Hey pals, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy and am happy to finally be annoyed enough to write a new blog.
There’s something that’s just, well, it’s really been getting to me. There’s an article floating around by prominent men’s rights activist and anti-feminist Janet Bloomfield. It’s been making the rounds for a while, and is, more often than not, in the rebuttal arsenal of every self proclaimed “Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) and MRA on the internet. “Women are marginalized” you might say. And an MRA or MGTOW will retort with “but, women have more legal rights than men” and share this article with you. And I have decided that enough is enough, and its time to rebut it. Because it’s a bunch of bull.
1. “Women Have the Right to Genital Integrity”
According to the World Health Organization, almost one in three men in the world are circumcised. It has become a controversial subject in many groups, on the one hand with protests against having newborn males circumcised, arguing it is genital mutilation and that there is no scientific reasoning for it, and on the other hand, the American Academy of Paediatrics and others stating that the health benefits outweigh the risks. It is easy to see why it is a controversial subject. Indeed, newborn males have no say in whether they are circumcised. However, this is in no way comparable to female genital mutilation, which for whatever reason, MRA’s seem to always compare it to. Bloomfield has a point – saying that one is worse than the other is not overly compelling, nor is it really that great of an argument. The difference herein lies with the reasoning for performing the circumcision, and that is where Bloomfield completely misses the mark. Male circumcision, unlike female genital mutilation, is performed because some doctors and scientists argue that there are health benefits. FGM, partial or complete removal of the clitoris, labia, or cauterizing the outer vaginal organs, however, is performed for no scientific reason at all. Full stop.
According to the WHO, 125 million women around the world have been subjected to this horrific practice. Although FGM is illegal in most countries, there are no laws set in place to stop families from going to their ancestral homelands and performing it. In the UK alone, FGM directly affects 66,000 women and girls. It was not until very recently that the government in the UK actually did anything about it. In most cases in the west, girls are taken back to their home countries, undergo the trauma of FGM, and are returned to western countries, where they seek medical help. In addition to this, girls can also be “cut” in their homes. Many women are cut by members of their communities in Canada and The US. So, as you can see, despite the fact that Bloomfield only seems to care about the west, FGM still affects women and girls here anyway, despite being illegal. There are currently thousands of women and girls at risk of FGM in the United States alone.
2. “Women Have the Right to Vote Without Agreeing to Die”
Bloomfield is talking specifics here; in the US, men have to sign a Selective Service card before being legally able to vote when they turn 18. (Other countries, such as North Korea and Israel, do conscript women.) Aside from the obvious unfair gender stereotypes that women are not mentally or physically fit for combat, Bloomfield fails to acknowledge that women weren’t even allowed to participate in combat on the ground in the United States Military until 2013. How, exactly, is one to be conscripted when they are legally barred from being in combat? Bloomfield never touches on this subject.
Now that women are no longer barred from combat on the ground in the US, the Selective Service System has said that it is capable of enlisting women. Though, they do not have to sign a selective service card, they can still be enlisted.
3. “Women Have the Right to Choose Parenthood”
Most people know that when a man and a woman have intercourse, there may inevitable be a baby that results from said intercourse. You can use protection, like birth control (which MRA’s seem to think financially be should be the sole burden of women) or a condom, but neither of these, even combined, are one hundred percent effective. One could argue that if you do not know fully the repercussions that may come with having sex, and are not fully capable of bearing the decision making process, perhaps you should think twice about having it. But Bloomfield insists that it is easy for women to get rid of children, either by abortion or adoption, metaphorically washing their hands of any social or moral responsibility when it comes to the life of the child. I don’t think Bloomfield understands how difficult it is to actually get an abortion in the United States, let alone the rest of the world. It is not a simple stroll down to the corner abortion clinic and boom, you move on with your life. Access to abortion in America is extremely limited and it is shrinking yearly.
I understand the point that MRA’s are trying to make – the decision to have or not have a baby should be on the shoulders of both parents. In theory that sounds great. In practice, it would never work. The mother has to be in it for 9 months, whereas the father could bail the next day. If the father wants to walk away, in practice, that could be easy – but if the father wants the baby to be brought to term, that would never work. Ultimately the baby is growing inside of only one of the parents – the parent that has to be in that position for 9 months, and then eventually birth the baby. So that parent should have the right to say no. After all, women are not simply agents to make and create babies. We have agency. We have choices. And one could argue that greater access to abortion clinics and cheap effective birth control would curb this issue significantly.
4. “Women Have the Right to be Assumed Caregivers of Children”
This isn’t as much of a right as it is a stereotype. And unfortunately in the US, a very true one. Men don’t have paternity leave in the United States, which is abhorrent. Women also don’t even get paid for their (extremely brief) maternity leave, which I find ridiculous. When it comes to parental leave in the US, they are way behind a lot of the world.
However, Bloomfield fails to acknowledge that up until very recently in history, the father, in cases of divorce, were automatically given custody of their children. It is also unfair to ascertain that the courts are biased against fathers. According to Divorce Peers, 51% of custody battles were decided outside of the court. Bloomfield also fails to point out that male rapists can sue for parental rights of their children. Surprise surprise.
5. “Women Have the Right to Call Unwanted, Coerced Sex, Rape”
As do men. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the United States, the definition of rape is sexual intercourse that is either coerced or forced. Sexual assault and rape against men is alarmingly common in prisons, the military, and even outside of those institutions. Yet male victims are much less likely than female victims to report that they have been raped. This is largely due to the unfair stigma of weakness and vulnerability that is attached to being a victim of rape, especially a male victim of rape.
Bloomfield concludes her article with arguing that feminism is dwindling in the west, losing supporters daily because of “facts” such as the numbered statements above. However, it is not as cut and dry as Bloomfield and many MRA’s and antifeminists would have you believe. Nor does it have to be an us versus them issue.