"Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

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"Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Jessica » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:45 pm UTC

I saw this article, and wanted to post it. I haven't read the whole thing (it's long and I'm lazy) but I bolded one of the quotes which I find most interesting (and which lead me to this article).

Thoughts?
Edit: spoiler'd
Spoiler:
"Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective wrote:By: Kathryn Joyce

Posted: November 5, 2009 at 7:45 AM
At the end of October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, members of the men’s movement group RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting [2]) gathered on the steps of Congress to lobby against what they say are the suppressed truths about domestic violence: that false allegations are rampant, that a feminist-run court system fraudulently separates innocent fathers from children, that battered women’s shelters are running a racket that funnels federal dollars to feminists, that domestic-violence laws give cover to cagey mail-order brides seeking Green Cards, and finally, that men are victims of an unrecognized epidemic of violence at the hands of abusive wives.

“It’s now reached the point,” reads a statement from RADAR, “that domestic violence laws represent the largest roll-back in Americans’ civil rights since the Jim Crow era!”

RADAR’s rhetoric may seem overblown, but lately the group and its many partners have been racking up very real accomplishments. In 2008, the organization claimed to have blocked passage of four federal domestic-violence bills, among them an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to international scope and a grant to support lawyers in pro bono domestic-violence work. Members of this coalition have gotten themselves onto drafting committees for VAWA’s 2011 reauthorization. Local groups in West Virginia and California have also had important successes, criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases, and winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory.

Groups like RADAR fall under the broader umbrella of the men’s rights movement, a loose coalition of anti-feminist groups. These men’s rights activists, or MRAs, have long been written off by domestic-violence advocates as a bombastic and fringe group of angry white men, and for good reason. Bernard Chapin, a popular men’s rights blogger, told me over e-mail that he will refer to me as “Feminist E,” since he never uses real names for feminists, who are wicked and who men “must verbally oppose … until our flesh oxidizes into dust.” In the United Kingdom, a father’s rights group scaled Buckingham Palace in superhero costumes. In Australia, they wore paramilitary uniforms and demonstrated outside the houses of female divorcees.

But lately they’ve become far more polished and savvy about advancing their views. In their early days of lobbying, “these guys would show up and have this looming body language that was very off-putting,” says Ben Atherton-Zeman, author of Voices of Men, a one-man play about domestic violence and sexual assault. “But that’s all changed. A lot of the leaders are still convicted batterers, but they’re well-organized, they speak in complete sentences, they sound much more reasonable: All we want is equal custody, for fathers not to be ignored.”

One of the respectable new faces of the movement is Glenn Sacks, a fathers' rights columnist and radio host with 50,000 e-mail followers, and a pragmatist in a world of angry dreamers. Sacks is a former feminist and abortion-clinic defender who disavows what he calls “the not-insubstantial lunatic fringe of the fathers’ rights movement.” He recently merged his successful media group with the shared-parenting organization Fathers and Families in a bid to build a mainstream fathers' rights organ on par with the National Organization for Women. Many of Sacks’ arguments—for a court assumption of shared parenting in the case of divorce, or against child-support rigidity in the midst of recession—can sound reasonable.

But do any of their arguments hold up? Many of the men for whom Sacks advocates are involved in extreme cases, says Joanie Dawson, a writer and domestic-violence advocate who has covered the fathers’ rights movement. The great majority of custody cases, in which shared parenting is a legitimate option, are settled or resolved privately. But of the 15 percent that go to family court—the cases that fathers’ rights groups target—at least half include alleged domestic abuse.

Unsurprisingly, this argument is missing from MRA discussions of custody inequality and recruitment ads, which cast all men as potentially innocent victims “just one 911 call away” from losing everything they have earned and loved. These rallying calls, and the divorce attorneys hawking men’s rights expertise on MRA sites, promising to “teach her a lesson,” serve as what Dawson sees as a powerful draw for men in the midst of painful divorces.

While MRA groups continue to expand their base of embittered fathers and ex-husbands, they’ve cleaned up their image to court more powerful allies. RADAR board member Ron Grignal, the former president of Fathers for Virginia and a former state delegate candidate, organizes the group’s Washington lobbying activities. In 2008, RADAR partnered with Eagle Forum for a conference at the Heritage Foundation about the threat that VAWA poses to the family. Grignal argues that state interpretations of VAWA are so broad they could cast couples’ money disputes as domestic violence, enabling unwarranted restraining orders that then win women’s divorce cases for them. Politicians, Grignal says, are increasingly on board with men’s rights movement concerns.

