Men’s rights advocates (MRAs) and pro-feminist men

Men’s rights advocates (MRAs) are deeply hostile to feminism and feminists. And in turn, MRAs are deeply hostile to pro-feminist men or male feminists.

But *how* MRAs criticise and attack male feminists betrays their own low opinions of men and their hypocrisy.

This account comes from my experience of being a visible pro-feminist male advocate, on Twitter and elsewhere, and noticing the kinds of attacks that anti-feminist men or MRAs direct at me and other pro-feminist men.

1) MRAs write off large numbers of men.

MRAs represent men who support feminism as self-hating and pathetic. In doing so, they are writing off large numbers of men: 40% of US men (2020), 56% of US men (2018), 44% of Australian men (2018), 49% of UK men (2018), and so on. (See here for the survey data. See here for links to profeminist men's networks, organisations, and campaigns.)

2) MRAs have low and cynical opinions of men.

MRAs do not believe that men could advocate for gender equality and feminism because of heartfelt commitment, values, principles, or connections to particular women. They ignore the research finding that typical pathways to support for feminism among men include exposure to feminist and social justice ideals, involvement in progressive politics, closeness to particular women, hearing of women's experiences of victimisation, and so on. (I summarise the research in this book chapter.)

Instead, MRAs assume that men's support for feminism could only be about sex, money, or trauma. They assume that a) men’s motivations are sexual – to ‘get laid’; b) men’s motivations are financial - to be those recipients of those large cheques they imagine we get; or c) that men have been hurt or abused in some way

Ironically, MRAs often think the worst of men: that men's support for feminism is motivated by base and callous motives, a shallow desire to impress women, or based in trauma, rather than by heartfelt principle, care for women, and so on.

3) MRAs contribute to the harmful policing of masculinity.

A second way that MRAs respond to pro-feminist men like me is to call us cucks, simps, manginas, gay, and other terms that suggest we have compromised our maleness, masculinity, and/or heterosexuality by advocating for feminism. For myself, I could not care less about such insults. But what does trouble me is that such insults contribute to the social policing of masculinity – the enforcement of rigid norms of masculinity that limit men’s and boys’ own lives.

4) MRAs show their hypocrisy about men’s violence against women.

A third popular accusation popular among MRAs is that male feminists are in fact sexual predators, that most have perpetrated violence against women. Or in a variation on this, MRAs express hope that male feminists will have false accusations of violence made against them. There is a deep irony here. MRAs obsessively make the claim that false accusations are often made against men and represent a terrible injustice among them. At the same time, MRAs either wish that crime against the men with whom they disagree, or MRAs themselves falsely accuse men. This behaviour is typical of the hypocrisy, lack of integrity, and ugliness in which MRAs dwell.

Yes, some self-proclaimed male feminists have perpetrated violence against women. This reflects the fact that *many* men have perpetrated violence against women: men’s violence against women is all too common, including by seemingly ‘nice’ men. And yes, men's support for feminism may be superficial, cynical, or predatory. At the same time, in general, men with more gender-equitable beliefs are *less likely* to use violence against women than men with more patriarchal beliefs. Patriarchal beliefs are a well-documented risk factor e.g. for men assaulting or raping women, as this report on violence perpetration documents.

In any case, MRAs’ apparent concern for sexual assault of women is hollow. They try energetically to take away the voice and legitimacy given to female rape survivors, attack the services for them, and defend the men accused or convicted of raping women. And their efforts defend and intensify the very things known to predict men’s violence against women: patriarchal beliefs, male dominance in families, and so on.

(For academic critiques of men's rights advocacy, see here. For accessible, journalistic critiques, see here. For other materials, see here.)