An Open Letter to Men’s Rights Activists

To the men’s right’s activists of the world:

I see how much anger you have towards women. I see your frustration and your pain.

I don’t know what is at the root of your anger and your hurt. I’m confident that there are lots of different ones. Whether it was a single event or it was something that spanned years, whether it involved one woman or many, and whether it happened in isolation or there were other people, there are reasons for each of you to feel pain.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”
Charles Rosner

The problem, though, is that I don’t see you doing anything that will improve your situations, much less help the people around you. When I read your posts and your comments on the internet, I see you complaining about the ways in which you feel discriminated against. In some of your complaints, I see some justice. In others, I see stories you’ve made up in your heads or heard from other men and repeated until you believed them. What I don’t see, regardless of the level of justice in your complaints, is anything productive.

I’ve read complaints that housing and shelters are biased towards women. What I don’t see is an analysis of the situation that reflects the fact that women are much more likely to be living in poverty, especially with children and after being abandoned by a male partner. I also don’t see you volunteering your time and working towards the creation of resources for men. I see you talking about the ways in which child custody decisions are often biased towards women. And I don’t see you helping fathers develop the skills to be more engaged as parents, or helping boys learn the emotional and practical tools that will help them be great fathers. I don’t see you discussing how equality in pay for women would help fathers because they would have more freedom to parent. I don’t see you trying to change anything in the world, though I see you complaining a lot online.

In all fairness, perhaps that’s because you’re doing the work in the real world and just not talking about it on the internet. But somehow, I feel confident that if that were the case, you’d be letting us know. I’m willing to admit that that’s an assumption, and if it’s inaccurate, you’re welcome to comment below and offer a link to information about whatever projects you’re working on. I invite you to show me that I’m mistaken.

I understand that many of you are in situations that have been or feel unfair to you. I get that. The fact that, taken as a group, men consistently receive the benefit of gender-based inequities can live side by side with the fact that there are some situations in which the balance tilts unevenly away from you as an individual. Similarly, the fact that men are, on average, taller than women doesn’t mean that every man is taller than every woman.

However, just as the odds are that each of you is taller than some or even many women, I expect that there are ways in which gender-based imbalances favor you. And given the nature of such things, I’m also willing to bet that you aren’t aware of many of them. That’s the way it works. Even if you’re looking for them, you won’t see all of them because you’re on the inside of it. Plus, many of you have a bias against seeing them because that would conflict with the assumptions that prop up your rhetoric.

Then there are the trolls. The people who enjoy poking other people’s painful spots in order to get a reaction. Some of you enjoy causing pain, especially to women. Some of you are trying to provoke a reaction because you don’t know how to receive attention that isn’t angry. Some of you don’t have any idea what to do with your anger. Some of you feel a deep shame and are attacking anyone you think is connected to it. Whatever the reasons, you’re also making things worse. And you’re making it even harder for the people who are actually trying to do something productive because you make it more difficult for their voices to be heard.

So for the MRAs who actually do want to make things better, try looking for real solutions. Volunteer for an organization that is doing some good. Start your own groups, if you need to. If all you’re doing is complaining online and getting people riled up, you’re just wallowing in your anger and it’s pretty hard to tell the difference between you and a troll. If you’re not sure where to start, how about forming a men’s group? Get some guys together and talk about what you think the problems are, and see if you can find some productive ways to respond to them. It’s a technique that’s worked well before.

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17 Responses so far.

  1. Murphy says:

    Hi Charlie,

    You say: “The fact that, taken as a group, men consistently receive the benefit of gender-based inequities…”

    Could you provide an example, in a developed country, of a law or policy which favours men? 

    Thanks! 

  2. garvan says:

    “In others, I see stories you’ve made up in your heads or heard from other men and repeated until you believed them.”

    I’ve got a real great idea.

    Next time you tell me my childhood rape by a woman at knife point was “made up”, I’ll tell you to shut your mouth.

    Because you clearly have no clue what the you’re talking about. 

    But hey, keep on pretending men don’t get raped you sick piece of human smegma. Next why don’t you go encourage the rape of little boys?

    It seems to be what you’re down for.

