Julianne Ross argues in her recent article that men’s rights activists spread lies about feminists. Ironically, she starts off by telling lies about the men’s rights movement:
Although MRAs made headlines recently for their alleged connection to the Santa Barbara shooter (a connection many MRAs have tried to deny), this movement has been around, and infuriating feminists, for quite some time.
Let us start with the basics. There is no evidence that Elliot Rodger had any connection with the men’s rights movement. Feminists claim he did because they believe his comments sound like men’s rights activists’ comments in order to discredit the movement. However, there is not one link, bookmark, or comment that links Rodger any group other than PUAhate.
MRAs are often dismissed as angry, sex-starved man-children, but the movement likens itself to a male response to feminism. And it seems to be becoming even more vocal in the wake of the feminist movement’s new wave of online solidarity.
Perhaps they are more vocal because feminists are so inclined to disparage them.
Yet as a matter of course, men’s rights activists have not become more vocal. Feminists simply cannot shut up about them. Feminists use men’s rights activists and male survivors of abuse as political pin cushions. This began online and as a result of social media people are beginning to notice. Feminist “online solidarity” is actually a result of the greater attention men’s rights activists receive.
Men have real concerns (like a higher rate of workplace deaths and homelessness, as well as being subject to rigid constructs of masculinity), but the hostility expressed by MRAs towards the struggle for women’s rights does nothing to rectify the injustices men may face, primarily because these injustices are not caused by women.
Blaming men for their own problems does not solve anything. That is a very common feminist tactic. While no one can expect feminists to take men’s issues seriously, feminists still should not attempt to shut down discussion about the issues men face and role feminists play in those problems.
Many MRA arguments are blatantly misogynistic (Elam once wrote on AVfM’s website that drunk women are “freaking begging” to be raped), but the more dangerous ones have an air of credibility that serves to insidiously legitimize the broader movement.
It is interesting that Ross only links to one example from Paul Elam. This reveals a common flaw in feminists’ arguments against men’s rights activists: they cannot prove their claims. Feminists may find a comment here or there, but when it comes to the faces of the movement, feminists prefer to stick to Elam, as if he is the only men’s rights activist on the planet talking about men’s issues.
Granted, Elam often makes himself an easy target. Yet one would think if men’s rights activists were these raving misogynists feminists should have little trouble finding their biggest faces making horrific comments. Instead, feminists, literally every one who attacks the men’s movement, cites the same statement from Elam every time.
Ross then decides to list the top eight lies men’s rights activists supposedly tell about feminists.
Let us get to the list:
1. Feminists hate men, and are out to turn the world against them.
Misandry is too often employed as a catch-all to belittle women’s arguments surrounding the patriarchy. But, as Shailene Woodley recently discovered, feminism has nothing to do with hating men. Feminists don’t like misogyny and sexism, and sometimes men may be proponents of both, unwitting or otherwise. It’s important to recognize this when it happens.
The notion that discussing “The Patriarchy” is not about hating men makes as much sense as saying that challenging “voter fraud” has nothing to do with hating black people. The feminist notion of “The Patriarchy” is built around the idea that men inexplicably want to oppress women and have instituted a method adopted globally to ensure women know their place. As a result, all men contribute, benefit, and perpetuate this system, making them inherently responsible as men for women’s suffering.
That may sound reasonable, so let adjust it: The feminist notion of “The Patriarchy” is built around the idea that Jews inexplicably want to oppress women and have instituted a method adopted globally to ensure women know their place. As a result, all Jews contribute, benefit, and perpetuate this system, making them inherently responsible as Jews for women’s suffering.
Does it sound antisemitic? Hm…
Yes, it is important to recognize bias against women. Yet one does not need to accuse all men of condoning, creating, and participating in said bias in order to do so. Doing the latter is sexist, specifically against men. The word for that is “misandry.”
Secondly, denying that there are feminists who hate men makes no sense. All the comments about “rape culture” and “male privilege,” ideas that most feminists support, are clear examples of misandry.
There is no boogey-feminists randomly claiming to be feminists and making it hard for the real deal. Feminists unfortunately do support incredibly anti-male views, which is the reason why so many men feel prompted to say “not all men.”
