I didn’t know what a men’s rights activist was until I fell in love with one. He didn’t know I was a feminist until our First Big Argument. Every couple went through one, but I doubt any of them had one based on something as petty as ours.
My boyfriend is a cis white male of European descent. He is 6’7, barely fits through a doorframe, listens to indie music and enjoys video games more than puppies. I grew up in a third world country and am currently studying overseas, where I met him through a mutual. I am a feminist because in my country, patriarchy is rampant, child brides are aplenty, and street harassment is commonplace. My boyfriend is an MRA because after objectively comparing the issues of both genders in a first-world context, he finds that the male activists need more support in fighting for their issues.
When I saw him scrolling through Reddit’s infamous r/mensrights for the first time, he had to explain to me what an MRA was. He didn’t — and never has — labeled himself as an MRA (but I did). He is a self-proclaimed gender egalitarian, and believes in the equality of both sexes. He often reiterates that feminism is the best thing since sliced bread, but developing countries are in need of it much more than his own and female oppression is no longer something to be dealt with in many nations.
Before I met him, I was part of the Tumblr feminists. I was a hardcore, misogynist-hating feminist who swallows whatever text post pops up on my dashboard. I questioned nothing. A woman earned 77 cents to every dollar a man makes? How dare they! Women don’t have the rights to their own bodies? Those cishet males at it again! Women are being victim blamed? Motherfucking shitlords!
I believed everything I read because Tumblr feminists are the most passionate people out there. And trust me, it’s hard refuting a claim made when it’s in a funny text post on my dashboard. I thought everything there were cold-hard facts. (Fun fact: they’re not.) So many of the statistics used by feminists are either outdated, warped, or completely bazoink.
It wasn’t until my boyfriend told me about the lack of men’s rights that I began to open my mind to the idea that men aren’t perfect creatures. Men, just like women, face issues at home, at work, and in the law. It’s just that whenever they try to raise awareness of a gender-specific problem, many extreme feminists belittle it and sweep it under the rug. It’s a competition of who has the bigger scar, and feminists will always win simply because they paint themselves as the perpetual victim.
When my boyfriend was sexually assaulted when he was drunk, he didn’t know what to call it. He was underage, and she was in her early 20’s. It was clearly statutory rape, but he never realized that it was because a woman sexually assaulting a boy is difficult to comprehend, even today. Many men who experienced something similar would be given congratulatory pats on the back, or asked if they enjoyed it. Because men always want sex, right?
Ironically, my boyfriend works at a female-dominated industry. By that I mean during his previous internship, he was the only male there, so it’s slightly more difficult for him to break into the industry. He recently showed me a group picture of the people in his previous office, and there were literally, I repeat, literally, no men in the entire office. And it’s not even a job that requires a vagina. If my boyfriend isn’t suited for the job, at least one man in this entire nation should be.
He gave me proof of laws that work in favor of women (and there is a lot) and how men’s rights are so often misunderstood that MRAs are seen as this misogynistic assholes. I’ve read terrible stories of women who went out with MRAs or being abused by them. But throughout our relationship, he has never violated or harassed me in any way. He equally does the cooking and cleaning in the house (and cooks better than me, I might add). He’s the one who will move overseas once I graduate university. He’s the one who will convert to my religion in order to marry me in a Church. He’s the one who loves his mother more than I love mine. I have never seen a kinder, more beautiful human being than the man sitting across from me.
My MRA boyfriend taught me about equality. He showed me the horrid things extreme feminists have done and are continuing to do. He proved that misandry exists. He brought to the table concepts about gender that I would never have learned if it weren’t for his belief in men’s rights. He grounded me and fed me with real facts that support his movement. MRAs, just like feminists, fight for the equality of the sexes, it’s just that we call it different things. But a rose by any other name still smells as sweet. We are all humans fighting for the same cause; the labels are not a strict dichotomy. There are extremists in both groups the same way there are extremists in every religion or movement, but to dismiss all MRAs as power-hungry patriarchs is as foolish as calling all feminists bra-burning misogynists.
Sure, we have our arguments about which gender has it worse (spoiler alert: if you’re talking on a global scale, it’s women), but all in all, my boyfriend understands the word ‘no’ better than many women. He still pays for dinner sometimes, but understands that I should return the favor, too. Many feminists shouldn’t dismiss the plights of men because that isn’t what equality is. Listen to what they have to say, and like me, you’ll see that these straight white males are not villains at all, but just humans struggling in several facets of this gender-obsessed world.