I recently attended an anti-MRA panel discussion on the University of Toronto Campus. I was interested in seeing what they had to say as well as to hear from Jeff Perera of the White Ribbon campaign, who I went to Ryerson with for my BSW.
Near the end of the talk, a young woman (she later identified herself to me as a radical feminist), let’s call her Jessica, asked if anyone was going to be attending the “Men & Boys In Crisis” rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto on September 28th, in order to hold a counter-rally. She mentioned they had some pamphlets they were going to hand out and held them up. After the talk was done, I went up and asked her for a copy and she gave me one.
I looked at the picture and the first header, felt my knee-jerk reaction to point out how bad it was just from a glance, and instead chose to stick it in my pocket for later. I spoke with her for a good 20 minutes, then Jeff asked if I had time to talk when I waved bye to him. Jessica had been standing nearby and asked if she could stick around too, thinking it would be an interesting conversation (it was, but that’s another tale).
We wound up living in the same end of the city and headed home together on the subway. Our conversation seemed to be actively listened to (mostly once I mentioned penis, vagina, and rape a few times with no inhibition). I was exhausted when I got home and forgot to bother looking at the pamphlet. The next day at work I remembered it and pulled it out of my backpack. I was right to tuck it in my pocket instead of reading it as I likely would have gone into activist mode. Now that the back story is out of the way…
9 common MRA myths, Debunked!
For starters, what is it these radical feminists are trying to imply with this picture? That men being concerned about their issues are crybabies, sissies, whiners, etc.? Men, and the women who love them, are not allowed to discuss their issues or concerns without being mocked and ridiculed? Should we just “man up”, a notion Jeff Perera often criticizes, and instead focus on problems women face without discussing our own? Should we just man up and walk off suicide? Having our experiences of rape minimized and ignored? Skip university and just enter a manly trade?
That seems to be what the radical feminists who compiled this pamphlet seem to believe.
Myth #1: Men commit suicide more often
You do not argue that men commit suicide more often than women do, you merely claim that the more numerous attempts by women are a bigger issue. Anywhere you look in the world, men greatly outnumber women in completed suicides. You do not try to refute this, because you can’t. For every mention of suicide I make here, I can find a webpage, a news report, or a scholarly article to back it up.
Attempting suicide is not the same as committing suicide, by which we mean, in this case, the completion of the act of suicide. If one woman attempts suicide 10 times, that is going to increase the numbers for women due to this one woman going through emotional turmoil but failing to complete her suicide attempt.
If ten, one hundred, or even one million men all attempt suicide once, and are successful in their attempt, then men still do not attempt suicide as often as women do. They only attempt it once. What do you think is the bigger concern, a single woman who is crying out for help and is still alive to get it, or one million men dying before they have that chance? Attempts are not comparable to completions. If you count the people who attempt suicide individually, as if they were successful for their first try, you would possibly be able to compare the numbers of people, by sex, driven to the act of suicide. This is the only way in which one would be able to compare attempts to completions in order to make a case for attempts being measurable in comparison to completions. Obviously those who died in their attempts would still be a bigger issue than those who did not. Would you compare victims of attempted murder with murder victims?
As for the second bullet point about women being more depressed than men, that is also not a good measuring stick in regards to suicide. Not everyone who is depressed is suicidal, not everyone who is suicidal is depressed. If teenage girls are 2.5 times as likely as boys to take anti-depressants, how does that compare to 4 times the number of boys committing suicide as an alternative to seeking help and even getting prescribed anti-depressants?
Nothing you said debunks that men commit suicide more often.
Myth #2: There is an epidemic of false rape accusations
This is not something I have seen among any MHRM sites I have read. I have seen MHRM sites, and academic sources, which cite numbers similar to those quoted here, anywhere from 2-8% of rape accusations being false. This means that for every 100 rape reports, 2 to 8 are false reports. What is not reflected is the extent of the damage done to those who were falsely accused. For those falsely accused, not only are they victimized, but they are not recognized as victims and punitive measures are rarely taken against false-accusers out of fear of harm towards “real” rape victims. This is worse than victim blaming, it is victim erasing. As with rape, the effects of being falsely accused can go on for years and years.
Brian Banks is a great contemporary example of how much harm a false accusation can wreak on someone’s life. Accused of dragging a fellow student to a stairwell and raping her, Brian was facing a possible 41 years in prison. With that possibility looming in front of him, Brian took a lesser plea of 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, and a lifetime on the sex offender registry for an act he did not commit. This effectively ruined his scholastic pursuits, his potential career in the NFL, and thanks to the sex offender registry, would follow him for the rest of his life affecting where he would want to live and work.
