This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shambhavi Saxena. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

It’s Not ‘Female Privilege’ But ‘Patriarchal Back-Firing On Men’: Exposing Men’s Rights Activism

More from Shambhavi Saxena

By Shambhavi Saxena for Cake

If you’re a person whose reasoning has led you to recognize that structures of oppression surrounding us are hidden in plain sight, then you may often have the unpleasant experience of being exposed to the toxic radiation gently wafting off of online and real life meninist trolls who have completely missed the point of, well, everything.

You know, those insufferable faceless ‘logical debaters’, believers of ‘mancrimination’, and other breeds of meninists who insist that systemic violence against women is not real because women get free drinks sometimes.

grumpy guy

Ever heard of Paul Elam? Today, he’s at the forefront of the Men’s Rights Movement that has its beginnings in the Bund für Männerrechte (League for Men’s Rights). Sigurd von Hoeberth and Leopold Kornblüh founded the League in Vienna in 1926 “with the explicit aim of counteracting the ‘excesses’ of post–World War I women’s emancipation movements” (Junkee). Far from sensitively approaching issues that actually impact the health, dignity and life of men, MRAs have become notorious for their mad trolling skills, logical incoherence, and insistence on retaining privileges for the privileged. No longer a fringe movement constricted to static ideology, MRAs have become a persistent, often violent force online, stooping to rape and death threats when defending their stance.

Cue Exposing Men’s Rights Activism (EMRA), a Facebook page that, you’ve probably guessed it, deconstructs the MRA movement and its myriad poorly conceived notions about gender, masculinity, sexuality and violence. In the admins’ own words, the page focuses on “intersectional feminism from a radical working class perspective, mental health issues (fostering a healthy attitude towards neurodiversity), rights for sex workers, people of color and the trans community.

Talking to Cake, EMRA explained further about the group’s history and dealing with Men’s Rights Activists.

Shambhavi Saxena (SS): You’ve all banded together to expose the “bigoted rhetoric” of men’s rights activism. Was there a specific event or experience that led you to come together and create this group online?

EMRA: Many of us have had experiences adminning pages prior to coming together to coalesce for the EMRA project, but the one thing that ignited the creation of EMRA was the mass reporting and removal of a page known as “The Real Face of Men’s Rights Activism” (RFMRA) twice by MRAs, MGTOWs and Masculinists. One of our leading admins was also an admin of RFMRA and can testify to the mass reporting, mass trolling campaigns that MRA pages would wage against us in our efforts to expose them for the bigots that they are. Facebook’s reporting system allows for such things to occur. If there’s a certain number of reports within a period of time, Facebook’s algorithm will automatically remove content from the page. It takes about 8-10 removals to get a page permanently unpublished —which is what happened to RFMRA. EMRA, in response to the dismantling of RFMRA, was created by an Australian aboriginal woman in hopes that the effort to fight back against the MRA reactionaries wouldn’t have been in vain. She invited an admin from RFMRA to join and through some struggles and significant turns of events, EMRA blossomed into one of the more successful feminist pages on Facebook.

SS: So you work on exposing MRAs and their bigotry. But why do you think gendered violence and discrimination against men is so underreported?

EMRA: We believe there exists a stigma around men being subjected to violence. In this patriarchal society, men are expected to be able to be strong and to hold their own. There’s a certain image that a man has to live up to, and if he doesn’t then he is often preyed upon by the rest of society for his short comings. This is especially the case if men were to be attacked by women. Women are viewed as the “fairest” (or weakest) sex, and with men being expected to act as the stronger sex, they are seen as sub-human if they cannot fend for themselves against attacks from women. Knowing that this stigma exists, many men surrender themselves to the whims of abusive partners as opposed to coming out about the violence that they face because the fear of what society will brand them as is more significant to them than the fear of their abusive partners. They can’t trust society to help them.

SS: In the course of running EMRA, what cases of men being subject to gendered violence and discrimination do you most often hear of?

EMRA: We more often hear of MRAs arguing about women hitting men and getting away with it, but society claiming (in the eyes of MRAs anyhow) that men are not permitted to hit back. A lot of their gender-violence oriented argument stem from not being able to “hit back”. Which is an argument we hardly waste time on entertaining because, frankly, no adult should be hitting anybody.

SS: In our experience of running Youth Ki Awaaz, we get a lot of trolls littering our comments with the suggestion that women enjoy many privileges and therefore have it easier than men. How do you counter this?

EMRA: Well, I’ll outline a couple of so called “privileges” that women allegedly experience and refute them chronologically.

The big one we always seem to get revolves around the court bias against fathers when it comes to child custody. In the United States (for example) something like 80% of the time, mothers will be awarded custody over the fathers. The existence of this, in an isolated view, definitely has the appearance of a privilege. But when examined with the big picture (namely, that women are the “caregivers”/”housewives” and men are the “money makers”), it really isn’t surprising that the court system would hand custody of a child over to the mother. The courts have this patriarchal view that fathers are inherently incapable of caring for children in the same manner that mothers care for them, because mothers are biologically wired to stay at home and raise their offspring. But this is hardly based off of some matriarchal “female privilege”. This is, what is known as, patriarchal back-firing on men.

