Are Men’s Rights Legitimate?

BOR“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

There’s been an awful lot of banter regarding something known as a ‘Men’s Rights Activist,’ or an MRA. I recently became involved in a discussion on one of my social networks on this subject, and it became as such that I reason the subject warrants more attention than what can be discussed in 140 characters, or less. To be sure, there are people who identify as an MRA who engage in some pretty awful behavior. These types of people exist in almost every grassroots movement that exists. They are usually drummed out, condemned or forced to act on their own or in their own venues.

There is a sub-forum on Reddit that goes by the name ‘Men’s Rights‘. This group is referred to quite often in certain circles as being representative of MRAs, but it is not an MRA group. In spite of the large number of persons who participate in this forum, there are three glaring problems. One, many of them are not men, they are adolescents. Two, much of what they are communicating about has nothing to do with ‘rights.’ Three, connecting this group to an MRA is ignoring the fact that the ‘A‘ is missing. There is no mention in their name of ‘Activism,’ and the forum is not participating in ‘activism.’ So,

Let’s Break It Down…

I’ve done a considerable amount of research over the years regarding activism by adults for the purpose of protecting or advancing the rights of men. For those who are unaware of what this issue is composed of, it often seems confusing to see the words ‘Men’s Rights.‘ The first question that comes to mind by many is along the lines of ‘why is this necessary?.’ That is a normal reaction, because there is no denying (at least here in the United States) that our society is decidedly patriarch-based, with a long history of discrimination against women, and the struggle for women to gain the rights that men have had all along, is ongoing.

Just clicking on any number of websites will reveal that there is still a long way to go in many areas, including equal pay, reproductive rights, etc. There is also the sometimes common thread that exists in some well-known Men’s Rights communities that ‘feminism‘ is a detriment to men, and has done damage to the male gender. I do not agree that Feminism, as a whole, has done this. There are subsets of Feminism, though, which are extremely problematic, and I’ll address the subject toward the end of this piece.

There are a number of problems that are unique to men, and these issues frequently fall under the larger category of civil or human rights. This is where people like me come in. I am a civil rights activist, and my activism is based on the notion that civil rights should be a forward-moving agenda that seeks to bring the disenfranchised to equal status with the standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as put forth some sixty years ago by the United Nations. Thus, I do not support any movement that seeks to gain equality for their members at the expense of the equality of the members of another movement. This is one of the reasons I have always had issue with Affirmative Action. The reality that African-Americans totally deserve equality is completely without question. That another group, any group, should lose rights in the process is unacceptable.

When civil or human rights issues come to my attention, or when I am requested to advocate for the civil or human rights of a specific demographic, I do so in the context that all demographics should be on par with respect to the above referenced Universal Declaration. Thus, I often find myself representing the groups that most people are familiar with. The LGBT community, the African-American community, Women’s Rights communities, Latinos (of which I am part of), the Disabled (of which I am also a part of) etc.

Occasionally, I advocate for Men’s Rights, and do so in the contexts I have laid out above. When men are discriminated against in areas of child custody, unfair hiring practices in predominately female professions and professions that involve working with young children (specifically young girls), when men are denied housing due to the perception that they are potential pedophiles and/or sexual abusers, alimony related defenses or other areas that are specific to the violations of the equal rights of men, I get involved. I write letters, circulate petitions, assist in drafting legal documents, etc.

When I am engaged in these activities, I do so in the capacity of a ‘Men’s Rights Activist.’ However, when I am engaged in the previously referenced issues, I am an LGBT Activist, a Feminism Activist, an African-American Rights Activist, a Latino Rights Activist, a Disabled Persons Activist, etc., etc. All of these fall under the larger umbrella of Human or Civil Rights Activism, which is what I have been engaging in for years. All of these build toward the betterment of our society, and all serve the common good.

Blanketing the issues of Men’s Rights under the auspices of an Internet forum that is likely utilized by teen-aged boys, posting some utterly vile, sexist and demeaning comments, images and videos while acting anonymously is disingenuous. As I stated at the start of this piece, what goes on within the Reddit sub-forum is not Men’s Rights Activism. If this is your impression of what an MRA is, you’ve got some research to do.

Considering That…

Let’s address the issue of websites and venues that are, indeed, run by adults. One of the most commonly referred to of these is ‘A Voice For Men.’ According to their Mission Statement, this group takes issue with a sub-group of feminism. From what I can tell, their main gripes are against gender feminists. I have gripes against gender feminists, as well. There has been some flak lately regarding this site being mentioned in the Spring 2012 edition of the ‘Intelligence Report,’ which is a magazine produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The entry states,

“A Voice for Men is essentially a mouthpiece for its editor, Paul Elam, who proposes to “expose misandry [hatred of men] on all levels in our culture.” Elam tosses down the gauntlet in his mission statement: “AVfM regards feminists, manginas [a derisive term for weak men], white knights [a similar derisive term, for males who identify as feminists] and other agents of misandry as a social malignancy. We do not consider them well intentioned or honest agents for their purported goals and extend to them no more courtesy or consideration than we would clansmen [sic], skinheads, neo Nazis or other purveyors of hate.”, an affiliated website that vilifies women by name who have made supposedly false rape allegations (among other crimes against masculinity), is one of Elam’s signature “anti-hate” efforts. “Why are these women not in prison?” the site asks.”