“On domestic violence, I’ve had both state and federal legislators tell me they know that this process is out of control,” says Grignal. “They’re afraid if they support [reforms] they’ll be tagged as ‘for domestic violence.’ But I’ve had Democrats on Capitol Hill tell me they agree with everything I say. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus told me that his brother can’t see his kids, and his wife threatened to throw herself down the stairs to ruin his political career.”

Some domestic-violence protections do seem to have unintended effects, such as mandatory-arrest policies that compel police to take someone into custody in response to any domestic-violence call—a policy that has been criticized by RADAR as well as by some domestic-violence advocates, who say it imposes an absurd equivalence between largely nonviolent family spats or insubstantial female violence and serious abuse. But groups like RADAR are criticizing the law for the wrong reasons. In fact, the effect of mandatory arrest in conflating women’s low-level violence with battery, seems very close to RADAR’s campaign for viewing women as equal domestic abusers.

One potent idea advanced by MRAs is the claim that men are equal victims of domestic violence. Mark Rosenthal, president and co-founder of RADAR, makes a very personal argument for the phenomenon. Rosenthal, who doesn’t call himself an MRA, grew up with a mother who he says terrorized the entire family and hit her husband frequently. The true impact of the violence, he says, was more than physical and eclipsed his petite mother’s ability to inflict serious injuries. Rosenthal wants to see an appreciation for women’s nonphysical abuse incorporated into domestic-violence policy. “It’s not about size,” he told an audience at a law enforcement domestic-violence training. “It’s not exclusively about physical attacks. However, it is about a pathological need to control others, and women are as prone to this as men.”

RADAR and other MRA groups base their battered men arguments largely on the research of a small group of social scientists who claim that domestic violence between couples is equally divided, just unequally reported. Most notable are the studies conducted by sociologist Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, who has written extensively on female violence (and who Dawson saw distributing RADAR flyers at an APA conference). Straus’ research is starting to move public opinion. A Los Angeles conference this July dedicated to discussing male victims of domestic violence, “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,” received positive mainstream press for its “inclusive” efforts.

While some men certainly are victims of female domestic violence, advocates say the number is closer to 3 percent to 4 percent, rather than the 45 percent to 50 percent RADAR claims. Jack Straton, a Portland State University professor and member of Oregon’s Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force, argues that Straus critically fails to distinguish between the intent and effect of violence, equating “a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs,” or a single act of female violence with years of male abuse; that Straus only interviewed one partner, when couples’ accounts of violence commonly diverge; and that he excludes from his study post-separation violence, which accounts for more than 75 percent of spouse-on-spouse violence, 93 percent of which is committed by men.

All in all, advocates say that cherry-picked studies from researchers like Straus, touted by the MRAs, amount to what Edward Gondolf, director of research for the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute, calls“bad science.” Statistics suggesting gender parity in abuse are taken out of necessary context, they say, ignoring distinctions between the equally divided “common couple violence” and the sort of escalated, continuing violence known as battery—which is 85 percent male-perpetrated—as well as the disparate injuries inflicted by men and women.

“The biggest concern, though, is not the wasted effort on a false issue,” writes Straton, but the encouragement given to batterers to consider themselves the victimized party. “Arming these men with warped statistics to fuel their already warped worldview is unethical, irresponsible, and quite simply lethal.”

In this, critics like Australian sociologist Michael Flood say that men’s rights movements reflect the tactics of domestic abusers themselves, minimizing existing violence, calling it mutual, and discrediting victims. MRA groups downplay national abuse rates, just as abusers downplay their personal battery; they wage campaigns dismissing most allegations as false, as abusers claim partners are lying about being hit; and they depict the violence as mutual—part of an epidemic of wife-on-husband abuse—as individual batterers rationalize their behavior by saying that the violence was reciprocal. Additionally, MRA groups’ predictions of future violence by fed-up men wronged by the family-law system seem an obvious additional correlation, with the threat of violence seemingly intended to intimidate a community, like a fearful spouse, into compliance.

MRA critics say the organizational recapitulation of abusive tactics should be no surprise, considering the wealth of movement leaders with records or accusations of violence, abuse, harassment, or failure to pay child support. Some advocates call MRA groups “the abuser’s lobby,” because of members like Jason Hutch, the Buckingham Palace fathers’ rights “Batman,” who has been estranged from three mothers of his children and was taken to court for threatening one of his ex-wives.

