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When reviewing social movements, I became intrigued by the men’s rights movement. This particular movement is a branch that broke away from the men’s liberation movement, an attempt to break away from traditional forms of masculinity. From this movement, there was a “pro-feminist” and “anti-feminist” split, with the “anti-feminist” branch becoming the men’s rights movement. I place it in quotes mainly because it can often be seen as sexist, but it was founded on the basis that modern (third wave) feminism has resulted in marginalization of men in many social issues and as a result formed to fight for greater rights for men.

The movement takes a large variety of issues. Some of the most prominent ones involve father’s rights. For example, men typically lose most if not all of their child custody rights in cases of divorce, but also then pay child support. Obviously there are plenty of cases of deadbeat fathers to support this, but imagine if the opposite was true and we took a feminist perspective. It would be an outrage. Other debates include military conscription for both genders, greater awareness of domestic violence by women against men, and other types of what they identify as female privilege. In general, the men’s rights movement believes that modern feminism has become more about victimization of women and portraying men as oppressors rather than about true gender equality.

I’m sure I’ll get a lot of fire for this, but please don’t take it the wrong way when I say I am relatively supportive of the movement. Just because I support greater rights in certain areas for men does not mean I am sexist or hate women; the exact opposite is true. But I have to say, as a man it can sometimes feel like modern day feminism is more talking about how abusive and controlling men were and still are then it is about treating both genders the same. And some of the statistics I found regarding child custody were pretty disturbing: for example, men make up only 17.4% of custodial parents. I think there are too many cases of missing fathers in the world, and it is just as important to be raised by your father as it is your mother, but here is an institutionalized bias for women.

Or take military service, for example. I believe in traditional roles of masculinity; if the time comes/when the need arises, I have a duty to serve my country, and I will lay down my life to protect women, children, and the elderly if I have to. Call me sexist if you will, you are entitled to your opinion, but you can never convince me that because I think only men should fight in active combat and that it is ingrained in my blood that I must protect women, that I must either hate or be prejudice against women; this is simply my opinion. However, I will say this; with the passage of the new law enabling women to serve in active combat, I now expect them to enter the draft just like the rest of us. Until that happens, I have a real problem with it. And there I support the men’s rights movement.

Below I’ve provided a video of Dr. Warren Farrell, a prominent men’s rights activist who served on the NYC Board of the National Organization of Women and the author of several acclaimed books (I suggest looking them up, pretty interesting stuff). Be warned, the audio is a little crappy. Take what you will from his “myth busting,” but I thought the data and the points he brought up were pretty interesting and move us in a good direction towards re-evaluating how we talk about gender.

Again, please don’t take this as sexist. However, I think the men’s rights movement is an admirable and important social movement that can and should create honest, civilized discussions about how we view gender equality in this country and that we need to take a look at the problem from the perspective of both sexes.

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7 responses »

  1. Lindsey F. says:

    Matt, I enjoyed reading your post. I believe you brought up some good points and I don’t see you as a sexist. As a female, I even think the feminist movement has gotten out of hand. I definitely think this version of the men’s rights movement is admirable but I will say that it is still disturbing when men joke about the role of women in society. When I heard men constantly tell women to get in the kitchen, it’s a little offensive. But then again, I totally agree with your point that when males do something to females, it is a huge deal, but the opposite is true when females harm males. So I definitely see your point and think that the divorce situations involving parental control is very upsetting. You’re right- every child needs a father too.

  2. Charles says:

    You raise some very crucial points, the most compelling is the institutionalized bias for women. I agree with you,however I can see why people struggle in taking on this view because it already seems like men have some many more “rights” than women. So it seems that it should not be such a big deal if the scales are tilted in women’s favor to even the playing field. Nevertheless, the statistic of the amount of time men who receive rights of their children is startling and issues such as that warrant looking into.

  3. wesmw says:

    I think you raise some really great points in your post. I agree with you that some feminist movements have sought to marginalize men and the role they play in society. In addition, I am in complete agreement that certain roles in society should be reserved for men. However, before I comment on this view, there are also empowering roles in society that should strictly be reserved for women in society. Hence, roles in society, such as the military, should be reserved for men because they are meant to protect things we care about such as the roles women play in society.

  4. Steph P. says:

    I’m actually very glad you covered this topic because it’s something I’ve always thought about but had no idea there was actually a movement in support of it. I agree with many of the points you raise and definitely do not see you as sexist. I come from a culture with very traditional gender roles: women in the kitchen, men at work. However as an American exposed to both cultures I find it disheartening that the feminist movement has turned from fighting for equality to fighting against “oppression”. Although there are obvious double standards in our country and women are fighting to receive equal pay, I don’t think it’s right that 17.4% of custodial parents are male as well as the perception of women’s incompetency in the military. The institutionalized biases you talk about only hold our country back. It’s funny, I remember getting frustrated over this exact thing during our Physical Education tests in grade school. I yelled at my teacher in the fifth grade because she made me do “girl pushups” even though I clearly knew how to do “regular pushups”. Or even decreasing the number of pullups we had to do or laps we had to run because we were girls. As much as I wanted to prove I could lift my 40lb body as well as the guys, or run faster than the boys, I was shut down from the very start. In this case a feminist might say “girls can do just as good as boys”. Of course physically male and female bodies are different and can usually withstand different things. But I would say I just wanted the opportunity to compete.

  5. eric says:

    I think that when we ignore the truths of life – like “I am a man” or “you are a woman” – you lose a a beautiful aspect of life. In terms of “society” I see male-dominant and female-dominant roles as important. Military for males, mothering for females.. etc. and while I believe in exceptions, these roles create the basis of our society. Thus, I think the points you bring up are both interesting and relevant to today’s progressive debate. Should some women – who are willing to accept the risks of the front lines – be allowed in the military? Sure. Do I believe it should be dominated by males – I hope so… unless something fundamental changes about the two sexes, I’d have a hard time seeing a mainly female army! But at the same time I am not at all in favor of exclusionary practices. People should be free to be together and whatnot, but we do ourselves a disfavor when we forget about things like gender, ethnicity, nationality differences, etc. These differences are what make life so beautiful!

  6. JAD says:

    Reblogged this on No Dice At All and commented:
    This is a very true concern, being pro “men” or pro anything doesn’t mean that you’re a polarizing bastion of anti-women or anything else. If anything, emasculation has been promoted by the some of the most vocal and active feminists which is something that the feminist movement did not stand for. It was moreso pro-women, pro helping women to attain an equal standing in a society that had caste them into a second rate position. So many people fight for power and understanding but have no understanding of the power of their ignorant tongues.

  7. David M. Green says:

    While I applaud your article it is unmanly to continuously apologize to easily offended women for standing up and telling the truth. 🙂 That is why I refuse to apologize to feminists and never pass up an opportunity to stand up to them.

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