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Patriarchy is a men’s privilege movement

| Monday, October 13, 2014

Men’s Rights Activists of the world, prepare yourselves for the next couple of words, because you’re never going to hear them from me again: you’re right. Feminism is not about men’s problems.

Women are the direct targets and primary victims of a patriarchal society in which misogyny and male domination wins the day. The ways in which this system harms men are incidental and self-inflicted by men as a class. Men could be much more free if they were willing to reject their attachment to masculinity. But I won’t lie to you: as long as patriarchy runs our society and masculinity continues to be worshiped, men who reject these norms, or even those who accept them yet aren’t able to perfectly perform them, will continue to face insult and exclusion. So, congratulations. If and when that happens, you’ll have the slightest peek into what women’s lives are like every day. How does it feel? 

I have no sympathy for Mr. D’Emic’s claims that men are victimized somehow by “doing [their] best to try and obtain consent.” With such a claim, he reveals a near-transparent sense of entitlement to women’s bodies. Citing a poorly conducted study from 20 years ago, Mr. D’Emic claims that 50 percent of rape accusations are possibly false. Contrary to Mr. D’Emic’s claims that men are defenseless in the face of an accusation of sexual violence, overwhelming evidence shows that the majority of the time, rapists do not face consequences for their crimes. In fact, according to RAINN, only about 3 percent of rapists ever spend time in prison, and an average of 60 percent of assaults in the last five years were not reported. Only 10 percent of rapists are arrested, 8 percent are prosecuted, and 4 percent are convicted with a felony (RAINN’s sources include but are not limited to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In one survey of college-aged men, more than one in three of the male college students surveyed said they would commit rape if they believed that they could get away with it. Add to this the fact that 98 percent of rapists are men, and to me, that sounds like a whole lot of evidence that men who rape do pretty well by the current system. 

Which “rights” is Mr. D’Emic concerned that feminism is taking away from men – perhaps the right to rape and exploit women with virtual impunity? Men’s rights are covered under human rights. But patriarchy is a men’s privilege movement, not a rights movement – social privileges are built on the domination of other groups. The so-called Men’s Rights movement recapitulates these privileges. Effective feminism does, in fact, require that women be raised out of their lowered circumstances at the expense of privileges enjoyed by men – privileges that are gained by unjustly disenfranchising women of basic human rights.

Angela Bird



Oct. 11

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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