Contrary to RADAR’s claims, domestic-violence advocates say that not only do abuse accusations not automatically win custody cases for women; there are a rising number of custody decisions awarded to abusive fathers, as judges see wives eager to protect their children as less cooperative regarding custody. More than half the time, studies have found, wives’ accusations of domestic violence are met with counter-accusations from husbands of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”—a medically unrecognized diagnosis that suggests mothers have poisoned their children into making false accusations against their fathers.

In one recent case, Genia Shockome, a Russian immigrant, was fighting for custody of her two children with her ex-husband, whom she charged had beaten her so severely that she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and who had told her she “had no right to leave” since he’d brought her to the United States. The judge in the case sided with her husband’s counter-claims of Parental Alienation Syndrome and awarded him full custody (and later sentenced Shockome to 30 days in jail while she was seven months pregnant). When her attorney, Barry Goldstein, co-author of the forthcoming book Domestic Violence, Abuse and Custody, criticized the judge in an online article, the judge retaliated with a complaint, and Goldstein was given a five-year suspension. Goldstein says the sanction represents a chilling pressure on attorneys, who may now fear penalties for criticizing a court’s gender bias that will interfere with their duties to their clients and that could result in women deciding not to leave abusers out of fear they won’t get a fair trial.

If cases such as Genia Shockome’s are the fodder of mainstream fathers’ rights advocates like Glenn Sacks—who ridiculed her claims and loss of custody as an uncredible “cause célèbre” for feminist family-law reformers—what Sacks calls the movement’s “lunatic fringe” is more vitriolic yet.

Within the ranks of the men’s rights movement, vigilante “resisters” are regularly nominated and lionized for acts of violence perceived to be in opposition to a feminist status quo [3]. In a few quarters of the movement, this even included George Sodini, the Pittsburgh man who opened fire on a gym full of exercising women this August, killing three and leaving behind an online diatribe journaling his sense of rejection by millions of desirable women.

Sodini’s diary was republished widely, including on the website of a popular men’s rights blogger, “Angry Harry,” who added his assessment of the case [4]. “MRAs should also take note of the fact that there are probably many millions of men across the western world who feel similar in many ways, and one can expect to see much more destruction emanating from them in the future,” he wrote. “One of the main reasons that I decided to post this diary on this website was because the western world must wake up to the fact that it cannot continue to treat men so appallingly and get away with it.” In a phone interview, Angry Harry said, “Of course there will be more Sodinis—there will be many more,” likening him to Marc Lépine, a Canadian man who killed or wounded 28, claiming feminists had ruined his life, or Nevada father Darren Mack, who murdered his estranged wife and attempted to kill the judge in their custody battle. (Also among this number is John Muhammad, the “D.C. Beltway Sniper,” whose involvement in a Washington father’s rights group and history of abuse is described in his ex-wife Mildred’s newly-released memoir, Scared Silent [5].) Perhaps, Angry Harry mused, that as the ranks of online MRAs grow, “the threat” of their violence “may be enough” to bring about the changes they desire.

Glenn Sacks dismissed Angry Harry as an "idiot" without real power in the movement, and yet he cautiously agrees that what Sacks calls "family court injustices" could lead to future violence.* “I want to be careful in wording this,” he says, “but the cataclysmic things I’m seeing done to men, it’s always my fear that one of these guys is going to do something terrible. I don’t want to say that like I condone it or that it’s OK, but it’s just the reality.” The movement seems eager to supply more martyrs. After Sacks wrote about a San Diego father who shot himself on the city’s courthouse steps over late child-support payments, numerous men wrote Sacks, telling him, “They’re taking everything from me, and I want to go out in a big way, and if I do, will you write about me?”

I asked RADAR’s Mark Rosenthal about the ties between groups like RADAR—claiming, however cynically, to have egalitarian motives—and the blunt anti-feminist positions of men’s movement allies like Chapin or Angry Harry. “I’d like to suggest that what you’ve just done is interview Martin Luther King and Malcolm X,” he told me. “In any movement, there is going to be a reasonable voice and people who are so hurt, who are so injured by the injustices, that they can’t afford to step back and try to take their emotions under control. But no movement is going to get anywhere without extremists.”

*Clarification, Nov. 6: This article originally said that Glenn Sacks "cautiously defends" Angry Harry. In fact, he "cautiously agrees that what Sacks calls 'family court injustices' could lead to future violence."

Correction, Nov. 9: This article orginally mislabeled the National Organization for Women as the National Organization of Women.
Last edited by Jessica on Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:52 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Cynical Idealist » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:51 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:Thoughts?

Put the massive article in a spoiler tag?
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Jessica » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:53 pm UTC

done and done.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Belial » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:54 pm UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
Jessica wrote:Thoughts?

