If you thought regressive, feminist-hating trolls on the Internet were ridiculous, you haven’t met this group yet. Not only are these so-called patrons of the men-rights movement unwilling to respect women’s voices, but by following a misogynist path, they are trivializing issues faced by men.
Last week the first annual International Conference on Men’s issues was held in Detroit, hosted by the men’s rights activist organization, A Voice for Men. Yes, you heard that right -- men’s issues. The organization raises many eyebrows: why do men, the privileged gender, need a group and conference to advocate for their rights?
Browse their website’s mission statement and watch your skepticism grow. Many of the organization’s aims have either already been achieved, or are surrounded by a cloud of delusion, and can be easily debunked. For instance:
1. “Educate men, women, girls and boys about the threats they face in feminist governance and to promote an end to that governance”
This aim is particularly confusing: Since when has the world been threatened by “feminist governance”? According to the UN, only 1 in 5 parliamentarians in the world are women, and women make up less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs . Sleep peacefully, members of A Voice for Men, it is still very much a man’s world.
2. “Debunk sex-based lies and distortions wherever they occur”
At the conference, a psychologist put up a slide with a photo of Miley Cyrus displaying her naked stomach. On the photo was a caption that read, “Quit objectifying me. You’re being rapey!” This goes to show the organization’s belief that a woman is responsible for a sexual attack, based on the way she dresses. This is a common sexual-based lie and distortion that plagues our society and which the organization has further emphasized, not debunked. Instead of placing blame at the victim of an assault, either male or female, the organization should aim toward helping victims, and ending the stigma attached to rape.
3. “Push for an end to rape hysteria, domestic violence hysteria and false allegations”
This is particularly offensive, with the wording suggesting that issues regarding rape and domestic violence are either greatly exaggerated or that the victims are liars. At the organization’s inaugural conference, sexual jokes and biases were ever-present. Jessica Roy from TIME covered the conference, and wrote:
"A palpable distaste for women seeped between the cracks of the conference, in comical asides and throwaway comments. When the conference’s M.C. asked a woman in the audience a question and she responded with a no, he quickly shot back, 'Doesn’t no mean yes?' The audience burst into laughter."
When the organization itself makes light of rape and trivializes it, it shows a complete lack of understanding of the issue, feeding into the so-called “rape hysteria.”
4. Facilitate a new social contract between men and women, leading to mutual respect, accountability and expectation.
After the conference, the founder of A Voice for Men, Paul Elam wrote a post called “An Amazing, Amazing Conference by Any Standard, Even With the Stink of Jessica Roy in the Air”, in which he called Roy a “biased bullshit peddler with an agenda,” and also referred to members of the mainstream media as “clueless and uninformed ideological hacks.” This stands in opposition to the organization’s aspiration for “mutual respect” between both genders. When a group’s leader is so obviously biased against women, what hope is there for the other members?
While most of the aims and efforts of the men’s rights movement seem misguided and anti-woman, there are certain aspects that are worth noting.
A Voice for Men is working toward fairer divorce proceedings for fathers and husbands, so that they have equal rights with regards to their children and finances. Furthermore, the organization is dealing with the issue of sexual and domestic violence toward males, which has either been underplayed or trivialized in modern society and media.
While the overall approach and inner workings of the organization may make most women, and indeed men uncomfortable, there is merit to some of their ideas. However, in order to gain any real credibility, A Voice for Men needs to seriously reconsider and revamp their highly misogynistic and outdated mission statement.