Article in The Good Men Project Magazine

March 9th, 2011 by Pelle Billing

I was asked to write a piece on Men’s Rights and this is the result:

Unlocking the Men’s Rights Movement

Published today. Let me know what you think!

32 Responses to “Article in The Good Men Project Magazine”

  1. TitforTat Says:

    Great article Pelle

    I read it with my wife and we thought you hit the nail on the head. Reasoned yet firm and no hint of anger. We could use more men like you talking about some of the inequities we face. Thanks.

    John

  2. hopeless_case Says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article.

    My favorite sentence was this one:

    In this sense, feminism is a natural extension of women voicing their concerns about the limitation of the female gender role.

    The study you quote that found that men understood their wive’s issues much more accurately then women understood their husband’s issues is fascinating, and I like the way you explored the consequences of that.

    Do you have a link to that dissertation?

  3. Vladimir Says:

    Nice article.

    I only mind that responsibility is overlooked. I mean this in a sense that as women are getting more rights, these should be followed with more responsibility.

    Emancipation and empowerment do not mean “do whatever you like” free ticket.
    As I am living in Sweden at the moment I have seen some really bad behaviour from younger generation of Swedish women, justified as they “have a right to it”.

  4. Pelle Billing Says:

    Thanks, John. I’m glad that you and your wife like it!

    hopeless_case:Thanks! I don’t have a link to the dissertation. It’s from the pre-internet days…

    Vladimir: Yes, rights and responsibilities need to go hand in hand, and this is definitely an issue with mainstream feminism in Sweden.

  5. The Zeta Male Says:

    Nicely done-just curious why did you do your piece? They have taken in a lot of pieces (including mine!) but most of them haven’t been MRA friendly, and those that are do not seem to be swaying people.

  6. Paul Elam Says:

    Excellent piece, Pelle. I fear though that given Henry Balanger’s introducing all of us as a buch of crack pots, that the intent was to give them some sampling of our work in order to ridicule it and sell their own agenda.

    By the way, Pelle. I am getting requests to have you on as a guest on AVfM Radio. Please consider yourself invited.

  7. Pelle Billing Says:

    Paul,

    I just read the introductory piece in full, and that’s not really a serious way to introduce MRA’s. Are feminists introduced through commenters, or through the actual thinkers and writers? I’m also wondering if his piece was changed? Because I don’t remember it being that long or that critical the first time I skimmed it.

    Anyhow, I’d love to talk to you on your radio show. Let’s talk more about that via email.

  8. Pelle Billing Says:

    The Zeta Male,

    I did my piece since I was offered to do it, and I thought it was a good way to reach people who normally don’t read my stuff. I didn’t know how MRA’s would be introduced.

    I’m also going to start doing the same thing that feminists do, when anyone criticizes feminism in any way. I’m going to say: What kind of MRA do you mean? What branch? What subbranch? What thinker? What text?

    I’ve accepted that feminists want their critics to be specific, and now it’s their turn to swallow their own medicine.

  9. titfortat Says:

    Pelle

    I wonder if it might be more prudent for men to equate themselves to an ERA, Equal Rights Advocate. Though I have a very limited experience of the MRA movement my first impression seems to confirm what most of the radical feminists have been saying, “men are aggressive and domineering”, which obviously is not always true. Its not possible to get anyone to hear if the first impression closes their ears. This is definately something that I appreciate in the pieces I have read from you which helped me to hear.

  10. Pelle Billing Says:

    titfortat,

    Labels are always problematic. The feminist label has lost its original meaning to many people, and most women in Sweden don’t want to call themselves feminists anymore (since we’ve had equal rights for a long time, and the public feminists are not very balanced).

    The MRA label has its own issues. There are many good thinkers, but there are also those who are angry. Maybe because they’ve lost their kids and have to pay alimony, or simply because they’ve realized how little the world knows about men’s issues. That very anger ends up hurting the MRA label, at least when it goes overboard.

    I’m afraid that any label we can think of will go the same way as the feminist and MRA labels. Gender issues seem to attract people who are hurting, on both sides of the street.

    My own solution has been not to label my own work. Other people label me, but I never do it myself. I’ll say that I “work with gender issues and men’s issues”, but that’s it. If people want to know more I refer them to my writings or tell them a bit more there and then.