Put the massive article in a spoiler tag?


I know, right? In the act of scrolling past it to reply to the title, someone might accidentally *read* some of it.....
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Cynical Idealist » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:done and done.

Thanks.

I find it really disturbing that this group has a leadership composed mostly of convicted violent criminals. Really, really disturbing. I admit I've seen some things that make it seem like men get the short end of the stick in custody battles, but this group is just wrong.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Jessica » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:55 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
Cynical Idealist wrote:
Jessica wrote:Thoughts?
Put the massive article in a spoiler tag?
I know, right? In the act of scrolling past it to reply to the title, someone might accidentally *read* some of it.....
Reading articles? MADNESS! Everyone knows NA is for replying to subjects alone.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby BlackSails » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:57 pm UTC

Sure, maybe some instances of domestic abuse arent actually abuse, just like some instances of fraud arent actually fraud. The way to fix that isnt by making fraud (or domestic abuse legal), but making sure the court systems are fair and accurate. Its pretty obvious what this group wants is not accuracy in domestic abuse statistics.

Now custody in divorce cases on the other hand, those are almost always decided in favor of the woman.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Telchar » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:58 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm with Cynic here. While they may have some non-loonies in there, that Sacks guy seems at least reasonable, it seems the vast majority are fringe crazies. Not surprising in the US, but definitely bad.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Jessica » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:58 pm UTC

They are almost always for the women. Then again, in our society, women are almost always the primary caretaker of the children.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:59 pm UTC

One valid point that stood out was that the courts almost tend to side with mothers in regards to custody of children, but that is completely aside when combined with the absurdity of a claim like "a feminist-run court system".

This reminds me when Bush decided we were going to goto Mars...
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby la fée verte » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:20 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:Now custody in divorce cases on the other hand, those are almost always decided in favor of the woman.


Do you have a citation for that, BlackSails? Cos according to the a study of the court system in Massachusetts (first jurisdiction I found stats for):
New England Law Review, in 1990 wrote:We began our investigation of child custody aware of a common perception that there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions. Our research contradicted this perception. Although mothers more frequently get primary physical custody of children following divorce, this practice does not reflect bias but rather the agreement of the parties and the fact that, in most families, mothers have been the primary [*748] caretakers of children. Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations.


Emphasis mine.

The whole thing is here: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/Massachusetts_Gender_Bias_Study.htm. I haven't read it all yet cos I'm in the middle of dying my hair, but it looks well worth a read.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Azrael001 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

But I've got anecdotal evidence that disagrees with the statistics!

...

I'm too lazy to read the most recently linked article, but over what length of time does it count gaining joint or full custody? Even if a horrible mother eventually loses her kids to the father, if she keeps them during the rediculously long custody battle, while the children are developing, then the damage will already be done.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby frezik » Wed Nov 25, 2009 7:27 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:Yeah, I'm with Cynic here. While they may have some non-loonies in there, that Sacks guy seems at least reasonable, it seems the vast majority are fringe crazies. Not surprising in the US, but definitely bad.


Yeah, Americans are just sheep, right?

In the United Kingdom, a father’s rights group scaled Buckingham Palace in superhero costumes. In Australia, they wore paramilitary uniforms and demonstrated outside the houses of female divorcees.


A lot of these groups can be seen much the same way as PETA: you might be able to agree with some of their basic principles, but they're too loony to associate them with anything positive.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby SirEel » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:11 pm UTC

Azrael001 wrote:Even if a horrible parent eventually loses their kids to the other parent, if they (singular) keep them during the rediculously long custody battle, while the children are developing, then the damage will already be done.


fixed that for you.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Azrael001 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

Did you not notice the part above about the anactotal evidence? I was talking about a specific case.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Aetius » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:24 pm UTC

It's hard to make a judgment on this one because the piece is so obviously biased. It's hard to tell where the author is making a legitimate criticism and where she's cherry picking quotes or statistics.

So in conclusion: Maybe?

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby SirEel » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:25 pm UTC

Of course! What a fool I am! I should have realised your anecdote or two totally invalidates any and all studies on the subject! I shall go and whip myself for my impudence immediately.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Azrael001 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:29 pm UTC

Excellent, but no more than ten lashes, I am feeling merciful today.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Aetius » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

Interesting counter-article:

Spoiler:
Men's Rights
Feminism should be about equality for males, too.

