- To many, the very notion of ‘men's issues’ or men's rights seems laughable. But what if women were dying in 90% of workplace fatalities and three out of four suicides? Tweet This
- We have left boys and men exposed to the toxicity of online radicalization through our failure to carve out an appropriate social space in which they can express themselves. Tweet This
- When society has been conditioned to satirize and humorize male suffering, not recognize it, men are left with few acceptable pathways to articulate and advocate for themselves. Tweet This
For most in North America, the word “Men’s Rights Advocate” (MRA) is synonymous with sexism and hatred. Members are seen as resentful guys projecting their poisonous hatred at a changing world that’s left them behind. That judgement is not entirely misplaced.
Look no further than the leadership of the movement. Paul Elam, creator of the website, A Voice for Men, explained while speaking at a conference that divorce “socializes women to be opportunistic parasites in the lives of men.” Interviewed by The Independent in 2015, Mike Buchanan, the British leader of the upstart, Justice for Men and Boys (And the Women Who Support Them) Party took aim squarely at feminism: “Men are stripped out of their families and become walking wallets because that suits the state. It’s a very well documented feminist objective of 40 years to destroy the nuclear family.”
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
Elam and Buchanan are part of what academics today call “The Manosphere,” a loose amalgam made up men angry with the state of gender politics. And while the formers represent the ‘professionalized’ crust, baked into the pie are three even more odious layers.
- “Men going their own way” (MGTOW) wish to avoid women altogether to reclaim their masculinity.
- “Pick-up artists” (PUAs) are fearful of the feminization of men and seek to dispel such notions by gamifying dating and harassing women. One prominent PUA, Daryush "Roosh V" Valizadeh, infamously hypothesized that legalizing rape on private property would incentivize women to be more vigilant over whom they socialize with thus decreasing incidents of sexual assault.
- Lastly, and most insidiously, are “Incels” a fringe element seeking, violent and often deadly, revenge against a society dominated by female sexual power uninterested in them.
Entwined within this thicket of intolerance are uncomfortable truths which modern gender politics struggles to acknowledge. It’s these kernels that MRAs leverage to attract alienated men into the fold. For instance, men confront a significant gender sentencing gap in the judicial sphere. According to research by legal scholar Sonja Starr, when men and women with similar criminal histories and arrest offenses appear before a judge, men, on average, receive over 60 percent longer sentences. To boot, women that are convicted are twice as likely to avoid imprisonment. For perspective, Starr found that the gender gap was six times greater than the racial sentencing disparity.
Family court is no different. By 2013, only one-sixth of custodial parents were fathers and even when they do have access to their children, men are likely to have significantly less facetime compared with mothers. According to Custody X Change, a scheduling tool for divorced couples with kids, nationwide, fathers receive an estimated 35% of child custody time. Interestingly, the company found Republican states deprived fathers, and rewarded mothers, most followed by Democratic ones and finally swing states. “On average, a typical divorced dad living in a red state will see his child 400 fewer hours each year than a blue-state dad and 700 fewer hours than a purple-state dad,” their research report concluded.
In many cases, judges run roughshod, outdated stereotypes and all, over modern men. The needle hasn’t moved much over the decades despite women scaling the socioeconomic ladder. Female breadwinners, who comprised only 10% of American households back in the 1960s, by the 2010s, represented over 40 percent. More recent data reveals similar findings. Nevertheless, female inroads in the workforce never trickled down to divorce courts. By 2010, Elle reported men received alimony from ex-wives in only 3% of cases, wondering whether this glaring disparity was “The Last Feminist Taboo.”
We see the same triviality directed at male suicide. While men overwhelmingly comprise the global victims of suicide across continents, religions, cultures, and age groups, the issue is a political football in the arena games of modern gender turf wars. In response to the well-established pattern of male self-harm, one Washington Post op-ed argued “Why The Patriarchy Is Killing Men.” The prominent British feminist, Chidera Eggerue, poked at the same topic. “If men are committing suicide because they can’t cry, how’s it my concern?” Eggerue tweeted. When others criticized her flippancy, Eggerue spun it towards nuance. “My points run deeper and I’m requesting that we create a dialogue about the bigger issue of patriarchy.” Sure, she was.
The lampooning of men and the wholesale disregard for their suffering is seen, once more, when it comes to sexual assault in prison. Although such statistics are notoriously difficult to track down, Christopher Glazek provocatively wrote in N+1 that crime had actually not declined in the United States over recent decades but simply “shifted.” As Glazek argues:
The statistics touting the country’s crime-reduction miracle, when juxtaposed with those documenting the quantity of rape and assault that takes place each year within the correctional system, are exposed as not merely a lie, or even a damn lie — but as the single most shameful lie in American life.
Glazek’s inspiration came from a bombshell New York Book Review piece, “Prison Rape and the Government,” which ultimately prompted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release an estimate of the sexual assault in prison. The new number the DOJ publicized—216,000—represented “victims, not instances.” This, Glazek reminds us, is historically unparalleled:
These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.
Nonetheless, such revelations still serve as low-hanging fruit for comedians and late night television for decades. It’s one of the few timeless jokes we can still count on in our age of political correctness.
We have left boys and men exposed to the toxicity of online radicalization through our failure to carve out an appropriate social space in which they can express themselves.
The list goes on. Men work in dramatically more dangerous fields, die, and are seriously injured at far higher rates than women. According to Cathy Young’s reporting in The Boston Globe in 2013, 90% of work-related fatalities are male.
To many, the very notion of ‘men's issues’ or men's rights seems laughable. But consider: If women were dying in 90 percent of workplace fatalities and three out of four suicides, would we not see such numbers as troubling—and as legitimate women's issues? Yet, reversed, the disparities go unnoticed.
When society has been conditioned to satirize and humorize male suffering, not recognize it, men are left with few acceptable pathways to articulate and advocate for themselves. That is why so many young, impressionable, and hurt men gravitate to obscure corners of Reddit and internet culture to find solace and resources. The growing absence of fathers and two-parent households only exacerbates such problems. From worse educational outcomes to mental health issues and lower labour force expectations, absentee fathers are leaving young boys vulnerable to the riptides of intolerance abounding online. It is here, within the unregulated and unverified Wild West of forum culture, that radicalization and polarization breed ideological echo chambers. A never-ending feedback loop predisposed to fringe thinking.
We have left boys and men exposed to the toxicity of online radicalization through our failure to carve out an appropriate social space in which they can express themselves. MRAs have so thoroughly muddied the water that apolitical issues like domestic abuse today are no closer to mainstream attention, or sympathy, than when the movement began decades ago.
Their toxification of the public square has left boys and men lacking a legitimate social and cultural vehicle through which they can advocate on behalf of themselves in a respectful and thoughtful way. To address these legitimate grievances, men require social latitude and flexibility. But if we won’t give it to them, then MRAs will continue to poach naïve youth, and we will be no closer to helping boys and men.
Ari David Blaff is a freelance journalist based in Toronto. His writings have appeared in Quillette, National Review, Tablet, and City Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @ariblaff.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.