Why would an insightful feminist not also be an MRA (Men’s Rights Activist). Do all men enjoy their full rights? Do they deserve them? Much hilarity has ensued over MRA’s circulation of pie-charts depicting their greater proportions of deaths at work and number in prison, etc, compared to women. It is unclear what the point intended is- it certainly isn’t proof of sexism if that’s what it’s supposed to be- but they are indicative of areas where large minorities of men’s rights are at risk and need to be defended.
We’ve been sending boys to Iraq and Afghanistan without adequate equipment. Ex-servicemen then have disproportionately high levels of joblessness, homelessness and conviction. Prisoners rights are routinely violated. These are all vitally important men’s rights issues and they affect families, i.e. women. I saw a heartbreaking photography project from a US death row that had only just allowed the inmates to have their photographs taken, so their families’ most recent pictures were from before they went in, potentially 25, 40 years ago… [I have tried and tried to locate it but I bloody can’t, it must be on my Twitter and Facebook timelines somewhere… Watch this space] Furthermore we mustn’t forget that there is a minority of women in these male dominated worlds and what are feminists to do with them? Struggle to obtain for them more rights than their male counterparts- or abandon them for having abandoned their preordained stereotypes?
Feminism has had major successes, our rights have grown massively (even in recent history) and many feminist attitudes are enforced on society in a way completely at odds with the way men are often the accepted butt of jokes. I don’t wash with the ‘no sexism without historical precedent’ argument, I believe we’re all born equal and that’s how we should be treated. But it’s an oft cited presumption of intersectionalism (the study of how different forms of oppression interact) in feminism which is pushing men further out of progressive discussions, especially white men, and throwing them under the bus for sport. Whilst, in the real world, class based oppression is virulent and growing and should be one of the areas intersectionalists are really getting to grips with and connecting with MRA’s about.
It really is time to step back from ridiculing MRA’s- for every stupid thing I’ve heard from an MRA (they’re people, some people are stupid) I’ve heard several from feminists (we’ve been going longer and there are more of us, that’s why that is). Our fight is the same fight. Neither MRA’s nor feminists will ever ‘achieve our aims’ or be closer than the other because both movements are responsive to situations and populations that are ever-changing. Neither will ever benefit from dehumanising the other. We should be working together against the real enemies of equality.