Quick Hit: Men’s Rights Movement Subjected to Some Analysis

Via Rebecca Watson’s twitter ( she was interviewed for the article), an article from R.Tod Kelly in the Daily Beast about the history and current state of the Men’s Rights Movement in North America (all the expected content notes apply).

Certainly it made me think about the perniciousness of the “both sides are just as bad” narrative, because women’s groups simply do not write and speak this way about men. And when I think about all the energy and effort feminist groups put into trying to fix the stuff in this world that is bad for men, the injustice of these men portraying themselves as the victims and the heroes of these issues becomes even more frustrating.

Kelly does an excellent job of teasing out the shooting-self-in-foot, nose-cutting-off-to-spite-face aspect of the MRA approach:

This, of course, is the real tragedy of the MRM. Male victims of domestic abuse need more help than they’re currently getting, as do male victims of sexual assault. Lower-income divorced fathers need a different system to ensure the well-being of their children. But all of this help requires both financial and political resources, and getting society to allocate those resources requires support and interest from the larger tax-paying community.

What the MRM doesn’t seem to realize is that every time they lionize someone who says a four-year-old girl drowning is a good thing, or giggle over a leader bragging about taking sexual advantage of a woman who’s too drunk to understand what’s happening to her, or theorize that fat women want to be forcibly raped, or float a preposterous claim that women’s brains are physically incapable of comprehending morality, they only put those resources that much further out of reach.

I didn’t look at the comments. I didn’t even check to see if they had comments. I think that’s for the best.


Categories: gender & feminism, media, social justice, violence

Tags: ,

14 replies

  1. There’s going to be a US ABC 20/20 program interviewing some of the most vocal online MRAs and MHRAs sometime soon, too (it was going to be broadcast this last weekend, but it was pulled for some reason and a re-broadcast date has not yet been announced – the ManBoobz blog is keeping an eye on that, popcorn at the ready). This program has already caused a huge ingroup storm between the various people interviewed and those who declined to be interviewed, accusing each other of not being hardline enough and/or ruining the movement. The 20/20 website has apparently been overrun by MRAs denouncing the show and each other in the comments (I haven’t checked).
    It’s long been a comfort to me that nobody outside the blogosphere seems to know who these people are; it reassures me as to their irrelevance. I’m ambiguous about whether the increased exposure is totally a good thing, because I’m pretty sure that the manosphere does do active harm to some men who are looking for help to handle their pain and who deserve so much better than the MRM.

  2. Actually, I think the article doesn’t go nearly far enough. In the bit you quoted for your post, she says “[w]hat the MRM doesn’t seem to realize is that every time they…XYZ…they only put those resources that much further out of reach.”
    That seems to assume an ounce of genuine intentions at least in terms of issues that affect men. Based on their behaviour it’s probably safe not to assume any good intentions from them, or any intentions other than misogyny.
    But yes, always good to see the false balance narrative broken by a major publication!

  3. I think this was my favourite bit:

    And even if Elam is sincere in his desire to dial down the vitriol once the movement is large enough, there’s an inherent problem with growing a political movement largely by referring to women as bitches, whores and c**ts. At the end of the day, you have a lot of members who joined up simply because they liked calling women bitches, whores and c**ts—and any eventual pleas to come together and sing “Kumbaya” could likely fall on deaf ears.

    As for those articles about women lacking moral agency and humanity etc, agree Orlando, most women’s groups don’t write and speak this way about men. That many find it OK perhaps indicates the amount misogynist language is normalised.

  4. Jaclyn Friedman now has a piece that’s partly a response, A Good Men’s Rights Movement Is Hard to Find. It makes one observation that meshes with my own reaction to the original article, which is that if the founder of the Spearhead is a moderate, moderate has a different meaning than I’m used to.

  5. Thanks for the Jaclyn Friedman article, Mary.
    What strikes me there is the repeated trope of hating or finding disgusting, feminists (or some other group of women) in an arousing/sexual way. Is that common? Or is my own psychology unusual, because I can’t imagine the comeuppance of someone I hate or am disgusted by, being remotely arousing.
    I think the reason the MRM doesn’t seem to do anything productive or valuable, is that the men who do begin actually tackling men’s issues quickly figure out (if they haven’t already) who their real allies are. I’ve seen similar ideas expressed in, I think, Pharyngula threads by men who thought the MRM would be useful to them.

  6. Aqua, this makes me think of ambivalence in sitcoms. The men or boys are refusing to do women’s stuff, do their level best to keep women out of the men’s stuff, and anything romantic or together type stuff is framed as what you do to get laid/out of trouble.

  7. I see the AV4M tame woman speaker in the video is speaking from inside a kitchen. Presumably on a quick break from making sandwiches.

  8. According to Hembling, sometime around 1995 he was on his way home at 2:00 am after working a night shift when he came upon Crimean assault in progress.

    I really wish, now that autocorrect has become so ubiquitous, that someone would come up with a solution for the confusing AC errors I encounter daily. I don’t think Hembling’s story was set in Sevastopol. As it is, we have to think through a mini-brain teaser to understand these sentences. I’m fairly sure the Ottoman Empire wasn’t involved.
    [/End minor off-topic rant sorry]

  9. Crimean assault – what happens to you when someone tells your light horse company to charge the wrong set of guns…

  10. Thanks for the Friedman article, Mary, I had no idea that the guy they were putting forward as a moderate was himself so appalling. I saw another response somewhere (Jezebel maybe?) along the “hey look the MSM has finally discovered the MRM” lines, and why didn’t they interview some feminists for responses? (I don’t know why Rebecca Watson doesn’t count.) But I think the point of interest here is to see that even when an article is written by someone with no dog in this race, it is immediately apparent that these guys are nothing but harmful, dishonest and self-serving. It’s a good thing if this is being shown to a wider audience in a context that clearly includes no agenda of its own.

  11. Male victims of domestic abuse need more help than they’re currently getting, as do male victims of sexual assault.
    This is the key for me. I’ll consider taking MRA’s seriously when they start putting their effort into providing help for male victims rather than preventing it for female ones.

  12. Oh Sunless you silly, they want women to do it for them! (Given that MRAs often have female acolytes, you’d imagine they’d have got on that by now. Tsk!)

  13. @Helen – I don’t know about that. Some MRAs seem pretty cool with domestic violence. Sometimes I think the reason they talk about domestic violence against men is that it’s the only relatively palatable excuse they can come up with for protesting against doing anything about domestic violence.

  14. Read Manboobz if you want to see more on this latest AVfM garbage. Their brilliant riposte to Jaclyn Friedman is to say she has an “electronic clit” (no none of us there can figure wotthell they’re talking about either) and she’s smelly. Yup, Pauly boy and his minions are in top form on this one. David Futrelle’s done a few posts on this over the last few days.
    Kelly gave the MRM far too much benefit of the doubt, imo. Usual journalistic “must present a balanced view” schtick that just ends up making the abhorrent look positive. The MRM has nothing going for it: they really are just the Male Supremacy movement (if being keyboard warriors and harassing women counts as being a movement).
    Oh, and Elam? He makes over a hundred grand a year from his website. I don’t see any men’s shelters or helplines or support resources coming from him, do you?

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