  3. Passerby says:

    I don’t want to harp on your article here, because I actually think it’s quite good; there are a ridiculous number of mra’s (and feminists, for that matter) who harp on their percieved enemies online, pat each other on the back, and call it a day.  But I think you’re conflating the loud, troll-stuffed forums and tumblrs with the actual work of the movement. There are a number of groups working to make an actual change in policy, or to assist men that have been discriminated against.  For instance, there’s shrink4men.com, for instance, the cost-free arm of a therapist specializing in treating men who have been abused by women; there’s oneinthree.com.au, a political organization seeking to implement gender-neutral domestic violence policies; and this is without touching on the many child custody support sites out there.

    The trolls, you are spot on about.  Lord, do I hate the trolls.  I hated the angry-feminist-kill-all-men trolls when I was a feminist, and I hate the MRA ones now.  They do nothing but make whoever they claim to identify with look bad, and frankly the Men’s Rights movement needs to self-police them better if they’re going be taken seriously by the mainstream.

    By the way, I’m not a man who was done wrong by a woman, and I don’t think I have any particular anger toward women.  If I do, it’s so deep in my subconscious that I can’t reach it.  I’m female, I was raised by an ardent feminist to believe in equal treatment of the sexes, and as I got older I found more and more that feminists would be genuinely angered and offended when I argued against inequalities that favored women.  I know a lot of people who say that feminism still means equality, and we shouldn’t let the nutjobs of the movement redefine the word for all of us – and I respect that, I do, I still support these individuals – but as far as I’m concerned it’s too late.  They’ve already won, and I won’t stay where I’m not welcome, even if it means abandoning ship on feminism.  I truly believe that the feminism I was raised to believe in is now called Men’s Rights.

    So that’s why I’m one of them. 

  4. Mindet says:

    Passerby,
     I agree with all you say, although I do think it would be better if the title of the movement was gender-neutral.  Humanism does fine for everything else.  I commented on a thread about feminism that these names only lead to No True Scotsman arguments, which can go round in circles for decades.
    I did have my childhood and most of my mental health wrecked by female-perpetrated sexual abuse, which relatively few people will admit is as bad as male-perpetrated SA, but because I’m biologically female, much of MR views me as the enemy, despite our common experiences and beliefs.  Ironically that then leads me to have experienced exactly what some men do with the genuinely man-hating portions of feminism.  If they don’t want my support, only my condemnation, fine.  It’s their choice.  I campaign on a gender-neutral view of abuse (which extends through such issues as child custody), and these days prefer to stay the hell away from both feminist and MR perspectives of the problem, because, despite both groups having some decent people, as a survivor I can’t trust either to treat me with respect.

  5. 13murphy13 says:

    Charlie,

    I can understand your frustration and discomfort with the mens rights movement. It must be difficult to have assumptions challenged which one has held and developed for many years. So much easier to reject those challenging one’s biases and prejudice by labelling them as angry, bitter, lying whiners. 

    It’s so good to know you have the solution: why, they simply need to man up don’t they? Grow a pair for pete’s sake. Stop being pussies.

    These MRA guys, I mean, what are we to DO with them?

    If they want some respect they should stop their whining and start campaigning RIGHT NOW for “equality in pay for women” – abso-f**king-lutely, couldn’t have put it better myself. Don’t they understand? Their value is conditional upon their utility to WOMEN.

    For God’s sake, every woman’s a PRINCESS, and deserves to be treated as such. These backsliders need a good shaking.

    As you say, how DARE they complain about the injustices they suffer? What – do they think privilege is intersectional or something? Do they think that applies to them? Well, it doesn’t. Men cannot be discriminted against. What – some women earn less money because they have children and no man to sponge off? Well, he must have abandoned her then. The bastard. What, most men love their kids and the only reason they’re not with them is because they’ve been cast aside? Well, there must be something wrong with them then. How do I know this? Because they’re MEN for crying out loud, there’s always something wrong with them. Anyway, no women would throw over a decent man would she? There’s been research and it proves beyond all doubt that women’s judgement, decision-making and behaviour is a combination of Solomon, Gandhi and St Francis (note to self: look up better, I mean female, archetypes)

    Yeah, those deadbeat dads: if he could just manage to support one household by working all the hours God sends, then he’s not going to have the energy to wait on his princess hand and foot is he? Best to kick him out so he works even harder to support TWO households. Can’t see a flaw in that logic.

