I used to be like those boys who enjoy pulling pranks on other girls, calling out how useless and annoying they are, or as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes liked to call them: slimy. But after all of this entertainment, nothing but negativity came to me; girls would verbally abuse me in return.
Even after I decided to stop insulting girls and leave them alone, the majority of the girls in my class called me names, treated me like a piece of trash and stayed away from me. Not only was I the most unpopular kid when I was 11, but I also felt uncomfortable when the girls bullied me back.
I eventually apologized for all the trouble I’d made, but the girls I apologized to decided not to forgive in return. Sometimes I wanted to punch one of them, but my mother warned me that I shouldn’t hit girls because this is not how boys like me should act, and told me not to talk to those kinds of girls.
Looking back, I regret those actions, and felt hypocritical considering how I am the only boy in my family. The rest of my siblings are girls, and because of this, I wanted to have either a little or big brother, back when I was a kid. As I grow older, my family told me that I should be a feminist and respect women. After that, I got interest in feminist philosophy, women’s empowerment, society’s view on the female’s role, and learning to respect women.
Recently, however, I heard about a rising movement on the internet called the Men’s Rights Movement, a collection of people, mostly male, who fight against social, legal and economic discrimination against men. It is a reaction against misandry and the current radical feminist movement. These people argue that men earn lower wages than women, husbands are the victims of spousal abuse, divorced fathers can’t get custody of children, women can rape men, feminists vilify males and feminism marginalizes the male gender identity.
Statistics and facts about male deaths in war, child custody, rape protection law and media portrayal of men the activists present seemed valid. In the controversial book, The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, debunks the existence of male privilege in our society and presents the idea that there are more men who are homeless, suicidal, war victims and prisoners than society perceives. The book also argues men are systematically trained throughout their lives for the protection of women and children.
In other words, they asserted that male are a biologically disposable gender.
This fear of male oppression made the Men’s Right Movement spread across the world – including my home country of South Korea. A couple of months ago, a male rights activist, pornography advocate and a fierce critic of South Korea’s Ministry of Women and Family named Seong Jae-ki committed suicide by jumping off the Han River bridge. Before he jumped, he published a manifesto online about the goal of his organization, Man of Korea, demanded 100 million wons to keep his group out of bankruptcy and gathered photographers and journalists to record his publicity stunt.
This man was nothing but desperate for attention; he could have come up with better ways to protest a so-called male inequality in his country, like gathering his followers to perform either hunger strikes or civil disobedience in Thoreauan style.
Korea, much like other East Asian countries, has their own long and historical tradition of patriarchy, and the feminist movement came as an after-thought. You could say that I am biased about it because my family and I grew up in patriarchal system. So I have no big problems about the tradition other than mandatory military conscription, which I am against.
As I dug more deeper, I learned that men’s rights activists hold critical opinions of male supporters of female rights, and believe chivalric men only exist as women’s sex objects. They insult chivalrous men as ‘manginas,’ a portmanteau of man and vagina, which really shows their immaturity and argue that chivalry does nothing but make men reject their gender’s conservative values. I won’t be surprised if someday they gather around and blame Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, a classic Spanish satirical novel about a man who thinks himself as a classic chivalric knight, for spreading the idea of chivalry among masculinity and burn every copy available.
This attitude provides a main assumed goal for the movement, the destruction of feminism and Valerie Solanas-style misandry. They viewed feminism as a virus that will end the human civilization and encourage many women to discriminate men except Eminem. According to the article, Meet the Men’s Rights Movement by Henry P. Belanger from the men’s issues website, The Good Man Project, the Men’s Right Activists are known for their tactical assaults on the comments sections of offending feminist blogs and websites. This is nothing more than a grown-up form of teasing at girls, in a similar way to the He-Man Woman Hater club from The Little Rascal.
In fact, the activists dislike The Good Man Project with passion, to quote (one of the nicer ones): “I believe this site, and the viewpoints expressed within it, are toxic, and EXTREMELY harmful to boys and men. And I find the cynical attempt to paint yourselves as helpful in any way to be most disgusting of all. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
The men’s rights activists are, in essence, telling me to be condescending toward feminists because they encourage other women to act violently toward men like me and take my rights away. First of all, the reason why the girls in my childhood acted mean to me was because I was a childish jerk at that time, not because of their misandrist beliefs. Second, I can see where radical feminists, especially ones that right-wingers hate, could be very noisy and annoying, but sometimes I understand and sympathize with these feminists because they are frustrated about today’s patriarchal society. Lastly, men’s rights activists doesn’t understand the real cause of the gender conflicts in our society, and are simply living in their own paranoid fantasy by wearing a tinfoil fedora hat.
Much like radical feminism, this movement sugarcoats the gender-related conflicts, rather than making any better. If men’s rights activists call themselves pro-equality and not anti-woman, they should rename themselves as the human rights activists or gender egalitarians instead.
Both men and women struggle through same problems with different reasons and not necessarily because of their genders. Most real life issues the activists pointed out aren’t created by the rise of feminism but are instead regular obstacles that boys or men can face in the changing world.
People, regardless of their gender, should respect each other. The societal view on gender is becoming more and more neutralized; we see more heterosexual boys watching cartoon shows made for little girls, stay-in home fathers raising their kids and mothers going out to work.
The gender neutrality are not the result from the rise of feminism, but more likely from the gay’s rights movement. Gay rights activists from the past, like Harvey Milk, encouraged others, especially straight people, to accept gays and lesbians, and not to judge others, like people with androgynous appearance, for not acting to their gender.
In fact, the idea of male as a persecuted gender class is about as stupid as white people as an inherently persecuted race class, and it doesn’t need a political movement to fight against gender inequality in any area.
And if I don’t have a privilege, then I’ll make one.