I believe that issues specific to men exist, which I personally, as well as many others, address through feminism rather than identifying with the men’s rights movement. These issues include unfair rulings in custody battles, lack of long term reversible birth control, expectations of masculinity, on top of many other issues. If these men’s rights activists were fighting to solve these issues, I’d believe there was at least some validity to their movement, however, the issues that I’ve seen these groups address never seem to be the ones that are major societal issues for men. Where there could be advocacy for programs to help male victims of domestic abuse, I instead see these individuals trying to disprove women’s claims of abuse. In place of fighting for mental health resources for men, these groups seem to use statistics of men’s suicide to prove that women do not need resources and protection. It seems that any actual example I come across where there could be valid possible progress for bettering the lives of men, men’s rights activists instead try to prove that women aren’t oppressed. In a movement that claims to be about the rights of men, it is evident that men’s issues come second to the dominant upheld ideology of anti-feminism.
There are many modern branches of the men’s rights movement, including TheRedPill subreddit, which, in my time spent there, I gained nothing but a sense of unease and deep-seated hatred in both myself and the (mostly) men who spend their time there. The metaphor of the “red pill” comes from the movie The Matrix, and represents a coming to terms with your own harsh reality rather than choosing to live in the dark. Masquerading as a safe space for men to discuss difficulties they face on a systemic level in a structured format, I’ve seen more men exercising their “freedom of speech” to trash talk women and minorities. In any of my experience with TheRedPill or any other men’s rights movements online, the most frustrating part for me is the lack of focus on lifting other men up, but instead, on tearing “other” people down. At the time I’m writing this, the most popular threads in the subreddit talk about how women are using men for money and trapping them into relationships with pregnancy, the desire for power so that you can be appealing to women, and something titled “where the quality bitches at” which I’m frankly too scared to click on. I’m hopeful for men to one day have a platform where they can discuss openly with other men when they’re been sexually assaulted without facing harsh ridicule. I want men to have paternity leave and be able to exercise their rights to be successful fathers without their “masculinity” being challenged. As a feminist, I fight for these things for men too and speak up when I feel that men are being discriminated against, but when I’m accused of being a man-hater because I am a feminist by the same men who think their rights involve getting laid, I want to shake my head. I’m here fighting for your rights too, so what reason do you have for not joining me?
The reality is, until I see improvements in the ideologies of the men’s rights movement, I can’t call myself an equalist, egalitarian, or a (shudders) “meninist.” The thing that frustrated me the most is that these men have such powerful voices in this world to speak up for the rights they deserve, yet the movement that claims to be fighting for them doesn’t allow them to channel their voices correctly. If I were a man, I would be incredibly frustrated to have to explain that even though I was fighting for my own rights as a father, husband, and son, I don’t have anywhere to clearly express these thoughts without gaining a following of people that want less rights for marginalized groups. If you’re a men’s right’s activist reading this (a real one with bigger issues than women not sleeping with you), I say you should look into what the feminist movement has to offer you. Feminism is defined as the political, social, and economic equality of the sexes, and even though there is an obvious focus on women, you’ll likely find that a lot of the things that you struggle with in society have to do with the fact you are believed to be too feminine. You can’t take time off work to raise your family because that’s thought to be a woman’s role. You don’t have long-term birth control because that’s believed to be a woman’s responsibility, leaving you unable to protect yourself. By de-stigmatizing femininity, you’ll help make the world a better place not only for yourself, but for everyone around you that is harmed by the hatred of femininity. The irony of this is that many men I’ve met won’t identify as feminists for fear of being thought of as feminine. Don’t worry men, whether you’re on-board or not, we’ll be here fighting for you too.
by Taylor Jevning