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To the women lurking on the fringes

I don’t know how you found us. Are you a student at University of Toronto who heard about the Warren Farrell lecture and protest, or you have read the notices about our being blacklisted by powerful forces on the Internet? Or are you in a relationship with a man who has been dragged through the family court by a bitter ex? Or have you come to worry that your son is doing poorly at school or is opting out of society, and you are trying to understand? Or has your brother been falsely accused of rape or domestic violence?

I know you are lurking there, as I did for a couple of months. This place is a bit of a shock to the system. There are a lot of reasons why you might be afraid to identify as part of the Men’s Human Rights Movement (MHRM). Lets talk about those:

Some of these guys are so angry

Yes, some are. Many of the men who get here have been through some pretty nasty experiences. Some are women angry about things men and boys they love have gone through. They are understandably angry. Despite what a you might have been told growing up, being angry is a normal and healthy human emotion. Maybe if you are honest with yourself, you are here because you are angry about how a man or boy in your life is being treated. I found my way here because I was trying to get my head around the experiences of my Beloved, as a man who experienced abuse in a marriage and is experiencing misandry in the family courts. Get me to speak about the damage done to him and to his daughters by the “family terrorist” and her enablers in the family court and you will quickly pick up I am pretty angry myself. You’ve got to remember, these guys are angry but it is not directed at you personally. Some are pretty pessimistic about women as a whole, and if we respect that their mistrust comes from experience, instead of shaming them for it, we may learn things we need to learn, sometimes painful things but important nonetheless.

I’ll be flamed for saying something stupid

Possibly. If so, learn from it. It feels pretty crappy to get flamed, but if you can get past the feelings, some of the things said in response to your words will help you see things from different angles. The discipline needed is to separate feelings from thoughts: it’s something you can learn with practice, but you got to start by interacting so you can learn.

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These guys are anti-relationship, anti-family – I want both in my future

This isn’t a dating site. But as the Men’s Human Rights Movement continues to gain followers and gain traction, odds of you finding a man who’s interested in these issues will go up, whether you stick around here or not. I wouldn’t worry much. If you get into a relationship with a Zeta Male you are probably lucky. You will find most of these men to be caring, compassionate, gentle, and honest souls, who are pretty up front about what they want or don’t want, even if they are still wounded in some areas. On the other hand, there are some guys – and I don’t even want to hazard a guess at the percentage – who are Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW), and looking at the bum deal most men get from the legislation and court system that surrounds marriage and divorce, and they don’t want a committed relationhip with a woman. I don’t blame them, when you realize what can and does happen to many of them. But there are guys here with children, with partners, with wives even. There are young guys here who I am sure want children and want partners. The big thing if you are going to go into a relationship with a guy who refuses to let others define him, and who believes he has all the same rights you do, is there can be no assumptions as to your respective roles and duties within a relationship. It needs to be negotiated and discussed. Who knows, your Zeta coupling might end up looking quite traditional to those looking in on it, but it may not. It will be your own matter and your own concern, but it needs your care, respect and attention if you are going to maintain integrity as a Men’s Human Rights Advocate. In any case, this site is not about your personal relationships, it’s for those of you who care about the men and boys in your life. And it is about their issues, not yours.

I believe  women can do anything, I don’t like some of the attitudes towards gender I see here, particularly when issues such as women serving in the military or getting places in STEM courses.

I also believe women can do anything – within biological limits. I’m shorter and have less muscular strength than probably 95% of the guys on here. I wouldn’t be able to do 1/2 of what was expected of me to be in a combat role (laying aside I am a committed pacifist and would be a conscientious objector), so I am prepared to accept from a physical perspective I can’t meet the standards needed for soldiering. There are some things women can do better than men, but there are plenty of men who can do those things as well. As for the rigorous academic standards required of STEM programmes – yes, we can achieve them, if we are prepared to make sacrifices like the men and women who have made it there already. I know too many female doctors who once they get to the point they have specialized, doubt their choice to have gone into medicine in the first place. The thing those women have in common: they are trying to be a consultant, and a mother, and they are constantly fighting against the thing that got them into their training in the first place. The unhappy women I see had to be single minded to get into medicine, and by trying to be several things at once they can’t be single minded – they can’t be the best. I am not saying women who want to be in STEM fields should not have children. What I am saying is we need to accept that if they have children their career paths are going to be at a slower trajectory than when they don’t–or, accept a partnership with a man who takes on most of the duties at home and thus makes less money than you, and not think less of yourself, or more important, think less of him, because of that choice.