The problem in this story is that Brian’s “victim”, who also sued the school for $1.5 million dollars on the grounds that it wasn’t a safe space, was not a victim. She fabricated the whole story, which she admitted to Brian (though I’ll assume he knew) and said she felt bad, but she did not want to come clean because she didn’t want to give back the money.
The happy ending is that, thanks to footage of Wanetta Gibson via a hidden camera, admitting to the false accusation, Brian was exonerated of a crime he had not committed in the first place. He was not able recover the time he lost, or erase the emotional turmoil he went through, but Brian was able to go on to join the Atlanta Falcons. Ms. Gibson was ordered to pay back not just the $1.5 million she wrongfully got from the school, but to also pay for court costs that resulted from her false accusation.
No, there is not an “epidemic” of false accusations. I would agree with your statistic that it is a low percentage of all reports. However, in your pamphlet you say that an acquittal does not mean the victim invented the allegation, and it doesn’t. If they did invent it though, they are far from a victim. Also, on the flip-side, just because someone is convicted, as in the case of Brian Banks, it also does not mean that they are guilty.
One of the foundations of the legal system, as I’ve always been taught, is that it is better for a hundred guilty people to get off than it is for one innocent individual to go to prison. This is not based around rape-apologizing; it is about ensuring due process and looking at the facts. One cannot just assume a guilty verdict because a woman is accusing a man of sexual misconduct. I would still maintain the same tone should the sexes in a case be reversed from the perceived societal norm of male-perpetrator / female-victim.
I agree with you that false accusations are not an epidemic, but they do happen and should also be talked about. I would rather be concerned about an individual being victimized by a false accusation than to be concerned that addressing their concerns will somehow affect future rape victims who have not been victimized yet.
Myth #3: Domestic violence is a gender-neutral phenomenon
Stating that men are the abusers in the vast majority intimate-partner violence (IPV) cases is a big misdirection. Men are the abusers in the vast majority of IPV cases that go to court, as they are also the most likely to have charges pressed against them. According to a statistics Canada report, women were three times as likely as men to report an incident of domestic violence to police (23% for women, 7% for men). If men are that much less likely to even report it to police, you can imagine how many of them get as far as a Canadian court.
If studies “allegedly” showing comparable numbers of IPV do not factor in that 9 out of 10 women who hit their husbands do so in self-defence, why can you not cite these studies that don’t account for this, and why can you not cite a source for 9 out of 10 women hitting their husbands in self-defence? Keep in mind the above statistic that only 7% of men abused by their wives, across the entire spectrum of severity of abuse, choose to report it to police?
Your pamphlet claims that men are more likely to use extreme forms of violence. The stats can report shows that women are more likely to have been beaten, choked, sexually assaulted, or threatened with a gun or knife by their partner. However, it also shows that men are more likely to be kicked (presumably directed at their testicles), bit, hit, or hit with something. What is “something”? As far as I can tell, this could mean anything! Women are also more likely to throw something at their partner, like the time when my next door neighbour chose to throw a glass at her partner which shattered and lacerated his hand. My father took him to the hospital to get stitches. The matter never made it to the police.
In the most extreme cases of family-related violence, those that resulted in death, men were more likely to be killed by a common-law partner (66%), whereas women were more likely to be killed by a married partner (39%). Neither sex being victimized by their intimate partner is a good thing, and neither should be ignored.
Feminists love claiming that “one is too many”. Their influence is even seen in the White House, where there is a campaign to end violence against women under this very name. Even you can’t claim that not a single man has been or currently is a victim of a domestic violence situation. If one is too many, then how do you explain feminist anger when those interested in men’s issues discuss male victims of intimate-partner violence? I agree that one is too many, but this is true for both genders. Excluding one completely, as you are attempting to do is not just inequitable and unfair, it is unethical and counterproductive to any real progress against IPV.
I’m not even going to get into all the hetero-normative issues tied into this narrow view point. I can’t find the statistic on it, but I read that 7% of straight men are victims, 10% of gay men, and 18% of Aboriginal men. Are relationships between gay men free from IPV? Are lesbian relationships (I haven’t read stats on their prevalence rates)? Do you think it is the “man” (the top, the dom, etc.) in those relationships is always the abuser? Is the “woman” (the bottom, the fem, etc.) acting out of self-defence 9 out of 10 times? I can’t believe that to be true.
