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Guest Column: What About Men's Rights?

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Never mind the “war on women:” according to growing numbers of activists and authors, it’s males in modern Western society who are under siege and whose rights need defending. Is this the next frontier for gender justice or a woman-hating backlash? Men’s advocacy raises worthy issues that often draw unfair ridicule. Unfortunately, it is also prone to toxic rhetoric that subverts its valid points and alienates potential supporters.

To many, the very notion of men’s issues or men’s rights seems laughable. But if women were dying in 90 percent of workplace fatalities and three out of four suicides, would we not see such numbers as troubling—and as legitimate women’s issues?

Unlike racial profiling of minorities, the disproportionate targeting of males by law enforcement gets no attention (women account for more than a third of illegal drug use, but fewer than 15 percent of arrests). And, while men are often presumed dangerous to children, actual female molesters tend to get lenient treatment. Attempts to restrict abortion are decried as patriarchal control over female reproduction, yet there is virtually no recognition of ways in which current policies treat paternity as a public resource. Men coerced into unwilling fatherhood must still pay child support. Even those tricked into supporting children they didn’t father find little recourse. On the flip side, divorced fathers often feel they are treated more as wallets than as parents.

Even when imbalances that disadvantage men or boys —such as male academic underachievement—become the subject of concern, such concerns are often viewed with suspicion as potential attacks on women.

Many feminists (of both sexes) claim that the answer to men’s issues is feminism. Male adversities, they argue, stem from patriarchal norms that feminism opposes, including the stereotype that women are better parents or the stigma against men showing weakness. Feminist battles against sex discrimination have sometimes focused on the rights of males, from equal parental leave to benefits for husbands of female veterans. Yet, with few exceptions, feminists have balked at any pro-equality advocacy that would support men in male-female disputes, acknowledge that women can mistreat men, or undermine female advantage.

Is a men’s rights movement the answer? Unfortunately, any movement championing one gender seems doomed to devolve into victim politics and demonization of the other sex. Some leading men’s rights websites such as A Voice for Men offer a steady diet of vulgar woman-bashing that discredits any valid points they may make.

Perhaps what the 21st century needs is not a women’s movement (which was once essential to secure basic rights) or a men’s movement, but a gender equality movement. The problem today is not a “war” on anyone, but rather biases that limit and hurt both sexes in different ways, and the challenges of adapting to new rules and new roles. Men and women, we’re all in this together. Let’s act as though we know that.•

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine and a columnist at The Boston Globe.

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As per usual, Cathy is an apologist to the feminist juggernaut. She, like many others, are about to get swept away by the winds of chnage.

Either their is a going be a difficult [but peaceful] transition period where people are going to have to finally start listening to men's voices and the men's rights movement OR there is going to be a total collapse of western society into violent revolution. It is that urgent and and it is that bad.

Posted by Ian Wilson on 8.15.13 at 19:00

This column is sophistry at its worst. What is next? Is Cathy Young going to start worrying about the shameful oppression of white people, or christians, or those terribly put upon rich people? I'm sure that some members of each of those groups feel very put upon, and would lap that up.

Facts: 1) women in this country still don't have some very basic rights, including bodily autonomy and economic justice. Frankly, until those are effectively dealt with I couldn't be less interested in anything that (some) men are whining about. 2) Men do, in fact, commit the vast number of crimes, most especially crimes where there is a victim involved. (Ranges between approximately 85-95%, depending on the crime) 3) The educational system in this country was originally designed to disproportianately benefit men, not women. The fact the women have still been able to succeed within this structure is a testament to their determination, not a result of discrimination against men. 4) Child support in most states is pretty nominal, and most certainly not the fat payout that MRAs (Men's "Rights" Activists) would have you believe. The numbers are stark. On average, when women with children divorce their standard of living drops precipitously; when men divorce their standard of living rises.

Oh, love the first comment here, btw. A thinly veiled threat that if men don't get their way, then there will be violence. Ho hum, like that is any news.

Posted by Soporificat on 8.16.13 at 9:08

It's time to move beyond women's rights and men's rights and start talking about human rights. Like it or not, we're all in this together.

Posted by Joe Kaminski on 8.17.13 at 12:57

I applaud this formulation of what constitutes a movement in the best interest of us all as human beings. Oppresion has harmful consequences on both parties. Encouraging both sexes to be equally as responsible in all areas, equally as creative, equally as ambitious, equally as forgiving, equally as tolerant, equally as HUMAN, will provide for the greatest amount of satisfaction for all. It is the actual menaing of our Declaration of Independence despite the lack of recognition on the part of our Founding Fathers (and Mothers). Strict identification and delineation of gender specific roles hurt EVERYIONE. As a feminist for more than 50 years, I always believed that feminism was about choice for both women and men. This is what I have taught my son about being a feminist. Whoever is oppressed, treated unfairly, denied their humanity, belittled or acted upon violently, I am on their side, man or woman.

Posted by Rosemaria Memoli on 8.17.13 at 13:49

@Soporificat regarding #1 is a joke. Men don't even have financial autonomy. If a woman gets pregnant, it is her and her alone who gets to decide his financial future. If the woman decides she isn't ready to be a mother, she has multiple options, e.g. adoption, abortion. The man is at the full mercy of the woman whether he is ready to be a father or not. Why not allow him to give up his rights for adoption, if the mother takes them great, if not, a family ready for children will. Economic justice, try acting like a man and do something very few women do in the workplace, push for a raise. Get over it and grow a backbone. For every woman who pushes for a raise, there were ten in my office before her and we are about 60/40 men/women.

#2 Men commit, or do women get away with more? Again, you ignore reality and would rather live in deception. Women own the vast majority of deceit crimes. Heck, even stats are starting to show they are responsible for just as much domestic violence. Lets talk justice and start giving women the same sentences men get for the same crime. Plus, the article also addresses #2, but, like many women, you only half listen, or read in this case.

#3 There are more scholarships available to women. The system has systematically turned against boys. Remove recess but male biology needs activity. Lets drug them up because they don't act like little girls and say they all have ADHD. Please, research before you open your big keyboard and polute reality.

#4 If the men are more financially capable of taking care of the children why would he not get them? They say 70% of divorces are initiated by women, let me ask you this, if her life is going to go down hill, did she not make the choice. Chances are it was a total surprise to the husband. Or, lets do what is in the best interest of the child and adopt shared parenting? I mean, then the man has the child 50% of the time, something most fathers want. That gives the woman more time to focus on how to step up and ask for a raise at work.

Posted by L F on 9.4.13 at 7:14
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