Many anti-feminists and (single issue or broad strokes) men’s rights activists consider the mainstream media to be biased against their causes. Coverage of issues predominantly affecting men are often carried out from a pro-feminist angle or derided altogether.
As such, Alison Tieman of the honey badger brigade would like a systematic assessment of mainstream media articles related to men’s rights activists and men’s issues.
Is the mainstream media biased against men’s issues?
Mainstream news sites in the UK, US and Canada were interrogated for news articles on men’s rights-related issues. This review mainstream news sources (tabloid journalism and ‘middle market’ news sources will be excluded).
The websites for the media sources listed below were searched for the phrase ‘men’s rights OR MRA’ using the Google advanced application.
Mainstream media sources to be searched
- BBC news
- The Guardian
- The Observer
- The telegraph
- The Times
- GQ (UK)
- VICE UK
- The Guardian (US)
- The Huffington Post
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
- National post
- The Globe and Mail
Identified articles were screened and categorized as ‘positive’, ‘negative’, ‘feminist thesis’ or ‘neutral’ by one reviewer (OE).
Results and discussion
A systematic review of mainstream media articles was carried out to assess bias in coverage related to men’s rights activists and men’s issues. We performed advanced Google searches with keywords ‘Men’s rights’ and ‘MRA’ in non-tabloid media sources to identify relevant articles.
Using only hits from the first page of the Google search results, we identified 111 relevant articles in 16 media outlets discussing events or topics related to men’s issues and/or and the men’s rights movement; 39 articles from the UK, 55 from the US and 17 from Canada.
A total of 52 articles were classified as negative with regards to portrayal or support of men’s issues or the men’s movement, 20 were classed as positive and 21 were considered to have provided neutral coverage. Some articles appeared to present a balanced appraisal of the men’s movement but were judged to uphold a feminist bias. For instance, the coverage of the men’s rights movements by Reggie Yeates, portrays Josh O’Brien’s reasonable arguments as extreme. Similarly, in a article, Jess Phillips offers an insincere apology for her flippancy at the prospect of discussing men’s issues in the UK parliament on International Men’s Day. Such articles (18 in total) have been categorized as biased with a ‘feminist thesis’.
On the BBC and BBC news websites, eight articles were shortlisted for review, of which three were found to be irrelevant. Of the five remaining articles, three were considered neutral and two were classed as ‘feminist thesis’. None of the relevant identified articles showed a negative bias towards men’s issues or the men’s rights movement. Of note, two of the three neutral articles were published in 2004 and the third in 2013. The feminist biased articles were published in 2012 and 2016.
On the Guardian UK website, five relevant articles were identified in the search, four of which were considered neutral and one negative. Three of the identified articles were related to father’s rights, two of which were published in 2003. In the article categorized as negative, a clear effort was made to present Fathers 4 Justice as a potential terrorist group without proper analysis of their plight or specific demands.
Results from the Telegraph website showed the most articles with positive or sympathetic coverage of men’s issues. A total of 10 relevant articles were identified of which six were categorized as positive. Interestingly, the remaining four articles were either negative or feminist thesis, suggesting a clear polarisation of opinion from Telegraph journalists. Additionally, two authors each penned two of the four positively biased articles (Glen Poole and Martin Daubney – both known as supporters of men’s issues). The articles classed as containing a negative bias conflated men’s rights activists pick up artists, murderers and ‘Return of Kings’ who are known not to be associated with the men’s rights movement. The single article classified as ‘feminist thesis’ was an impassioned plea by Natasha Devon for MRAs and feminists to work together.
A total of nine relevant articles were identified in the search of the Huffington Post UK website. Of these, three were classed as neutral, four with a feminist thesis, one negative and one positive. In the article deemed negative Mike Buchanan of the political party ‘Justice 4 men and boys (and the women who love them)’ was portrayed as a bully for referring to Sky News presenter Kay Burleigh as ‘pathetic’. However, the video – which is available to view – clearly shows Mike Buchanan referring to her tendency to use personal anecdotes as evidence.
One article was found on the GQ UK website and was classed as negative. This article was entitled ‘Men’s Rights Activists are cave dwelling idiots’.
A total of eight relevant articles were identified on the VICE UK website of which all but one were classed as negative. One article by Alex Brook Lynn was a positive portrayal of the women of the men’s rights movement.
Overall, on UK-specific websites, 39 relevant articles were identified through a google search using keywords ‘men’s rights’ OR ‘MRA’. Of these, 8 were classed as positive (6 from the Telegraph), 10 were classed as neutral, and 21 were classed as a negative portrayal of men’s issues (n = 14, 7 from VICE UK) or having a feminist bias (n = 7).
On the Guardian international website, a total of nine relevant articles were identified in our search. Of these, 5 were categorized as negative, 2 with a feminist bias, 1 positive and 1 neutral. The positive article was composed by Ally Fogg, a journalist known to be sympathetic to men’s issues. The neutral article was fair and balanced coverage of controversy regarding the funding of a documentary about the men’s right’s movement.
A total of 20 articles were identified on the Washington Post website, the highest number of relevant articles identified on a news source by our search. Of note, 5 of these articles were published in the 1980s and identified in the Washington Post archives. All these articles were classed as positive. Collectively, they referred to the initial appearance of the men’s movement and evidently, they were published during a period of positive reception of men’s rights activism. Of the remaining 15 articles, 12 were classed as negative and 3 with a feminist bias.
Eight articles were identified on the TIME website, 4 were negatively biased towards men’s issues, 2 had a feminist bias and 2 were classed as neutral. Both neutral articles were penned by Cathy Young a journalist known to be sympathetic to men’s issues. Of the articles classed as negative or containing a feminist bias, efforts to demonise the men’s rights movement specifically were clear and significant.
On CNN, 7 relevant articles were identified, one of which was classed as neutral. No identified articles on the CNN website were classed as positive whereas the remaining 6 articles were negative n = 4) or feminist biased (n = 2).Two identified articles referred to the Elliot Roger killings; in one identified article categorized as negative was coverage of the Elliot Roger killings, his actions were said to echo the sentiments of the men’s rights movement. Another article, classified as having a feminist bias, discussed how the Elliot Roger case had stimulated the feminist-inspired twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen.
8 relevant articles were identified on the New York Times’ website. Similar to the Washington Post, three of the identified articles can be considered separately. One identified article was a letter-to-the-editor penned by Joel Dubow Alexandria in 2005, another was published in 1986 and the third in 1992. These articles were categorized as positive, positive and neutral respectively. Of the remaining 5 articles, 3 were negative and 2 had a feminist bias.
Three articles identified on GQ.com were classed as negative. A quote from one piece by Drew Brown included the following description of Men’s Rights Activists: For those of you who are blissfully unaware, men’s rights activists are basically weaponized douchebags.
Overall, on US news sources and Guardian international, only 8 articles had positive coverage of men’s issues or the men’s rights movement. Importantly, only one of these articles was published after 2005. Positive coverage of men’s issues and the men’s rights movement appears to have been more common in the past, particularly in the 1980s. Six articles were classed as neutral (two by Cathy Young) and a total of 41 articles were deemed to have provided negative coverage of men’s issues (n = 30), or to have had a noticeable feminist bias (n = 11).
On the National Post website, 8 relevant articles were identified in our search. Results were largely positive in that 4 articles were categorized as positive and three as neutral. Only one article was deemed to portray men’s issues negatively. The article classed as negative referred to the men’s rights website as ‘frequently misogynistic’ with no reference or context. Two of the articles that covered men’s issues in a positive light were authored by Barbary Kay and the other two by Robyn Urback, both of whom are sympathetic to issues affecting men and have been known to question the feminist narrative.
In contrast to the National Post, seven of nine identified articles on the Globe and Mail were categorised as negative. In the Globe and Mail, men’s issues and the men’s rights movement were routinely portrayed as harassers and enablers of murderers.
Overall, 111 articles were identified in our searches through various mainstream publications from the US (n = 55), the UK (n = 39) and Canada (n = 17).47% of articles were categorized as negatively biased towards men’s issues or the men’s rights movement (57% of which were published in the US) and a further 18% were categorised as having a feminist bias. Thus, 65% of identified articles had a negative or feminist-biased coverage of men’s issues or the men’s rights movement. 21% of identified articles had neutral coverage of men’s issues and the remaining 20% of articles provided positive coverage (figure 1).
Of the 20 articles with a positive coverage of men’s issues or the men’s movement, 7 were published prior to 2005 (5 were identified in the Washington Post archives). Five articles deemed neutral and one deemed negative were also published prior to 2005. After excluding these articles, only 13% of articles (13 articles out of 98) showed the men’s movement in a positive light and 70% of articles portrayed men’s issues with a negative bias, or through a feminist lens (figure 2).
Another important distinction to make is with regards to news source. Only the Telegraph in the UK and the National Post in Canada routinely published articles on men’s issues with a supportive angle. VICE UK appears to make a distinct effort to publish negatively biased articles on men’s issues. No articles published in VICE UK were neutral however, one long form piece by Alex Brook Lynn provided positive coverage of the honeybadgers.
Thus, in recent years, two in three articles published in mainstream national news sources (excluding tabloid) covering topics related to men’s issues or the men’s rights movement in particular, have done so in a negative way or with a strong ideological feminist bias. One in five such articles broach the topic in a neutral manner and only one in 8 articles (predominantly published in two papers only – the Telegraph and the National Post – and often by the same journalists) cover men’s issues in a positive light.
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:12 PM
Just who are men’s rights activists? – BBC News
BBC Three – Reggie Yates’ Extreme UK, Men at War
Just who are men’s rights activists? – BBC News
BBC NEWS | Scotland | Equal rights take a back seat
Do men need a political party to defend their rights? – BBC News
BBC Three – Reggie Yates’ Extreme UK, Men at War, Is drunk sex equivalent to rape?
BBC NEWS | Politics | UKIP MEP in row over working women
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US men fight child support laws
Meghalaya, India: Where women rule, and men are suffragettes – BBC News
Fathers’ rights fact sheet.doc
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:19 PM
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 18:47 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.theguardian.com/uk – Google Search
Militant fathers will risk jail over rights to see their children | UK news | The Guardian
Fathers4Justice activist accused of defacing Queen’s portrait | UK news | The Guardian
York | UK news | The Guardian
Geldof asked to save family courts from angry fathers | UK news | The Guardian
Stalkers face restraining orders even if cleared in court | UK news | The Guardian
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 18:53 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.telegraph.co.uk – Google Search
Welcome to the Red Pill: The angry men’s rights group that ‘knows what women want’
What’s so funny about a men’s rights debate? – Telegraph
Why today could be a turning point in the history of men’s rights
The Red Pill: the movie about men that feminists didn’t want you to see
Why are our universities blocking men’s societies? – Telegraph
How can we help men talk if we won’t talk about men’s issues?
Men’s rights activists have missed the point of feminism entirely – Telegraph
BBC3’s anti-male coverage shows that men’s issues are still not taken seriously
Men’s rights campaigners should work with feminists instead of fighting them – Telegraph
men’s rights activist angry about charlize theron
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 18:57 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.thetimes.co.uk – Google Search
Free speech campaigners’ plot to give banned voices a stage | The Times
Labour MP defiant in face of social media rape threats | The Times
Are we taking sides in the war of the sexes? | The Times
Dilbert comic strip drawn into row over fightback by mens’ lib | The Times
Virgin killer was member of ‘male supremacist’ website | The Times
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:52 PM
Huffington post (UK)
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:29 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.huffingtonpost.co.uk – Google Search
Kay Burley Perfectly Handles ‘Men’s Rights’ Campaigner Mike Buchanan When He Calls Her ‘Pathetic’
Feminism Is About Gender Equality, So What About Men’s Rights? | Jack Fletcher
My Learning From #nomorepage3? That I Should Campaign for Men’s Rights | Anita Nayyar
Men’s Day in Romania: Something to Celebrate? | Jo Simmons
The World is Focusing on Women’s Issues While Happily Ignoring Men’s | Claire Meadows
Drawing a Line | Jess Phillips
Explaining ‘Mansplaining’: Why We Are Using the Term Incorrectly | Dr Anna Arrowsmith
I Was the Hostess at a Pick Up Artist’s Seminar | Soraya Heydari
Fox News Host Megyn Kelly Thinks New ‘Yes Means Yes’ Is Taking Away Men’s Rights
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.vice.com/en_uk – Google Search
Men’s Rights Activists Make Millions Because White Boys Want to Feel Oppressed | VICE | United Kingdom
The Anatomy of a Men’s Rights Activist | VICE | United Kingdom
The Women of the Men’s Rights Movement | VICE | United Kingdom
A Men’s Rights Group Is Suing Their College Because They Feel ‘Excluded’ | VICE | United Kingdom
What Kind of Person Goes to Men’s Rights Rallies? | VICE | United Kingdom
We Went to a Men’s Rights Lecture in Toronto | VICE | United Kingdom
You’re a Pussy if You Think There’s a War On Men | VICE | United Kingdom
We Spoke to the Campaigner Who Helped Ban Men’s Rights Activists from Toronto Pride | VICE | United Kingdom
The Guardian (US)
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 18:39 PM
Feminist film-maker criticised for making ‘balanced’ men’s rights documentary | Film | The Guardian
Will Matrix film-makers coming out as women turn off men’s rights activists? | Film | The Guardian
Row after University of York cancels International Men’s Day event | Education | The Guardian
A scientist’s view: equality, feminism and men’s rights | Andrew Holding | Science | The Guardian
