British GQ writer Rupert Myers has recently opined that Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) are backwards cavemen who inhibit the progress of gender equality through the harassment and silencing of their targets. Mr Myers then goes on to show brilliant examples of the types of behavior perpetrated by MRAs. No wait! My mistake, those were instances where MRAs were silenced and censored. His example is this picture of a man sharing his experience of being likened to a sex offender for participating in Movember. Somehow, this is perceived as an example epitomizing the moral bankruptcy of the MRA movement.
So what exactly does Mr Myers find objectionable about the MRA worldview? He openly admits that some MRA arguments, such as the rights of fathers in family proceedings, seem entirely sensible yet he comes to the conclusion that the movement pushes an agenda that is ultimately hostile towards women. He accuses MRAs of adopting an aura of victimhood when they bring up issues such as male circumcision over female genital mutilation (FGM) and perceives that MRAs are nostalgic for a time when men were assured jobs, status and power.
When have men ever been guaranteed jobs on the basis of their gender? You had to demonstrate both willingness and aptitude in order to gain a job. If you didn’t have the stamina to work as a laborer or the skills and qualifications to work as a banker, then you didn’t get the job, your penis be damned.
Setting aside that fact, Mr Myers also believes that MRAs are playing victims when they bring up the issue of male circumcision over FGM. Even though far more boys undergo circumcision than girls undergo FGM, the prohibition and prevention of FGM is a major issue in the media and yet he believes that men are the ones playing the victim. Although there is evidence both supporting and refuting the health benefits of circumcision and FGM in both boys and girls, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers FGM as a human rights violation. Men who get circumcised? Well they are just stepping up for HIV/AIDS prevention.
In his article, Mr Myers also accuses MRAs of denying the existence of “rape culture” by blaming endemic false rape allegation levels rather than accepting its existence as part of society’s attitudes towards consent. I assume he is referring to the “rape culture” in college campuses which has also been criticized by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) as being unhelpful as it moves the focus away from the small percentage of the community responsible. In addition, the US department of justice also found that college women were less likely to experience rape than non-college women.
Mr Myers also seems to be dismissive of the existence of false rape allegations when they are clearly prevalent and of a higher proportion than any other crime. He seems to think that instances like the Duke lacrosse case and the Rolling Stones UVA case and numerous others do not exist. Given that certain aspects of society espouse an attitude of consent where Yes means No, it is no surprise that such cases of miscommunication and mixed signals do occur.
Like those who were so quick to condemn the Duke Lacrosse Team and the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Mr Myers also seems to believe that accusations are enough to convict and sentence people as he goes on to denigrate MRA Paul Elam’s defense of Bill Cosby who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but has yet to be formerly charged. Mr Myers clearly believes Dr Cosby guilty, the idea of innocent until proven guilty be damned.
In order to back up his opinions of MRAs, Mr Myers refers to a BBC piece by Reggie Yates which he says demonstrates how MRAs are homophobes and racists. Yet the MRAs whom Reggie interviews do not appear to have issue with the fact that he’s black. Combined with the fact that one of the most prominent advocates of Men’s Rights interviewed on the piece is gay makes his arguments fall a little flat.
So aside from referring to a skewed BBC opinion piece, what evidence does Mr Myer’s put forward to further his belief that MRAs and their worldview belong to that of idiotic cavemen? To refute the MRA’s arguments for men’s rights, he chooses to list statistics supporting the “universal consensus” that women are mistreated and suffer inequality. He states that 70% of human trafficking victims are women and girls, 35% of women will experience violence in their lives, fewer than 1 in 30 rape perpetrators in the UK are convicted and that women earn 23% less in wages than men.
He must be living in an alternate universe because if he had bothered to do any research, he would find that the points he states are strongly contested.
