MRAs vs. MRAs (TM): The Difference


Content note: Discussion of sexism and MRA douchebags.

There was a time when I identified as both a feminist and a men’s rights activist. Some people thought that was cool, including many men. Others thought it was contradictory. I didn’t see why then, but I see why now. Hence, I no longer identify as a men’s rights activists, but I am sympathetic to some of their goals, to the extent that they’re compatible with feminism.

For example, I agree that male victims of domestic violence and rape are ignored and vilified. I agree that there is a certain bias in family court against men and, to a certain extent, in our culture’s family life as a whole. I think gender harms men. I feel the child support system as it exists is unfair to noncustodial parents, who tend to be men. I feel that false rape and false abuse allegations are a real problem and they are more common than people admit. I only say this because I experienced this first hand more than once. There was a time when I would have NEVER uttered the words “false” or “allegation” in the same sentence until it happened to me.

That said, there is a huge difference between being sensitive to men’s rights as victims, human beings, family members, employees, etc. and claiming that THEY are the REAL victims of the evil feminists. There’s a difference between claiming that men are ignored and vilified in family courts and victim’s circles and claiming that this NEVER happens to women, that it’s easy for women and they have all the perks. There’s a difference between men and women having an open discussion about false allegations and pretending that false allegations are the majority of allegations and that feminist concerns about rape and DV are a myth. There’s a difference between critiquing woman-centered policies and claiming that they have no right to exist and were never needed. And way too many “MRAs” makes assumptions that fall into the latter categories of each sentence and make the cornerstone of their “activism” a hatred of women rather than solidarity with men or a desire to, you know, just be a good person. Like many SJWs, they want to feel victimized in some way, much like transactivists pretend to be victims of biological women and lesbians.

So what’s the difference? In being involved with RAINN, doing research and having my experiences with “men’s rights issues” and with being falsely accused by another (unstable) woman, I have found that any legitimate male victim or men’s issues advocate will center their activism on the subject at hand. I wish I could find the article, but of course I didn’t save it. It was an article, written by a man, why the majority of assistance goes to women when it comes to domestic violence. He acknowledged the fact that when it comes to government funds, the priority is immediately safety. Women are far more vulnerable than men to physical injury and and are far more likely to be seriously injured or killed because of DV. The majory of victims of spousal homicides are women. Basically, the author acknowledged the need for woman-centered policy and when helping men, he focused on what men can do for themselves or each other. Absolutely not a word of it blamed women or feminism or expected women or feminism to do the work. He even acknowledged how patriarchal gender norms hurt men, as opposed to claiming that they were really matriarchal feminist inventions. Lastly, he called out to men who are able to start the process, being open about DV against men, calling on men’s businesses to create resources for men, etc. It was refreshing.

It was also illuminating.

In my experience, men who are real victims, who are serious about helping victims and helping men, focus on helping men. They do not blame or hate women. They do not see feminism as their enemy. They seek solidarity with feminists at best, or at least don’t bother feminists. To me, these are good men, they are my brothers in the fight for a less gendered and more just world.

They are also the minority of the voices that refer to themselves as MRAs. It’s almost impossible to talk about MRA issues without finding a cesspool of chauvanist pigs that really hate women, that think feminism is the worst thing to happen to modern society, and who believe in strict gender roles. Domestic violence wasn’t an issue when men were men and women were women, staying home, serving men while men ruled. Then there are the women who vouch for them, who honsetly hate women just as much as these men do. I have actually heard a well-known “female” activist online claimed that women ruled over men throughout the whole of human history and that all examples of female oppression were a myth. And she was dead serious. And I was horrified, not just at the misogyny, but at the sheer stupidity. We all know this type. And it is because of this type that I no longer call myself an MRA. However, I continue to hold onto the feminist label. And the men that know me who are MRAs know this and respect this. I have never had a problem with MRAs targeting or harassing me, at least not yet. I think maybe because they know I don’t defer to trolls.

Anyway, there’s my nugget of wisdom/self disclosure for the day. I hope any readers that venture over here find this useful.

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11 comments

  1. Melanie · May 26, 2016

    This is an important discussion. I think we need some vocabulary (in addition to “trolls” and “misogynists”) to better define the type of MRAs who actively hate women and try to deny that feminism is necessary or that the vast majority of society is patriarchal and continues to oppress women–especially women of color.

    I’m very glad you have not had trouble with trolling MRAs. It took less than one week after I started using Twitter for some MRAs and the women who support them to start harassing me in the form of sharing my tweets and my handle with their basement-dwelling mosogynist pals and deliver some horrible threats, too. I even received a death threat via text message. It astounds me that people think this kind of behavior is appropriate, warranted, justifiable, and…”normal.” But apparently in some circles, it is.

