Feminism and Men's Rights
Women’s right has made strides in the last forty or so years. Apart from the recent war on contraception, which effects both women and men but women more directly, the goals of feminism have pretty much all but been achieved. That’s not to say we’re done here. Now, we see men suffering inequalities. We see men suffer false accusations of abuse and/or rape by women (and sometimes other men), men who are abused by their partners are less likely to receive help even when they seek it out, and there is legal discrimination against men in divorce cases.
So why is this? Is feminism to blame? No, it’s not. Apart from the legal discrimination, much of these problems are societal problems. A stigma around men that they just can seem to shake. And all of these have their roots in good-old-fashioned sexism (on both sides). Our society sees men as “strong and aggressive” and women as “weak and defenseless.” In cases of false accusations, a jury or judge will see a weak, tiny, weeping women and a big, strong, aggressive man. They see the women as the victim and the man as the attacker, even if the accusations are not true.
Now, this is really messed up because of the seriousness of rape. Rape is a hideous crime. Tossing around such false accusations is damaging to everyone, but is especially harmful to the innocent men accused of it. Not to mention the harm it causes to actual victims of rape. These men put on trial for a crime they didn’t commit are really dragged through the mud. Often the trials are public, so even though the man is innocent most people will now only see that man as “that guy accused of rape.” Even more problematic, these men may have to be put on a list of sexual predators. That’s right, they get their name forever immortalized on a public list that shows their address and other personal details to the world.
This kind of sexism also occurs in relationships. Men who are abused by their wife or girlfriend. We see people say things like “Why would a man let his wife/girlfriend hit him?” or “She’s so much smaller than him, it’s not abuse,” or of course there’s victim blaming “He must have deserved it." I’ll state the obvious, violence is never okay in a relationship, unless it’s consensual (rough sex, incase you didn’t get it). Therefore asking why a man would let his partner abuse him is like asking why you let that mugger mug you? The only one to blame is the abuser. Also men have been conditioned from a young age that hitting women is never okay, but hitting other boys is. Seriously society? Maybe we should teach our kids that it’s not okay to hit anyone (with the exception of self-defense). Also, I’ll say it again, violence is never an okay thing in a relationship, if a man’s partner (male or female) is abusing him he shouldn’t respond by abusing him/her back. He needs to get out of that relationship and to a safe place. The last justification for violence against men, victim blaming. Do I really need to dignify this with an answer? Guess so. No one deserves to be hurt. No one deserves to be abused. Men don’t ask to be abused, no one does. There's a stigma around male victims of abuse. They are seen as weak and because of this stigma they often don’t get the help and support they need and will often stay in these unhealthy relationships.
The legal discrimination comes most obviously during divorces in which children are involved. Because of the way our society works, we have had it ingrained into us that children are better off with their mother. No matter what. Because of this, men rarely get full custody of their kids and often have little to no access to their kids, but still have to pay child support. Even when men do get full custody, it's rare that they get child support. I don’t advocate the abolishment of child support but the system needs to be fixed. Often the amount that a man has to pay in child support payments are decided by his income and how many kids he has, it rarely takes into account the mother’s income. But what if the mother gets remarried and has another income, can the man get his child support payments reduced? No, of course not. It’s often hard for men who still want to be apart of their kids lives. The pay gratuitous amounts in child support and often end up being estranged with their children.
Now, I get it being a single mother is hard. I know it is, and there are plenty of cases where the man is not fit to be the full guardian of a child, but there are plenty of cases where the man is a more fit parent. The deciding of who gets custody should be decided on who is a better parent not their gender.
I identify as a feminist and, yes, I am the proud owner of a vagina. But I have this crazy idea that feminism is about equal rights for men and women. I don’t blame feminism for these inequalities, put the blame where it belongs: society. This society seems to always be looking for a reason to take someones rights away. Blacks, women, gays, men. More and more often society seems less and less discriminatory about who’s rights they get to take as long as someone’s rights get taken away. We need to stand up together, we have to fight for our each others rights. Because nether of us can do this alone.
April 18th, 2013 at 12:54am
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