    Men need to wise up, and start teaching their boys how to respect women, sorry, I mean princesses. There are essential skills they MUST learn in order to sacrifice more efficiently. Tiara-polishing, ermine-grooming etc.

    BTW. They’re all rapists as well. Yep. All of them.

  6. Dermott McSorley says:

    Call me a reluctant Feminist. I grew up in the 1950’s which had a very different mindset. It was very clear to me as a child that much did not work in those times. When I started looking at issues, the fact that societies that valued women did better jumped out.Over and over the results were there. Countries that actively repressed women were really bad places to live. I can take a hint,treat women better,and have a better place to live.
    Having said this I found the left of modern times to be rigid and hostile to me. I will never forget discussing abuse with a the head of a health center in Boston. As long as the message was men abuse women she was OK. Unfortunately I had been active socially and had  spoken with people who did not fit this preconception. I knew of Gay men who had been abused by their partners, I had spoken with Lesbians who had been abused by there partners.  I knew of women who had abused their children. I was aware of Elder abuse. When I tried to bring up these subjects as having commonalities, I was no longer welcome. 
    I am only in passing going to bring up sexuality. As a kinky man I am person non Grata to many on the Left. Recently I was in effect told to support progressive causes but please leave the kinky stuff at the door.
     While I am not a member of the mens movement I have male friends who have not been well treated by the legal system in terms of visitation rights,divorce . It is too common an experience for me to discount it as just one disgruntled man.

  7. Joe says:

    The amount of cognitive dissonance in most of these replies is pretty staggering. I don’t discount that men are abused and treated unfairly at times but if you can’t even acknowledge your privilege then I don’t even know what to say to you. 

  8. Ashley says:

    Joe,
    there isn’t anything to say to them if people are going to lie to themselves they will. these people are the same who turn around and claim  stories of female injustice are merely anecdotal.
     

  9. Sam says:

    I think what some of the angry commenters don’t get is OP isn’t saying Abuse to Men etc. doesn’t exist, he’s saying that MRA’s are so angry and incoherent that they’re having the opposite effect. If you scream “YOU F**KING FEMINAZI, I HATE YOU I think men have less rights YOU B**TCH” people aren’t going to take notice. Relax, campaign calmly and you might get somewhere.

  10. Murphy says:

    Sam,
     
    Joe,
    Absolutely, I couldn’t agree with you both, and Charlie, more. These so-called MRAs need to shut up and calm down. Real men don’t complain about their lot. They need to grow a pair as they say.

    You see this especially with men all the freaking time. Soldiers coming back from combat, and complaining about ‘stress’ and ‘depression’ and made-up nonsense like ‘PTSD’, puh-leaze, give me a break. Fathers who can’t see their kids? Oh just f**k off will you? Kids don’t need fathers, it’s only mothers who matter.

    The REAL issues in society – the ONLY issues in fact – are WOMENS issues. Photoshopping images in womens magazines for instance, or the fact that women STILL aren’t allowed to serve on submarines. Indeed, submarines and photoshopped glossy magazines are THE NUMBER ONE issue facing America today.
       

  11. nanonan says:

    Did you ever consider that there are ways in which gender-based imbalances disfavour men? Given the state of gender politics, I’d say you weren’t aware of many of them. I think you need to take a closer look at who drops out of school, who ends up long term unemployed and homeless. Who kills themselves because they feel worthless. Who ends up in prison because they feel hopeless. Ask yourself why men end up in the gutter and not in a shelter, because the fact is they do.

  12. CedMon says:

    I believe these items below may answer your open letter.