Personally, I wouldn’t call them a ‘hate site,‘ but some of the content I have found there can be defined as ‘vitriolic.’ While there is some content there that may be defined as hateful toward certain individuals or groups of individuals, I have not been able to find anything on the SPLC site that labels AVfM as a ‘hate site.’ This group is, however, on an SPLC list that bears the categorical name ‘Misogyny.’

There is a problem with this, though. In spite of the general consensus on the Internet that AVfM has a definite purpose that is not friendly toward individuals and groups they consider to be anti-male, I have not found anything on their site (other than some comments) that fits the description of ‘Misogyny,’ which is a hatred of women, in general. Someone can hate a woman, or a group of women, or be a complete jerk toward women, or even be sexist. This does not make them a misogynist. What makes a misogynist is someone who hates women, and there are not very many of those around. There is a movement that is seeking to redefine the word, or change it’s meaning in the vernacular, adding other behavior characteristics that are outside the definitive of a misogynist. The only thing that will accomplish, though, will be similar to the differences between the vernacular and scientific community’s definition of ‘theory.’ The disagreements will be endless.

I spent about two hours on the AVfM site, reading various articles and watching some videos. There is a lot of content there, and a good portion of it is by women authors and commentators. Some of it is pretty mainstream, and I find myself in agreement with parts of that content. Some of it would be considered radical by the mainstream, and I find myself in disagreement with most of that content. Overall, I would say it’s not a site for everyone, but I won’t condemn it as I would a website that venerates Hitler or the KKK. If their type of commentary, opinion, etc., angers you, it might be a good idea to just avoid visiting them.

Now, let’s look at another website that advocates for men, called ‘The Good Men Project.’ I spent about the same amount of time there as I did on AVfM. Their website says, in part,

“The Good Men Project is a glimpse of what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century,” the press raved when we launched. Finally, “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. In fact, The Good Men Project is not so much a magazine as a social movement. We are fostering a national discussion centered around modern manhood and the question, “What does it mean to be a good man”?

“Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be. Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world. The Good Men Project is a place where that happens. We’re glad to have you along for the ride.”

This is a huge, huge website that tackles a myriad of issues and the amount of content is mind-boggling. The section that deals with Men’s Rights include the male gender role,  the negative portrayal of men in the media, educating boys, making government programs gender-neutral or accompanied by a male equivalent, better treatment of men in the area of false accusations of sexual assault, reproductive rights, removing the notion that all men are potential rapists/pedophiles, anti-male double standards, gender feminism, and father’s rights.

These issues are addressed in a way that I cannot see being offensive to anyone but only the most radical gender feminists. In fact, I have found this entire website to be intriguing and engaging enough, and in line with what I would see as acceptable to the mainstream, that I joined several of their mailing lists.

Back On Point…

So, are men’s rights legitimate? Yes, of course they are. Is everyone who advocates for Men’s Rights anti-woman, sexist or supportive of misogynist rhetoric or communication? No, of course not. Are their people who say they are MRAs who are actually anti-women, sexists and engage in behavior that would be considered extremely negative toward women? Yes, there are. But definitions are important, and one can call themselves whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean they are accurate in their description or identification.

The individuals who choose to blanket everyone, male or female, who advocates for the civil rights of any group – men included – based on places such as the ‘Men’s Rights‘ sub-forum on Reddit are not only doing a disservice to those who are fighting real civil rights violations, but are making utter and complete fools of themselves.

Freedom And Liberty For All…

You’ve read the above quote in my writing often. It was coined by my friend RJ Evans, who founded and hosts the Internet Radio program, ‘American Heathen Radio.’ This concept is an accurate descriptor of why I advocate for the civil and human rights for everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. It is also why I avoid groups who choose to eviscerate members of other groups, regardless of their position in our societies, or who choose to suppress the voices of those who might have dissenting opinions.

I referred earlier to ‘Gender Feminism,’ and that I take issue with it. Personally, I support what is commonly known as ‘Equity Feminism,‘ sometimes referred to as ‘First Wave Feminism,’ which is described on Wikipedia as,

“…an ideology rooted in classical liberalism, and that aims for full civil and legal equality for women.”

In 1854, feminist activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, said to the New York State Legislature,

“We ask for no better laws than those you have made for yourselves. We need no other protection than that which your present laws secure to you.”

Those who have issues with equity feminism often do because equity feminism does not consider it inherently wrong if a women makes the choice to stay at home as full-time homemakers and/or mothers. I’ve met many equity feminists, and I’ve yet to meet one who believes that this should be forced upon a women, but if she chooses to do so, that choice is just as acceptable as choosing a career, and neither should infringe on her human and civil rights. Many equity feminists I’ve known also view genders as being fundamentally different. I would tend to agree with this.

As I have referred to above, I have serious issues with the concept of ‘gender feminism,‘ particularly because many of those who advocate for gender feminism have not strayed much from Christina’ Sommer’s original descriptive, dating back to 1992, in which she says gender feminism is,

“…a gynocentric and misandric branch of feminism” that “typically criticize contemporary gender roles and aim to eliminate them altogether.”

I’ve met some pretty hateful gender feminists, some even agreeing with concept that men should be reduced to about 1% of the population.

Final Thoughts…

Human and Civil Rights are for everyone, equally, regardless of lifestyle choice, gender identification, race, religion or lack thereof, creed, ability or disability or ethnicity. A group that seeks to reduce or eliminate the rights of another is not advocating for their own civil rights, but the denigration of another’s. This includes men’s rights. By the way, men’s rights do not include the right to rape a wife. Rape is rape, regardless. Period. End of story.

