• Is it OK to be an MRA?

     

    [I should say at the outset that I’m not myself an MRA (‘Men’s Rights Activist’), nor do I have any interest whatsoever in the issues pertaining to ‘Men’s Rights’. My only purpose in this post is to ask why it is that MRAs are so maligned simply because they are MRAs.]

     

    I have discovered in the last year or so that there is such a thing as a ‘Men’s Rights’ movement and that it is viewed with contempt by the majority of those who know about it. In fact, the term ‘MRA’ is often used as an insult to imply that somebody is a sexist, an anti-feminist, a misogynist – even if they are not really involved with ‘Men’s Rights’. If someone dares to identify as an MRA, they are detested and marginalised. This seems wrong to me. I see no reason to scorn an MRA if all we know about them is that they are an MRA.

    I think we can make a prima facie case for why MRAs should be tolerated. The argument is as follows:

    1. If there are at least some instances of discrimination against any group, then it is acceptable to have activists representing that group (to fight the discrimination).
    2. There are at least some instances of discrimination against men.
    3. Therefore, it is acceptable to have activists representing men.

    The argument is logically valid, i.e. the conclusion is entailed by the first and second premise. But is it sound? I think that the second premise is very likely to be true, as it seems implausible that men are never discriminated against. Perhaps the most controversial premise is the first, and that is attacked in the first objection to my argument that I will consider.

    Objection 1: Sexist discrimination affects women far more that it affects men.

    From what I’ve seen, this is the most frequent objection to MRAs. Women have it far worse, so we should fight for feminism rather than ‘Men’s Rights’. It is of course true to say that women have it far worse when it comes to sexism. However, there seems to be an assumption in this objection that I do not agree with; the idea that there should only be advocates for the group most discriminated against. That would mean that we should not try to fight sexism in the West, since sexism in the Middle East is far worse. Or, we should not campaign for secularism since there are starving children in the world. The case against MRAs, if it is to be a strong one should not depend upon such a counter-intuitive assumption, even if we think that there are reasons for thinking that it is true.

    A fortiori, having a proportionate number of MRAs opposing discrimination against men means that there is support for anyone who is being discriminated against on the basis of their male gender. This seems to be preferable to simply having no activists for a particular issue, even if it is a relatively small one.

    Objection 2: MRAs are sexist.

    If it could be shown that MRAs are always sexist, then I think that is a good reason to frown upon them. However, the sexism in the ‘Men’s Rights’ movement is surely contingent on the views of those particular MRAs. All we could do is list examples of MRAs who have shown themselves to be sexist (and there certainly does seem to be an abundance of examples; see for instance here). The trouble is, however many examples we show, it does not mean that the next MRA we come across would not join us in denouncing the sexism on display. They would not be guilty of sexism by association, simply because they also happen to be MRAs. Even if they had posted on the same website, it does not follow that they would agree with everything written on that site, just as if they speak at a Catholic university it would not follow that they were themselves a Catholic (wink wink)!

    If an MRA is sexist, then we should oppose their sexism. They ought to be maligned for being sexist, not for being an MRA. Perhaps MRAism implies sexism in some way, but I don’t know of any argument for this.

    In closing, I want to offer a further reason for why being an MRA should be an acceptable choice, and this relates to the first objection. There are lots of causes in the world worth fighting for. We all make decisions about what battles we want to fight. Some fight poverty. Some fight religion. Some fight diseases. Some fight for freedom of expression. Some fight against the pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre. There might be all sorts of reasons for why we choose one cause rather than another. I care about free speech because I value the free exchange of ideas, and the human right to express our innermost thoughts. Someone might fight against cults because they were once a member of one and have realised how dangerous they can be. Some might raise money for hospice care to show gratitude for hospice care given to a loved one. Some may choose to fight for ‘Men’s Rights’ after having access to their children restricted.

    We may not have the same passion for each other’s chosen battles, but unless they are doing something harmful we should not hate them for choosing something different to fight for.

    I would appreciate any comments, especially objections to my view that I haven’t thought about. This is a touchy subject so please keep the comments civil, and attack ideas – not people!

    Category: PhilosophyPolitics

    Article by: Notung

    I started as a music student, studying at university and music college, and playing trombone for various orchestras. While at music college, I became interested in philosophy, and eventually went on to complete an MA in Philosophy in 2012. An atheist for as long as I could think for myself, a skeptic, and a political lefty, my main philosophical interests include epistemology, ethics, logic and the philosophy of religion. The purpose of Notung (named after the name of the sword in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen) is to concentrate on these issues, examining them as critically as possible.
    • What the MRA’s need, in order to gain some mainstream acceptance, is at least one website or print outlet which speaks up for men’s rights while clearly respecting women and assiduously avoiding gendered slurs and sex-based generalizations. If that has already happened, I have yet to hear of it. Until it does, the hasty inference from to misogynist will continue to have some traction.

    • Correction: from *MRA* to misogynist

    • Notung

      Yes, and I think they should downplay the perceived discrimination against men. Just say something like “yes, women get it more. But don’t let that fool you into thinking we NEVER get it”.