The complaint about feminists failing to address men’s issues is also valid. Feminists claim to oppose all violence, yet when asked to talk about violence against men, feminists cry “women have it worse!” That does not sound like feminists oppose all violence or support equality. It sounds like the only want to talk about women.
2. Feminists are hypocrites, because chivalry is a female privilege.
There’s a popular meme that says feminists call differential treatment chivalry when we like it and sexism when we don’t.
This is false.
No, it is true. Take, for example, the notion that all men have a responsibility to prevent sexual violence against women. How is this any different from the traditional notion that all men have a responsibility to protect women? The only difference is why men should do it. The old way argues that men should protect women because women are fragile and innocent. The feminist way argues men should do it because men are dangerous.
Calling it “benevolent sexism” is just a feminist way of dodging the blatant misandry. “Feminists are not the bigots; it is everyone else.” To this point, feminists do not argue for helping people in general. There is no push to teach women and girls to step in when they see men and boys being picked on, harassed, or assaulted. There is no push to teach them to step in to help other females. It is solely on males to do the work, even if it puts them at risk. That privileges women.
3. The courts are biased against men and in favor of women in custody disputes.
One of the biggest sticking points for the MRA community is the argument that the courts actively discriminate against men in custody disputes. While it’s true that women more often get custody, it’s far more complicated than a systematic bias that turns dads into the real victims of custody battles (as opposed to, you know, the children).
Not really. The argument is that women are awarded custody more often than men. That is true. According to a Wisconsin study released in 2012, between 1996 and 2007 women received sole custody 45.7% of the time and primary custody 13% of the time. Conversely, men received sole custody 7.0% of the time and primary custody goes to the father 1.9% of the time. That is a far cry from the 50% claim Ross makes.
Arguing that women receive custody because of “The Patriarchy” does not work because men were more commonly awarded custody of the children in the past. The current situation is a direct result not only of the view that women are better caregivers (a notion feminists support) but also because feminists lobbied the court system in order to address perceived wrongs against women in divorce cases. Courts now rule in women’s favor even when the man is capable of caring for the child.
4. Male circumcision is just as bad as female genital mutilation.
Unlike male circumcision, FGM/C has never been about health. Its cultural legacy runs deep, though the World Health Organization has deemed it a human rights violation that reinforces patriarchal conceptions of purity and denies women sexual agency. It has “absolutely no medical value” and can lead to prolonged bleeding, infection, cysts, childbirth complications, infertility and death.
Actually, that is untrue. Male gentile mutilation has never been about health. It has historically been used as a means of cultural identification and preventing masturbation. . Unless there is an actual medical issue with a male’s foreskin, there is no medical benefit to circumcision for the average male. The notion that circumcising boys is harmless is untrue as well. It can make erections and sex painful if too much skin is removed. It can also result in infections leading to death, which has happened frequently in African countries as a result of the push to circumcise boys.
There are no complete studies that found that circumcision reduces the rate of STDS. There is one incomplete study in which the researchers stopped the study before it ended because they liked the results they got. However, they did not gauge the level of the participates sexual activity, whether they used condoms, or when the man contracted a STD. The researchers simply declared that circumcision prevents HIV because slightly more uncut men had HIV.
We know, however, that circumcision does not provide much protection given the high rate of HIV among African and African American men. Both groups have higher rates of circumcision and engage in higher rates of unprotected sex yet they have the highest acquisition of HIV rate.
5. Avoiding conscription is a female privilege.
That only men are eligible for the draft is an old standby used to derail arguments male privilege. […] It’s also worth noting that when the male draft ended and the All Volunteer Force was instated in 1973, the percentage of women in the military shot up from 1.6 to 10.8% — meaning there were plenty of women who wanted to serve their country — but had not been allowed to do so.
It is also worth noting that when the ban on women being in combat roles was lifted the Army conducted a study and found that less than 8% of Army women wanted a combat job. At this point, the military not only cannot get women to sign up for combat positions, but the women who do often cannot pass the physical exams.
But going back to the notion of privilege, only women are allowed to decide if they want a combat role. Men are assigned their positions unless the position is specialized, in which case they would have to pass the exam to earn it.