To those who wish to make comparisons to the Human and Civil Rights of any demographic with actual hate groups, please understand that hate groups have little regard for human rights as outlined by the United Nation’s Universal Declaration. Comparing the real issues that surround real discriminatory practices against men with white supremacist groups is indicative of the misunderstanding or willful ignorance to what the goals are of those who seek equality for everyone.

Comments are, as usual, open to everyone.


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  46 comments for “Are Men’s Rights Legitimate?

  1. Dianne Leonard
    October 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Al, thank you for your very thoughtful article on men and men’s rights. I’m currently reading Unnatural Selection: Choosing boys over girls and the consequences of a world full of men, by Mara Hvistendahl, which particularly focuses on the problems (mostly in Asia and eastern Europe) of gender imbalance. Have you read this? How do you think it would fit in to your comments. P.S. I’m a 60 yr old woman–also a disability rights activist (me) and anti-racist activist (multi-racial family.) I agree with you–it all goes together…

    • October 27, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      I have not read this, Dianne, but I just put it on my wish list to get when my Social Security check comes in. Thank you for your comments, and for speaking out for us (disabled) and others.

  2. October 27, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    I once thought seriously about writing a post in which I attempted to explain that while I did not consider myself to be a “men’s rights activist,” I do support a broad human rights agenda that certainly includes men. I figured I would be branded an MRA, so I didn’t end up writing it. Reading your post makes me think I made a mistake.

    • October 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      VJack, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a long time, and I cannot recall one instance where I did not find your articles engaging, informative and well written. I thought about not writing this, as well, for the same reasons. However, I had to consider the activism I have done in the past for men’s rights issues and some personal points of view.

      I’ve received a lot of pushback via email, which I will not print because they did not include any threats. However, they were decidedly negative and accusatory. I just wonder why those people will not comment here, in this public forum.

      Keep it up, V. Thank you for your contributions and your hard work.

  3. October 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Another thoughtful, thought-provoking, informative, and may I say enlightened piece from Al Stefanelli. Thank you!

  4. October 27, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you for the reasonable look at AVfM. As Managing Editor of the site, I would like to clarify a couple of things. A lot of our community were so upset some were literally suicidal when they were branded a “hate group.” However the SPLC had, the last we checked (maybe there’s something new I missed) stepped back and denied calling AVfM a “hate group” but claimed they were merely expressing “concern” that there were comments that we were a “potential” such group because some of the commentary from some commenters is vitriolic and negative. However, we live in a society where a lot of men have had some truly horrible experiences and we generally let men who’ve been hurt by a frequently misandrist culture have their say–and we often argue with them or try to point them toward a more positive outlook. We also have zero tolerance for discussions of advocating violence.

    Furthermore, we do have a large number of female authors, and quite a few female commenters and financial donors. These are women who have tough skins and do not turn into wilting lillies and swoon and say “ooh you hate all women because you said something mean.” Frankly it’s nice to see, because when you look at mainstream entertainment it’s shocking how frequently anti-male commentary is found in movies, TV, etc. and gets a free pass (“men are dogs,” “men are pigs,” “men are selfish,” “men can’t commit” etc.) but let someone fly with an intemperate “women are selfish bitches” comment and suddenly our WHOLE SITE is a “hate site” that’s “misogynist.” Whatever, right?

    Also, the site is not a “mouthpiece for Paul Elam.” I know, because he doesn’t tell me what I can or cannot write, and he doesn’t tell other site contributors what to write either. We have debates with each other, right on the front page and in the comments themselves. I’ve publicly disgagreed with Paul more than once, as have others who help manage the site. If you ever speak to Paul you will find him to be quite the gentleman, although he does use salty language.

    Yes, sometimes we get intemperate. From my perspective, when you’re talking about a group that is facing issues (and we fight real issues, like getting men falsely accused of crimes out of jail, or going after corrupt prosecutors or judges–we ACTIVELY DO THAT, we’re working three cases right now and looking to take on more), you are going to have those who are soft-spoken and gentle, and some who are not soft-spoken and are abrasive becomes sometimes people can only hear abrasive. I used to cringe at some of Paul’s occasionally abrasive tone, but I’ve cared about men’s issues for more than 20 years and I’ve noticed that when you’re nice and polite, frequently you’re patted on the head or ignored. Sometimes being rude is the only way past that. That said, we’ve often welcomed people who showed a change of heart and been willing to work with us or at least try to come to some sort of mutual respect.

    Again I thank you for your reasoned analysis and you are welcome back. I would also encourage your readers to try giving us a try. Get past the occasional intemperate remark or commenter who goes over the top, and really READ some of our discussions, and I think you will be impressed by the diversity of opinion we have and allow. I know because I would never have accepted the position of Managing Editor (which I will note is an unpaid position, it’s something I do out of love for the work) if it were not a site that scrupulously avoids advocacy for violence or oppression or anybody, or that “hates women.”

    We also have some radio shows of our own. Think you might like to be a guest some time? Let us

    • October 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Thank you for your comments, Dean. I had not actually expected you and Paul to comment on this piece. I had not been aware of the situations involving the three cases you are working. I’d like a little more info on that, or at least point me to a link if the info is on the net.

  5. October 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Correcting typo, meant to say some are abrasive BECAUSE sometimes the only thing some people can hear is when you get abrasive, they dismiss you and pat you on the head otherwise. Paul’s pretty open about it: he (and I myself) went through years of finding out that being nice sometimes just gets you walked over by some people, and getting in their face is sometimes what’s called for. But it’s a delicate balance. I think one of the things that best makes it clear is when a story circulated that one of our frequent most virulent critics turned out to have contracted cancer, our Editor In Chief John the Other put out a fundraising call–a serious one–to help her out with her medical bills. She hates us. We don’t care, she’s a human being. So if that means anything to you, “abrasive” and “hateful” aren’t the same thing. We don’t do hateful. Angry yes. Even mean, sometimes. But hateful? No. There’s a big difference between those words.

  6. JMQuinn
    October 28, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Another well thought out article, Al. I’ve been an “MRA” for over 20 years before there was such a word as a Men’s Rights Activist. I’ve always called myself a Men’s Rights Advocate. I read Warren Farrell’s book, “Why Men Are the Way They Are” and it was an eye-opener. It actually made me cry in that women are “sold” this bill of goods by society that we are actually better than men. One example he gave was a picture of a diamond ring in MS Magazine – of all places. Over the years the diamond got considerable larger. Women were “told” that a man should spend two months’ salary on their engagement ring. Who made up THAT rule? These ads weren’t directed at men since I’m pretty sure not many men were reading MS Magazine at the time. The ads were directed at women and “informing” women what they should “expect” in the size of a diamond engagement ring. Expect! This book got me on the path to seeing how we perceive and treat men.

    Ads are famous for treating Dad or “the man” like a compete dolt. I remember one insurance ad where the man’s DOG was smarter than he was, going online to get insurance quotes when the guy was still using the phone. Years ago, I saw a 20/20 program on abused men. One woman, who went to prison for assaulting her husband, was laughing. None of the women took the fact that they were abusers seriously. Why should they when no one else took the issue of abused men seriously either? A while ago, there was a guest editorial in our newspaper by a man writing about Domestic Violence Week. His entire piece was only about violence towards women. I wrote a counter letter with the “rest of the story” telling about abused men and it was published as a guest editorial also. My quote from the letter that they put at the top of the page was, “Women are just as capable of being physically and emotionally abusive as men.”

    The best part of that editorial was I was working as a database trainer for high school kids, mostly boys, and they asked me if I had written it. I told them yes I did. They excitedly told me that their friend had an assignment to do a talk on an article from the newspaper and he picked my editorial because “he had never seen anyone stand up for men before.” Sad, huh?

    As one activist to another, sometimes all it takes is pointing out the unfairness of it all. Last but not least, my favorite question to ask is how many women voted for women’s suffrage? It’s surprising how many people get it wrong. The answer, of course, is none because it was only MEN who voted to give women the right to vote.

    Julie Q

    • October 28, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I’ve long since been aware of the way men are portrayed in advertisements, and I’ve written about it a time or two. It’s a conversation that my wife and I have every time we see one of those TV commercials as you described. Both of us get very irritated.

      Thank you, Julie, for your comments and for pointing out the 20/.20 program, which I remember watching (it was a while back, if I remember – a matter of years).

  7. Karmakin
    October 28, 2012 at 12:28 am

    The problem, as I see it, is gender essentialism. Basically the idea that either through biology or through culture, that there are distinct differences between the genders AND that those differences should be descriptive or proscriptive on them.

    At least to me, that’s basically sexism in a nutshell.

    And yeah, there’s a lot of it in both feminism and masculinism, to be honest, I think it’s more that there’s a sort of feedback loop of sorts which encourages more and more essentialist behavior. I’m not willing to blame anybody for this, per se, but all the same I don’t have any patience or time for it.

    For what it’s worth, where modern feminism, I think, goes way off the rails and misses the entire point of what and why yes, there are some issues in which we need to raise men up, is that it’s very common to entirely reject outright the notion of situational privilege. The concept that someone who is disprivileged in one situation might be privileged in another. The problem is that by doing that you are basically embracing essentialism and denying any notion of intersectionality.

    • October 28, 2012 at 1:05 am

      Good comment. Allow me to point out, though, that at AVfM, which is considered by many to be the flagship voice of the MRM online, we are not masculinists. In fact, as the site owner, I have steadfastly refused to allow any promotion of masculinism on the site. Aside from violence advocacy, religiosity and bigotry, it is one of the few lines I do not allow to be crossed. I do this to avoid the pitfalls of ideology and its corrupting influence, part of which is gender essentialism.

      Though we focus on men and boys, AVfM supports human rights advocacy across the board.

      • Karmakin
        October 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

        My apologies, I use that for the lack of a better word. I mean that to be diplomatic rather than using MRA, which I think is a bit loaded at this point.

  8. October 28, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I can’t say I agree with every word of this article. That being said, my differences with it are far outweighed by the fact that this is the first article I have seen addressing AVfM, written by a non MRA, that was actually objective and accomplished after a good faith examination of the material we carry on the site.

    Very thoughtful work.

    Paul Elam, publisher

    • October 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      When someone demands that I stay away from a website, it immediately triggers my Spidey senses, and the journalist in me is compelled to go see what the fuss is all about.

      I’ve read your comments here, as well as Dean’s, and I reason that further delving into the site is warranted. So, I’ll be peeking around a bit more. Of course, this will add more kindling to the fires, but over the last almost thirty years of writing I’ve developed a pretty thick skin and an editorial fire suit that, so far, has not driven me from my profession

      Thanks, again, for your comments.

  9. October 28, 2012 at 1:24 am

    Al, thanks for the second link – The Good Men Project. I had not heard of them and plan on digging into that site this weekend. Great article!

  10. some guy
    October 28, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Hi Al,

    I agreed with the first third and the last third of this post, but I think you are wildly offbase in how you characterized reddit, avoiceformen, and the good men project. And you ignored the elephant in the room, which is which precisely which groups is most responsible for the need for mens rights, which group actively works against mens rights, and which group villifies men and makes monsters of mens rights activists.

    But I am very pleased to see Paul Elam in the comments here, and I hope Al, that you can create a dialogue with him, and even with Tom Matlack of the good men project.

    And I do agree with you that in any large group you will find a bell curve of people with diverse attitudes and it is wrong to judge these groups by focusing on any particular point in that bell curve and then exclaiming the whole group to be like that.

    We know that many if not most radical feminists are transphobic and that radical feminist has a rich and ongoing history of transphobia. And we know that contemporary feminists actively work against the rights of men in custody, and vilify mens rights activists. But we both know it’s not fair to tar all of feminism with the bigotry of radical feminists or the bigotry of contemporary feminists. And we both agree that feminism has led to many good and important changes in society.

    The SPLC.

    Near as I can tell in an email conversation with him, much of the SPLC’s piece was written by Arthur Goldwag. I encourage you to contact Mr. Goldwag and find out exactly how he did his research, what primary and secondary sources he used. How he verified his secondary sources, and ask how much time he spent, and if you can see his notes.

    Because I think an audit of his piece would confirm a) he relied heavily on David Futrelle b) Goldwag’s characterization of A Voice for Men is off base, and c) Goldwag’s characterization of Reddit is way off base. And I think it should be known that David Futrelle runs a blog called Manboobz that proudly engages in taking snippets from mens blogs and their commenters and cherry picking the worst, and distorting what is said, and even distorting the opposition in the forums to the worst of what is said. Put simply, David Futrelle is a liar and the SPLC and Goldwag should distance themselves from any of of the crap Futrelle puts out. David Futrelle is closely linked to the SRS reddit which is closely linked to the atheismplus reddit and movement. And you know the rest from there.

    The Good Men Project:

    The Good Men Project is a terrible website for men. Examine it this way, what is their mission, what do they do?

    ““The Good Men Project is a glimpse of what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century,” the press raved when we launched. Finally, “a cerebral, new media alternative” to glossy men’s magazines. In fact, The Good Men Project is not so much a magazine as a social movement. We are fostering a national discussion centered around modern manhood and the question, “What does it mean to be a good man”?”

    Translation: Men are beasts and we aim to fix that.

    By their own admission, they are not there to discuss mens rights. They are there to tell men how to become Good Men. And how is that Good Man measured? Mostly by extreme feminist activists like Amanda Marcotte, and Hugo Schwyzer.

    The Good Men Project was founded to become a male Ms. Magazine and had support from Ms. Magazine.

    The Good Men Project is a feminist view of what the Good Man should look like.

    The Good Men Project starts off that the default level of man is that of feminist original sin: a man with a penis that beats and oppresses women and that needs The Good Men Project to raise him out of depravity.

    The Good Men Project is pretty close to a hate site. It’s definitely a propaganda site that has very little to do with Mens Issues much less Mens Rights Issues.

    You should strike up a conversation with Tom Matlack and ask him what sort of support he gets from feminist organizations both to start, and ongoing. You should ask him why he seeks out prominent feminists to write for him, and has little to do with well known Mens Activists. You should ask him why the average blue collar worker should approach his site with anything other than disdain, given the very name of the site, The Good Men Project and their mission.

    A Voice for Men:

    Well, A Voice for Men is a mixed bag. I love the name. In contrast to The Good Men Project, which is a top down look on man the beast, A Voice for Men seems to aim to provide that blue collar worker with a voice that is often shutdown in society. I think that’s perfect.

    And in conversation with Paul Elam, I have his word that he is willing to provide any man a voice at his website. Well it’s late and my thoughts are going, but that is in essence what he told me in response to a comment of mine at reddit. And I take him on that at his word and I believe he is serious about that and can be trusted on that.

    See if just any man’s essay can be printed at The Good Men Project.

    On the other hand, the mission statement of a voice for men seems to define its mission as one in opposition of feminism.

    I do have a problem with that, mainly that I think mens rights does not need to be defined in opposition to anything and can be simply defined as ensuring the equality of men in today’s society. But I do agree with them that mens rights is actively opposed and men are dehumanized and made into monsters by contemporary feminists, and that needs to be made known.

    So here’s what pisses me off about A Voice for Men.

    I really do think that Paul Elam knows whats what. And certainly the whole crew there works very hard and frequently say absolutely the right things.

    And yet, goddamn it, they can’t stop using words like mangina, which, is about the most misogynistic word I’ve ever heard and certainly, and reasonably, turns off any normal, reasonable person interested in civil rights. You say you don’t hate women? Then how the hell can you use mangina to label those men you disagree with the most? Gah!

    Reddit: it’s a fair criticism to say that some ugly things are said by people at the reddit mens rights subreddit. It’s reasonable to say that people who look at the mens rights area at reddit and think all groups are like this are foolish.

    But it is inaccurate to think that even the mens rights group at reddit is any sort of hate group, or expresses any sort of hate. AT ALL.

    I have been posting at the mens rights group at reddit for about three months now. Pretty active. Too active. I need to cut back. But all in all, I am actually very pleased with what I see at mens rights reddit.

    The mods there are very good about removing stories that are just expressions of misogyny. As recent examples, a video went viral about a bus driver punching a female passenger. It hit in rough order:

    Reddit/videos reddit/funny reddit/wtf HuffingtonPost, about 20 more reddits before finally it made it to mens rights. It took that long to get to mens rights because the mods and mens rights commenters recognized it as not a mens rights issue and reported it and kept it from getting in. Finally, the mod went to bed, and a person who had been a redditor for 0 days got it into mens rights. Zero day redditors are trolls.

    After it got to mens rights, you can bet that reddit againstmensrights noted it and discussed it. Did the againstmensrights group note how many other reddits posted it? Or posted it first? No, of course not.

    A lot of what you know about reddit mensrights is just plain wrong. It is distorted information and lies spread by feminists in the reddit SRS group, spread by David Futrelle, who is relied on by PZ Myers and who has embarrassed PZ Myers with inaccurate information. Lies spread by SkepChick, FtB, and by several at Jezebel and website run by Gawker in direct competition with and dwarfed by Reddit.

    Actually if you spend your time at reddit mensrights, what you’ll actually find is a much more moderate group than at A Voice for Men, and group much more interested in speaking about mens issues than Good Men Project. And the discussions there are quite interesting, and yes, express a wide diversity of opinions.

    But as someone that basically grew up very liberal and still feels very liberal, reddit mensrights is a terrific group.

    I do wish the best for A Voice for Men. 95% of what I read there is very good stuff. But they have to figure out how to oppose feminism without turning off their most likely supporters.

    • October 28, 2012 at 3:50 am

      I appreciate reading your thoughtful words. I found nothing to disagree with save I don’t think you may be aware of some of the complexities that we face with our readers. or of the efforts we have made to address the type of concerns you present here.

      To make it clear, though, there are a couple of times in older articles that the word “mangina” is used. And for certain, as the word is common in MRM circles, it is found semi frequently in comments.

      Personally, I have not used the word in a long time (that I recall), and have elected, when using descriptions that are less than flattering, to stick with non sexualized words. For example, I don’t use the terms “man up” or “find your balls.” I generally go with something like “spine up.”

      While I have used mangina in the past, I no longer find it a helpful or appropriate word, likely for the same reasons you take exception to it.

      At the same time, I have a difficult time justifying the censorship of my readers on that level. Normally our policy is to ban the (very infrequent) user who makes statements advocating violence or bigotry, but not to micromanage all aspects of personal expression. .

      We have also had feminists arrive at the site and use terms like “mansplain.” Clearly a sexual epithet, but not something I feel comfortable banning for.

      We have addressed it with readers, though. Over a year ago JTO posted this piece:

      And even further back, JTO wrote this:

      As you can see in the comments, the reaction was very strong.

      The problem is that it takes time to shape the environment, and running roughshod on an already disenfranchised group is counter productive. These things take time, and TIMING.

      Regardless of the internal objections to making posts like JTO made, they will continue. The next on will likely be by me.

      We will continue to work on refining our message (note, this does not mean seeking mainstream acceptance), and on examining our own pitfalls, but we will also remain mindful of the legitimate and largely unheard anger that plagues many of the men that visit our site.

      Tis a tightrope we are walking.

      Thanks again for your kind words.


      • October 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

        Paul, not sure why your comment was stuck in moderation, since I have all moderation turned off. I was surprised to get an email notification to approve a comment. I can assure you it was unintentional.

        • October 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm

          It might have been the links. My spam filter will hold comments with two or more links as a precaution.

      • some guy
        October 29, 2012 at 4:35 am

        Thanks Paul,

        I appreciate that and won’t harsh on you guys again for that.

        It’s one thing to see it in comments, and another to see it by the leaders of the movement in the articles. I am glad you and John plan on leading by example.

        Thanks again

    • October 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Well, first of all, thank you for taking the time to write all that out. If you recall from the article, I stated I spent about two hours on each site. I mentioned that so nobody would be under the assumption that I did lengthily research, or had been spending time there over a long stretch.

      The issues with these three examples I used was based on a short time (relatively) peeking around, so I did not delve into the more detailed or older content. The piece I wrote was essentially a reaction to Twitter conversations I had the other day, and in the past week about people constantly telling me that AVfM was a hate site. Being a skeptic, I took a look, watched a few videos, listened to parts of podcasts, read some comments, etc. So, based on a couple of hours, I found nothing on the AVfM that I would consider ‘hate speech,’ There were strong opinions.

      Same goes for “The Good Men” project. I understand where they are coming from, and what their goals are. I reason they are formatted the way they are for a few reasons. One, being that they are attempting to stay in the mainstream. I cannot fault them for this, because there are many, many people who otherwise would not be aware of some of the issues that both sites are addressing. There are many people who will not even click a link to AVfM, and I mentioned that there was content there I found favorable.

      The Reddit site offered more of a glimpse into what typically comes from several of their sub-forums, and I have sort of a love/hate relationship with Reddit, as it is. I’ve defended them many, many times over the years for their willingness to let free speech – no matter how offensive – be their guiding principle, only to have my own account censored. So, right now, I am kinda pissed off at them.

      As far as the elephant, I intentionally avoided that. Whether or not I address it in the future depends on several factors. I am aware, obviously, of the contention between the people you mentioned and the sites I wrote about. Right now, I am observing how the flow of commentary is coming from a few individuals who are taking issue.

      Again, thank you for your comments, and for taking as much time as you did in pointing out your thoughts. I appreciate it.

    • October 30, 2012 at 1:55 am

      I don’t personally see how the term “mangina” is necessarily misogynistic. I presume that the term refers to those men whose lives are ruled by their desire for women. They are “worshipers of the vagina”, or worshipers of sex. So why not call them “manginas”? It makes perfect sense if you look at it like that. And it doesn’t have anything to do with hatred of women, but is simply remarking on how people give up their selfhood in preference to their carnal desires, and how they become a mouthpiece for their desires.

      • October 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        That is a fair point. There may be more to the meaning for some, though. If the word is interpreted as you define it, then I agree, it is not sexist. But for some people I think the term implies weakness. Sort of like calling a guy a pussy. I won’t even call that misogynistic, any more than calling a guy a prick is misandric. But it is a sexualized insult, which paves the way for a lot of distraction.

        You do make a great point, though.

      • November 11, 2012 at 7:52 am

        Not to so much sex, (although their harem instincts are sexually part of it), but men that define all of reality as penis bad, vagina good, women are goddesses, men are scum, women are (pathetic children) victims, and we men must crawl into the dirt to profess our deepest apologies to all the horrors men have inflicted upon you great, blameless, white as snow, virgin goddesses of absolute virtue; truly your hymen grows back so even if you are unfortunate to have allowed a man to have sex (I mean rape, my apologies, again, it’s my fault) you will be eternal blameless virgins!

        The men who view reality through that great truth-lens the vagina.

    • November 11, 2012 at 7:45 am

      >And yet, goddamn it, they can’t stop using words like mangina, which, is about the most
      >misogynistic word I’ve ever heard and certainly, and reasonably, turns off any normal,
      >reasonable person interested in civil rights. You say you don’t hate women? Then how the
      >hell can you use mangina to label those men you disagree with the most? Gah!

      I don’t get it. What’s misogynist about “mangina”? It isn’t even used against women, only against sycophantic, pathetic, misogynist men that have pretty much crawled into a vagina, hence “mangina”.

  11. some guy
    October 28, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Regarding the elephant.

    It’s important that whenever we hear PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Katie M Baker, Jezebel in general, or anyone refer to MRAs with hate speech, slurs, insults, or say anything along the lines that misandry doesn’t exist, there is no institutional misandry, or that women cannot be sexist against men because women lack institutional power that we stand up against that.

    We educate them to examples of misandry.

    We tell them their speech is oppressive, and offensive to men, and to the mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and aunts of the men they oppress.

    We ask them to stop using such language.

    We invite them to mens rights forums.

    And we tell them they will be referred to as members of a hate group if they continue.

    And then we blog about them.

    We don’t have to be mean, or vicious, or disrespectful. Because we are right.

    • October 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      It’s important that whenever we hear PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Katie M Baker, Jezebel in general, or anyone refer to MRAs with hate speech, slurs, insults…
      We don’t have to be mean, or vicious, or disrespectful. Because we are right.

      Leaving MRAs aside for a while.. lets consider the schism in the Atheist communities.
      If one could just be diplomatic and settle differences, why did the schism occur? Why couldnt FTB and the multiple anti-FTB sides spend 1.5 years fighting over what is essentially trivial when contrasted to the issues MRAs are fighting for? The kind of injustices MRAs are fighting for are ghastly.. where lives have been semi-destroyed (such as Conviction but no tangible evidence) or fully destroyed.
      Why couldnt the diplomats in the atheist community fix the issue? The sides in the atheist community have been “mean, vicious and disrespectful” for sure. And its also been argued quite convincingly that such a response was necessary. Letter to the Slime Pit

      You know why? because people fight injustice, and it escalates depending on how intractable it becomes over time. Hate bounces.. the greater the amount of hate one side is subjected to, the greater the backlash becomes.
      hate bounces.. thats human nature. nobody is above that. Neither you. Nor me.
      Hate Bounces: How man-hating and man-bashing harms women – the making of a misogynist

      • October 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

        God.. i should have proof-read that.. I meant:
        1) “Why couldnt did FTB and the multiple anti-FTB sides spend 1.5 years fighting …”
        2)”The kind of injustices MRAs are fighting for against are ghastly…

  12. October 28, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for this Al. Very well put. I have heard so many people simply quote the SPLC (appeal to authority anyone?) in order to dismiss legitimate grievances that men who call themselves MRAs have. The disgraced lobbying group lists MRAs as a hate group when they aren’t even a group. And, as you say, for MRAs to be hateful, they would have to be against human rights, not in favour.

  13. October 28, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Good points about the redefining of the word misogynist. I think it also applies with what Myers and the A+theists think about ‘dictionary atheists’.

    I would call you an egalitaritarian. That covers caring about ALL the injustices that are due to sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, and any other ism there is, no matter on which ‘side’ of which ism battle, the person is on. The word humanist comes close, but I think egalitarian is a little less padded with variable extra meanings.

    • October 28, 2012 at 11:37 am

      I’ve no problem with the term ‘egalitarian,’ as I have used it often to describe myself to groups that are not part of the collection of movements that make up the non-sectarian activists. When addressing those groups, I use ‘humanist,’ quite often. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  14. Skepcheck
    October 28, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Well said Al.

  15. October 28, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Males have historically had the right to vote ONLY if they signed for the draft. It wasn’t a right by birth. You risk your life, you get the right to vote. That is how it worked.

    • October 28, 2012 at 11:38 am

      I remember my dad, a WWII Vet, telling me that.

    • October 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Julie says earlier:

      Last but not least, my favorite question to ask is how many women voted for women’s suffrage? It’s surprising how many people get it wrong. The answer, of course, is none because it was only MEN who voted to give women the right to vote

      In addition to that, not only did women get the vote for free (as you mention), the people who opposed their getting the vote in the US was mostly other women.
      Feminism, Freedom and History

      For many decades, the average American woman simply ignored the cause of suffrage. In a 1902 history of women’s suffrage, Anthony and her coauthor wrote, “The indifference and inertia, the apathy of women lies the greatest obstacle to their enfranchisement.” Throughout the 1880s and 1890s many women actively organized against it. Stanford historian Carl Degler, in his classic 1980 social history, At Odds: Women and the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present, notes that in 1890, more than twenty thousand women had joined an anti-suffrage group in New York State alone. To prove once and for all that the majority of women wanted the vote, suffragists organized a referendum in Massachusetts in 1895. Both men and women were allowed to take part. The initiative lost, with 187,000 voting against the franchise and only 110,000 in favor— and of those who voted yes, only 23,000 were women! According to Anthony, “The average man would not vote against granting women the suffrage if all those of his own family brought a strong pressure to bear upon him in its favor.” It is the conventional wisdom that men denied women the ballot. But even a cursory look at the historical record suggests that men were not the only problem.

      Degler and other historians believe that, because the vote was associated with individualism and personal assertiveness, many women saw it as both selfish and an attack on their unique and valued place in the family. Some feminist historians denigrate what they call the “cult of domesticity” that proved so beguiling to nineteenth- century women. But they forget that this “cult” freed many rural women from manual labor, improved the material conditions of women’s lives, and coincided with an increase in female life expectancy. Furthermore, as Degler shows, in nineteenth-century America, both the public and private spheres were prized and valued. The companionate marriages described by Jane Austen were the American domestic ideal. Alexis de Tocqueville commented on the essential equality of the male and female spheres in Democracy in America (1840). Americans, he said, did not think that men and women should perform the same tasks, “but they show an equal regard for both their respective parts; and though their lot is different, they consider both of them as being of equal value.”

      • Patrick
        October 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm

        This source gives a more complete picture on the referendum in question. Very few women voted in the referendum at all (24,000 out of a possible 600,000) and only 32% of men who voted did so in favour.

  16. October 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    FYI, for some reason a few comments ended up in moderation, which is odd, since I have the entire blog set up in non-moderation mode. Also, one of you got caught in the spam filter, which I remedied just now. My apologies for the inconvenience.

  17. andybob
    October 29, 2012 at 12:15 am

    A Voice For Men frightens radical feminists because it completely undermines their dishonest representation of men’s rights activists. We are not angry, white, straight men enraged that our beloved patriarchy is crumbling around us. Nor are we bathrobed basement-dwelling virgins shaking impotent fists at a cruel, cruel world. We are a diverse association of men and women concerned about the ever-increasing disregard for the rights and welfare of men and boys.

    As am one of many gay men who have witnessed my straight brothers ground down by a feminist-run society that perceives them as disposable utility objects. My twin brother is one of them. I am also weary of lesbian feminists who have co-opted the gay rights movement and marginalized and silenced any man who refuses to conform to their narrow and bigotted gender-centric view of the world.

    Gay men like men – we are men. We also like women – but not those who barge into our spaces and dictate, censor and bully. Those who have perused the ‘Good Boy Project’ will know what I’m talking about We will not sit quietly in the back of the bus. Instead, we will stand with the men and women who genuinely believe in the fundamental civil rights of all. No site represents that admirable goal with more intelligence, honesty and respect than ‘A Voice for Men’.

    I join the contibuting editors of AVFM in expressing appreciation for Mr Steffanelli’s balaced and fearless examination of men’s rights activism and hope to see an article from him soon. A true Voice of Reason will be always be welcome. You sir, are an example of how it should be done.

  18. October 29, 2012 at 8:16 am

    The pay gap has been debunked.

  19. Vic
    October 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Thank you for this blog from your perspective.

    If I may add another, sometimes vitriolic, but nonetheless interesting site:

    And, of course, gender traitor extraordinaire: GirlWritesWhat

    MRAs don’t care much for the reader’s emotional sensitivity when they express their issues. I find thir speech often quite brutal, but also brutally honest.

  20. October 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    I am one of the many women who post on and support AVFM. I support men’s rights for my son’s sake. I support AVFM because it unflinchingly and un-apologetically supports men’s equal rights, because of it’s witty, intelligent and sometimes brutal honesty, because it’s the gold standard in what a men’s rights group should be.

    They’ve welcomed me when I’m right, and corrected unmercifully when I was not.

    They’re the best.

    • shmiggen
      October 30, 2012 at 2:32 am

      Any chance you could realign that avatar so the face isn’t sideways, Cotton?

      • October 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

        Clever answer: People always look at me sideways, so I’m just making it easier for them. Honest answer: I don’t have any eager 14 year olds around to “help” me with my lacking computer skills anymore. Sideways shows my military uniform, the other way didn’t.

  21. David Bartlett
    November 2, 2012 at 1:50 am

    It’s about time someone said it. I only hope enough men will begin to care enough to take action. A men’s rights movement will be meaningless if men choose to ignore it. Let’s hope we don’t.

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