Men's rights movement
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The men's rights movement (MRM) is a part of the larger men's movement. It branched off from the men's liberation movement in the early 1970s. The men's rights movement is made up of a variety of groups and individuals who focus on numerous social issues (including family law, parenting, reproduction, domestic violence) and government services (including education, compulsory military service, social safety nets, and health policies), which men's rights advocates say discriminate against men.
Claims and activities associated with the men's rights movement have been criticized by some scholars, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and commentators. Some sectors of the movement have been described as misogynistic. Others argue that perceived disadvantage is often due to loss of entitlement and privilege.
Some scholars consider the men's rights movement or parts of the movement to be a backlash to feminism. Men's rights activists contest claims by feminists that men have greater power, privilege or advantage than women and argue that modern feminism has gone too far and has harmed men's rights.
- 1 History
- 2 Issues
- 2.1 Adoption
- 2.2 Anti-dowry laws
- 2.3 Child custody
- 2.4 Divorce
- 2.5 Domestic violence
- 2.6 Education
- 2.7 Female privilege
- 2.8 Governmental structures
- 2.9 Health
- 2.10 Military conscription
- 2.11 Paternity fraud
- 2.12 Prison
- 2.13 Rape
- 2.14 Reproductive rights
- 2.15 Social security and insurance
- 2.16 Suicide
- 3 See also
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
Three loosely connected men's rights organizations formed in Austria in the interwar period. The League for Men's Rights was founded in 1926 with the goal of "combatting all excesses of women's emancipation". In 1927, the Justitia League for Family Law Reform and the Aequitas World's League for the Rights of Men split from the League of Men's Rights. The three men's rights groups opposed women's entry into the labor market and what they saw as the corrosive influence of the women's movement on social and legal institutions. They criticized marriage and family laws, especially the requirement to pay spousal and child support to former wives and illegitimate children, and supported the use of blood tests to determine paternity. Justitia and Aequitas issued their own short-lived journals Men's Rightists' [sic?] Newspaper and Self-Defense where they expressed their views that were heavily influenced by the works of Heinrich Schurtz, Otto Weininger, and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels. The organizations ceased to exist before 1939.
The modern men's rights movement emerged from the men's liberation movement, which appeared in the first half of the 1970s when some scholars began to study feminist ideas and politics. The men's liberation movement acknowledged men's institutional power while critically examining the costs of traditional masculinity. In the late 1970s, the men's liberation movement split into two separate strands with opposing views: the pro-feminist men's movement and the anti-feminist men's rights movement. Men's rights activists have rejected feminist principles and focused on areas in which they believe men are disadvantaged, oppressed, or discriminated against. In the 1980s and 90s, men's rights activists opposed societal changes sought by feminists and defended the traditional gender order in the family, schools and the workplace. Men's rights activists see men as an oppressed group and believe that society and men have been "feminized" by the women's movement. Sarah Maddison, an Australian author, has claimed that Warren Farrell and Herb Goldberg "argue that, for most men, power is an illusion, and that women are the true power holders in society through their roles as the primary carers and nurturers of children."
One of the first major men's rights organizations was the Coalition of American Divorce Reform Elements, founded by Richard Doyle in 1971, from which the Men's Rights Association spun off in 1973. Free Men Inc. was founded in 1977 in Columbia, Maryland, spawning several chapters over the following years, which eventually merged to form the National Coalition of Free Men (now known as the National Coalition for Men). Men's Rights, Inc. was also formed in 1977. In the United Kingdom, a men's rights group calling itself the UK Men's Movement began to organize in the early 1990s. The Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) was founded in 2005, and in 2010 claimed to have over 30,000 members.
Men's rights groups have formed in some European countries during periods of shifts toward conservatism and policies supporting traditional family and gender relations. In the United States, the men's rights movement has ideological ties to neoconservatism. Men's rights activists have received lobbying support from conservative organizations and their arguments have been covered extensively in neoconservative media.
The men's rights movement has become more vocal and more organized since the development of the internet. The manosphere has emerged and men's rights websites have proliferated on the internet. Activists mostly organize online. The most popular men's rights site is A Voice for Men. Other sites dedicated to men's rights issues are the Fathers Rights Foundation, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and subreddits /r/MensRights and /r/TheRedPill. Men's rights activists often use the red pill and blue pill metaphor from a scene in The Matrix to identify each other online and in reference to the moment they came to believe that men are oppressed.
Political parties focusing on men's rights have been formed including the Australian Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting), the Israeli Man's Rights in the Family Party, and the Justice for Men and Boys party in the UK.
