Everyday Feminism is precisely what is wrong with modern feminism. The writers for the site are typically so misinformed and uninformed that it is shocking they are able to construct complete sentences containing any information. The site is a view into a Fortress of Solitude-size echo chamber, complete with backpatting, groupthink, and flat-out lies. Yet it is the condescending tone found in many article that often results in the site’s best idiotic material.
Enter Suzannah Weiss. She wrote an article titled “4 MRA Arguments That Actually Have a Point – And Where They Go Wrong“. One already knows it will be a trainwreck of ideological nonsense just from the title. The most impressive part about the article is how blind Weiss is to the nature of her own statements. As one reads through the article, she contradicts herself within one or two sentences. A simple proofread would have caught this. One would expect an editor to catch it as well. Yet Weiss readily disproves her own arguments against men’s rights activists so frequently I can only assume she typed it and posted it immediately.
The article is fairly long, so I will break it into parts in order to address them fully. Let us begin:
When I first learned about Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), a group of people aimed at giving men access to the same opportunities as other a/genders, I didn’t realize they had a reputation for being anti-feminist. In fact, a lot of their ideas seemed pretty feminist to me.
They wanted men to have the chance to be caretakers as well as breadwinners. They wanted all crime victims to be taken seriously. They wanted an end to stereotypes.
But once I became known to MRAs as a feminist, many let me know they weren’t on my side.
One of the lessons I learned in my years of engaging with feminists is that many of them will play the “why can’t we all get along” game whenever they encounter criticism. They will pretend to support various issues mentioned by men’s rights activists or male victim advocates, yet that support is contingent on the other side supporting feminism. Weiss fails to mention that, framing the situation as if she happened upon a group of men’s rights activists chatting about preventing sexual violence against men and when she mentioned she was a feminist they turned on her.
That seems unlikely. I got the impression from the initial statements in this article that Weiss uses a baiting approach. She attempts to come across as neutral and reasonable, but uses language that will instigate a negative, potentially hostile response. Once she gets that response, she can use it to show the other side as being unreasonable. She demonstrated this in another article in which she details how terrible it was dealing with men’s rights activists. It is a rather clever trick as no one will follow chain of interactions to see what happened or read Weiss’s original articles that prompted the negative response. So I was not surprised to see her state in her recent article:
I started getting angry tweets complaining about how women ruled the world and men were oppressed.
A few even used sexist insults against me.
She did not link to any examples of this, and I suspect that is because these types of comments are typically made in response to the counter statement, i.e. that men rule the world, women are oppressed, and sexist insults against men. There are not many men’s rights activists who randomly launch into attacks on feminists or women. Context matters. Seeing the full discussion or exchange would help people understand what led to those comments. Weiss, however, is not interested in doing that. She has a narrative, and she intends to push it:
How could people who seemingly agree on so much become such adversaries?
At their worst, MRAs are simply looking to justify misogyny under the guise of “rights.”
This is a common feminist argument, yet the problem with the argument is that men’s rights activists do not appear to seek special rights for men. They do not ask for men’s shelters to the exclusion of women’s shelters. They do not ask for men’s health departments to the exclusion of women’s health departments. They do not ask for coverage of crimes against men to the exclusion of crimes against women. So even if there is some underlying misogyny within the movement, requesting the same policies, privileges, and rights afforded to women that are not afforded to men is unrelated to that bias.
At their best, people with MRA-like beliefs sometimes start off from the same place as feminists – wanting gender equity – but then disagree about how to go about it.
They do not start off from the same place. Feminists start from an ideological perspective. There is a worldview guiding their views that will shape every aspect of what they wish to reform, change, create, or destroy. This is not the case with the men’s rights movement. While there is an agenda, there is no guiding ideological framework. This is akin to a Christian and an atheist wanting to help the poor. The atheist does it because he thinks it is the morally and ethically right thing to do, both as a person and to help society function. The Christian does it primarily because it is part of Jesus’s teachings.
Here are some common MRA arguments that have a point initially but take a wrong turn.
1. Male Survivors Should Be Taken Seriously
Men’s rights activists often accuse feminists of prioritizing female survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence while men get ignored.
