Efforts to promote gender equality and violence prevention in workplaces and organisations often meet resistance. Resistance takes a variety of forms, from denial of the problem, to inaction, to victim-blaming, to outright attack. How should we respond to resistance and backlash? And, how can we make resistance less likely in the first place?
Men's & fathers' rights
Across the globe, violence prevention initiatives focused on men and boys are proliferating rapidly. The new book Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention highlights effective and innovative strategies for the primary prevention of domestic violence, sexual violence, and other forms of harassment and abuse. It combines research on gender, masculinities, and violence with case studies from a wide variety of countries and settings.
Men’s rights advocates (MRAs) and anti-feminist men’s groups claim that men now are the victims in our society, of both women and feminism. MRAs claim that men’s health is a particularly important area of male disadvantage, that men’s health issues and shorter life spans are evidence of discrimination and oppression faced by men, and that women’s health receives unfair levels of attention and funding compared to men’s health. These claims are false. Instead;
Yes, large numbers of men and boys are killed and injured in war. They are sent to war largely by other men. Wars are supported more by men than women. And traditional masculinity has been central to justifications for war. It is men, not women, who have excluded women from joining men in military and combat roles. Feminist women and women’s movements have played key roles in challenging war and militarism. Finally, the overall impacts of war and conflict and their aftermath are greater for women than men.
A range of critiques and assessments of the men's rights movement have been published in recent years. This XY collection focuses on academic or scholarly critiques of men's rights and anti-feminist backlash. See below for the pieces, in PDF.
The International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy has a special issue on “Fighting Feminism – Organised Opposition to Women’s Rights” (Volume 5, Number 2, 2016). The full text of all articles is available from https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/issue/view/21
Forks in the Road of Men’s Gender Politics: Men’s Rights vs Feminist Allies / Michael A Messner
State Antifeminism / Francis Dupuis-Déri
Masculist Groups in Poland: Aids of Mainstream Antifeminism / Katarzyna Wojnicka
A range of critiques and assessments of the men's rights movement have been published in recent years. While there are academic assessments and explorations of this movement and its politics and agendas and impact, here I have gathered a list of more accessible discussions. I hope they're useful.
These first items were written in the wake of the Toronto massacre in April 2018.
Separated fathers often feel profound grief, distress, and anger at the end of their relationships with their partners and their children. Some participate in ‘fathers’ rights’ groups, a movement which claims to advocate on behalf of men and fathers who are the victims of discrimination and injustice in the Family Court and elsewhere. Yet such groups may do little to help fathers heal or to build or maintain ongoing and positive relationships with their children. Some men do find support in these groups, but they also may be incited into anger, blame, and destructive strategies of litigation. The fathers’ rights movement prioritises formal principles of equality over positive parenting and the well-being of women and children. Some groups seem more concerned with re-establishing paternal authority and fathers’ decision-making related to their children’s and ex-partners’ lives than with actual involvements with children. However, other responses to separated fathers are more constructive.
There has been in Australia, for a long time, a kind of network of anti-feminist men’s groups. Some men’s rights groups focus on general issues of gender and violence and so on, and some have a particular focus on fathering and family law. And those men’s and fathers’ rights group overlap. I’ve described them as an anti-feminist backlash because of their views on women and gender and because of the political strategies they adopt.
[…] I think they have an understanding which is, in fact, fairly widespread—that feminism is definned by a hostility towards men, and a kind of unreasonable and irrational desire to put women on top. I think fathers’ rights and men’s rights groups, to some degree, simply repeat the negative stereotypes about feminism that are part of popular culture and part of the media. They extend them and intensify them, in terms of seeing women as malicious and hostile and devious and so on, and in attributing great power to feminism—feminism now dominates our political agendas or dominates our culture. I think they exaggerate the extent to which men are now victims in our culture.
‘Fathers’ rights’ refers to organized groups or networks of fathers who act in support of the collective interests of fathers, especially separated fathers whose children do not reside with them. Fathers’ rights (hereafter ‘FR’) groups are active particularly in lobbying for changes in *family law.
FR is defined by the claim that fathers are deprived of their ‘rights’ and subjected to systematic discrimination as men and fathers, in a system biased towards women and dominated by feminists. FR groups overlap with *men’s rights groups and both represent an organised backlash to feminism. While other networks also promote fathers’ involvement in families, the FR movement is distinguished by its *anti-feminist discourse of men or fathers as victims. At the same time, FR perspectives do have a wide currency across the political spectrum.