RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) whined and whined about this student newspaper article from McGill University (Canada)….they did make a couple changes, but RADAR still is not happy. Overall I thought it was an accurate, thoughtful piece of journalism. RADAR is the organization that basically claims that all women and children lie about abuse.
The McGill Tribune, 12/1/2009
OFF THE BOARD: The fight for men’s rights
by Carolyn Gregoire
Discrimination against men has, understandably perhaps, never occupied a prominent position on the feminist agenda. Recently, however, the rise of the men’s rights movement has led men’s rights groups and feminists alike to call issues specific to male identity into question. A recent article on Slate’s women-oriented webzine DoubleX entitled “Men’s Rights Groups are Becoming Frighteningly Effective” has spurred contentious debate extending beyond the feminist blogosphere as to whether feminism should encompass issues of men’s rights.
The article was triggered by the actions of men’s activist group RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) who gathered in Washington this October to lobby against issues such as false allegations of rape and domestic violence, unrecognized domestic violence against men, and child custody rights for divorced fathers.
Many women, and not only those who identify as feminists, are outraged by the measures these groups have taken. Rather than addressing the negative impact that patriarchy and gender stereotypes have on men and calling for change, RADAR chooses instead to undermine the prevalence of rape and domestic violence against women. Relying on hyperbolic claims and sensationalism – suggesting, for instance, that domestic violence laws represent “the largest regression in civil rights since the Jim Crow era” – RADAR succeeded in blocking the passage expansion of several domestic violence bills, such as the Violence Against Women act. [*Correction appended] It is also worth noting that many of the movement’s leaders are themselves accused batterers.
Though issues of men’s rights and injustice towards men deserve attention, the anti-feminist approach employed by RADAR and many other men’s rights groups in battling these issues is counterproductive and alarmingly reactionary. RADAR’s attempt to take funding away from “discriminatory” women’s-only shelters, rather than fighting for resources for male victims of domestic violence and sexual harassment, epitomizes this ineffectual methodology.
While it’s true that all human rights are men’s rights and that history is essentially a men’s rights movement, discrimination against men should be a feminist concern because male and female rights are inextricably intertwined. Though a patriarchal society operates for male benefit, societal standards of masculinity are also harmful to men in real ways which deserve to be acknowledged. Rigid definitions of masculinity which narrowly cast men into aggressive, machismo, bread-winning roles are damaging to men, and further, they are damaging to men in ways that are also damaging to women. Following this line of reasoning, many feminists fight for fathers’ rights as a means of countering the socially sanctioned notion that nurturer or caregiver must be a female-occupied role. A central objective of the feminist movement is debunking gender stereotypes, even when they apply only to men.
Male victims of sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape deserve to be recognized and taken seriously, mothers should not be unjustly favoured over fathers in child custody proceedings, and individuals of both genders do not deserve to be systemically limited and harmed by rigid social definitions of masculinity. Feminist concerns and men’s rights are not mutually exclusive, and should meet on the common ground of seeking gender equality – the irony of it all is that we’re both fighting the same battle. As feminist Gloria Anzaldua suggests, “Men, even more than women, are fettered to gender roles … We need a new masculinity and the new man needs a movement.”
Correction: The article’s original version claimed that RADAR had blocked the passage of several domestic violence bills, including the Violence Against Women act. In fact, RADAR helped block the expansion of these bills. Also, the Tribune apologizes for previously claiming that many of RADAR’s leaders were accused batterers.
Read the excellent Double X article here.