Men's rights and issues

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The men's rights movement (MRM) is a human rights movement, part of the larger men's movement, focused specifically on issues of perceived discrimination and inequalities faced by men. It branched off from the men's liberation movement in the early 1970s, splitting into opposing pro- and antifeminist groups. The movement is made up of a variety of formal and informal groups that differ in their approaches and issues.

The MRM has been involved in a variety of issues related to law (including family law, parenting, reproduction and domestic violence), government services (including education, military service and social safety nets) health and female privilege.

History

The men's rights movement emerged from the men's liberation movement which appeared in the first half of the 1970s when some thinkers began to study feminist ideas and politics.[1]Template:Sfn The leaders of the men's liberation movement acknowledged men's institutional power while critically examining the costs of traditional masculinity.[1] In the late 1970s, the men's liberation movement split into two separate strands with opposing views: The pro-feminist men's movement and an anti-feminist men's rights movement.[1] Men's rights activists have since then rejected feminist principles and focused on disadvantages and oppression of men that they have identified.[1]Template:Sfn In the 1980s and 90s, men's rights activists opposed societal changes sought by feminists and defended the traditional gender order in the family, schools and the workplace.[2] Men's rights activists adopted the feminist rhetoric of "rights" and "equality" in their discourse, framing custody issues, for instance, as a matter of basic civil rights.[3][1][4][5] The plea for "equal rights for fathers" is frequently accompanied by a rhetoric of children's "needs" which helps deflect criticism that it is motivated by self-interest.[3]

The men's rights movement includes a wide variety of individuals and organizations, both united and divided in various ways on specific issues.[6] Some groups are formally organized or incorporated, while others are casual alliances or the work of a few individuals.[7]

One of the first major men's rights organizations was the Coalition of American Divorce Reform Elements, founded by Richard Doyle in 1971, from which the Men's Rights Association spun off in 1973.Template:Sfn[8] Free Men Inc. was founded in 1977 in Columbia, Maryland, spawning several chapters over the following years, which eventually merged to form the National Coalition of Free MenTemplate:Sfn (now known as the National Coalition for Men). Men's Rights, Inc. was also formed in 1977.[9]Template:Sfn Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) was founded in 2005 and in 2011 claimed to have approximately 4,000 registered members.[10]


Relation to feminism

The men's rights movement is considered to be a backlash or countermovement to feminism.[11][12][13][14][3] The men's rights movement consists of diverse points of view which reject feminist and profeminist ideas.Template:Sfn Men's rights activists believe that feminism has overshot its objective and harmed men.[11][15][1] They dispute that men as a group have institutional power and privilege[16]Template:Sfn and believe that men are victimized and disadvantaged relative to women.[17]Template:Sfn[1]Template:Sfn

Men's rights activists see men as an oppressed group[11][18][19][20] and believe that society and state have been "feminized" by the women's movement.[11] Warren Farrell and Herb Goldberg, for instance, believe that all men are disadvantaged, discriminated against and oppressed and argue that power is an illusion for most men since women are the actual bearers of power.[11] Men's rights groups generally reject the notion that feminism is interested in men's problemsTemplate:Sfn and men's rights activists have viewed the women's movement as a plot to conceal discrimination against men.[1][21]Template:Sfn


Adoption

Fathers' rights activists seek a gender-neutral approach in which unwed men and women would have equal rights in adoption issues.[22]

Anti-dowry laws

Men's rights organizations such as Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) state that men are subject to dowry harassment when women misuse legislation meant to protect them from dowry death and bride burnings.[10] SIFF is one of the many men's rights organizations in India that focus on the perceived abuse of anti-dowry laws against men.[23] SIFF has stated that they feel that anti-dowry laws have regularly been used in efforts to settle petty disputes in marriage,[24] and that their helplines receive calls from many men who say that their wives have used false dowry claims to get them jailed.[25]

Child custody

Family law is an area of deep concern among men's rights groups. These issues vary from state to state and country to country. In India, father's rights have been a concern since 2000.[10] Many men feel that they are discriminated against and that they do not have the same contact rights or equitable shared parenting rights as their ex-spouse.Template:Sfn[26] The United Kingdom and United States were cited, with several other unnamed countries, as affected regions where child custody issues have become complicated by higher divorce rates, less father-child time, while there has been greater expectations for fatherly involvement in their children's lives. Authors of Unfamiliar territory write, "The current struggles of the fathers' rights movement can be understood as part of this complex and painful renegotiation of intimate relations against a backdrop of changing lifestyles and expectations."[26] Father's rights activists seek to change the legal climate for men through changes in family law.Template:Sfn See Fathers' rights movement by country for more information about custody concerns.

