True feminism is the belief that all people should have equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal command of their own destiny. Unfortunately, there are factions of the feminist movement that do not truly hold to that definition but rather hate men, see them as inferiors, or even wish to see them hold fewer rights than women.
Just as the feminist movement has two sides to it—one valid and one vile, I’d argue—so too does what’s known as the men’s rights movement, which is sort of a parallel advocacy movement for men.
I recently decided to tackle this movement on an episode of my show, BASED.
According to one of the largest advocacy groups within this sector, MensGroup:
“Activists (in this movement) argue that society has become biased and sexist against men. They also argue that men face discrimination from the media, government, and Supreme Court for being male. Men’s rights groups fight against custody laws that favor mothers over fathers, violence against men, false rape allegations, disproportionate male prison sentencing, and conscription. These are some of the inequalities men’s rights groups strive to address.”
Anyone who cares about individual liberty, equality before the law, and limited government could surely find much in that paragraph to agree with. But admittedly, this feminist had a hard time giving the men’s rights movement the time of day for many years.
The reason is simple: large swaths of this movement have been co-opted by men who really do just hate women, want to bring back the oppressive societal structures of the past, and even excuse horrors like rape and domestice abuse. These subgroups of the movement include the incel community, components of the alt-right and white nationalists, trads that want to force their social conservatism on others, the pick-up artist community, and the Men Going Their Own Way movement.
These groups do not believe in equality and their members are often consumed with bitterness and resentment. It’s a shame that they’ve been able to co-opt the men’s rights movement to an extent…but as a libertarian…I know the feeling. Our movement is no stranger to liberty-despising people trying to co-opt it and corrupt our message.
So, let’s get back to the valid side of the men’s rights movement and the concerns they elevate.
Why You Should Care
As a woman, it can be hard to feel sympathy for men sometimes. I’m just keeping it real. It often feels like there is so much we have to overcome even to this day, and a lot of the talking points used by the men’s rights movement can sound like an excuse for sexism or thinly veiled desires to oppress women.
But when you step back and take a look around, it actually becomes pretty clear that while women may still have a lot to overcome, men really aren’t doing well in our society lately.
In fact, recent research has found that in 91 of the 134 countries evaluated, women faced fewer net disadvantages than men based on metrics that included literacy, primary and secondary school enrollment, years one could expect a healthy lifestyle, and life satisfaction.
Women are now more likely to go to college, more likely to graduate college, and more likely to obtain a graduate degree. Men, on the other hand, are 3.88 times more likely to die by suicide than women. They have higher rates of substance abuse. They are substantially more likely to have a dangerous job and to die on the job. Their average life expectancy is five years less than women. 19 percent of men are classified as having a gaming addiction. Porn addictions are up. 34 percent are overweight.
The list could go on, but you get the picture. As a whole, there are a lot of men facing very serious issues in our society right now, and when they talk about them, they’re often met with derision.
While there are always elements of self-responsibility that must be emphasized when it comes to these matters, anyone who cares about liberty should care deeply if the state is putting policies into place that hurt people—especially when those policies disproportionately hurt one group of people more than others.
You should care about people when they’re hurting. You should especially care when the government is hurting people in your name and with your resources. And you should also recognize that hurt people often hurt people.
The growth of the alt-right and some of these hate groups within the men’s rights movement is evidence of that. The fact that single white men are the most likely demographic to be a mass murderer shows that. The fact that men make up the majority of murders and murderers in general, shows that.
So if we want to actually stop misogyny, sexism, and the growth of malicious groups that are preying on hurting, disaffected people, the best thing we can do is start to show up and show sympathy and, hopefully, even free-market solutions for their problems.
A Breakdown of the Issues
Let’s break down some of the top issues the men’s rights movement is trying to elevate.
Violence Against Men
Men make up almost 80 percent of all murders worldwide. In the US, their homicide rate is almost 10 times that of females. They’re also more likely to be victims of other crimes too, like drug-related crimes and gang-related crimes. And though they experience far lower rates of violence for things like domestic abuse and rape, they do experience that kind of violence too.
