We are really excited to announce that 303 Magazine published a story about our group recently. If you've been involved in or aware of the Men's Rights Movement (MRM) for awhile, you probably know how difficult it can be to get our ideas represented fairly by the media. In fact, all too often reporting on the MRM is more like a hit piece than factual reporting.
That's why we are so excited to have this article published. It generally paints a pretty accurate picture of what Rocky Mountain MRA (RMMRA) is about. You can check it out for yourself here. In this post I'll give a few of my thoughts about what the article gets right and what I think could be changed. Let's start with the things I like about it.
What the article gets right
As I said in the introduction, the media often misrepresents the MRM. Overall, that was not the case in this article. Here are some of the main strengths of the 303 article.
It includes a lot of good quotes from members of our group
There are several quotes from Kat, Gloria, Lexie, Bryan, Holly and myself. They represent the viewpoints, goals and vision of RMMRA pretty accurately.
One of my favorite quotes was from Bryan, who points out that there is already a word for the belief that everyone deserves equal rights regardless of their sex: “Egalitarianism,” he said. “It’s in the dictionary.”
We also stressed that RMMRA is an inclusive group that is working to build bridges between men's rights advocacy (MRA) and feminism, and that we are not in any way anti-woman.
It accurately represents our vision and objectives
RMMRA is a young group. In addition to building bridges with feminism, we are putting a lot of effort into raising awareness of men's issues, as many people are not aware of them. Over time, we plan to move on to creating more substantial change through policy.
It captured our PrideFest experience
We hosted a booth at Denver PrideFest this past June, which was a fantastic experience you can read more about here in a great post from Darren. At that event, many people expressed their gratitude that we were working on men's issues.
As Holly noted in the 303 article, several people came up and started crying in our booth. Some had lost a male friend to suicide and others had a man in their life who was unable to find help escaping an abusive relationship. These experiences confirmed our suspicions that men need advocacy for their issues and that men often have a hard time finding support and resources.
It stresses the importance of men's mental health
Depression and suicide are issues I am passionate about. I am a Nutrition Therapist focused on men's mental health. In my practice, MoodFood Clinic, I help men overcome depression by changing their diet. I focus on men because I've found very few mental health services that are geared towards men. Also, men make up about 78% of suicides, a shocking statistic which is rarely discussed.
I became passionate about nutrition for mental health after my own struggle with bipolar disorder, when I figured out that a junk food diet was a primary causative factor in my struggles. As the 303 article relates, another significant causative factor in my depression was misandry (hatred of men) and resulting shame I felt for being a man.
I saw no positive future for myself as a man and that contributed to feelings of depression and hopelessness in a big way. I had to unlearn these toxic and sexist beliefs I had about myself in order to truly recover from my illness. It wasn't until I was in my late 20s that I learned how significantly some of those beliefs were contributing to my depression.
Overall, I think the article gives a pretty fair introduction to our group. It also presents a reasonable amount of information that could easily be digested by someone who doesn't already know anything about men's rights. In addition, it's very balanced and offers feminist counterpoints to many of our arguments. With that being said, there are a few things I think the article got wrong.
What I would change about the article
Of course, there are a few things I would like to be different about the article.
Give us an opportunity to respond to feminist arguments
I like that the author includes opposing viewpoints, but I wish we'd had a chance to respond to them. Many feminist arguments are true but are only half truths. Here's one example:
Cheetah McClellan, organizer of the Denver Women's March asserts that “Men have gotten a lot of attention, a lot of time to exert their power and control over things." The author Josh Schlossberg follows that statement by pointing out that "men make up 96 percent of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and hold 80 percent of the seats in Congress." But he leaves out the fact that men also make up 93% of workplace fatalities and work most of the dangerous, unpleasant, low status jobs.
In other words, although many of the top positions are occupied by men, so are most of the bottom positions in life. It's a fallacy (known as the apex fallacy) to evaluate a group based on the performance of its most successful group members.
This type of argument is often used to dismiss the problems experienced by men who find themselves at the lowest rungs of society. The existence of many male CEOs and Congressmen does not change things for men who are suffering or mean that they do not need help.
The article paints MRA as a reactionary movement
Alexis de Coning argues that men are reacting to "women’s suffrage and women’s emancipation movements." McClellan agrees, saying that "It [MRA] feels backlash-y."
