Now that you know how I really feel about MRAs, you can fully appreciate my fascination with this account of one female, feminist-identified journalist’s time attending an entire conference last weekend specifically for MRAs to connect. Kelsey Miller is one brave feminist. She also comes to a few not-so-surprising conclusions during her time at the conference: namely, that, “there are real issues facing men today” but that, “in training their crosshairs on feminism, MRAs have chosen the wrong enemy.” Sounds about right. Miller writes (all emphasis added):
“As a web writer and a feminist, I can’t avoid reading about the Men’s Rights Movement, nor the vitriolic and often violent discourse that’s risen up around it. In the years since it’s gained footing in mainstream consciousness, with representation in SNL sketches and parallels drawn to the Elliot Rodger shooting, the discussion around this movement has become even louder, angrier, and that much more confusing. What do these guys want exactly? Can they honestly believe men to be a trod-upon minority? Do they really think feminism is “an empire of evil?” The answers seemed both emphatic and convoluted, and I knew enough to know there must be more to the story. There was — but, if anything, it’s even sadder than we thought.
When I first ventured in, I was intrigued and horrified by some of the literature and videos I found there. AVFM has been called out by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its misogynistic content as well as instances of overt or implied threats against its targets (mainly, but not limited to, feminists). Heavily trafficked articles touch on topics like the rise of false rape allegations, how #YesAllWomen is “complete nonsense,” and why Elliot Rodger’s shooting rampage should, in fact, be blamed on “gynocentrism.”
It’s language meant to make you angry, and angered I was. Yet, I couldn’t help but see, among these articles, headlines that made me angry in a different way: “Men Can’t Be Raped According To Irish Law,” read one. This article outlines the language that does indeed deny that a man can be sexually assaulted by a woman (and simultaneously criminalizes gay sex, which the post also decries). Another post, titled “This Is What A Child Molester Looks Like,” called out a video where a woman openly assaults a stunned young boy in public, while a crowd looks on and cheers. Both myself and other writers on this site have written about the stigma that surrounds male victims of sexual assault and the urgent need for tangible change around this crime. I agreed with AVFM on this topic 100%. I don’t know a single feminist who wouldn’t.”
I’ve seen enough terrible things done in the name of “men’s rights” to have lost any sympathy for this particular group a long time ago. But I appreciate Miller’s effort to find and isolate some of the legimitate gender-based issues that affect men, because those do exist. In fact, we talk about them on this site all the time. Mostly, I’m fascinated that she wandered into the belly of the beast, and lived to tell the feminist tale. Check out her whole piece here. And show her some love, because I hear she’s getting a lot of pushback from our favorite men’s rights crusaders.
Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing.