One of the largest issues I take with those who assign themselves the label of “Men’s Rights Activist”, is the separation they try to create between feminism, which they treat as a thought-terminating-cliche, and issues that affect men in society. They aren’t separate, in fact, most of the issues facing men today fall directly under the scope of feminism. And the fact that the MRA community is almost indistinguishable from pick-up artist, incel, and red pill groups that… shall we say, don’t think very highly of women, directly lead to these issues being less acceptable to talk about in the broader conversation.
The Judicial System
One of the ways that men get the short end of the stick is via the judicial system. Whether it’s a difference in sentencing, a custody battle, or a domestic violence situation, the patriarchal view we have of women can cause a marked disadvantage for men. One of the most often talked about is the disparity in child custody cases.
Mother Knows Best
We’ve all certainly heard about this topic time and time again, unless the mother is practically braindead and shows up to court strung out, she ends up controlling custody of the child. Why is this? Even while women may in fact be more suited to nurturing a developing young mind, certainly 65% of women aren’t better suited than 35% of men to be parents, are they? And if they are, why is that? Is it solely some sort of biological difference in the way we operate? Or is it a part of our social conditioning that makes us less capable of taking care of children? I think, if anything, it’s the latter.
Another patriarchal hangup of the criminal justice system, men are more likely to be sentenced longer for the same crime a woman commits. Why is this? It has a lot to do with the societal roles that men and women operate in. Masculinity is associated with aggression, and men are seen as more responsible for their actions and less capable of rehabilitation. Women, on the other hand, are infantilized, they just took a turn down a bad path, and hell, it’s probably because a man took her down that path anyway. Women are more often seen as capable of redemption, whereas men are more likely to be looked at as failures, as deserving of their new position on the bottom rung of society. We’re disposable. Another aspect of this infantilization can be seen in domestic violence scenarios perpetrated against men.
How Can She Slap?
A man calls the police over a domestic disturbance, he has several bruises, he’s scratched, and he’s visibly upset when the police arrive. Who ends up getting arrested, the man or the woman? Almost always, the man. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure men are far more likely to initiate domestic violence, and they’re generally far more capable of causing serious damage, but female-on-male domestic violence does occur. And when it does, it’s shameful. You’re supposed to be a man. Your girlfriend “Abuses” you? You’re 50 pounds heavier than her, why are you letting her do that? Besides, what did you do to make her so mad in the first place? It’s taken far less seriously than the other way around, and men who are abused are less likely to speak up. Admitting something like that would be a mark against your manhood, and that’s hard to stomach for the average person.
Boys Don’t Cry
From an early age, men are taught by our media and by example that emotions should be held in, tucked away to deal with at a later date when no one is around to see you express them. While this has slowly begun to change with some male characters expressing vulnerability, this isn’t exactly the norm. Far too often the hero is a stoic, stonefaced, and violent individual. And that’s a good thing, we like seeing men like that. Because they’re acting out the only emotion that garners respect, fear, and envy. Rage.
Men Do It Better: Suicide
Here’s a fun fact about suicide, women attempt suicide the most. But men complete it. It’s because men are more likely to use deadlier methods. We use guns, ropes, and knives. Women are more likely to try overdosing, which has a mixed success rate. And often, can act as a cry for help. But we don’t want help. These are our thoughts, our emotions, our own burdens to bear. We’ve dealt with them alone all our lives, and we’ll deal with them alone in the end as well.
Rape: In Prison, or by women, It’s Treated Like a Joke
Don’t drop the soap, a classic. How many times have you heard it before? If you’re an adult, probably a lot. And when you were a child, you somehow heard it a lot as well. Whether on an episode of Bugs Bunny with Yosemite Sam ending up in a cell with a large burly gay-coded man eying him like a piece of meat, or Spongebob telling Gary not to drop the soap. Prison rape is a punch line, it’s funny. Hell, it’s part of the punishment, isn’t it? We send people to prison to suffer, not to rehabilitate them, so what happens happens. But it isn’t just prison rape that isn’t taken seriously, it’s all-male rape. A 16-year-old has sex with a teacher, how do you feel about it? For the average person, first, you need to know the gender of the student. The gut impulse when hearing about a 16-year-old boy being raped by his teacher is, “Wow, I wish I was that lucky when I was a kid”. And in the case of an adult woman raping an adult man, it’s a source of ridicule. Until recently, it was legally impossible for a man to be raped by a woman. And the majority would ask why you didn’t just throw her off you if you didn’t want it to happen. We treat men as if they have far more agency than women, far more control over their lives. And it ends up hurting us all.
Fixing the Problem
So… how do we go about fixing these issues? The answer is complicated, and we’re all responsible for it, women and men. The first step is to recognize these problems, not just in broader society, but in our own behavior, our actions, and our words. We need to display our vulnerability more, we need to give each other more opportunities to do so, and we need to eliminate the toxic aspects of our personalities that lead to these awful outcomes. And I’m not just talking about men, we’re all responsible for the society we live in, and both men and women need to work towards creating a better one. And hopefully, we can do this soon because, in the meantime, men are hurting all around the world.