I think the idea of a movement composed of politically active males seeking to eliminate the effects of sexism as they negatively impact males is a good thing, and I want to like the Men’s Rights Movement. I’ve gone to various MRM sites, and I’ve tried to give them a fair shot. However, though they make a good point here and there, the vast majority of what I’ve seen is paranoid sexist garbage coming from whiners who have no idea of the greater social structure that disproportionately benefits men at the expense of women. The whole thing tends to read like rich people yelling that charities only benefit the poor (and isn’t it horrible that society endorses these classist institutions?). If I was in control of the thing, I’d have the movement completely bulldozed and rebuilt from the ground up to work as a sister movement (oh look, a sign the feminists have corrupted our language; women must love that the traditional gender to describe objects is female) to the feminist movement.
The idea of fighting sexism against males is close to me as it is really the basis of why I blog and vlog with the intent of challenging sexism in general. I was 4 or so, I wanted to be able to put on makeup like my female friends and mother and grandmother, but was told I could not just because I was a boy. It tore me up because it was like I was being punished for no reason, and it was the impetus for my campaign against sexism. A couple years later, I encountered sexism against girls in my class and realized that we live in a patriarchal society that inexplicably contradicted itself by making some things only for girls and victimizing boys who associated themselves with these feminine things. I eventually figured out something feminists knew long ago, that femininity is inherently disrespected in this patriarchal society, which means that boys who are considered feminine are considered as problematically inferior when they should be superior as masculine individuals. This is societal sexism against girls and women that negatively affects boys and men.
And that’s really the heart of the issue. Society deems femininity inferior, and masculinity is negatively affected some of the time. Are there issues where boys and men are hurt by sexism? Absolutely. Should we try to correct this sexism for the betterment of the boys and men involved? Absolutely. More power for those who do. However, it is a fundamental mistake to say that we live in a matriarchal society and males are the only ones oppressed and so feminism must be comparable to the KKK. It seems so bizarrely alien to me to believe that kind of conspiracy theory. At least the people who believe in reptoids have some legitimate mental condition that causes hallucinations. I think that guys who buy into this MRM ideology must be of a traditional masculine sort and not inclined to do things that are traditionally feminine so they never would have felt the patriarchy attacking their femininity directly and can go on the assumption that any male who behaves feminine must have been corrupted by feminism, which they believe wants to attack masculinity rather than patriarchy.
What results from this is an utterly shameful outlook on gender-nonconforming males, which never should be used by a movement seeking to free people from sexism. Occasionally, some boy will make the news because his parents controversially let him wear feminine articles of clothing, and like clockwork a Men’s Rights activist will shout about how feminism has corrupted these parents who must be forcing the feminine items upon this boy because no boy would ever want femininity on his own. I wrote a previous post in which I challenged the MRM to support feminine males, and I got a response from MRA Paul Elam, who claimed that his popular MRM site A Voice for Men is gay-friendly with two gay regular writers and runs “regular articles denouncing any efforts for masculinity to be defined by anyone other than the individual”. Well, I read back to July and used the search bar but couldn’t find anything about destigmatizing femininity for males. I did find plenty of bashing transgender women framed as men who are traitors and hate their masculinity, a reference to gay men using glory holes as men who hate their penises and want them removed from their bodies, and the first tenant of the MRM mission statement recognizes and affirms “the existence of natural differences between the genders”. Kind of a Model T brand of diversity; any kind of masculinity you like as long as it conforms to the standard.
So, I repeat my challenge to the MRM to support feminine males. I’m not just talking about gay men. Being gay doesn’t necessarily make a guy feminine, anyway. As being gay makes a guy love masculinity, it’s entirely possible for him to be macho (see: bears) and misogynistic. There are in fact macho gay men who look down on feminine gay men, which seems to me to be the case of the gay writers of A Voice for Men. I’m instead talking about respecting femininity on a fundamental level, which is something that undermines the whole of the contemporary MRM. A man in drag who totally gets into the feminine performance should be able to stand as a symbol of the MRM, doing something empowering in a sexist world, but I know any MRA who tries to express himself in this way will be denounced as a traitor of masculinity who has been corrupted by evil feminism. And that’s sad.
The Men’s Rights Movement has the potential to be a valuable effort in the struggle to remove societal sexism, but as it stand now it’s just part of the problem. My advice to MRAs who are confronted with a male who rejects traditional masculinity in favor of something considered feminine: Don’t be a bully. Be accepting. Trying to police his behavior is just adding to the problems all males face from societal sexism. Even if you believe there’s a matriarchy, building a patriarchy isn’t the answer. It’s just more sexism. Support gender equality by supporting gender-nonconformity.