Extra: The MRM (Men’s Rights Movement)

In recent weeks, I’ve become aware of a growing community of very vocal activists for something I have come to know is called the Men’s Rights Movement.

The voices which I have come across are entirely negative and using misinformation and panic over… I really don’t know what they’re so panicked about, really.

Listening to these people talk is like listening to the most radicalized among any community. They are so very upset, that the message gets lost in the unrelated vitriol.

In doing a bit of digging, I was able to find five points that seem valid:

Demanding that male survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault to be taken seriously.

Changing the narrative about statutory rape of males as “sexy.”

Advocating Intactivism (activism against the practice of circumcision)

Protecting genuinely economically disadvantaged people who actually lack the means to pay child support from entering our for-profit prison system.

Doing away with gender bias in child visitation considerations.

I’m all for these.

No qualifiers or commentary; these are worthy ideas.

Now that actual merits have been set aside, I can take on the overwhelming bulk of what the movement has to say, which is:


That’s really the underpinning of everything (apart from the above mentioned exclusions)


“We hate fat women, we hate powerful women, we hate women who want a place in political discussions, we hate women who expect child support, we hate women with the nerve to turn in their rapists, we hate women who recognize that all non-consensual sex is rape, we hate women who prefer an egalitarian view of their familial roles, we hate women who expect us to actively participate in maintaining healthy relationships, we hate how (or even that) women talk, and we hate women who fail to recognize that they are sex objects.”

I’m sure that all of you could grow this list to pages upon pages long, but this is a reasonable start, I hope.

All things considered, this group feels a lot like the Tea Party movement to me. There may be a handful of reasonable people with a handful of reasonable ideas, but it if reasonable ideas were supposed to be the point, they have been supplanted by a cacophony of radical ones. I don’t think this movement has the power to do much besides affecting the further corruption of the ignorant. -The fear I have is just how large a group of people “ignorant” describes.

Remember, my sisters, they don’t own us, they don’t own our voices, and they don’t own our bodies. We have come too far to let a temper-tantrum en masse to destroy what so many have given so much for.

Let’s take time to give love to those men who believe, as we do, that the world only works when women are truly counted as equals.

All my love,



5 thoughts on “Extra: The MRM (Men’s Rights Movement)

  1. If you’ve ever done any activism, you know how hard it is to get heard. With every thing from pop music to politics trying to grab you attention, getting a message heard is nearly impossible. I mean look at FEMEN, Beautiful women running around topless and assaulting people. This got attention. “Men’s Rights Activism” started at the same time in the same place for the same reasons by the same people that started feminism (at that time it was called Men’s Liberation). But the men’s message never got out. We are finding that to get the message heard, the 5 points you agree with and a few more that are more controversial, no one listens if we are kind and compassionate. No one cares if we talk about the issues politely. Warren Farrel has been speaking about these issues for 30 years and published 6 or 7 books on them. No one even noticed.

    Paul Elam started a different tactic. “Fuck Their Shit UP” Feminism and Feminists are rather quick to highlight perceived sexism and misogyny. By mixing the men’s rights message in with some rather sick woman hatting, the message is starting to get out. You have noticed. You have commented. You have noticed the woman bashing, but you also happened to read the actual issues that we are trying to highlight.

    Now that Men’s Rights really are starting to get noticed, we need your help. To be heard the message was mixed with some sick stuff. Please keep making posts exactly like this one that separate out the actual message from they bile spewed to get noticed. And the core message, the one that really needs to get out, is one that any one that believes in human rights and equality can support.

    • Hello, genderneutrallanguage
      First, let me thank you for your tone. I think reasonable people are able to have reasonable discussions, and that seems like your take as well.

      In short, I agree with much of what you’ve said, which is: There was a message which had been going unheard, and it was time to turn the volume up to “11” and start getting noticed.

      This has been done to great effect across a wide spectrum of activist causes, but the one your comment drew to my mind was the 1989 ACT UP “Stop the Church” protest. ( http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/03/nyregion/rude-rash-effective-act-up-shifts-aids-policy.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm ) Basically, at the height of the AIDS crisis, ACT UP decided to make a very visible direct-action protest against Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor, who was vocally opposed to safe sex education and condom distribution.

      ACT UP did a lot of this sort of thing, and created a huge stir. They succeeded at making AIDS visible to those who were resistant to see it. In many ways, they were also successful at supporting the narrative that gay lives matter.

      Here is the ACT UP formula: Find a big stage, pull an outrageous stunt which illustrates your point, scream about your issue until you get heard.

      I think this is a very good model.

      I don’t think that’s what MRM is doing, though.

      First, there’s the stage problem: I don’t think being an internet scourge is YET as effective as actual, physical protest that can be visually documented by television news. (That is certainly changing with the technology.)

      Second, things like “Fat Shaming week” ( http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/some-terrible-people-on-twitter-have-decided-that-its-fat-sh ) are definitely big stunts, but here is what I think is the critical failure of the movement: the stunt does not illustrate the demands of the group. (unless, as one would reasonably assume, the group was demanding that women all be thin.) The message is lost…. COMPLETELY lost!

      Third, of course is that what these internet trolls parading as political activists are actually screaming at the top of their lungs has zero connection to what you have said the point is. I only really know what the point purports to be because of you, and an excellent Daily Beast column by R. Tod Kelly (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/20/the-masculine-mystique-inside-the-men-s-rights-movement-mrm.html)

      My advice to the movement: Get your message together quickly! If you haven’t lost your chance to capitalize on the negative attention, you’re about to. The more people’s experience of the movement continues in its current direction, the less chance for meaningful dialogue there will be.

      Additionally, I have really exhausted myself in digging through the content of Mr. Elam’s website, (linked but not recommended) http://www.avoiceformen.com/ I have read an awful lot of circular narratives about why the authors are unhappy (in particular, the “facts” section baffles me, as it seems to mostly be about the notion that men make up a large majority of those who suffer from acts of violence, suicide, battlefield injuries and accidents in predominantly male professions… ummmm, yeah. I have no issue conceding this. I will even give you that men are treated differently by law enforcement and the justice system. But what I could not get to is WHAT DO YOU WANT??? (my hostility directed at the incoherent website, not at you, genderneutrallanguage)

      If all the movement can do is feed the red meat of anger to its misguided followers, without providing a comprehensible set of demands, what result but the one we are seeing could ever possibly exist?

      It’s precisely the Tea Party’s “We are angry, and government is not working for us… but we have no earthly idea what we want instead.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/16/is-washington-in-a-post-policy-era/)

      A movement needs a clear, affirmative cause. It is not enough to simply hate the status quo.

      Genderneutrallanguage, if you can make a comprehensible affirmative case, I would welcome you to share it on this space.

      • ***TW: Fat-shaming*** Read at your discretion. -Serialnonconformist

        Genderneutrallanguage said:

        Ok, so “Fat shaming week” two things on this. A very big and important distinction needs to be made between “MRA” and “PUA” MRA want equality between men and women. PUA want to tap some hot ass. Fat shaming week isn’t an MRA thing, it is a PUA thing.

        Also on the fat shaming thing. There is a world of difference between “you must be size 0”, and “don’t be a 600 pound land whale” Obesity is a real and growing problem in most of the world. Common sense is gone on both “sides” of the fat shaming issue.

        For the rest, I agree. This tactic is going to flame out quickly (but not that quickly, like 10 years). I have no hope of getting a real clear affirmative message to actually come from “Men’s Rights”. Much like the tea party it’s a loose coalition that’s good a making noise, but not much else.

        My real hope for the “Men’s rights” is that the much more sustainable movement of Feminism will see where it’s gone horribly horribly wrong in talking about equality. Real equality is “Equality between men and women” not “Equality for women”

        There can be no gender equality if men are not even part of the equation. If MRA’s can convince feminism to make this dramatic course correction, the movement will be a resounding success.

  2. I think it would be pretty easy to find allies in the search for the rights you profess to seek. Women, gays, ethnic minorities, non-native residents, gender non-conforming folks, pacifists, drug legalization advocates, non-medicalized birth advocates, living wage advocates… the list goes on and on. I don’t think the majorities of these people are saying they want their causes addressed to the exclusion of anyone else’s. They want the things that impact their lives to matter. They want protections. It’s really not that hard to imagine working together, but for the fact that this movement is either hateful at its core, or has been co-opted by the hateful.

  3. Pingback: Fat Shaming and the MRM | serialnonconformist

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