    • joannadeadwinter · May 26, 2016

      Funny, women, for all their “vindictiveness,” don’t have a habit of being threatening…hmmm… And I suspect part of the reason I don’t get trolled is because I avoid Twitter and Tumblr like the plague. And I truly don’t understand the MRA women…How can anyone hate themselves that much? I used to hang out at the False Rape Society…that lasted a couple of months. The woman, Connie Chastain, was truly vile, much worse than the men and that was saying something. I did enjoy Glenn Sacks (back when they had comments) and Feminist Critics for awhile, and I was treated very well…But I can’t stay there long enough to be “famous.” Too many trolls.

      Here’s my preferred term for legitimate men’s activists…men’s welfare advocates. Men’s equality activists…something that doesn’t reek of privilege like MRA

      • Melanie · May 26, 2016

        Men’s welfare activists is a good one, since it focuses on the areas like abuse and rape which are certainly legitimate but frequently overlooked or downplayed. I have trouble with “men’s equality activists” as a moniker, however, since that to me does reek of privilege; it implies men are the more oppressed of the sexes, as if the tables have turned and now we are somehow a matriarchal society. Also, it is only in recent decades that women have had parental rights at all. A hundred years ago, women almost never were allowed custody or decision-making power over their children, as the husband was the default head of the household. Most women could not petition for divorce without proof of infidelity or gross depravity; even then, they often needed a male relative (such as the wife’s father or brother) to petition the court FOR them. Women also could not readily prove abuse even when raped or beaten by their husbands, because spousal rape was not recognized as possible, and “discipline” by the husband was legal, too. It wasn’t until the 1980s that all 50 states finally allowed women to petition for divorce, and even today, some states require evidence of “fault” which doesn’t always recognize domestic violence as a cause, or which requires it to be “habitual.” Mississippi and South Carolina come to mind. So, while I recognize there are times when men in particular situations may be victims of discrimination, they still have far more rights in matters of family and marriage than women do.

        Honest question: when you mention the issue of child support, what aspects do you think are unfair to the non-custodial parent? In my acquaintance (I have no children so can’t speak of it from a parent’s perspective) I have only known custodial parents who have struggled to care for their children because the father of the child or children was routinely avoiding court orders. Frequently these fathers earned 3-4 times as much money as the custodial mother, and the mother and children suffered greatly because her income was not sufficient to allow her to cover basic needs including safe, adequate housing and transportation. I’ve seen many kids who rarely had adequate health care because their mother worked multiple low-level jobs and had no employer-provided insurance. The battle to get support or have the children put on their father’s insurance was endless. These kids pay the price most of all. I’ve never known a single parent who was so generously paid in support that she could afford the slightest luxury. I realize there may be some who do, but I’ve never met any. More often, I’ve met people whose ex wanted to sign away all parental rights and let the kids and their mother struggle to stay fed and housed.

        I knew one family where the mother had to keep the thermostat at 58 degrees because she couldn’t afford the heat bill while also adequately feeding her three teenagers. This was in the mid-1980s, and she earned about $250/week, lived in a 2-bedroom govt subsidized apartment, and drove a ten-year old car that was not exactly reliable. Her children had scholarships to a parochial high school and both sons did ROTC in order to go to college, but she struggled to buy basics like menstrual supplies for herself and her daughter because the evil ex was untraceable for years. Sometimes he’d send Christmas presents (no return address) to his sons and NOT TO HIS DAUGHTER. When he finally reappeared, he protested paying back support! When the daughter got married, he wrote her (the daughter) a check for $20k. She cashed it and then told him quite unceremoniously that he wasn’t welcome and that her mother would instead walk her down the aisle.

        I promise, I’m genuinely interested in civil discussion, and I’m not looking to make excuses for anyone who might take advantage of the system or make false accusations in order to get revenge. I know these things can happen, but it seems to me that the vast majority of people who are taken advantage of or victimized are not men.

      • joannadeadwinter · May 27, 2016

        My reply is below…sorry I didn’t reply directly! My phone wouldn’t let me.

      • joannadeadwinter · May 27, 2016

        No problem! I’m glad we are having this discussion.

        I liked men’s equality activist because, at face value, it fights for neither superiority nor inferiority, just total equality in all matters, except from the men’s standpoint. However, given the nature of male privilege, you have a point. Men’s welfare advocates is much better with no misleading implications.

        I am very aware of the history of marital rape, DV, coverture, and the things that you mention. That’s why I’m so adamant about the abolition of marriage as an institution and, if a woman does marry, encouraging women not to change their names, to be employed and to have separate finances and means of transport. It’s the reason why I ditched the MRA label, seeing how often MRAs deny or justify the male privileges you describe.

        My experience with alimony, child support, and allegations of rape and DV have been mixed. I am a survivor and I know many legitimate survivors of rape and/or DV, most of whom are women. I have also been in situations where I found out that women I was trying to help lied about their abuse, including one who lied about incidents that I myself witnessed. That’s a rare occurrence, but there was a time when I never would have believed someone would lie like that…And they lied to me after I opened my home, my wallet, etc. It cut deep.

