Alimony laws restrict men’s bodies, Men’s Rights Redditors claim. (Of course they do.)

An evil meme that oppresses male bodies

An evil meme that oppresses male bodies

So over in the Men’s Rights subreddit, some of the regulars have declared war on the meme above, attempting to “rebut” it by pointing out the many ways in which men’s bodies are regulated by the state.

Trouble is, they don’t seem to quite grasp what it means to have one’s body regulated by the state.

Their examples of laws regulating men’s bodies include conscription (which does not actually exist in the United States), sodomy laws (which, where they still exist, are no longer enforced), men not having their condoms paid for by insurance, and assorted laws that apply to both men and women, including “every time a man is precluded from smoking marijuana, taking ecstasy, or injecting himself with anabolic steroids for bodybuilding purposes.”

My favorite example, cited by numerous commenters, is alimony.

How exactly is alimony a restriction on men’s bodies? Well, according to the Men’s Rightsers, it’s a restriction on

ghebert001 6 points 18 hours ago (?|?)  The body which produces the labor that earns the money.      permalink     save     parent     report     give gold     reply  [–]S31556926 4 points 18 hours ago (?|?)  "You would've worked anyway." as if that makes forced labor without compensation somehow acceptable. Or that the coercive effects are somehow dismissible.      permalink     save     parent     report     give gold     reply  [–]ghebert001 1 point 7 hours ago (?|?)  Exactly, maybe the guy wants to work a low effort job because he just wants to earn enough money to live a simple life but now he's forced to work 2 or more grueling, high-stress jobs because apparently Muffin is entitled to "the lifestyle that has become accustomed to".


One commenter spelled out the, er, “logic” in more detail:

DulcineaIsAWhore 5 points 18 hours ago* (?|?)  In some cases, if a man refuses to work to earn money to pay child support or alimony, they'll throw him in jail.  So it's basically forced labor.  And at any rate, salary, almost always, is the product of an individual's bodily labor. Pretty much the same thing.

Never mind that alimony, which is rarely awarded, can also go to men. And never mind that by this logic, every single law that’s ever been passed, including laws against embezzlement and jaywalking, could be considered a restriction on someone’s body. Hell, by this standard, parking tickets are an assault on your body because you have to earn the money to pay them.

Then there’s one dude who contends that women’s

“reproductive rights…” have never been limited. They can fuck out an endless supply of babies without a single hindrance. Hell, men are obligated to pay for each and every one of them.

Huh. So women “fuck out babies” with no help from anyone else?

I’m thinking that this fellow might need a refresher course in basic human biology

Also, I’m pretty sure that women as well as men are obligated to shell out money to provide for their own children. I don’t see a lot of young mothers getting showered with free food and diapers when they go to the grocery store.

To their credit, the regulars in Men’s Rights didn’t reward this last fellow with any upvotes.

Interestingly, none of the commenters bothered to track down the source of the claim in the meme. It’s not hard to find. It came from a report by the Guttmacher Institute documenting the number of bills regulating “reproductive health and rights” that were introduced in state legislatures in the first quarter of 2013.  That’s right: there were 694 — not 624 — bills introduced in the first quarter of 2013 alone; 93 of them passed.

By the end of the year, as the Guttmacher Institute noted in a later report:

39 states enacted 141 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Half of these new provisions, 70 in 22 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. …

This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions enacted in a single year. To put recent trends in even sharper relief, 205 abortion restrictions were enacted over the past three years (2011–2013), but just 189 were enacted during the entire previous decade (2001–2010).

This legislative onslaught has dramatically changed the landscape for women needing abortion. … In 2000, 13 states had at least four types of major abortion restrictions and so were considered hostile to abortion rights …  27 states fell into this category by 2013. … The proportion of women living in restrictive states went from 31% to 56% … .

While the overwhelming majority of these new laws restricted reproductive health and rights, there were a few states that bucked the trends:

In sharp contrast to this barrage of abortion restrictions, a handful of states adopted measures designed to expand access to reproductive health services. Most notably, California enacted the first new state law in more than seven years designed to expand access to abortion, and five states adopted measures to expand access to comprehensive sex education, facilitate access to emergency contraception for women who have been sexually assaulted and enable patients’ partners to obtain STI treatment.

