The Men’s Rights Movement Isn’t an SNL Sketch

But it should be. The first International Conference on Men’s Issues sounds like the sophisticate’s ‘He-Man Women Haters Club.’


Somewhere in Michigan, in the last week of June, a bunch of men sat around and aired their grievances.

To say it more plainly, they whined and complained about how the world got to be so cold.

The Washington Post covered first International Conference on Men’s Issues, something so absurd in its existence that I hope that Lorne Michaels catches wind of it and brings Tina Fey back to do the writing for an SNL skit.

According to Monica Hesse, the reporter who covered the event for the paper’s style section, “Men, attendees believed, were the ones under threat of attack. This conference was their response, their rallying call to action.”

The men want their rights. “The same rights as the ‘privileged women,’ as various attendees described the female gender,” according the Hesse’s report. Women who had been defined by some as narcissists.

What these rights are, in particular, the article doesn’t say. (Honestly, I wish these people had a 10-point program.) Hesse mentioned some that were worth consideration: The careless disregard for the lives of young men who are enlisted in the U.S. military, custodial rights (and related societal expectations) for men. Domestic abuse and incidents of rape committed against men.

These aren’t just men’s issues. They are issues for any sensible, compassionate person who is informed and wants justice. (Much like feminism is not just for women.) But this conference, this idea of “men’s rights,” seems like the sophisticate’s “He-Man Woman Haters Club.” Especially once the anecdotes about wives and ex-girlfriends start rolling in. The resentment creates a breeding ground for hate, the kind that brought us the likes of Elliot Rodger.

The head of the organization, Paul Elam, wants us to believe that the piece he wrote wanting the month of October to be “Bash a Violent Bitch” month — you know, the one where he says, “literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall” — was satire. Obviously.

The majority of conference attendees were white and male — the stronghold of privilege in this country (and arguably, the world). As voices of non-privilege and dissent grow louder — from people of color, from the LGBTQ community, from women — the silence that maintains privilege begins to crumble. Social media has been an incredible tool in amplifying, and in some cases, unifying and intersectionalizing these voices.

If the privileged seem nervous that they are losing ground, perhaps it is with good reason. There is a black family living in the White House. Gays and lesbians can legally marry in many states. Contraception has been made available to women for free. If the DREAM Act passes, their world may implode.

The curious thing about privilege is that it is selective and blinding. Often, those who possess it are unaware of how much they’ve gained institutionally by being born exactly as they are. Helpfully, a reminder comes to “check your privilege.” Having said this a time or two myself before, it can be like kicking a hornet’s nest.

“People tell me to check my privilege, and I just laugh, because they have no idea what I’ve been through,” one man is quoted as saying in the piece. There are others near him who agree, and again cite personal obstacles as a means to affirm their supposed disenfranchisement.

As the society becomes more inclusive, perhaps we should expect the rise of more of these organizations to emerge and convince us that the world is flat. After all, like Elam says on his site, A Voice For Men, he “grew up in a much different world than we live in today.” It seems to take some folks a bit longer to adjust.

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  • Emahray Trolle

    SNL did recently attempt an MRA skit and it fell flat on its face for the same reason as your essay.

  • fools2234

    Your sexism and ignorance are the reason you can’t take mens rights seriously. Here you go tho hun.

    22,000 word list of mens rights issues:

    These range from “arrest the male” domestic violence policies, the boy crisis, boys being forced to pay child support to their statutory rapists, due process trampling rape policies installed at colleges (policies that the Foundation for Individual Rights in education have been speaking out against), and DV shelters refusing to assist male domestic violence victims.

    Please address that list if you believe we face no issues?

  • Charliefoxtrot

    Imagine if 90% of whites were awarded custody of children in mixed race marriages. Do you think that might be just a little bit disconcerting?
    Because that’s how often women get kids in a divorce, roughly. Imagine the courts saying that there’s inherently something wrong with black (or Jewish, etc) people….we had a movement in the 50’s to get rid of separate but equal laws in the South, but this is not even providing men with a colored drinking fountain or even space at the back of the bus.
    It’s pretty much saying to men “well you dumb coloreds can’t be trusted to raise kids”.
    I’d say every man torn from their kids would gladly drink from a separate fountain if it meant they could live with their kids.

    There’s much more that a curious feminist could learn, especially about how systemic fake claims of abuse are in order to gain custody-a woman simply has to claim it, and since everyone knows coloreds can’t control themselves, or so that’s how the State views all men, the woman gets custody without any due process.

    Sigh. Maybe you could actually do some journalizin’ before letting selection bias completely guide your hands to the keyboard?

    Just this issue alone could provoke some thoughtful journalism, if the intent is there.

  • Renaissance Man

    There is literally no substance to this article. None. She has a dismissive punch-line (“should be a skit”), and nothing to back that up. She doesn’t discuss any of the issues. Does Philadelphia Magazine pay this hack a salary? I mean, she literally provided no content. This is only a glorified tweet or Facebook status (“MRAs are silly #yesallwomen” Uh, thanks for that, I guess???). Usually clickbait at least has a baby panda bear playing with a ball or something . . .but there is nothing here. Editors . . . you need to improve your game.

    However, here is a link to videos of the speakers at the event if you are not an empty-headed syncophant who doesn’t need to critique issues, engage with people they disagree with, and maybe even think that they do not already have all the answers:

  • Ohone

    … because men’s liberation movements and women’s; liberation movement are judged at totally different standards.

    When men do and say what feminists frequently say and do all of a sudden its wrong.

  • Tracheal

    “If the privileged seem nervous that they are losing ground, perhaps it is with good reason.”

    Irony much?

    • Whothehell Cares

      Indeed Feminism is losing privileged ground, big time, and not before due time.