    The gap between life expectancy of men and women has been increasing in favor of women since 1920.
    The gap in education for men and women has been increasing in favor of women since the 1980s at every level from primary to PhD.
    The unemployment rate of men is continuously higher than women
    Men are the majority of the homeless.
    Men are the majority of occupational fatalities and injuries. White men have surprisingly the highest occupational injury rate.
    Men are the majority of the suicides. White men are a shockingly 73% of all suicides despite being only around 34% of the population.
    Female politicians when facing males have a better win rate both incumbent and non-incumbent than male politicians facing females.
    70% of divorces are initiated by women and 90% of divorces are the woman’s idea, and women also benefit largely from divorce as they are 84% of custodial mothers, 87% of child support recipients and 97% of alimony recipients. All despite 30% of married households having women as the primary earner.
    Women are not forced to sign up for selective service and thus face no penalty for doing failing to do so, some of which include being barred from federal loans and employment.
    Title IX ensures that the proportionally smaller number of female athletes get the same number of scholarships and male athletes, but since they face less competition with fewer female athletes they’re actually more likely to get one.
    The definitions and protocols for rape and domestic violence are framed in a way that removes due process, obviates violent women from equal accountability to that of violent men, makes women victims even when men are the ones taken advantage of or acting in self defense, all punctuated with women being less likely to be convicted and when convicted facing far more lenient sentencing, especially for spousal murder(men get 16 years on average, women 6 years)
    Far more is spent on women’s healthcare than men. When ACA was passed it including numerous provisions mandating care for women be covered but not care for men; it also made illegal charging different prices based on sex despite women’s healthcare costing 30-50% more(oh and women consume more than 30-50% than men; depending on whether it’s research, screening or treatment it varies from 2-8 times more). Far more is spent on women’s cancer research than men’s, despite men having a much higher incidence rate for cancer and fatality rate too(probably due to receiving less care).
    Men are the majority of victims of violent crime, especially homicide. This includes rape when you actually recognize all the forms of rape men are subject to.
    Men have virtually no reproductive rights. Women’s groups have boycotted male contraceptives, funding for male contraceptives has been a shadow of that for female contraceptives. Men can be forced into parenthood whereas it is seen as abhorrent to do so to women.
    Female genital mutilation is outlawed; male genital mutilation is embraced, celebrated, and profited off of.

  13. NWOslave says:

    Trolls are just so horrible. Aren’t they? The echo chamber of women = good, man = bad, get’s all outta synch when someone challenges what we’ve been taught our whole lives.

    While I’m sure your instuctions on sex-positivity, sex & shame, communities of erotic affiliation, many different sexual practices, gender & masculinity, and sexual politics, would be extremely useful. It just sounds so all inclusive. Particularly gender and masculinity, it even sounds bad. If only men could be more like women, we’d be better men.

  14. Klaus says:

    OK, in the US, as of 2007, 76% of the homeless population is single and 67% of that is male.
    http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Whois.pdf

    Ireland, most of the homeless are men, from data gathered in the early 90’s.
    http://www.imj.ie//ViewArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleID=95

  15. Hachi says:

    “What I don’t see, regardless of the level of justice in your complaints, is anything productive.” 
    Perhaps you should look up the definition of Irony.
    Women are more likely to live in poverty?  And you attribute this to deadbeat dads only ONE paragraph after you chiding MRA’s for making up stories in their heads?  Seriously?  
    How about the fact that men are more likely to be homeless?  In fact, homeless single men outnumber homeless single women 3 to 1.   That’s the cute thing when you cherry pick issues without looking at facts.  You can make anyone look like they deserve all the help they get.
    Fact of the matter is, men are more likely to be homeless, die on the job and commit suicide.  Less likely to graduate highschool, go to colloege and receive a degree. 
    Keep ignoring male issues and writing BS about how MRA’s are just whiney crybabies.  And you’re criticizing MRA’s for being unproductive.  Again, perhaps you should look into Irony.  Maybe cognitive dissonance is something required in the femosphere though, so it may be lost on you. 

  16. Libra says:

    I see how much anger you have towards women. I see your frustration and your pain.
     
    Stopped reading right after that. Wrong assumption Mr.PhD. We’re not angry, frustrated or in pain. We see the world from a realistic perspective. Men have responsibilities and no rights while feminists push for more rights with no responsibilities. We’re not angry at  women, we hate what feminism has done to them and men by extension.
    Please Mr.PhD, we don’t expect you to swallow the red pill. It is a hard to swallow and defiantly not for you however some critical thinking and unbiased research would is required if you want to address a movement as a whole. If you want to be taken seriously and not dismissed with the first sentence.

  17. Be the change says:

    I believe a whole bunch of people just made your point for you.  I love irony.  Great article.  

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