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Men's rights

Men’s rights are the freedoms inherently possessed by men and boys of all ages, which may be institutionalized, ignored or suppressed by law, custom, and behavior in a particular society. The term may also refer to an activist movement advancing these rights. Supporters of men's rights aim to promote the physical, economic and emotional well-being of all men and boys, viewing this as part of human rights, civil rights, or equal rights. They are particularly concerned with issues involving family life such as family law, child custody, paternity fraud, and domestic violence. There is no single unifying manifesto or organization which can claim to speak for the entire movement and the term is used in various ways.

Related areas of the men's movement include:

  • Fathers' rights focus on the relationship between fathers and their children and in particular family law.
  • Masculism provides a counterpart to feminism and argues against legal constructs, reforms, or entitlements which deny men equal rights under the law on the basis of gender; there are conservative "traditionalist", "liberal", and libertarian strands.

Men's rights movement

In the 2000s men and concerned women began to share their concerns on the Internet, often bringing forward unheard statistics or viewpoints. Its supporters are considered part of the Men's Movement, and often call themselves Men's Rights Activists, or MRAs. Father's rights and Domestic violence are areas central to the men's rights movement. It is primarily concerned with legal equality and representation, health, education, employment, civil rights and Constitutional rights. Many supporters are particularly concerned with the effect that Sexual Harassment, Divorce, Custody, Rape and Violence Against Women Act-type laws have on men's rights and freedoms. It is argued that these laws cause violation of Constitutional rights such as the right to a fair trial and the right to due process.

Affirmative Action programmes, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 are also areas of prime concern. One group, S.P.A.R.C., argues that these policies have a far more discriminatory effect than is widely reported or acknowledged.

Men's Rights Advocacy and Masculism also promote the concept of "defending male identity". Typically MRAs would subscribe to masculinity as strength, honor and honesty.

History

Prior to 1995 the men's movement was predominantly a reactive and disorganized movement that received little attention or recognition. The American Coalition for Fathers and Children was founded in 1995 by mature activists such as Stuart A. Miller, and Dianna Thompson. ACFC founded the shared parenting movement and organized the largest protests in the history of the men's movement, the largest held in over 225 cities around the world on father's day, 2001 in the "Bridges for Children" campaign.The Coalition of Free Men, commonly known as the National Coalition of Free Men (NCFM), was founded in 1977 and is the oldest active men's rights organization in existence. NCFM has chapters and members throughout the United States and in several countries. In 2008 the NCFM started doing business as the National Coalition for Men since people often struggled understanding the significance of the word "Free".

Structure

Like most social movements, those concerned with men's rights comprise a wide variety of individuals and organizations, both united and divided in various ways on specific issues including the mistreatment of men in the media, the abortion debate, family law and false rape allegations. Some groups are formally organized or incorporated, while others are casual alliances or the work of a few individuals.

Although the vast majority of men's rights leaders and activists are men, there are many women, including those in significant positions within the movement. For example, Sue Price in the Australian Men's Rights Agency has been at the forefront of activism there. Naomi Penner was a women's rights activist in the 1960s who later helped to create the National Coalition of Free Men in America in 1981. B.N. Saraswati founded one of the earliest Men's right group in India.

Although most men's rights advocates are from the developed world, they form a diverse group, which include both singularly religious and atheistic individuals, as well as those from the left, right, and center of politics and every echelon of society. Significantly, however, the Men's right movement caught strength in India with Purush Hakka Sanraskhshan Samsta, of "Save Indian Family".

Issues

Within the larger context of human rights, men's rights advocates are concerned with many of the same general issues as proponents of women's rights, only with special attention and consideration to the role of men and boys. There are however radical men's rights advocates who see their goals as being in fundamental conflict with women's rights, rather than being allies in a fight against gender based discrimination of various kinds.

Education

In recent years, girls in the United States have tended to perform better in most educational levels and subjects. In the United States, 57% of college students are women, and the number is growing. The trend is similar in other industrialized countries.

Employment

Employment law is another area of concern, with such problems as unequal treatment around parental leave, retirement age, and pension entitlements. They also assert sexual harassment policies are de facto directed against the male style of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, while ignoring the female style of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. They express anger towards the fact that a man telling a joke or simply referring to a co-worker by a nickname is grounds for dismissal or lawsuits. Spain's recent 40% requirement on boardroom members has come under harsh criticism from the movement, while a company with 100% female board members would be acceptable under Zapatero's new law.

Family

Family law is an area of keen interest among men's rights groups. Men's rights advocates say that there is a systematic bias against men by family courts regarding issues related to child custody.