Most men's rights activists in the United States are white, middle-class, heterosexual men. Prominent activists include Warren Farrell, Herb Goldberg, The Rape of the Male author Richard Doyle, and Asa Baber. Recently, several women have emerged as leading voices of the MRM, including Karen Straughan, Helen Smith, and Erin Pizzey.
Relation to feminism
Many scholars consider the men's rights movement a backlash or countermovement to feminism. Bob Lingard and Peter Douglas suggest that the conservative wing of the men's rights movement, rather than the men's rights position in general, is an antifeminist backlash. Masculinities scholar Jonathan A. Allan described the men's rights movement as a reactive movement that is defined by its opposition to women and feminism but that has not yet formulated its own theories and methodologies outside of antifeminism.
The men's rights movement generally incorporates points of view that reject feminist and profeminist ideas. Men's rights activists have said that they believe that feminism has overshot its objective and harmed men. They believe that rights have been taken away from men and that men are victims of feminism and feminizing influences in society. They dispute that men as a group have institutional power and privilege and believe that men are often victimized and disadvantaged relative to women. Men's rights groups generally reject the notion that feminism is interested in men's problems, and some men's rights activists have viewed the women's movement as a plot to conceal discrimination against men.
Sectors of the men's rights movement have been viewed as exhibiting misogynistic tendencies.[citation clutter] The Southern Poverty Law Center has said that while some of the websites, blogs and forums related to the movement "voice legitimate and sometimes disturbing complaints about the treatment of men, what is most remarkable is the misogynistic tone that pervades so many." Other studies have pointed towards men's rights groups in India trying to change or completely abolish important legal protections for women as a form of patriarchal anxiety as well as being problematic towards women.
Professor Ruth M. Mann of the University of Windsor in Canada said that men's rights groups fuel an international rhetoric of hatred and victimization by disseminating information via online forums and websites containing constantly-updated "diatribes against feminism, ex-wives, child support, shelters, and the family law and criminal justice systems." According to Mann, these stories reignite their hatred and reinforce their beliefs that the system is biased against men and that feminism is responsible for a large scale and ongoing "cover-up" of men's victimization. Mann says that although existing legislation in Canada acknowledges that men are also victims of domestic violence, men's advocates demand government recognition that men are equally or more victimized by domestic violence. Mann also states that in contrast to feminist groups who have advocated for domestic violence services on behalf of other historically oppressed groups in addition to women, such as individuals impacted by poverty, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, etc., men's rights groups have attempted to achieve their goals by actively opposing and attempting to dismantle services and supports put in place to protect abused women and children. Other researchers such as Michael Flood have accused the men's rights movement, particularly the father's rights group in Australia, of endangering women, children, and even men who are at greater risk of abuse and violence. Flood states that the men'rights/father's rights group in Australia pursues "equality with a vengeance" or equal policies with negative outcomes and motives in order to re-establish paternal authority over the well-being of children and women as well as positive parenting.
The men's rights movement is concerned with a wide variety of issues, some of which have spawned their own groups or movements, such as the fathers' rights movement, concerned specifically with divorce and child custody issues. Some if not many men's rights issues stem from double standards, gender roles, and, according to sociologist Allan Johnson, patriarchy.
Men's rights activists seek to expand the rights of unwed fathers in case of their child's adoption. Warren Farrell states that in failing to inform the father of her pregnancy, an expectant mother deprives an adopted child of a relationship with the biological father. He proposes that women be legally required to make every reasonable effort to notify the father of her pregnancy within four to five days. In response, philosopher James P. Sterba agrees that for moral reasons a woman should inform the father of the pregnancy and adoption, but this should not be imposed as a legal requirement as it might result in undue pressure, for example, to have an abortion.
Men's rights organizations such as Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) state that women misuse legislation meant to protect them from dowry death and bride burnings. SIFF is a men's rights organization in India that focuses on the abuse of anti-dowry laws against men. SIFF has campaigned to abolish Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which protects wives from being harassed for refusing to pay dowries. SIFF states anti-dowry laws are regularly being abused to settle petty disputes in marriage and that they regularly receive calls from many men whose wives have used false dowry claims to imprison them.
