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Men's rights movement

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Men's rights movement

The men's rights movement (MRM) is a part of the larger men's movement. It branched off from the men's liberation movement in the early 1970s. The men's rights movement is made up of a variety of groups and individuals who are concerned about what they consider to be issues of male disadvantage, discrimination and oppression.[1][2] The movement focuses on issues in numerous areas of society (including family law, parenting, reproduction, domestic violence) and government services (including education, compulsory military service, social safety nets, and health policies) which purportedly discriminate against men.

Scholars consider the men's rights movement or parts of the movement to be a backlash to feminism.[3] Men's rights activists contest claims that men have greater power, privilege or advantage than women do and argue that the women's movement has "gone too far" and harmed men, especially in areas related to child custody, child support, and in division of marital assets during divorce.

Claims and activities associated with the men's rights movement have been criticized by scholars, the Southern Poverty Law Center and commentators. Some sectors of the movement have been described as misogynistic.[4][5][6][7][8][9]


  • History 1
    • Forerunners 1.1
    • Movement 1.2
    • Relation to feminism 1.3
    • Reactions/criticism 1.4
  • Issues 2
    • Adoption 2.1
    • Anti-dowry laws 2.2
    • Child custody 2.3
    • Circumcision 2.4
    • Divorce 2.5
    • Domestic violence 2.6
    • Education 2.7
    • Female privilege 2.8
    • Governmental structures 2.9
    • Health 2.10
    • Military conscription 2.11
    • Paternity fraud 2.12
    • Prison 2.13
    • Rape 2.14
      • False accusations against men 2.14.1
      • Criminalization of marital rape 2.14.2
    • Reproductive rights 2.15
    • Social security and insurance 2.16
    • Suicide 2.17
  • See also 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7



The term "men's rights" was used at least as early as February 1856 when it appeared in Putnam's Magazine.[10]

Three loosely connected men's rights organizations formed in

  • Men's issues organizations at DMOZ

External links

  • Farrell, Warren. (2001). The Myth of Male Power. New York : Berkley Books ISBN 9780425181447
  • Levant, Nancy. (2006). The Cultural Devastation of American Women. Baltimore, MD : PublishAmerica. ISBN 9781424133901
  • Shannon, Lawrence. (1997). The predatory female : a field guide to dating and the marriage-divorce industry. Reno, Nev. : Banner Books. ISBN 9780961593803
  • Smith, Helen. (2013). Men on strike : why men are boycotting marriage, fatherhood, and the American dream--and why it matters. New York : Encounter Books. ISBN 9781594036750

Further reading


  1. ^
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  3. ^ a b See, for example:
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b Menzies 2007, p. 71.
  10. ^ Putnam's Magazine, Volume 7 Issue 38 published February 1856, pages 208–214 "A Word for Men's Rights"
  11. ^ a b c d
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  16. ^ a b c Newton 2004, p. 190–200.
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  24. ^ a b Ashe 2007, p. 63.
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  26. ^ Dunphy 2000, pp. 142–143.
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  31. ^ Menzies 2007, p. 77.
  32. ^ Flood 2007, p. 430–433.
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  38. ^ a b
  39. ^ a b c
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  42. ^ Tracy Clark-Flory, “Feminism is a sexual strategy”: Inside the angry online men’s rights group “Red Pill”,, 1 July 2014
  43. ^ Hanna Rosin, "Dad’s Day in Court: The perception that family law is unfair to fathers is not exactly true",, 13 May 2014.
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  54. ^ Blake, M. (2014). The Men's Rights Movement and the Women Who Love It. Mother Jones, Mon Aug. 11, 2014.
  55. ^ a b c
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  57. ^ a b c
  58. ^ a b c d Flood 2007, p. 430–433.
  59. ^
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  61. ^ Dunphy 2000, p. 88.
  62. ^ Flood 2007, p. 418–422.
  63. ^ Flood 2007, p. 21.
  64. ^
  65. ^ Flood 2007, p. [ 418–422].
  66. ^ Clatterbaugh 1997, pp. 77, 88.
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  72. ^ a b c d Messner 1997, p. 41–48.
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  84. ^ Messner 1997, pp. 41–48.
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  87. ^ Clatterbaugh 1997, p. 77.
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  104. ^ Ashe 2007, p. 57.
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  115. ^ Menzies 2007, pp. 86–87.
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  118. ^ Menzies 2007, p. 85.
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  135. ^ Minister for Men. Hansard, UK Parliament. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  136. ^ a b c d
  137. ^ a b Menzies 2007, p. 86.
  138. ^
  139. ^
  140. ^ a b c Messner 1997, p. 6–7.
  141. ^ a b
  142. ^ a b
  143. ^ Rostker v. Goldberg at Cornell University Law School.
  144. ^ a b c d e Pdf.
  145. ^ a b c
  146. ^ a b c
  147. ^ a b c
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  153. ^ Menzies 2007, p. 73.
  154. ^ a b c
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  162. ^ Farrell 1994, p. 161.
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  168. ^ Dunphy 2000, p. 142 excerpt: "The conservative and unashamedly patriarchal nature of the men's rights lobby .. is well illustrated by some statements by one of its self-proclaimed spokesmen in the UK, Roger Whitcomb .. he reserved particular anger for the House of Lords ruling on marital rape in 1991 ('a long-standing feminist dream')".
  169. ^
  170. ^ excerpt: "The Government has not included marital rape in its anti-rape ordinance appealing that it is a complex issue that involves multiple stakeholders... mens rights activists are constantly clamouring that Section 498(A), the Domestic Violence Act is being misused"
  171. ^
  172. ^ Farrell 1994, p. 338:"Spousal rape legislation is blackmail waiting to happen. If a man feels he needs to file for divorce, his wife can say 'If you do, I'll accuse you of spousal rape.' Spousal rape legislation is worse than government-as-substitute-husband. It's government in the bedroom"
  173. ^
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  176. ^ a b
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  181. ^ Farrell 1994, p. 350.
  182. ^


