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The term men's rights refers to freedoms and entitlements of men and boys of all ages. These rights may or may not be institutionalized, ignored or suppressed by law, local custom, and behavior in a particular society. The term may also refer to an activist movement advancing these rights. Supporters of men's rights aim to promote the physical, economic and emotional well-being of all men and boys, viewing this as part of human rights, civil rights, or equal rights. They are particularly concerned with issues involving family life such as family law, child custody, paternity fraud, and domestic violence. There is no single unifying manifesto or organization which can claim to speak for the entire movement and the term is used in various ways.

Related areas of the men's movement include:

  • Fathers' rights focus on the relationship between fathers and their children and in particular family law.
  • Masculism provides a counterpart to feminism and argues against legal constructs, reforms, or entitlements which deny men equal rights under the law on the basis of gender; there are conservative "traditionalist", "liberal", and libertarian strands. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Men's rights movement

In the 2000s men and concerned women began to share their concerns on the Internet, often bringing forward unheard statistics or viewpoints. Its supporters are considered part of the Men's Movement, and often call themselves Men's Rights Activists, or MRAs. Father's rights and misuse of Domestic violence laws are areas central to the men's rights movement. Its concerns include health, education, employment, civil rights, legal equality and representation, and Constitutional rights.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Many supporters are particularly concerned with the effect of Sexual Harassment, Divorce, Custody, Rape and Violence Against Women Act-type laws, on men's rights and freedoms. It is argued that these laws cause violation of Constitutional rights such as the right to a fair trial and the right to due process.[How to reference and link to summary or text][attribution needed]

Affirmative Action programmes, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 are also areas of prime concern. One group, S.P.A.R.C., argues that these policies have a far more discriminatory effect than is widely reported or acknowledged. [1]

Men's Rights Advocacy and Masculism also promote the concept of "defending male identity". Typically MRAs would subscribe to masculinity as strength, honor and honesty.[How to reference and link to summary or text][attribution needed]



Prior to 1995 the men's movement was viewed as predominantly a reactive and disorganized movement that received little attention or recognition. The American Coalition for Fathers and Children was founded in 1995 by mature activists such as Stuart A. Miller, and Dianna Thompson. ACFC founded the shared parenting movement and organized the largest protests in the history of the men's movement, the largest held in over 225 cities around the world on father's day, 2001 in the "Bridges for Children" campaign.[How to reference and link to summary or text]The Coalition of Free Men, commonly known as the National Coalition of Free Men (NCFM), was founded in 1977 and is the oldest active men's rights organization in existence. NCFM has chapters and members throughout the United States and in several countries. In 2008 the NCFM started doing business as the National Coalition for Men since people often struggled understanding the significance of the word "Free".[How to reference and link to summary or text]


Like most social movements, those concerned with men's rights comprise a wide variety of individuals and organizations, both united and divided in various ways on specific issues including the mistreatment of men in the media, the abortion debate, family law and false rape allegations. Some groups are formally organized or incorporated, while others are casual alliances or the work of a few individuals.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Although the vast majority of men's rights leaders and activists are men, there are many women, including those in significant positions within the movement. For example, Sue Price in the Australian Men's Rights Agency has been at the forefront of activism there. Naomi Penner was a women's rights activist in the 1960s who later helped to create the National Coalition of Free Men in America in 1981. B.N. Saraswati founded one of the earliest Men's right group in India.

Although most men's rights advocates are from the developed world, they form a diverse group, which include both singularly religious and atheistic individuals, as well as those from the left, right, and center of politics and every echelon of society.


Within the larger context of human rights, men's rights advocates are concerned with many of the same general issues as proponents of women's rights, only with special attention and consideration to the less recognised role of men and boys.[How to reference and link to summary or text]. There are however radical Men's rights proponents who see Women's rights as the 'enemy' ( and vice versa ), rather than as allies in a fight against gender based discrimination of various kinds.


Male-only military conscription : The risks to life and limb in male-only military conscription, is not compensated and hence is gender biased against males.

There have been attempts to put the draft on equal footing with regard to requiring the registration of both men and women.