      I’m not sure whether or not they have done something like this (as I say, I’m pretty ignorant of the ‘Men’s Rights’ movement). As far as I know, Fathers4Justice seem fairly respectable, but I might be wrong.

    • I first learned about MRAism from a good friend who turned out to be an MRA. His own abuse included sexual abuse and he was even shot with a gun as part of that particular horrid phase of his life. He had a good case to make.

      The argument made here is sound; There is no reason to say that just because women are the victims of abuse at a much higher rate than men, that abuse of men or unfairness to men is not real, and that there should be no advocacy group for men.

      The problem is that many people who self identify as MRA and organizations that are MRA organizations are not that. They are anti women, anti-feminist, misogynistic, and generally obnoxious, as far as I can tell, all of the time. I could be wrong. There could be people who fully and openly associate themselves with this movement, call themselves MRAs, etc. etc. but who have a balanced view of discrimination, abuse, etc. of women and men, but are simply interested in the men’s advocacy part of it. The thing is, the MRA movement as it stands is so extreme that anyone with a balanced view would have a hard time both being reasonable and identifying with that movement.

      But it certainly is a possibility.

      Going back to my friend; we knew each other and considered each other to be friends for quite a long time after I learned of his MRA link, and as I learned about what MRA was all about. At first I accepted the radicalism as part and parcel with any movement of this sort. My friend never expressed misogynistic beliefs. But, when I resisted allowing my blog to be a landing place and play ground for various MRAs, my friend pretty much turned on me and became one of those Internet Trolls. Point is, he was an example of an extreme, radical, MRA who avoided the misogyny. But, when it came to me declaring my acceptance off the MRA movement as it was, vs. not, I had to pick.

    • Altair

      Well, I don’t consider myself an MRA either (I want to think about myself as a humanist), but I’ve been reading a lot about their views lately, and I’m going to agree with your article and disagree with the comments.

      I think the main objection is that many people equate anti-feminist with anti-women. From what I understand, many (most?) MRAs oppose feminism as an ideology and as a method of achieving equality, but they don’t oppose the concept of equality. What I’ve read them saying is that feminism concerns itself with fighting for women and painting men as oppressors while ignoring the disadvantages men face.

      Damion says “What the MRA’s need, in order to gain some mainstream acceptance, is at least one website or print outlet which speaks up for men’s rights while clearly respecting women and assiduously avoiding gendered slurs and sex-based generalizations”

      I think that while there are some websites that are like that, the same can be said about a lot of sites and print outlets related to feminism. If there are many websites that don’t respect men and make sex-based generalizations about men, why should the MRA side be blamed for this while the other side is not? This comment seems to want to hold the men’s rights movement to a higher standard that the women’s movement.

      I have read a couple articles about men who got their penis or testicles cut off by women that were full of comments written *by women* who were expressing joy and glee about the crime and finding it delightful. I’ve seen a video where a woman walks by another woman acting like she’s beating up a man and she laughs and pumps her fists. These women clearly don’t respect men, and they are making generalizations, should I stop respecting women because of them?
      If some of these women self-identify as feminists, should we make the inference from feminist to misandrist?

      And notung says “Yes, and I think they should downplay the perceived discrimination against men. Just say something like “yes, women get it more. But don’t let that fool you into thinking we NEVER get it”.”

      I think the problem is that many MRAs would disagree with that, in order to say that they would have to be convinced that women get it more, and I know that many of them would disagree with them. And if they should do that, should then feminists say “yes, blacks got it worse, women were never enslaved they way they were, but hey, we have problems too?”

      This comment got longer than I expected, but this is a subject I’m starting to feel rather passionate about after reading the reactions of many women to men being mutilated, assaulted or to mild and logical expositions of men’s issues. It would seem like some women oppose men and most of them don’t care about them.

      That said, I think the perfect movement would be one that fights and cares about everyone’s issues, which is why I hope humanism and egalitarianism end up becoming the norm.

    • trendkill

      “What the MRA’s need, in order to gain some mainstream acceptance, is at least one website or print outlet which speaks up for men’s rights while clearly respecting women and assiduously avoiding gendered slurs and sex-based generalizations.”

      http://goodmenproject.com/category/noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz/

      I’m not sure if everyone would consider that an “MRA” site as I’m not sure about where the boundaries of the Mens’ Rights Movement proper are, but it’s a liberal, feminist blog that is focused on mens’ issues.

    • Astrokid.NJ

      Good stuff Altair. I became an MRA over an year ago, and it involves overcoming a delusion thats much more difficult than overcoming the God Delusion (which is easier because we are surrounded by modernity, and there’s a whole lot of science and history out there that helps understand it). Both are rooted in human psychology.

