The idea of men’s rights is often considered taboo to talk about. It is this idea that a conversation about men’s social concerns would have the power to negate the accomplishments that feminists throughout history have made. The buzzword “equality” has limitations, where the conversation stops right when you start to mention the voice of men. So, what is this movement all about?
These issues are the things that largely go unexamined. These are the things that cannot be heard above the humming of every other right’s movement. We are talking about child custody cases, criminal sentencing, domestic violence, workplace fatalities, men’s reproductive rights, educational inequality, and men’s health issues. I myself was very misinformed about men’s social concerns and grievances and so, like many of us do, defaulted to whatever was easiest to believe. I was looking at this from a woman’s perspective believing that this movement was only a backlash to the momentum of the Women’s Rights Movement- and in some ways, this is true. The men’s rights movement has definitely taken some ideas from the Women’s Movement and tried telling them from their perspective.
Unfortunately, these men are falling right into the trap of being labeled “misogynistic”. But, I encourage you to challenge that view. Let’s take domestic violence for example. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women have been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner. This isn’t a shocking statistic for many, yet what they might not know is that 1 in 4 men will also be the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. I also challenge this statistic by asking if this truly accounts for all men that have been victims. We claim we want to help men feel comfortable opening up and yet, when they do, men face severe backlash by people saying that they are “misogynistic” for having the audacity to address men’s domestic violence issues. Is it truly misogynistic to look at the statistics and be concerned not only for women but understand the need to extend that to men?
In fact, men could argue that in some cases women are actually the ones with the upper hand. Men are often seen as the brawn of the relationship, and thus perceived as the perpetrator no matter what the situation may be. Men also run into similar discrimination when dealing with child custody cases. When imagining who is the primary caregiver, who feeds and bathes them, and who is the child most likely to be more bonded to, the answers like to favor women. Does this mean that women are not the primary caregivers sometimes who may be more closely bonded to the child? No, it means the default option are mothers even when this may go against the direct interest of the child.
I am not here to be the advocate for the men’s rights movement, as I am just a baby to the research that I need to do. I am just here to point out the problem with claiming equality, and to claim the goal is to reach equality between men and women but ignore the ways in which men are facing inequality in the social system themselves.
The men fighting for equality are doing so much more than fighting for themselves. They are addressing things that may affect the men in your life, and that someday may affect you.