Men's Rights Movement vs. Feminism
Men's Rights Activists vs. Feminists: Which Side of the Battle are You On?
Who's got it worse in today's society: men or women? The battle of the sexes is nothing new, but it's taken on a new aspect in recent times with the rise of the men's rights movement - a seeming reaction against feminism.
For decades, feminists have spoken out loudly against the biases and discrimination they face in the workplace, in education, and in achieving equal rights in society. They have spoken out to end abuse and to fight against a society that tends to blame the victim for sexual abuse and rape, instead of the rapist. Feminists have fought for the right to control what happens to their bodies, including the right to have an abortion. They believe we live in a patriarchal society and one which has been that way for centuries - if not thousands of years through the history of mankind.
The "Men's Rights Movement" (MRM) takes a different stance, and is in many ways a kind of anti-feminism. Men's rights activists (MRAs) believe we live in a matriarchal society that is constantly working to devalue the work, rights and humanity of men. They believe that men are not given equal rights as compared to women when it comes to custodial cases, divorce and alimony payments. They believe that women today are interested in "feminizing" and in a sense "emasculating" men by challenging the traditional roles of men in society - or, by expecting men to work and be the primary breadwinner in a family while the woman "sits at home and does nothing all day," reaping the benefits of her husband's hard labor.
Do you feel that the men's rights movement is correct in their positions? Or do you believe the MRM is a misguided and dangerous attack on the progress feminism has made in recent decades? Do we need to stop devaluing men in today's society, or are men so privileged they are simply lashing out at any attempts to challenge the patriarchy? Here is your chance to join the debate!
Defining Terms: Feminism vs. Men's Rights - Know Your Words Before Getting in to the Debate
Before getting in to any arguments, let us first make sure we all understand the terminology being used.
Wikipedia's definition of feminism begins as follows: "Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights."
For more on defining and understanding feminism, see the excellent Feminism 101 Guide at Shakesville.
- Men's Rights and the Men's Rights Movement (MRM, or MRA for "Men's Rights Activist")
Again going to Wikipedia, we see Men's Rights described as follows: "The term men's rights refers to freedoms and rights of boys and men. This term is specifically related to focusing on rights which are protected for girls and women of all ages, yet inadequately protected for boys and men of all ages, and fall within the broader context of human rights. In essence, this term refers to human rights and dignity for men."
1. a family, society, community, or state governed by women.
2. a form of social organization in which the mother is head of the family, and in which descent is reckoned in the female line, the children belonging to the mother's clan; matriarchal system.
Origin: 1880-85; matri- + -archy
1. a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.
2.a society, community, or country based on this social organization.
Origin: 1555-65; < Greek patriarchía.
Question: Do we live in a patriarchy or matriarchy? - Who holds all the power in today's society?
What's your opinion? Is today's society, in the Western world, more of a matriarchy or a patriarchy? Who is really in charge, the men or the women?
Do you feel we live in a patriarchal or matriarchal world today?
It's a patriarchal world - men have all the privilege.
The Case for Feminism
Books on Feminism
It may not be "radical" or "cool" to be a feminist any longer. Or is it? Why does feminism still matter to young women today?
A book praised as a wonderful primer on feminism and great reading for anyone interested in learning more about what feminism is really about.
Common Arguments of the Feminist Movement
Why Feminism Is Still Important - A Short List
1. Women still don't have equality in the workplace no matter what gains have been made to date.
Women still have to fight for equal pay for equal work and to be treated fairly in the job market. On top of that, women still are responsible for the bulk of housework and child-rearing, jobs they take on for no pay whatsoever.
2. Women in fiction and media are treated as nothing but sexual objects of desire.
Men are still the great action heroes, out to save the girl, win the girl, or otherwise prove just how much women need men no matter how competent a woman thinks she is.
3. Women are afraid to identify as "feminists" today because of anti-feminist propaganda.
When did "feminism" become a negative to so many women today - women who have benefited from the hard work of the feminists of the past? Women wouldn't even have the vote today in America if not for feminists. But the MRM wants to project an image of feminism as nothing but a bunch of men-hating women, which is wrong.
4. "Abstinence-only" education, being incresingly promoted in schools is anti-feminist.
Abstinence-only education is just another way men are trying to deny young women their full rights and freedoms. Women are expected to keep in check any sexuality until married - to a man, of course - where he then "owns" her sexual rights entirely. This is just another example of the patriarchy still in power today.
5. Health care today is more expensive and harder to get for women than for men.
Women pay 30-40% more in health insurance than men in America, according to studies. And if they want maternity coverage, those rates go even higher - if available at all.
6. Women who DON'T get full custody of their children, or don't have children at all, are treated as inferior by society.
The MRM says women hold all the cards when it comes to parenthood and raising children - but what about the shame directed at women who don't receive or choose not to receive full custody? What about the way women who choose not to reproduce or are infertile are looked down upon as "inferior" or "flawed"? Clearly there's still a problem and expectation that all women must be mothers to be "complete."