      Notung says It is of course true to say that women have it far worse when it comes to sexism, and I have to laugh at that, but I can understand it because that was the place I was in a few years ago. To those who wont even study feminist ACTIONS in LAW and SOCIAL POLICY enough to figure out that its a sham, life has a way of arranging events that will make men question such assumptions, but there’s no guarantee that the light bulb comes on.
      GWW and Angry misogynists:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9G9AAhlMo4

      We are enemies of feminism for sure.. there’s a lot of stuff in the gender war thats a zero-sum game between the man and woman (domestic violence, divorce alimony/child custody/child support), and any gains for men would come at the expense of women.. and thats why feminists hate us.

      IMO, the atheist community is so saturated with the “religion is the source of misogyny”-meme that they will be pre-disposed to accepting feminist lies and refusal to study the other side of the coin.
      A thorough reading of Christina Hoff Sommers at http://aei.org/scholar/christina-hoff-sommers/ is just a start. Imagine.. a woman who was a feminist.. now spends the last 2 decades writing against feminist ACTIONS. But it takes much more than anti-feminism to understand the core of the MRM.

    • Randy

      I think one failure of the various rights movements is to note the fact that harm to one group always results in harm (perhaps different and less, but still harm) to other groups separated by the same characteristic.

      It might be funny that homophobia limited straight men’s clothing to the drab, dull, and sexless. But it means something. And it didn’t stop there. The ban on gay servicemembers meant the entire “straight” military was suspect for being gay, and had to police and distort their straight relationships. Perhaps worst of all, straight parents were encouraged to disown their gay children or face ostracism themselves. Losing a child is most parents’ worst nightmare. Imagine the pressure.

      It’s similar with the sexes. In the delivery of social services, men go to the back of the line. Even in the Western world, boys’ genitals can be cut and it’s even elevated into a celebration in some religious circles. In some jurisdictions, only men can be charged with rape and only women can be deemed victims of it, so men who are raped (by anyone) are not protected by that law.

      And transgender and intersex people are of course an afterthought in this binary.

      So harm occurs on all sides. Therefore when we try to get equal rights measures passed, we tell people that equality benefits everyone. And it should.

      So it bothers me that we have these fractured groups like NAACP or NOW or HRC (all of whom I generally support) who come at the issue from just one side, instead of all sides. It smells. I don’t see evidence that white people’s rights are at risk, but shouldn’t someone be making sure? Shouldn’t there be an organization dedicated to people of ALL colors, not just “colored people”? People of ALL sexes, not just women? People of ALL orientations, not just same-sex?

      By isolating issues not by characteristic, but by group, it can lead to prejudice. There are some ideas that masquerade under the banner of feminism, but which are simple bigotry against men. For example, the idea that all men should be treated as if they might be rapists is a textbook example of prejudice. Consider what would happen if we said all Muslims, or all black people, or all gay people should be treated as if they might be rapists. There’s nothing wrong with calling this out for what it is.

    • Astrokid.NJ

      TGMP is a “bad actor”, and so are other feminist organizations such as the ‘National Organizations For Men Against Sexism’ (from the 1970s or 80s IIRC).. for e.g on child custody issues, http://www.nomas.org/node/67

      An examination of custody laws in the various states reveals widespread injustice toward women and children. There is a disturbing national trend toward laws mandating joint custody despite a lack of psychological and social research showing this to be in the interests of the child. In fact it is clear that court mandated joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.

      When feminists say that they are for men’s well-being too.. you can judge them by their actions.. like the above.

      For newcomers, the “mildest” MRA sites (in terms of language.. but not concepts) are from GirlWritesWhat and Typhonblue. Both are women.
      http://owningyourshit.blogspot.com/
      http://www.genderratic.com/
      But the lets-be-nice strategy was tried in the 70s/80s/90s to no avail (Men like Warren Farrell and Glenn Sacks). Atheists should be able to relate to this.. The Force Horsemen didnt mince words, and neither did the atheisto’sphere.

    • – @Trendkill: As Astrokid covered, TGMP is essentially just another feminist website. I almost drank their kool-aid, until I saw several articles explicitly saying that what men needed was MOAR FEMINISM. No better way of having me do a fast 180 and never looking back…

      – As for the blog, Notung, the only thing that bugs me enough to opine on is this implication that discrimination against men in specific is some rarely seen beast. If you’ve either never experienced it, nor known anyone who has, or just don’t care, then great. There are atheists outside of the U.S. that react with disbelief and indifference at the demonization that enough of us atheists face here in the states, too…

      I, however, do not have to go looking under any rocks to find enough discrimination against men to be concerned, and to feel the need to do something about it. I support women’s rights as well, but I’d be rightly labeled a fool if I stated that I’m just going to leave it up to the feminism to address issues that affect men, since it’s all about “equality”.

      As for this “sexism” bit…I have to wonder; what is “sexism”, anyways? The term has been thrown around so much that I’m not even sure if it has a meaning anymore. If I go by my previously held definition, “discrimination” based on sex, then I have to wonder: Is nature sexist?

    • Vic

      There are lots of egalitarians, forth wave feminists and moderate MRAs with interesting information on the subject, if one is willing to let go of the “A unusual position? Must be scum of the earth!” attitude.