Health

Health areas addressed by the men's rights movement include:

  • Male-only military conscription
  • The disparity in the spending on men and women in the healthcare system. As another example, in the United Kingdom significantly more money is spent on breast cancer research than prostate cancer research. 40,000 cases of breast cancer were detected in the UK in 2000 and claimed the lives of 13,000 women in 2002. In 2000, about 27,200 cases of prostate cancer were detected and claimed nearly 10,000 lives in 2002 in the UK. Awareness for breast cancer is very prevalent in society today, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States.
  • Increasing suicide rate amongst young men, four times higher than amongst young women in the United Kingdom ; (73% of all suicide deaths in the United States are white males.)
  • Workplace deaths and injuries occurs at a higher rate for men in the United Kingdom
  • For domestic violence, advocates cite government statistics that show that in 15% to 38% of the cases of intimate partner violence the victim is male. They argue that the real number is likely to be higher, since male victims may be less likely to report abuse than female victims due to social stigmatization . They also assert that the percentage of shelters for battered men should make up a respective percentage of all shelters. The National Coalition of Free Men has sued several women's shelters with the goal of allowing battered men and their children to be admitted and to receive assistance from shelters (see Violence against men).
  • Male Circumcision

Media portrayal

Another issue of concern is the perceived anti-male bias in the media. Men's rights activists claim that men are portrayed unfairly on television, radio and in newspapers and magazines. They claim that not only does the media not pay serious attention to men's rights issues but that men are portrayed in a negative light, particularly in advertising. The lack of concern over men's issues such as higher rates of suicide by men, decline in academic achievement among boys, and a willingness of the press to print feminist statistics such as the "wage gap" has led to the term "Lace Curtain" being used.

Politics and law

In South Australian Parliament, one MP stated "tongue-in-cheek" that men would need signed consent from women to protect themselves from false rape allegations, should a proposed law come into effect. She described the proposed law as making men who are accused of rape guilty until proven innocent, and stated, "Having to have a consensual sex contract is ridiculous but having these laws that don't protect men's rights are also ridiculous.

Refugees

In Australian immigration policy a distinction is regularly made between women and children (often treated erroneously as equivalent to "family groups") and single men. The details are subject to current debate and recently failed legislation (August 2006) in the Australian Parliament. But for example in one recent case, the Minister for Immigration, Senator Amanda Vanstone, determined as follows concerning Papuan asylum seekers: "The single men on the boat would be sent to an immigration detention centre, but families would not be split up and would be housed in facilities in the community". The discriminatory treatment of single women (routinely assumed to be members of some family) and single men evident in such a practice is rarely examined in the Australian media.

Reproductive rights and equality

The term Male abortion was coined by Melanie McCulley, a South Carolina attorney, in her 1998 article, "The Male Abortion: The Putative Father's Right to Terminate His Interests in and Obligations to the Unborn Child," which was published in The Journal of Law and Policy. The theory begins with the premise that when an unwed female becomes pregnant she has the option of abortion, adoption, or parenthood; and argues, in the context of legally recognized gender equality, that in the earliest stages of pregnancy the putative (alleged) father should have the right to relinquish all future parental rights and financial responsibility -- leaving the informed mother with the same three options.

Social security and retirement

In some societies there is legislated discrimination against males in provision of social security. In Australia, for example, a woman over 50 years of age may obtain a Widow Allowance approximately equal to a pension if, after turning 40, she becomes widowed, divorced, or merely separated from a spouse (who may be a de facto spouse). She must have "no recent workforce experience", but she can easily qualify for this well after the loss of her partner by going through a period of underemployment. There is no similar allowance for men. In Australia and the UK, some of these discriminatory arrangements (including also women's earlier qualification for Age Pension, etc.) are being legally phased out. The policy of "age 65 for men, age 60 for women" remains in place in most Western countries, however.

Wages

Violence

Members of the fathers' rights movement state that feminist organizations invoke the specter of domestic violence as propaganda directed against fathers and fathers' rights groups.

Men's rights advocates point to domestic violence studies based on the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS), which suggest that men and women act violently toward their partners in about equal percentages. They claim that men comprise a "significant minority" of the victims of domestic violence, and they call for more services to be provided for male victims of domestic violence.

Critics accuse men's right advocates of ignoring, trivializing, and/or defending male violence. Michael Flood states that studies based on the Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS) are unreliable and that men's rights advocates ignore this when they cite statistics based on CTS studies.

While the media awareness group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting acknowledges that violence against men by women takes place, it also suggests that a misreading of the Straus/Gelles studies accounts for the difference in numbers alleged by some men's rights advocates and those from the American government's Bureau of Justice Statistics

See also

Significant writers

References

Bibliography

  • Save the Males by Richard Doyle, 2006, ISBN 978-1411696334
  • The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, 1993.
  • Women Can’t Hear what Men Don’t Say: The myths that divide couples and poison love by Warren Farrell, 1999.
  • The War against Boys: How misguided feminism is harming our young men by Christina Hoff-Sommers, 2000.
  • Who Stole Feminism: How women have betrayed women by Christina Hoff-Sommers, 1994.
  • Spreading Misandry: The teaching of contempt for men in popular culture by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, 2001.
  • The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege by Herb Goldberg, 1987.
  • Refusing to be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice by John Stoltenberg, 1989.
  • Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly, 1990.
  • Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man by Susan Faludi, 1999.
  • Men Freeing Men: Exploding the myth of the traditional male by Francis Baumli, 1985.
  • Flood, Michael: Backlash: Angry men's movements in: Rossi, Staceay E.: The Battle and Backlash rage on. 2004, XLibris Corp., ISBN 1-4134-5934-X, S. 261-287
  • Flood, Michael: Men's movements in: XY magazine, vol. 6. 1996

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