The misogynists’ rights movement

Written by | April 23, 2012

Men’s Rights Activists have no interest in equality

In the Spring 2012 edition of its quarterly publication “The Year in Hate and Extremism,” the Southern Poverty Law Center named so-called Men’s Rights Activists (sometimes called Fathers’ Rights Activists) as a hate group based on their misogynistic messages, use of false anti-woman propaganda and encouragement of acts of domestic terrorism and violence against women.

For those unfamiliar, the SPLC is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society. The SPLC monitors and tracks hate groups, while using the legal system to combat and dismantle them.

Some attention was brought to the Men’s Rights Movement last year when Thomas Jefferson Ball, leader of the Worcester, N.H., branch of the Massachusetts-based Fatherhood Coalition, doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire outside of the Cheshire County, N.H., Courthouse. Ball, who was facing imminent imprisonment for 10 years of child support non-payment, died within minutes. In his “Last Statement,” which arrived posthumously at a nearby newspaper, he wrote: “25 years ago the federal government declared war on men. It is time to see how committed they are to their cause. It is time, boys, to give them a taste of war.”

Ball’s letter offered tips on how to make Molotov cocktails and urged his fellow MRAs to use them against police stations and courthouses, which he saw as enablers of western women’s oppression of men.

The Ball incident shed light on an extensive subculture of misogynists, whose woman-hating fury goes far beyond legitimate criticism of family court systems. As the SPLC publication puts it, there “are literally hundreds of websites, blogs and forums devoted to attacking virtually all women (or, at least, westernized ones)—the so-called ‘manosphere,’ which now also includes a tribute page for Tom Ball (‘He Died For Our Children’).”

On these sites, women are routinely vilified as sluts, gold-diggers, temptresses or “feminazis” and “man-hating feminists” out to destroy all that is male and good in the world. Not surprisingly, these websites frequently have ties to other sites and ideologues who oppose same-sex marriage, non-Christian immigration, women in the workplace, women’s reproductive rights, and even the advancement of African Americans.

To support their depictions of women as virulent liars, manipulators and abusers of men, MRAs have developed a set of claims that have no rational basis in reality.

For example, they attempt to assert that men are victimized by sex crimes and abuse just as much as women are, if not more. (This is meant to bolster their claim that the courts and laws outrageously favor women.) The reality is that one in five American women have been raped, compared to about 1.4 percent of men. And in instances of male sexual abuse, the abuser is almost always another man.

Also, women are far more likely to be stalked than men (16 percent versus 5 percent), and, as of 2002, 84 percent of all spousal-abuse victims were female. Males also account for 83 percent of all spouse-murderers. MRAs love to claim that half or even more of the sexual assaults reported by women never occurred, while the best studies done in the U.S. put the figure around 6 percent.

The anti-woman vitriol of the MRM is just another form of backlash against social change and the shifting of the status quo, in the same way that white supremacists and anti-gay leaders oppose the advancement of people of color and LGBT people, respectively. It is essentially a response to the loss of certain unearned privileges of being male, like letting oneself off the hook in regards to familial support by leaving town, denying paternity or worse.

These men are not actually interested in equality; they’re upset about possibly losing their position on top of the economic, political and social hierarchy. Or perhaps they just view life as a zero-sum game: If someone else is gaining rights, they must be losing rights. Either way, their efforts are misguided and their messages bigoted.

The irony of it all, of course, is that the few issues men do face are a result of antiquated patriarchal ideas about gender. The family court precedents set by the male-dominated judicial system that give preference to mothers are based on the idea that raising children is “women’s work.” Women being purposely excluded (as a matter of policy) from combat in the male-dominated military is based on the idea that war is “no place for a woman.”

Men probably have much higher rates of suicide because they are universally discouraged by other men from ever exhibiting human emotion. If Men’s Rights Activists were actually interested in equality, they would join feminists in working to undo oppressive, patriarchal gender stereotypes that saturate our world.

Somehow that doesn’t seem likely, though.

8 Responses

  1. Along with your assertion that only men propagate our emotionless male gender role, your callous disregard for the issues of our male-dominated military and ludicrous divorce court bias renders your article on par with the misogynistic drivel spouted by the very activists that you are criticizing.

    The consequences of gender roles go both ways. Historically and even presently, women have had it much worse, but that doesn’t give you license to mock the men of our society without coming off as a bigoted misandrist.