You can read the details here. Somehow I doubt that any Men’s Rights Redditors ever will.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on July 17, 2014, in abortion, all about the menz, antifeminism, birth control, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, only men pay taxes apparently, oppressed men, reddit, the non-existent draft and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. The blockquote monster got me, even though I’m using the Firefox addon. The second blockquote is my text.

    I think it is the blockquote monster who is the antichrist.

  2. cassandrakitty

    Wasps are the antichrist. So it is written.

  3. Pally girl,

    I meant needs me like it needs people who are progressive. Or yes, they will eventually lose people. I could meet with like minded parishioners and see where that goes. And yep catholic, and yep I know this is futile in some regard. But teachings DO change and evolve, so I’m holding onto that and trying to do my part. That was a good suggestion to meet with people. I have found in the past though that prochoice Catholics tend to just be oddly comfortable with the inconsistencies and hypocrisies. They shrug their shoulders and then go to a gay pride parade or get fitted for their iud the day after their baby is baptized. (IUDs are considered abortions agents btw). It’s hard, I can’t even describe the dilemma I’m in. Going to bed now. Thanks for all the feedback folks!

  4. I wonder if walking away is what actually might change things. If the Church is in danger of losing their followers, that might get them to change. There is some precedent for this. They were warming to the heliocentric view of the solar system. Then the reformation started and they took a swing back to the right. They didn’t want to be viewed as not Godly enough and embracing science gave their opponents ammunition.

    1 out of 10 Americans (like my dad) are already ex Catholics. I’m not sure how many in other industrialized countries have left the religion. I don’t think the Church wants to lose too many more people. That desire is reflected in their choice of Francis as the new pope.

    Of course, I know leaving your religion isn’t an easy choice to make. Nor is it my place to tell someone that they should do it. These are just my own personal opinions.

  5. For people considering becoming a clinic escort, here’s a blog run by some:

    I don’t think I could do it on a regular basis. I’m very grateful that it’s not necessary in Canada.

  6. So if alimony is an imposition on bodily autonomy, does that mean taxation is slavery too?

    Just trying to wrap my head around the mindset. It’s an interesting trip.

  7. kittehserf MOD

    They were warming to the heliocentric view of the solar system.

    Pun intended? XD

  8. So if alimony is an imposition on bodily autonomy, does that mean taxation is slavery too?

    There are lots of people who argue that very thing, though it’s more libertarians than MRA’s per se. You’ll also hear a lot of comparisons to robbery – “Men with guns taking my money by force”.

  9. Dvärghundspossen, on morning-after-pill:

    They sell out at midsummer’s day, you know

    :) It used to be in Nordic countries that Midsummer caused a peak on birth stats nine months later. It doesn’t happen anymore, so I guess nowadays people have better access to contraception and abortion.

    It struck me then that a) this is precisely the kind of thing that make conservatives start to moralize, “they sell out at midsummer’s day…”, and b) although I bet a substantive percentage of the women and girls who buy morning-after-pills on midsummer’s day had been super drunk and raped, and c) even for those who had consensual but unplanned and unprotected sex, it’s way better that they all take morning-after-pills than have abortions or, worst of all, completely unwanted babies.

    Also d) the morning-after-pill does not actually kill embryos but works by preventing ovulation, so it’s not even remotely akin to abortion, despite what the US Tealiban claims.

  10. Catching up from last night:

    I keep thinking I should stay because the church needs me. Change doesn’t happen by walking away.

    Oh, Nitram, I feel for you. I was in a similar quandry a few years ago. My situation was different in that my church almost left the rest of our liberal, mainline denomination over gay marriage (the higher-ups had issued a statement that they would allow ordained gay ministers to be married in SSM-legal states). The congregation voted to stay, but they also sent a pissy letter to the diocese about how they hated the ruling, and would never allow a gay pastor to serve the church or allow a same-sex marriage to be performed there, should it become legal in our state. I stayed away from the church for a while, but then decided to come back. Like you said, nothing will ever chance if all the dissenters leave. I also enjoyed the liturgy, the fellowship, and the community service projects of the church. I don’t really believe in God, but I wanted my kids to be exposed to religion themselves. As bad as that church sounds, they are miles and away more accepting and accomodating than most of the other houses of worship in my area, so they seemed like the best bet for intro to Christianity.

    I ended up going in the end. There were too many snide remarks from the pulpit and the rest of the congregation about “the way things are” and “the way the world is going,” which usually referred to things they thought as societal ills and I thought were progress. My particular church was too intent on living up to the Pauline epistles, and Christ and his message – the one I mostly liked, and the one I wanted my kids to know – got lost in the shuffle. I left without a whole of lot fanfare. A few friends asked me what had happened, but nobody from church leadership noticed until I cut off my direct-deposit offering.