Men's rights activists state that the divorce rate in India has sharply risen from less than 5% in 2000, which has over-burdened the Indian court system's abilities to keep pace with the number of child custody cases. They argue that men have been parted from their children, with some only allowed to visit their children at the court once a month for 30 minutes during the to several years that it can take to resolve the custody case. To provide support services to men for shared parenting rights and father's rights, SIFF created several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).[10]

In the United States, fathers accounted for 17.4 percent custodial parents in 2007, a percentage that has statistically not changed since 1994.[27]

In Israel, the Man's Rights in the Family Party is headed by Yaakov Schlusser, who argues that custody should automatically be given to fathers before being examined by courts. He claims that children who see "a woman in control, in contradiction to nature, may turn homosexual."[28]

Divorce

Men's rights groups in the United States began organizing in opposition of divorce reform and custody issues around the 1960s. The men involved in the early organization claimed that family and divorce law discriminated against them and favored their wives.Template:Sfn Rich Doyle wrote of the view of the men's rights movement concerning the court handling of divorces and child custody processes:

Divorce courts are frequently like slaughter-houses, with about as much compassion and talent. They function as collection agencies for lawyer fees, however outrageous, stealing children and extorting money from men in ways blatantly unconstitutional... Men are regarded as mere guests in their own homes, evictable any time at the whims of wives and judges. Men are driven from home and children against their wills; then when unable to stretch paychecks far enough to support two households are termed "runaway fathers." Contrary to all principles of justice, men are thrown into prison for inability to pay alimony and support, however unreasonable or unfair the "obligation."Template:Sfn

Laws and practices regarding spousal support, maintenance or alimony vary considerably by country and culture. On one end of the spectrum are Nordic countries, like Sweden, that by 1978 assumed that divorced spouses were not responsible for one another. Support might be provided for a transitionary period for the lower-wage earner or primarily care-givers, but only in about 6-8% of the cases and only for a limited time. In most western countries alimony is provided on an ever decreasing basis due to shorter marriages and women more likely to be wage-earners.Template:Sfn Italy and many countries in Latin America, are on the other end. Women may be supported during legal separation, which is a state in which they wish to remain because of low chance of remarriage, religious reasons or to retain inheritance rights to their husband's property. Such women may be wives to husbands of privileged class. However, the rate of support is declining in Italy, as well.Template:Sfn

Although the rate of payments of spousal support is declining, both due to the reduced rates at which alimony is granted and low rates at which alimony is generally paid, there are concerns regarding men's rights when women continue to receive support after they enter into new relationships and women are supported by men who are "financially strapped".Template:Sfn In the United States, the current alimony laws are challenged for constitutionality, assignment of temporary vs. permanent financial support paid to a spouse, and fair and equitable treatment under family law; There are several men's rights attempts to reform alimony at a state and federal level, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.[29]

Now that women make up a large percentage of the workforce, existing laws regarding alimony in the United States have come into question.[29] A legal precedent for gender-blind spousal support, granting men's rights to alimony, in the United States was made in Orr v. Orr,[30] where the Supreme Court invalidated Alabama's statutes by which husbands, but not wives, were required to pay alimony upon divorce. This statute was considered a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The percentage of alimony recipients in the US who were male rose from 2.4% in (1996–2001) to 3.6% in (2002–2006) and is expected to increase as more marriages feature a female primary earner.[31]

Domestic violence

Men's rights activists, citing a number of academic studies, assert that domestic violence by women is ignored and under-reported,[32][33] because men are reluctant to describe themselves as victims.[33] They state that women are as aggressive or more aggressive than men in relationships,[34] that domestic violence is sex-symmetrical,[35][36] and that judicial systems too easily accept false allegations of domestic violence by women against their male partners.[37] Men's rights writer Christina Hoff Sommers has commented that "false claims about male domestic violence are ubiquitous and immune to refutation."[38] Men's rights advocates have been critics of legal, policy and practical protections for abused women,[39][36][40] campaigning for domestic violence shelters for battered men[32][33] and for the legal system to be educated about women's violence against men.[32]

Some academic critics have rejected the research cited by Men's rights activists and dispute their claims that such violence is gender symmetrical,[41][34][42][1][43][44] arguing that the focus on women's violence stems from a political agenda to minimize the issue of men's violence against women[41] and to undermine services to abused women.[34][43] Donileen Loseke, Mary Cavanaugh and Richard Gelles cite as an example the challenge to the Minnesota Battered Woman's Act by the Men's Defense Association claiming that it was discriminatory because it protected women but not men.[36]

Education

Men's rights activists describe the education of boys as being in crisis, with boys having reduced educational achievement and motivation as compared to girls.[45] Advocates blame the influence of feminism on education for discrimination against and systematic oppression of boys in the education system.[46] They critique what they describe as the "feminization" of education, stating that the predominance of female teachers, a focus on girls' needs as well as a curricula and assessment methods that favour girls have proved repressive and restrictive to men and boys.[45][47]

Men's rights groups call for increased recognition of masculinity, greater numbers of male role models, more competitive sports, and the increased responsibilities for boys in the school setting. They have also advocated clearer school routines, more traditional school structures, including single-sex classes, and stricter discipline.[47]

Critics suggest that men's rights groups view boys as a homogeneous group sharing common experiences of schooling and that they do not take sufficient account in their analysis of how responses to educational approaches may differ by age, culture, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and class.[47]

In Australia, men's rights discourse has influenced government policy documents; less impact has been noted in the United Kingdom, where feminists have historically had less influence on educational policy.[46]

Rape

For more information, see: False accusation of rape and Marital rape.