The ‘Man-O-Sphere’ is outraged about Mad Max? Hand me my popcorn! | Jason Wilson | Opinion | The Guardian
Feminism doesn’t mean a battle of the sexes, but a common goal for all | Life and style | The Guardian
International Men’s Day: the seeds of a new movement | Ally Fogg | Opinion | The Guardian
The everyday fear of violence every woman has to cope with| Eva Wiseman | Life and style | The Guardian
Swallowing the Red Pill: a journey to the heart of modern misogyny | Technology | The Guardian
Nick Loeb, Sofia Vergara and the men’s rights movement: can you ask someone to parent against their will? | World news | The Guardian
The New York Times
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:21 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.nytimes.com – Google Search
Women’s Bodies, Men’s Rights – The New York Times
The Fathers’ Rights Movement Undermines Victims of Domestic Violence – NYTimes.com
Battered Men Sounding Equal-Rights Battle Cry – NYTimes.com
Men’s Studies Redux: Readers Respond to a Master’s Program in Masculinity – The New York Times
BATTLE OF SEXES, WAR OF WORDS – NYTimes.com
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:25 PM
[All sites on first page are relevant – but subscription required for full paper review]
Huffington post (US)
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:32 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.huffingtonpost.com – Google Search
This Avengers Parody Comic Perfectly Illustrates The Absurdity Of ‘Men’s Rights’
Misogynist Who Says He’s Not A Men’s Rights Activist Doesn’t Want You To See ‘Mad Max’
Mens Rights Activists
Men’s Rights Movement Sees Resurgence Among Millennial Males
Controversial Men’s Rights Conference Sparks Backlash
The Men’s Rights Movement And The Women Who Love It
‘Legal Rape’ Advocates Cancel Pro-Men Meet-Ups For Fear Of Their Safety
How Men’s Rights Leader Paul Elam Turned Being A Deadbeat Dad Into A Moneymaking Movement – BuzzFeed News
Mad Men: Inside The Men’s Rights Movement — And The Army Of Misogynists And Trolls It Spawned
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:35 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:time.com – Google Search
What I Learned as a Woman at a Men’s-Rights Conference | TIME
The Toxic Appeal of the Men’s Rights Movement | TIME
Men’s Rights Activists Didn’t Like Lena Dunham’s SNL Skit That Made Fun of Men’s Rights Activists | TIME
Ironic Misandry: Why Feminists Pretending to Hate Men Isn’t Funny | TIME
The Surprising Truth About Women and Violence | TIME
A Better Feminism for 2015 | TIME
Paternity Leave and Why Men Need Feminism Too | TIME
Breaking Good: How Fargo Changed Cable’s Antihero Game | TIME
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:40 PM
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.cnn.com – Google Search
Men’s rights activists boycott ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ – CNN.com
Why one activist thinks we need a men’s movement – CNN.com
#EndViolenceAgainstWomen outs trolls online – CNN.com
California killer’s misogynist rants inspire #YesAllWomen – CNN.com
Female emojis: Sexist and harmful to girls? – CNN.com
“men’s rights OR MRA” site:www.vice.com – Google Search
I Infiltrated a Men’s Rights Group | VICE | United States
Why Libertarians and MRAs Sound the Same When They Talk About Feminism | VICE | Canada
What Happens When a Men’s Rights Organization Throws a Music Festival in Toronto? It Gets Cancelled | VICE | Canada
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:43 PM
Robyn Urback: Student union brands men’s rights groups as ‘hateful’ clubs that ‘justify sexual assault’
Are men oppressed? Male rights activists maligned as ‘sexists’ fight to have movement recognized on campus
Robyn Urback: Why, exactly, is it OK to discriminate against men’s groups on campus?
Men’s issues group taking Ryerson University’s student union to court over club status | National Post
Barbara Kay: Calling all male bashers
The end of the gender wars
Barbara Kay: Ryerson drags men’s issues group through the wringer
Leading expert on ‘maleness’ comes to Toronto to support ‘men’s centre’
An Embattled Champion Of Male Values
Globe and Mail
URL list from Wednesday, May. 11 2016 19:48 PM
Leah McLaren: How men’s rights groups are distorting the debate about equality – The Globe and Mail
Ryerson men’s issues group says students’ union shutting out male voices – The Globe and Mail
Toronto Pride rejects men’s rights group’s bid to march in parade – The Globe and Mail
Concert organized by men’s rights group cancelled – The Globe and Mail
Mascara and men’s rights – The Globe and Mail
The growing plight of the middle-aged white man – The Globe and Mail
BuzzFeed writer’s harassment just the latest example of why Twitter is broken for women – The Globe and Mail
Why are anti-feminist posters going up in Saskatoon and Edmonton? – The Globe and Mail
Petition launched in support of ‘manspreading’ on TTC – The Globe and Mail
When killers target women, why do moderate men stand silent? – The Globe and Mail
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