6. Men’s media depiction is worse than women’s.
Nearly every time an article is published about women’s media representation, some commenters will inevitably point out that men get objectified, too. As Men’s Journal notes, men are held to increasingly demanding standards of physical masculinity. But — here we go — these standards are again based upon rigid, patriarchal stereotypes of what it means to be a man. And while it’s true that men are increasingly seeing chiseled images of their gender in advertising and media (deemed by AdWeek to be “hunkvertising”), men do not face equal expectations of physical attractiveness.
That is untrue. Men are held to a standard of physical attractiveness. The difference is that our society does not take it seriously, so the harm caused by it goes unquestioned. Likewise, men who do complain about their self-image are often mocked, so men are less likely to say anything about it.
Yet that ignores the actual complaint. The complaint is not about men being depicted as hyper-attractive. The complaint is about men being depicted as bumbling idiots. Men cannot dial a phone number, wash dishes, mop a floor, or change a diaper. They are total buffoons whose children are smarter than them. Unless only the children are in the ad. Then the boys become the fodder. This happens on TV shows, film, video games, and in literature.
Arguing that these stereotypes exist as a backlash to the depictions of the perfect father of the 1950s does not justify it. After all, one could claim the sexy depiction of women today is a backlash to the uptight women of the 1950s. That would not make the depictions any less sexist. To the contrary, it would make it much worse.
7. False rape allegations are endemic.
No one denies that false accusations are terrible to experience. But the fear some men appear to harbor of being falsely accused is wildly out of sync with the actual rate at which this occurs. Worse, this excessive paranoia can lead to the silencing of survivors — of any gender — who fear they won’t be believed if they come forward.
As a male survivor of abuse, I can attest that discussing false accusations does not silence me or anyone else. I do not want any innocent person in prison for a crime they did not commit, let alone one that never happened.
Likewise, few people claim that false rape accusations are endemic. What people claim is that they occur more frequently than we know and we have little means of detecting them. I agree. Short of video evidence or eye witnesses, there is no way for an innocent man to prove he committed no crime.
As for the fear being out of sync with the actual rate, that also applies to sexual violence against women. Most women will never be raped, yet they fear it. Most men will never be accused of rape, yet they fear it. Men’s fear us understandable given how easy it is to falsely accuse a man and have it believed. Then there are the consequences of that. The death threats, the assaults, the jail time, the prison abuse, etc. Feminists gloss over these things as if they are nothing.
Arguing that all crimes have some level of false reporting ignores the problem: real people are hurt by it. How many false accusations are acceptable? What is the rate that crosses the line? Ten percent? Twelve? Fifteen? When does it become too much? Or is it fair that 2% of the men and boys accused, convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned for rape never committed the crime?
And as for the dig at men’s rights activist helping male survivors, men’s rights activists have been incredibly vocal about the need for support and services for male victims of sexual violence. They regularly advocate for changes and the creation of services, often challenging the “only women are victims” narrative that comes from feminists. In contrast, feminists do not often include male victims in their outreach most of the time, and when they do it is only as potential abusers being taught not to abuse, never as equal, legitimate victims.
8. Feminists want to turn everything into rape.
Also inherent to the fear of false rape allegations is the idea that new conceptions of rape are terribly murky and complicated, resulting in the criminalization of “hookup culture” and supposedly well-intentioned guys getting accused of violating willing (read: drunk) women.
This is actually true. Feminists frequently treat any type of intoxicated sex between men and women as rape against women, no matter how drunk the man. To this point, when Amy Schumer recounted having sex with a man so drunk he kept passing out, many men’s rights activists called that rape. Feminists not only rejected that, arguing that because the man initiated the sex he was sober enough to consent, but also arguing that he raped Schumer.
One could argue that feminists do not want to turn everything into rape; they only want to turn any heterosexual sexual activity into rape against women.
It would be nice if Ross did a better job of making her point. All she did was attack strawmen, and while that may please feminists, preaching to the choir rarely changes minds. If feminists want to prove men’s rights activists lie about feminists, cite some actual examples. Do not just claim it and assume people will not check.
Why? Because that is what has happened over the last three weeks since Elliot Rodger killed six people. Feminists accused men’s rights activists of causing the killing spree. People decided to check them out. It turns out that these men are not anywhere near as horrific as feminists claim. That is partly what prompted the #YesAllPeople hashtag.
Here is a piece of advice for other feminists inclined to write similar articles: if you want to behave like you are the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984, make sure you control the media. Otherwise people can check and see that everything you claim is bullshit.