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Men's Rights Activism: What It Is and What It Really Stands For

By Tara Kurup

Image via Clarion Ledger

When you hear the term “men's rights activism,” what is the first thing you think about? Is it degrading? Important? A joke? What do men’s rights activists even stand for? The truth is that men’s rights activism was used to degrade feminism.

For some background information, men’s rights activism started in the 1970s. The movement was first called the men’s liberation movement, which explored the privileges men had, and the drawbacks of hegemonic masculinity. It then split into two groups known as the pro-feminist movement and the men’s rights activism movement. The men’s rights activism movement focused on areas that were changed by feminism as well as the preservation of the patriarchal gender order in households.

Unlike women’s rights movements, close to nothing pops up when you search “men’s rights marches” on any search engine. For years females have had to hold march after march to be acknowledged. This illustrates that you have to work hard to get your voice heard. The lack of extra steps being taken like writing petitions, marching, or protesting for equal rights shows that men’s rights activism is not based in an ideal worth fighting for and was made to draw attention away from feminism.

One could argue that men’s rights activists really think men are also oppressed and do not have equal rights to women. However, the timing of feminism and men’s rights activism shows that their historical overlap cannot be a coincidence. American feminism and men’s rights activism both started in the same year, as feminism was growing. Back in the ‘60s, women were still extremely oppressed and their voices could not be heard. They could be fired for getting pregnant, they could only apply for specific jobs, and they could not hold a credit card in their own name. Men’s voices could be heard, yet they only decided to use theirs because women's voices were starting to be heard.

Lastly, men have had far more rights than women. Throughout history, women have been portrayed as people who are just born to raise kids, clean the house, and stay silent. It was only 1973 when women were allowed to have abortions nationwide, and some countries still do not allow it. Men have always had their rights; being able to vote, serve in the military, they’ve had it all.

Keep in mind feminism is fighting for equality amongst all genders. If you believe more people should talk about men’s mental health, their sexual assault stories, or toxic masculinity, you are not a men’s rights activist, you are a feminist. We want equality because we deserve it. Take a moment to sign petitions and vote for politicians who are feminists to make the treatment of all genders equal.

Written by writer Tara Kurup

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