An argument that frequently evolves out of this custody contention is that women take everything from men when it comes to divorce. Again, this is an example of the patriarchy back firing. The reason being because 1) women on average get paid significantly lesser than men do for doing the same job, which is taken into account by the court systems when they make their rulings and 2) because the woman is seen as this fragile being made only to care for children, the man is still expected to provide because that is his role, according to patriarchal precedent.

A third argument I hear/read is that women are the ones that don’t have to sign up for the draft. Firstly, I foresee that changing very soon due to the fact that women are now gaining more access into combat related career fields within the armed forces. Secondly, women—being viewed as weak—were not permitted to enlist, let alone get drafted, for hundreds of years by many armies because they were seen as incapable of properly handling the equipment needed to wage war. Although, since we are on the topic, I must point out that the vast majority of the men who make these assertions are the same men who exclaim “women shouldn’t be allowed to serve if they can’t do pull ups!“.

Honestly, I find that a lot of these complaints have more to do with patriarchy back-firing and requiring men to fulfill nearly impossible, if not oppressive, obligations to uphold this twisted normalcy society has constructed.

SS: Are MRAs only concerned about heterosexual men? What harmful stereotypes about men does it promote? Where does this leave trans men, differently abled men, other non-normative men, the genderqueer, agender or neutrois people?

EMRA: In my time in dealing with MRAs, they are 100% concerned with the struggled of privileged men and not people of other gender identities. Just a couple days ago I had an MRA troll torment one of our supporters because (in his words) “feminists have to make everything into a gender issue” so “of course” he (and other MRAs) didn’t care about trans issues.

You see, MRAs are concerned with black and white lines of thinking and don’t see that things aren’t that simple. They still perceive the world as just being cisgender men and women in the 1950s era where people have specific roles that cannot be deviated from. And I don’t see any MRAs leading the fight for equal rights when it comes to neurodiversity. In fact, they typically are quick to utilize ableist language when “debating” (if you even want to dub their polemics that) feminists either in person or on the web and frequently are condescending when doing so. So I’d hardly call them egalitarian activists.

Their behavior (especially when they troll en masse) illustrates a bit of an unapproachable, militant, and off-putting stereotype for men which makes it that much more difficult for those who are non-cishet men to contribute to conversations involving hot button issues like gender, gender equality, and gender based violence. People have this idea that if you discuss something of this sort with a man on the internet, it’s just going to turn into a war.

MRAs often list cases of women as perpetrators of violent crimes as evidence of complex institutional misandry. What is your reading of this argument?

It’s usually some kind of “Oppression Olympics” they want to play to take the conversation of the gender-based violence women experience and make it all about men. We see it as them not being comfortable discussing a very serious issue that needs to be addressed, or in the worst case scenario, not being able to handle it altogether.

Do women rape men?…

To read the rest of the interview, head here.

You must be to comment.
  1. Monistaf

    Why is that gendered violence and discrimination against men is so underreported? What a rhetorical question if you attempt to understand the fact. The simple reason is “IT IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW”. Case and point, the domestic violence act of 2005 in India only protects women, NOT men. IPC section 275 only protects women against rape and sexual assaults, and excludes half the population from being victims. In the USA, they have VAWA (Violence against women act), there is no such special act for violence against men. I can go on and on, but your friend here has to blame the “patriarchy”, it is simply laughable. When it comes to custody battles, the reason it is awarded to women is because it is practice to award default custody to women unless the husbands side can prove that she is incapable of taking care of the kids or the woman voluntarily wants to give up custody. It has NOTHING, what so ever with patriarchy. If patriarchy is a male dominated oppression of women, how come it would award most custody to women? Also, just so you know, the pay gap MYTH has been debunked hundreds of times, even by women, because if you calculate it the way it has traditionally been calculated, Mrs. Clinton, during her tenure as secretary of state paid her female employees 72 cents to the dollar for every male employee. So, did the most feminist president to date, Mr. Obama and every other female chief, including Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi and everyone else. If you calculate it, adjusted for level of employment, risk, hours worked and experience, it equals out. More than 90% of all alimony and child support payments are made by men to women. 97% of combat deaths are male, more than 80% of homeless people are male and there is plenty more to tell. Men do not have quotas on corporate boards, parliament, politics, university education, employment or anywhere else. This is female privilege made possible by the “evil patriarchy” that is oppressing women. MRA’s are militant? Does #killallmen, #banfathersday ring a bell? I challenge twitter to accept and publish a hashtag killallwomen. They know, it will be the end of twitter as we know it. For the record, I am not an MRA because I believe in true equality and you can never get that if you choose to focus only on issues of one gender.

  2. Irate pirate

    Terribly inarticulate. Couldn’t follow a thing!

