MRA: A War on Women?

I sometimes write about feminism, but I rarely write about the anti-feminists. I do follow the blog Man Boobz though, and yesterday I found a link to an interesting article from Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organisation dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, titled “Leader’s Suicide Brings Attention to Men’s Rights Movement”. The article talks about the often violent and vile counter reaction to feminism that we find among the people under the banner of Men’s Rights Activism – or MRA for short.

It is no secret that women on the internet get a lot more abuse for being outspoken than men do. Both groups get threats and vile emails, but there is a noticeable difference in severity and type of threats. Women are usually, and frequently, threatened sexually. The Twitter trend #MenCallMeThings from last November, started by blogger Sady Doyle, highlighted this problem. I wrote a round-up post about it back then with links to most of the articles written that were posted to the hashtag.

But back to the article at SPLC. It states in the fourth paragraph that:

It’s not much of a surprise that significant numbers of men in Western societies feel threatened by dramatic changes in their roles and that of the family in recent decades. Similar backlashes, after all, came in response to the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, and other major societal revolutions. What is something of a shock is the verbal and physical violence of that reaction.

The so called “manosphere” is described as “an underworld of misogynists, woman-haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws, and false rape accusations”. The sometimes legitimate concerns about how men are treated in certain legal cases are often wrapped in a vile language of misogyny; and legal cases concerning women are frequently trivialised.

Taken to the extreme

Mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who, among too many others, shot and killed a friend of mine on July 22nd last year, expressed many of the same anti-feminist concerns in his infamous manifesto. A commenter on an article posted on The Spearhead, a MRA online magazine, defended Breivik’s actions:

Those who were killed were not “innocent victims” in the main. Anders Breivik is as sane as the next man. […] The people he killed were the children of those who had betrayed him and his fellow norwegians. I would put forward the opinion that the political leaders are responsible for the war on men and the destruction of the families of men.

For this he received 35 up-votes and 31 down-votes.

Although many commenters don’t condone Breivik’s actions, they certainly seem to agree with Breivik’s manifesto on the issues of feminism. Feminism and equality, as well as multiculturalism and tolerance, is central in left-wing politics in Norway, which was Breivik’s main target. The camp he attacked was a Labour party youth camp.

The Norwegian Labour party formed a government in 1986 under prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland known for it’s large representation of women. She is still the only women to make prime minister in Norway. Brundtland was also one of Breivik’s potential targets for his act of terrorism.

The “manosphere”’s support for Breivik’s ideas are especially disturbing. His manifesto is quoted several times. If you can stomach it, you only need to read a few more of the comments on the above linked article to see this support play out. These are not rational people. They are angry, very angry. It is customary for them to describe their activism against women and feminism as ”a war” where they see themselves as brave soldiers. Exactly how Breivik saw – and still see – himself.

Breivik is not the first one to declare war on society and on women. In 1989 a student in Montreal killed 14 female engineering students the SPLC article tells us. It also tells us the story of another man killing his ex-wife and her co-workers at a hair salon in California after a custody case.

So, even if most MRAs don’t go to these extremes, they disturbingly often agree with the reasons these people have for doing what they do, and sometimes label these disturbed people martyrs of their common cause. Threats from these people, while mostly just hot air, should be reported to the authorities.

Another sad thing in all this is that there are legitimate cases where men do draw the shortest straw. In some custody cases and rape cases for instance. In the latter both as victims and as falsely accused. However, besides the rape victim part maybe, the other statistics, according to the SPLC article, are usually overstated.

The groups, says Rita Smith, director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “have […] been able to get custody evaluators, mediators, guardians ad litem and child protective service workers to believe that women and children lie about abuse.”

I recommend reading the full article from the SPLC website, it is very interesting.

Also, read Man Boobz. It is a weird mixture of entertaining and disturbing.

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  1. Rebecca says:

    Very, very worrying x[ and I’m so sorry about your friend.

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