Presumably, the statistic of 70% of human trafficking victims originates from the 2014 UNODC report; I can’t be certain as Mr Myers does not provide any references for any of the facts he states. The majority of human trafficking is divided between forced labor and sexual exploitation. It is reported that men account for 65% of victims trafficked for forced labor while women make up 97% of those trafficked for sexual exploitation. However, data from the international organization for migration (IOM) disagrees with this accounting and estimates that around 62% of victims of sex trafficking are women and 37% are men. There is clear evidence from additional sources that at least a third if not more of the victims of sexual exploitation are boys with these numbers oftentimes overlooked for political purposes. Both the UNODC and IOM reports state that the number of forced labor cases are under reported as some countries only consider the sexual exploitation of women and children as human trafficking with trafficking of boys and men for forced labor discounted. Data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that over two thirds of trafficking cases are for forced labor and that men and boys may make up 55% if not more of trafficking victims. Yet with men and boys making up a significant proportion of trafficking victims, their plight is rarely discussed. When people like Mr Myers espouse opinions that Men’s Rights is a non-issue and that people who advocate for it are playing the victim, is this outcome really a surprise? Perhaps if he had conducted the relevant research instead of repeating a quick quote statistic, Mr Myers would have realized that human trafficking affects both genders and although it is great that a lot of resources and advocacy are put into helping women and girls in sex trafficking, not much has been done for the men and boys in forced labor.
As for Mr Myers stated fact that 35 percent of women worldwide have been the victims of violence, he doesn’t appear to realize that these numbers equate to the fact that 65% of women never ever experience violence at all. Just consider that, 2 in 3 women have never been involved in a physical altercation in their entire lives. Survey 100 men and tell me how many can say the same.
For his rape statistic in the UK, again I am going to assume Mr Myers is going off certain news articles in 2013 which found that only 1 in 5 cases of rape are reported and of those, only 1 in 6 lead to a conviction which equated to the headline that “fewer than 1 in 30 rape victims in the UK see their attackers convicted!” Wouldn’t the bigger headline be “UK justice system lets 5 out of 6 rapists go free!!!” Of course the news articles cannot make such a claim because the immediate rebuttal would be that the accused is acquitted of the crime in the other 5 in 6 cases. Cases which have credible evidence results in a police detection (formal sanction) and the sanction percentage for sexual offenses in 2013 was 30%, slightly higher than the 27% average for all recorded crime. Now some of those cases that aren’t detected may have been genuine and that would be a travesty but we do not convict people based upon allegations alone. The concept of innocent until proven guilty again does not seem to register with Mr Myers, though what I suspect more likely happened was that he googled for some rape statistics and regurgitated it on his platform without doing any of the relevant research or critical thinking.
As for his final point that women in full time work earn 23 cents less than their male counterparts, he fails to realize that women earn the same if not more than men in the same position. Women only earn 23 cents less if the average wages of all working women was compared to the average wages of all working men. This is mostly due to the fact that fewer women major in more lucrative areas of study and also that many choose to opt out of full-time employment. When those factors are accounted for, there is no difference. This fallacy in the wage gap has been shown again and again. However, seeing as Mr Myers hasn’t bothered to do any pertinent research regarding any of his claims before, why should he start now.
Mr Myers ends his article by stating that MRAs are fixated by the slowly declining perception of men in a society that is trying to advance female equality. He reiterates his claim that MRAs are clinging to a victimhood that they cannot justify and argues that men have been able to physically dominate, kill and suppress women. He chooses to back up his statements with absolutely nothing. He gives no example in which women have been exclusively killed, he does not state examples in society where women are oppressed by being made to do the hard backbreaking work of laborers and construction workers or instances where they are conscripted against their will to fight in a war that they do not agree with. No, he continues to exhibit a blatant absence of research in his article to the point where his sources have to be extrapolated for him.
As you have stated Mr Myers, men should not be assured of jobs based upon their gender. Seeing as you have not demonstrated any ability to do yours, how have you managed to keep it?
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- The Independent shifts the blame in Cologne to all men - January 14, 2016
As I see it, identity politics is a spook.
All forms of it have some valid points but they also tend to spiral into hating their opposites and play oppression olympics.
Men’s rights such as the ones mentioned here should just be standard civil rights.
Asking men to just “suck it up” in front of obvious civil rights issues is ridiculous.
But yeah, a Men’s magazine denying men’s rights will likely end up like Kotaku hating on gamers.