At no point since I became a politically aware individual have I ever been accused of being anything less than a full-throated defender of the rights of women. In fact, I am often derided by my peers, even many that would be considered "progressive", for the fact that I stand up for my belief that nobody should even be allowed to use language that serves to subjugate any class of people, let alone actually participate in actions that have, as their sole purpose, the goal of keeping an entire gender in the role of second class citizens. And make no mistake, that is what the current laws of this nation do to women.
It is with this predisposition to the feminist cause that sickens me when I read about so-called "Men's Rights" groups that seem to be popping up all over my radar. Other than the linked article, I have also seen this sort of group discussed in the comments section of my University newspaper and in conversation between a friend of mine and one of his acquaintances. The mere idea that people think that "Men's Rights" groups are equivalent to the feminist movement shows how little people actually understand either of them.
In the previously linked article, it is clear that the subject of the conversation, Mr. Roy Den Hollander, is upset that women are getting "preferential" treatment over him. However, his true interest comes through when he goes into great detail about how his disdain for the treatment that women get over him stems from his inability to get those same women to go home with him at the end of the night. In fact, Mr. Den Hollander, as far as we see in the article, is so pathetic as to not even really be worthy of me defending the feminist movement against him.
No, in fact, the much more glaring, and frightening, area where these "Men's Rights" groups seem to be occurring is on college campuses. Granted, I am operating off of a very limited sample size of one university in the Midwest, but here, on this relatively liberal campus, there is talk of a "Men's Rights" group starting next semester in an attempt to "counteract the radical liberal agenda of the feminazis that have infested this campus." Yes, this is the type of old-school, reactionary rhetoric that has become commonplace in the conservative backlash against feminism, but what makes it disturbing is that this is coming from students, granted they are a small, if not infinitesimal, group.
Why then, if there are so few of them, am I up in arms about the idea of "Men's Rights" groups attempting to counteract all the work that we, as feminists, do? Because, in the course of the discussion about the formation of the group on my campus(which can be viewed in the comment section of this University Daily Kansan article), the people who would join a group such as this one reveal themselves to be woefully undereducated(they believe that there exists no pay gap) and they equate rape, a crime that is universally agreed upon to be one of the most horrendous there is, with a woman cheating on her husband. While I can't make heads or tails of their reasoning behind that comparison, I will say that it is quite possibly the most offensive statement that I've heard in my two years of serving as a sexual assault awareness advocate on this campus.
So, with those statements, you have to ask yourself, why do these "Men's Rights" groups actually exist? They exist to make men feel okay with themselves for continuing to force women into subservient roles. They exist to make men sleep better at night knowing that they will make more money than every woman in their life for doing the same work, just because they happened to be born with a penis. "Men's Rights" groups exist to defend the one right that many men hold higher than all others, the right to tell a woman exactly where her place is. And trust me when I say, the men in these groups don't believe that her place is anywhere near the political or public sphere. The men in these organizations believe that women are fit to be nurses and secretaries, but not doctors and CEOs. These are the anti-Hilary, anti-Michelle Obama crowd. These are the men who run in fear whenever a strong woman stands up and says that they aren't going to take being treated like a second class citizen, or a sex toy. These are the men that make me ashamed of my gender.
The good news is that these men are not, by any means, the majority of males in this country. I honestly believe that there are more men that believe in the causes of feminism and equality than there are that hold to the reactionary causes of "Men's Rights". I challenge each and every one of the men that disagree with these groups to stand up and tell them so. Don't let women be treated as sex objects, second-class citizens, and less than equal in your presence. Stand up and make it clear that we believe that all people, be they male, female, black, white, hispanic, asian, gay, or straight, are equal and should be treated as such. It is the only way that we can override the insane amount of press that the wingnuts in the "Men's Rights" organizations are bound to get.