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.