  11. Jim Says:

    “Nicely done-just curious why did you do your piece? They have taken in a lot of pieces (including mine!) but most of them haven’t been MRA friendly, and those that are do not seem to be swaying people.”

    Zeta Male, I am curious as to what yuo mean by “not swaying people”. Who is not being swayed there? Do you have specific commenters in mind? After all it’s hard for us to tell who is reading the site without commenting, and what effect any of the posts are having on them.

  12. titfortat Says:

    Pelle

    You have great way of looking at things. I think you are bang on with “attracting people who are hurting” idea. I can relate to that, when I was deep in my pain from certain issues I had lots of ‘friends’ who thought the same way. As I continue those same types rarely attract me nor do I attract them. What type of MD are you? I work in the health field also. I am a Registered Massage Therapist. I find it somewhat amusing how I now use my hands to help people heal, being that it wasnt always that way.

  13. Pelle Billing Says:

    I don’t work clinically at the moment. I’m more drawn to writing, lecturing and “healing” through working at the societal level. After all, some of the core issues I work with are male expendability, suicide, homelessness, etc which are very much related to health and wellbeing. But I did psychiatry for a few years after obtaining my license (is that what it’s called in North America?), and I did internships in internal medicine and surgery – so I have quite a solid clinical background.

  14. Jacobtk Says:

    I thought your article was well written and on the mark. I do regret, however, how you and the other men’s rights activists invited to write there were treated. From the introduction to the feminist articles to the comments, it seems like you and the others were asked to participate in order to make you all look bad rather than engage any of you in an actual discussion. That is terribly unfortunately because there could have been a sensible discussion if the focus was not centered on hostile men’s rights activist comments.

  15. Pelle Billing Says:

    Yes, the way we were introduced didn’t seem fair or balanced. You cannot hold individual thinkers responsible for people who comment on the internet. That’s absurd.

    I’m glad you like my article.

  16. TitforTat Says:

    Its tough to have sensible discussion when the extremists start the rant. And that goes both ways. Even though some of the articles were somewhat biased, I think the level of vitriol from many of the commenters is what leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Neither side is willing to look at the dirt in their own home. Thats probably why I got banned from one of the sites. Seems Im now a Mangina or Feminist. I wonder if that means I will start having multiple orgasms. Hmmm. ;)

  17. Pelle Billing Says:

    TitforTat,

    Yes, the gender debate is nasty indeed in some places, or even in many places. I wish I could say that MRA’s don’t contribute to this, but I can’t.

    I do understand the anger that men feel, after decades of feminism where men’s issues have been made invisible, and the contempt for men has been steadily rising. Still, I do not believe that public anger is what will change anything. We need people who can communicate clearly on these issues and whose judgment isn’t clouded by anger.

    Jacobtk links to some grounded gender thinkers at his site (and he is one himself), and I wish that a major publication would be interested – at some point – to run a series of articles with the most open minded and intelligent feminists and MRA:s, to investigate if there is a way forward.

  18. Nergal Says:

    “Though I have a very limited experience of the MRA movement my first impression seems to confirm what most of the radical feminists have been saying, “men are aggressive and domineering”, which obviously is not always true. ”

    I think it’s disingenuous to act as though being aggressive and domineering is always a bad thing.

    Would a feminist want men to try to reason with a person holding a gun on her and trying to rape her, or would she want that person yanked off of her and incapacitated?

    Well, that’s what MRA’s are trying to do, yank a rapist (radical feminism) off of their victim (men’s rights) and incapacitate them.

    I’m sure it sounds like they’re just full of “male privilege” and exercising “hegemonic masculine dominance” to someone indoctrinate with the belief that men have no feelings or emotions and it’s ok to hurt them, but MRA’s are simply responding with the same feelings anyone would have toward a bigger more powerful person or group abusing a weaker,smaller group. And when you consider that a handful of dudes on the internet are the only group that advocates for men (not all of society,as feminists claim, if you think that’s true wait til someone cuts your penis off and see what happens to you),and women have entire government panels dedicated to their rights, men are clearly the weaker group.

    They are responding with the same feelings you would have if you saw someone beating an elderly person or molesting a child or raping a woman.

    The anger may be off-putting and sometimes may be directed at the wrong people,but there’s a very good reason for it and you would feel it too looking at it from the proper perspective (the perspective of a male victim of domestic violence,for instance).

