Men’s rights activists (“MRAs”) are no strangers to the media’s yellow journalism when it comes to the men’s rights movement. We’ve watched their bias and distortions about us for so many decades that we’re surprised when an article isn’t an outright hit piece. But there does seem to be some improvement lately, especially with the erosion of college men’s due process under Title IX.
The most recent example of that is Julia Arciga’s Daily Beast article, “The Men’s Rights Movement has its own law firm.” Although filled with tongue-in-cheek efforts to discredit the National Coalition For Men (“NCFM”), the oldest and largest men’s rights organization in the world, Arciga makes some effort – better than many at least – at balance and journalistic integrity.
But that didn’t stop her from repeatedly quoting feminists making the same tired and false criticism of MRAs, along with some new jabs, like this one:
“Angelucci said the firm has been working with activists in [India] to challenge an adultery law that only criminally prosecutes men, and the country’s dowry laws—which disgruntled wives have allegedly used against their husbands for revenge. He said some activists want to take these cases to the “U.N. humans rights court,” which does not exist. Asked about the possibility of taking a gender discrimination like that to the United Nations’ judicial arm (aka the International Court of Justice), Harvard Law Professor Gerald Neuman said individuals cannot take cases to the ICJ—only states can. ‘If that is what they say, they sound very confused,’ Neuman said.
Wrong, Neuman. Individuals can make complaints against their countries to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for violating human rights (and yes it exists, whether some call it a “court” or not). The Commission’s own website states: “The ability of individuals to complain about the violation of their rights in an international arena brings real meaning to the rights contained in the human rights treaties.” MRAs in Israel successfully did exactly that and got the U.N. to call on Israel to end its “tender years doctrine” that explicitly discriminates against fathers in custody matters.
Arciga goes on to quote Professor Suzanne Goldberg of Columbia Law’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law to stating: “Men have not traditionally been burdened or have faced sex discrimination and harassment nearly to the extent that women have in the U.S. and around the world.”
Apparently neither Goldberg nor Arciga have studied discrimination against men. As far back as 1896, English Barrister Ernest Belford Bax – a socialist – documented how men are systematically and institutionally discriminate against in child custody and other areas such as criminal sentencing in his book, “The Legal Subjection of Men,” in response to John Stuart Mill’s 1869 essay, “The Subjection of Women.”
Just looking at the issue of child custody alone, sex discrimination against men has continued to this day, with a long history leading up to it. Before the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Stanley v. Illinois (405 US 645), children of unmarried fathers, upon the mother’s death, were declared dependents without any hearing on parental fitness. Virtually every state had laws placing illegitimate children in the sole custody of their mothers and prohibiting courts from granting the fathers any visitation absent the mothers’ consent. As late as 1971, bar associations still advised lawyers and judges that “except in very rare cases, the father should not have custody of the minor children. He is usually unqualified psychologically and emotionally.” Florida State University Law Professor Cynthia McNeely thoroughly documents how systematic discrimination against fathers continues even after the laws were made gender-neutral.
A 2006 Urban Institute study entitled “What About the Dads?” found Child Protective Services attempted to contact fathers of children at risk in their mothers care only a little over half the time, even though they knew the father’s identity in 86% of cases.
In some parts of the world, like Israel, discrimination against fathers is still explicit in the law. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights had to intervene on behalf of unmarried fathers in Germany because they were given no custody over their kids without mom’s consent. Discrimination against father has also gone on for decades in Japan, the U.K., and many other countries.
But that’s just child custody. Sex discrimination against men is also systematic in criminal sentencing, domestic violence policies, education, forced labor, public health policies, paternity laws, and more.
In the U.S., even though women are now allowed in all combat positions, the Selective Service still requires only men ages 18-26 to register for the draft and to continuously notify the government of their whereabouts until they turn 21. Those who forget or otherwise fail to comply face five years in prison, fines, and denial of federal employment or student aid. And in fact, men have lost their federal jobs for failure to register, even if they were homeless when they were draft age. Elgin v. Bush, 641 F.3d 6 (1st Cir. 2011).
One of the latest forms of anti-male bias is the erosion of due process for college students accused of sexual assault. The prior administration’s policies under Title IX, influenced by feminist organizations, stripped college men of their due process rights so severely that men are being denied the right to even present exculpatory evidence such as text messages in some of the hearings. We have seen college men being denied the right even to present the most basic defenses, such as exculpatory texts messages, in their defense. In at least one case, a man was expelled when the alleged victim denied there was a rape, and the accusation came from one of her friends.
Twenty-eight Harvard law professors and 16 law professors from Penn School of Law, including some feminists, have spoken out against the resulting violations of due process.
But rather than quote any of them, Arciga quotes Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that once invited me to be an honoree on their Wall of Tolerance but has now become known for labeling almost anyone they disagree with a “hate group”), stating MRA’s’ objective is “not about equality for men but rather about reducing civil rights protections for women. They don’t want women to achieve equality.”
Try asking feminists to substantiate this baseless accusation. They can’t. Because MRAs have always asked for nothing more than equal rights. Since it’s formation in 1977, the National Coalition For Men (“NCFM”) has gotten international airports to put diaper changing tables in their men’s restrooms, overturned discriminatory laws that excluded male victims of domestic violence from state funded services (Woods v. Horton), organized support groups for men in crisis, helped veterans combat paternity fraud, helped pass legislation that relieved thousands of men from false paternity judgments, helped file numerous lawsuits combatting discrimination against men, helped falsely accused men file Title IX complaints, and so much more. Federal Judge David Hanschen wrote a persona letter thanking NCFM for its work on paternity fraud
So Beirich, which of those activities is about “reducing civil rights protections for women?
The reality is that feminists schmear the men’s rights movement because the feminist movement today doesn’t want equal rights. They want special rights and privileges for women and the erosion of due process and other fundamental human rights when applied to men.
To be fair, not all major media has been biased against MRAs. BBC News, for example, ran a fairly balanced story titled Just who are men’s rights activists? And thankfully, despite the yellow journalism, the men’s rights movement is growing all over the world, and that will continue as men and their loved ones increasingly realize that discrimination against men is harmful to everyone, and that – just like for women – men’s rights are human rights.
Marc Angelucci is a men’s rights attorney, an adjunct professor, and Vice President of the National Coalition For Men
NCFM Vice President Marc Angelucci, Men’s Rights Activists (MRA ‘s) are no stranger to yellow journalism
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