All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Biggest Problem With Men's Rights Is The Men's Rights Movement

The words "Men's Rights Activist" have become a shorthand for the stereotype of a fedora-wearing misogynist who spends most of his days trolling websites, shouting the word "femi-nazis," and man-splaining all over the place. Unfortunately for these staunch supporters of Men's Rights, they've gone and completely destroyed whatever credibility the Men's Rights movement may have had. There are certainly issues that men face which are not given main stream attention, however, most of these stem from our patriarchal society's insistence on strict gender roles. Toxic masculinity is a symptom of the patriarchy, which we feminist have been harping on about for a few generations now.

The largest problem with the "MRA" groups is that they blame all of their problems on women and feminists in particular. Somehow they've managed to convince themselves that its the fault of feminists that no one cares about their views on marital rape. When really, no one cares about their views on marital rape because they insist its totally okay for a man to force his wife to have sex with him, because sex is part of the institution of marriage. Like thats totally not a violation of a woman's right to her own bodily autonomy or a complete misunderstanding of the way consent works.

They do, however, make some rather excellent points about our views on prison sentences for men and women, our tendency to favor women when it comes to adoption and child custody, and the disproportionate coverage men's medical issues receive compared to those faced solely by women.

One Brown University student's story of sexual assault covered by the Huffington Post has been making the rounds on feminist and MRA sites alike. The story is sadly familiar, Andrew was assaulted in a college bathroom by another student. When he reported the attack, after months of self-blame and counseling, the assailant was expelled from school as he'd already been on suspension for two other cases of sexual misconduct and had a history of prior assaults which led to on-campus no-contact orders. Meaning, the university allowed the assailant to remain on campus with a history of assault until he'd accrued a large enough group of victims for his presence to be problematic. Brown has also been in the news for other cases of mishandling sexual assault allegations, but it is not a problem unique to Brown University.

The problem with using this student's experience as a rallying cry of "male victims of rape aren't getting the support they need" would perhaps work better if any victims of rape got the support they need. The point of Andrew's story doesn't have to be gendered, as the US is notoriously terrible at dealing with rape. While in some instances the legal system has actually gotten it somewhat right with women who are victims of rape or sexual assault, for the most part we just don't have any kind of real support for victims of rape period. With women, we tend to see a lot of "but she was asking for it" or "it wasn't really rape rape" and any chance of colleges actually doing anything about rapists on campus seems to be entirely nil. Which is a serious problem no matter what gender (or lack thereof) the victims identify as.

The solution to both of these problems is the same. We need a system that views rape and sexual assault as a real crime. A system that does not ask what a woman was wearing or if a man can actually, really be raped. The reason why our justice system (both in terms of the legal system and the infamous court of public opinion) is so terribly equipped to deal with victims of rape is largely due to rape culture and our view of men as eternally horny, women as sex objects, and anyone who violates the gender binary as something less than human. What I'm getting at here, is that the entire thing is because of the Patriarchy.

Not to mention the fact that getting rid of restrictive gender roles, understanding that women can be abusers and unfit parents, putting women on the front lines of combat, and dismantling a culture of "all men are rapists" are all feminist issues. As in, feminists agree with Men's Rights Activists on those topics and others, they just don't blame women as the source for these evils and also things like "war" and "hate" which are all because we women keep dating jerks and not these fedora-toting Nice Guys.

So, Men's Rights Activists, why don't we all stop blaming each other and actually get something done? Or, you know, you can go back to your insistence that a man is well within his rights to force a woman to carry a fetus to term because he really feels like being a dad, her bodily autonomy and health be damned. (You're probably going to go with the second one, aren't you?)

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