  19. Jim Says:

    “I do understand the anger that men feel, after decades of feminism where men’s issues have been made invisible,”

    Pelle, it goes much deeper than that. The anger doesn’t stop at feminism, it goes to chivalry. Feminism is just the fashionable face of chivalry, the “Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriachy” as some wag called it. Often at first men only see that feminist face and blame that for everything, but the rot goes much deeper and is much older.

  20. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jim,

    Yes, that’s what I meant, more or less.

  21. hopeless_case Says:

    Jim:

    I often find myself making the same point in MRA forums: the root of the problem is traditional values going back thousands of years, not the more recent feminist values.

    Anti-male feminists are more of a symptom than a primary cause of male oppression.

  22. titfortat Says:

    Anti-male feminists are more of a symptom than a primary cause of male oppression.

    Male oppression is a symptom of something, I think its called paranoia. Come on, really?

  23. hopeless_case Says:

    titfortat:

    When I say ‘male oppression’ in mean the specific ways in which men are treated worse by society than women are (10 times as likely to be sent to prison, 4 times as likely to commit suicide, 40% of collage enrollment and falling fast, FGM illegal but MGM not, he-said-she-said rape cases going to trial with no corroborating evidence, false accusations going unpunished, lack of anonymity for the accused, …).

    I’m not claiming that overall, men have it worse than women, although I do claim that overall, women do not have it worse either.

  24. hopeless_case Says:

    titfortat:

    I took a look at your blog and noticed your ‘equality and pro-choice’ discussion thread. Nice job constructing your scenarios. I left a comment for you there.

  25. titfortat Says:

    h c

    I agree women do not have it worse than men. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate the comments and compliment.

  26. Danny Says:

    Pelle:
    I’m also going to start doing the same thing that feminists do, when anyone criticizes feminism in any way. I’m going to say: What kind of MRA do you mean? What branch? What subbranch? What thinker? What text?
    Don’t forget to occasionally tell critics that they don’t know what MRAs are about if that’s all they have to say and recommend that they go look for some actual MRAs to read up on instead of building strawmen.

    h c:
    I often find myself making the same point in MRA forums: the root of the problem is traditional values going back thousands of years, not the more recent feminist values.
    I think the reason that does not resonate with MRAs is because feminist have a track record of simultaneously claimining that they are “The Ones” fighting for gender equality (and that men should join them) and denying/minimizing the ways the system harms men.

    You’re right they didn’t start the fire but that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass when they are caught hiding the fire trucks and throwing leaves in the fire while claiming they are the fire fighters.

  27. hopeless_case Says:

    Danny:

    You’re right they didn’t start the fire but that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass when they are caught hiding the fire trucks and throwing leaves in the fire while claiming they are the fire fighters.

    Yes, I agree, feminists deserve a lot of criticism for their double standards, and for claiming to be for gender equality but then minimizing/denying male issues.

    I wonder what fraction of family court judges are acting from traditional values and what fraction from feminist values when they separate a man from his children at the behest of their mother, or when they order the man to pay outrageous amount in child support? I’m guessing that most are acting from traditional values.

    One area where I think this leads MRAs astray is when they argue about how the law should treat a married couple where the woman gets an abortion over the husband’s objection.

    Most MRAs suggest that this unfairness should be fixed by making it possible for a man to absolve himself of financial responsibility when a woman decides to bear a child that he doesn’t want. This is an attempt to call feminists on the carpet for not granting men the same rights to bow out of raising a child that women enjoy.

    I think we need to go in the other direction, and call traditionalists on the carpet for failing to hold women to account for their choices, by establishing civil penalties for women who get an abortion over the husband’s objection. I think when a woman poisons a marriage like that, and the husband initiates a divorce on those grounds, he should be absolved of any alimony requirements, walk away with well over half the combined assets, and automatically get custody of any (already born, obviously) children.

    I also think that should be the penalty to a spouse that commits adultery as well.

    A man whose wife gets an abortion over his objection has suffered a greater injustice than a man forced to support a child he risked the creation of when he willing engaged in sex.

    If a society does not force people to keep the promises they willing make (and on which basis other people then commit serious resources), then social chaos will increase until it does.

    We should be arguing that society is not holding women accountable for the promises they willing made, and not that men should be allowed to walk away from theirs.

  28. Danny Says:

    h c:
    Most MRAs suggest that this unfairness should be fixed by making it possible for a man to absolve himself of financial responsibility when a woman decides to bear a child that he doesn’t want. This is an attempt to call feminists on the carpet for not granting men the same rights to bow out of raising a child that women enjoy.

