Thursday, November 7, 2013

Friedman Piece on MRAs

Over at the liberal-leaning American Prospect, Jaclyn Friedman has written a great profile on Men's Rights Activists (MRAs).

In addition to critiquing mainstream (often male) reporters who assume way too much good faith on the part of MRAs, she aptly notes:
"The list of grievances for MRAs is long. It includes the elevated rate of suicide for men, educational discrimination against boys, economic and workplace conditions for men, violence against men, false rape reporting, fathers’ rights in custody battles, rates of male imprisonment and prison conditions, and the horrors of war. Many of these issues deserve a thoughtful response and the force of an organized movement for address them. It’s too bad that’s not what men’s rights activists are offering. 
Case in point: Last month, AVFM and CAFE (the Canadian Association For Equality, an MRA group) held a 'historic' rally in Toronto. Attended by a few dozen people, the rally featured speakers airing grievances about violence against men, and men’s unfair treatment in family courts, the workplace, and educational institutions. 'Men matter,' the crowd cheered. One speaker, who was quickly ushered away from the mic, called for violent uprising against communism. But what was most notable about the rally was that not a single speaker proposed a solution to any of the problems they identified. 
Instead, no matter what the issue is, the response from Men’s Rights Activists is the same: blame, threaten, and harass women, mostly online."
Even, I guess what I'd call, softer man-focused gender websites such as Feminist Critics are disturbing in their monomanic focus on critiquing feminism at the expense of actually doing tangible things to address any of the issues they claim to care about on behalf of men.  At this particular blog, for instance, feminists are criticized for things like not initiating shitstorms on behalf of men, for writing in a "gynocentric" manner, and for, no joke, not expressing sufficient enthusiasm for upcoming male-centered movies.

Unlike large feminist blogs that regularly give readers ways to organize and advocate (ie - contact your legislators here!), many of these manosphere sites include no similar action items for men. The sites, at their most benign (which isn't saying much), seem to mostly be compilation of ways that feminist (usually) women should change our writing, thinking, and advocacy to center men and, at their worst, are ways for men to angrily vent about, and threaten, bitches and sluts.

Indeed, a key premise of the MRA movement more broadly is that there simply aren't enough people critiquing feminism so dudes better get the word out that feminism sucks, man.

Which really, is just darkly hilarious, right?

Because what's too bad for men, and women, is that what's lacking in the world is not people who criticize feminism, but large numbers of men who will roll up their sleeves, organize, and find productive, non-misogynistic ways to address, and even speak about, the issues that uniquely affect men.

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