Thursday, July 28, 2011

About that Men's Rights thing

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As a side-effect of the Oslo tragedy, I've encountered the so-called Men's Rights Movement. It seems Anders Breivik shared many of their ideas.

I had previously only encountered one of their claims. It pops up in the media from time to time. They allege that fathers are treated unfairly in divorce courts, especially with regards to child support and custody of children. They claim that courts tend to favor mothers in custody cases, and impose heavier child-support payments on fathers, all else being equal. This seems to be a recurrent theme and one of their main beefs.

I haven't checked out the data, so I don't know if it's true. However, it does sound perfectly plausible to me.

What's got me scratching my head is this:

If this is, indeed the case, isn't the likeliest explanation the built-in male privilege in our culture and society? That is, men are still seen as the breadwinners, responsible for the economic well-being of the family, and women as baby-makers and child-carers? With this bias, it would only be natural that mothers get custody and fathers get child support payments.

So, if this is what the men's rights movement really is worried about, why aren't they allying with the feminists to change this patriarchal culture? It doesn't strike me as very logical to simultaneously want to go back to traditional gender roles, and expect equal treatment in custody and child support cases.

I thought I might be missing something obvious, but after reading a bit more commentary from that bunch, it seems likelier that they're just not being very logical. The atmosphere is rather nasty; a mix of cultural conservatism and resentment over eroding privilege, coupled with a relentless "othering" of anyone not agreeing with them. If I piped up on MRA SubReddit, I'd be dubbed a mangina and run out of town on a rail in no time flat.

But if I am missing something obvious, I'd be happy to be enlightened about what it is.

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