Yes, workplaces can accommodate working mothers – in my own family there have been two women who have had “job share” roles during their children’s younger years. My eldest sister took this along with her partner taking time out for some of the child raising. She and I have very similar professional responsibilities at this time, yet I’ve been working 10 years less than her – but the 10 “missing years” were the years she was part-time, and she has no regrets. If we women are going to have self-respect, we need to work out what we want and be prepared to sacrifice – and that might involve making choices that run contrary to society’s message of “I can have it all.” No you can’t. No one can.

What if I get hit on by one of these guys?

That will probably happen less here than elsewhere. But you might I suppose get lucky and land a guy who is as great as my Beloved. No, seriously, sexual interest and attraction happens between humans as they get to know each other. Equal relationships, be they friendships or something more intimate involve both parties making choices.  If you don’t want to “spoil a good friendship” then it is OK to say “No, thanks”. In my experience (and I have recent experience of this), your “no” will be respected. It might even make the friendship stronger.

Is it safe meeting fellow MHRAs in real life?

I’ve met a few. I hope to meet more. Standard operating procedure based on anyone I meet online applies. Neutral public venue, independent transport and my escape route planned. That’s just common sense for anyone of either sex. After a while, you might meet in each other’s homes, spend time in more private spaces, and so on, but that’s after you get to know someone. That shouldn’t be different for men or women, and isn’t.

I like being feminine, I get the feeling that’s not OK around here

What do you mean by feminine?  If it means expecting female privilege and special treatment because you’re a woman, you are out of luck. If it means celebrating your femininity, you are probably in for some pleasant surprises. Once we stop demonizing men, and start valuing masculinity, we start being able to explore femininity, not the pseudo-feminine competitive crap that passes for “femininity” in society.

I really struggle with the whole “register-her.com” thing

Honestly, I struggle with some of it too. But many, like Harriet Harman deserve to be there with spades on, and there are countless men on “sexual offender” registries around the world who’ve done far less than what the violent protestors at the University of Toronto did in late 2012. That registry is for public officials who’ve said and done horrible things, or individuals who have a) acted in an unlawful manner, and b) they had public profiles including boasts about things they had done – so they were already “public property.” Their names are public information, not secrets.

I don’t get the “sammich” jokes

Don’t worry – it is because us female MHRA’s are thought to be traditional women serving their men sandwiches and waiting on them hand and foot. Since being in a relationship with a Zeta man, I’ve been more nurtured and pampered than I ever was in a more traditional relationship. In that loving and secure partnership, there is space for humor around our respective roles. I see the whole “sammich” humor as an extension of this – we get these jokes because we are valued as individuals and equals, not to be denigrated.

What if my female friends/boss etc find out I am an MHRM supporter?

Although there has been a recent increase in the number of MHRAs writing and being active under their actual names, some of us still use pseudonyms. I do, not because I would mind people finding out, but because at the time I started becoming active in the movement, I was dealing with a narcissist who decided I was a threat and was out to smear my reputation. I had to make a calculated decision over the risk to my career if this person found out I was an activist with a “notorious” group, and decided that the risk was too great. I will keep reviewing this and perhaps one day, I too will write in my own name.  As for female friends etc finding out – one of the most rewarding conversations on the MHRM I have had is with my mother who was an active second-wave feminist. Don’t pre-judge people’s reactions, and be prepared to accept that if people don’t like your choices, perhaps they are not your friends.

I’ve got only a limited amount of time to contribute to the MHRM – I’m not going to be much use

Sending an email to your political representative doesn’t take much. Challenging misandric stereotypes in your own household doesn’t take much time. Sticking up the odd sticker (I would love to see some AVfM stickers in women’s toilets!) or reposting something on Facebook doesn’t take much time. But perhaps that action will bring another person to the Men’s Human Rights Movement, and then you’ve changed the world.

Remember, this is a human rights movement, and real human rights movements almost always are mis-characterized and almost all have some extremist elements within them. But this movement not about superior rights for one or the other. It’s about the same fundamental rights for everybody. And the responsibilities that go with those equal rights. And you can be a part of making it grow.

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About Aimee McGee

Aimee McGee lives in rural Eastern England in the community where she
nworks as a health professional. She is a human rights activist with interest in gender equality and disability advocacy. She plays in a brass band and shares her house with 2 tabby boy cats. Good coffee and English beer are her main vices.

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