Cathy Young | November 23, 2009

Earlier this month DoubleX, Slate's short-lived female-oriented publication (launched six months ago and about to be folded back into the parent site as a women's section), ran an article ringing the alarm about the dire threat posed by the power of the men's rights movement. But the article, written by New York-based freelance writer Kathryn Joyce and titled "Men's Rights' Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective," says more about the state of feminism—and journalistic bias—than it does about men's groups.

Joyce's indictment is directed at a loose network of activists seeking to raise awareness and change policy on such issues as false accusations of domestic violence, the plight of divorced fathers denied access to children, and domestic abuse of men. In her view, groups such as RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) and individuals like columnist and radio talk show host Glenn Sacks are merely "respectable" and "savvy" faces for what is actually an anti-female backlash from "angry white men."

As proof of this underlying misogyny, Joyce asserts that men who commit "acts of violence perceived to be in opposition to a feminist status quo" are routinely lionized in the men's movement. This claim is purportedly backed up with a reference that, in fact, does not in any way support it: an article in Foreign Policy about the decline of male dominance around the globe. Joyce's one specific example is that the diary of George Sodini, a Pittsburgh man who opened fire on women in a gym in retaliation for feeling rejected by women, was reposted online by the blogger "Angry Harry" as a wake-up call to the Western world that "it cannot continue to treat men so appallingly and get away with it." But does this have anything to do with more mainstream men's rights groups? The original version of the article claimed that Sacks, who called "Harry" an "idiot" in his interview with Joyce, nonetheless "cautiously defends" the blogger; DoubleX later ran a correction on this point.

Sacks himself admits to Joyce that the men's movement has a "not-insubstantial lunatic fringe." Yet in her eyes, even the mainstream men's groups are promoting a dangerous agenda, above all infiltrating mainstream opinion with the view that reports of domestic violence are exaggerated and that a lot of spousal abuse is female-perpetrated. The latter claim, Joyce asserts, comes from "a small group of social scientists" led by "sociologist Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, who has written extensively on female violence." (In fact, Straus, founder of the renowned Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, is a pre-eminent scholar on family violence in general and was the first to conduct national surveys on the prevalence of wife-beating.)

Joyce repeats common critiques of Straus' research: For instance, he equates "a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs" or "a single act of female violence with years of male abuse." Yet these charges have been long refuted: Straus' studies measure the frequency of violence and specifically inquire about which partner initiated the physical violence. Furthermore, Joyce fails to mention that virtually all social scientists studying domestic violence, including self-identified feminists such as University of Pittsburgh psychologist Irene Frieze, find high rates of mutual aggression.

Reviews of hundreds of existing studies, such as one conducted by University of Central Lancashire psychologist John Archer in a 2000 article in Psychological Bulletin, have found that at least in Western countries, women are as likely to initiate partner violence as men. While the consequences to women are more severe—they are twice as likely to report injuries and about three times more likely to fear an abusive spouse—these findings also show that men hardly escape unscathed. Joyce claims that "Straus' research is starting to move public opinion," but in fact, some of the strongest recent challenges to the conventional feminist view of domestic violence—as almost invariably involving female victims and male batterers—come from female scholars like New York University psychologist Linda Mills.

Contrary to Joyce's claims, these challenges, so far, have made very limited inroads into public opinion. One of her examples of the scary power of men's rights groups is that "a Los Angeles conference this July dedicated to discussing male victims of domestic violence, 'From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,' received positive mainstream press for its 'inclusive' efforts.'" In fact, the conference—which featured leading researchers on domestic violence from several countries, half of them women, and focused on much more than just male victims—received virtually no mainstream press coverage. One of the very few exceptions was a column I wrote for The Boston Globe, also reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Whatever minor successes men's groups may have achieved, the reality is that public policy on domestic violence in the U.S. is heavily dominated by feminist advocacy groups. For the most part, these groups embrace a rigid orthodoxy that treats domestic violence as male terrorism against women, rooted in patriarchal power and intended to enforce it. They also have a record of making grotesquely exaggerated, thoroughly debunked claims about an epidemic of violence against women—for instance, that battering causes more hospital visits by women every year than car accidents, muggings, and cancer combined.

These advocacy groups practically designed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and they dominate the state coalitions against domestic violence to which local domestic violence programs must belong in order to qualify for federal funds. As a result of the advocates' influence, federal assistance is denied to programs that offer joint counseling to couples in which there is domestic violence, and court-mandated treatment for violent men downplays drug and alcohol abuse (since it's all about the patriarchy).

