Men’s Rights?

I am grateful that Front Porch Republic (“Place. Limits. Liberty.”) has published an essay of mine. This particular meditation shares an experience I had in graduate school with a class called “Men and Masculinity.” As you can imagine, I then do my best to broach relationships between men and women, essentially arguing that men are too often not taken seriously enough. I also dive into Men’s Rights Activists a little bit. Have you heard of that movement?

Anyway, here’s how the essay begins:

During the final semester of my graduate coursework for an MFA in creative writing, I enrolled in an elective course called Men and Masculinity. The course would be taught within the psychology department, and I was quite excited about it, as I thought it would be both personally interesting and helpful for some of the writing I was doing. On the front end, I imagined all kinds of intriguing readings and discussions examining what it is like to be a man in today’s world. Would we read, for example, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson’s book, Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys? That was just one useful resource I had come across that had been written by PhD’s; there had to be others. Ahh, pipe dreams. Silly me for thinking there might be a course at a major university that would specifically take my sex and gender seriously.

For the whole essay, go here.

  • Chris, I see that you are aware of the ways that men are being mistreated by society and laws, yet you have a resistance to supporting men’s rights.

    While there are some people (of both sexes) who campaign for all kinds of nuttiness and think it is a ‘right’, I hold that if your country tells you that you have a right, then you should have that right.

    Most countries have signed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That encompasses rights that your country has told you it supports. Yet there are many of the rights mentioned in that 1948 document which men do not have: they either never had them, or those rights have since been removed. Since men are humans, too, it does not seem unreasonable or rhetorical to discuss men’s rights in that context.

    The same can be said of your country’s constitution. A thorough study of the document is likely to reveal areas where your country ‘guarantees’ the rights of its citizens: but fails to do so if you are a male citizen (this does, of course, vary and depend on your country). It would be strange – and rhetorical – to be willing to talk of human rights, or of citizen’s rights, yet not be willing to apply that to a talk of men’s rights.

  • Hi Douglas, just seeing this now. Thanks for responding. I think my issue, as I try to get at in the essay a little bit, is with the language of “rights” that come out of identity categories. While we’ve bought pretty full-scale into that direction as a society, it’s never-ending, and frankly I’m not sure it’s all that helpful. The new inclusion is inevitably the new exclusion, and we all end up seeing ourselves as victims. I am NOT trying to dismiss the experiences and difficulties of men in particular; in fact, that’s why the class itself was so frustrating to me. I think men deserve to be heard and taken seriously.

    For the sake of conversation, a few questions. What, as you see it, is the “being mistreated by society and laws” that is happening? What are those “rights” that are being violated from the document you mention? I admittedly don’t know very much about it, as, again, my interest in this is more in the language we’re using to talk about it.