In response to these crime statistics many will point out that men are also far more likely to be perpetrators of violence than women, leading to their involvement in more violence against them. And this isn’t incorrect. Men commit 90 plus percent of murders based on one global study, and intimate partner violence remains the biggest health threat to women. But I want to reiterate what I said earlier: hurt people hurt people.
The dichotomy you have in your mind of victim and perpetrator as mutually exclusive categories rarely exists. They are almost always one in the same because violence is cyclical in nature. Most people are first victims of violence many times over before they themselves become violent, and then they are met with more violence from our system.
And no one is ever safer for it. If we want to get serious about violence we have to get serious about trauma interventions and violence disruptions, programs that largely take place outside of policing and do the real work of stopping cycles of violence. These are serious criminal justice reforms that we should all be supporting. And the best thing about them is they’re local, often less costly than our bloated policing system, and take a more limited government approach to crime. That’s the policy change that needs to take place.
But there’s a societal change that needs to take place here too. Namely, we need to stop diminishing violence against men. It is not ok for your partner to harm you – physically, verbally, or emotionally. Abuse is abuse. And men who find themselves on the receiving end of it should get the same sympathy and support from their community as women do….actually that’s not even saying much. Women also often do not get all that much sympathy either.
Our society needs to be better on this all around. Stop asking people why they didn’t leave and instead ask how you can help. Stop laughing at the antics of abusers and instead intervene, speak up, let them know others are watching them and won’t excuse their behavior.
Over-Incarceration and False Accusations
These two issues are somewhat intertwined if you think about it, so we’ll combine them here.
The US has a massive over-incarceration problem driven by wrongful convictions, prosecutors pushing everyone into plea deals, and a whole litany of actions being made into “crimes” by our lawmakers that are victimless, non-violent offenses no one should be in jail over.
Despite making up close to 5 percent of the global population, the US has more than 20 percent of the world’s prison population. And since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 500 percent.
Under this system, men are over 8 times more likely than women to be incarcerated in prison at least once during their lifetime. Now, some of that is correlation given the violence rates among men we discussed above. But certainly, they are also more likely to go to jail or prison for things no one should be locked up for as well.
They are also more likely to be victims of wrongful convictions, which is a pervasive problem in our system.
We’ve discovered over 2,500 wrongful convictions in recent years, and that’s just the people who’ve been able to get the external resources they need to plead their case. Of those, men are far more likely to be wrongfully convicted, and black men, in particular, are the most impacted, with a rate that is 7 times higher than that of white people wrongfully convicted.
But while men are more likely to be incarcerated and more likely to be wrongfully incarcerated, it is not because women are falsely accusing men of crimes left and right.
More than half of all wrongful convictions are due to government misconduct. Shocker. That would include police misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial misconduct, corruption in the labs, and general mistakes.
The misapplication of forensic science is responsible for 45 percent of wrongful convictions, false eyewitness identification in 70 percent, false confessions in 25 percent of cases, and jailhouse informants in 19 percent. (The percentages add up to more than 100 because wrongful convictions often have multiple causes).
For these reasons and more, it can be difficult to garner an accurate understanding of crime data. But when it comes to false accusations of rape, experts believe the range is between two to ten percent of reported rapes. Most rapes are never reported. In fact, some studies show as many as 60 percent of sexual assaults are not reported.
While wrongful convictions and false accusations are terrible, some use this data to say that rape isn’t a real problem. But this is the wrong conclusion.
The truth is, rape is an under-reported problem. Why? For one, because cops aren’t going to do anything about it. We have thousands of untested rape kits they’re literally running out the clock on. Two, given the fact they’re unlikely to even get their rape kit tested, the downsides to reporting rape and abuse often far outweigh the positives.
The men’s rights movement is 100 percent correct here.
