By Noelle Martin
Are leading Feminists to blame for the stigma of the ‘F’ Word?
I arrived at the question of a men’s rights movement as a skeptical, self-proclaimed feminist. After extensive research, I’ve remained a self-proclaimed feminist, still skeptical of the men’s rights movement, but not of men’s rights. Let me explain.
Throughout history, women and men have been fighting to erode the gender binary. Feminism was established to push the female agenda so females could have the same rights as males. Somewhere along the line, feminist semantics have led to the misinformation of what it means to be a feminist. Feminism has been misconstrued to be synonymous with misandry and male oppression. Now we see feminism divided into what seems like factions, from radical feminism, to feminazis.
Amid the feminist semantics and efforts to push the female agenda in order to gain equal rights to men; two things happened. One, men’s rights were overlooked. Two, we saw the emergence of a men’s rights movement created as a counter-movement to feminism. ‘Why’ the movement was created is an objection to the movement itself, its ideology was not built on pushing the male agenda, in order to ensure gender equality, it seemed to almost be created in spite of feminism, to redirect feminist efforts. The ‘why’ factor has been a huge point of contention for feminists who question the movement. In recent years the movement, according to some feminists, has gained traction by instilling a hatred for women evidenced by their campaign; “Don’t Be That Girl”. ‘How’ the movement is carried out has ignited a wildfire of backlash by feminists who question the credibility of the ‘misogynistic’ movement. It’s the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the movement that casts shade over men’s rights.
The movement is doing a better job at polarising feminists than solving the serious and real issues men face such as the high male suicide rate, inequality in custody disputes, unequal parental leave, false accusations of domestic and sexual violence and the stigma around men as victims of domestic and sexual violence and many more.
At Macquarie University we can see how the movement itself, casts shade over the real issues men face. Females have a women’s room. Men have no equivalent. Male students have claimed it is sexist that they don’t have a men’s room, when females do. Yes, if men want a men’s room, and women have one, then theoretically it would be sexist to deprive men of that right, but I don’t have to be a male to see that this claim of sexism is fueled more by spite, than the fact that men have a pressing and real need for a safe haven from females. This kind of tit-for-tat, fuelling the men’s right movement doesn’t help the case for men’s rights.
As I’ve said, I’m skeptical of the men’s rights movement, but not of men’s rights. To answer the question at hand, do we need a men’s rights movement? Certainly not this one. Feminists should be reminded that the end goal is gender equality, and so fighting for men’s rights should be just as important as women’s rights. I’ll leave you with one final thought: Is gender equality even possible, and if it is, what would it actually look like?