Family law is an area of deep concern among men's rights groups. Men's rights activists argue that the legal system and family courts discriminate against men, especially in regards to child custody after divorce. They believe that men do not have the same contact rights or equitable shared parenting rights as their ex-spouse and use statistics on custody awards as evidence of judicial bias against men. Men's rights advocates seek to change the legal climate for men through changes in family law, for example by lobbying for laws that would make joint custody the default custody arrangement except in cases where one parent is unfit or unwilling to parent. They adopted the feminist rhetoric of "rights" and "equality" in their discourse, framing custody issues as a matter of basic civil rights. Some men's rights activists suggest that the lack of contact with their children makes fathers less willing to pay child support. Some others cite the parental alienation syndrome as a reason to grant custody to fathers.
Critics argue that empirical research does not support the notion of judicial bias against men and that men's rights advocates interpret statistics in a way that ignores the fact that the majority of men do not contest custody. Studies have found fair assessment in child custody decisions and that legal appointees were more likely to award custody to parents with interpersonal sensitive traits such as warmth or caring regardless of gender. Academics critique the rhetorical framing of custody decisions, stating that men's rights advocates appeal for "equal rights" without specifying the constitutional rights that they believe have been violated. Critics assert that the men's rights rhetoric of children's "needs" that accompanies their plea for equal rights helps deflect criticism that it is motivated by self-interest and masks men's rights advocates' own claims. Deborah Rhode argues that contrary to the claims of some men's rights activists, research shows that joint legal custody does not increase the likelihood that fathers will pay child support or remain involved parents.
Men's rights groups in the United States began organizing in opposition of divorce reform and custody issues around the 1960s. The men involved in the early organization claimed that family and divorce law discriminated against them and favored their wives. Men's rights leader Rich Doyle likened divorce courts to slaughter-houses, considering their judgements uncompassionate and unreasonable.
Men's rights activists assert that men are consciously or unconsciously opting out of marriage and engaging in a "marriage strike" as a result of the lack of benefits in marriage and the emotional and financial consequences of divorce, including alimony and child custody and support. Men's rights activists have argued that divorce and custody laws violate men's individual rights to equal protection. Gwendolyn Leachman writes that this sort of framing "downplays the systemic biases that women face that justify protective divorce and custody laws."
Men's rights advocates describe domestic violence committed by women against men as a problem that goes ignored and under-reported, in part because men are reluctant to describe themselves as victims. They state that women are as aggressive or more aggressive than men in relationships and that domestic violence is sex-symmetrical. They cite family conflict research by Murray Straus and Richard Gelles as evidence of sex-symmetry. Men's rights advocates argue that judicial systems too easily accept false allegations of domestic violence by women against their male partners. Men's rights advocates have been critics of legal, policy and practical protections for abused women, campaigning for domestic violence shelters for battered men and for the legal system to be educated about women's violence against men.
Some critics have rejected the research cited by men's rights activists and dispute their claims that such violence is gender symmetrical, arguing that the focus on women's violence stems from a political agenda to minimize the issue of men's violence against women and to undermine services to abused women.
Men's rights activists describe the education of boys as being in crisis, with boys having reduced educational achievement and motivation compared to girls. Advocates blame the influence of feminism on education for discrimination against and systematic oppression of boys in the education system. They critique what they describe as the "feminization" of education, stating that the predominance of female teachers, a focus on girls' needs as well as a curricula and assessment methods that favour girls have proved repressive and restrictive to men and boys. However a meta-analysis have found greater female achievement in academics since 1911–2011, which contradicted recent claims of "boy crisis" in school achievement and feminist bias. Another study have also found gender differences in academic achievement is not reliably linked to gender policies and that female academic achievement is greater than boys' in 70% of studied countries around the globe.
Men's rights groups call for increased recognition of masculinity, greater numbers of male role models, more competitive sports and the increased responsibilities for boys in the school setting. They have also advocated clearer school routines, more traditional school structures, including single-sex classes, and stricter discipline.
Critics suggest that men's rights groups view boys as a homogeneous group sharing common experiences of schooling and that they do not take sufficient account in their analysis of how responses to educational approaches may differ by age, culture, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and class.
In Australia, men's rights discourse has influenced government policy documents. Less impact has been noted in the United Kingdom, where feminists have historically had less influence on educational policy.
The men's rights movement disputes the idea that men are privileged relative to women. The movement is divided into two camps: those who consider men and women to be harmed equally by sexism, and those who view society as endorsing the degradation of men and upholding female privilege.
Men's rights groups have called for male-majority governmental structures to address issues specific to men and boys including education, health, work and marriage. Men's rights groups in India have called for the creation of a Men's Welfare Ministry and a National Commission for Men, as well as the abolition of the National Commission for Women. In the United Kingdom, the creation of a Minister for Men analogous to the existing Minister for Women, have been proposed by David Amess, MP and Lord Northbourne, but were rejected by the government headed by Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the United States, Warren Farrell heads a commission focused on the creation of a White House Council on Boys and Men as a counterpart to the White House Council on Women and Girls, which was formed in March 2009.