Against the backdrop of this enforced party line, Joyce is alarmed by the smallest signs that men's rights groups may be gaining even a modest voice in framing domestic violence policy. She points out that in a few states, men's rights activists have succeeded in "criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases" (this is apparently meant to be a bad thing) and "winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory" (in fact, the California Court of Appeals ruled last year that state-funded domestic violence programs that refuse to provide service to abused men violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection, but also emphasized that the services need not be identical and coed shelters are not required).

To bolster her case, Joyce consistently quotes advocates—or scholars explicitly allied with the advocacy movement, such as Edward Gondolf of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute—to discredit the claims of the men's movement. She also repeats uncorroborated allegations that many leaders of the movement are themselves abusers, but offers only one specific example: eccentric British activist Jason Hatch, who once scaled Buckingham Palace in a Batman costume to protest injustices against fathers, and who was taken to court for allegedly threatening one of his ex-wives during a custody dispute.

The article is laced with the presumption that, with regard to both general data and individual cases, any charge of domestic violence made by a woman against a man must be true.

One case Joyce uses to illustrate her thesis is that of Genia Shockome, who claimed to have been severely battered by her ex-husband Tim and lost custody of her two children after being accused of intentionally alienating them from their father. Yet Joyce never mentions that Shockome's claims of violent abuse were unsupported by any evidence, that she herself did not mention any abuse in her initial divorce complaint, or that three custody evaluators—including a feminist psychologist who had worked with the Battered Women's Justice Center at Pace University—sided with the father.

More than a quarter-century ago, British feminist philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards wrote, "No feminist whose concern for women stems from a concern for justice in general can ever legitimately allow her only interest to be the advantage of women." Joyce's article is a stark example of feminism as exclusive concern with women and their perceived advantage, rather than justice or truth.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.com. She is the author of Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality. This article originally appeared at Forbes.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby aleflamedyud » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:55 pm UTC

At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby The Reaper » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:58 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.

Yea.

Tho I like the quote from the person in the counterarticle.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Prefanity » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:32 pm UTC

Feminism should be about equality for males, too.


It is. Feminism recognizes that patriarchy is damaging to both sexes and rejects the idea that patriarchy is some sort of natural state for men. It also recognizes that both sexes can support patriarchy.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Freakish » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:48 pm UTC

Prefanity wrote:
Feminism should be about equality for males, too.


It is. Feminism recognizes that patriarchy is damaging to both sexes and rejects the idea that patriarchy is some sort of natural state for men. It also recognizes that both sexes can support patriarchy.


There's more then one type of Feminism.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Prefanity » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:56 pm UTC

Freakish wrote:
Prefanity wrote:
Feminism should be about equality for males, too.


It is. Feminism recognizes that patriarchy is damaging to both sexes and rejects the idea that patriarchy is some sort of natural state for men. It also recognizes that both sexes can support patriarchy.


There's more then one type of Feminism.


Fair, but I have never seen a type of Feminism with the stated goal of swapping which term (man or woman) has the power in the binary. Maybe such a Feminism exists, but maybe that article shouldn't open with a sentence that alienates anyone interested in (or perhaps, versed in) any other type of Feminism. And, as it stands, I wasn't wrong. Feminism is (at least, usually) about equality.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Diadem » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:57 pm UTC

la fée verte wrote:
New England Law Review, in 1990 wrote:We began our investigation of child custody aware of a common perception that there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions. Our research contradicted this perception. Although mothers more frequently get primary physical custody of children following divorce, this practice does not reflect bias but rather the agreement of the parties and the fact that, in most families, mothers have been the primary [*748] caretakers of children. Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations.


Emphasis mine.

Without knowing how often women gain "primary or joint physical custody" that statistic is meaningless. Also joint custody can mean a lot of different things. In most cases the child seems to live with the mother, but visit the father one weekend every two weeks, or similar arrangements. While that would be joint physical custody, it's hardly equal.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Prefanity » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:02 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
la fée verte wrote:
New England Law Review, in 1990 wrote:We began our investigation of child custody aware of a common perception that there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions. Our research contradicted this perception. Although mothers more frequently get primary physical custody of children following divorce, this practice does not reflect bias but rather the agreement of the parties and the fact that, in most families, mothers have been the primary [*748] caretakers of children. Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations.


Emphasis mine.

Without knowing how often women gain "primary or joint physical custody" that statistic is meaningless. Also joint custody can mean a lot of different things. In most cases the child seems to live with the mother, but visit the father one weekend every two weeks, or similar arrangements. While that would be joint physical custody, it's hardly equal.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_custody

Your hypothetical situation wouldn't be considered joint custody.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby JayDee » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:52 pm UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.
Yes. But I think that a "women's right movement" has validity where a "men's right movement" doesn't. Making sure that women have the rights that have been traditionally hoarded by men counts as an individual case. Or individual issue. Or set of related such things, I guess. At least until that problem is solved.

