NPR did this story on the “Men’s Rights” movement the other day, starting from that conference in Detroit organized by A Voice for Men.
Leaders in the movement say they want to bring more attention to the problems of men and boys. Critics worry, however, that these sites are a breeding ground for misogyny.
For his part, Farrell actually tries to avoid the phrase “men’s rights.”
“It’s like somebody saying we’re in favor of the king’s rights,” he says. “The average person thinks that men are already at the top of the political structure. They have all the rights, they made all the rules, [and] if anything is going wrong with men, it’s their fault, because after all, it’s just a consequence of men’s rules.”
Who made the rules isn’t really the point. (Well sometimes it’s the point. The fact that the Catholic church is officially all-male in the upper reaches is because of the rules, which were indeed made by men, and which obviously create a situation that is self-perpetuating, so who made the rules really is the point. But broadly speaking it isn’t.) The point is making better rules. The point is moving from a hierarchical situation (that none of us alive now ever actually agreed to, much less created, after all) to a non-hierarchical one. And that would be good for men and boys.
For one obvious thing, in a non-hierarchical situation, men in families no longer have the whole responsibility for bringing in the money.
More than that…if we ever could get to a place where people weren’t constantly policing both genders, boys and men would be under so much less pressure. Are we supposed to assume that they all actually like all that shit? All that contempt for showing what’s taken to be “girly” and all those commands to “man up”?
Boys also drop out of college and commit suicide at higher rates than girls, Farrell notes.
“We need to know not only why are our sons committing suicide, but also why are our sons much more likely to be the ones to shoot up schools?” he says. “We’re all in jeopardy if we don’t pay attention to the cries of pain and isolation and alienation that are happening among our sons.”
Well of course we need to know those things. Is there a feminist on earth who doesn’t agree?