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Feminist/MRM conflict is rooted in feminist ideology and activism (originally from mensrights.ca)

This is an addition to the conversation started by the post, The Men’s Rights Movement versus the Feminist Movement… Necessary conflict?

One commenter asked, “Why does there have to be a conflict?”

I left a reply, but the topic is something that really can’t be condensed into a simple comment.
The short part of the answer is that many of the discriminatory conditions men face can be traced back to causes rooted in feminist activism.

It really starts with what’s behind the sense of entitlement that is inherent to feminism.

Feminists fail to differentiate between having a fundamental need, and having a fundamental right.

The pursuit of conditions or factors to meet fundamental needs (eg., putting forth effort to obtain food and shelter) is a human right.

The receipt of conditions or factors to meet fundamental needs (eg., having food and shelter provided at the expense of others) is not a fundamental right, but an act of charity on the part of the provider (as long as it’s voluntary – otherwise, it’s theft by the recipient, even when those things are needed.)
With this misapplication of the word “right,” feminists treat the condition of being given possession or position as if it were the same as the condition of having one’s pursuit not being wrongfully obstructed. This is related to the positions of equality of outcome versus equality of opportunity. In the equality of outcome scenario mentioned in the article above, feminists are expecting women to be given wealth/positions that were not obtained in order to achieve equalization. In the equality of opportunity scenario, the focus is simply on removal of barriers so that the effort put in by every individual results in similar achievements.

Another problem which has a side effect upon this is that feminist advocates fail to differentiate between fundamental needs, and dearly valued/wanted conveniences.

Food and shelter are fundamental needs.

Yummy food and nice shelter are dearly valued/wanted conveniences.

Feminists go beyond claiming the right to the pursuit of fulfillment of fundamental needs to claim the right to receive dearly valued/wanted conveniences. A striking example of this is their campaign for government in the U.S. funding for Planned Parenthood, and their loud demands for a provision in Obamacare requiring coverage for birth control drugs.  Abortion and birth control drugs are dearly valued and wanted conveniences, but they are not needs. Feminist advocates were dishonest in their advocacy for both, arguing as if women’s access to these conveniences is controlled by outside funding.
One outgrowth of that combination of beliefs is a sense of entitlement to enforce the provision of the fulfillment of needs or dearly held wants upon other human beings. Treating this as a given fact upon which society must base law and policy, this is equivalent to the assertion that “If A has a need for or dearly held want of a factor, B must provide it,” where A is the individual with whom feminism identifies itself, and B is the individual with whom feminism takes issue.

This is further modified by another fundamental flaw in the movement: Patriarchy Theory, which, in short, blames upon male society all issues or conditions which feminists define as oppression of women. Patriarchy Theory makes female society group A, and male society group B.
So you have a group which labels having (as opposed to not being prevented from reasonably pursuing) that which women want or need to be a right, and asserts that as justification for demanding or taking it from men.

A result of that combination of entitlement and blame is that feminist groups are content to lobby for law and policy which is discriminatory toward men in order to acquire benefits for women. This has further led these groups to be the cause behind some men’s issues, and the opposition holding back any effort at remedy for others.

For example, men face discrimination in family court. In custody disputes, it’s much more likely for mothers to be awarded custody of their children than for custody to be awarded to fathers. Mothers who retain custody are awarded child support more than fathers are, and in larger amounts.
Feminists confronted with this issue claim that this is not because of feminism, but is instead based on the presumption that women are better caregivers, a concept they attribute to “patriarchy.” History shows  that this presumption is not a result of patriarchy, but in fact a result of the activities of feminists themselves. The tendency of courts to award custody to mothers can be traced back to a 19th century feminist who campaigned for it because of her own custody battle. Though the doctrine she wrote as part of her campaign is no longer cited as the reason for awarding custody to mothers, the presumptions laid out in it are, including the idea that women are better caregivers.  When father’s rights groups have lobbied for more evenhanded child custody law, the National Organization for Women lobbied against it, using demonization of fathers as deadbeats and abusers as their argument.

For the last 40 years, feminist advocates have (successfully) fought to impose their gender ideology on the issue of domestic violence, managing to deny assistance to half or more of the victims of abuse.