I only read the bolded bit of the article. Can't say it surprises me. There are more than enough domestic abusers out there that it seems obvious on reflection that there would be organisations promoting or protecting their particular interests (or organisations that would at least come to do that as a result of their constituency even if that is not what they were intended for.) People can be rather consistent, so using the same sort of tactics in the political arena as they do in the home also makes sense.

[reacting to the thread title]
But I'm with frezik on the PETA reference. There are nutbar extremists of all strides, and it would be disingenuous to paint every group that could be described as a "Men's Rights" Group the same as they guys.
[/reacting to the thread title]
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby la fée verte » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:31 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
la fée verte wrote:
New England Law Review, in 1990 wrote:We began our investigation of child custody aware of a common perception that there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions. Our research contradicted this perception. Although mothers more frequently get primary physical custody of children following divorce, this practice does not reflect bias but rather the agreement of the parties and the fact that, in most families, mothers have been the primary [*748] caretakers of children. Fathers who actively seek custody obtain either primary or joint physical custody over 70% of the time. Reports indicate, however, that in some cases perceptions of gender bias may discourage fathers from seeking custody and stereotypes about fathers may sometimes affect case outcomes. In general, our evidence suggests that the courts hold higher standards for mothers than fathers in custody determinations.


Emphasis mine.

Without knowing how often women gain "primary or joint physical custody" that statistic is meaningless. Also joint custody can mean a lot of different things. In most cases the child seems to live with the mother, but visit the father one weekend every two weeks, or similar arrangements. While that would be joint physical custody, it's hardly equal.


I agree that an equivalent statistic for mothers would be helpful there - with only that 70% figure to go on, the situation could be 60% male custody/10% joint custody/30% female custody, showing a large pro-father bias, or it could be 30% male/40% joint/30% female, seemingly equal, or anything at all.

Really though, I posted it in response to the idea that custody proceedings are hugely biased in favour of the mother, which gets thrown around as if it were self-evident - everyone "just knows" that custody courts favour women. I would say that if a man who chooses to seek custody in court has a better-than-half chance of obtaining AT LEAST joint custody, then that is pretty strong evidence that no such pro-mother bias exists.

(Btw, I'm pretty sure that the fortnightly-visits situation you described is not joint custody. It would be sole custody with fortnightly visits.)

Of course, anecdotal evidence does still suggest that mothers are far more likely to be the parent with the main custody responsibility. Presumably, then, a large proportion of men choose not to fight for custody in court. I'd be interested to find out why that is. If it's because childcare is seen as a woman's job and degrading for a man, then that's a feminist issue. If it's because men are discouraged by their lawyers from fighting for custody "cos they'd only lose", then guess what? That's a feminist issue too, since feminism IS about men's rights too.

More accurately, it's about (IMO anyway) removing any and all arbitrary restrictions on people based on their gender. Any parent should have the freedom to choose whether to be a breadwinner or a caregiver or a mix of the two, and current maternity leave laws etc. interfere with that choice.

That's what winds me up about the MRAs - they have a couple of genuine problems that they claim to be working against, but most of the time they just seem to point fingers and go on about how it's all the evil feminists' fault. Seems to me that if they were genuinely interested in solving those problems, they'd see that *that's exactly what feminism is trying to do!* Instead they just strike me as looking for scapegoats to blame their injured pride on.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby JayDee » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:55 am UTC

la fée verte wrote:That's what winds me up about the MRAs - they have a couple of genuine problems that they claim to be working against, but most of the time they just seem to point fingers and go on about how it's all the evil feminists' fault.
That's activism for you. There are groups out there just working on the issues - organisations that provide support for fathers seeking custody for instance. But that sort of work isn't the kind of thing that you hear about. In general, I mean, not limited to these particular issues.

The groups being loud and activist are naturally going to be the ones pointing blame and complaining about things. The other groups have better things to do.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby SirEel » Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:21 am UTC

I think in all cases the things you are most likely to hear about are things which are interesting, and unless someone you know has particular involvement with some movement, the only ways you will here about (very generally at least) are in the mass media. The mass media doesn't do educational where it can do sensational, and doesn't do interesting when it can do outrageous. People fighting the good fight are just not going to appear on the news when there are nutjobs and assholes to report on. 's just how it is.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:38 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.

Yeah, fuck dealing with widespread problems.

:roll:
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby aleflamedyud » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:04 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.

