Editors: Sillymod, MRMod3
This is an addition to the conversation started by the post, The Men’s Rights Movement versus the Feminist Movement… Necessary conflict?
One commenter asked, “Why does there have to be a conflict?”
I left a reply, but the topic is something that really can’t be condensed into a simple comment.
The short part of the answer is that many of the discriminatory conditions men face can be traced back to causes rooted in feminist activism.
It really starts with what’s behind the sense of entitlement that is inherent to feminism.
Feminists fail to differentiate between having a fundamental need, and having a fundamental right.
The pursuit of conditions or factors to meet fundamental needs (eg., putting forth effort to obtain food and shelter) is a human right.
The receipt of conditions or factors to meet fundamental needs (eg., having food and shelter provided at the expense of others) is not a fundamental right, but an act of charity on the part of the provider (as long as it’s voluntary – otherwise, it’s theft by the recipient, even when those things are needed.)
With this misapplication of the word “right,” feminists treat the condition of being given possession or position as if it were the same as the condition of having one’s pursuit not being wrongfully obstructed. This is related to the positions of equality of outcome versus equality of opportunity. In the equality of outcome scenario mentioned in the article above, feminists are expecting women to be given wealth/positions that were not obtained in order to achieve equalization. In the equality of opportunity scenario, the focus is simply on removal of barriers so that the effort put in by every individual results in similar achievements.
Another problem which has a side effect upon this is that feminist advocates fail to differentiate between fundamental needs, and dearly valued/wanted conveniences.
Food and shelter are fundamental needs.
Yummy food and nice shelter are dearly valued/wanted conveniences.
Feminists go beyond claiming the right to the pursuit of fulfillment of fundamental needs to claim the right to receive dearly valued/wanted conveniences. A striking example of this is their campaign for government in the U.S. funding for Planned Parenthood, and their loud demands for a provision in Obamacare requiring coverage for birth control drugs. Abortion and birth control drugs are dearly valued and wanted conveniences, but they are not needs. Feminist advocates were dishonest in their advocacy for both, arguing as if women’s access to these conveniences is controlled by outside funding.
One outgrowth of that combination of beliefs is a sense of entitlement to enforce the provision of the fulfillment of needs or dearly held wants upon other human beings. Treating this as a given fact upon which society must base law and policy, this is equivalent to the assertion that “If A has a need for or dearly held want of a factor, B must provide it,” where A is the individual with whom feminism identifies itself, and B is the individual with whom feminism takes issue.
This is further modified by another fundamental flaw in the movement: Patriarchy Theory, which, in short, blames upon male society all issues or conditions which feminists define as oppression of women. Patriarchy Theory makes female society group A, and male society group B.
So you have a group which labels having (as opposed to not being prevented from reasonably pursuing) that which women want or need to be a right, and asserts that as justification for demanding or taking it from men.
A result of that combination of entitlement and blame is that feminist groups are content to lobby for law and policy which is discriminatory toward men in order to acquire benefits for women. This has further led these groups to be the cause behind some men’s issues, and the opposition holding back any effort at remedy for others.
For example, men face discrimination in family court. In custody disputes, it’s much more likely for mothers to be awarded custody of their children than for custody to be awarded to fathers. Mothers who retain custody are awarded child support more than fathers are, and in larger amounts.
Feminists confronted with this issue claim that this is not because of feminism, but is instead based on the presumption that women are better caregivers, a concept they attribute to “patriarchy.” History shows that this presumption is not a result of patriarchy, but in fact a result of the activities of feminists themselves. The tendency of courts to award custody to mothers can be traced back to a 19th century feminist who campaigned for it because of her own custody battle. Though the doctrine she wrote as part of her campaign is no longer cited as the reason for awarding custody to mothers, the presumptions laid out in it are, including the idea that women are better caregivers. When father’s rights groups have lobbied for more evenhanded child custody law, the National Organization for Women lobbied against it, using demonization of fathers as deadbeats and abusers as their argument.
For the last 40 years, feminist advocates have (successfully) fought to impose their gender ideology on the issue of domestic violence, managing to deny assistance to half or more of the victims of abuse.
Feminist advocated law and policy in the U.S. has whittled away at the due process rights of accused men, provided incentives to make false allegations, and made restraining order abuse easy to commit, and hard to counter.
They’ve advocated for laws which remove the presumption of innocence from men accused of rape. The handicapping of an accused man’s defense makes false conviction a significant risk for men in the U.S., keeping organizations like The Innocence Project busy undoing the damage done by a severely imbalanced, heavily biased legal system.
They have advocated for federally required changes in disciplinary policy at colleges and universities, which have led to an environment that encourages and enables the leveling of false allegations of sexual violence against men on college and university campuses in the U.S. In March of this year, the Campus SaVE act goes into effect, making federal law from policy which has already been shown to be unbalanced and dysfunctional.
In all of those areas, group A has obtained social, political, and legal power by slandering group B and then demanding to be protected from them.
The tactics feminists have employed to grease the legal wheels for their sponsored legislation have included deliberate, targeted demonization of men to the extent of creating a perception of them as subhuman in comparison to women, and portraying women as helpless victims. This portrayal of men as subhuman brutes and women as helpless victims has been instrumental in convincing politicians and their constituents that it’s acceptable to pass laws which infringe on people’s civil rights… as long as it’s done in small increments, and it feels like it’s for a good cause.
Much of feminist activism has been about obtaining funding for feminist-led programs and organizations; things like domestic violence victims advocacy agencies, women’s shelters, campus rape prevention programs based on feminist theory, women’s studies programs with feminist professors and feminist department heads. There’s a lot of money involved in maintaining the current political outlook. A lot. No, really. A lot. Tons and tons.
Men’s rights activism is in direct confrontation with that. It is not possible to fight for reform in family and criminal court without butting up against feminist interests. Feminist interests require a group B; a group upon whose human rights it’s acceptable to infringe in order to continue the cycle that funds feminism.
MRAs can’t compromise with feminist activists because that would entail adopting aspects of feminist theory which are in direct contradiction to the best interests of men. Successful advocacy for legal and social reform to reduce the discriminatory conditions faced by men partially depends on countering myths and stereotypes about men and women, including those promoted and exploited by feminist advocates. People who are willing to see civil rights trampled because men are considered disposable and dangerous, and women valuable and vulnerable, won’t be persuaded to want to protect those rights unless their attention is first drawn to male humanity, and female agency.
That conflict leaves the two groups in opposition to each other whether we want to be at odds or not. It is not that men’s rights are pitted against women’s rights, with one having to win and the other to lose. It is that men’s humanity is pitted against feminist power.