    Your congregation sounds a lot more liberal than mine so you’ve probably got a better chance of seeing change. You have my sympathy and support no matter what you do. It’s hard, and I’ll bet it’s a lot harder when you have a spiritual connection to the institution, too :(

  11. Pavlov's House

    @cassandrakitty – sorry about the lack of paragraph break thing. I’m not use to talking about that kind of stuff in blog comments as opposed to other fora where I know …. well….how to separate paragraphs more easily. I read this blog but have never commented before. I am, however, very interested in military-related issues when ill-informed misters start trying to bring them up then I want to join the conversation. Again, forgive the technical ineptitude. (Sr.Sgt. Pavlov, as far as I know, has nothing against paragraph breaks – the responsibility is mine. So were the typos in the comment too. Sorry ’bout that.)

  12. @Pavlov’s house, I found your comment quite hard to read as well, so I’m glad to have read your reply to Cassandra. Paragraphs are very easy here, no tags required! Just use the enter key and your breaks will appear in your posted comment as they do in the comment box.

  13. About 20 years ago I was at a high school class reunion planning meeting. I come from a town that is majority Catholic, and at this particular meeting I was the only one of seven people present who was not raised Catholic. Most of the people were women, and they were chatting after the business was done. One of my favorite classmates, a high school teacher (who has unfortunately passed away since) for whom I had a great deal of respect and affection, went from telling an anecdote about how she went to her OB-GYN to have her IUD removed and joked with him (accurately as it proved) that she’d be back within three months for her first pre-natal exam, to discussing the Confraternity classes she was currently teaching. I thought to myself, Holy Shit, what does it say when even someone who teaches their religious doctrine classes won’t buy their doctrine on contraception, and to all appearances doesn’t feel the least bit guilty or ashamed about it; she’s even JOKING about committing what they officially regard as a mortal sin. Doesn’t that mean that you’ve lost the contraception battle just about decisively as you possibly could? And yet they constantly try to impose their views on the entire (particularly female) general population when they can’t even convince their practicing members. It slays me that the Catholic position on birth control is given ANY credibility by public leaders.
    My father spent 20 years in the state legislature and his last crusade was for official recognition of the Living Will — against the determined opposition of the Catholic hierarchy (which was headed by a bishop who is now widely regarded as an egregious pedophile-enabler) and our governor, John Unscrewscrew (OK, Sununu) who went on to be a disaster as GHW Bush’s chief-of-staff and showed up in 2012 with a supremely offensive interview in which he said that President Obama “should learn to be an American”. I cannot comprehend that they don’t understand that religious freedom means I don’t interfere with your beliefs and you don’t interfere with mine. Let me say that while in my area the Catholic church is the principal offender, other groups are just as bad in areas where they have power. (And I have yet to hear a full discussion on the machinations of the Russian Orthodox Church, particularly their influence on Putin’s anti-gay crusade.)
    I am hoping that the Hobby Lobby decision will be the trigger that makes most women (and men who care about women, who I hope are a majority) decide that they won’t put up with having vital decisions about their health and bodies made by a handful of clueless men any more. The excrement needs to hit the ventilator some day; it might as well be now.

  14. RE: cloudiah

    Yeah, there’s a… a very heavy anti-abortion movement here, to the point that I found the website trying to CRUSH the local women’s center before I found the one for the women’s center itself!

    Unfortunately, like the SPCA Sneak wanted to apply for, it’s in a suburb on the fucking ass-end of town, where only ONE bus goes, and then only ONCE a day. (At roughly six AM. No clue whether there’s a bus that even goes BACK.) So dammit, another volunteer opportunity wrecked. At least there seems to be a Planned Parenthood location nearby! Unfortunately, its webpage is so badly designed that all the volunteer pages have broken links. Eesh.

    Volunteering should not be this difficult.

  15. Pavlov's House

    @Viscaria Well thank you for being kind, gracious and understanding about it. When attempting to draft something complex I dislike typing directly into a blog comments box and draft somewhere else and then cut-and-paste. I neglected to restore the paragraph spacing when I did so. Anyway, thanks for the understanding and I’ll return to lurking and reading quietly now until something here touches once again on my subject area of particular interest (military history). I wish more did, as it’s quite relevant to the subject of the blog.

