism perspective though that makes Men’s Rights Activism a farce. There’s a big difference between believing in your own values or championing free speech and going out of your way to hate on another group. These two aforementioned sites aren’t so much pro-men as they are anti-woman. They don’t recognize that many feminists share some similar goals and that what feminists want is what MRAs want too — feminists challenge the patriarchy because they hate dominant codes of chivalry as much as men do. We want to get the bill, join the army and gain marriage and divorce equality for all.

Men’s rights activists, by all means fight for awareness about mental health, homelessness, work place injury and plenty of other real causes. Advocate for a healthy and equal society that recognizes — like feminists — the detriment of outdated models of gender relations or hate for any one group in society. But to do this you’ll have to stop blaming feminism for these problems. Realize that if you are working honestly toward social change, supporters will be there to help. And stop aligning yourself with ant-feminist websites. That’s a surefire way to see your goals and legitimacy go up in flames.



Comments

Thank you, Paige, for your opinion piece about Men’s Rights Activism.  In particular, thank you for using fallacious arguments to suggest that because you don’t care for the mission and the tactics of some MRA’s, MRA’s are a farce.  Thank you for demonstrating that hasty generalization, straw man, false equivalence and other lapses of logic are not limited to men alone.  Thank you for demeaning what many men perceive to be an inherent violation of bodily autonomy and integrity by dismissively saying that it’s not as bad as the “very real issue” of female circumcision.  Thank you for grudgingly acknowledging that some MRA’s aren’t a complete waste of time and, as self-appointed Spokeswoman for Feminism, deigning to give me permission to advocate for those things that you believe should be important to me as a man.  Thank you for making it clear that it is ok for a member of one gender to tell another gender what to think.  Thank you for misrepresenting feminism as a unequivocally, schism-free homogenous quest for good, unlike fractious and controversial men’s rights, and that it is acceptable to define a civil rights movement by an outsider’s perception of its basest members.  Most importantly, thank you for demonstrating the self-righteous ignorance and arrogance that drives much of the anti-feminist sentiment that you observed in many of the groups you wrote about.  I also would like to pre-emptively thank you for misunderstanding this comment as an attack on women and feminism in general, rather than a criticism of the vapid and condescending nonsense you somehow had the temerity to publish.



Posted by Nels Ekelund on Jan 23, 2013

Why do pro-feminist men and women so stridently oppose Men having their own forum and discussing issues that concern them?  Control perhaps - like in the popular Duluth “Power Wheel”?  Men are not bitching about women having their own Women’s Groups. What is the problem unless they want to control the debate? At UofT recently a well-regarded advocate - Dr. Warren Farrell - was subjected to a disgusting display of hateful violence misandry. It was a very sad.

http://youtu.be/iARHCxAMAO0

http://www.saveservices.org/2010/10/effectiveness-of-duluth-model-hotly-debated/



Posted by eddy.canuck on Jan 24, 2013

Paige, when there is discrimination against women, you point it out, don’t you?  So how it is wrong of MRAs to point out discrimination agaisnt men?  Male circumcision is gynecologically equivalent to removing the clitoral hood of a female, one of several forms of female circumcision all of which are illegal.  Even the slightest “cultural nick” on a baby girl is illegal, and it’s must less intrusive that removing the entire foreskin on a baby boy.  That is total sexism and hypocrisy.  But you critize MRAs for pointing that out?  Don’t you see your own sexism here?  Or is it just ignorance?  Maybe so.  Try reading the reports from the pediatric and medical associations in the Neverlands, Germany, Finland, South Africa, the Nordic nations, England, etc. about what circumcision does by removing a functioning sexual organ from a baby boy.  It too MRAs in Germany and England to get the human rights courts of the EU and UN to stop countries from discriminating against fathers.  Do you criticise that to? Why is it wrong to point out sex discrimination?



Posted by Marc Angelucci on Jan 24, 2013

Paige, you also refuse to acknowledge that feminism *is* contributing to discrimination against men.  Feminist lobby groups always fight against joint custody laws.  Feminists wrote the domestic violence laws that excluded male victims from services, like in CA and Minnesote and elsewhere, and they opposed the efforts to make the laws gender-neutral. Feminists in Sweden tried to create a “man tax.”  Feminists cover up the boy crisis in education, distort the truth about false accusations of abuse, and lie about domestic violence figures, all the time, leaving male victims invisible.  The womanist movement, mostly minority women, separate themselves from feminism because womanists believe in men’s rights as well as women’s rights.  “One of the primary ways Womanists differentiate themselves from feminists is their concern about men’s rights and their willingness to include men’s rights within their advocacy issues http://wesleyanargus.com/2011/03/25/womanist-house/



Posted by Marc A on Jan 24, 2013

So if you compare the pay of women to that of men for equal work it is generally lower.

If you compare sexual assault rates assaults against women are they are astronomically higher than those of men.

If look at the heads of any major institution, from corporations, to government agencies, to Parliament, to the faces that appear on the TV news men are in the strong majority.