That is because it is true. One need only look at feminist-run organizations to see this in effect. For example, when one rape crisis center decided to help a male victim, the National Rape Crisis Network in the UK kicked the center out of the network. In one case, money allocated to a service for male sexual assault victims was reallocated because “the Rape Support Fund would only be allocated to women and girls over the age of 13.” Britain had to pass a policy stating that the government would pull the funding from domestic violence shelters that refused to help male victims to get shelters to assist abused men.
As much as I have covered these types of cases in the last ten years, I cannot think of many instances in which feminists actively sought to include male victims, at least not without the caveat that women have it worse, that men must learn not to abuse women, or the claim that violence against males is rare. It appears that feminists will rarely assist male victims of their own accord. It is only when there is a lot of public attention on the issue. Then feminists will suddenly find male victimization interesting.
(Non-binary people are unfortunately usually absent from these discussions, even though feminists do acknowledge that they are disproportionately targeted.)
That is because they do not exist. This is fabricated, progressive nonsense that no one treating victims of abuse needs to deal with.
But feminists absolutely are sympathetic to male survivors. Many have spoken and written about the need to take them seriously.
Weiss links to two articles from Everyday Feminism. Both of them are from 2015, yet the site is several years older than that. Search engines have been around for two decades. Feminism is several decades older than that. Are we to believe that Weiss could only find two two-year-old articles from the site she writes for proving that “feminists absolutely are sympathetic to male survivors”? No other feminists wrote anything about the topic? Does that not support the men’s rights movement’s argument that feminists are not concerned with male victims?
We don’t believe any survivor is more important than any other, and we’re deeply concerned about the ideas about masculinity that lead people to dismiss male survivors.
That is a very well-written lie. Feminists repeatedly demonstrate that they think some survivors are more important than others by their incessant need to remind anyone mentioning male victims that “more women are victims” or “men commit most abuse”. No one who cares equally about all victims would say this so often that they would need to defend themselves against accusations of doing it. And yet here we are, watching Weiss do just that.
We want to challenge the idea that men always must be strong and can’t seek help.
And male victims do not want to be thought of as weak or vulnerable. This is yet another example of why feminism needs to be kept out of discussions about male victimization. The issue is not that men must always be strong. The issue is that people do not teach boys that just because you are strong does not mean you cannot be hurt, and that if you are hurt it does not mean you did or should have had the power to stop it. Feminists do not challenge that. They reinforce it by arguing that men always have privilege and power as a result of their sex and social status, and that all social problems stem from that male power.
If we talk disproportionately about sexual assault and intimate partner violence directed toward women and LGBTQIA+ people, that’s because they experience it disproportionately.
Wait, did you not just state, “we don’t believe any survivor is more important than any other, and we’re deeply concerned about the ideas about masculinity that lead people to dismiss male survivors”? So you do think that some survivors are more important that others because, as I stated above, “they experience it disproportionately”?
To show just how much feminists care, Weiss proceeds to list statistics to prove men are not victims:
Thirty-three percent of women and 39.1% of transgender, genderqueer, questioning, or non-conforming people – compared to 8.6% of men – are sexually assaulted by their senior year of college.
That number is misleading since many of the “genderqueer, questions, or non-forming people” are male and that a high percentage of people surveyed opted not to report their sex at all. It also does not factor in that male victims are less likely to report abuse even in bland surveys. At best, one can say that this is what some respondents admitted on what appears to be a biased survey.
Ninety-eight percent of sex trafficking victims are women and girls.
We do not know that. Figures on the rate of sex trafficking of men and boys are scarce because it is rarely studied. The current information suggests that males make up nearly 75% of labor-based human trafficking. Other data show that the sexual exploitation of boys appears to be on par with girls, resulting in half the victims being male. There is little reason to assume that people would use men and boys for physical labor and exploit child prostitutes working on their own, but not set up sex rings with men and boys as the victims. We simply do not have the data to say one way or the other, and that is primarily because no one bothers to ask. And why would they? When you think you know what happens, why bother to check or verify whether it is true?
Of all the women murdered in 2012, half of them were killed by their partners or family members, but only one in twenty men were killed by partners or family members.
