If you’ve ever been on the internet, you’ve probably encountered—or worse, interacted with—a notorious group of self-dubbed MRAs. MRA stands for ‘Men’s Rights Activist.’ The term ‘Men’s Rights Activist’ sounds like this group would be raising awareness of and supporting men in marginalized groups, which is an intersectional feminist endeavor as we know that, despite the heavy presence of male privilege, Patriarchy/Kyriarchy also hurts men in several ways.
MRAs, alternatively called ‘Meninists’ or ‘Red Pillers’ (referring to the scene in the movie the Matrix, in which Morpheus gives Neo the option of taking a blue pill and forgetting everything he’s experienced in the Matrix, go back to normal life and be none the wiser, or take the red pill and “see how deep the rabbit hole goes;”;MRAs compare their ‘meninism’ to the moment Neo understands that the Matrix is reality and what he previously knew was a farce), do not advocate for men’s rights. The group MRAs, formerly known only by the far less catchy title of merely ‘misogynist,’ consist of Pick Up Artists, a fancy way to say rapist and/or rape apologist; self-aware racists; trolls that come out of the woodwork whenever there’s a reason to argue for social equity; and people and groups who look to dox women on the internet who dare to speak up. There are a handful of MRAs that are, as we say, ‘internet famous,’ like Roosh V, who has written a series of ‘Bang’ books (essentially books that are a guide to date rape, and guides to score ‘sex tourism’ in foreign countries) and supports rape legalization. Others hide behind anonymity to harass, antagonize, and often threaten. All are anti-feminists, and none advocate for men’s rights.
It’s clear that MRAs are staunchly, and violently, anti-feminist. But as well as being in opposition to, and demonizing, intersectional feminism and social justice advocacy, their title is misleading, considering men’s rights are the last things on their mind.
MRAs advocate for the supremacy of white, cis-het men, and nobody else. MRAs advocate violence against women, woman/feminist-allied men, and actively practice harassment. They claim marginalized groups, by fighting tooth and nail to bring those margins to the center, are seeking to take over society and are oppressing men in every way they can think of.
I’ve never seen a Men’s Rights Advocate rally, organize, or advocate for awareness of the glaring wage gap between white men and men of Color; actively push against how employers are more likely to hire a white man with a criminal record or who has been incarcerated than a Black man with no criminal record or record of incarceration. I’ve only seen them advocate that the wage gap between men and (white) women is a fictitious notion that feminists have made up to brainwash the masses.
I’ve never seen a Men’s Rights Advocate rally for the inclusion of Queer men in their communities. (This may be a bad example because MRA communities are violent, terrifying things—but still, they don’t welcome just any men.) I’ve never seen them rally for the inclusion of trans men. They actively use hate speech and awful slurs towards trans and LGBTQIA+ identified men, they actively advocate for exclusion, not just in MRA communities, but for exclusion from society as a whole.
I’ve never seen MRAs recognize that trans men are men.
I’ve never seen Men’s Rights Activists create and sustain an open and honest dialogue about their beliefs with oppositional groups. (I was under the impression that activism involved this kind of dialogue as well as other important dialogues that hinge on some semblance of civility.) In fact, I’ve never seen an MRA engage a woman, a feminist, Queer men, trans men, or communities of the aforementioned demographics besides attacks on Facebook statuses, attempted doxing (doxing is the leaking of personal information onto the internet, such as address, phone number, place of work, and so on) people who dare to speak ill of them on twitter or other social media, threats to the aforementioned demographics—anonymously or not. I’ve never seen civility in their self-appointed role of ‘Devil’s Advocate.’
Red Pillers are the reasons for mantras like “never read the comments.” They use the comments section of social media sites like YouTube to attack, degrade, humiliate, threaten, and just overall harass vloggers—and then, when a person disables comments as an act of self-care, that person is barraged by MRAs telling them the disabling of comments is an act of cowardice, if they can’t deal with ‘constructive’ criticism or ‘Devil’s Advocate’ debates than they shouldn’t be vlogging or blogging etc. ‘Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen.’ Well, that’s the wrong phrasing; realistically they’d never tell a woman to get out of the kitchen, they’re too busy pushing them back into the kitchen, ‘The Kitchen’ being a euphemism for women’s place in society (and/or men in marginalized groups).
The internet is a dangerous place to be an advocate. Advocates who continue to do social justice work despite threats of death and rape, despite being attacked from every angle, inspire me. It’s no small feat to push forward in the face of this level of adversity. Please, LGBTQIA+ activists, stay safe—emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s okay to takes a break from activism, it’s okay to pull the plug on the internet for a while to recover from the emotional exhaustion that can and does result from both social justice advocacy and the oppositions, often verbally violent, to it.
Lastly, I’d like to mention that one great resource (I highly recommend) to learn about MRAs, their presence both on and off the internet, and how they’re responding to current events, rhetoric, and critical critique of MRA actions, thoughts, and behavior (and is also a safe-space often with trigger warnings), is WeHuntedTheMammoth, a website dedicated to exposing human rights violations by MRAs. Real resources for men, especially including marginalized men, can also be found on WeHuntedTheMammoth.com. WeHuntedTheMammoth is run by the admin, a feminist-allied man who does not tolerate social justice spaces that don’t include marginalized people, of the Facebook page, entitled Exposing Men’s Rights Activism.