  2. Your comments about rape are uninformed, incorrect, and dangerous. There are, in fact, numerous studies that throw into question the typical assumption that male-on-female rape is the most common, including one I will link to below. Even not taking into account unreported prison rapes (Which would be a ridiculous thing to do), the US Bureau of Justice reports that 91% of rapes are perpetrated on females, compared to 9% on males, which is a far cry from your number. Regardless of who is ‘winning’ such a sick race, to minimize the trauma of males who have been raped is insensitive at best and barbaric at worst. There is already an incredible double standard in the media regarding rape, in which male-on-female rape is considered (correctly, of course) to be a tragedy and a crime, while male-on-male or female-on-male rape is considered to be humorous. If you are going to argue that these ‘Men’s Rights Groups’ should be attempting to work against patriarchal stereotypes, please do not use the same space to support those very stereotypes.

    Also, your suicide statistic is misleading. Women are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, men are just more likely to succeed due to differences in method-women frequently use poison, which often fails for one reason or another, men often use weapons or other, more ‘surefire’ methods such as hanging. Again, this isn’t to say that your essential point about emotion is wrong, but you need to be able to argue it legitimately.

    http://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/2001/prison/report7.html#_1_48

    • Vincent, the highest percentage cited in your link of male prison rapes is 22% of all prisoners. That is a very high and disturbing number, however, keep in mind that only 1% of the American population is imprisoned (and not all of them are male). 22% of less than 1% is not incompatible with an overall percentage of 1.4 in regards to total male rape victims–in fact its probably right on par. And either way, the vast majority of rape victims are still female, while males make up an even larger majority of rapists (due to the fact that they seem to like raping other males as well, especially in prison).

  3. “The reality is that one in five American women have been raped, compared to about 1.4 percent of men. And in instances of male sexual abuse, the abuser is almost always another man.”

    Actually, the study you got these figures from contradicts your findings if you properly define rape. It defines “rape” as the attacker penetrating the victim, which excludes women who use their vagina to rape a man (rape by envelopment) which is counted as “made to penetrate”. The very same survey says “1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else,” which is far more than 1 in 71. Also, the study says that 79.2% of male victims of “made to penetrate” reported only female perpetrators, meaning they were raped by a woman (so men are usually raped by women, not men).

    The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 1.4% rape by penetration + 4.8% made to penetrate = 6.2%) than female victims (18.3%) although it is far more than the 1 in 71 you stated. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men were “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly define “made to penetrate” as rape, men were raped as often as women.

    Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf

    • Btw, Egalitarian, the same goes for violence among intimate partners. The statistics for men do not indicate whether these are female or male intimate partners, and in fact many of them will be male partners in same-sex relationships. By far, women abused more frequently and with a worse physical outcome than men. Spousal abuse is mainly a male on female form of violence. Often the statistic is quoted that they are nearly equal from self-reporting; upon deeper investigation by researchers it was discovered that men greatly over-report abuse, while women greatly under-report abuse, and this phenomenon makes self-reporting highly inaccurate. However, this fact is left out of the MRA’s discussions. As a former researcher, self-reporting is usually taken with a grain of salt until it can be analyzed further, and other variables considered including cultural factors as well as others.

  4. Actually, According to 1in6.org (A site dedicated to the study of male abuse and rape victims; they considered the number of men who where unlikely to report abuse based on correlations with men not reporting other forms of harassment and sexual abuse, and did a study showing the questions asked e.g. “Where you forced to penetrate?” “Where you touched in an inappropriate way without consent?”) Puts the stat for men at 1 in 6, and RAINN (Rape, abuse and incest national network, A provider of support to sexual abuse victims.) Puts the statistic for women who are raped at 1 in every 2 women, and their data on male rape correlates with 1 in 6. Dudebro MRAs, please do try to use better sources for rape information, K?

  5. Egalitarian, you do realize that where it says that men are raped by their partners, it doesn’t necessarily mean FEMALE partners. Homosexual men can be raped/attacked by their same-sex male partners. I would hazard to guess that this is much more likely than a female raping a male. In the article you reference, it stated the statistics for rape are, quote “Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives.” The incidents of rape are much, MUCH higher for women then men, and in the case of men, men are most often the perpetrators either as perpetrators or forcing another male to penetrate them. Females raping males does occur.… but it is comparatively rare.

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