Men's rights activists view the health issues faced by men and their shorter life spans compared to women as evidence of discrimination and oppression. They state that feminism has led to women's health issues being privileged at the expense of men's. They point to higher suicide rates in men compared to women, and highlight the disparity in funding of men's health issues as compared to women's, noting that, for example, prostate cancer research receives less funding than breast-cancer research. David Benatar has suggested that more money should be put into health research on males in order to reduce the disparity between men's and women's life expectancy.
Some have critiqued these claims, stating, as Michael Messner puts it, that 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" and that these costs fall disproportionately on men who are marginalized socially and economically. In this view, according to Michael Flood, 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.
In 1971, draft resisters in the United States initiated a class-action suit alleging that male-only conscription violated men's rights to equal protection under the US constitution. When the case, Rostker v. Goldberg, reached the Supreme Court in 1981, they were supported by a men's rights group and multiple women's groups, including the National Organization for Women. However, the Supreme Court upheld the Military Selective Service Act, stating that "the argument for registering women was based on considerations of equity, but Congress was entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, to focus on the question of military need, rather than 'equity.'" The 2016 decision by Defense Secretary Ash Carter to make all combat positions open to women relaunched debate over whether or not women should be required to register for the Selective Service System.
Men's and fathers' rights groups have stated that there are high levels of misattributed paternity or "paternity fraud", where men are parenting and/or supporting financially children who are not biologically their own. They hold biological views of fatherhood, emphasizing the imperative of the genetic foundation of paternity rather than social aspects of fatherhood. They state that men should not be forced to support children fathered by another man, and that men are harmed because a relationship is created between a man and non-biological children while denying the children and their biological father of that experience and knowledge of their genetic history. In addition, non-biological fathers are denied the resources to have their own biological children in another relationship. Men's rights activists support the use of paternity testing to reassure presumed fathers about the child's paternity; men's and fathers' rights groups have called for compulsory paternity testing of all children. They have campaigned vigorously in support of men who have been shown by genetic testing not to be the biological father, but who are nevertheless required to be financially responsible for them. Prompted by these concerns, legislators in certain jurisdictions have supported this biological view and have passed laws providing relief from child support payments when a man is proved not to be the father. Australian men's rights groups have opposed the recommendations of a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the National Health and Medical Research Council that would require the consent of both parents for paternity testing of young children, and laws that would make it illegal to obtain a sample for DNA testing without the individual's consent. Sociologist Michael Gilding asserts that men's rights activists have exaggerated the rate and extent of misattributed paternity, which he estimates at about 1–3%. He opposed unnecessary calls for mandatory paternity testing of all children.
Men's rights activists point to differential prison terms for men and women as evidence of discrimination. In the USA, Warren Farrell cites evidence that men receive harsher prison sentences and are more likely sentenced to death in the United States. He critiques society's belief in women as more innocent and credible, as well as battered woman and infanticide defenses. He criticizes conditions in men's prisons and the lack of attention to prison male-to-male rape by authorities.
False accusations against men
Men's rights activists are concerned with false accusations of rape and sexual assault, and desire to protect men from the negative consequences of false accusations. Quoting research including those by Eugene Kanin and the U.S. Air Force, they assert that 40–50% or more of rape allegations may be false. They state that false accusations are a form of psychological rape, and that the naming of the accused while providing the accuser with anonymity encourages abuse. Robert O'Hara of A Voice for Men stated in a June 2014 interview that "this is one of those issues that it's so easy to draw so much hysteria about because we have this natural inclination to want to protect women, especially from rape, that this whole rape thing has been used by feminists to garner political power, lots of it, and money. The whole thing has been used as a scam". However, other international studies from Australia, Britain and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have found the percentage of confirmed false rape allegations to be around 2% to 8%.
Criminalization of marital rape
Legislation and judicial decisions criminalizing marital rape are opposed by some Men's rights groups in the United Kingdom, the United States and India. The reasons for opposition include concerns about false allegations related to divorce proceedings, the belief that sex within marriage is part of the institution of marriage, and in India anxiety about relationships and the future of marriage as such laws give women "grossly disproportional rights". Virag Dhulia of the Save Indian Family Foundation, a men's rights organization, has opposed recent efforts to criminalize marital rape in India, arguing that "no relationship will work if these rules are enforced."