In 1981 in the United States, the case Rostker v. Goldberg alleged that the Military Selective Service Act violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by requiring that men only and not also women register with the SSS. The Supreme Court eventually upheld the Act, stating that "the argument for registering women was based on considerations of equity, but Congress was entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, to focus on the question of military need, rather than 'equity.'[1]"

A male only draft is considered by many to be unequal. In much feminist dialogue, a draft that requires only male registrants is considered to be rooted in benevolent or ambivalent sexism.

Current attitudes toward a draft show a change in women's ability to participate in the military. The most recent attempt to have the draft reinstated inside the United States, the Universal National Service Act, states that “young men and women ages 18-26 could be called to service."

While it might be considered by some a positive that women are kept from the front lines by not being required to register for the draft nor being allowed in front line combat, it can be argued as to whether or not that is a privilege.

Whether statutory, or a matter of service policy, these prohibitions bar women in many career fields from being assigned to positions necessary or advantageous to advancement and promotion. In the U.S. armed services overall, 50 percent of military jobs are open to women, but the percentages vary greatly by service.

From Facts About Women in the Military, 1980-1990.


Members of the fathers' rights movement state that the outcome of divorce is overly one-sided, divorce is initiated by mothers in more than two-thirds of cases - especially when children are involved, and that divorce provides advantages for women, such as automatic custody of the children and financial benefits in the form of child support payments.[2]


Main article: Alimony

The origins of alimony (a legal term that dates to the mid-17th century[3]) can be traced back to the ecclesiastical courts in England [4]. Alimony laws vary by country and may not be applied in every divorce case. In some countries alimony is also available to men.

One legal precedent for male alimony in the United States was made in Orr v Orr,[5] where the Supreme Court invalidated Alabama's statutes by which husbands, but not wives, were required to pay alimony upon divorce. This statute was considered a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

In the United States, the percentage of alimony recipients who were male rose from 2.4% in (1996-2001) to 3.6% in (2002-2006) and is expected to increase as more marriages feature a female primary earner.[6] In 2005, wives earned more than their husbands in 33% of all families, up from 28.2% a decade earlier.[6]

Yet men in Britain tend to become wealthier after a divorce, earning 25% more, while divorced mothers are three times more likely to live in poverty than divorced fathers.[7]

Marriage strike

Marriage strike is the name given to the phenomenon of males refusing to marry for fear of unfair legislations[How to reference and link to summary or text] and financial ramifications of divorce for the male. Divorce has been described as 'slavery for men'.[2] The Rutgers report — though based on a small sample — found ten prevalent reasons for declining preference for marriage among males. The first three : They can get sex without marriage; they can enjoy "a wife" through cohabitation; and, they want to avoid divorce and its financial risks.


In recent years, girls in the United States are performing much better than boys in the same age group, in most schools and colleges. [8] In the United States, 57% of college students are women, and the number is growing. [9] Also, a significant majority of primary school teachers in the United Kingdom are female. [3] Medical schools in the UK currently admit 2 females for each male. The trend is similar in other industrialized countries. Male rights protagonists argue that there is no comprehensive action yet.[How to reference and link to summary or text]


Employment law is another area of concern, with such problems as unequal treatment around parental leave, retirement age, and pension entitlements. They also assert sexual harassment policies are de facto directed against the male style of inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, while ignoring the female style of inappropriate behavior in the workplace[How to reference and link to summary or text]. They express anguish towards the fact that a man telling a joke or simply referring to a co-worker by a nickname is grounds for dismissal or lawsuits[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Spain's recent 40% requirement on boardroom members has come under harsh criticism from the movement, while a company with 100% female board members would be acceptable under Zapatero's new law.[How to reference and link to summary or text][attribution needed]


Family law is an area of deep concern among men's rights groups. Members of the fathers' rights movement state that the legal system discriminates against fathers regarding issues related to child custody. [10] These issues vary from state to state and country to country.


