This originally started as a reply to a comment made by typhonblue of AVfM fame on a comment I had made on reddit. That comment thread can be viewed Here
It took me a few days to formulate this response because of the dept of background knowledge necessitated by this response to make it coherent.
One of the conversations I find deeply lacking in the mens rights movement as it exists today is the conversation that asks, “What is the end result of a successful men’s rights movement?” I find the absence of this discussion both troubling and somewhat amusing. It’s troubling because without understanding what the end result will look like we fail be as effective as we could be, not that we haven’t been effective. It’s amusing because it leads to somewhat laughable contradictions in
many of our views and opinions.
But first some excess background. Recently there has been a bit of a
ground swell within the men’s rights movement, lead in part by A Voice for Men, to condemn traditionalists, saying and I agree that many of their principles are similar to those of feminism.
While I agree that many traditionalists or trad-cons as they are currently labeled inadvertently push a form of feminism light, in that much like feminists they venerate women and see them as angelic creatures who can do no wrong, and therefore misplace the blame for certain social ails at the feet of men, many of their views are actually still far more in keeping with the mens rights movement. Indeed it seems like a better allocation of resources would not be condemning “trad-cons” but to help them understand the ways in which their assumptions about men and women are counter productive to
their own beliefs.
Certain dominant voices in the mens rights movement, such as A Voice for Men have a noble ideal of being non-political, choosing not to take sides and simply deal with the issues men face in our society today. While I agree this is a noble goal it’s also somewhat flawed and this flaw sourced from the problems I pointed out in my first paragraph. What would the world look like if men’s rights activists had their way? What if we succeeded?
The first change we would see is this, women would loose several the entitlements they currently have. This loss of entitlement such as reform in the sexual harassment laws, divorce laws, and rape prosecution laws would have a side effect (side benefit?) of which a down size in the demand for various job classes would be notable. Many of these job classes, specifically HR, and other fields such as family law advocacy would dwindle in numbers. As many have pointed out, these HR jobs are disproportionately filled by women. The net result of down sizing sexual harassment laws, would be a diminishment of high paying jobs for many women.
There are other forces at play in this dynamic as well. As is noted repeatedly within the MRM women, on average, choose easier, lower stress, less paying jobs. It means that without the government subsidies for single mothers and the institution of both child support and alimony a women would not be able to support herself and children. Sure an older women who has no children would likely be able to support herself on a low salary in a modest apartment, but her quality of life would be greatly diminished. In a way were stuck in a quandary, if we abolish all the special privileges for women then women really will suffer but perhaps only marginally, if we do not abolish these special privileges then we continue to endorse and support the unjust victimization of men via coercive legal force.
Here’s where the disjoint within the MRM seems to happen. I recently read an anecdote which I though summed it up well, (I want to make clear that this is an anecdote and I don’t know if it’s fully accurate in all details, despite those possible inaccuracies I believe that the general summation it
yields is both correct and poignant.) It went something like this. In Mexico the government has instituted many of the same rights as it has in the United States. Women are freely able to divorce, women are protected against domestic violence, and woman have most of the legal protections
American women expect, with one critical difference, the nation is too poor to grant welfare in many cases. So what happens, according to the anecdote is that a women’s husband arrives home late from the bar or pub drunk. She furious that he has been out drinking and not being with her becomes irate. During the course of events the women is hit at some point by the husband. She naturally calls the cops, who promptly arrest the man. At first she is relieved and then she becomes worried. The kids are still hungry, she still has to pay the bills and yet, her husband is in jail. Soon the realization that she needs her husband dawns on her and she goes to the jail and pleads for his release.
While I NEVER sanction domestic violence, I think this little story yields important incite on the topic at hand. Many in the men’s rights movement vehemently attest that all they want are equal rights for men and women, something I fully agree with. But they present a picture of what would happen if those equal rights were to be instated as somewhat similar to the world now, but with fewer injustices. For example in an episode of the A Voice for Men Radio Show entitled “What does the men’s rights movement have to offer women.” The hosts present the view that the men’s rights
movement offers women respect, and true equality. Again I don’t disagree with this view, I sincerely believe that the men’s rights movement does indeed offer women respect. What the hosts fail to communicate is just what the world would look like once women had that respect.
From the rhetoric alone one would naturally assume women would go to work, along side men, the anti-male discrimination known as affirmative action would be gone so the women really would rise up and be all they could be. While this is true of some women it has always been true of some
women. The reality is that once affirmative action is abolished, along with other institutions which minimize the level of competitiveness, and ease the lives of women in the professional world, many women would realize that the race to the top is not their cup of tea. They would instead favor lower paying jobs, or even motherhood more readily. This change would inevitably lead to a rise in marriage, and women needing a man to take care of them and their children. This is a biologically determined fact of life, and no amount of singing around campfires will change it.
The irony of course is that this final result of the mens rights movement would look less like what I think, even most mra’s, expect and much more like what the “trad-cons” hold as the proper order of things. With women once again needing men to support them as their big daddy government was no longer being their surrogate husband the world would look pretty similar to the way it was in generations past. This is the contradiction which leads to what I see is a development of ideology and dogma within at least the authors, editors and publishers of A Voice for Men. If they are to be politically neutral, and if they are more and more to condemn the “trad-cons” they need some sort of footing to stand on other than logic, why?
The “trad-cons” might be mis-guided, they might overly venerate women and place many kinds of blame unjustly at the feet of men. But fundamentally their vision for the world is actually mostly the same as the vision of the world likely held by any men’s rights advocate who honestly evaluate the
net result of his or her beliefs and actions. The question becomes this, how do you condemn “trad-cons” when they are, despite some mis-understandings, not only on your side but also logically consistent wit your own view? The only way is to create a dogma and ideology that says they are wrong for some other reason which is logically inconsistent.
This is where A Voice for Men is headed. Through their recent condemnation of the primarily Christian right as, just another kind of feminism, they have demonstrated their own ideological bias. They clearly believe in some sort of alternative view of reality in which once the feminist inspired husband government is disbanded, or at least significantly downsized men and women will suddenly find what would best be described as a feminist utopia. That is impossible. No matter how you split the deck at the end of the day women still need men to help them raise children, only the few excessively
wealthy women will really be able to afford baby sitting service to continue work while raising a child. Does this mean all women will be stay at home moms? No, women will still be active in the workforce but it won’t be 50%/50%, it can ever be 100% equal. Child bearing, and child raising will necessitate this. To come to any other conclusion is either to be bereft of linear thought and an understanding
of logical progression or to be actively dishonest.
Because of this the goal of the men’s rights movement is not to create a new, different world, rather it is to find a way in which the the rights of men will not be infringed upon while living in what would argue is a more traditionalist society. Essentially any logically consistent analysis of the men’s rights movement must by necessity conclude that the goal of the men’s rights movement is not some alternative view of the future in which women all work along side men. Rather it is to identify and fix those elements of traditionalism which disproportionately affect men in a negative way, including holding women accountable for their choices. This however, is a pretty scary though it would mean admitting that in some ways we are actually just what the feminists accuse us of being, but that’s OK.