Feminist advocated law and policy in the U.S. has whittled away at the due process rights of accused men, provided incentives to make false allegations, and made restraining order abuse easy to commit, and hard to counter.

They’ve advocated for laws which remove the presumption of innocence from men accused of rape. The handicapping of an accused man’s defense makes false conviction a significant risk for men in the U.S., keeping organizations like The Innocence Project busy undoing the damage done by a severely imbalanced, heavily biased legal system.

They have advocated for federally required changes in disciplinary policy at colleges and universities, which have led to an environment that encourages and enables the leveling of false allegations of sexual violence against men on college and university campuses in the U.S. In March of this year, the Campus SaVE act goes into effect, making federal law from policy which has already been shown to be unbalanced and dysfunctional.

In all of those areas, group A has obtained social, political, and legal power by slandering group B and then demanding to be protected from them.

The tactics feminists have employed to grease the legal wheels for their sponsored legislation have included deliberate, targeted demonetization of men to the extent of creating a perception of them as subhuman in comparison to women, and portraying women as helpless victims. This portrayal of men as subhuman brutes and women as helpless victims has been instrumental in convincing politicians and their constituents that it’s acceptable to pass laws which infringe on people’s civil rights… as long as it’s done in small increments, and it feels like it’s for a good cause.

Much of feminist activism has been about obtaining funding for feminist-led programs and organizations; things like domestic violence victims advocacy agencies, women’s shelters, campus rape prevention programs based on feminist theory, women’s studies programs with feminist professors and feminist department heads. There’s a lot of money involved in maintaining the current political outlook. A lot. No, really.  A lot.  Tons and tons.

Men’s rights activism is in direct confrontation with that. It is not possible to fight for reform in family and criminal court without butting up against feminist interests. Feminist interests require a group B; a group upon whose human rights it’s acceptable to infringe in order to continue the cycle that funds feminism.

MRAs can’t compromise with feminist activists because that would entail adopting aspects of feminist theory which are in direct contradiction to the best interests of men. Successful advocacy for legal and social reform to reduce the discriminatory conditions faced by men partially depends on countering myths and stereotypes about men and women, including those promoted and exploited by feminist advocates. People who are willing to see civil rights trampled because men are considered disposable and dangerous, and women valuable and vulnerable, won’t be persuaded to want to protect those rights unless their attention is first drawn to male humanity, and female agency.

That conflict leaves the two groups in opposition to each other whether we want to be at odds or not. It is not that men’s rights are pitted against women’s rights, with one having to win and the other to lose. It is that men’s humanity is pitted against feminist power.


Imagine for a moment, if, upon waking each morning, you are soundly beaten by a stranger with a baseball bat. You call police to have your assailant arrested, only to be quizzed by the dispatcher in a patient voice, asked to describe the bat, and to rate the assailant on a scale between not being assaulted, and the worst attack you've ever suffered. You are asked to describe these things in terms that are completely unrelated to the attack, such as artistic comparisons, or mathematics, and all while the beating continues uninterrupted. The person you are talking to treats you as if you are stupid, lying, or intoxicated because the beating makes it hard for you to concentrate and communicate.

You end up having to beg the police to stop the stranger from beating you... being treated as if you are weak because you begged, or even just because you don't want to be beaten by the stranger with the bat. No matter what you say, they won't listen, but instead tell you that lots of people are assaulted by strangers with baseball bats each morning, as if knowing that you are not the only one will somehow make the beatings more tolerable.

After going through all of this, you are told that you've reached your limit of assailant arrests, that you've been helped by the State police, the FBI, and the Marines, and you can't be helped any more. You know it's true, because they're still all there, but they're outside defending you from other assailants. You've just called for reinforcements because this one got through.

Perhaps you have become a nuisance to the dispatcher. Perhaps she just doesn't know a nice way to tell you that she cannot help you. Either way, she sends you packing. She tells you that you'll have to learn to live with your assailant. You are treated as a criminal for seeking help, with sidelong looks given, and clucking of tongues, to make you feel dirty and low. The evidence your assailant is right there in the room with you, beating you as you speak to the dispatcher, is unimportant. You're obviously an attention whore. Your assailant is probably all in your head. You made your assailant up because you have a thing for cops.

