By: Dave Fischer
Nico’s Note: Awhile ago, the author commented about the Men’s Rights movement on one of my pieces, and I wasn’t that familiar with it. I was barely aware that was even a thing. Thus, I did what I always do in these situations: I asked him to write about it, because I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know why he subscribed to this controversial movement and what it meant to him. This is his response.
Last summer, I began to wonder what it was that modern society defined as a man. Beyond my gender, I wondered what historically made famous men who and what they are. Their morals and their systems of judgment about the world around them including how they thought and wrote. Those who sought to bring great social and moral change in our society as well as those who were willing to fight and die to preserve it. I combined this with a heavy dose of studying feminist theory/gender studies and sociology classes, so I could better understand what exactly it is that society expects of men. I came to a few conclusions.
Before I delve into those I’m going to make a few very quick points. I am a strong supporter of LGBT rights. I am a feminist, an egalitarian and libertarian. My views are my own, and each member of the MRM has their own views too. Please do not equate me with extremists on either side of the isle of gender studies.
Now, where was I. Ah, yes.
Why am I a Men’s Rights Activist?
When I was born, part of my body was cut off without consideration for how I might feel about it as an adult. My body was mutilated — and because of this I suffer from anxiety and depression. While Female Genital Mutilation was banned immediately after it was being discussed in the western world, Male Genital Mutilation is protected and even encouraged. With scientific evidence backing both sides, the American Pediatrics Association has declared that “Circumcision” is not medically advised. None of the proposed fixes that circumcision provides cannot be solved with good hygiene, condom use and the HPV vaccine. Yet every day I have people tell me: “Well it still works, why are you complaining?”
Men are not allowed to complain.
When someone asks me how I am doing, I always say “I can’t complain.” Not because everything is okay, but because due to gender roles, I really can’t talk about what is on my mind.
Men are not allowed to feel any emotions, unless they’re in Hollywood romantic comedies. Gender roles hurt EVERYONE, men included. However, only half the equation is really looked at seriously, where women’s social oppression is studied, the expectations and suffering of men are ignored. While they may not be on par with each other, they both merit action and attention. It is a continuation of this problem when MRAs point out to feminists that they suffer from the same problems, and they’re attacked with remarks like “What about teh menz.” Because even some feminists don’t believe men can suffer from gender roles or Kyriarchy/Patriarchy, that when men or women abuse other men, that these men aren’t “oppressed.” Even the fact that the men discussing these issues online are doing so because to do so in reality would make them appear weak, or worse sexist.
I have been assaulted by multiple women in my life.
I have had exes talking about how they could hurt me while holding a knife in their hands, I’ve been beaten up and upon. I’ve been bruised and insulted. I took all of these things in stride because I thought, “As a man, I should be able to put up with this.” That a woman beating on me was “okay” because I was “tough” and she was “weak.”
It took some friends telling me how much they despised the way she treated me, both verbally and physically that I finally realized I was being abused. What’s worse is that this goes on in households across the country for the same reasons. On top of all of that, there are laws that are actively discriminatory against men in domestic violence cases, when statistically they are equally victims.
However, laws like VAWA seek to only protect women with gender specific legislation. We also have primary aggressor laws where men who report domestic violence being committed against them will be arrested. “These policies state that in certain situations police are not allowed to make their own judgements about who is the offender in a domestic violence situation. Instead they have to arrest the person who is larger, is at greater ‘risk,’ or ‘power dynamics’ of a couple.”
I have been sexually assaulted by an ex.
Pushing a woman off of you, telling her you do not want to have sex with them is difficult enough. Then being shamed, having your sexuality questioned, or being asked “What’s wrong with you.” (A question that assumes a man who doesn’t want sex with any woman has a major problem.). To top it all off, I could not turn to others about it as nobody would have taken my complaint seriously. The people I complained to about it directly afterwards told me to brush it off, “It’s not a big deal.” If the genders were reversed, they would be chasing the man down for attempted rape.
There are other major issues the MRM is concerned with. Men are a majority of Suicides, they make up the highest number of on the job deaths (not including the military.) Men are also affected by strict gender roles, and a man who loves being around children is considered weird to the point they aren’t allowed to sit next to children alone on airplanes. An elderly man was kicked out of a Barnes and Noble while shopping for a book for his granddaughter in the kids section. Women commit crimes against men and get negligible punishments, from teachers raping young men in schools and getting a few months probation. To women murdering their husbands while they sleep and claiming “self defense.” Violence against men is glorified and laughed at. Watch this disturbing clip where they laugh about cutting a man’s penis off, and putting it in the garbage disposal. Even when confronted about this Sharon Osborne jokes about it.
Men are told we “have it all” while many are working extra hours away from the families they love to keep food on the table. (At the same time, the wife might be taking extra time at home for the kids and hurting her career, so no one has it all in this equation.) While it’s a sample size of one, this weekend around my parents pool I watched a father explain he had to go back to work to fix a problem, while his children cried for him to stay. It clearly wasn’t the first time this had happened and would likely not be the last.
Lastly, education I won’t write a terribly large amount about. Boys are falling behind drastically in schools, they lack male role models in the classroom as men don’t feel welcome in younger grades as teachers (around kids.) In high school, girls outperform boys in every category except high level math — and even then there are more girls outscoring boys throughout. In college, there are now 60 girls to 40 boys enrolled, and more of those girls will graduate. At all levels of college more women get degrees, but we don’t cry out for the boys losing out on opportunity or even motivation.
So, why am I a MRA? Because everyone suffers in our society, men included, and nobody wants to talk about it. I want EVERYONE to have equal rights, and I want men to be protected just like women. I want a society that doesn’t just say “girl power” but “boy power,” too. I want a society where when I raise a son he can feel free to play with what toys he wants, study whatever he wants and say how he feels. Where he won’t be threatened with bodily harm at birth and where he won’t be told to “suck it up.” Or “deal with it yourself” when he is bullied. I want all of these things for my daughter too, but we’ve already got people crusading for that. It’s time that we focus on helping men, too.