"I Don't Need Feminism": The Women of A Voice for Men

02 October 2013
Yikes. Apparently there's a mob doing the rounds known as "A Voice for Men" who have been plastering stickers across Melbourne, proclaiming their men's rights agenda - that domestic violence is a feminist conspiracy, false rape allegations are a feminist tool to keep men scared, that the feminist agenda is nothing more that a vast plot of hatred and misandry to destroy men. They see that feminism is a broad movement with a diverse range of views and use that division to drive a wedge, presenting feminism conversely as a unified, cult-like movement that brooks no dissent from it's extremist creed.

So there are men who hate women. We knew that. But what's really bizarre is seeing women, young women, who have benefited the most from the gains of feminism so far and have the most to gain from the battles we have yet to win - standing up on the side of the men's rights movement; that feminists hate men, but they sure don't, and they don't need no feminism, they'll make it on their own. The website of a Voice for Men has a women's section, where a string of You Tube videos and essays feature women explaining what a terrible thing feminism is and how they want no part of it. There was also recently a Twitter hashtag #idontneedfeminism, which lasted as long as it took feminists to hijack the thing (and I was one who enthusiastically joined in).

On what basis do these women reject feminism? It's one thing to be anti-feminist because you believe a woman's place is in the home, birthing babies. That's not what these women stand, though; they want to forge careers and lives for themselves; but hey, we're all equal under the law now right? Feminism just wants supremacy for men. Here's the thing, though. If you reject the notion of patriarchy, of male privilege, then you are left with a single explanation for lower pay, lower political representation, lower levels of representation in the media, in business, in academia; that women are simply not as good. Just as white supremacists personally prove through their actions and behaviour, that there is no inherent supremacy in the white race, so the women who proclaim they "don't need feminism", through their arrogance and specious reasoning, present a side of womanhood that seems to prove "well, maybe women aren't as good". And I hate that.

 One of the central tenets of the men's rights movement is fathers' rights; that in custody disputes, men often end up with an unfairly restricted access to, and custody of, their children. They seem blissfully ignorant of that it was feminism in the first place that allowed for the notion that a father should be intimately involved in the care and nurturing of his children, rather than just coming home from work, tossing a toddler in the air till they got dizzy, then retiring to an easy chair for the evening whilst his wife attended to the children.

It's true that for a lot of men in lower socio-economic brackets, their choices in life are limited, their cultural capital diminished. But it's not women keeping them down. When they hear feminists point out the proportion of CEOs or MPs who are men, they think "yes but those are other men". Feminism is an easy target for their woes, since it's so much  more frustrating and complicated to critically examine the economic system which has led to ever-increasing inequality in our society. Blame feminism for what's keeping you down. So I can see why it appeals to men (and it gives them a change from blaming Labor/the Greens/lefties/the ABC). But what about the women? One of the writer's on A Voice for Men asks other women considering affilitating themselves "Are you in a relationship with a man who has been dragged through the family court by a bitter ex? Or have you come to worry that your son is doing poorly at school or is opting out of society, and you are trying to understand? Or has your brother been falsely accused of rape or domestic violence?" Excuse me, but how does blaming feminism fix any of those things? Why be more concerned with the tiny amount of men falsely accused of rape, than the horrifying number of women who are raped? (or do you honestly believe most or all of the women who claim they are raped are part of a massive feminist conspiracy? Are you mad they had a party and didn't invite you?) Do you feel safe walking down the street in your city at night, alone?

The ironic thing here is that anti-feminist women often proclaim they want to celebrate the femininity that feminism wants to destroy (just ask this feminist who has a single pair of pants for yard work and apart from that doesn't wear shorts or trousers...ever). But these women strike me as hating their own femaleness, and other women. They're the kind who, if they caught their partner cheating, would forgive him and attack her. They've an anger that goes back to Eve tempting Adam to eat the apple - women are always responsible for the downfall of a good man. I hope the men's rights movement is just a passing thing. As the mother of a son, I'm deeply concerned with unequal outcomes in boys' education, but bashing feminism does absolutely nothing to fix that.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! I have a friend who proudly proclaims to be the 'anti-feminist', but I do believe that she is mistaken in her own definition of feminism. It's feminism that allows her the choice to be a stay at home mum, to not work, to be the happy home maker that she chooses to be. Just as feminism is the reason why I am absolutely a career woman, who just happens to be married, have a kid, cook a nutritious dinner night after night and operate a washing machine. Feminism is the reason women can read and write. It's the reason why we are legally protected in cases of assault. It's the reason why we are entitled to work and drive a car. Why we're are eligible to vote. It's the reason why the law states that our husbands are not allowed to beat us with a stick to keep us 'in line' anymore. Feminism is the reason 8 year old girls in Australia are not marrying 50 year old men and dying from sexual injuries on their wedding night.

    It more than fires me up when I hear of these 'movements' which are just ignorant and arrogant demonstrations of stupidity. Sure there are women who do make up stories of assault. I personally know of one man who was publicly vilified in the media when the woman who he had consensual sexual relations with, then decided it was the wrong decision and called rape. He rightfully fought the claims and eventually had his name cleared when witnesses were called and of course, he was found not-guilty. We know that there are isolated incidents like the young lady who recently said she was gang raped while walking home during the middle of the night. The story was a complete fabrication and her rape kit turned out to have been completely negative. However statistically these stories are so few and far between they are not a risk to every man out there.


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