Men's rights activists are concerned with false accusations of rape and sexual assault[48] and desire to protect men from the negative consequences of false accusations.[49] They assert that the naming of the accused while providing the accuser with anonymity encourages abuse.[50]Template:Sfn[51]

Men's rights activists in the United Kingdom, the United States and India have opposed legislation criminalizing marital rape.[36][52][53][54] The reasons for opposition include concerns about false allegations related to divorce proceedings,[55]Template:Sfn[56] and in India anxiety about relationships[57] and the future of marriage as such laws give women "grossly disproportional rights".[53] Virag Dhulia of the Save Indian Family Foundation, a men's rights organization, has opposed recent efforts to criminalize marital rape in India, arguing that "no relationship will work if these rules are enforced."[57]

Female privilege

See also: Male privilege#Against the notion of male privilege

The men's rights movement asserts that males no longer hold male privilege to the exclusion of females, with two variations: those who argue that sexism harms men and women equally as both genders have different privileges, and those who believe that female privilege has become the norm to the detriment of men.[58]

Governmental structures

Men's rights groups have called for male-focused governmental structures to address issues specific to men and boys including education, health, work and marriage.[59][60][61] Men's rights groups in India have called for the creation of a Men's Welfare Ministry and a National Commission for Men, as well as the abolition of the National Commission for Women.[59][62][63] In the United Kingdom, the creation of a Minister for Men analogous to the existing Minister for Women, have been proposed by David Amess, MP and Lord Northbourne, but were rejected by the government of Tony Blair.[60][64][65] In the United States, Warren Farrell heads a commission focused on the creation of a "White House Council on Boys and Men" as a counterpart to the "White House Council on Women and Girls" which was formed in March 2009.[45][61]

Health

Men's rights activists view the health issues faced by men and their shorter life spans as compared to women as evidence of discrimination and oppression.Template:Sfn[66] They state that feminism has led to women's health issues being privileged at the expense of men's.[37] They point to higher suicide rates in men compared to women,[66][37] and complain about the funding of men's health issues as compared to women's, including noting that prostate cancer research receives less funding than breast-cancer research.[66][67] David Benatar has suggested more money should be put into health research on males in order to reduce the disparity between men's and women's life expectancy.[68] Some doctors and academics have argued circumcision is a violation of men's right to health and bodily integrity,[69][70][71][72] while others have disagreed.[73][74][75][76]

Many academics have critiqued these claims,[66][41]Template:Sfn stating, as Michael Messner puts it, that the poorer health outcomes are the heavy costs paid by men "for conformity with the narrow definitions of masculinity that promise to bring them status and privilege"Template:Sfn and that these costs fall disproportionately on men who are marginalized socially and economically.Template:Sfn In this view, and according to Michael Flood, men's health would best be improved by "tackling destructive notions of manhood, an economic system which values profit and productivity over workers’ health, and the ignorance of service providers" instead of blaming a feminist health movement.[41]

Military conscription

Men's rights activists have argued that military conscription of men is an example of oppression of men.Template:Sfn[77]

In 1971 in the United States, draft resisters initiated a class-action suit alleging that male-only conscription violated men's rights to equal protection under the US constitution.[78][79] When the case, Rostker v. Goldberg, reached the Supreme Court in 1981, they were supported by a men's rights group and multiple women's groups, including the National Organization for Women.[78] However, the Supreme Court upheld the Military Selective Service Act, stating that "the argument for registering women was based on considerations of equity, but Congress was entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, to focus on the question of military need, rather than equity.[79][80]

Parental abduction

Men's rights activists state that children of men of Indian descent have been abducted from their homes in Canada, the United States and Europe, and moved to India where the national courts do not recognize foreign child custody orders. The country is not subject to the Hague Convention and men accused of dowry harassment may be arrested at Indian airports.[10]

Parental leave

There is wide variance in parental leave provisions across 24 western countries, which are primarily European countries, Australia, Canada and the United States. The most liberal allows the couple to choose how to split the family leave time between mother and father. In the countries where parental leave is available and defined, it is generally for 2 to 12 days. Where maternal leave is available and defined, all but the United States and Australia, the period of time is generally 14–20 weeks, but four countries have extended leave periods.[81]

Paternity fraud

For more information, see: Misattributed paternity and paternity fraud.