After calling and calling, searching for any kind of help, you finally find someone who understands your suffering, a dispatcher from a unit that specializes in countering consistent patterns of assault... but he tells you his hands are tied by federal laws regulating his work, which do not differentiate between a stubbed toe and an assailant with a baseball bat when it's one who has gotten past your other defense force. Since you wouldn't need police to control a stubbed toe, you can't have protection from this guy with the bat. This dispatcher, too, admits he can do nothing to protect you from this particular assault, but he says he can give you something to make you less depressed about being beaten. Desperate for relief, you accept the somewhat comforting service of an emotional therapist. Your therapist can't help you get rid of the assailant with the bat, but he can help you process the sense of hopelessness and despair that results from being beaten all day long. 

When others find out what you've been given, you discover the stigma of mental illness as they treat you like a crazy person. They gossip, warning each other to be careful around you because your behavior might be unpredictable. Parents of your children's friends deem you the untrusted parent, the one who might feed the kids dessert for supper or say the wrong kind of things in front of them. Dear god, what if the kids are at your house when you have a breakdown? After all, you need a therapist to get through everyday life! Every assumption seems reasonable while ignoring the stranger beside you, still bashing that bat into your body. Who needs context when it's easier to be judgemental?

You lose your job, because trying to work around that stranger interferes with your performance until you become completely ineffective. Then, you are treated like a deadbeat because you cannot work, others telling you about times when they've been kicked in the leg once or punched in the jaw, and still were able to work, so why can't you? What's wrong with you? Why can't you just man up and work through this situation? If your assailant is not hitting you in the head, why can't you just change to a desk job, where his behavior won't prevent you from doing the work? Nobody considers that being constantly pummeled with a bat might not only impair your ability to do manual labor, but to exercise the focus needed to perform mental tasks, as well. Nobody considers the fact that they're comparing unlike circumstances and temporary incidents to a long-term situation. They simply see an able-bodied man without a job.

Maybe you just happen to be somewhere public when your assailant slams the bat into your gut... then you find out the building's restroom isn't public. Describing your situation does not elicit sympathy from whoever controls access to that restroom. No, you've got a problem, one they don't know can't rub off on everyone else who uses that same facility. And the fact that you're followed around by all those cops - clearly you're the wrong type of person to be in this building. Are you just going in there so you can call for more?

Worse, any appearance of desperation you might have because of your situation will be treated as aggression. Clearly you're just an impatient, overprivileged jerk who feels entitled to exemption from the rules that apply to everyone else. You're standing there demanding special treatment, for no obvious reason.

You are treated as too rude, too dirty, or too dangerous to use the bathroom, as the stranger stands there, unnoticed, continuing to hit you with the bat. You rush, humiliated, to the nearest place that you know does have a public restroom. You just hope you make it in time.

At the grocery on a bad assailant day, you have to use your handicap tag, park in the wheelchair space, and use one of the electric carts, because your assailant has hit you so hard in the back, legs, knees, or hips that you cannot walk in the cold, or cannot walk all over the store. The other shoppers look at you as you walk from your car in the handicapped space to the electric cart, sit down, and begin driving it.

Imagine the lack of understanding, the judgmental head shakes, stares, and sometimes even cruel statements made. Maybe you wouldn't need that cart if you weren't so fat. You should walk around the store for exercise. When they don't have the guts to say it to your face, you get to hear them talking behind your back. He doesn't need that cart. He didn't need it last month. He's just lazy. Shame... he should leave it for someone with an actual handicap. Security should kick him out for using it.
Shame. Tsk-tsk.

Even the people who know you and know you're under constant assault don't really understand. They were sympathetic at first, but eventually they tune out your assailant, even though you cannot. You can tell by their actions, and their reactions. They ask you stupid questions, such as "Why can't you just suck-it-up-and-drive-on?" or "Why does everything you do take so long?" and "Why don't you just call the police?" If you remain silent about your problem, people forget it's happening, but if you speak up, regardless of how much your assailant hits you, you're a buzzkill and everyone will avoid you. You have learned to walk a fine line between mentioning your limits when you have to, and keeping your mouth shut when you don't.

