Politics & Policy

The Men’s-Rights and Feminist Movements Should Get Married

The widely mocked men's movement makes some good points.

Modern feminists must be feeling pretty weak if they’re threatened by Miss Nevada. After Nia Sanchez, who won the Miss USA pageant earlier this month, advocated that women learn self-defense, activists rushed to dismiss her. Cosmopolitan’s Elisa Benson called Sanchez’s comment “icky,” while Mandy Velez of the Huffington Post declared, “Not happy she won.”

You’d think people with the best interest of women in mind would support the idea of women’s being able to defend themselves. But the current feminist movement seems more interested in furthering classic sexist gender roles, with women as trembling flowers getting stomped on by big mean boys, and progressive feminism as the chivalrous White Knight.

Strangely, left-leaning feminists want to disarm women at the same time they are stirring up a panic about the incorrigible brutality of men. This humor article by the Huffington Post’s Zaron Burnett declares, “If you are a man, you are a part of rape culture.” Never mind if you’ve always treated women with the utmost respect. Man = rape.

As I have stated previously, I consider myself a feminist because I believe that men and women should be equal in the eyes of society and the law. Like many conservative feminists, I find myself at best disillusioned and at worst insulted by the liberals who dominate the current feminist movement. And I’m beginning to think the men’s-rights and feminist movements should get married. If feminists really want equality between the sexes, then they should have no problem with men pointing out the areas in law and society where they are treated unfairly.

If you think men’s-rights activism (MRA) is just a bunch of whiny men with no game, you’re only half right. That is certainly the version the UCSB shooter, Elliot Rodger, preferred and the liberal media presents as the whole of the movement. Both Time magazine and the Huffington Post cite one men’s-rights group, A Voice for Men, as one of the leaders of the movement. A Voice for Men recently organized a conference in Detroit that gained so much backlash the hotel housing the conference insisted the group purchase $2 million of insurance after receiving violent threats. A petition that asked the hotel to cancel the conference gained 3,500 signatures. The conference was eventually moved to a VFW hall.

But men’s-rights activism is more fragmented than those stories suggest. There isn’t one group or figure making the rounds on talk shows discussing the movement. A Voice for Men seems to have the most media coverage, possibly because it is one of the angrier men’s-movement groups. The group’s mission statement advocates moving away from the tradition of marriage and Robert O’Hara, their U.S. news director, has stated that “marriage is unsafe and unsuitable for modern men.”

The men’s-rights movement has taken a beating in the media recently because Elliot Rodger frequented pick-up-artist websites and pick-up-artist-hate websites. For some reason, publications like the Huffington Post have taken “pick-up artist” to mean “men’s-rights activist.” There are some people who associate with both, but the two groups are not connected in any official or unofficial capacity.

Discussion about MRA is popular on Reddit, and most reporters who cover the movement will refer to r/TheRedPill, a pick-up-artist thread that is very hateful towards women. However, the thread r/MensRights is much more reasonable. This week, a post with the most “upvotes” argued that the movement had to focus more on men, and less on criticizing feminists. The post had more than 350 comments, almost all in agreement.

A Voice for Men and other MRA websites do seem to focus all of their energy on hating the feminist movement. But some, like the National Coalition for Men, focus on real issues that men face.

National Review Online’s A. J. Delgado has already discussed false rape accusations and the “rape culture” on college campuses. So has Washington Post columnist George F. Will. Both have been chastised by the liberal media for raising this issue. One of MRA’s main issues is fighting false rape accusations. False accusations do happen, and it should not be taboo to take that matter seriously.

One of the most important issues MRA deals with is child-custody battles. It is no secret that women win custody when a couple divorces. Surveys of various jurisdictions show that women receive primary custody 68 to 88 percent of the time and men only 8 to 14 percent of the time. Equal residential custody is even lower than that, at 2 to 6 percent. Chances are you know at least one father who is constantly battling the mother of his children for more time with them, or begging her not to move out of state.

Before he married my mother, my father was married to a woman whose highest ambition in life was to be struck by a bus so she could sue the City of New York and never have to work again. She played the system like a fiddle. My father and eventually my mother spent many hours of their lives in court fighting her until my half-brother turned 18. When he was a teenager, she moved to Florida from New York for no reason and my father did not see his son for a few years because he couldn’t afford the travel. My father, who never had much money (he retired making less money than I make now), was never late on his child support, but ended up paying more and more to his ex-wife while seeing his son less and less.

Responsible fathers should not be this afraid of the legal system. Someone needs to stand up for men, and feminists (understandably) won’t do so because their concern is for women. Men need their own movement.

The men’s movement, as it stands now, is not sophisticated enough to have an impact akin to the impact that feminism continues to have. But both are working toward the same goal of equality between the sexes. Maybe men’s-rights activists need their own Gloria Steinem figure (George Steinem?) to unify the movement and spread the word. As long as men’s rights continues to be the awkward, nerdy, younger cousin of feminism, some important issues will go unaddressed.

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.


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