      As an egalitarian with ties to the MRM, I can only ask everyone who is interested to remain open-minded, but skeptical, and simply apply the standards we use else-wise:

      If an MRA makes a claim, how is it backed up? Statistics from an independent source? A government agency? A university? A peer-reviewed study?

      If a source is given, try to read the source. Does it fit with the claim?

      Be especially skeptical about alarmist claims. This is for both sides.

      Women’s issues should not be diminished/ridiculed. But if things like this
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDoMaikQr24
      happens, you get an idea why a portion of MRAs seem to act slightly paranoid about studies and papers done by explicitely ‘feminist’ researchers (for those who don’t watch the video: a paper in Ottawa from the presented the total number of reported violence against women and men as the number of only women, resulting in almost doubling the number of female victimisations)

      straightstatistics.org has also a few articles about similar occurences.

      For some reason, there seems to be a view, that every time men are empowered, women lose something.
      Men’s issues and Women’s issues are not incompatible. They are aiming at destroying rigid gender roles from different sides.

      If men’s rights are fought for in one occurence (e.g. getting the same prison sentences), this does not mean in any way whatsoever, that women’s issues should not be fought for.

      If shelters for male victims of domestic violence are opened, this does not mean women’s shelters should be closed down. It means additional shelters, since we can’t put women and men in mixed-gender shelters when they are in those stressful, suffering situations.

      Lastly, if you forgive me for bringing tumblr into this, but if you can avoid the tumblr-drama, there are soem good egalitarian blogs:
      permutationofninjas.tumblr.com
      just-smith.tumblr.com

      And a MRA leaning blog:
      misandryisalie.tumblr.com

      There are others which written by are much more aggressive, rude and sarcastic people(which does not detract from their ponts), strangely enough mostly women, but I think these might be too much for somebody reading about MRM the first time.

    • Arnab C

      To Greg..

      “The problem is that many people who self identify as MRA and organizations that are MRA organizations are not that.”
      – Could that also be problem with people who self identify as feminists and organizations that are feminist organizations..? I mean, it is fair to expect that an equal percentage of human beings identifying with either movement are anti-‘the other side’..? Surely, you would not say that feminists are somehow magically exempt from being anti-men, anti-MRA, misandristic(?), and generally obnoxious..
      Or is your alignment with feminism leading to the ‘as far as i can tell’ bit..? I ask sincerely, after all, our ideology informs our biases..

      “The thing is, the MRA movement as it stands is so extreme that anyone with a balanced view would have a hard time both being reasonable and identifying with that movement.”
      – While i am not aligned with or active in the MRA movement, i am yet to see this extremism you speak of. Are you sure assertion is something you can substantiate..? Reason it out..?
      Conversely, is it possible that such a lack of rationality also exists within a fringe fraction of the feminism movement..? Is it possible that many (or some) of the vocal feminists lack objectivity, that they try to get their point across by silencing dissent, by persecuting the opposition with brute-force..?

      “Point is, he was an example of an extreme, radical, MRA who avoided the misogyny.”
      – Must admit, there are many such feminists out there too, right..? Unless, of course – being a feminist is somehow exempt from.. (etc.)

      “But, when it came to me declaring my acceptance off the MRA movement as it was, vs. not, I had to pick.”
      – Okay..
      Then, that makes you a part of the people ‘..who fully and openly associate themselves with this movement, call themselves feminists, etc. etc. but who have a balanced view of discrimination, abuse, etc. of women and men, but are simply interested in the women’s advocacy part of it.’ – nice..! Except, then the next part of your assertion can also be applied with as much confidence here: ‘..the thing is, (part of) the feminism movement as it stands is so extreme that anyone with a balanced view would have a hard time both being reasonable and identifying with that movement.’

      My point:
      Irrespective of whether you make a fact claim or a value claim – you may wish to substantiate yourself, with data, not anecdotes or opinions. You may want to see if your argument shows clear confirmation bias..
      This may seem (passive) aggressive to you, but i think you’ll not fail to see that all my queries apply sincerely to question the integrity and neutrality of your arguments.

    • The problem with extremest positions is that it encourages extremest counter-positions, and the volume level goes up to 11, drowning out all the rational conversations. When feminists insist that iconic pictures like the sailor missing the nurse in Times Square in celebration of the end of WWII is evidence of “a rape culture”, or complain that satirical jewelery pieces are “harassment”, etc., you must expect an equally extreme push back.

      The bigger threat here, since I’m assuming we’re having this conversation because of the FtB/SCA kerfuffle of recent weeks, is the idea that one may be prevented from doing good work because someone is offended by their opinion on something. My husband and I are godless leftys who happen to also own a business smack dab in Christian conservative country, so the thought that people can run me pout of my chosen field because they disagree with me is a bit frightening.

    • The problem with the whole “MRA” issue vis a vis feminism is the kind of McCarthyist discourse that goes with it. I do not seriously think Justin Vacula is an MRA, and yet rhetoric accusing him of being an “MRA sympathizer” played a major role in pressuring him to resign as a state chair of the SCA. Indeed, his accusers have gotten a lot of mileage out of his writing an article for a –gasp– “SPLC-certified hate site”, never mind that the SPLC’s recent focus on MRAs is clearly based on the most cynical political calculations imaginable. (Note how they specifically declined to similarly list the super-transphobic Radfem Hub.)