This is compounded by the fact that some of those who know the size of your existing defense force don't believe this assailant is real, and some of them suspect there are less to defend against than would merit the force you've employed. Some treat you as a person impaired in ways you are not, on the assumption that the noise from the fighting prevents you from thinking properly. Others blame any random problem which occurs in your life on your defense force, and advise you to get rid of them. Still others, pursued by different types of attackers than the ones after you, recommend you try their defenders. "I know what you're going through. I'm being attacked by sea. You should quit with the Marines and try out the Navy. The Navy is working great for me!" Often, people who make suggestions get offended if you don't run right off to try them out, even if you explain that you've already done so to little effect. You're not being attacked by sea. You're being attacked by individuals with baseball bats, and a lot of evaluation went into determining that the best defense force for you was the combination you're using... but none of that matters when there's an amateur dispatcher's opinion to consider.

You know that people's frustration with your refusal to switch methods at the drop of a hint is partly caused by needing to have some way of trying to help, and feeling stymied by that refusal... but it doesn't make the resulting criticism they launch at you... you're just wallowing in it... you don't want to get better... you just want sympathy... any easier to hear.

You're not allowed to fight back on your own, either, and you can't hire a bodyguard. Defense against assault is a controlled action, and must be carefully monitored by proper authorities. If you attempt to defend yourself, and are caught doing so, you will be arrested and jailed for attacking your assailant. All defense will be taken away from you, and previous assailants will be let into your cell, to all beat on you at once. You live in fear that this will happen to you anyway, as you are required to periodically renew your protection (via the feds and the marines) from those assailants.

Unfortunately, you cannot keep the same people involved with your case forever in order to keep your defense consistent, as the type of people who deal with cases like yours are frequently targeted for investigation by the Defense Establishment Authority. Their documentation makes them much easier to target than street assailants, and too often they end up getting jailed for unlawful management of defense forces, leaving you to search for a new resource for help. Each time a new person becomes involved with your case, he or she looks over your history and tells you that you are too protected, and that some of that protection must be removed so that you will be safer. When this does not make sense to you, the new person gives you that same sidelong-look and clicking tongue treatment you've had before, and orders changes to your guard. When the changes reduce the guard's effectiveness, letting through more assailants, and the new person must grudgingly admit things were right before, you are blamed, treated as a weakling, or otherwise made to feel that your need to be protected from harm is invalid. The same old "thing for cops" accusation keeps getting repeated everywhere you go. Evidence that you're actually under constant attack does not matter. The inconvenience you represent to the system is all that does. Your dispatcher is being watched. Working in his field is a crap shoot. At any time, he may become the Defense Establishment Authority's next target.

Each time this happens, in addition to the sadness you experience for your dispatcher, your guilt over having been one of his charges, and the frustration of having to seek help elsewhere, you face a very real fear. If this happens too often, you can get accused of "shopping" for a dispatcher more willing to wrongfully send forces to protect you, and jailed yourself, despite being able to prove your previous dispatchers were no longer available to help you because of their arrests. In fact, their arrests may even be used against you. Obviously, that's just part of your protection seeking pattern.

Talking about this situation to other people once again elicits the shaming response that you must have a thing for cops or attention. Why else, the people ignoring your assailants wonder, would you be so worried? What are you, some kind of defense fanatic?

Though the situation is hopeless, you have no choice but to continue on like this. You cannot fight the authorities who control your access to protection from assault, and there is nothing you can do yourself to get rid of your assailant. You know that for the rest of your life, there will be varying degrees of this type of assault heading your way, and it is up to you to weather them as best you can, taking what help you can get, and living one day at a time. You'd square your shoulders and set your jaw against this tide, but that, too, would just draw negative attention.
You decide to just keep your head down, instead.

Congratulations. You've just had a taste of chronic pain, complicated by breakthrough pain, in today's legal and medical environment.
Hundreds of men and women experience this as they age. Workers in heavy labor industries and dangerous jobs, more likely to be men, will face it at a higher rate than the general population due to work related injuries.

There is a degree of sympathy for women with chronic pain, although it is limited. There's less of a degree when that assailant is attacking a man, and the younger the victim, the more likely people are to treat him like a liar, a layabout, or a lunatic. People are more likely to avoid him than check on him or include him in social activities, often out of discomfort with his situation and their inability to make a perceivable difference in it.

