Awareness of men’s rights issues is on the rise around the globe. Slowly but surely, the unique plights of men and boys are receiving coverage in the mainstream media, though with varying degrees of positivity. The growth in awareness is not surprising given the clear and logical basis of most issues voiced by the MRM and the dedication of men’s rights activists. However, a quiet, veiled obstacle still pervades public discourse on men’s issues. In any social circle, even the most rigorously documented and obviously fair calls for social reform will be met with a particular type of evasive response from non-activists.
Most often this occurs when a non-MRA is presented with one of the more basic, less controversial men’s issues. Faced with a simple call for change built from well established studies and statistics, they will agree that reform is called for. Of course fathers should have fair time with their children. Of course boys should receive good education. Of course men should have access to birth control options.
However, things get problematic after that initial show of support. No one can argue with bare bricks of logic, so even those who don’t believe in men’s rights will tentatively agree lest they look as foolish as a climate change denier. Instead of openly disagreeing, they begin tacking on caveats. Like a lawyer adding clauses, a pseudo-supporter adds buts and ifs, saying reform should be made but only under very specific, politically correct and usually pro-feminist conditions.
A good example is paper abortion, the right for men to knowingly terminate their parental rights and responsibilities, disavowing anything to do with an undesired child. When this issue is raised, most fair-minded people will say “Sure, men shouldn’t be forced into parenthood“. What follows, though, is usually some variation of “…as long as the law doesn’t let men duck responsibility.”
A similar example is Parental Alienation Syndrome. Often, when an instance of PAS is shared, the response will be agreement that it is wrong in that case, but that in some cases (i.e. abusive partners) it is alright and in the best interests of the child. This is the equivalent of the Don’t Be That Guy post campaign, painting all men as potential abusers against whom PAS may be the only defense.
That is where the meaningful conversation ends. If a feminist is asked about paper abortion, there won’t be a conversation, but most normal people will politely agree, then shut down the discussion with a tagged on condition that serves only to demand more discussion on the finer legal details of how the reform should be implemented. It is a stalling tactic meant to derail the discussion onto a track of endless debate over how exactly equality should be implemented, rather than working to actually make it happen.
This bureaucratic delaying has left family law reform in the UK languishing for years. On an individual level, most people will agree that fathers get a raw deal post-divorce, and reform is often agreed with, but always with the addendum that the changes shouldn’t “give custody to abusive fathers”, even though only a tiny minority of divorces include allegations of abuse and that mothers commit twice the abuse of fathers.
Despite abusive fathers being present in only a single-digit percentage of divorce cases, that same argument is always raised, cautioning activists to slow down in case they overstep and put children at risk. This tactic is meant to avert attention from meaningful men’s issues toward the phantom dangers of social reform. It is fear mongering used as the last line of defense against men’s rights, an impotent barrier erected against the coming tide of reform. These aren’t real arguments, but reflexive flailing from pro-feminists desperate for a way to fight back.
This practice is proof that men’s rights has advanced past the stage where it can easily be fought. There are no viable arguments against the core MRM issues, so anti-MRAs resort to stalling and derailing, to slowing down the progress of the movement with needless objections. It is little more than filibustering, but it has been going on for years, and not just by feminists.
Gynocentrism runs so deep that even non-feminists, be they liberals or conservatives, balk at the idea of men’s rights. In part it is fear of change, but it is also shameless defense of female privilege blocking any attempt to improve the lot of mistreated men and boys the world over. Even when presented with irrefutable facts of injustice, most people will dance around the issue by fishing for minor arguments over details. It is vital that MRAs not get pulled into the quagmire of debate fielded by these faux-supporters; they agree with core men’s to save face, but their true opposition is shown by their evasiveness. Even young, unmarried men, possibly the greatest beneficiaries of men’s rights, will pipe up with these blocking tactics, so afraid to upset the boat and anger/oppress women.
It’s not a matter of “with us or against us” absolutes, but of recognizing that reform is needed and agreeing to get it done. Yes, a poorly written ‘paper abortion’ law could leave loopholes to be abused by deadbeats, but that risk is no reason to not write a law at all. No one wants a family law system that rewards abusive fathers, and repeatedly raising that concern serves only to defame the activists fighting for reform by implying they don’t care about children. With other men’s issues as well, no MRA wants reform to come out unfair to women or girls, but to be just for everyone.
Blocking social reform with cries of concern over fallout is the traditional weapon of those with entrenched privilege. Similar attacks have been fielded against every movement for liberation of oppressed races and persecuted religions, and even against the early feminists. People feared women entering the workforce would displace men, and now they fear giving men equal rights will let them run amok abusing women and children.
Major men’s issues are far too real to be ignored any longer and activists can’t afford to be bogged down by platitudes and diversionary arguments. People who raise such quibbles may not openly oppose men’s rights, but they aren’t true supporters and will continue to drag their feet every step of the way. They are trend followers who meekly back-up feminism because of its popularity; they will only change allegiances when the MRM has already made real progress. Energy shouldn’t be wasted on winning them over.
Instead the focus must be on finding real activists who are willing to challenge the status quo and push boundaries in the name of equality. Feminists will be pushed back and the politically correct lackeys will have to step aside while true activists do the work of abolishing injustice.
When discussing men’s rights or recruiting for the cause, remember to pick your battles and always bear one guideline in mind: unless their support for men’s rights is continuous and enthusiastic, they don’t actually want it.
- Raising free sons and their sisters - October 27, 2014
- The right kind of equality - October 21, 2014
- Emma Watson leads the retreat for UN feminism - September 25, 2014
- Single fatherhood by choice: Implications of the artificial womb - September 19, 2014
- It’s time to stop blaming soldiers - September 13, 2014