Guest Post: On the Men’s Rights Movement and Feminism

Taking a brief break from my Hattie biography to bring you a guest post from my Facebook friend and fellow blogger Richard Brum. You can find his blog here. On to the post!

So. The Men’s Rights Movement. Look, I know we can’t only focus on women’s issues if we are to create true gender equality in our society. But when you say we need to focus on men’s rights as well, there needs to be some critical thought involved.

Think. The cases where men are disparaged disproportionately more than women: why do they exist? What causes them? Not only are women’s rights issues caused by a patriarchal society, but men’s rights issues are as well:

  • Only men must register for the draft? That was implemented to keep out women, not to unfairly punish men.
  • Men are unfairly treated in family court and assumed to be inferior parents? Thank the men who insisted that that’s a woman’s job, and men shouldn’t have to take care of the kids beyond providing income and discipline.
  • Men don’t get paternity leave? Thank the patriarchal system that insists it’s a woman’s job to stay home with the children while the men do the workin’ and the earnin’.
  • Men seem to have the burden of proof in a divorce that they are fit parents and should have custody? Blame the majority of men who don’t give a crap about their kids after splitting from the kids’ mother and vanish into thin air. Blame the society that says women are the ones who should raise children, not men.
  • Men face greater health concerns, higher suicide rates, etc.? Yeah, it’s not because feminism somehow created a great concern (and therefore more solutions and better outcomes) for women… the poorer health outcomes are the heavy costs paid by men for conformity with the narrow definitions of masculinity that promise to bring them status and privilege. Men’s health would best be improved by tackling destructive notions of manhood, an economic system which values profit and productivity over workers’ health, and the ignorance of service providers, instead of blaming a feminist health movement.

And the list goes on. Think about *why* some issues negatively men more than women. And realize it’s because what you are being denied, is what other men say should be handled by women; it’s their “job” to raise kids, take time off of work to raise them, etc.

Meanwhile, there are other issues have nothing to do with discrimination against men. Don’t have a say in whether the woman you knocked up has an abortion? Well, it’s her body, not yours. All you did was donate sperm. Even if you’re married, it’s her body that will go through the pregnancy, her life that may be endangered by it, her hormones that will change dramatically. Not yours.

Listen, I’m not saying that men’s rights issues aren’t important. They are. All I’m saying is, think carefully about where they come from. It’s hardly the case that there’s some sort of new matriarchy in control of everything that nobody but you is aware of. It’s much more reasonable, and demonstrable, that it’s still the patriarchal nature of our society at play here.

And perhaps the fact that you feel that you are denied things that other men would much rather shirk, means that you’re halfway there… halfway to the front lines in the fight against gender inequality and patriarchal nonsense. If you find it appalling that men are discouraged from public displaying emotions that are otherwise considered “womanly” (fear, sadness, crying, etc.), then you must surely be able to realize that it’s a patriarchy that not only affects women negatively, but men who aren’t part of said patriarchy as well. A patriarchy doesn’t entail all men being complicit in gender inequality and oppression. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it’s a popular opinion, and you’re part of the few who actually want to fight it. Some of you are just going about it the wrong way.

This is why feminism is for everybody: it fights the patriarchy, which affects all genders. Sure, it focuses on women’s rights primarily, as women’s rights are the primary target of the patriarchy. But being against the patriarchy is exactly what makes the “feminist” moniker a fitting one; everybody not part of patriarchy is affected, so everybody should join in the fight.

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