The infographic Weiss linked to does not list exactly where that number comes from, and there is a problem the number in general: women are less likely to be charged with domestic violence against their male partners. Women are more likely to be offered plea deals that allow them to plead down to a lesser offense that may not be counted as murder. Women are likely to claim self-defense in such cases, which is more likely to be believed. It is entirely possible that more men kill their female partners than the reverse. However, because of the way we treat female perpetrators we have no real means of confirming this. And this is without factoring in that women are more likely to use subversive methods like poisoning to kill or have someone else, usually a man, to commit the act.
The violence we experience in our own lives is a reflection of the violent ideologies directed toward us. That’s why we talk about violence toward women and LGBTQIA+ people. Not because it matters more. Because it reflects a troubling pattern.
That you apparently consider more worthy of attention than the “random” violence against males. In other words, violence toward women matters more to feminists.
It reflects that a quarter of young people believe it’s normal for guys to pressure girls into sex. It reflects that in relationships between men and women, men are considered the aggressors while women are the gatekeepers. It reflects that college men are taught “no means yes, yes means anal.”
This is a strawman feminists tote out to try to make their ridiculous proposition sound logical. The first one is a cultural trope that most males find repulsive. It is common, however, that boys are taught that they have to convince girls to have sex with them, primarily because girls are taught to play hard to get. It is also true that many girls and women deliberately feign disinterest in order to force the boy or man to try harder to win her attention. This causes a host of issue in dealing with interactions as a man or boy can never be sure if the woman or girl is interested, disinterested, or playing with him. Ergo, he must “pressure” her into sex.
It is a cultural norm across most societies that men are to approach the women. Even in our modern, gender equal society, few women actively attempt to approach men. Warren Farrell has spoken about an experiment he used to do in which he would have men and women reverse roles. The men had little problem taking on the women’s roles, but women hated being the ones having to approach men, and usually quit before the experiment was finished. We see this even with feminists, who argue for equality between the sexes, yet curiously absent from their conversations about dating is telling women to approach men.
As for the silly college chant, it is a silly college chant that no one actually takes seriously. It is gallows humor, and if someone must actually explain this to you, you should not be involved in the conversation.
There are also ideologies that lead men to experience sexual violence and intimate partner violence, like that women aren’t strong enough to hurt men and that men always want sex and are therefore unrapeable.
Weiss is doing a fine job of challenging that by citing statistics in an effort to claim that such acts rarely, if ever, happen, and that when they happen they are not that bad because there is no “ideology” guiding the violence. Except for the ideology Weiss is peddling, which is the reason why so many people appear to reject feminism.
But there is no societal norm dictating that women should invade men’s personal space, make them feel unsafe in public, and treat their bodies like objects.
That it two well-written lies. Our society dictates that women can invade men’s personal space without any risk of punishment. Adult women can even do this to prepubescent boys without much risk of punishment. Women do not have to respect any man or boy’s personal boundaries, and it is considered an attack on women if a man or boy objects the the woman’s actions. Women are allowed to treat male bodies as objects to no one’s objection, and the notion that any male would feel unsafe as a result is ridiculed.
Though the outcome is equally bad, there’s a major difference between the beliefs that lead to violence toward men and those that lead to violence toward women and nonbinary people.
Yes there is: one type of violence is considered wrong depending on what it is done while the other type is not considered wrong at all.
People believe certain forms of violence toward men can’t happen, while they believe violence toward other a/genders is normal and okay. Both these ideas stem from a societal belief in male superiority.
No, they do not. They stem from a double standard that considers males capable of fending their themselves, females perpetual victims, and GLBT people getting what they deserve for being different. Male superiority has nothing to do with that, although that claim is an easy way of blaming men for society’s problems.
So, ultimately, supporting male survivors and supporting female and non-binary survivors go together.
Weiss did not show that. What she showed was that she does not think men are victims of sexual violence to any degree worthy of attention. Should such abuse happen, she argues that we should keep in mind that women have it worse. Her “support” of male survivors begins and ends with acknowledging that they exist and then downplaying everything that happens to them as less important than what happens to women.
This is why men’s rights activists “often accuse feminists of prioritizing female survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence while men get ignored”. Because that is precisely what feminists do.