Health disparity concerns of men's rights movements include:

  • The disparity in the spending on men and women in the healthcare system. As another example, in the United Kingdom significantly more money is spent on breast cancer research than prostate cancer research. [11] 40,000 cases of breast cancer were detected in the UK in 2000 and claimed the lives of 13,000 women in 2002. In 2000, about 27,200 cases of prostate cancer were detected and claimed nearly 10,000 lives in 2002 in the UK. Funding for prostate cancer, however, is only about a fourth of breast cancer. Awareness for breast cancer is very prevalent in society today, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. There is no proportionate funding for male cancer awareness or treatment.
  • Increasing suicide rate amongst young men, four times higher than amongst young women in the United Kingdom[4]; (73% of all suicide deaths in the United States are white males.[12])
  • Male circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. In the United States and Israel, circumcision has been traditionally performed at birth. Some men's rights advocates believe that men have a right to make their own decisions regarding such procedures. Some also believe that circumcision, like conscription, is an example of the way in which many cultures accept violence against males. [5]

Media portrayal

Another issue of concern is the anti-male bias in the media. Men's rights activists argue that men are portrayed unfairly on television, radio and in newspapers and magazines. They argue that not only does the media not pay serious attention to men's rights issues but that men are portrayed in a negative light, particularly in advertising.[15] The lack of concern[How to reference and link to summary or text] over men's issues such as higher rates of suicide by men, decline in academic achievement among boys, and a willingness of the press to print feminist[How to reference and link to summary or text] statistics[How to reference and link to summary or text] such as the "wage gap" has led to the term "Lace Curtain" being used.

Politics and law

In South Australian Parliament, one MP stated "tongue-in-cheek" that men would need signed consent from women to protect themselves from false rape allegations, should a proposed law come into effect. She described the proposed law as making men who are accused of rape guilty until proven innocent, and stated, "Having to have a consensual sex contract is ridiculous but having these laws that don't protect men's rights are also ridiculous."[16]

  • For domestic violence, advocates cite government statistics that show that in 15% to 38% of the cases of intimate partner violence the victim is male. [How to reference and link to summary or text] They argue that the real number is likely to be higher, since male victims may be less likely to report abuse than female victims due to social stigmatization [17]. They also assert that the percentage of shelters for battered men should make up a respective percentage of all shelters. The National Coalition of Free Men has sued several women's shelters with the goal of allowing battered men and their children to be admitted and to receive assistance from shelters (see Violence against men). Many women's shelters will assist male victims of domestic abuse but do not house men, instead offering hotel vouchers, counseling, case management, legal services and other support services.
  • Regarding rates of domestic violence in the U.S., according to the 2000 CDC/Justice study, "Approximately 23% of the men who had lived with a man as a couple reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a male cohabitant, while 7.4% of the men who had married or lived with a woman as a couple reported such violence by a wife or female cohabitant.[6] These findings [combined with those presented in the previous bullet] provide further evidence that intimate partner violence is perpetrated primarily by men, whether against male or female intimates."

The VAWA in America are being vehemently opposed by rights groups. Similarly, laws such as 498a in India are being fought by groups such as Save Indian Family Foundation.


In Australian immigration policy a distinction is regularly made between women and children (often treated erroneously as equivalent to "family groups") and single men. The details are subject to current debate and recently failed legislation (August 2006) in the Australian Parliament. But for example in one recent case, the Minister for Immigration, Senator Amanda Vanstone, determined as follows concerning Papuan asylum seekers: "The single men on the boat would be sent to an immigration detention centre, but families would not be split up and would be housed in facilities in the community".[18] The discriminatory treatment of single women (routinely assumed to be members of some family) and single men evident in such a practice is rarely examined in the Australian media.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Reproductive rights and equality

The term Male abortion was coined by Melanie McCulley, a South Carolina attorney, in her 1998 article, "The Male Abortion: The Putative Father's Right to Terminate His Interests in and Obligations to the Unborn Child," which was published in The Journal of Law and Policy.[19] The theory is that when an unwed female becomes pregnant she has the option of abortion, adoption, or parenthood; and argues, in the context of legally recognized gender equality, that in the earliest stages of pregnancy the father should have the right to relinquish all future parental rights and financial responsibility -- leaving the informed mother with the same three options.

