Men’s Rights Activists list: Completely unpacking the anti-Feminist Movement

Men’s rights activists are a group of people who believe men and boys face an uphill battle. They feel that they have been overlooked or ignored because they are male.

Common concerns for this group include custody battles, false accusations of rape, economic inequality, state violence against males (e.g., war), lack of services for male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, education neglect (boys falling behind girls in school).

men's rights activists

The Goal of Men’s rights activists

Their primary goal is to raise awareness among the public so that the main issues can be addressed. One way to get involved with the movement is by donating time or money through the A Voice For Men and White Ribbon Campaign. You can also join one of the many social media groups on Facebook like Justice 4 Male.

Men’s rights activists are often misunderstood. They’re not trying to take away women’s rights, but they want men and boys to have equal opportunities as well as protection.

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What Men’s Rights activists believe

They feel like they have been left out of the discussion on gender equality and want to be heard. The movement is for white males and includes men of color, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented groups.

  • It’s not often that men speak up about their problems. We are taught to “suck it up” and “man up.” Women have had the opportunity to talk about feminism for years, but when we finally get a chance to be heard, some people want us silenced. It gets even worse when we talk about our male privilege or other issues affecting men and women.
  • Male rights activists exist to give voice and representation to those who feel like they don’t have a say in society because of their gender identity.
  • Men’s rights advocates say that feminism has focused too much on female empowerment at the expense of addressing male problems, which can sometimes result in women doing better than their male counterparts when obtaining power or positions with higher pay.
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The five main men’s rights groups

1) National Coalition for Men

2) A Voice For Men

3) National Organization of Men Against Sexism (NOMAS)

4) Fathers and Families (F&F)

5) Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE)

How far men’s rights activists push their agenda?

Paul Elam (founder, editor A Voice for Men): “In the relatively small world of men’s rights activism (MRAs), A Voice for Men is unquestionably one of the most popular and prolific websites. We routinely see 1-2 million visits per month from a global audience.”

Damien Williams, Australia: “NOMAS holds a number of events with various feminist organisations as part of its political lobbying activities, but it has no membership base or any direct connection with grassroots community activism. NOMAS often plays a role in forming coalitions around specific concerns such as Male Genital Mutilation. However this is usually initiated by concerned individuals that NOMAS assists with propaganda and lobbying activities. Otherwise NOMAS has no real membership base or strong presence in the community.”

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Robert Franklin, United States: “F&F is a small group of dedicated activists who give their time to work on issues that directly affect fathers and children. We have a national headquarters, but most of our members are based in state organizations separate from F&F. The groups I’m in touch with seem to be active at the grass roots level, working hard on custody issues and family law reform.”

Keith Roush (founder, executive director SAVE): “In addition to our print magazine, newsletters and websites, we conduct public educational events such as conferences across professional disciplines relevant to preventing domestic violence including medicine (psychiatry, pediatrics), social work, law and many others. We also work with community programs for domestic violence prevention such as shelters and providers of clinical services to people experiencing domestic abuse. We have a steadily growing membership base of men, women and students who have attended our training courses.”

What the common goal/vision among men’s rights groups is

Paul Elam: “The primary thrust of A Voice For Men’s activism is focused on raising awareness via the dissemination of information that has been almost completely marginalized by mainstream culture — information about things like male victimization in family courts; the extraordinarily high incidence of sexual assault against men; discrimination against males in higher education admissions policies; societal indifference to’fraternity hazing’ and bullying; the disparate impact of societal expectations about male performance and behavior; false allegations used as a tool to gain custody of children in divorce proceedings, etc.”

Damien Williams: “The ultimate goal of NOMAS is to end all forms of discrimination, including sexism, homophobia, racism, classism and ablism. We seek to end all domination/subordination relationships over our lives by larger social structures (government), religions or political parties.”

Robert Franklin: “Fathers and Families seeks equal treatment for fathers in family courts. Court reform means changes in state laws that govern divorce and custody disputes. The only way we can achieve this is through grassroots organizing at the local level across the country.”

Keith Roush: “We want to stop domestic violence by changing our societal attitudes and expectations around masculinity, teaching healthy relationship skills to children in the family, school and community setting. This is essential so that people can form healthy relationships as adults.”

How do they define the men’s rights movement

Paul Elam: “The men’s human rights movement (MHRM) is an evolving collection of independent groups with varying agendas that loosely share a desire to see men improve their lives through activism informed by ideals of equality. From the Men’s Rights Movement we get a focus on issues like reproductive choice (including male reproductive controls). We also have libertarians who object on principle to any government intrusion into personal affairs. Then there are the anti-feminists who oppose what they see as an attack on masculinity, family and patriarchy. There are also a large number of people within the MHRM who want little more than to be heard — whether or not their complaints about society’s treatment of men can be seen as legitimate.”

Damien Williams: “NOMAS is a nonprofit organization working towards the abolition of sexism, racism, homophobia and all forms of discrimination through transformative social change that creates gender justice. Our movement has many faces, voices and visions. Like a great sprawling oak tree we encompass feminists, activists, scholar-activists (academics), artists/writers/poets/actors/musicians who speak out and create art with political content for a new vision of society based on gender justice. We are liberals, progressives, radicals and humanists.”

