IF YOU’RE A MAN, and especially a man living in the United States or Canada, and you feel like the world is ganging up on you and going after your “rights,” I have a bit of advice for you: suck it up and learn to deal with these changes like the “old-school” kind of fella you claim to be.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a “rights movement” going on, one that’s clamoring for the rights of those (dudes) who — with a few minor exceptions of matriarchal societies — have been the predominant powers shaping the socio-cultural and socio-political landscapes on this planet for thousands of years.
Let me introduce you to the men’s rights movement, also known, in acronym-using circles, as the MRM.
The MRM seeks to give a voice to the downtrodden, who actually have had and continue to have the loudest voice of all. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I have no doubt that the nature of masculinity and men’s roles in Western society has changed, and will continue to change, significantly. Friction and a fair amount of push-back always come with big social changes. And it’s also true that whoever has the power (or is perceived to have the power) will almost always be a target for others looking for a piece of that power-sharing pie. That goes for the captain of the football team and the head cheerleader in high school, debauched ruling classes, wealthy nations exerting control over less-wealthier ones, and of course — drum roll, please — men.
That being said, the virulent and misogynistic reactions of some of these MRM members, also known as men’s rights activists (or MRAs) seeking refuge for their battered male identities — predominantly white male identities, at that — is a bit of overkill. It is also, paradoxically, at least according to their own views about what masculinity means, indicative of men donning less-than-thick skin. In case that’s not clear, I’m saying not tough inside, you know, where it really counts. Basically, they’re acting exactly like the bunch of wimps they claim women have forced them to become.
Some of the causes close to the hearts of these defenders of “men’s values” include: protecting the rights of menfolk in divorce proceedings, alimony payments and child custody battles; sounding the alarms when feminists attack men’s rights; changing the nature of rape legislation (and legal definitions); ending male circumcision; ending male military conscription, or else forcing women into the draft as well; dealing with domestic violence against men; changing laws centered around male paternity rights; enforcing paternity testing for men who request it — plus a host of other issues important to “the cause.”
Here’s my biggest problem with men’s rights movements in general, like the fairly-popular A Voice for Men. While some of these issues should be discussed openly in a civil society based on the rule of law — debate is, after all, healthy — men, the last time anyone looked, still have a hell of lot more power than women do. Angela Merkel notwithstanding, this is the case on a global scale.
When you’re at the top of the heap, banding together and whining about your loss of privilege, or some of the laws that might seem — and very well might be – biased against men, doesn’t seem very “manly” at all. Whatever happened to the stoic male you guys claim is the ideal that’s been lost? Ever heard the term “be the better man?” You should have — after all, that’s the kind of gendered stereotype you’re trying to bring back into the cultural zeitgeist.
That doesn’t mean I want to diminish any individual person’s suffering — battered men, fathers saddled with unfair child custody settlements, and men who have had their penises operated on as children without their consent have my sympathy — but we really have to take a look at this as far as larger social trends go, and whose rights as a gender-based group have been trampled on more.
Men, the last time anyone looked, still have a hell of lot more power than women do.
The underlying theme (read: not-so-subtle fear) seems to be that feminists are taking over the government, and one day soon we’ll all be living in an Amazonian utopia — think Wonder Woman, not rainforest — where men are a much-picked-upon subclass serving their militant feminist overlords. Or something like that…
If that (unlikely) day ever comes, heck, I’ll sign up for the men’s movement myself. Until then, however, I’d rather examine these issues through a rational lens. Life is a struggle for power, and right now the pendulum might be swinging away from men a tad. But before we (men) start running around half-cocked, screaming about the giant, concrete-filled bras falling down from the sky threatening to crush our manly dreams and the status quo, we should realize that we’ve had it exceptionally good for a very long time. Men can afford to even the playing field, and even learn how to cooperate — gasp! — and share some of their advantages with human beings who are not, in fact, other men.