Every now and then, during my research here at CCASA, the issue of Men’s Rights Activists (or MRAs) comes up, and it usually comes up in a negative light. Not wanting to believe that some of my male counterparts could be so short sighted and, well, stupid, I fired up google and began a bit of research. My first little speed bump in this quest for knowledge was rather humorous, as you can see below:
Now, I don’t know if google or the universe is trying to tell me something here, but this seems to be a comical manifestation of some of the feelings some men have in these entertaining times. To be perfectly honest, there have been times when I, as a male working in an organization such as CCASA, have felt rather isolated; to a point. The issue of sexual violence in our society has been long thought as a “woman’s issue” and that men are, and should be, excluded from the conversation because they are the evil perpetrators. Now, I can see where some men may take what I’ve said here and go on a long tangent about how men can be abused as well and that the feminist movement is out to “get them.” However, if we hold true to our “manly” instinct of rationality, our first reaction should be a little research instead of flying off the handle, labeling feminist organizations as “man hating,” while shotgunning a beer, crushing the empty can on our “manly” foreheads, and concluding with a loud “git ‘er dun” (shudders, hangs head in shame).
Where was I? Right, manly rationality. A little research into organizations like CCASA would reveal that sexual violence is not solely a “woman’s issue” any more; in fact there are many male orientated organizations that approach the issue from a male perspective. Part of the goal most of these organizations have in mind is that men and women need to work together to stop sexual violence because it is an issue that affects everyone. One would think that with the existence of such organizations as White Ribbon, Men Can Stop Rape, and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes that people claiming to be Men’s Rights Activists would have a valid opinion to add. Hence my research endeavour.
Not long after I began my research, I stumbled upon a site called Men’s Rights Online, a Men’s Rights Activist webpage. Preconceptions and predispositions neatly placed to the side, I dove in. Initially I found myself looking at several video’s posted by the sites moderator(s) that seem to be in support of MRA philosophy. Desiring a better understanding of the foundation of MRAs, I sought out their written material first. Given a choice between ‘Law’ and ‘Sexism Issues,’ I went with the latter hoping it would provide a better understanding of where the MRA movement is coming from. First link under the ‘Sexism Issues’ topic was Education.
The first thing one finds is a paragraph stating that the education system has been polluted by feminist ideology and has become anti-male. Interested in giving this site every chance to redeem itself, I withheld my judgement and continued. Then came a comment that the reason why females are not prominent in such fields as “engineering, computing and medical” is because they are not dedicated, qualified, or persistent. I noted the premise and continued. But then I was presented with:
“Females employees tend to work at least 3 hours less than their male counterparts, and usually exit the workforce during their 30’s so that they can begin a family. As a result it’s basically impossible for women to support the role of motherhood and an employee within the industrialised, engineering and medical fields.”
My rational mind could be suppressed no longer. It seems the writer was hellbent on making so many misogynist statements in a row that the reader could not help but switch their own judgments back on. I felt obligated to suggest that maybe the reason they leave the work place to start a family is because they have been socialized in this patriarchal society to do so. But I guess it’s just that “evil” feminist brainwashing kicking in. The article continued by pointing out all the ways in which men are physically different than women; essentially suggesting that the only education system that could work would be a segregated one.
Then came the report crafted by the Illinois Loop Organization that outlines all the problems that males face in the classroom. Now I could go through all 22 points stated by the report but this post would likely end up being a little lengthy, so I’ll just address a few of the more interesting points (you are more than welcome to check them out for yourself and comment on your thoughts here).
Point #2 held that “collaborative workgroups, which favour social interaction over personal skills and knowledge” are problematic. Who knew collaborative workgroups don’t involve personal skills and knowledge. I can certainly see where they are coming from here; no male I know enjoys socializing with others. I mean it’s not like there are any men playing sports or anything. Additionally, I can think of few careers that don’t require collaborating with others, even in typically male-dominated industries; it’s a useful skill.
Point #4 stated that “emphasis on multiple simultaneous classroom activities…instead of focused, whole-class, engaging instruction” causes problems for males. Yet again they’re right on the money with this. I can’t count the number of times my male friends complained that these activities were far too distracting and cried for a long, uninterrupted lecture on the subject matter. Then we sat up straight and waited with baited breath for our fathers to tell us how to think next.
Point #8 noted that “assigned literature skewed lopsidedly towards social issues, and away from novels of high adventure, courage, patriotism, etc.” Which was followed by a rather contradictory point #9 which suggested that there is an “almost total absence of fact-based biography and non-fiction in literature and reading classes.” Apparently social issues are not fact-based or are works of fiction. Or reading about social activists like Martin Luther King, Jr. does not fall under the category of “fact-based biographies.” After all, what small child would think of MLK as a hero; all he wanted was equal rights for everyone. Real men don’t like equality.
Also, still on this contradictory note, there is a complaint about how it’s bad that there is a move away from novels like high adventure, courage, and patriotism (which are themes usually contained within works of fiction) but they complain that the movement away from non-fiction is problematic. Real men don’t have to follow logical rules, we’re too rational for that.
I could continue listing these lovely points but I think my point has been made that this article was really quite…what’s the word…idiotic. Aside from the irrational anti-feminist stance taken, what really annoyed me about this article is how it represents and views males. According to this article we are all mindless machines that follow a strict set of rules and regulations and that changing these rules and regulations renders the male populous incompetent. That males, generally, are incapable of accepting change.
I’d like to think that us males are not the hopeless cliches that this website is making us out to be. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some fact-based, non-fiction biographies about courageous adventurers fighting for freedom to get through. Don’t talk to me though, I may get distracted…