  16. Are you interested in the French involvement in the Thirty Years’ War, Pavlov’s House?

  17. Maybe some volunteering could start with simply fixing borked websites? Just a thought. Can do all that in the comfort of home.

  18. If you can’t find a volunteer organization that appeals to you that’s close, maybe start your own? We have a local artist who hung out at a community centre, working on her art in pursuit of her sobriety. In the process, she drew the attention of a bunch of kids, and taught them how to draw and paint. She’s now an official artist in residence and founding member of an arts group.

    I know a few people who make it a point to pick up litter as they walk through their neighbourhood. Not an official volunteer activity, but it cleans crap up, and people appreciate it.

  19. emilygoddess - MOD

    @LBT, is there a way you can contact that PP directly? Maybe just shoot them an email expressing your interest (and letting them know their site is borked).

  20. “sodomy laws (which, where they still exist, are no longer enforced)”

    Hey, MRA douchebags! Go find someone else’s oppression to appropriate, k? The gays don’t want you.

  21. The Reddit response is garbage, but that meme is so much #ShitWhiteFeministsSay. Of course men have had their bodies related… men of color, trans men, gay men, and so forth.

    Appropriating issues relevant to minority men for the benefit more privileged ones is a hallmark of men’s rights activism that is too often neglected feminist discourse. All men benefit from patriarchy, but all men benefit equally.

  22. DFutrell, if you’re going to comment on a meme, you should read the meme. Or maybe read it twice, or however many times necessary. In particular read the second half again, “Bills regulating men’s bodies since the dawn of time: 0”


    You apparently missed that since you say conscription “does not actually exist in the United States.” So? It did exist in the United States (sometime after the dawn and before the end of time). You admit sodomy laws existed and still exist too. That makes the meme (and your article) logically invalid.

    Conscription is a really a big one. It tells people their body is not their own, it is the property of the state. It tells people the solution to problems is violence and that might makes right.

    Conscription is inactive at the moment but selective service registration is still required so the message is still there, your body is not your own. We own you.

  23. blackrabbi, if you’re going to comment on a blog post, you should read the blog post. David already dealt with those objections, and his post wasn’t so much about the original meme as it was about the MRM’s ridiculously illogical & incorrect reaction to it.

  24. Took you a whole month to come up with that, eh blackrabbi? Good job.

  25. cassandrakitty

    I hope he stretched enough to warm up properly before attempting that reach.

  26. If you’re going to use someone’s name, read it until you can spell it right.

  27. cloudiah, he didn’t deal with those objections. He totally blew off the issues of conscription and sodomy laws, ignoring the “since the dawn of time” part of the meme. Those laws are indeed regulations on men’s bodies and there is nothing illogical about pointing that out.

    So DF blew that off and moved on to his “favorite example”, the alimony argument. His example that demonstrates “Trouble is, they don’t seem to quite grasp what it means to have one’s body regulated by the state.”

    The alimony argument is weak, but David doesn’t address it in any interesting way, he merely says “by this logic, every single law that’s ever been passed, including laws against embezzlement and jaywalking, could be considered a restriction on someone’s body.” Yes David, yes it could. Didn’t they cover that in Philosophy 101 or did you just forget? David shows that he is unaware of a philosophical debate regarding individual freedom vs. societal control that has been going on since at least the times of ancient Greece. Great minds have been chewing on that one for a long time and I’m afraid David has nothing to add.

    David is the one who doesn’t quite “grasp what it means to have one’s body regulated by the state.” In the course of one’s actions in the world there is no meaningful difference between regulating the person and regulating the person’s body. Metaphysical distinctions aren’t helpful here.

    I find it not so amusing that many people who are concerned with women’s freedom are often so uninformed about subjects of freedom in general. It reminds me once again of comments that far too many activists for justice and equality are only concerned with seeing that we are all equally oppressed. The mindset that all we just need to pass a few more laws and everything will be better.

    When you build a system to control other people’s behavior with your laws you invite them to control your behavior with laws they write. A never ending arms race of sorts.

    ~ I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom ~ Simone de Beauvoir

    LBT, is this article already obsolete and not worthy of comment? I wouldn’t have seen it at all if people weren’t still reposting it.

  28. David shows that he is unaware of a philosophical debate regarding individual freedom vs. societal control that has been going on since at least the times of ancient Greece. Great minds have been chewing on that one for a long time and I’m afraid David has nothing to add.

