Nancy Kaffer does not like the men’s rights movement. As she posits in her Daily Beast article:
Men, it seems, do need a movement. Just not the one they have.
Visit the online homes of men’s rights adherents, and you’ll quickly get the impression that the biggest problems facing dudes these days are fat women, sluts, women who claim to have been raped, and, obvs, feminism.
She goes on to state:
Oh, sure, men’s rights advocates are concerned about the climate in divorce courts, where custody and financial decisions are perceived to favor women. But their approach is conspiratorial—the laws, they say, are rigged and controlled by radical feminists—not an acknowledgement that courts haven’t changed as rapidly as society.
These are reactive, not proactive, stances, and they do little to offer substantive solutions.
These are also stances that bear a striking resemblance to the feminist stance on social issues. It is remarkable how easily feminists like Kaffer will accept the argument that rape laws are rigged against women and controlled by “The Patriarchy” with no acknowledgement that many aspects of the legal system have not changed as rapidly as the rest of society, yet reject any similar assertion when made by men.
So, if I can womansplain, here
No, you may not, but you are going to do it anyway:
Fix it. If the men’s rights movement is about more than misogyny, about more than longing glances back at a time when men were giants, it’s time to refocus. Have the tough conversations about what it means to be a man when women are no longer dependent on men for income and social acceptance. Mentor boys who aren’t doing well in school, or support networks for married or unmarried men who’d like to play a more vital role in parenting. Agitate for better role models in popular media, beyond the henpecked sitcom dad, the stoic police procedural detective or Don Draper.
I do enjoy the irony of that statement. The men’s rights movement frequently discusses men’s concerns and offers spaces for men who need and want support. However, the simple act of offering that space and support is viewed as “misogyny.” The men’s rights movement examines what it means to be a man in the modern world, but that examination is viewed as “misogyny.” The men’s rights movement is full of men who break gender norms by expressing their feelings, particularly those of helplessness and victimhood, but those expressions are viewed as “misogyny.”
It seems like whenever men do the things feminists claim they want men to do, feminists attack men for doing them. Many of the comments on this article accuse men’s rights activists of “playing the victim,” despite that these men are saying the same thing feminists say about society. The only difference is who they think bears responsibility for the current situation.
All of this requires rigorous self-examination: When you can be anything you want to be, what do you want to be? It’s a terrifying question, one women have yet to definitively answer. But we’re talking about it. Men deserve to have the same conversation.
What nostalgia for those seemingly simpler times doesn’t admit is that it was always a question of scale, not of substance: Men were giants because everyone else was small. What does masculinity look like in a world where men and women alike can be titans? I hope they figure it out.
This is precisely why the men’s rights movement operates with a certain level of open hostility toward feminists. No matter what they do, no matter how reasonable their arguments or how polite their approach, they will be attacked for simply speaking up.
In many ways, I am fortunate that I was abused as a child, particularly by women. I learned long ago how to deal with abusive, manipulative people. The men’s rights movement is unfortunately learning this the hard way, and having it play out in the public sphere.
They are making headway. Many of the attacks on their movement are so egregious that people are beginning to take the issues raised by the men’s rights movement seriously, even if they do not support the movement itself. Feminists also continue to make themselves unlikable, resulting in people dismissing much of what feminists claim and understanding how and why the men’s rights movement reached its conclusion about feminism.
If I were a men’s rights activist, I would consider taking advise from a feminist like Kaffer akin to 1in6.org taking advise from Jerry Sandusky. I am sure Sandusky would have some interesting insights on how to gain boys’ trust, but given his inability to answer a basic question that even Michael Jackson at his craziest could answer in a split second and his penchant for abusive behavior, it would be unwise to listen to him.
Feminists should worry more about getting their house in order before offering housekeeping tips to the neighbor they despise and frequently try to run out of the neighborhood.