This is a common argument used against MRAs, that power-hungry men are upset at the progress women have made. If this type of MRA is out there, I have not met them. I can't speak for everyone in the broader men's rights movement, but I feel confident saying that there is no one actively involved in our group who holds the attitude that women should fill a subservient position in life.
It doesn't hold feminists accountable
The author didn't push the feminists he interviewed to defend some of their claims. For example, when it comes to infant male circumcision, de Coning assures readers that "Of course we [feminists] care about ... giving men and boys the right to choose what happens to their bodies."
To me, the obvious follow-up question would be "What are you doing to protect boys and men from this practice?" Thanks in part to feminist activism, female genital mutilation (FGM) has been illegal for 20 years, and rightfully so. But what is feminism doing to extend that protection to males?
Many feminists argue that the MRM is unnecessary and that activism for men should fall under the banner of feminism, which they assert is a movement for gender equality for both sexes, not just women. If that's true, one would expect to see feminists advocating for an end to circumcision, also known as male genital mutilation (MGM).
However, that sadly is not the case. When it comes to MGM, most feminists are at best either conspicuously silent or, in some cases, they downplay the damaging effects of MGM. In fact, some feminists consider male infant circumcision to be acceptable. They become very hostile to what they see as an attempt to equate MGM with FGM, two practices which they see as being very different.
MRAs are held to a different standard
In my interview, I was specifically asked whether RMMRA is anti-woman, which of course we emphatically are not. In contrast, there are no quotes from any of the feminists interviewed questioning whether they are anti-men. I would be interested in hearing them respond to quotes from prominent feminists.
It's not hard to find such quotes. Here are a few examples:
- "I’ve always wanted to see a man beaten to a shit bloody pulp with a high-heeled shoe stuffed up his mouth, sort of the pig with the apple." -Andrea Dworkin, from her novel Mercy. See also Reddit post about this quote here.
- "The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race." -Sally Miller Gearhart, in her essay The Future-If There is One-Is Female.
- "I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them." -Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine editor. Printed in Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist, p. 178.
Both feminism and the MRM have their extremists, and I don't pretend to believe that the above quotes reflect the attitudes of most feminists. But it does seem that feminism is held to a different standard, and I would be interested to hear these feminists respond to these quotes.
These issues notwithstanding, I am very pleased with the article overall. I consider getting a halfway fair representation of the MRM in a mainstream media piece a victory, and this story was largely fair and balanced. It also achieves our primary goal of getting the word out about our group, so I'm really happy about that.
Finding common ground
I am quoted in the article as saying a primary goal of RMMRA is to build bridges between MRA and feminism. We have encountered objections from both MRAs and feminists for taking this approach.
Some MRAs are concerned that we will allow our organization to be overtaken by feminist concepts that are counter to MRA thinking such as so-called "toxic masculinity" and many elements of patriarchy theory. I can understand their concern because this has happened to other groups. But we remain committed to our ideas and principles.
The leadership and active core of members of our group are well versed in MRA theory, and many have studied feminist theory as well. Although we are always open to new ideas, we have well thought out beliefs and and a deep understanding of the damaging and insidious effects of many feminist theories.
We feel confident in holding fast to what we believe is right and true in the face of dissenting views, and are confident in our beliefs.
The advantage of including feminists
There are plenty of feminist theories and ideas that are inherently misandrous and which deserve scrutiny and criticism, but that doesn't mean we should exclude feminist people from our group. After all, if MRAs had refused to talk to Cassie Jaye who made The Red Pill documentary and identified as a feminist at the outset of that project, she never would have had an opportunity to challenge her own beliefs.
Cassie had set out to make an exposè which would uncover what she believed at the time was an online community of misogynists. To her surprise, she found herself agreeing with many of the points MRAs made in their interviews with her, and The Red Pill took a much different direction. She even ultimately renounced her label of feminist. If we want people to consider our ideas, we have to be willing to talk to people who disagree with us.
We can do this without sacrificing our integrity or ideas, and we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by talking to more people. So we're sticking to our guns and including everyone in the conversation who is genuinely interested in being a part of creating meaningful positive change for men.
We're grateful that 303 Magazine was willing to run a piece about us. The MRM is an extremely controversial topic and many other publications are completely unwilling to run a story about men's rights. We're also grateful that Josh Schlossberg wrote this article about us, and represented our group in a fair and genuine light.
We look forward to what the future has to hold and continuing to create meaningful positive change for men.