A men’s movement in India that has come out in protest about a range of issues where they think that they are unfairly treated with women receiving preferential treatment, often blaming these issues on feminism. Some of the comments on Men’s Rights Facebook pages promoting ‘anti-feminist’ sentiment can be pretty harsh with Wikipedia defining this men’s rights movement (MRM) as;
“a subset of the larger men’s movement, is focused on addressing discrimination against men in areas such as reproductive rights, divorce settlements, domestic violence laws, and sexual harassment laws. It branched off from the men’s liberation movement in the early 1970’s, differing from that movement in its focus and rejection of pro-feminist principles.”
Whilst I don’t believe feminism advocates women’s rights at the expense of men’s rights, it is a little concerning. However I think that the best way to address this is to engage thoughtfully as a Changing Women, without criticism, anger or judgement.
In some cases we still see the mistreatment of women through control and deprivation through laws and cultures that are grossly inhumane and without equality and it is this history that I think has been lost on this movement. That is not to say that many of their issues are not warranted. For example, men should have equal opportunities to be a sole care giver, they should not be physically or mentally abused by their partners and they should not suffer sexual harassment at the hands of either sex. But it is not a simple issue.
Here is a post about the a new law that has been passed in New Delhi to protect women from sexual harassment. The article is well written and reasonably balanced, but I think that the bigger issues that come from centuries of patriarchy have been overlooked.
“Men’s rights organisations have come out strongly against the decision of the Lok Sabha which cleared the Sexual harassment of women at workplace bill without any discussion.
Men’s Rights Association, a men’s rights organization, creating awareness about abuse of men by society registered a strong protest against the proposed anti-male legislation titled “Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment Bill”.
On the September 3, the Lok Sabha cleared this bill without any discussion. When over 35 countries have this law Gender neutral, why is it anti male only in India? Why is it being passed without any debate in Loksabha, they asked.”
READ THE REST OF VICKY NANJAPPA’S ARTICLE HERE
This is my response via a comment on his blog site;
“It is a shame that the law was not made gender neutral as you say as all people can be subject to sexual harassment. I guess that historically it has been worst for women since men have been the leaders in most organisations over many centuries, however for true equality the law must protect all. These laws were instigated in the west and many decades ago and took some time to take effect so sometimes the early days are difficult. Sexual harassment still happens regardless of the laws, but at least it is more understood. I wouldn’t say that feminism is the issue here as feminism doesn’t advocate equality for women over equality for men, it merely asks that women have equal choice and have equity in ownership, decisions over their body, to be able to choose a life path and to have self determination. These are things that everyone should have regardless of gender, race, status or age.
I certainly understand the issues that you have outlined, but many laws are still heavily weighted towards men and against women, so are many cultural practices such as dowries and forced marriages. This is a much broader issue and stems from the patriarchal system that has been created over many centuries, where men have been in control and have determined the life of women. You only need to look at the right for women to vote which did not come into force until the late 1800′s in the western world to know that many laws were made by men for men. Often these laws were extremely detrimental to women and some still are so this could be why you are seeing so much activism in your country at the moment around women’s rights. These may seem to be eroding those of men, but this is just a phase in the change and balance will return over time. Instead of blaming feminism, why not work with those groups more closely so that laws are crafted that benefit everyone?”
- Lok Sabha passes bill against sexual harassment at workplace (vancouverdesi.com)
- France votes in sexual harrassment law (todayonline.com)
- India lower house passes sexual harassment bill (rawstory.com)
- Egypt is starting to take sexual harassment seriously | Baher Ibrahim (guardian.co.uk)