      At this point, practically anybody who disagrees with a certain kind of internet-consensus feminism gets tarred with the “anti-feminist” brush, and likely the “MRA” one as well. Which leads me to ask – just what is so wrong with being “anti-feminist” that it should get one hounded out of the secular movement? It is, after all, simply opposition to a particular ideology, and not, as the A+ crowd are conflating, synonymous with “anti-woman” or “misogynist”. Indeed, it’s about as hollow as the old claim that being “anti-communist” makes one anti-worker. In fact, it seems to me that much of the rhetoric I hear slung at those who are on the wrong side of the current feminist movement is directly recycled from the worst rhetoric of Marx-Leninism in its heyday.

      I’m not even sure if most of those accused of being “anti-feminist” are even that anti-feminist. It depends on how you define feminism and whether you take the “Feminism 101” ideology espoused by A+ and blogosphere feminism to be the be-all-end-all of what feminism is. Most of the “anti-feminists” in secularism I’ve come across are quite liberal and broadly believe in gender equality and full LBGT rights, but simply have strong differences with narrowly defined “feminist” or “social justice” ideologies.

      I also find it no small irony that so much of blogosphere feminism claims to be sex-positive and support sex workers rights as a social justice issue. Because I still remember how controversial *that* position was within feminism back in the day. In the early 80s, that was seen as “anti-feminist”, and could lead to groups like Women Against Pornography calling your employer to denounce what kind of perverts they have working for them, or hand out leaflets in the middle of New York City with one’s home address on it, or have your publications vandalized. I’m sure if they could have gotten the SPLC at the time to mission drift over gender issues, they would have gotten sex-positive feminism listed as a “hate movement” too.

    • dave

      I’d say MRA is about as valid a term as feminist. I identify as neither. Frankly, what I’ve seen of both groups indicates they care far more about blaming things on people than actually fixing the problem.

      I’m a humanist. I’m an egalitarian. I’m against arbitrary and unfair discrimination period. I don’t feel the need to differentiate it. Oppression is oppression. Injustice is injustice. It doesn’t matter to whom it is being applied.

      This works well for me as I don’t have to get drawn into long convoluted arguments about the specific nature of just whose oppression I oppose.

      There is a considerable amount of sexism against men in western society. When a woman can cut off a man’s genitals and a female celebrity’s response is “you go girl” and there are ZERO consequences, it shows that our society has a ridiculopusly skewed view of violence against men.

      Many MRAs make their side look unreasonable by being sexist themselves, and many men are unaware of the ways sexism affects them. You end u with many of the activists being people with a chip on their shoulder to begin with.And there are more than a few feminists that flat out REFUSE to acknowledge that sexism against men exists at all (or if it does, it is men’s fault somehow.)

      Neither ‘side’ really makes me want to have much to do with them.

    • Trendkill – NSWATM is really more feminist than MRA, but at least for a while, did have MRA commentators and does raise men’s issues in a much more serious way than is typical of the feminist blogosphere. It’s also made an effort to do away with deliberately-alienating language like “dudebros”, “mansplainng”, etc. Overall, much better discussion of gender than you see in the A+ sphere. I kind of liked NSWATM it better when it was it’s own blog, though, as it’s lost some of its identity when it sunk itself into Good Men Project.

      My view is that ultimately these are all gender issues and there needs to be conversation around them whether it’s within feminism or not. The problem is that feminism is at cross-purposes when it comes to men’s issues. On one hand, it claims to be *the* movement for gender issues and that any legitimate men’s issues are feminist issues. On the other hand, it also proclaims the need to prioritize women, hence, the dismissive talk about “what about the menz”, accusations of derailing, etc, whenever men’s issues are brought up.

      I think there needs to be a conversation of gender justice without partisan labels, really. Or if a label is needed, I like FeministWhore’s suggestion of “gender-aware humanism”.

    • Thanks for the comments – all very interesting and insightful. My purpose of the post isn’t to pit MRAism against feminism or even to discuss the merits/pitfalls of each.

      The question this post is concerned with is “is it bad to be an MRA per se?”. Does everyone agree with me that it isn’t? If you don’t, I’d be interested to know why.

    • Drew Hardies

      The question this post is concerned with is “is it bad to be an MRA per se?”. Does everyone agree with me that it isn’t? If you don’t, I’d be interested to know why.

      I think there’s a possible counter-argument. It would start with the idea that, “activists representing men” is a much broader class than MRA.

      Many feminists assert that their efforts benefit men, too. But it would sound wrong to describe those people as MRAs, even if they happened to be working on a specific project that would mostly help men. (For instance, an anti-cancer organization might do a ‘Regular screenings are Manly’ campaign to increase the rate of early detection of prostate cancers)

      Particularly in the context of internet discussion “MRA” and “Feminist” seem more like tribal markers than literal descriptors of someone’s positions.