In 2006, the National Center for Men brought a case in the US, Dubay v. Wells (dubbed by some Roe v. Wade for men), that argued that in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, when an unmarried woman informs a man that she is pregnant by him, he should have an opportunity to give up all paternity rights and responsibilities. Supporters argue that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women.[20][21] In its dismissal of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stated that "the Fourteenth Amendment does not deny to [the] State the power to treat different classes of persons in different ways."[22]

Critics argue that the concept of a "financial abortion" presents a problem in and of itself.

On one hand, the choice to have an abortion is not, by default, an easy one: physically, emotionally, or financially. And in some cases may be impacted by lack of reproductive health services in the area in which the woman lives.

Further, both men and women argue, the availability of abortion should not relieve men of equal financial responsibility to a child they helped create.

Additionally, opponents say, in a country such as the U.S. where government assistance is often railed against--see welfare state--the question remains: how does a society take care to ensure children do not descend into poverty? And who should be on the line for the financial support of these children?[7]

Social security and retirement

In some societies there is legislated discrimination against males in provision of social security. In Australia, for example, a woman over 50 years of age may obtain a Widow Allowance[23] approximately equal to a pension if, after turning 40, she becomes widowed, divorced, or merely separated from a spouse (who may be a de facto spouse). She must have "no recent workforce experience", but she can easily qualify for this well after the loss of her partner by going through a period of underemployment. There is no similar allowance for men. In Australia and the UK[24], some of these discriminatory arrangements (including also women's earlier qualification for Age Pension, etc.) are being legally phased out. The policy of "age 65 for men, age 60 for women" remains in place in most Western countries, however.


See also: Male-female income disparity in the USA

Biased Violence Laws

Members of the fathers' rights movement state that feminist organizations invoke the specter of domestic violence as propaganda directed against fathers and fathers' rights groups.[25]

Male Rights protagonists point to domestic violence studies based on the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS), which suggest that men and women act violently toward their partners in about equal percentages.[26][27] They argue that men comprise a "significant portion" of the victims of domestic violence,[28] and they call for more services to be provided for male victims of domestic violence.[27] The controversial VAWA in the USA punishes males for violence against females [8], but radical Men's groups accuse politicians of giving legitimacy to feminine hysteria. The misuse of Domestic Violence laws at divorce, is one more factor that binds male groups around the world.

Opponents accuse men's right enthusiasts of ignoring and/or 'defending' male violence. Michael Flood argues that studies based on the Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS) are unreliable and that men's rights advocates ignore this when they cite statistics based on CTS studies.[29]

While the media awareness group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting acknowledges that violence against men by women takes place, it also suggests that a misreading of the Straus/Gelles studies accounts for the difference in numbers observed by some men's rights advocates and those from the United States Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics.[30]

See also

Significant writers

  • Michael Green
  • Warren Farrell
  • Christina Hoff Sommers
  • Glenn Sacks
  • Herb Goldberg


