Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Why the "Men's Rights Movement" is misogynistic

Put simply, men are not systemically oppressed.  Whilst it's true that most male individuals are oppressed as members of the working class, and might also be oppressed as people of colour, members of sexual minorities, migrants, trans people, disabled people, etc., men as a group are not systemically oppressed.

Women might make assumptions about them or be unduly suspicious of them because of their gender, but this is not systemic oppression and is largely a result of women's oppression.  Men might be expected to be promiscuous, dominant, emotionless, physically powerful, but this is a direct cause of women's oppression and oppresses women more than it does men.  Men who are seen as "feminine" might be shamed, but this is because femininity is seen as inferior and is therefore even more inseparable from women's oppression.

Now let's look directly at the so-called men's rights movement's flagship issue: the family courts.  They cite the alleged bias of child custody cases against the father as an example of "female privilege".  I don't have the time to go searching through media reports and statistics which themselves are skewed as often as not and try to sort the fact from the fiction, so I don't know if such a bias actually exists or to what extent... but that isn't the point.  If such a bias exists, then in the big picture it's a rational bias in our existing society in which men are all-powerful in sexual and relationship politics.  It's taken for granted that men are the active, and usually dominant, partners in any heterosexual relationship... so much so that a lot of heterosexuals see the more active partner in a lesbian relationship as "the man"; this assumption is rarely challenged, and any time the reality deviates from it, society does its best to make it into a badge of shame for both parties.  Any woman, particularly a heterosexual woman, who takes charge of her own sexuality is shamed as either a "slut" or a "prude" - often both, as paradoxical as that is.  And the contrast between young girls being largely discouraged from any strenuous physical activity and young boys being constantly bombarded with the "need" to be good at running, good at sports, strong in the arm, above all good at fighting, means that the natural physical advantages of most men over most women are even more pronounced.  In this context, it's scandalously easy for a man to be both an abusive partner and an abusive parent, and certainly far easier than for a woman.  So to campaign for family courts to be "less biased" to women without offering a better solution, whether any individual campaigner is aware of it or not (and I don't doubt that many "men's rights activists" genuinely believe that men are persecuted and are blissfully unaware of their complicity in women's oppression) is to campaign for the last legal recourse of heterosexual women in abusive relationships to be undermined.  Any honest campaigner for an equitable family court system should be first and foremost a campaigner for women's liberation.

Every way in which men are "oppressed as men" is inseparable from women's oppression, and can only be solved or mitigated either through women's liberation or by oppressing women further.  So every "men's rights activist" who is genuinely not misogynistic should be primarily a women's rights activist.  Unfortunately, the "men's rights movement" as a campaigning community almost never mentions women's rights except as a token or in an attack.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Denying trans kids hormone treatment is child abuse

Yes, you read that right. The hormones released at puberty have a significant impact on bodily development, which in turn has a significant impact on the person's ability to be accepted as the gender in which they identify and to maintain a positive body image (which most people's upbringing connects to fitting into arbitrarily defined boundaries of acceptable appearance for members of their identified gender), both of which factors generally have at least a perceptible impact on quality of life. So treatment is often denied to trans kids and teenagers because the clinics want to make sure they have a good quality of life, apparently... sorry, you've lost me. People sometimes regret transitioning, sure - more people regret not having transitioned earlier in life. If there's conflict between the gender a person has been raised as and the one they declare, then the latter has been declared against everything they've been taught to believe about themselves and in defiance of the persecution they know will result. So it's not been declared lightly, and there should be no question about which is more valid. Without the benefit of a crystal ball, what will a reasonable person judge is best for the child? What the child says is best for the child. Not letting them make that decision isn't a neutral option. Even if you're not forcing unwanted gender norms on them, if they're approaching or have started puberty then you're forcing unwanted bodily changes on them, which is frankly even worse cos some of it is permanent, and all of it is at least semi-permanent. It's child abuse.