See also

In the United States, the male-to-female suicide death ratio varies between 3:1 to 10:1.[182]


Men's rights groups argue that women are given superior social security and tax benefits than men.[58] 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.[181]

Social security and insurance

In 2006, the American National Center for Men backed a lawsuit known as Dubay v. Wells. The case concerned whether men should have the 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.[178] The case and the appeal were dismissed, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stating that neither parent has the right to sever their financial responsibilities for a child, and 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."[179][180]

Reproductive rights

Legislation and judicial decisions criminalizing marital rape in India, arguing that "no relationship will work if these rules are enforced."[176]

Criminalization of marital rape

Men's rights activists are concerned with false accusations of rape and sexual assault[155] and desire to protect men from the negative consequences of false accusations.[156] Quoting research including that by Eugene Kanin and the U.S. Air Force they assert that 40–50% or more of rape allegations may be false.[157][158][159] They state that false accusations are a form of psychological rape.[157][160] They assert that the naming of the accused while providing the accuser with anonymity encourages abuse.[161][162][163] Robert O'Hara of A Voice for Men stated in a June 2014 interview that "this is one of those issues that it's so easy to draw so much hysteria about because we have this natural inclination to want to protect women, especially from rape, that this whole rape thing has been used by feminists to garner political power, lots of it, and money. The whole thing has been used as a scam".[164]

False accusations against men


Men's rights activists point to differential prison terms for men and women as evidence of discrimination.[152][153][154] In the USA, Warren Farrell cites evidence that men receive harsher prison sentences and are more likely sentenced to death in the United States. He critiques society's belief in women as more innocent and credible, as well as battered woman and infanticide defenses.[154] He criticizes conditions in men's prisons and the lack of attention to prison male-to-male rape by authorities.[154]


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.[144] They hold biological views of fatherhood, emphasizing the imperative of the genetic foundation of paternity rather than social aspects of fatherhood.[144][145] They state that men should not be forced to support children fathered by another man,[146] 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.[144] Men's rights activists support the use of paternity testing to reassure presumed fathers about the child's paternity;[146] men's and fathers' rights groups have called for compulsory paternity testing of all children.[144][147][148] 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.[145] 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.[144][145] 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,[146] and laws that would make it illegal to obtain a sample for DNA testing without the individual's consent.[149] 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%.[147][150][151] He opposed as unnecessary calls for mandatory paternity testing of all children.[147]

Paternity fraud

[143][141] 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.[142] When the case, [142][141] In 1971, draft resisters in the United States initiated a class-action suit alleging that male-only conscription violated men's rights to equal protection under the US constitution.

