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We Can’t Avoid the Misogyny Behind the Men’s Rights Movement

The Men’s Rights Movement is on the rise. Through misinformation and thwarted statistics the movement is indoctrinating disaffected males to its cause. And enemy number one is the feminist.

The movement exists within a self-proclaimed ‘manosphere;’ a network of blogs, forums and websites whole heartedly dedicated to maintaining stereotypical masculinity. Websites such as A Voice for Men are leading the charge against feminism, backed up by a selection of Reddit and Twitter activism. Accounts on social media pop up frequently, like the notorious MRA twitter account @MensRightsRdt which finishes every tweet with the hashtag “#FeminismisHate.” This twitter account in particular states that its aim is to “show evidence that nat’l and international leaders are fraudulent sexist bigots.” This is what they believe to be called reverse sexism, male disadvantage, and it’s clear by their favorite hashtag who is to blame. The Men’s Rights Movement, which would be more aptly named “The White Middle Class Men’s Right’s Movement,” has little interest in diversity or ethnic minorities. Its sole aim is to preserve white men’s integrity; the integrity that feminism has allegedly been erasing.

This hatred of feminism means that the movement is forever shrouded in misogyny. When you peel this away, you do start see more valid aims that tackle some serious and relevant issues, such as judicial practices related to child custody and lower success in education to ending domestic violence and lowering suicide rates. However, these sub-goals pale in comparison to their sexist agenda. It seems more time is dedicated to schooling “feminazis” on men’s mobility and visibility accompanied by general woman hating, slut shaming and victim blaming misogyny rather than any actual positive political activism.

What we are talking about here is the MRM that exists on the Internet. The members that pop up whenever an article is posted with even the slightest feminist edge.

Below are comments taken from various articles from the website A Voice for Men as well as the YouTube video for Emma Watson’s #HeforShe campaign:

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The language used to talk about women in these comment boxes is symptomatic of the movement as comments like these are riddled throughout similar videos, and their own videos.

Take comment two for example, which was taken from the comment box on YouTube for Emma Watson’s #HeforShe speech for the UN: “Women are materialistic, they’re vain, shallow, spiteful, vindictive,” this commenter is behaving as if Emma Watson’s speech for gender equality was a personal attack conducted by all women rather than a call for men and women to start working together.

This is the general consensus when you are faced with an MRA as a feminist; this anti-female attitude feels excruciatingly personal, the movement seems to be full of men that have been scorned by absent mothers or ex-girlfriends, and in turn are blaming the entirety of woman-kind for their heartbreak.

Now I am not arguing that we judge the Men’s Rights Movement solely on these online trolls, but these comments are everywhere, on every blog in the manosphere. It is undoubtedly an important and prevalent part of the movement that needs to be tackled and addressed if these men are ever going to be taken seriously for what they stand for instead of what they evidently stand against.

The MRM looks to issues that surround the legal system and family courts especially with regard to child custody and divorce. One of the main lobbying campaigns of the movement is to request a change in the law that would see joint custody becoming a default arrangement unless a parent is proven unfit for care. This concept that men fall victim to gender bias in the courts and in turn are unable to see their children is one of the main issues within the movement. However, according to DivorcePeers.com, only 4 percent of child custody cases reach the courts, the majority are decided between the parents without any third party involvement. If fewer than 4 percent of cases are actually reaching the courts, how can this gender bias be as widespread and damaging as the movement makes out?

Regardless, if its gender bias that the MRM are fighting against then they have more in common with their nemesis than we originally thought. The stereotypes that force men to be masculine deny them the option to be sensitive is the same gender bias that feminists are fighting against in the workplace, since women are denied high-powered jobs for being “too emotional.” These stereotypes affect both sexes and shouldn’t be seen as men versus women but instead, as Emma Watson requests in her #HeForShe speech, they should be tackled together regardless of gender.

When I told a male friend about the existence of the MRM, he said “I don’t think there should be men’s rights or women’s rights movement but just a human rights movement.” However, the reason why feminism exists as a movement is because women are not seen as equal to men, rather issues that affect women are usually invisible or ignored.

Feminism was created to be a platform for the voiceless. It has institutional backing; women do not make up 50 percent of government and women do not make up 50 percent of CEO’s. This is why feminism exists, this is why women’s rights are still being debated and this is why there needs to be a unified movement to protect them. Feminism has been taking important strides and its position in popular culture is becoming gradually more secure. These strides taken by women that aim to bring equality and never supremacy, that are rarely ever threatening and malicious to men are regularly met with cries from white middle class males to put the woman in question back in her box.

Elliot Rodger, a 22 year old University student, killed six people before killing himself in California in May this year. In his manifesto, ‘My Twisted World’ he wrote, “Women are like the plague[…] they don’t deserve to have any rights […] women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals.” It is undeniable that Elliot Rodger’s manifesto reads like above comments that are found on every forum or website in the mansophere and that is a scary thought. Elliot Rodger was also very active in MRM forums online and his hatred of women and any man who was sexually active with them resulted in the barbaric killing of six people. The scariest part? There are many others still out there gathering the rallying cries of like-minded men to go against women and their efforts towards equality.

Times have changed and I just can’t help but think that the people of the Men’s Rights Movement are just harking back to the past. There is no doubt that the definition of masculinity is in flux and this is a confusing time for men; society still demands that men look physically strong; they are told to “man up” when they feel scared; they are mocked for showing emotion. I can’t deny that there are certain aspects of the movement that deserve highlighting but to claim marginalization and systematic discrimination as a white middle class male is frankly laughable.

And when you comment on feminist articles with threats that are misogynistic and directly related to gender, you are exactly the reason why feminism, the movement that you hate so much, is so important.

 

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Written by Emma Supple

Aspiring journalist Emma Supple is a recent graduate from the University of Leeds. From London, England, her interest in women's issues and current affairs has led her to pursue a career in writing. After gaining experience and improving her writing she hopes to complete a masters in Journalism.

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