        As for child support, I know a man who has full custody of his daughter and Mom is the deadbeat. I have seen women who push the fathers of their children out of their lives, despite the father being a safe and willing parent, then demanding child support that the father legitimately could not pay and was thrown in jail (which means he couldn’t work and hence couldn’t pay his debt.) I’ve seen men pay child support faithfully and never get the visitation or other rights that they were promised and I’ve seen men falsely accused of not paying even when men have proof of paying. I have two female coworkers who are paying child support to the fathers and they both told me that it’s extortion and that they never had a problem with child support until they were the ones that had to pay it. In one case, the father was a loser and was living off the child support, it coworker T had to pay anyway, even though she was doing much of the child rearing despite being “non custodial.”

        A friend of mine had a more normative experience. She had a string of abusive, irresponsible, drug addicted boyfriends and ex-husbands. She had two children and two divorces by age 25, had dropped out of school and the military for “true love” and is now impoverished with terrible credit. One of the exes beat her baby son and then refused to pay child support. Another ex raped her and abandoned both his children and actually went around claiming that HE was the victim. Both got to move on with their lives in the end but she is still stuck. She’s come a long way but she is very much stuck.

        So that being said…you’re right. Even in this day and age, men still have most of the power and women still make up the majority of those in poverty, raising children, and being exploited. There are exceptions but these are not the rule. For me to pretend that, after all these years and continuing sex-based oppression, that female exploitation and male exploitation were 100% equal and opposite would be disingenuous. Like saying Protestants in America are just as oppressed, if not more so, th an Muslims. Pure foolishness. As women gain more power in society, we may see more cases of women emotionally or financially abusing stay-at-home or disabled husbandss. Or more women making mad money and living it up while dad works at McDonald’s to raise his kids…But that’s so far from the norm of today that it might as well be science fiction.

        I think in the end, part of the reason men suffer discrimination is because of precisely the phenomenon that feminists are fighting…patriarchy. For millennia, men have proven their manhood by being dominant, stoic, and eve violent. None of those traits are conducive to being a caring partner or nurturing father. If women judge men by the same standards that men judge themselves, is it really women’s fault that men are not seen as good fathers and partners? Nope. I think women need to be fair to men and give them a chance, up to a point, but the bulk of the damage was caused by men building patriarchy and it will only be reversed when men decide to destroy it. Men created their own fatal stereotypes and it’s up to them to challenge them and encourage men to do the same.

        As for us, it’s a matter of proving integrity. As much as I genuinely want to support all victims, it’s also a matter of covering my ass. Every false allegation, every unjust child support settlement, every male victim of female violence makes female victims and feminists less credible and gives MRAs more ammunition. It’s always been the expectation that victims and activists have perfect integrity and while it’s not fair, we don’t make the rules.

  2. William · May 26, 2016

    Most of the time when I see someone identify as a MRA, I do not bother to read whatever they posted. There maybe some good guys in the MRA Community, but overall I willing to just class them as a hate group.

    What I also acknowledge is that there are also a female version of the MRA. They may not have formed a separate group and operate from within the Feminist Community, but they are a problem.

    They do not have the overt hate of MRA’s, but they certainly are not looking to have real conversations between the Genders. I think of them as Extreme Feminists for lack of a better name.

    • joannadeadwinter · May 26, 2016

      Thank you for your comment William and I have to agree. I couldn’t in good conscience use the MRA label, knowing the kind of people that tend to adopt that label.

      When I think female MRAs, I think of three possibilities. One are the handmaidens of misogynist men. Two are the liberal feminist champions of trans activists. And three are not MRAs at all, but the feminist equivalent. In my experience, these are liberal feminists with a victim mentality. None of them is any use in the building of a genuinely gender-free, nonviolent, and fair world. Whether some people like it or not, men exist. Women exist. We need to share this planet.

      • William · May 27, 2016

        When I talk about Female versions of the MRA I am referring to Feminists whose only aim in most conversations with men is to derail the conversation or better yet circle the males and attack.

        I often ask questions when talking to Feminists because Feminism like many things in life is not perfect. There seems to always be a couple of women whose only motive is to attack and attack.

      • joannadeadwinter · May 27, 2016

        Ah, I see…I used to see that all the time at Glenn Sacks. Men are having a civilized discussion about men’s issues in a men’s safe space. Then there’s a troll invasion+derail, and when the reaction is less than positive, they go back to their blogs and play victim. Puh-leeze. Yeah, I’m a firm believer in answering any and all good faith questions with the best, most polite answer I can give. I’m a straightforward person and I couldn’t play those kinds of mind games even if I wanted.

  3. William · May 27, 2016

    Most of the time when this problem arises with me it is in the Fat Acceptance Community. Feminism and Fat Acceptance are not a perfect match and sometimes discussion is needed when a Feminist Principle is used to define how something effects all the different types of Fat People.

    • joannadeadwinter · May 27, 2016

      I know what you mean. FA is notorious for being biased in favor of mainstream feminism and extreme liberal politics in general. Fat men, conservatives, libertarians, et al need not apply. Way too much identity politics and not enough solidarity.

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