Suggestions of resources regarding Men's Rights
July 7, 2013 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Can you suggest some resources to help convince someone that the propaganda of the Men's Rights movement is slanted and often incorrect? He's been watching GirlWritesWhat and listening to every available podcast on the subject and getting quite angry. I find it hard to talk to him about it (thank you languagehat with coming up with a way to phrase this question!).
posted by I have no idea to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
Does he have specific issues he's concentrating on? There are all sorts of resources, so you might have to narrow it down a bit to get useful answers.
posted by jaguar at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2013


I understand what you are trying to do but resources and logic are usually not that helpful until you address the underlying emotions that cause someone to feel the way they do about a group. One thing that is often touted is to never identify the person themself as sexist/racist/etc but label statements as such.

The second thing to explore is why you want to change their opinions; they are entitled to different opinions. If they are repeating things you find distasteful or riling you up, you can ask them to stop discusing the topic or chose not to spend time with them.
posted by saucysault at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: Jaguar: Where do I start? He believes that there is no such thing as patriarchy. Women get paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work. Health care should not cover contraception as employer should not be responsible for that. Men create things and women make their way into them and take them away. He got so into it that there's too much. But let us concentrate on the patriarchy thing, the disparity in pay and the contraception. I would appreciate any resources on those subjects. Unless you have something else that is really great.
posted by I have no idea at 2:21 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The FAQ at the Finally, A Feminism 101 blog might be a good place to start.

Isn't "the Patriarchy" just some conspiracy theory..." would probably be the most relevant. The site does not shy away from advanced feminist concepts, though it does explain them fairly thoroughly, so he'd have to be willing to actually engage intellectually with feminist theory.

You might have luck bridging some of the gap in looking for discussions on feminist sites of how patriarchy hurts men. (I've found that about 85% of stuff that MRAs complain about are things that feminists agree are bad.)

Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too? is a good entry, and discusses both how the patriarchy does hurt men but also why pointing that out is often a derail from discussion of women's issues. I've generally found that that particular blog often does a very good job of presenting fair, straightforward arguments without too much hyperbole, so it might be a good place to search, too.

For contraception, you might point out that since insurance often covers at least some part of prenatal, delivery, and post-natal care for mothers and children, it's just a good financial measure to cover cheap ways of preventing pregnancy. Also, that many women take hormonal birth control for other reasons than birth control.

On top of that, though, I agree with saucysault that choosing not to engage is likely a more productive strategy.
posted by jaguar at 2:33 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


(I should actually have noted that I haven't read "Alas, A Blog" in years, so my sense of it as a good resource might be out of date.)
posted by jaguar at 2:36 PM on July 7, 2013


Mod note: Folks, please try to address the question and provide resources. If you want to also discuss how best to approach it, that's fine, but just writing the problem off as unsolvable is not constructive.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:43 PM on July 7, 2013


I think there are two problems you're going to need to address as precursors to making him see any sort of sense.

The first is that he's decided that the men's rights movement is really important to him. Out of all the causes and issues out there he's devoting his time and energy to this one. There has to be a reason for this, it might not be a good reason, but there will be one. I think in order to get him to interact with any critique of the movement with intellectual and emotional maturity you have to figure out and attempt to fix whatever problem allows him to derive satisfaction from being angry about this issue in particular. It might not be something you can fix and I'm not sure if literature is going to help because being heavily invested must give him something and by asking him to change or consider changing his views puts whatever he gets out of it in jeopardy you have to offer him another way to work around those issues.

The second problem I see, and perhaps the easier one to address, is that this kind of movement sees women as a monolithic group and we aren't. I think this may be more easy to combat as you can ask him to think about and talk to women he knows, and if he doesn't have many women in his life this might be a good time to change that, I suspect the disconnect between what men's rights is saying and the truth may be harder to ignore if he was hearing from people he respected about their own challenges. There are some great Metafilter threads where women have shared stories of how sexism and the patriarchy have affected them, both men and women and they may help to reduce the urge to make feminism a nasty faceless monster.

I hope things work out well for both of you I'm sure this is really frustrating.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 3:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Here are some thoughts I had about the pay gap a couple of years ago. Maybe some of the linked papers will be of interest/use.