7. It is absurb to put forth the idea that straight, white men are somehow today an oppressed minority.
The MRM wants us to believe that men, who have held the preponderance of power in the world for thousands of years, are the oppressed group - not women, people of color or members of the queer community. This is patently absurd and simply men lashing out against having to give up any of their power.
8. We must stop blaming the victim in cases of violence and sexual assault against women.
Women who are raped or otherwise sexually harassed are still blamed for it far too often ("She shouldn't have dressed like that." "She shouldn't have been out late at night on her own." "She shouldn't have let him in her house.") When will society place the blame where it belongs, on the men who are raping women?
9. Men want to take away women's reproductive rights.
Women fought for years for safe and legal abortions. Now we have the MRA wanting us to carry children to term against our will, and then not even have to pay fair child support? What about victims of rape and sexual assault? What about men who refuse to use birth control and still force women to have sex?
10. Men's rights activists are just acting out in anger after bad experiences with women in their lives.
MRA's are often just bitter, angry men who are using their personal bad relationships to try to put down and cause all women to suffer. They can't see the real issues of society through their own flaws and faults.
The Three Waves of Feminism: A Historical Perspective
More Reading on Feminism
Writings that may have been oppressed or fallen out of print in a male-dominated publishing industry, these essays and stories are powerful and important reading yet today.
What writings have shaped contemporary feminism? This book takes a look at the movement from World War II onward.
The Case for Men's Rights
Books on Anti-Feminism
Common Arguments of the Men's Rights Movement
What Are Men's Rights Activists Fighting For?
What follows is a brief list of some common arguments from the men's rights movement today - and how feminism get things wrong:
1. The media is contributing to a negative image of men.
Sitcoms and other television shows portray men as dumb, foolish, and incompetent as compared to their wise and more intelligent wives. Men are portrayed as drooling idiots in the face of attractive women. These stereotypes are wrong and have a negative impact on men's self-esteem.
2. Men are falsely accused of sexual assault and abuse on a regular basis.
Men are frequently the victim of false accusations of rape and abuse and such baseless accusations can have terrible affects on men's livelihood and relationships. What happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" And those who bring accusations proven false should then face punishment as well.
3. Not all jobs are created equal - and some high paying ones are just more suited for men.
Women complain that they don't have equal access to certain jobs. Well, how many women are physically equipped or interested in for in such areas as construction, firefighting, and policework? Some, certainly, but these are still jobs generally best suited for men - nor do most women want to work in dangerous or physically demanding jobs.
4. Feminists reject other women who find fulfillment in traditionally female roles and occupationgs.
In fighting so hard and loudly for an "equal place" in the working world, feminists treat their fellow women poorly who choose today to be stay-at-home mothers and wives, or pursue traditional female careers such as clerical work or nursing.
5. Feminists want men to deny their natural sexual urges.
Women want the right to dress in skimpy, provocative outfits and outwardly lead men on, and then complain when men respond in a sexual manner to them or cry "harassment".
6. Young boys are at a disadvantage in today's education system.
Boys are being misdiagnosed with learning disorders and not being treated fairly in our schools today. Fewer and fewer boys are pursuing plans to go to college, and it's the fault of our teachers and education system.
7. Men are losing their rights as fathers - or to chose not to be fathers.
If a woman gets pregnant, she holds all the rights to choose whether or not she will carry the child to term. What if the man wants to be the father and she wants an abortion? What if she wants the baby and he doesn't - now he is forced to pay child support even if denied other rights of visitation and parenthood.
8. Fathers' rights need to be protected in cases of divorce.
Women are almost always granted primary custody in divorce cases - and sometimes men are unfairly denied equal or any visitation rights. Yet men can be expected to pay unfairly high child support payments - in some cases even if they lose their job or have to take a pay cut.
9. There cannot be "full equality" between men and women because men and women are inherently different.
Feminists want to act as if there are no real differences between men and women, which is blatantly false. In fact, one could argue that men are truly the "weaker sex", as men are more likely to be victims of certain diseases and have a shorter lifespan than women! We need to realize that what's "best" for one gender isn't necessarily the best for both.
10. Feminists want to remake men into weak, feminized versions of themselves.
This is misandry; instead of respecting the inherent differences between men and women, women want men to be more like them and reject masculine traits and natural tendencies.
A Men's Rights Point of View
YOUR TURN! Which side of the debate are you on?
Now's your chance to sound off. Tell me what you think. Do we need more feminism today, or is it time for the men to be heard and to get their rights back?
Which side of the debate gets it right: the Men's Rights Movement, or the Feminists?
The Men's Rights Movement
Got something else to say on the debate? Need to expand upon your earlier comments? You can do so here. Just be polite because abusive/foul language will be deleted.
© 2011 Nicole Pellegrini