  3. MajorBS

    MRAs are in no way only concerned with privileged men’s rights. It is concentrating on issues of men in general and specifically ones feminist movement belittle or ignore.
    Not to mention feminists have a history of hate against LGBT community and has led many hate rallies in the late 1990s against gay men.
    While it may be true that patriarchal outlook of society has led to under reporting of violence against men by women, custody of child, alimony law etc. that in no way reduces the significance of a movement to expose these incidents and show that men can be victims too, that some of our laws are unfair, sexist towards both genders. In fact it makes it more significant, especially because feminist movement has never been interested in talking about violence against men, their main argument being violence against women is more and I cannot agree more with them.

    Feminism addresses relevant issues of women’s rights, fair enough, why target a movement trying to do something they have no interest in? In fact why target this at all

    To say that patriarchy is backfiring on men and that is the problem is to ignore the fact that many of the so called backfiring ends up as female privilege.

    To belittle mens right activism as something that stands for the right of men to hit a women back is either totally retarded social outlook or ignorance or a deliberate attempt to paint it as a naive movement which takes up petty issues. It is like saying feminism is a movement against manspreading. It will be at best received as sarcasm. MRAs have taken up relevant social issues with the limited resources and activists at their disposal to act against male genital mutilation, false rape accusation and many others (some of which even feminists have later taken up as their agenda)

    The child custody law for instance require men to pay child support (in addition to alimony), but when someone suggested that women in question need to give him bills as to how she has spend the child support money, feminists including Hilary Clinton was hell bent against this. One should remember that there are a significant number of women who are paying child support as well.
    Why can’t someone ask for bills to account for money he gave for child support? There is a disturbing number of women (mothers) out there who exploit this loophole and spends child support money for their own lavish lifestyle. It is the feministsdouble standards when it comes to taking away female privilege (Consequence of patriarchy or not) that led to MRAs.

    I also wanted to add that there has been a movement going on by feminists in USA who want the US Marines to relax high standards of its physical test for women. That is a different criteria for women. They claim that is the reason why there are so less number of female marines. I would like to point out that gender and representation should be played fair grounds at least when it comes to things such as Military and defense of ones country. The high standards of their physical tests is what makes marines so feared and respected even by its enemies. Asking the marines to relax it for women is frankly ridiculous.

    1. Rand Morgan

      “MRAs are in no way only concerned with privileged men’s rights. It is concentrating on issues of men in general and specifically ones feminist movement belittle or ignore.” — Yes, it is. MRAs are homophobic and hate black people. They oppose affirmative action, they call men who want to live alternative lifestyles “mangina,” they bash gays.

      Your claim that feminists and gay rights activists somehow dislike each other is an obvious lie. They have been the closest allies for decades.

      MRAs don’t care about men. They say that men are oppressed because they serve in the military but ignore the fact that wars aren’t started by women and that feminists were the ones who first opposed the sex-selective draft.

    2. MajorBS

      May be you should check your facts. Feminism had targeted gay men before it became politically wrong to do so.
      “MRAs hate black men” – is it there in their agenda like feminism created #killallmen
      “MRAs don’t care about men” – there is no cure for stupidity

  4. TheMythbuster2012

    The article has fantastic points on how some anti-feminists troll and give out rape threats and death threats. Anita Sarkeesian is one victim of such things. And I must appreciate how the writer, though claiming to be a feminist, acknowledges the existence of men’s issues such as male rape and child custody. However I don’t think it is right to justify or rationalize it, saying that these are also because of the patriarchy. Patriarchy != Male Privilege. The beliefs that a man must not cry or show his emotions, must be willing to sacrifice his life for his family are also patriarchal values. My point is that patriarchy hurts men as much as women. It’s not like being a man is one big vacation like most feminists make it out to be. MRA’s are always trying to show how it was, and is, worse for men than women, while feminists do the opposite. I disagree with both. Both genders did, and do, face issues. Period. And while rape and death threats are most condemnable, what makes you think they are coming from members of men’s rights groups? And while you condemn extremist MRA’s do you condemn extremist feminists too? If not why not? The reason people hold men’s issues conferences is because they are flat out ignored by the media. If they don’t do something about the issues, who will? In Canada it is a frequent occurence that feminists disrupt men’s issues conferences and seminars for male victims of domestic violence. MRA’s never disrupt feminist conferences like that.

    1. TheSeeker

      Anita Sarkeesian is a fraud. Of course this doesn’t justify her receiving rape and death threats, but people don’t hate her for no reason. Also, she plays the victim card on social media to gain the sympathy of her followers.

  5. kp

    Please stay away from men. Its
    clear you hate us and women like
    you do irreparable damage to men.

    1. Kamya Singh

      This kind of thinking is exactly what this article is about.

  6. Tank187

    This Facebook group are shit. They ban you if you disagree with even one of their highly subjective and irrational posts. They are just as hateful as the men's rights movment they claim to be fighting against. They don't even post much about men's rights activism… Just a lot of shit about how racist everything and/or anything is!

More from Shambhavi Saxena

Similar Posts

By Anshul Abraham

By Aditya Lakshmi

By Uday Che

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below