If you want to chat about the pay gap by email or memail, I'm happy to do so.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 3:57 PM on July 7, 2013


I'm going to suggest that much of this probably isn't about facts, but about feelings, and direct you to a well-stated suggestion by Tangerine in response to a similar sounding situation. It might be helpful to consider viewing it from that angle, rather than arguing the specifics (as that is probably a no-win proposition). I'm not sure that this provides you with a good solution, but at the very least it can be helpful to understand why people have particular hangups, and sometimes those hangups are grounded in a personal history.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:20 PM on July 7, 2013


Best answer: You might find some useful content over at manboobz.com, which is a site done by a guy whose hobby is mocking MRA's. It's written for people who do not believe MRA propaganda, but it might be useful to see where his arguments are coming from without actually having to read the reddit MRA thread or the spearhead or any of that. I think of it because he recently posted about some correspondence he had with GirlWritesWhat.

Good luck - it's a pernicious sort of philosophical ouroboros that starts with some broken axioms and builds on them into a big circle-jerk echo chamber. But it's probably not a position he came to through supported-by-evidence sorts of facts and logic - it's an emotional position, and that's the sort of thing that's hard to address with logic or facts or peer reviewed data on pay gaps and such. So you may end up bringing the horse to water repeatedly and still the damned thing complains it's thirsty.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:07 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Here's a really interesting breakdown of why a lot of Men's Rights groups assertions about men getting screwed in divorce are bullshit.

Men create things and women make their way into them and take them away

Okay, what? This is such incredible bullshit I don't even know where to start. Sorry, but that's on the level with "Jews control all the money!" Sexism is a form of bigotry, and bigots can't be reasoned with. Nonetheless:

Health care should not cover contraception as employer should not be responsible for that.

Isn't it better for everyone if there are fewer unplanned pregnancies? (Which, by the way, do not happen without men). It's cheaper in the long run to cover contraception.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:51 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]




I think you really face two problems. One is finding material or persons that can persuade him. But before that you have to motivate or incentivize him to even consider reading/listening to such input. Based on the emotional component of his position, I think he will likely be more open to male sources, and as far as getting him to actually consider such input, I think you need to offer him something in return, whatever it may be. Some kind of reward or "if you do this I will do that" type thing. Otherwise, if he's comfortable in his beliefs, why should he bother?
posted by Dansaman at 11:03 PM on July 7, 2013


What does success look like? Are you hoping to change the tenor of a close relationship? Fend off an annoying acquaintance or a coworker? Are you trying to defuse whatever deep-seated anger that makes him follow such an irrational movement, or do you want to convince him that certain of his beliefs are wrong?

I'm not quite sure what to advise without knowing more about the situation. If he's angry about specific issues, and if addressing those issues would ease his mind, we can help with facts. If he's just generally angry and blames women because he thinks demonizing people with different genitalia is the easy way out, there isn't enough logic in the world to convince him that he's not genetically put-upon. Only therapy can address that sort of irrational belief, and that only works if the recipient wants it.

Short version: anyone who self-applies the label "Men's Rights Activist" is too immersed in misogyny and self-pity to be easily talked out of his worldview. Depending on how much energy you want to invest you might be able to engage him on specific issues if you're willing to fight. If he's a dedicated MRA, a la Reddit, don't bother - he's getting far more reinforcement from his Internet friends than you could ever give.
posted by SakuraK at 11:15 PM on July 7, 2013


Response by poster: To answer your question SakuraK: It's a close relationship. And it all started only a few weeks ago. He found a video by GirlWritesWhat and what followed was a total immersion in MRA. It's just that all those arguments they presented him with seemed so good that he became convinced it's all true. He never listened to anybody with an opposing point of view. And now all women are evil (apparently I'm an exception). Men were always disposable and women were looked after in their homes. Yes, they didn't have the vote or didn't own anything but that's because they didn't organise. Their own fault. And anyways, other women blocked that progress.

I think that good resources, good research (independent and probably by men for now) would at least bring him back from this seething hatred. Because it's not ingrained and taught. It's just a few weeks' worth of bullshit. I'm just really not good at disputes and because of that he thinks I have no good arguments. I already showed him some things you guys shared with me and he didn't shout: 'lies!' so I think it's going well. More please! The Villainous Company thing was brilliant as it addressed a lot of the MRA stuff. Thank you all for your great links.
posted by I have no idea at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this pretty much says it all: 'Men's rights' group behind sexual assault posters - Edmonton - CBC News
posted by scruss at 6:02 PM on July 10, 2013


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