Throughout most of our history, only men have been eligible for the draft and it’s wrong. And this isn’t to say that women should be drafted in the name of “equality.” The draft is wrong full-stop. Conscription is immoral. No one should be forced to go fight, kill other innocent people, lose their limbs, risk their lives, and potentially lose their sanity to fight in the banal, vile wars governments create.
The draft should be eliminated. This is a no-brainer. No one should be subjected to it, ever. But the fact that they’ve done it to men and not to women is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal application of the law. Abolish it.
Divorce and Custody
Having a strong father is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. My dad has always made me feel secure, provided for, and deeply loved. He is entirely irreplaceable in my life. I would be a drastically different person without him. I truly can’t fathom moving through the world without the security of knowing he is behind me. And yet, this relationship is something our courts rob children of every day in this country.
Women initiate close to 70 percent of all divorces. And while there is no single reason divorce happens (there are many societal struggles we can currently point to that make women more likely to leave), there is one big governmental incentive we can point to that may also contribute: which is that, when women initiate divorce, the odds are stacked in their favor.
Currently, only a handful of states encourage family judges to set custodial standards for parenting at 50/50. Though, encouragingly, there are many states currently considering legislation to make this the norm.
In many places, fathers have to beg the courts to give them custody, even when the kids or the other partner wants it. Family courts routinely consign one parent, usually the father, to mere visitor status in their children’s lives. Typically, non-custodial parents see their kids four days per month, plus a few hours one night per week, plus a few weeks during the summer. That usually works out to between 14 percent and 20 percent of the time. That sounds traumatizing.
Keep in mind that the loss of a parent is one of the most horrific events a child can suffer. And there are multiple ways to lose a parent.
It is really creepy, weird, and sexist to assume that one parent has innately better parenting skills because of their gender or that kids are somehow okay with less exposure to one parent because of their gender. How is that okay? What science is that based on? None in the psychology field.
In fact, statistics show that kids with two parents are more likely to do well in school, stay out of jail, stay away from drugs and alcohol, avoid teen pregnancy, avoid depression, and, as adults, be gainfully employed than are their peers with a single parent.
It can’t be emphasized enough that this system doesn’t just hurt men. It really hurts kids. A study that examined 150,000 arrangements conclusively found that children in joint physical custody suffered from less psychosomatic problems than those living mostly or only with one parent. Those kinds of mental health impacts have life-long consequences and yet we continue to let our courts operate recklessly in this regard.
The consequences of these decisions also weigh heavily on men. Non-custodial fathers are eight times as likely to commit suicide as are fathers with children. As leading authority Edward Kruk of the University of British Columbia has written, parents with equal parental responsibility post-divorce have “better physical and emotional health, and less stress, resulting from the sense of purpose and personal gratification associated with active parenting; the highest levels of depression occur among adults who have a child . . . with whom they are not living.”
Barring any incidents of abuse of neglect (with ample supportive evidence prior to the divorce) kids should be split 50/50. This is a no-brainer that states should immediately seek to rectify. Anything less is inhumane and has long-term, harmful consequences for all parties involved and therefore society.
Furthermore, once the custody split is agreed upon it should be permanent to create stability for the child and for the parents, barring, again, some evidence of abuse or some other unforeseen major life events that would necessitate one parent to take on more of the burden.
Ultimately, we need public policies that prioritize co-parenting and that put the financial burden for divorce on the shoulders of those who initiate it while ensuring the children’s needs are met.
To the men in my audience who are suffering one of the injustices or societal shortcomings we discussed today, I want to extend my sympathy. I want you to know you are valued and you are needed in our society, and I’m so sorry for the voices in our culture that seek to strip away your humanity or diminish you to a caricature.
Know that this feminist is fighting for equality and justice under the law for you just as I am for women. My hope is that we can see each other’s mutual goals, come together, and form an alliance that will create a better society for all of us.
The post A Woman's Take On the Men's Rights Movement was first published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and is republished here with permission. Please support their efforts.