These arguments that a group of people suffering from a bigoted and irrational society are the ones doing the oppression have a lot of parallels. Look at the anti immigration rhetoric from the far right where they paint people who come to this country with nothing as an invading army. Look at the way religious zealots in the religious right who crushed humanity under their ridiculous superstitions for centuries now preach ‘religious tolerance’ out of one side of their mouth while preaching hate against other religions from the other. Look at groups that used to prach anti semitism now cloaking their beliefs in ‘white pride’. It’s the same sort of rhetoric across the board.

What I’m left wondering is how a small group like the MRA in Edmonton gets the money for slick posters and business cards? Who is bank rolling these clowns? The rhetoric is the same as a lot of other groups on the far right so one is left wondering, do these people have connections to nutty anti abortion groups? To hate groups? To loony toons evangelicals?

Regardless this is nothing less than an attack on societies movement towards equality. Bigotry hidden behind a veil of civil rights rhetoric.



Posted by ClassStruggle on Jan 24, 2013

Wow. I am truly amazed by the comments to this article. It seems like none of you actually read the entire article. You seem to have just picked out the points that fit your argument that Paige is some sort of sexist man-hater. Not a one of you has acknowledged the points in the article that say MRAs that do not promote misogyny, are a benefit to gender equality. Re-read the last paragraph. What is being criticized is the hate-speach being perpetuated by “some” MRAs. What all of you need to realize is that feminism, (womanism if that suits you better) is necessary. Why? Because our society is inherently patriarchal. If you disagree with this point you are living in a fantasy world. Women in trades or with no post-secondary earn about 65% of their male counterparts. http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/society/gender-income-gap.aspx How many female prime ministers have there been in this country? How many men? When did women get the right to vote? When did men? Open your eyes! Men and women are not starting on equal footing. Yes there are improvements to be made for the rights of both genders, but women have a longer road ahead of them. Don’t hate on their attempts to be treated with the same level of respect as men. Stop fighting each other and start realizing that you should be working together on this. As for the arguments on circumcision, Paige is obviously not referring to “minor” acts of genital mutilation against women (which are still wrong, as are similar acts against men), but to the repulsive and grossly destructive acts of female genital mutilation. For instance removal of the clitoris and/or labia. This is not equivalent to male circumcision, it is more akin to castration. Now once you realize that the issue of gender equality is in fact about equality and not reversal of misogyny for misandry, maybe we can work together to make strives in the right direction for both genders. Maybe a little compassion could do us some good.



Posted by Male Feminist on Jan 24, 2013

There is a dent in my wall (and my head) from reading these comments.

Having a penis myself, I believe that circumcision is an issue that needs to be discussed. But because I also have a brain, I think that MRAs and like-minded men are wrong in their tactics.

It’s as if they think there’s only so much activism to go around. They feel a need to - as Paige says - tear others down to build themselves up.

At the very least, let’s have feminist and men’s groups engage the public together.
But alas, I am a hypocrite. I do value one over the other! For some strange reason I devote more of my time towards stopping the street harassment and sexual assault of women than I do thinking about Duluth’s “Power Wheel” and baby penises.

Thanks for the article, Paige.



Posted by Scott Travis on Jan 24, 2013

Paige is the one who misunderstands feminism. MRAs have to focus it because feminists oppose almost everything they do.

When Erin Pizzey wanted to acknowledge violent females and thus help male victims, the feminists threatened and attacked her and kicked her out of the organisation she founded.

When Michelle Elliot started to highlight the issue of female paedophiles (and their mostly male vicitms) she was abused by feminists who didn’t want to acknowledge that female paedophiles existed.

When Warren Farrell wanted to talk about male suicide it was feminists who smeared him and blockaded his event. They then lied about everything that happened and pretended it was their rights that had been violated.

When laws seeking to protect men from false allegations are proposed who is the first in line to stop them? Why feminists of course. And almost every time a woman kills her husband all she has to do is alleged the tiniest amount of abuse and regardless of the truth of her allegations an army of feminists will try to stop her facing justice.

Feminists are mostly female supremacists who will do anything to get their way and to harm men. When women are behind in some area such as education or employment then it’s a disaster, and when it’s men who are disadvantage it’s a brilliant victory and the men getting what they deserve.

Feminism has become a hate movement that opposes the idea of men’s rights as human rights. We will never achieve equality until men and women come together to expose the lies of these misandrists.



Posted by Dave B on Jan 25, 2013

@Male Feminist

“When did women get the right to vote? When did men?”

Seems like you haven’t been reading your history, because if you did you’d know that not only was the vote restricted to men of the upper class, but that wealthy women were allowed to vote in 1916 while most of the 67,000 soldiers who died in WW1 were denied that right. In fact both men and women in won the right to universal suffrage in 1920.

http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=his&document=chap2&lang=e

@ClassStruggle

The whole pay gap myth has been debunked numerous times. Yes women as a whole make less than men but that’s mainly do to factors such as the type of work they choose and the number of hours they work, if you compare men and women’s wages in the same sector than it turns out they make the same. So basically the current system is exactly what feminists asked for: equal pay for equal work.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-hoff-sommers/wage-gap_b_2073804.html



Posted by BaronSociety on Jan 25, 2013

Our number one goal is to have total equality between men and women in front of the law.



Posted by peter john on Jan 25, 2013

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