Yeah, fuck dealing with widespread problems.

:roll:

What, you think a bunch of us men belong to a Patriarchy Club that sits around twirling Snidely Whiplash mustaches and figuring out how to keep women down?
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Cynical Idealist » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:04 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:What, you think a bunch of us men belong to a Patriarchy Club that sits around twirling Snidely Whiplash mustaches and figuring out how to keep women down?

Thanks for reminding me, your membership lapsed yesterday.
Did you want to renew that?
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby aleflamedyud » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:07 am UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:What, you think a bunch of us men belong to a Patriarchy Club that sits around twirling Snidely Whiplash mustaches and figuring out how to keep women down?

Thanks for reminding me, your membership lapsed yesterday.
Did you want to renew that?

Finally, I've been wondering when you bastards would stop billing my credit card for a membership I don't want. I told the damn bank to cut payments months ago.

The Elders of Zion is the only evil conspiracy club for me 8) !
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:08 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.

Yeah, fuck dealing with widespread problems.

:roll:

What, you think a bunch of us men belong to a Patriarchy Club that sits around twirling Snidely Whiplash mustaches and figuring out how to keep women down?

What, you think I said that? Is strawman generation like a subsilver thing?
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Random832 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:32 am UTC

la fée verte wrote:Really though, I posted it in response to the idea that custody proceedings are hugely biased in favour of the mother, which gets thrown around as if it were self-evident - everyone "just knows" that custody courts favour women. I would say that if a man who chooses to seek custody in court has a better-than-half chance of obtaining AT LEAST joint custody, then that is pretty strong evidence that no such pro-mother bias exists.


How is that evidence? Without the other number, it's not evidence of anything at all, because "better than half" could be contrasted against anything from "less than a third of the time" to "almost a sure thing" (the latter of which would mean it is evidence that such a bias does exist).

Anyway, on the article itself - I've only skimmed it along with the counter-article, but it seems like one problem is the logical fallacy of assuming the status quo (e.g. the current conviction rate) is the same thing as the absolute truth (e.g. the actual rate of men being guilty) - and thus any attempt to change the statistic (e.g. attempting to reduce the number of convictions due to an espoused, and as far as anyone can tell, sincerely-held, belief that there are false convictions) must a priori be an attempt to distort the truth (e.g. by causing false acquittals)

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby SirEel » Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:47 am UTC

aleflamedyud wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
aleflamedyud wrote:At this point the whole idea of a "women's movement" or a "men's movement" seems stupid since any X movement will perpetuate the perception of X having problems in order to perpetuate itself long after society has dealt with the real problems. Deal with things as individual cases.

Yeah, fuck dealing with widespread problems.

:roll:

What, you think a bunch of us men belong to a Patriarchy Club that sits around twirling Snidely Whiplash mustaches and figuring out how to keep women down?


At least you admit they are down, I suppose.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby Bearboy » Thu Nov 26, 2009 10:42 am UTC

This article reminds me of another one I read about how Women were receiving less than equal custody or no custody in 1% of cases which go to court(And only 5% of cases went to court). The article quoted a few feminist who beleived this was unfair on those women yet it later had a family law judge who claimed the only reason why that got less than equal custody due to drug, alcohol, voilence or employment problems.

So while these guys are crazy don't forget there are some crazy feminists out there aswell.

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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby cephalopod9 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:50 am UTC

It's inherently contradictory to champion equality only for some. It makes no sense, unless you're taking some interesting liberties with the definition of the words, for one group to be made more equal to the other.

How men are treated, and thought about is most definitely a key part of gender equality, but to frame men's rights as in contradiction to either the ideals of feminism or the feminist movement is exceedingly small minded.
Courts couldn't be "pro-mother" without societal expectations that women be care givers. Portrayal of men as dangerous, abusive, or unfit parents is as much to blame on the patriarchal system as are the portrayals of women as helpless, victimized, and irrational.
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Re: "Men's Rights" Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective

Postby General_Norris » Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:32 pm UTC

Seriously Jessica, you have crossed my moral horizon with this one.

Groups like RADAR fall under the broader umbrella of the men’s rights movement, a loose coalition of anti-feminist groups.

In this, critics like Australian sociologist Michael Flood say that men’s rights movements reflect the tactics of domestic abusers themselves


Because everyone who thinks men have rights hates women.

You WOULD complain if I said that all feminists are idiots who all that seek is the total destruction of men and the creation of a lesbian utopia because there are some "feminists" who want that.

Seriously, I used to respect you but no more. Be more careful, and next time at least read what you post.


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