After a warm embrace into the gender equality argument at the tail end of 2014, I have found myself munching mince pies and scrapping old wrapping paper, while constantly contemplating my involvement in the discussion over the coming year. What should be the subject of my next article? What needs of the male are being overlooked and what prejudice in society needs to be tackled in my next 1000 words of statistics and argument?
I realised that my difficulty in tapping words onto the page was not due to a lack of passion, conviction or subject matter. It was a result of settling on an issue and delving into research resources, consisting of studies, books, statistics, graphs and raw survey data, only to be faced with niggling fact: “This has been done before”. I don’t mean “There was an article on this only last month”. I mean to say that the books, studies, statistics, argument and proof that prejudice exists against the male are decades old. The debate has raged on for years.
Time and again, the wage gap myth has been irrefutably debunked…and still survives; even being recently entertained and supported by Obama in, what I can only see as, a shameful attempt for the female vote. Time and again, reason and statistics have highlighted the institutional sexism of the disposable male as a weapon and sacrifice, domestic violence and family court…and still, the problems persist. The problems persist in a society that allows feminism to shout and scream at the broken and estranged father, the man beaten in his home or in public, the soldier sent to risk his very life or simply (simply?) his psychological, post-war mental health:
“You are not a victim, you are powerful and privileged!”
The argument against feminism is solid, but I cannot help consider the possible futility of arguing against feminism; not because it is not a worthwhile fight and neither do I aim to belittle the daily and continuous, hard work of brilliant activists and writers who act as such a magnificent voice for men and women who suffer the negativity of feminism in society. It is a very necessary and vital battle and I am in awe of these activists and commentators, who provide a continued stream of real-time, topic specific and case by case evaluations of misandry and inequality in our society, in defence and support of its victims. I will, indeed, join them in writing on these issues and sharing my perspective, as I have been doing so, but it would be futile if that were my only goal.
The information available on A Voice for Men or in the studies and books of Dr Warren Farrell, Professor Murray Straus, Dr Helen Smith and Erin Pizzey, to name only a few, is staggeringly precise, presents very real and justified counter-arguments against the pervasive rhetoric of feminism and also provides comfort and support to men who are, otherwise, constantly bullied and victimised in a feminist climate. I will point to their decades of work and evidenced argument and comment further on those with my own perspective of the issues and my ideas about gender equality, but I must also present the question:
“What can we now do?”
The men’s rights movement consists of scholars, researchers, activists, speakers, writers, vloggers, bloggers and, also, most importantly, an amassed group of followers; some of whom openly share the information gleaned from articles and videos and others who quietly find a home for their worldview and enjoy community of those who understand. My point is that we are of a significant number and, rather than preaching to our own choir and amongst ourselves or locking horns with the Church of Feminism next door, we have the resources to affect the world around us. So, how can we get out there?
While the media refuses to offer a fair platform for speech and while government continues to deny fathers equal parenting rights or correct legislation so that, instead of addressing violence against women and children, it addresses ‘violence’, we find two issues highlighted. The first is that we need our message to reach the population by alternative means and the second is that we need to address the government and impress upon them our rights to be represented in legislation. We need to become politically active with new campaigns and with increased support for those that already exist.
In reverse order, I do not wish or care to see a politician coerced into wearing a T-shirt, with “This is what an egalitarian looks like” or “#AllForEquality”, as some desperate and nonsensical attempt to add weight to the anti-feminist argument. For what gain would we get a snapshot of Cameron or Obama intensely smouldering at the camera while billboarding our side of the argument? So we could ‘1up’ the feminists with a haymaker and plaster the photo over our websites and Twitter accounts for a brief, but bright, moment? What real benefit would that bring to the pursuit of true equality?
Let feminists fight for ‘feminism’ and the fame and continuation of their movement and let us fight for issues of equality (what’s new?). Rather than convince a politician to briefly don a T-shirt and send a supportive selfie, I would rather see him or her react to and act upon a legitimate, fact-based presentation of real statistics, backed up by a heavily populated petition that demands our right, as men, as people, to be represented in legislation. Is it in our power to do this? Yes. And even if it reaches a dead end, it can only raise the profile of the debate and offer a platform for speaking about the issues of men. We’re used to annoying feminists and can deal with that backlash, and we would also gain the attention of new supporters, publicly show silenced victims that there is a voice for them and raise the profile of the underfunded charities that are available to men, regarding these issues. Action is more newsworthy than our arguments on the correct interpretation of statistics. So, shouldn’t we act?
And if today’s media silences us, if our arguments are muted in favour of misandry and ‘politically correct’ feminism, what is to stop us from educating our communities in local seminars, support groups for fathers or male victims of domestic abuse? Let us entertain the idea of ‘What if…’ and answer that with:
‘…we started a local community radio show on the issue or appeared on an existent one?’
‘…we speak at a local college or university to respectfully present alternative views on gender issues and equality, even to a women’s studies course?’
‘…in ten cities, posters advertising a local group for male victims of domestic abuse were to be found in shop windows, with the phone number for Mankind Initiative (UK)?’
Due to the significant work of those mentioned above, as well as so many others, we have resources: information, community, a significant voice with which to campaign and representatives to reach those in their communities. What can we do with that?
I would argue that a community that grows used to seeing a support poster for male victims of abuse would also grow used to the idea that the problem exists. I would argue that guest speaking at a local university about true gender bias in history and our modern world might broaden the perspectives of young students, through which they would consider what they see or experience in the world around them. I would argue that there are ways we can reach and educate the people who are currently out of reach because of media bias.
The daily opposition to feminism certainly needs to be continued (keep going Judgybitch!) and so, too, does the continued campaign for awareness regarding men’s rights issues. It is gaining ground and becoming a more significant presence. However, simply arguing against feminism is time consuming and like smacking your head against a brick wall. What if we were to stand together and act. We needn’t plead or argue with feminists to acknowledge that we’re right; we need to educate more people with the real facts and then stand, united, against the sexism in our governments: join existing political campaigns, start our own and, in either case, use the volume of our collective voice.
So I ask, using the resources, information and strength of people that are available to us, how can we broaden the audience of this debate and how can we see political action as a fruit of our labour?
If you would like to discuss how you might be able to create change in your local community, please feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org