    I think we need to go in the other direction, and call traditionalists on the carpet for failing to hold women to account for their choices, by establishing civil penalties for women who get an abortion over the husband’s objection.

    Oh god I can hear feminists whining pissing and moaning over that one already (in fact some are already calling current anti-abortion discussion a war on uteri). But honestly I can agree with them on that. I’m all for her body her choice and I think this might have something to do with why MRAs don’t push in that direction (well at least the sensibles that would not want the right to have the final say on a woman’s abortion). But even after the topic of abortion is passed (and by that I mean the child is born and abortion is no longer possible) there’s still the matter of women having safe haven laws and adoption agencies (which seem to be a great weapon to use when they don’t want the dad to have any part in the child’s life). Frankly put there are plenty of legal ways for a woman to absolve all rights and responsibilities to their children. On the other hand men pretty much have none.

    A man whose wife gets an abortion over his objection has suffered a greater injustice than a man forced to support a child he risked the creation of when he willing engaged in sex.
    I’m not willing to make that declaration about who has it worse (I try to avoid that as much as possible) but about the forcing a man to support a child that was produced by sex he engaged in. As I said above if said sex leads to a child a woman has the option of abortion. I agree that a guy should not have the final say on her abortion but again once the child is born the parental rights still rest largely in the woman’s hands. Quite literally she can control the level of involvement the dad has in the child’s life. That to me is the extremely unfair part. And it really bothers me because how many times have you see people (feminists among them) piss and moan about how dads need to “step up” and shit like that but will then sit in silence over dads that have their children basically kidnapped (well it would be called that the dad did it) and whisked away.

    Basically with the way it is now when a man and woman have sex and child results the attitude is that woman should get all the support and freedom she wants while the man is told that he should have kept it in his pants. And this mentality goes up to, including, and beyond birth.

    I wonder what fraction of family court judges are acting from traditional values and what fraction from feminist values when they separate a man from his children at the behest of their mother, or when they order the man to pay outrageous amount in child support? I’m guessing that most are acting from traditional values.
    I’m not sure the answer is that cut and dry seeing as some feminist values have no problem reflecting traditional values, when it suits them.

    Most MRAs suggest that this unfairness should be fixed by making it possible for a man to absolve himself of financial responsibility when a woman decides to bear a child that he doesn’t want. This is an attempt to call feminists on the carpet for not granting men the same rights to bow out of raising a child that women enjoy.
    Have you ever seen any conversation the topic of boycotting American women? A big part of the woman/feminist reaction is something to the effect of, “fine. if that’s your feelings about it then you probably weren’t that great of a guy to start with.” I kinda agree with that so why is that feminists are reacting to such MRAs with that same, “if he wants out of being a dad so badly then he probably wasn’t that great of a dad to start with and she’ll be better off without him.”? My guess is money. With that boycott American women crowd there is no existing attachment to hold them in place so they are fee to go off on their merry way. On the other hand with this parenting thing there is the existing attachment of the child. And that existing attachment can generate cash flow.

    (One last thing. I’ve seen people complain about how child support doesn’t really help with the costs of a child. So what it looks like is you have a situation where dads are getting raked over the coals for all their money and moms not getting it. most of that money is kept by the state. Yet I’ve never seem a feminist complain about how the courts charge so much in fees in interest that there’s hardly anything left for the moms.)

  29. Betsy Says:

    All the legal questions come up because of economic business. Economic business does arise from property rights and LABOR…this gets us to the core of a vicious cycle. Debt-based money systems are used by most counties…it’s a ponzi scheme…any rights and wealth you think you have; you don’t. True Wealth and Health come from Work…while corruption, greed, and coercion are ideals to profit without labor. The kernel of truth in the male “disposability” argument is that it applies equally to women…and always has.
    Here is the real truth…a quote:

    This so-called woman question has come up, and could only come up,
    among men who have departed from the law of actual labor. All that
    is required is, to return to that, and this question cannot exist.
    Woman, having her own inevitable task, will never demand the right to
    share the toil of men in the mines and in the fields. She could only
    demand to share in the fictitious labors of the men of the wealthy
    classes. ~Leo Tolstoy, TO WOMEN: http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2740/

    …the male/female dance has always has been about survival and work(love made visible)… and always will be…when will this become conscious?

