Quick hit: Amanda Marcotte on Men’s Rights Activists

Over at The Good Men Project (add it to your Google reader! Add it now!), friend of the site Amanda Marcotte has a fantastic article about Men’s Rights Activists. According to Marcotte, there’s a one-word solution to all the things MRAs complain about: feminism.

When you believe that we live in a female-dominated world where straight men are the most oppressed class, it tends to make you wrong about pretty much everything. Wrong about the little things, like labeling every woman who displeases them a “feminist,” even if she does something highly traditional, like demands that men pay for every date. And wrong about big things, like writing off high rates of domestic violence and rape as matters of women lying, when all reputable sources agree that there’s simply a lot of violence against women.

They’re so wrong about everything, they’re wrong even when they’re right. Some of their observations of the world correspond with reality, but when they attempt to analyze it through the “blame feminism” lens, they get all turned around. Usually what annoys them stems not from feminism, but from sexism, especially when it comes to inflexible gender roles. Ironically, then, the solution to the problems they manage to correctly identify is … more feminism. I pulled together a sampling of examples to show how this works.

Go read the whole thing. As you’d expect from Marcotte, it’s sharp, funny and entirely spot on.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    Some people’s understanding will only allow them to see the surfaces of very complex issues. They see their privilege receding, and all they can contemplate is losing something, rather than gaining equality. And the tragic thing is that society’s incomplete rendering of Feminism is what gives their whole movement credence in the first place.

  • passionfruit

    Sometimes what I don’t get about some MRA’s is they hate women who believe the man should be the breadwinner, but at the same time, they don’t like women who don’t believe in relying on men financially. Makes no sense.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      It doesn’t make sense, but it seems to fit the conservative criteria of figuring out a way to blame feminism for whatever they can. I’ll keep repeating it till they stop doing it–I find it hypocritically hilarious how conservatives claims to be all about “personal responsibility” unless they can try to warp an issue somehow to being “the fault of feminism” (and sometimes Islam.)

  • http://feministing.com/members/caitlin/ MKE

    Fabulous article, but wowza, that website has quite the pool of woman haters…

  • http://feministing.com/members/danl/ Dan L

    If I’m going to be honest I feel the article and the comments here are both a bit harsh. The article seems like every argument/solution from the MRA groups has been paraphrased specifically to dismiss any validity whatsoever whereas the feminist “counterargument” is thoughtfully crafted. I realize it’s in large part a humor piece to point out what is observed as the absurdity of the argument, but it just doesn’t seem constructive.

    I casually read various blogs on gender issues, some like feministing, some from “MRA” groups, and some try would have articles on both. One thing I’ve never expected is every member of any movement to have the same thoughts on every issue. You certainly wouldn’t find that amongst feminists, so Passionfruit perhaps the explanation you seek is simply that it’s not always the same people stating the things you read, and each person is allowed their own interpretation of the situation being discussed.

    I’d consider myself an “MRA” as much as a feminist in that I want to see fair treatment for everyone. That doesn’t mean I agree with all their issues, just as I wouldn’t agree with everything written on this site, to do so is to consider those who you ideologically agree with as infallible, which is a dangerous place to reach mentally, in my opinion. For example I can’t dismiss the fact that men are so overwhelmingly the victims of workplace injuries and deaths. I certainly agree with the author of the article that it is in many cases men acting as gatekeepers to those jobs, either to “keep those jobs for the men” or due to the notion that women can’t perform in those jobs. But I’ve personally never seen any type of push from women’s groups to get women into coal mining or some of the other less glamorous (yet high paying) jobs. Lots of effort to push them into higher paying tech fields, even more to get them into executive positions and onto boards of Fortune 500 companies, but not so much to get more women garbage collectors (which in my area pays more than the state median income).

    I can understand why it’s not really a priority to put women in harms way, but I don’t think it can be denied that to many people that would seem as if leaving the dirty and dangerous jobs to those who currently have them, mostly men, is just fine.

  • http://feministing.com/members/folktronic/ Rob

    Not all Male Right’s groups purport to return men to the top of the totem pole. Masculinity studies is a burgeoning movement comprised of women and men, studying to see how masculinity is constructed and what attitudes/ideals are privileged within. The White Ribbon Project comes to mind as an example of understanding male violence and how to work within it to erase this notion from masculinity.

    Often, there are rights being sought after where there is an unjustified bias against men. Men entering so-called “feminine” careers face upwards battles (not to undermine the battles that women face in said careers or in “male-dominated” fields) and often have their masculinity questioned, divorcing men are regulated to becoming “week-end dads”, even in cases where the best interest of the child would be to stay with the father, in Canadian law, male politicians are challenged for showing any sign of weakness (e.g., tears), negative media representations, etc.

    The problem here is that many people will always try and reinforce these accepted norms of masculinity, which, in turn, fuels these MRA’s that the author rightly criticizes. However, it is important not to write-off masculinity movements that are committed to change. Just like feminism, the masculinist movement is creating its own discourse and must continue to do so, occasionally challenging feminist dialogue as it seeks to expand certain definitions. And that critique should be welcomed in order to increase the dialogue within both circles.

    My point is, some MRA groups are quite offensive. I do grow tired of heterosexual, upper-middle class guys at my school saying life is hard for them since they can’t win (financial aid) bursaries. Of course, this is as they interrupt someone else to do so. But I am also weary of how all forms of masculinist studies seems to be lumped together with these groups and the only solution is to be studied from a feminist scope.