Men's rights activists in the US have argued that military conscription of men is an example of discrimination against men.[72][2]

Military conscription

Some have critiqued these claims,[122][136][140] 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"[140] and that these costs fall disproportionately on men who are marginalized socially and economically.[140] 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.[122]

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.[72][136] They state that feminism has led to women's health issues being privileged at the expense of men's.[137] They point to higher suicide rates in men compared to women,[136][137] and highlight 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.[136][138] 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.[139]


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.[129][130][131] 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.[129][132][133] 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.[130][134][135] 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.[125][131]

Governmental structures

The men's rights movement denies that men are privileged relative to women.[128] The movement is divided into two camps: those who consider men and women to be harmed equally by sexism, and those who view society as endorsing the degradation of men and upholding female privilege.[128]

Female privilege

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.[126]

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.[127]

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.[127]

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.[125] Advocates blame the influence of feminism on education for discrimination against and systematic oppression of boys in the education system.[126] 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.[125][127]


Some critics have rejected the research cited by men's rights activists and dispute their claims that such violence is gender symmetrical,[6][15][111][111][122][123][124] arguing that the focus on women's violence stems from a political agenda to minimize the issue of men's violence against women[122] and to undermine services to abused women.[111][124] 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.[113]

Men's rights advocates describe domestic violence committed by women against men as a problem that goes ignored and under-reported,[109][110] in part because men are reluctant to describe themselves as victims.[110] They state that women are as aggressive or more aggressive than men in relationships[111] and that domestic violence is sex-symmetrical.[112][113] They frequently cite family conflict research by Murray Straus and Richard Gelles as evidence of sex-symmetry.[114][115][113][116][117] Men's rights advocates argue that judicial systems too easily accept false allegations of domestic violence by women against their male partners.[118] Christina Hoff Sommers has commented that "false claims about male domestic violence are ubiquitous and immune to refutation."[119] Men's rights advocates have been critics of legal, policy and practical protections for abused women,[113][120][121] campaigning for domestic violence shelters for battered men[109][110] and for the legal system to be educated about women's violence against men.[109]

Domestic violence

Men's rights activists assert that men are consciously or unconsciously opting out of marriage and engaging in a "marriage strike" as a result of the lack of benefits in marriage and the emotional and financial consequences of divorce, including alimony and child custody and support.[105][106][107] Men's rights activists have argued that divorce and custody laws violate men's individual rights to equal protection. Gwendolyn Leachman writes that this sort of framing "downplays the systemic biases that women face that justify protective divorce and custody laws."[108]

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."[72]
wrote of the view of the men's rights movement concerning the court handling of divorces and child custody processes: Richard Doyle [104]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.


Some doctors and academics have argued that circumcision is a violation of men's right to health and bodily integrity,[96][97][98][99] while others have disagreed.[100][101][102][103]

Men's rights activists see circumcision, especially routine neonatal circumcision as a violation of men's genital integrity.[57] They criticize that female genital mutilation has received more attention than male circumcision.[95]


Critics argue that empirical research does not support the notion of judicial bias against men[83] and that men's rights advocates interpret statistics in a way that ignores the fact that the majority of men do not contest custody.[86] Academics critique the rhetorical framing of custody decisions, stating that men's rights advocates appeal for "equal rights" without specifying the constitutional rights that they believe have been violated.[92] Critics assert that the men's rights rhetoric of children's "needs" that accompanies their plea for equal rights helps deflect criticism that it is motivated by self-interest and masks men's rights advocates' own claims.[55][93] Deborah Rhode argues that contrary to the claims of some men's rights activists, research shows that joint legal custody does not increase the likelihood that fathers will pay child support or remain involved parents.[94]

Family law is an area of deep concern among men's rights groups. Men's rights activists argue that the legal system and family courts discriminate against men, especially in regards to child custody after divorce.[83][84][85] They believe that men do not have the same contact rights or equitable shared parenting rights as their ex-spouse and use statistics on custody awards as evidence of judicial bias against men.[86] Men's rights advocates seek to change the legal climate for men through changes in family law, for example by lobbying for laws that would make joint custody the default custody arrangement except in cases where one parent is unfit or unwilling to parent.[87][86] They adopted the feminist rhetoric of "rights" and "equality" in their discourse, framing custody issues as a matter of basic civil rights.[15][55][88][89] Some men's rights activists suggest that the lack of contact with their children makes fathers less willing to pay child support.[90] Some others cite the parental alienation syndrome as a reason to grant custody to fathers.[91]

Two protestors from UK-based fathers' rights group Fathers 4 Justice protesting in Peterborough in 2010.