You have debunked nothing. You have merely tried making a complicated matter simple through a distortion of the facts. By doing so, you have also minimalized the effect of IPV upon not just men, but the entire LGBT spectrum.
Myth #4: Feminists hate men
I never said men can only ever be misogynistic, please keep your words out of my mouth, as I did not consent to that. What does that say about you?
MRA’s don’t hate feminists (okay, some do, I don’t), they only hate misandrists. If you think feminists can only be misandrists, what does that say about you?
That last sentence made as much sense as yours. Again, you have debunked nothing.
Myth #5: Divorce laws discriminate against men
Wives do the overwhelming majority of housework and childcare? What if a couple have no children? What if a family is rich enough to afford to pay people to take care of the house work? In your outdated view on relationships, how do you justify the large settlements some women receive after a divorce in which they have contributed minimally at home, financially, or, in some instances, not at all?
Marriages are also more complex systems than you make them out to be. You define women as doing unpaid labour when they do housework. I assume these women have a house in which to do the housework. How did they manage to get it if their labour is unpaid? How do they manage to eat and have food if they are unpaid? Why is it that women control about 80% of household spending if their labour is unpaid and they lack power as a result? By these numbers, one could infer that men only get to retain 20% of their income and women then get 80%. If a woman’s labour at home is worth 80% of her husband’s earnings, who is really getting the short end of the stick here? The family is a cooperative system, a complex unit, and just because the man earns the financial piece for that system, the entire home benefits.
This holds true for women with stay-at-home husbands, but it is still men that make the majority of wage earners in single-income households. You have debunked nothing.
Myth #6 Fewer men are in University nowadays
Here is another argument where you could really have used a citation. Care to show me evidence that the lower number of men attending university is due to men entering “the well-paying trades”, or elaborate on which trades these are? Sure wish I’d known about these trades before I blew my money on my university education. I find this claim that men are doing just fine by entering the trades doesn’t hold much water after the recent recession that hit the states (dubbed a “mancession” by some), as the industries hit the hardest were those trades you think are so profitable for men while women’s jobs were not.
A woman needs a PhD to earn as much as a man with a bachelor’s? I make just over 40k with my bachelor’s degree. What PhD’s are these women getting that has them earning money on par with me? Two of the women at your anti-MRA event mentioned that they had been in school since 2005, one of whom was working on her second master’s degree. If I make more money than them, it’s because I took my social work degree (a four year course) and immediately took on three jobs in order to pay off the dues I incurred while obtaining my BSW. On top of that, I also gained real world experience which has enabled me to merit an increasing rate of pay over those years they chose to stay in school and delay their entrance into work force.
As you provided no citations for this (or anything in your pamphlet for that matter) this sounds like an attempt to add more credence to the myth of a gendered wage gap. You know, that staunchly held feminist belief that despite living in a capitalist society, feminists seem to think business owners would rather pay a man 33 cents more than to hire a woman for the same work. You know that myth, the one that has been debunked by Forbe’s, The Huffington Post, and even Hanna Rosin, author of “The End of Men”. All 3 of those links are articles by women, two of whom identify as feminists. In the name of equality though, here is a youtube video featuring a man for those who dislike reading (how did you stick with me this far?).
You have debunked nothing, and I just shared with you a couple of feminist articles debunking your own feminist views. Is your mind-blown yet?
Myth #7: Mandatory conscription only applies to men. This shows that male life is seen as disposable
Whether or not women were assumed too weak or incompetent to enter war, this does not change the fact that men are considered worthy of being sent off to die while the women stay home and are protected. The excuse for women not entering war, whether or not your reasoning is valid is a moot point, does not change the fact that men were and continue to be seen as disposable, especially in war. Perhaps you haven’t heard of the term cannon fodder which literally means disposable soldiers; men who can be sent in to die to serve the strategic, military purposes of their commanders.
Now, if women were seen as too weak and incompetent to enter war, how much were women voicing opposition to this and historically attempting to enter war, particularly ground battles. Most men didn’t even want to enter into wars in which they had little or no stake. Furthermore, why did one of the original feminists, Emmeline Pankhurst, drop what she was doing in regards to securing the vote for women in order to shame men into going overseas to fight and die? Why didn’t she change her tone to fight for the right for women to declare themselves strong and competent enough to be dropped on the frontlines as well? Why did she take up the white feather campaign in order to shame men into going to fight and die, going so far as “lobbying to institute a draft to institute an involuntary draft of people, including those who lacked votes due to being too young or not owning property.” An often ignored piece of history, not all men had the right to vote either, but women had the right to shame them into their societal duty to be disposable, and to lobby for the conscription which you supposedly claim to be opposed.