  1. The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers
  2. Baskerville, S (2003). Divorce as Revolution. Salisbury Review 21 (4).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Men Receiving Alimony Want A Little Respect. URL accessed on 2009-02-03.
  7. Why divorce makes women the poorer sex. URL accessed on 2009-02-03.
  8. Yupin Bae, Susan Choy, Claire Geddes, Jennifer Sable, and Thomas Snyder, "Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women", Education Statistics Quarterly, U.S. Department of Education, 2000
  9. USA Today "College gender gap widens: 57% are women"
  10. Nonresident Fathers’ Struggle With The System
  11. BBC News | HEALTH | £1m for prostate cancer research
  12. Suicide in the United States
  13. HSE - STATISTICS: Table 11e
  14. SpringerLink - Journal Article
  15. boycott list of companies bashing men particularly in media. URL accessed on 2008-05-25.
  16. includeonly>"MP backs off on sex 'contracts' ", 2008-04-03. Retrieved on 2008-04-03.
  18. "Vanstone refuses to return Papuans", Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 2006
  19. McCulley, Melanie G. (1998). The male abortion, sometimes called a "financial abortion": the putative father's right to terminate his interests in and obligations to the unborn child. The Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. VII, No. 1.
  20. Traister, Rebecca. (March 13, 2006). "Roe for men?." Retrieved December 17, 2007.
  21. The National Center For Men, men's rights counseling divorce paternity false accusation men's equal right
  22. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, case No. 06-11016. (PDF)
  23. Who can get Widow Allowance?
  24. The Pension Service - A to Z - State Pension
  25. Baskerville, Stephen (2007). Taken Into Custody - The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family, Cumberland House. URL accessed 2007-10-22.
  26. Controlling Domestic Violence Against Men. Equal Justice Foundation. URL accessed on 2007-10-04.
  27. 27.0 27.1 October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month Ignores Many Victims. American Coalition of Fathers and Children also Omaha World Herald, Daytona. URL accessed on 2007-03-15.
  28. Equal Rights Amendment Yes, ‘Women’s Equality Amendment’ No. GlennSacks.Com, also the Louisville Courier. URL accessed on 2007-04-15.
  29. Claims about Husband Battering
  30. Battered Men? Battered Facts


  • Save the Males by Richard Doyle, 2006, ISBN 978-1411696334
  • The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, 1993.
  • Women Can’t Hear what Men Don’t Say: The myths that divide couples and poison love by Warren Farrell, 1999.
  • The War against Boys: How misguided feminism is harming our young men by Christina Hoff-Sommers, 2000.
  • Who Stole Feminism: How women have betrayed women by Christina Hoff-Sommers, 1994.
  • Spreading Misandry: The teaching of contempt for men in popular culture by Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young, 2001.
  • The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege by Herb Goldberg, 1987.
  • Refusing to be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice by John Stoltenberg, 1989.
  • Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly, 1990.
  • Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man by Susan Faludi, 1999.
  • Men Freeing Men: Exploding the myth of the traditional male by Francis Baumli, 1985.
  • Flood, Michael: Backlash: Angry men's movements in: Rossi, Staceay E.: The Battle and Backlash rage on. 2004, XLibris Corp., ISBN 1-4134-5934-X, S. 261-287 [9]
  • Flood, Michael: Men's movements in: XY magazine, vol. 6. 1996 [10]

External links


  • The Men's Bibliography, a comprehensive bibliography of writing on men, masculinities, gender and sexualities, listing over 16,700 works. (mainly from a constructionist perspective)
  • Boyhood Studies, features a 2200+ bibliography of young masculinities.


Brain animated color nevit.gif

General forms

Specific forms
Homophobia · Transphobia
Ableism · Sizeism · Adultism
Misogyny · Misandry · Lookism
Gerontophobia · Classism · Elitism

Slavery · Racial profiling · Lynching
Hate speech · Hate crime · Hate groups
Genocide · Holocaust · Pogrom
Ethnocide · Ethnic cleansing · Race war
Religious persecution · Gay bashing
Pedophobia · Ephebiphobia

Aryanism · Neo-Nazism · Supremacism
Abolitionism · Civil rights · Gay rights
Women's/Universal suffrage · Men's rights
Children's rights · Youth rights
Disability rights · Inclusion
Social model of disability · Autistic rights

Segregation: Racial/Ethnic/Religious/Sexual
Apartheid · Redlining · Internment
Emancipation · Civil rights · Desegregation
Integration · Reservation · Reparations
Affirmative action · Racial quota

Anti-miscegenation · Anti-immigration
Alien and Sedition Acts · Nuremberg Laws
Jim Crow laws · Black codes · Apartheid laws
List of anti-discrimination acts

Other forms
Nepotism · Cronyism
Colorism · Linguicism
Ethnocentrism · Triumphalism
Adultcentrism · Isolationism
Economic discrimination

Related topics
Prejudice · Supremacism · Intolerance
Tolerance · Diversity · Multiculturalism
Political correctness · Reverse discrimination
Eugenics · Racialism

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