Men's and fathers' rights groups have stated that there are high levels of misattributed paternity or "paternity fraud", where men are parenting and/or supporting financially children who are not biologically their own.[82] They hold biological views of fatherhood, emphasizing the imperative of the genetic foundation of paternity rather than social aspects of fatherhood.[83][82] They state that men should not be forced to support children fathered by another man,[84] and that men are harmed because a relationship is created between a man and non-biological children while denying the children and their biological father of that experience and knowledge of their genetic history. In addition, non-biological fathers are denied the resources to have their own biological children in another relationship.[82] Men's rights activists support the use of paternity testing to reassure presumed fathers about the child's paternity;[84] men's and fathers' rights groups have called for compulsory paternity testing of all children.[85][82][86] They have campaigned vigorously in support of men who have been shown by genetic testing not to be the biological father, but who are nevertheless required to be financially responsible for them.[83] Prompted by these concerns, legislators in certain jurisdictions have supported this biological view and have passed laws providing relief from child support payments when a man is proved not to be the father.[83][82] Australian men's rights groups have opposed the recommendations of a report by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the National Health and Medical Research Council that would require the consent of both parents for paternity testing of young children,[84] and laws that would make it illegal to obtain a sample for DNA testing without the individual's consent.[87] Sociologist Michael Gilding asserts that men's rights activists have exaggerated the rate and extent of misattributed paternity, which he estimates at about 1-3%.[88][85] He opposed as unnecessary calls for mandatory paternity testing of all children.[85]

Reproductive rights

In the US in 2006, the court case Dubay v. Wells concerned whether men should have an opportunity to decline all paternity rights and responsibilities in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Supporters said that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women.[89] In its dismissal of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stated that:

"Dubay’s claim that a man’s right to disclaim fatherhood would be analogous to a woman’s right to abortion rests upon a false analogy. In the case of a father seeking to opt out of fatherhood and thereby avoid child support obligations, the child is already in existence and the state therefore has an important interest in providing for his or her support."[90]

Social security and insurance

Men's rights groups argue that women are given superior social security and tax benefits than men.Template:Sfn[91] Warren Farrell states that men in the United States pay more into social security, but in total women receive more in benefits, and that discrimination against men in insurance and pensions have gone unrecognized.Template:Sfn

See also

Template:Portal

Footnotes

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  2. (2012) "Interrogating recuperative masculinity politics in schooling". International Journal of Inclusive Education 16 (4): 407–421. DOI:10.1080/13603116.2011.555095. Research Blogging. “The concept of recuperative masculinity politics was developed by Lingard and Douglas (1999) to refer to both mythopoetic (Biddulph 1995, 2010; Bly 1990) and men’s rights politics (Farrell 1993). Both of these rejected the move to a more equal gender order and more equal gender regimes in all of the major institutions of society (e.g. the family, schools, universities, workplaces) sought by feminists and most evident in the political and policy impacts in the 1980s and 1990s from second-wave feminism of the 1970s. 'Recuperative' was used to specifically indicate the ways in which these politics reinforced, defended and wished to recoup the patriarchal gender order and institutional gender regimes.”
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Williams, Rhys H. (1995). "Constructing the Public Good: Social Movements and Cultural Resources". Social Problems 42 (1): 134–135. DOI:10.2307/3097008. Retrieved on March 4, 2013. Research Blogging. “Another example of contractual model rhetoric is in the language of the Men's Rights movement. As a countermovement to the feminist movement, it has concentrated on areas generally thought of as family law—especially divorce and child custody laws. The movement charges that maternal preference in child custody decisions is an example of gender prejudice, with men the ones who are systematically disadvantaged... Men's Rights groups... have adopted much of the rhetoric of the early liberal feminist movement... Similarly, along with the appeal to "equal rights for fathers"... the Men's Rights movement also uses a rhetoric of children's "needs"... The needs rhetoric helps offset charges that their rights language is motivated by self-interest alone.”
  4. (1995) “"All We Want Is Equality": Rhetorical Framing in the Fathers' Rights Movement”, Images of Issues: Typifying Contemporary Social Problems, 2nd. New York: A. De Gruyter, 201–202. ISBN 978-0-202-30539-4. 
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  53. 53.0 53.1 Dhillon, Amrit. Women confident law will end culture of abuse, 01 November, 2006. Retrieved on 11 October 2012. “"The All India Harassed Husbands Association protested last week at the law. 'It gives such grossly disproportionate rights to women that men won't want to get married,' said member Akhil Gupta"”
  54. Why men's rights activists are against inclusion of marital rape. First Post (February 6, 2013). Retrieved on March 10, 2013.
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