    This is what happens when you spend too much time in the libertarian echo chamber.

    No one here is “unaware” of this “philosophical debate.” They’ve just recognized that it’s fucking stupid, and subsequently moved on.

  29. David is the one who doesn’t quite “grasp what it means to have one’s body regulated by the state.” In the course of one’s actions in the world there is no meaningful difference between regulating the person and regulating the person’s body. Metaphysical distinctions aren’t helpful here.

    blackrabbi, are you really trying to equate alimony laws with laws restricting access to abortion? Really?

  30. [CN: sex]

    Conscription is a purely militaristic regulation of men’s bodies, and it only regulates men’s bodies because women’s bodies are considered too weak to be fit for military positions mandated by conscription. The regulation of women’s reproductive rights – and therefore women’s bodies – however, is solely related to gender because the privileged status of the fetus results from the reproductive roles imposed on women.

    Anti-sodomy laws are an even worse example of so-called misandric regulation of men’s bodies. They are heteronormative regulations intended to police whoever tries to have penetrative sex (the only “real” sex, according to patriarchal norms) that isn’t capable of leading to impregnation – as anal sex isn’t capable of causing pregnancy.

  31. Also, not everyone cares about the discourses of freedom that you think are so important. Nor are they even essential to feminism. Rights discourses and freedom discourses are only relevant to liberal feminism.

  32. I feel like blackrabbi is the type to enlighten us with how “there is no meaningful difference” between being forced to pay taxes and being forced into slave labor…

    Hey shitheel, “the meaningful difference” you seem to be unaware of is this. Regulation of the person regulates interaction between people. Regulation of the person’s body regulates existance. The former regulates things external to the self, the latter regulates the self. The former is required for society to function, the latter is the foundation for oppression.

  33. I love when privileged assholes who have never and likely will never be conscripted try to draw an equivalency between themselves and the very real and current problem of those of us with uteri being denied access to affordable reproductive health care. It’s not a philosophical debate for us, it’s our lives. Fuck you blackrabbi.

  34. Sodomy laws is institutionalized homophobia, you dumbass.

    Do you always sound so smug and condescending, or do you put it on special for us?

  35. Errrr

    The meaningful difference is the enforcement criterion. A body regulation is permanent in the case of its enforcement, a regulation of behaviour by law (thou shalt not cross a red light) is dependent on context specific situations – that is, what the law meaningfully regulates as opposed to what it permanently mandates.

    You *have* read your Plato, right? And your Aristotle? It’s been kind of an ongoing debate for 2000plus years, and just joining in without grasping the source material is poor form.

  36. Sodomy laws affect women too, dumbass. In the US (before the laws were declared unconstitutional), “sodomy” could include anal sex, oral sex, any same-sex sex, any non-procreative sex act, and in at least one state even included “lascivious cohabitation”.

    Also, conscription does not seek to regulate men’s bodies simply because they are men – unlike abortion, which is restricted because it is (almost exclusively) women who seek it.

  37. Frankly, if someone begins a statement with “since the dawn of time,” I think you’re being kind if you ignore that part.

  38. RE: emilygoddess

    “lascivious cohabitation”.


    Also, in Texas at least, it seems the sodomy laws were made SPECIFICALLY to prevent queer men from banging. When informed that was discrimination, THEN they added heterosexual sodomy to the penal code. (Source. Make sure not to be drinking anything.)


    When my mother was in grad school, she had to pretend to be married to the other grad student because cohabiting was illegal where she was at the time.

  40. Well, that’s a poor-person-stomper if I’ve ever heard it. Seriously, they don’t think we can afford to live alone, do they?

  41. Lyuben Nikolai Dimov

    Just look at you guys, seriously. It doesn’t matter what gender we are, we should all have control over our bodies. Why is it that, in 2013, there’s so much injustice in the world? Everyone should be allowed to just be themselves and fulfil their hopes and dreams, as long as it’s not harmful others. Why is that so hard? I’ll tell you why: because of chauvinistic assholes who think any particular sex isn’t worthy of having the same rights as the other. Just fuck misandry, fuck misogyny, fuck antifeminism, fuck feminazism, just FUCK ALL THAT SEXIST BULLCRAP. Just get a fucking life, you arrogant egoists.

    Sorry, I just had to let it out. I’m really fed up with everything.

    Think about that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,162 other followers

%d bloggers like this: