I try not to think about MRAs and “masculinists” too much, given their painful inability to see the forest from the trees, but Melissa McEwan’s post at Shakesville got me thinking about the arguments MRAs make. In short, if there is a single decent MRA point to be made that is not also a feminist point, or a point with a feminist solution, I’ll eat my keyboard.
MRA arguments tend to fall into three categories, arguments that are demonstrably false (which I have ignored for the purpose of this post), arguments that are true but narrow to the point of being misleading, and arguments that are based on demonising feminists for something that is the fault of patriarchy.
The narrow arguments are incredibly frustrating, because they generally take statistics completely out of context. An example of this is their reaction to the news that in many Western countries more women attend university than men. While that fact may cause panic at MRA headquarters, over at the Feminist HQ it quite a different story. We look at the gender differentials in labour and see a huge pay disparity, with women often shunted into the pink ghetto. In universities the senior positions are held by a disproportionate number of men, as is senior management in the public and private sectors. So when it becomes apparent that more girls are entering university than boys, that’s one of our small silver linings on a very dark cloud, and when MRAs complain about it, calling for “true equality” they’re saying that all we deserve is the cloud, and that we’re being uppity by expecting more. If they really want to a lower percentage of women to enter university they could work towards a more woman-friendly environment in trade jobs that don’t require degrees, or work towards an equal pay system where women don’t have to be more qualified than men to get the same wage.
Their other other arguments are also based on their superficial understanding of what equality constitutes. “What’s all this fuss about Violence Against Women?” they ask, totally forgetting the backbreaking amounts of energy activists have poured into making the issue an issue at all, “What about Violence Against Men?” is their constant refrain, ignoring that men are the ones perpetrating the majority of violent crime (and that feminists are attempting to deconstruct masculinity so violence isn’t quite so omnipresent).
When women have the same economic, social and political power men have, when men stop perpetrating violence against women in shocking numbers, then I’ll talk to masculinists and their ilk with a straight face. Until then (or until they can come up with facts so stunning that I eat my keyboard) they can stop pretending to be anything more than immature men who whine the moment that a fraction of their privilege is stripped away.