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The men's movement is a social movement that includes a number of philosophies and organizations that seek to support men, change the male gender role and improve men's rights in regard to marriage and child access and victims of domestic violence. Major movements within the men's movement include men's liberation, masculism, men's health, mythopoetic men's movement, anti-sexism and men's / fathers' rights as well as organizations supporting male victims of rape.

Participants vary in terms of religion, politics and sexuality with a number of women also involved. The movement is predominantly Western, although since the early 1990s men's movements have been growing in non-western countries; an example is India, where dramatic rises in false accusations of dowry harassment as cited by the Karnataka judiciary in 2003 "In as many as 44% of these cases prosecution is thoroughly unjustified"[1], bride-burning, and other issues have resulted in large scale false imprisonment of innocent men and their parents, which have in turn provided impetus to a growing men's rights movement. Attitudes vary on issues such as gender roles, human relationships, sexuality (including gay rights), reproduction (including birth control and particularly the abortion debate), work and violence (its causes and resolution).


Men's and fathers' rights, masculism

The men's rights and fathers' rights differ in their orientation with men's rights relating more to civil law and civil rights and fathers' more to family law. However, they share some of the ideas of other groups, such as:

  • the men's liberationists' view that men's roles are harmful and limiting to men, particularly regarding the failure to enhance nurturing behaviours (and in particular in terms of their relationships with their own offspring), and
  • mythopoetics' idea that masculinity inherently comes with prescribed qualities, roles, responsibilities and privileges.

To some extent they are a reaction (or, perhaps more appropriately, a response) to feminism and there is a tendency to draw attention to feminism for harm done to men and boys through affirmative action and institutions like the family court, etc. The major men's and fathers' rights theorists dispute the proposition that all men are empowered and privileged in society. Some hold that men can be objectified as "success objects", just as women can be objectified as "sex objects" and that a symmetry exists between these roles. The majority of men's rights groups are non-religious and politically neutral, however, a few are linked to conservative Christian and non-Christian political groups and there can also be left wingers.

Issues addressed by men's rights advocates include:

  • The general neglect of male issues and the structural oppression of men (such as male depression, the fact men commit suicide approximately 4 times more often than women[2], constitute over 90% of the prison population, a majority of alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless people, have lower levels of university attendance and life expectancy etc.)
  • Women's role in and responsibility for family or domestic violence.
  • Family courts' discrimination against men.
  • The correlation between single parent families (ie: single mother families) and an increased crime rate and prevalence of drug abuse in children.
  • The false claims of domestic violence or child sexual abuse possibly put forth by women during divorce proceedings.
  • Ethical appraisals relating to the fairness of child support procedures for non-resident parents.
  • The influence that financial/legal benefits and child support has on women's decisions to leave relationships.

Men's rights groups advocate:

Main activities include:

  • Providing support and advice for men facing proceedings in the family court
  • Providing information and advice on child support
  • Challenging many feminist-dominated aspects of the mainstream media.

Some people claim that masculism is a different strand from Men's Rights, but often it is referred to as the same.[3] The history of masculism and the men's rights movement is complex, with numerous influences; as such many see masculism as synonymous with the men's and fathers' rights movement (see below). Masculism comprises an inter-related group of social movements to address issues of equality and justice for men, fathers, and boys. While masculist thought has been present for over a century (see, for example, The Fraud of Feminism, written by E. Belfort Bax in 1908 [1]), as a broad social movement it traces its origins to the divorce societies of the 1940s through 1960s. It branched off from a divorce-only emphasis to address broader issues in the mid-late 1970-s as a result of the influence of feminism.

Whereas feminism questioned the roles of women and girls in society, and highlighted the limitations and disadvantages of those roles, masculism applied analogous methods to the analysis of the male role. There are numerous strands within masculism; there are a conservative "traditionalist" patriarchical strand, a moderate equality-oriented one, and a liberal one which takes a more socialist approach and suggests a larger governmental role in resolving the problems.

Significant writers

  • Daniel Amneus Ph.D "The Case for Father Custody"
  • Robert Bly
  • Warren Farrell
  • Herb Goldberg
  • Christina Hoff Sommers
  • Jack Kammer, author of Good Will Toward Men (St. Martin's Press, 1994) and If Men Have All the Power How Come Women Make the Rules'
  • Sam Keen
  • Richy Roberts, Widely published on the Internet
  • Glenn Sacks US broadcaster and columnist
  • Howard Schwartz
  • Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D., "Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family"
  • Richard Doyle, "Save the Males"

Further reading

  • Kenneth Clatterbaugh: Contemporary Perspectives on Masculinity: Men, Women, and Politics in Modern Society, Westview Pr, 1990, ISBN 0-8133-0992-1
  • Michael Messner: Politics of Masculinities. Men in Movements, Thousand Oaks 1997, ISBN 0-8039-5576-6

Men's liberation

The perspective of men's liberation is that men are hurt by the male gender role and that men's lives are alienating, unhealthy and impoverished.

They believe that men are over-worked, trained to kill or be killed, brutalized and subjected to blame and shame. They give attention to the damage, isolation and suffering inflicted on boys and men through their socialization into manhood.

They may seek ways to "liberate" men and have some sympathy with pro-feminist views.

Activities include:

An opposing view: Many in the men's movement feel that the proper definition of "men's liberation" should imply freedom to embrace male gender roles, not simply freedom from those gender roles.

Significant writers

Mythopoetic men

The Mythopoetic men's movement is based on spiritual perspectives derived from psychoanalysis, and especially the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and the poet Robert Bly. It is called "mythopoetic" because of the emphasis on mythology communicated as poetry with some appropriation of indigenous mythology and knowledge (Bly draws on Native American mythology). There is an emphasis on "elder honouring", "reclaiming" fathers, and "unleashing the wild man within", but with an emphasis on the impact of fatherlessness on men's psychological development which is related to their criticism of "soft" men - the victims of militant feminism and single motherhood. With the exception of a few groups such as the Radical Faeries they are generally not politically active as groups, but may be as individuals.

Masculinity is seen to include deep unconscious patterns and archetypes that are revealed through myth, story and ritual, as supported by theories drawn from analytical or "depth" psychology.

There is some overlap with men's rights and men's liberation perspectives.

Activities include:

  • Male mentoring programs (based on the belief that mature males should help boys to become healthy men)
  • Ritual, drumming and storytelling camps.
  • Support groups
  • Attempts at developing curricula for boys' programs in schools.

Significant writers

See also


  1. ^ Crl. A. no. 589 of 2003 Decided on 4-9-2003 reported in 2000(1) Karnataka Law Online starting on Page no 560
  2. ^
  3. ^

External links

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