Child custody

Men's rights organizations such as anti-dowry laws against men.[78] SIFF has campaigned to abolish Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which protects wives from being harassed for refusing to pay dowries.[79][80] SIFF states anti-dowry laws are regularly being abused to settle petty disputes in marriage[81] and that they regularly receive calls from many men whose wives have used false dowry claims to imprison them.[82]

Anti-dowry laws

Men's rights activists seek to expand the rights of unwed fathers in case of their child's adoption.[74][75] Warren Farrell states that in failing to inform the father of her pregnancy, an expectant mother deprives an adopted child of a relationship with the biological father. He proposes that women be legally required to make every reasonable effort to notify the father of her pregnancy within four to five days.[75] In response, philosopher James P. Sterba agrees that for moral reasons a woman should inform the father of the pregnancy and adoption, but this should not be imposed as a legal requirement as it might result in undue pressure, for example, to have an abortion.[76]


The men's rights movement is concerned with a wide variety of issues, some of which have spawned their own groups or movements, such as the fathers' rights movement, concerned specifically with divorce and child custody issues.[72] Some if not many men's rights issues stem from double standards, gender roles, and, according to sociologist Allan Johnson, [73]


Sectors of the men's rights movement have been viewed as exhibiting misogynistic tendencies.[4][5][19][66][7][8][9][67][68][69] The Southern Poverty Law Center has said that while some of the websites, blogs and forums related to the movement "voice legitimate and sometimes disturbing complaints about the treatment of men, what is most remarkable is the misogynistic tone that pervades so many."[6][70][71]


The men's rights movement consists of diverse points of view which reject feminist and profeminist ideas.[58] Men's rights activists have said that they believe that feminism has overshot its objective and harmed men.[15][19][49][59] They believe that rights have been taken away from men and that men are victims of feminism and feminizing influences in society.[57] They dispute that men as a group have institutional power and privilege[60][58] and believe that men are often victimized and disadvantaged relative to women.[61][62][15][63] Men's rights groups generally reject the notion that feminism is interested in men's problems[58] and some men's rights activists have viewed the women's movement as a plot to conceal discrimination against men.[15][64][65]

Scholars consider the men's rights movement a backlash[3] or countermovement[55] to feminism. Bob Lingard and Peter Douglas suggest that the conservative wing of the men's rights movement rather than the men's rights position in general is an antifeminist backlash.[56] Masculinities scholar Jonathan A. Allan described the men's rights movement as a reactive movement which is defined by its opposition to women and feminism but which has not yet formulated its own theories and methodologies outside of antifeminism.[57]

Relation to feminism

Most men's rights activists in the United States are white, middle-class, heterosexual men.[38][48][49][50] Prominent activists include Warren Farrell,[19] Herb Goldberg,[19] The Rape of the Male author Richard Doyle,[51] A Voice for Men's Paul Elam,[39] and Asa Baber.[52][53] Recently, several women have emerged as leading voices of the MRM, including Karen Straughan, Helen Smith, and Erin Pizzey.[54]

Political parties focusing on men's rights have been formed including the Australian Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)[44] and the Israeli Man's Rights in the Family Party.[45][46][47]

[41][40][39][37] to identify each other online and in reference to the moment they realized the truth about the world that men are oppressed.The Matrix metaphor from a scene in red pill and blue pill Men's rights activists often use the [43][42][41] and /r/TheRedPill./r/MensRights subreddits's Return of Kings, the Fathers Rights Foundation, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and Roosh V Other sites dedicated to men's rights issues are [40][39].A Voice for Men The most popular men's rights site is [38][37] The [36][35] The men's rights movement has become more vocal and more organized since the development of the internet.

[34] and their arguments have been covered extensively in neoconservative media.[33] Men's rights groups have formed in some European countries during periods of shifts toward

Protest in New Delhi for men's rights organized by the Save Indian Family Foundation.

[29][28][27] (SIFF) was founded in 2005, and in 2010 claimed to have over 30,000 members.Save Indian Family Foundation The [26] One of the first major men's rights organizations was the Coalition of American Divorce Reform Elements, founded by

The modern 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.[15][16] The men's liberation movement acknowledged men's institutional power while critically examining the costs of traditional masculinity.[15] In the late 1970s, the men's liberation movement split into two separate strands with opposing views: the pro-feminist men's movement and the anti-feminist men's rights movement.[15] Men's rights activists have rejected feminist principles and focused on areas in which they believe men are disadvantaged, oppressed, or discriminated against.[15][16][17] 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.[18] Men's rights activists see men as an oppressed group[19][20][21][22] and believe that society and men have been "feminized" by the women's movement.[7][19] Sarah Maddison, an Australian author, has claimed that Warren Farrell and Herb Goldberg "argue that, for most men, power is an illusion, and that women are the true power holders in society through their roles as the primary carers and nurturers of children."[19]



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