In 2006, the American National Center for Men backed a lawsuit known as Dubay v. Wells. The case concerned whether men should have the opportunity to decline all paternity rights and responsibilities in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Supporters said that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women. The case and the appeal were dismissed, with the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stating that neither parent has the right to sever their financial responsibilities for a child, and that "Dubay's claim that a man's right to disclaim fatherhood would be analogous to a woman's right to abortion rests upon a false analogy."
Social security and insurance
Men's rights groups argue that women are given superior social security and tax benefits than men. Warren Farrell states that men in the United States pay more into social security, but in total women receive more in benefits, and that discrimination against men in insurance and pensions have gone unrecognized.
In the United States, the male-to-female suicide death ratio varies between 3:1 to 10:1. However, studies have found an over-representation of women in attempted or incomplete suicides and men in complete suicide. This phenomenon termed the "gender paradox of suicide" usually derive from greater tendency for females to use less lethal methods and greater male access and use of lethal methods (such as firearms).
- Fathers' rights movement by country
- Save Indian Family (SIF)
- Men's studies
- National Coalition for Men
- Paternal rights and abortion
- Reverse discrimination
- The Good Men Project
- Women's rights
- Women and children first
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Another example of contractual model rhetoric is in the language of the Men's Rights movement. As a countermovement to the feminist movement, it has concentrated on areas generally thought of as family law—especially divorce and child custody laws. The movement charges that maternal preference in child custody decisions is an example of gender prejudice, with men the ones who are systematically disadvantaged... Men's Rights groups... have adopted much of the rhetoric of the early liberal feminist movement... Similarly, along with the appeal to "equal rights for fathers"... the Men's Rights movement also uses a rhetoric of children's "needs"... The needs rhetoric helps offset charges that their rights language is motivated by self-interest alone.
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While conservative elements of the men's rights position overtly describe themselves as a 'backlash' to feminism, their more liberal counterpart's self-proclaimed commitment to 'the true equality of both sexes and to the liberation of both sexes from their traditional roles' (Clatterbaugh 1997: 89) make it problematic to describe the men's rights position in general as nothing more than a backlash against feminism.
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The men's rights movement is distinct from other explorations of masculinity insofar as the movement itself is fundamentally situated in opposition to feminist theory and activism.
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Disturbingly, we have seen in the past year the rise of misogynist men's rights groups on campuses and in communities across the country – an alarming trend that requires our attention and action.
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such problems are prominent in many men's lives, but this is no organized male response to the patriarchal system whose dynamics produce much of men's loss, suffering, and grief. Contrary to Bly's claim, it is not a parallel to the women's movement that is merely on a "different timetable." It may be a response to genuine emotional and spiritual needs that are met by bringing men together to drum, chant, and share stories and feelings from their lives. It may help to heal some of the damage patriarchy does to men's lives. But it is not a movement aimed at the system and the gender dynamics that actually cause that damage.
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Several authors have observed that men's rights groups claim that the family law system and the Family Court are biased against men, despite the lack of supporting empirical research.
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Research has highlighted that it is usually disaffected fathers and men's rights groups, who have masked their own claims behind the rhetoric of the rights of the child to know and be cared for by both parents.
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Indeed the premise of all men's rights literature is that men are not privileged relative to women... Having denied that men are privileged relative to women, this movement divides into those who believe that men and women are equally harmed by sexism and those who believe that society has become a bastion of female privilege and male degradation.
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In contradistinction to profeminism, however, the men's rights perspective addresses specific legal and cultural factors that put men at a disadvantage. The movement is made up of a variety of formal and informal groups that differ in their approaches and issues; Men's rights advocates, for example, target sex-specific military conscription and judicial practices that discriminate against men in child custody cases.
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It is there that 7 February has been declared International Men's Day by the men's rights groups, celebrated in Kansas City in 1994 as a day for campaigning against the legal recognition of 'marital rape'...
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Tom Williamson, President National Coalition of Free Men: "I don't think that there should be anything called marital rape laws. I don't deny that the elements involved with rape can occur in a marriage. They certainly do. But the problem with the concept of having something called marital rape is that it makes every man vulnerable in a bad situation to blackmail. It makes them vulnerable to false accusations for a variety of motivations that we know exists"
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Much of his support has come from men's rights organizations and conservative Christian groups, which tend to argue that a crime such as marital rape should not be on the books because consent to sex is part of the marriage covenant.
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no relationship will work if these rules are enforced.
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The All India Harassed Husbands Association protested last week at the law. 'It gives such grossly disproportionate rights to women that men won't want to get married,' said member Akhil Gupta
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