      So, the anti-MRA position would not be, “There are at literally no instances of discrimination against men,” but, “Lending support to the tribe that uses the ‘MRA’ label does net harm.”

      Similarly, I tend to read the ‘anti-Feminist’ label as saying “this person believes the tribe using the ‘Feminist’ identifier does net harm”, rather than “this person is literally opposed to the idea that women ought have equal rights in society.”

      This seems to reduce the online Feminist/MRA debate down to, “my poorly-defined blog network, is in my opinion, better than your poorly-defined blog network.”

      I tend to lean towards your conclusion that people should be specific in their criticism. If an author is sexist, they should be called out for it. If a specific program is harmful, then it should be opposed for its flaws.

    • Zardoz

      This is the huge downside of identifying yourself with a label. It might be a handy shorthand for stating your beliefs but you get associated with every crazy idea that anyone else using the same label comes up with.

      How many times have I seen the argument that liberal Christians are just as bad as fundamentalists because they are enabling them by both calling themselves Christians. Or atheists being told what they believe just because they have labelled themselves an atheist.

      The more I see on this, the more convinced I am that you should just state your position and avoid labels entirely.

    • J. J. Ramsey

      The question this post is concerned with is “is it bad to be an MRA per se?”.

      The catch with that question is that it’s somewhat ill-defined. If one takes the meaning of “men’s rights activist” literally, then, well, what’s so wrong with advocating for the rights of a particular group? The catch is that in practice, the meaning of the phrase “men’s rights activist” doesn’t come from the literal meaning of its words. Rather, we’ve seen the bulk of self-identified MRAs endorse misogynistic attitudes (and I’m including GirlWritesWhat in that, e.g. her agreement with pick-up artists about the “shit test” in her post “This means war”), which has ended up determining what “MRA” connotes in practice.

    • Astrokid.NJ

      If someone dares to identify as an MRA, they are detested and marginalised. This seems wrong to me. I see no reason to scorn an MRA if all we know about them is that they are an MRA.

      I will just make one last comment… There is a lot of history to study (the principles that underlie how civilization was developed “by putting sex to work”, the earliest waves of feminism, etc), to fully understand the answer to this question, and fully appreciate whats going on. But there’s a short answer as well for those who cant invest the time.
      GWW addressed this baffling question a while ago.. All this talk of misogyny is just a ruse. For e.g does anybody believe that fighting against this false rape incarceration … one of thousands documented at the Community of the Wrongly Accused… can be diminished due to any amount anger and invective?

      Why is society so quick to assume the MRM is misogynistic and violent even when it isn’t, while assuming feminism is benign and beneficial, even when it it’s full of hate and sexism? A tale of how our instincts lie to us, and the objective truths we just can’t bring ourselves to face…

      http://owningyourshit.blogspot.com/2012/03/transcript-of-how-feminism-conned.html
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RozEFVPDxeg

      PS: A ‘subscribe by email for comments’ option would be appreciated.

    • Drew Hardies, J.J. Ramsey:

      Yes, so I suppose we’re talking about the MRM as it in fact is rather than what the idea means in the abstract.

      I think what you say then is fair enough. However, suppose I meet a guy named Matthew Robert Anderson (hoho) who is also an MRA. Should I treat Matt with contempt? I think we shouldn’t – we should find out what his views actually are before passing judgement.

      Same with an MRA appointed to a position of authority. We shouldn’t assume that they’re anti-woman and try to get them removed until we find out what their views on the matter actually are.

      That’s my point really. We shouldn’t judge an MRA before finding out what they themselves actually think.

    • lcoye2002

      “her agreement with pick-up artists about the “shit test””

      This is misogynistic?

    • Jan

      If you want an MRA site free of any hints at misogyny try this:

      http://www.pellebilling.com/

      As for valid MRa causes and cases where feminism have worked against the interests of men how about this:

      http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/cdc-being-made-to-penetrate-isnt-rape/

      If you read through the archives at this site you will see clearly that feminist organizations such as NOW have opposed mens rights in family law in more or less every way possible and most of the laws passed that discriminate against men in family law have been advocated for by feminist organizations before being passed.

      http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/

      Women hit men slightly more often than men hit women, lesbian relationships are as violent or more violent than heterosexual ones and mothers hit their children much more frequently than fathers do (this is in part but not exclusively because of time spent with the child). Yet feminists have painted the picture of men as the sole perpetrator of domestic violence and women as the sole victim. They have done this despite hundreds of studies and government statistics showing otherwise. That there is parity in domestic violence has been known for 30-40 years or more but still feminists have painted this picture. Read this interview with Erin Pizzey, the woman who opened the first crisis center for women back in the 70s. She explains exactly how much feminists have worked for or against mens interests with regards to domestic violence:

      http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/domestic-violence-industry/refuting-40-years-of-lies-about-violence/

      Feminist have claimed for a long time that women get punished harder for the same crime as men do and based on that they have gotten lots of money for special programs for female prisoners to compensate for this in England, and quite possibly other places as well. It turns out however that it is the other way around and men are punished much, much harder for exactly the same crime:

      http://feck-blog.blogspot.no/2009/09/judical-bias-better-be-woman.html

      Feminists did not care to correct this as it got documented and it only got to the attention of the British minister of justice after a male MP debated the issue with her in parliament.

