After forcing myself to read the entirety of the Vice article “Women of the Men’s Right’s Movement,” my brain is bubbling with so much anger and fury, I think it may just explode.
Just to clarify, this is the actual definition of feminism: “the belief in gender equality of the sexes.” And this is basically the Men's Rights Movement's definition of feminism: “A movement consisting of man-hating she-devils who want anarchy and the annihilation of the male species.” With this definition, the MRM is guilty of perpetuating this false stereotype of the “bra-burning” second wave feminists. I think maybe it’s time that these Men’s Rights Activists are brought up to speed about the two more waves of feminism that have happened since the 1960s generation! The truth is, most of those ideas that Men’s Rights groups find so incredibly terrifying, have either never been part of the feminist movement to begin with, or have faded away.
According to the article, these are the main concerns of the Men’s Right’s Movement:
1) The family court system which forces men to pay too much alimony and not considering their feelings when awarding the custody of children.
2) Government programs that assist only women rather than both genders, especially those that give aid to female victims of sexual assault- MRAs claim that men who suffer the same abuse are often ignored.
3) The right to opt out of raising a child since, some MRAs say, women can opt out of pregnancy.
4) False rape accusations, which MRAs think don’t get enough attention.
5) Fighting back against radical feminism, the Ultimate Evil as far as the movement is concerned.
The biggest difference between the two movements is that feminism believes that gender inequality emerges from patriarchal power structures, and that in eliminating patriarchy, this would also alleviate any struggles that men face in society, while the MRM believes that male "oppression" is a result of radical feminism.
There are several things I find puzzling about feminism being held accountable for male struggles. Considering that men (specifically cis, straight, white men) have pretty much all of the power in our society, how exactly does it make logical sense that a women are the source of all their problems?
Secondly, stereotypes hurt men AND women. These are stereotypes that, ultimately, emerged from the traditional concept that women are inferior to men. It isn’t feminism or women that created a dominant culture defined by the existence of a hyper masculine strong man and a weak ultra feminine woman (once again folks, that would be PATRIARCHY).
Because of the several flaws in their arguments, the false equivalences and the loopholes in their logic, the Men’s Rights Movement will never gain any traction. But if they attempted to combat the real source of their struggles (heterosexist, patriarchal power structures) instead of spending all their time and energy attacking feminism, maybe we could even work toward a similar goal. Both the men and women involved with the MRM are doing themselves a great disservice by demonizing those who could potentially be their allies. In this way, rather than protesting a common enemy, they have become another cog in its machine and are ironically, directly responsible for perpetuating their own oppression.
There’s another issue with the campaign of the MRM, and that is their tactic of essentially corrupting language to warp the definitions of words like feminism, that could potentially challenge the power structure. Language has such a large impact on the way people think, which is why it’s so important that we don’t just throw words like “feminism” and "oppression" around arbitrarily. It’s essential that we use and share the correct definition for "feminism," and make it easier for politicians, celebrities, and publications to understand the movement.
Pics via Quiet Mike, Misswho, and Safemtsu.