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The Men’s Rights Movement is a social and political movement which aims to combat perceived disadvantages toward men, which can be seen as a reactionary phenomenon to advancements of feminism in modern society. On the web, the movement has been often debated and criticized for being anti-feminist and misogynistic.
The earliest known appearance of the term “men’s rights” in print can be traced to a 1856 issue of Putnam’s Magazine in article highlighting the proliferation of the women’s rights movement in the United States. In 1926, the League of Men’s Rights was founded in Vienna, Austria with the stated mission of “combating all excesses of women’s emancipation," arguing against women’s entry into the labor market and family law that required alimony and child support payments to former spouses and illegitimate children. In the 1970s, an anti-feminist segment of the men’s liberation movement split off to form the men’s rights movement, which aimed to raise public awareness of male oppression and disadvantages. Throughout the 1970s, several men’s rights organizations were formed, including the Coalition of American Divorce Reform Elements, the National Coalition of Free Men and Men’s Rights Inc.
Men’s rights activists claim that there are several areas where men experience disadvantages in society. Many argue that child support laws are unfair since men are forced to pay for unwanted children, while women can choose to have abortions. Divorce, child support and child custody laws are typically denounced for being biased toward women. MRAs also contest what they see as the feminization of modern education system, in which women outnumber men in staffing, as well as widespread practice of circumcision and perceived female bias in rape statistics.
MRAs are often criticized for being misogynists, rape apologists and privilege deniers. Many feminists argue that most disadvantages listed by MRAs are actually a result of attitudes created by the patriarchy, a society in which men hold a majority of the positions in authority. Some MRA leaders have been accused of being motivated by a hatred for women, including founder and publisher of the men’s rights blog A Voice For Men Paul Elam and men’s rights author Warren Farrell.
MensRights.com, one of the earliest known websites relating to the topic, has been providing pamphlet information about the movement since as early as January 1998. As of October 2013, the site serves as a educational resource focused on perceived disadvantages men face in divorce proceedings (shown below, right).
In October 2004, Urban Dictionary user Erant submitted an entry for “MRA,” which defined the group as “a bunch of whiny pedantic morons.” On April 28th, 2005, the feminist blog Pandagon published an article titled “Overview of the anti-feminist/men’s rights movement,” which compared the men’s rights movement to conservative Christian dogmas. On March 18th, 2007, the men’s advocacy blog Men’s Rights Blog was launched. On October 13th, YouTuber proudguy uploaded a slideshow video explaining the men’s rights activism as a reactionary movement against feminism (shown below).
On March 19th, 2008, the /r/MensRights subreddit was created for discussions related to the men’s rights movement, masculism and anti-feminism. In the first six years, the subreddit accumulated over 80,900 subscribers. On October 27th, the MensRightsMovement website was launched, which features resources related to the social movement. On November 5th, 2009, the women’s interest blog Jezebel published an article criticizing men’s rights activist groups as being misguided and exaggerative. On July 7th, 2012, the “Men’s Rights Activism” Tumblr blog was created as a satire of the movement. On November 29th, YouTuber StudioBrule uploaded footage of feminists demonstrating outside a men’s rights movement event (shown below).
Fake Rape Reports
On December 17th, 2013, Redditor ShitlordDon linked to a Google Docs reporting form he had seen on 4chan to the /r/MensRights subreddit, claiming that feminists at the Occidental College in Los Angeles, California created the document for students to accuse others of sexual assault anonymously without having to provide evidence. Within 48 hours, the post gained over 1,000 up votes and 590 comments, some of which encouraged others to use the form to submit false allegations.
That day, the feminist blog Man Boobz published an article about the Reddit post, claiming that MRAs were flooding the form with bogus rape accusations despite the disclaimer on the page which states that no one accused would be charged solely based on the submitted information. On December 18th, Gawker published an article reporting that Occidental College had received roughly 400 reports in a 16-hour period, according to the school’s director of communications Jim Tranquada. On the following day, the Internet news blog The Daily Dot published an article about the false reports, noting that the report form is one of many initiatives recently launched by the administration to combat sexual assault on campus, including a 24-hour hotline and the position of Survivor Advocate, a nationwide rape crisis intervention program.
“Misandry” is a term referring to hatred and prejudice against men. On the web, the word has been adopted by men’s rights activists and is often mocked by feminists on Reddit and Tumblr.
Who Needs Feminism
In December of 2012, Men’s Rights Activists began posting parodies of the Who Needs Feminism? photo campaign, which featured photographs of people holding up a paper or white board but the text explains why they’re against feminism or how feminism has negatively affected them.
Don’t Be That Girl
In July of 2013, the Canadian men’s rights group Men’s Rights Edmonton began posting “Don’t Be That Girl” parody posters (shown below, left) in response to the “Don’t Be That Guy” anti-rape ad campaign (shown below, right) launched in Vancouver in 2011. The parodies were subsequently criticized for being an offensive and rape apologist campaign.
#MensRightsMovies is a Twitter hashtag associated with parodies of famous movie titles that are intended to poke fun at the mens rights movement.
Indiana Jones and the Last Fedora #mensrightsmovies— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) October 22, 2013
The Register – Mens rights activists – Symantec branded us a hate group