The panel discussion at which I was given this pamphlet had a speaker who identified as a radical feminist. She repeatedly expressed a perceived need for feminists to become more militant, to need to take hostile and aggressive tactics against her perceived enemies (those who seek to address men’s issues). This speaker was supportive of past aggressive actions such as blocking doors, getting in people’s faces, mobbing and intimidating people wishing to attend an event (with no knowledge of their individual beliefs), and even resorting to setting off fire alarms (resulting in wasting the time of firefighters as well). In the face of this personally observed evidence, so enthusiastically expressed by this speaker, I find it hard to believe that radical feminists, such as those present at this event, fervently nodding agreement with this speaker`s statements, are interested in “de-militarization” and “non-violence”. I guess 8 years of schooling, 2 master’s degrees, and not much to show for it but a vocabulary that is overwrought with the word “like” (as in “like y’know, whatever!”) would leave me very angry and bitter as well.
These are your radical-feminist roots. These are your radical-feminist views. You have debunked nothing. All you have done is to illustrate once again that radical feminists are largely incapable of calm, well-reasoned discussion when faced with a logical assessment of reality, most particularly when they perceive that reality as posing a threat to undermine their stridently voiced, extremely one-sided, self-serving perspective.
Myth #8: We have “women’s studies”, but no “men’s studies” in universities. This is unfair.
History and political science are men’s studies? I seem to recall studying individual men, not men as a collective, as an identity. I also seem to recall learning about Laura Secord (because I’m Canadian), as well as Queen Elizabeth I & II, Catherine the Great, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart, etc.
If political science is the realm of men as well, is that why feminists, despite women being the popular vote, cry foul at the majority of politicians being men (again, voted in by women, policies affected by women)? Is that why 50% of Canada’s Premiers (or First Ministers) are women? Even if we include the Territories, it is just a 7 to 6 split favouring men.
Women`s studies have been commandeered by radical feminists who use these courses as a bully pulpit for their very distorted views; a reality attested to by many writers and speakers, such as Christina Hoff Sommers. So tell me again how you have debunked the inequality inherent in instructing students in women’s studies and not also offering or exploring the study of men?
Myth #9: Women usually get custody of their children; this is discrimination against men.
Women do not just get custody of the children sometimes; women get custody of a couple’s children in the majority of divorce cases. Studies tend to place the rate at which the mother gets sole custody of the children in 80%, or higher, of divorce proceedings.
Neither do women get custody of the children because they spend more time and energy on the child, this stat still holds true when the father is the primary stay-at-home caregiver. Historically, it was the law that there should be a presumption to grant the mother custody of children who were 16 years of age or younger. This was called the tender years doctrine. This was to counter the previous presumption that fathers should retain custody of the children. If custody is awarded based on who puts the most time and energy into the children, did men do this before the tender years doctrine? Two wrongs do not make a right.
To say that fathers should spend more time with their kids if they wish custody of their children is ignorant, as if the majority of a father’s “time and energy” isn’t spent with his children in mind. As I stated above, when it is the mother who earns the financial necessity to raise the kids, and the father does the hands on care, courts still side with the mother. This highlights the lack of logic or empirical evidence to back up your view on the matter. Also, a judge does not actually see who spends how much time or energy with the children, it is not something parents can measure and present.
When Mothers are presumed to be the better caregiver, historically by law and at the discretion of judges today, is discrimination against fathers. Mother’s being granted custody in over 80% of divorce proceedings is a huge imbalance.
When Jessica gave me her pamphlet, before even looking at it, I told her “just so you know, I’m from the other side of this debate. Are you sure you want me to have your pamphlet in advance of Saturday, since then obviously we’ll have advance knowledge of what you’re bringing?” She said it was okay, and then I looked at it.
I gave her fair warning of what side I would be on and that I would be able to argue anything in it better. I am offering her the same courtesy by posting my response days in advance.
Jessica, your pamphlet doesn’t hold any water, and you need to step you game up. You have less than three days now, but you will need to improve your material if you expect to spark a discussion. Maybe you should study up on where the Fiamengo protesters fell short and where you can improve your arguments.