There are, in fact, differences you can make. They're not always the ones you're looking for.
The chronic pain sufferer in your life knows you can't get rid of his pain. He knows you can't pay his bills, or become his caregiver. Those things are too big for one individual to help with. Don't let discomfort with your inability to fix everything become a reason for you to contribute to his isolation, when that is the one thing you do have the power to affect.

Keep in contact, even if all you guys do is send each other memes. Check in on him when you're able. Don't let the time in between days you're able to do that embarrass you. He knows you work and you have a family. There's no law that says you can't visit again because you missed some invisible deadline.

Don't feel like you have to be upbeat all the time, or make him upbeat. Your life isn't all shits and giggles. Don't expect his to be, either.

"It hurts" is a reality. It's his reality. Sometimes just having someone else know makes it more bearable, even if you don't have some profound words of wisdom to make it so. Believe it or not, "That sucks, man. I wish there was something I could do..." can be profound enough.

Does he make gallows jokes about his condition? Let him. Laugh with him, or groan if it's a groaner of a bad joke. Gallows humor is a way of processing experiences that would otherwise be emotionally crippling. Just having a loved one understand that can be an immeasurable relief. Listening without judgement can make a huge difference. It may be frustratingly invisible... but so is chronic pain.

Once in a while, there will be something measurable you can do, like being the driver for a grocery trip because going alone is rough, or spending a couple of hours playing video games with him because that distracts him from his situation, or sitting with him while he deals with the social security administration because those bureaucrats will run him over if he doesn't have a friend there to witness their behavior... or writing a short letter to a pain clinic describing the person you know him to be so he doesn't get treated like an addict when his arthritis kicks up a notch in cold weather... or getting him go to a sports bar with you when depression about his condition has been keeping him home. Essentially, be a friend to your friend, the same as you would any of your other friends.

Got extra nervous energy to deal with because of the situation? Yes, it is hard to see someone living under an adverse condition you can't protect him from or remove from his life. It's not wrong for you to get frustrated, angry, worried, or just antsy with the need to do something about the problem.
So you can't get rid of his pain. So you can't be his doctor, his housekeeper, his nurse, and you feel like sitting around his house playing video games or watching TV, or even including him in your outings isn't enough. That's not wrong. That's fuel for activism.

One of the big problems faced by chronic pain sufferers, at least in the U.S., is that our government has decided to lump them in with street drug addicts. More and more limitations are being placed on what types of treatments are available to them. Their access to pain control medication is being reduced, while at the same time, their insurance providers are allowed to deem pain control therapies like massage and other physical therapies unnecessary. Then they're told, based on data from when people had better access to pain care, that their conditions are not disabling. And maybe they wouldn't be, if they were receiving proper treatment.

Politicians need to hear that this is stupid. While it's reasonable for medical professionals to monitor patients' pain care to avoid addiction and medical emergencies that drugs can cause, using the drug enforcement agency to monitor that has resulted in the opposite. The shrinking resources for chronic pain patients end up so overburdened that patients who aren't savvy or mindful enough to monitor themselves fall through the cracks. Some end up without access to care, leading to other health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress... which in turn, over time, can lead to more threatening conditions. Some of those underserved patients turn to street drugs, which are plentiful and easier to get one's hands on, thanks to the DEA's redirection of its focus onto pain clinics, oncologists, neurologists, osteopaths, and other physicians whose specialties mean they're going to have more chronic pain patients than the average general practitioner. Exactly how does that protect people from drug addiction?

You don't have to break your friend's confidence, or draw any attention to him in particular to explain this. Just make the point that medical treatment is best assessed and administrated by medical professionals. It's good when the DEA polices things like drug diversion (medicines being stolen.) It's bad when, based strictly on a set of numbers, they arrest oncologists for providing pain relief to dying cancer patients, or pain specialists for helping degenerative disk disease sufferers manage their symptoms well enough to continue to work. This is something you can affect with minimal effort, just by sending an email or a fax to your state's representatives telling them why, in your experience, the federal government's overzealous interference with pain care is more harmful than helpful. Enough people doing this will show federal representatives that public opinion is set against the policies that make your loved one's life more painful. That's a big chance to do something about the problem.

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