  • whatever

    The Elam article was clearly and explicitly written as a satire in response to the Jezebel article
    “Have You Ever Beat Up A Boyfriend? Cause, Uh, We Have”

    That you didn’t mention the underlying Jezebel article tells me you’re either dishonest, or stupid, or maybe just that c word.

    • Emahray Trolle

      Crazy, cretinous, conniving, calumnious? Come on man out with it.

      • whatever

        Cunning. I think this entire piece is a demonstration by Maya Francis of her cunning. A stunt. A cunning stunt.

    • RiseOfDivergents

      Feminism and dishonesty go hand in hand. It has been fourty years, enough time to judge a movement by its actions and not by the dictionary definition.

    • librtee_dot_com

      Hey now, hey now, maybe she isn’t dishonest or stupid. Maybe she’s just a terrible journalist, too blinded by her ideology to realize it.

    • wiier9l

      Elam is a FRAUD AND A COWARD:

  • RiseOfDivergents

    Sweet heart, you sound very ignorant. And you are giving women very bad name. Educate yourself about the movement before you write anything. There is no point in staying stupid, especially when your stupidity, hate, bigotry and sexism is out in the open. You should try to get another degree, gender study degree is not working for you. How about get a degree in STEM, do you know what STEM stands for? if not let me know and I will tell you. OK?

  • TefEx

    Feminists are not to be reckoned with. They weren’t getting their way with the DoubleTree Hotel in Detroit with a petition to cancel a meeting of MRAs. So in utter frustration, a few of them broke rank and threatened to harm the hotel via some scary phone calls.

  • librtee_dot_com

    ‘The MRA should be an SNL skit’

    Yes, if you base your entire knowledge about a movement by reading mockery and caricatures, it would make sense to you that the entire movement is a caricature.

    > The Washington Post covered first International Conference on Men’s Issues, something so absurd in its existence

    Wait, absurd? So are you saying that men don’t have any gender specific issues, at all? Is that really what you are saying?

    The lack of empathy here is jaw-dropping. As a man, I have no way of knowing exactly what your experience as a woman is like or what struggles you face. As a woman, you have no way of knowing exactly what the experience of men is like or what struggles we face.

    But, coming from the maturity level of a 16 year old who has the entire world figured it out, the author is convinced that she does. She knows more about issues men face than men themselves do. She KNOWS they don’t exist. She read it on a blog.

    “The curious thing about privilege is that it is selective and blinding. Often, those who possess it are unaware of how much they’ve gained institutionally by being born exactly as they are. ”

    Yes, Maya K. Francis. This is true.

    Here’s the question: Have you ever considered it yourself?

    It truly is the height of hypocrisy for for one privileged person to be lecturing another privileged person about his privilege, while living in blind and willful ignorance to her own.

    The condescension, arrogance, myopia, and complete lack of empathy in this article represents the very worst of modern Feminism. Sadly, it’s also closer and closer to the mainstream.

    This article shows why the MRM is so important. Feminists say that the only movement that can validly address men’s issues is Feminism. However, most Feminists don’t believe that men suffer from any gender specific issues at all. It’s fair to critique the actions, people, and words of the modern MRM; to say it has no reason to exist is privilege talking.

  • wiier9l
  • magdelyn c. prossii

    Silly piece – poorly written. Ms. Francis fails to back up her statements with facts: “The majority of conference attendees were white and male…” How many were white? How many were not? What percentage? How many women showed up? This piece is feminist backlash propaganda coming from a place of anger and hate. How many were gender non-conforming or had sexual orientations other than straight? She doesn’t know, and pretty much doesn’t care, because facts would get in the way of her narrative.

    “These aren’t just men’s issues. They are issues for any sensible, compassionate person who is informed and wants justice…”

    Suicide, work place deaths, death from violence, the imprisonment of much of our male population, and the war on males in our schools and college campuses (under the guise of “rape culture”) are all issues which disproportionately affect men, i.e. issues that that feminists (the she-man men haters club) could give a rats ass about. The only thing feminists say about these issues is, “We are working to get rid of gender roles.” Which only means that they don’t like traditional notions and expressions of masculinity. They don’t want to help men, but redefine men into being more compliant and for which the word “man” is too strong a word.

  • justthetruth

    The stronghold of privilege is actually white and female and upper class. White and male and upper class just does the funding.

  • Whothehell Cares

    Oh look another young sexist author who thinks men should only discuss their issues and problems through a feminist filter.

  • rtdave

    The writer appears to know nothing about either the attendees or the subject matter of the conference. This is not journalism, it isn’t even informed opinion, it is simply prejudice.

  • average Joe

    It is pretty much a crime in this country to be a male White Christian with a college degree and white-collar career. But I digress….anyone who identifies themselves with their initials followed by” Greatest” in any form shouldn’t be taken seriously anyway.

  • Astrokid

    Indeed. We should all join the loving feminist movement. They love men.

    “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males.”
    — Mary Daly, philosopher and former professor at Boston College (women’s studies and others); “No Man’s Land”; What Is Enlightenment? (Fall/Winter 1999)

    “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.”
    — Sally Miller Gearhart, author and former professor of women’s studies at San Francisco State University; The Future – If There Is One – Is Female (1981)

    “[The falsely accused] have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I did not violate her, could I have?’ … Those are good questions.”
    — Catherine Comins, assistant dean of students at Vassar College; TIME Magazine(June 3 1992)

    “Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.”
    — Catharine MacKinnon, philospher and professor at three universities, presently University of Michigan; A Rally Against Rape (1981)

    • Manny Chen

      men considered it important to keep women from voting. can’t blame women if they are still pissed about that.

  • KW

    If this author wrote an article about anything else, no one would comment and few would read. I urge everyone to travel this hate website, find one advertiser and boycott them.