One weekend I decided to play the Reggie Yates BBC documentary, ‘in At War’, for a bit of background noise whilst baking. I put it on and started weighing out flour. It wasn’t long before I was completely distracted from what I was doing, and was totally transfixed by the idea of a ‘men’s rights movement’. A concept that has completely bypassed my radar, apart from the time I was confronted with the ‘Menimist’ feed on twitter, which I remember hurriedly closing once realizing what utter shit was being spouted. I suppose I’ve been privileged to have been surrounded for most of my life with arty, middle-class liberals, so in many ways this was a huge blow to my safe, feminist bubble. However, in this documentary, I wasn’t seeing activists with a cause, I was seeing a group of frustrated men. Frustrations often misdirected.
I’m very much of the opinion that all men are feminists, or at least they should be. In theory the word ‘feminism’ is just a reminder of the struggle women have had to endure, in order to get basic equal rights as men and how the cause is still being fought- a comment, which a male acquaintance of mine would be quick to question, asking, “What gender inequalities still exist in our modern society?” I think any stoic feminist, would explode if they were asked that, but I was able to stay calm and do some reflecting on the matter.
I admit it, personally I haven’t had the misfortune to experience much sexism in my life, and for that I am eternally grateful. However, I can think of two examples; the first being when I took Product Design for A level. My teacher would always respond to me asking for help by doing my practical work for me, rather than taking the time to explain how to do it, and ultimately teaching me. Was this because I was a girl? I can’t be sure, but I never noticed him doing it to any of the boys in the class. The second evokes more of a surge of anger in me. Once, while a male friend and I were speaking at the pub, we were approached by a group of middle-aged men, who asked to sit on our table with us. We said yes, and they started to ask my friend questions; such as “what do you study?”, “Why don’t you want your own business?”, and “is this your girlfriend?”. Ignoring me the whole time, the men began to start grilling my friend on why I wasn’t his girlfriend and why making money wasn’t his main goal in life. When I tried to jet in saying that I, in fact, did want to own my own business, they said, “the best hope you have is lying under a rich man”. Fuck them. And fuck their wives for marrying such misogynistic pigs.
So inequalities, be they legal or social, do still exist in our society, but- as my friend Chris did in the pub by asking the men to leave after that comment- we can stand together and create a fairer society to live in. And that’s not even to mention those inequalities experienced by women all around the World by more conservative cultures.
It pains me when feminists are often pushed into this negative spot light, despite current campaigns, such as He For She: Stand Together, promoted by Emma Watson, and despite popular images of Benedict Cumberbatch in a ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ T-Shirt.
I wanted to ask the men in the BBC documentary, “are you so scared to open your minds in the slightest in case your brains fall out?” The documentary also heavily featured an 18 year old vlogger, who delivered clips promoting men’s rights. And this is where I shock all of you, and say that I actually agreed with him (on some issues). But no, that’s not shocking at all, because just as I believe that no woman should ever be raped, I also believe that no man should be either. And we know domestic abuse happens to men, just as it happens to women, especially with the prosecution of Sharon Edwards for abusing and murdering her husband being in the news last month.
This is where I can’t comprehend the men’s rights movement, why would men direct their power as a group towards only promoting equality to one gender, when they could have a far greater impact for humanity by promoting these issues as a human right? Our binary view on gender seems to distort the actual conversation: we are all humans discussing inequalities happening to other humans. I think the answer lies in the fact that very few people think that men’s rights aren’t just as important as women’s, but the position of male privilege is what sways the argument.
Roosh V also features heavily in the Men At War documentary . He is like eating a mouldy piece of food, and although you don’t finish eating it, there is still a bad taste left in your mouth. His “satirical” suggestion that the way to reduce rape is to make it legal on private property makes him a definite contender for most-vile-person-alive-right-now award. He has travelled the World to deliver lectures not only on how to get men ‘laid’, but in many ways to incite his ideals of how all women should conform to the extremely out-dated patriarchal model of society. I mean, really, who is he kidding? Or so I thought, but there are actually men who lap this up, and what the documentary demonstrated is that it is mostly a movement of young men who are feeling lost, unempowered, and replaced; leading to a sense of insecurity and defeat. Of course I am completely pro-freedom of speech, but when you are actively promoting inequalities; reversing the struggle women have been fighting since early 1800s, then you have to question this man’s sanity. There is a case for the argument that at present there is such a thing as female privilege, particularly when it comes to allegations of rape and abuse, however this is completely unsupported by statistics, but that is not to excuse it. Why are people so concerned with splitting society in a binary way: blacks against whites, males against females? Is it not beneficial and more progressive for society to accept the individual values of each of its members, by allowing them to flourish in an atmosphere of respect and tolerance by giving equal opportunities to all?
That’s a big one. But as we are moving more towards a gender fluid view of the World, “why aren’t we addressing some of these questions from a humanitarian stance, as opposed to a gender based one?” I suppose in this particular instance, FGM could be considered a gender based issue because it affects women exclusively, but that’s not to say men aren’t affected at all: these are their mothers, daughters, and sisters. I would argue that even these topics require all members to be present at the table.
And, Roosh V, your comments such as “women cut their hair short because they are too lazy to maintain themselves and are choosing to be ugly on purpose” are not benefitting anyone. Except that they encouraging us to discuss the importance of equality.
Words and Art by Harriet Speed