  30. Betsy Says:

    If only the stupidity of women’s “rights” could be seen…then we would also see the absurdity of a men’s “rights” movement.

    more from Tolstoy’s essay TO WOMEN:
    It is not the childless woman who has conquered man, but the mother, that woman
    who has fulfilled her law, while the man has not fulfilled his. That
    woman who deliberately remains childless, and who entrances man with
    her shoulders and her locks, is not the woman who rules over men, but
    the one who has been corrupted by man, who has descended to his
    level,–to the level of the vicious man,–who has evaded the law
    equally with himself, and who has lost, in company with him, every
    rational idea of life.

    From this error springs that remarkable piece of stupidity which is
    called the rights of women. The formula of these rights of women is
    as follows: “Here! you man,” says the woman, “you have departed from
    your law of real labor, and you want us to bear the burden of our
    real labor. No, if this is to be so, we understand, as well as you
    do, how to perform those semblances of labor which you exercise in
    banks, ministries, universities, and academies; we desire, like
    yourselves, under the pretext of the division of labor, to make use
    of the labor of others, and to live for the gratification of our
    caprices alone.” They say this, and prove by their action that they
    understand no worse, if not better, than men, how to exercise this
    semblance of labor. …
    ~Leo Tolstoy, TO WOMEN: http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2740/

  31. hopeless_case Says:

    Danny:

    I’m all for her body her choice and I think this might have something to do with why MRAs don’t push in that direction

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to build up my argument in pieces and see exactly where we disagree on this.

    It seems to me that when a man and a woman get married and have kids, they are forming a partnership which involves each side making certain promises to each other, and that by establishing civil penalties for breaking those promises, society makes them enforcable. People are then more willing to commit the enormous resources (mostly time and money) required by each side to raise a family.

    I contend that some of the promises the were understood as made in marriage that we no longer enforce are sowing chaos and that that chaos will continue to increase until we resume enforcing those promises.

    I’d like to start with the concept of adultery. Most married couples insist on fidelity (i.e. do not consider their marriage an open one) for a number of sound reasons. One such reason is the significant risk of disease.

    As things currently stand, if one spouse cheats on the other, there is no legal penalty of any kind paid by the cheater. You could argue that a cheater would typically be divorced by the wronged spouse and that is a penalty of some sort, but supposing the woman cheated against the man, she would typically be entitled to half the combined assets, primary custody of the children, and perhaps alimony to boot. That could easily wind up being more of a penalty toward the man and a bonus toward the woman and thus do more to encourage adultery than discourage it.

    I think it would make more sense if the cheating spouse were put in an inferior position during a divorce (they would get less than half of the assets, no alimony, and the wronged spouse would gain primary custody of any children should they wish), as a penalty for having done such grievous damage to the marriage by violating the promise of fidelity.

    Do you agree with me so far?

  32. hopeless_case Says:

    Danny:

    Basically with the way it is now when a man and woman have sex and child results the attitude is that woman should get all the support and freedom she wants while the man is told that he should have kept it in his pants.

    I have witnessed a lot of conversations like that. I have also heard the response,”don’t stick it in crazy” when discussing a man whose wife divorces him, gets primary custody of the children, half the combined assets, alimony, and very generous child support, while the man did nothing wrong, as if people never start out rational and go crazy in response to life’s hard knocks (especially when going crazy can be so lucrative), and more importantly, as if the courts didn’t have a crucial role in protecting honorable people against crazy people.

    If seems to me that courts and society are not weighing the father/child emotional bond as anything near as important as the mother/child emotional bond. And then people complain when fathers don’t “step up.” You can’t have it both ways. Either fathers are important to the emotional well being of children or they are not.

    I’ve seen people complain about how child support doesn’t really help with the costs of a child.

    My guess is that in those cases, you have a woman who goes on state support and is required to name a father before receiving support. The state then goes after the father’s income. In that situation, there may be no link between the money the state is paying the mother, and the money being collected from the father. That is, if they do manage to collect more from the father then they are paying the mother, they don’t generally give the excess to the mother, but instead use it to defray the cost of the whole system.

    I have heard that the federal government makes money available to the states for support based on how much money the states order men to pay in child support, not how much they actually collect, which is part of the reason the state courts order such unrealistic amounts from fathers, then imprisons them for not paying.


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