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Robert Franklin: “Fathers and Families does not fit neatly into a pat form of activism. Many fathers want an end to the bias they see in family courts, but also want reform of laws governing divorce. Reform is what we work for because that is realistic.”

Keith Roush: “We advocate for healthy relationships which include mutual respect, physical safety without abusive behaviors or controlling dynamics, psychological well being with no consideration for power or control, integrity/authenticity with love and trust as the base communication model.”

How have men’s rights activists been active

Paul Elam: “The MHRM has been active in many venues, some of which I’ve already mentioned above. AVfM is a place to help us organize and coordinate our efforts.”

Damien Williams: “NOMAS organizes through an array of activities such as marches, conferences, reading groups demonstrating the multidimensionality of gender justice, community organizing (Men’s Accountability Groups), policies/legislation reform work (social justice advocacy). For example NOMAS has worked with NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault to develop legislation for male victims using their voices, insight and expertise about sexual assault. The result was HB 1018 Male Victims’ Equal Right Act which recently passed at the NC General Assembly.”

Robert Franklin: “We have done everything from hold rallies and protests to lobby elected officials, to getting articles and op-eds published in major newspapers. We’ve set up information tables at community events, produced videos, had radio shows and so on.” Keith Roush: “The Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan has been involved in organizing many community events including the Celebration of Hope which is an annual conference on male suicide prevention. This includes coalitions with other organizations that are helping promote the vision of a healthy relationship with women and men where there is respect for everyone.”

What do they most want society to understand about their movement?

Paul Elam: “I think it would be good if society understood that we are not at war with feminism or women — we simply have no use for a significant portion of feminist ideology. Further, any woman who is not actively engaged in the MHRM should understand that she has good reason to be suspicious about what her leaders are doing behind closed doors.”

Damien Williams: “We would like society to understand that gender justice involves everyone because we all have a stake in dismantling patriarchal institutions.”

Robert Franklin: “The most important thing people need to know about Fathers and Families is this: We are not an advocacy group. We don’t represent fathers who commit domestic violence or abuse children. What we do advocate for is equal treatment of fathers in family courts and co-equal parenting where possible.”

Keith Roush: “We want our youth to know that there is hope if they will stop their destructive behavior and seek help.”

What do they most want society to stop doing about their movement?

Paul Elam: “Stop its relentless demonization. The opposition doesn’t seem to be able to have a conversation with us without resorting to attacks, so I would say the first thing that needs to stop is the rhetoric of hate. Think what you will about our movement, but at least recognize that we are not haters.”

Damien Williams: NOMAS requests that people stop using the term “feminism” when speaking about gender equality as feminism encompasses only one perspective on gender issues (for example, patriarchy theory). We need a new language for conversations around gender justice to continue; new language for talking about the intersection of class, ability, race, and other oppressions that are fueling the perception and reality of inequality.”

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Robert Franklin: “Smear campaigns by those who don’t like what we have to say.”

Keith Roush: “Stop using the concept of “fatherhood” as a means to justify women-blaming male violence. As long as education programs and policy makers consider men or masculine identities primarily responsible for preventing sexual assault or intimate partner violence, they denigrate women’s roles in these areas.”

What do they most worry about their movement?

Paul Elam: I worry that our side is not very good at getting out its message without letting it get muddied by anger. We should try harder to reach people, and I think we could do that without alienating them in the process.”

Damien Williams: “We now have a generation of young men who are being raised by women on an epidemic level. When this new fatherlessness becomes prevalent, these boys will be hyper-masculinized because they will not have male mentors or positive influences to teach them how to be caring and emotional men. There is a constant degrading of masculinity in our culture today which requires fathers to push down their emotions so as not to appear weak; women don’t want or trust men capable of deep emotion, vulnerability, anger and strength.”

Robert Franklin: “That we won’t be able to convince legislators that due process needs to apply when someone is accused of committing domestic violence against a spouse or partner.”

Keith Roush: “I worry that people’s understanding of domestic violence and sexual assault will continue to be shaped by what we see in the media. The majority of attention goes toward male perpetrators and female victims, which is not reflective of reality for many people who experience these issues.”

What do they most want their movement to become?

Paul Elam: I want it to stop being a movement on behalf of men specifically, but for everyone. We have trouble recognizing that feminist goals are just as much our goals as they are the goals of women, so I would say we need to be more inclusive when planning our next steps.

Damien Williams: “Feminism needs to embrace intersectionality because there are many women of color who are survivors. I want them to develop a world view that incorporates their concerns and experiences.”

Robert Franklin: “I think it should change from an activist movement into a research and educational one, individually if possible.”

Keith Roush: “That the focus on gender equality shifts away from the narrative of domestic violence to create sustainable social change for all genders and help us realize other intersections of power such as class, ability, race, etc.

What is the last thing they want me to know about men’s rights activists?

Paul Elam: That we’re not going away.”

Damien Williams: For Black people, please consider looking at NOMAS’ work specifically around your experience with racism within the context of gender and relationships. There is a Black-specific challenge to the dominant narrative.

Conclusion

The Men’s Rights Movement is a complex and evolving topic. In this post, we’ve looked at the history of men’s rights activism in America, as well as some current events taking place that are shaping the movement today.

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