      Here is a VITAL piece of information feminists will never tell you. Most rapists don`t rape because of “rape culture” but where sexually abused themselves when young and most of them where raped by WOMEN:

      http://feck-blog.blogspot.no/2011/10/rapists-who-were-sexually-abused-by.html

      So feminism not only does not adequately address most male rights issues but is the prime cause of most discrimination against men and the spread of hostility and hatred towards men in popular culture. This makes a very good case for being an MRA.

      Furthermore many MRAs are women. A third of the readers of avoiceformen.com are women and a huge number of their contributors are.

      I highly recommend reading Who Stole Feminism by CHristina Hoff Sommers and The Mtyh of Male Power and Why Mean Earn More by Warren Farrell. As skeptics you should be appalled by the utter lack of even pretense at objectivity within women’s studies/gender studies that Hoff Sommers documents.

    • Natalie

      Let’s rephrase the question:

      is it okay to be an activist for men’s rights?
      Yes. More power to you.

      Is it okay to be a MRA. No more than it’s okay to be a Ku klux klan member.

      I understand what you’re trying to say. Don’t judge a book by its cover. A few bad apples don’t speak for the entire organization(s), even though they may seem the loudest.

      The problem here though, is that the organizations and people that identify themselves as MRA are by and large misogynist. Not even sexist. They’ve gone way past sexism and embraced full-blown misogyny. They’re not so much about addressing men’s issues as they are at bashing women, or feminists, or both. Someone who starts exploring MRA websites, and decides that he (or she) identifies with it enough to call themselves an MRA, yeah, I’d say that’s a bad thing.

      You ask, why should an MRA be maligned, simply because they are MRA? And I’ll answer, for the same reason any other member of a hate group should be maligned.

    • Natalie

      I recommend reading “A Good Men’s Rights Organization is Hard to Find.”

      It’s not the issues they claim to fight for that are the problem.
      Custody and Alimony issues? Male rape victims? Male domestic violence victims? Etc, these are all legitimate grievances.

      But how is this activism expressed? Misogyny. There’s the problem with MRAs.

      Men need an activist group that cares more about righting wrongs than hating on women.

    • Thanks for the comments.

      I agree that certain MRA organisations are beyond the pale, but I think ‘MRA’ describes a kind of activism rather than a specific group. So a group might be a hate group, but I don’t think ‘MRA’ is a hate group, since hate isn’t a necessary part of what it is to be an MRA (though for many it is often a contingent part).

      I’d also say that if these groups are more interested in misogyny than ‘men’s rights’, then MRA is really a misnomer (i.e. they aren’t activists for men’s rights). That isn’t a ‘no true scotsman’, as ‘MRA’ is a description that is true or false based on the actions of who it would describe.

      A further thought is that if someone does the good things you mention, they are likely to be ‘branded’ an MRA by others, and if people prejudge MRAs as bad people, then this person cannot avoid being disliked by others even though they wouldn’t deserve to be.

    • Miip

      “Here is a VITAL piece of information feminists will never tell you. Most rapists don`t rape because of “rape culture” but where sexually abused themselves when young and most of them where raped by WOMEN:”

      I do not believe that statistic for a minute! Now if you want to claim the male child may have been abused as a child by a female by beating or verbal abuse then that I would believe…

    • RedHedKT

      I have another question. Is it okay to believe in white power? Surely not every person who believes in white power hates other races of people. Surely there are times when white people are discriminated against. Of course discrimination against white people isn’t as common but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously. The problem is that there is no evidence anywhere that I have ever found after researching very heavily that MRA’s who are terrible people exist. A person that actually champions issues like fathers rights and rape of men/boys and bullying of young boys is called a feminists. They despise feminists and believe feminists are the downfall of all of society however feminists are the ones who actually do the work to protect the many of the rights of men and boys. Find me a legitimate MRA that has actually done any good for society and I will bow. Til then, I will continue to call them out for the woman hating pigs they are!

    • In the case of ‘white power’ I would say that its adherents are necessarily racist. That is because the very notion of ‘white power’ (or any other racial supremacy) is racist. I’m arguing that the very notion of ‘MRAism’ is not necessarily misogynistic in the way that ‘white power’ is.

      An analogous scenario to ‘white power’ would be ‘male power’ or ‘male supremacy’. That would be sexist, but I don’t see that as synonymous with ‘MRAism’.

      I may well be the case that 90%, 95% or even 100% of MRAs are misogynistic – I don’t know. My point is that by the very nature of the term we cannot know until we find out the views of the individual.

    • Rori

      The Good Men Project isn’t anywhere near hateful enough to be considered a MRA site. The majority of mra’s think it’s pathetic. If you took all of the hate out of the MRM you’d have 99% of the MRA’s looking for some other group to pick on. I’m sure people of color would be the typical second choice.

