Friday, 17 August 2012

Some thoughts on Women and the Men's Rights Activists

So, looking obsessively as I do at my blog statistics the other day, I noticed a surprising number of hits had come from an MRA (men’s rights activists) site called ‘A Voice for Men’. Because, you know, men don’t tend to have much of a voice on the interwebz.  Anyway, I’m not going to link to the website because it’s not very nice and having more than a cursory look at it might make you feel ill. But anyway. The reason I was getting traffic was because an article written by a woman who has ‘quit’ feminism began by talking about my book, The Light Bulb Moment

I can’t be bothered to give her any publicity so we’ll just leave her name out of it. 

Anyway, as this was on an MRA website, the intro to the article was less than complimentary to my book, and the book's title with its ‘religious, Road to Damascus style imagery’ (what? Does ANYONE think of that with the pretty common phrase/cartoon image of lightbulbs?). To me, it’s a real shame that a book packed with honest, moving, funny stories about women’s and men’s lives was being held up for mockery on a site that thinks that women’s experiences are lies/crap/of no interest. Stories about childhood unfairness, depression, sexual assault, harassment, domestic abuse and more. As well as being completely irrelevant to the rest of the article, the whole tone of this introduction contributed and held up the MRA belief that women’s experiences aren’t real, aren’t serious and shouldn’t be respected. 

The article went on to talk about how the writer had left feminism and, I’m assuming from the fact that she writes for A Voice for Men and the Good Men Project, embraced MRA-ism. And this got me thinking about women’s position in a movement that is, at its heart, anti-women. Not anti-feminism, although it is that too. But purely and simply, anti-women. 

A movement that doesn’t really believe in rape and violence against women and girls.

A movement that actually really does believe that men are victimised by single mothers who simply want support when it comes to raising children.

A movement who think that there are degrees of rape, and have a scarily stupid understanding of consent. 

You know the drill. I could go on. But fundamentally, from everything I’ve heard and read about the MRA team, it’s a movement who think women are not as good as men. With a healthy dose of paranoia added in for good measure (I’m looking at you Tom Martin and your ‘hard chairs are feminazi conspiracy’ BS). 

And this is what I find hard to understand about women MRAs. Because we can be as friendly with these guys as we like, and they might even let you into their tree house for a bit, but, in the end, we'll still be women. 

We'll always be women to them.

And so long as they see being a woman as something inferior, we'll always be inferior too. 

As if to prove my point, one of the commenters on the article wrote the following:

I wonder. . . If I were an Israeli who happened on a German who used to run the ovens at Auschwitz and he told me that he no longer hates Jews; how do you think I would react?
Congratulations. You’ve have an advanced degree in hatred that you now repudiate.
Here’s your cookie.”

A movement based on disrespecting women will never respect women. They’ll always see you as less than them. They might not ALL see you as an ex-Nazi that never deserves forgiveness. But they'll always see you as a woman. 


notsobigsociety said...

Argh, woman MRAs. I did a bit of googling to find out who you were talking about. Yep, you were quite right not to dignify her with publicity. I think I remember her bleating on around the time of the LSE "sexism" lawsuit.

I had a very nasty run-in with a female MRA a while back. Turns out the Womens Auxiliary can be every bit as vindictive as their male counterparts. There's some details about it here.

I don't give this one the dignity of publicising her name either

Nicola said...

Small comment... but you put A Voice for Men in the same bucket as the Good Men Project and to me they are massively far apart from each other...

From a considered reading of a Voice for Men all that I found was women-hating women-hating oh and some more women-hating.

From a considered reading of Good Men Project I found lots of great articles -- exploring issues that I think it's great to see men exploring. So maybe the Good Men Project haven't always got it right... but it seems like a good attempt to start exploring some feminist issues from men's perspective. And totally unrelated to Men's Rights Activism or women-hating from what I can tell. But I could have it wrong...

sian and crooked rib said...

Hi Nicola, far enough. Unfortunately my only exposure to GMP has been sexist articles, including one monstrosity where this guy wrote all about how he only fancied small breasted, athletic women, and wanting a cookie for it! apparently it meant he was super duper sensitive and caring. when in actual fact it was just massive objectifying, generalising ickiness.

That said, someone sent me a link to an interesting article on there today that, despite having some problematic bits, was actually pretty feminist. So that was encouraging.

Rebecca said...

Agree with Nicola that the GMP can have some great stuff; I've found it's an interesting network to follow, but they have a huge contribution of writers so sometimes it can be hit and miss.

Anyway. I just wanted to say that one the biggest problems I have with this MRA movement is the "either/or" language in which it is framed. "Feminism is wrong because men face gendered bullshit too!" Why not tackle both issues that men and women face, considering that they are two sides of the same coin? Why does the supporting of one genders hardships automatically mean the belittling of the other?

Not that that's the only problematic thing about MRAs, but it's a particularly annoying one.

danfactor said...

Many men's rights groups hold deaply misogynist views which is why as a man I would not associate with them.
However there are many men who respectfuly point out and protest against unfairness against men in our society. For example the way the media constantly portrays men as violent wife beaters and rapists etc.
I tend to get the feeling that many feminists oppose the idea of men's rights because they either believe men have too many rights already or are generally bad people and deserve no rights.
Ie: Fathers shouldn't have rights because most fathers who have access denied to see their children are bad.

dom said...

The Men's Rights Movement as "a movement based on disrespecting women"? So what does that make feminism? a "movement based on disrespecting men"?
A naive & blinkered view of a movement that exists to counter examples of discrimination & misrepresentation of men in society...instead of dismissing men who are concerned about these issues, try understanding them.
Sorry, I'm not thinking. The last thing feminists are interested in doing is sharing a dialogue with anyone but themselves & their a consequence it is impossible to debate with them. You either agree with feminists or you are "wrong".