    • Keith Tyler

      I’m seeing a hell of a lot of completely anecdotal bases for the blanket generalizations of what it means to be “mra” or even gender-egalitarian (which is somewhat distinct from either). Not any actual thorough study, or balanced insight, or acknowledgement of any nuance. A lot of “Most … in my experience” and “appears” and “seems” and “as it is (in my estimation)”.

      In short…. a lot of “feels true” truthiness, and a lot of stereotyping, and not a lot of objectivity. Alas.

    • Keith Tyler

      “They” should do the thing that you don’t even know if they do or not. Well, great.

    • Keith Tyler

      Black and white, the new political calculus? You’re either with us or against us? Last guy to use that line wasn’t a feminist OR a leftist. How’s that work?

    • Keith Tyler

      More generalizations. More stereotypes. Awesome. Real good tactic there. See, I thought that’s what we were supposed to be fighting AGAINST? Well, only when it applies to one group, apparently. Well, is it or isn’t it?

    • Keith Tyler

      Women blame men for social ills ailing women, therefore, women are without any blame for social ills ailing men? Basically men collectively are to blame both for men’s issues and for women’s issues and women collectively aren’t to blame for anything.

      No, I think both notions are bullshit. Both groups contribute to both groups’ issues. But since that position doesn’t fit with the mainstream feminist dogma, it’s misogynist! Hi, fuck that.

    • Keith Tyler

      “I have a question that I will couch in a loaded statement by directly comparing MRAs to white supremacists, for no legitimate reason whatsoever.” Thanks for that, you’re reasoned objectivity is flawless.

    • Keith Tyler

      What you point out is exactly what much of MRAs are pointing out, and for it, they are called misogynists. I agree with the label egalitarian, but it doesn’t seem to have any cachet. You don’t find many “gender egalitarians” out there calling themself such. As a result, you’re either feminist or MRA and there is no nuance in between. Hyper-political thought allows for no middle ground, no nuance, no compromise, no “derailment.” Like elementary school ZT policies, there is either conformity, or there is violation — there is no critical thought.

    • Keith Tyler

      There is no such thing as misandry. That is an widely repeated mainstream feminist position. There is simply no such thing as misandry. There is misogyny, nearly everywhere, but there is no such thing as misandry.

    • Keith Tyler

      Criminalizing false rape accusations hurts women, discourages reporting, and enables rapists. That is another widespread mainstream feminist position. This is why MRA is a thing. Mainstream feminism of late is adopting some completely illogical positions, all in the name of avoiding dilution of the primary mission of empowering women.

      I’m all for empowering women. I’m also all for empowering men. But that’s misogynist.

    • Keith Tyler

      … because (insert generalized, preconceived conclusion about what MRA is).

      .. and I wouldn’t be surprised if (insert completely unsubstantiated, unfounded, unobjective prediction based on aforementioned generalized preconceived conclusion) were true too!

    • Keith Tyler

      The great thing about facts is that it doesn’t matter if you believe them or not, or if you believe falsehoods or not. Facts are still facts and falsehoods are still falsehoods.

    • Keith Tyler
    • Keith Tyler

      Don’t distract from the core mission with your truth and facts!

    • Keith Tyler

      TBF we do have civil rights groups, like ACLU or EFF, that don’t draw on such lines. I can’t really think of any way in which white people are disadvantaged (some would suggest affirmative action, but I demur, it seems perhaps a necessary evil in some cases, at least for a time) but in that scenario, one group was explicitly and even legally superior to another, and when *theoretically* equal, yet distinct, issues were unavoidable. I don’t agree that the men and women situation, especially in the western world, and at the present moment, are analogous to the historical situation between blacks and whites, or even straights and gays. (Though the gays do have awesome parades; thankfully, and quite graciously even, they don’t exclude anyone from attending or even participating. Which is more than can be said for some non-gay parades (Ahem, St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers).) It’s much more damnable and clear-cut, for sure, in certain other countries (Islamic fundamentalist states, post-tribalist/traditionalist/Christian fundamentalist African states, and many traditionalist Asian states). But, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out, MSF does not spend the bulk of its effort concerned with the serious plights facing *those* women. Something MRA, for all its supposed misogyny, is quick to point out.

    • Yes, that’s precisely what I said, Keith. It’s all black or white. Stay pure.

    • Nephandus

      Even the feminist researchers found that not supporting female privilege, what they call “benevolent sexism”, will get men labelled misogynous. “Respecting women” in the mainstream perception means supporting female chauvinism. Anything else is regarded as “disrespect”.
      https://uwspace.uwaterloo.ca/bitstream/handle/10012/6958/Yeung_Amy.pdf;jsessionid=FB488C1B98BC7A23439F156E7F99D5C1?sequence=1

    • Nephandus

      Don’t be silly it’s full of hatred. It’s the gender equivalent of what “The Uncle Tom Project” would mean for blacks. They hate men and are sorry for being them.