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Domestic violence expert Lundy Bancroft: Men’s Rights philosophies make angry and controlling men even worse.

NEW-ERA-HULK-ANGRY-SNAPBACK-ANGLE
Or any other time, either, I’m guessing,

Lundy Bancroft is an expert on abusive relationships and the author of Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds Of Angry and Controlling Men, a book I’ve found very helpful not only in understanding abusers but also in understanding the behavior and “activism” of Men’s Rights Activists.

In a recent post on his blog, he warns about the ways in which “Men’s Rights” ideologies can justify, and made worse, abusive behavior from men who are already abusive, or who have abusive tendencies.

In the post, entitled “The Abuser Crusade,” he writes

When a man has some unhealthy relationship patterns to begin with, the last thing he needs is to discover philosophies that actually back up the destructive aspects of how he thinks. Take a guy who is somewhat selfish and disrespectful to begin with, then add in a big dose of really negative influences, and you have a recipe for disaster. And the sad reality is that there are websites, books, and even organizations out there that encourage men to be at their worst rather than at their best when it comes to relating to women.

It’s not surprising that a philosophy rooted in male entitlement would appeal to men who already feel pretty entitled – and often quite bitter that the women in their lives, not to mention the world at large, doesn’t seem to regard them as quite so deserving of adulation as they think they are.

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to think it was unfair to label the Men’s Rights Movement “the abusers’ lobby,” as many domestic violence experts have done, because I felt that the movement did raise some issues that MRAs at least seem to sincerely believe reflect discrimination against men. But the more experience I’ve had with MRAs, the more I’ve begun to see the Men’s Rights Movement not only as an “abusers’ lobby” but as an abusers’ support group, and an abusive force in its own right, promoting forms of “activism” that are little more than semi-organized stalking and harassment of individual women.

It’s not that every MRA is literally a domestic abuser, though I wouldn’t be shocked to find domestic abusers seriously overrepresented in the Men’s Rights ranks; it’s that the Men’s Rights movement promotes abusive ways of thinking and behaving.

In case anyone had any doubt about which groups Bancroft is talking about, he gets specific:

Some of these groups come under the heading of what is known as “Men’s Rights” or “Father’s Rights” groups. Their writings spread the message that women are trying to control or humiliate men, or are mostly focused on taking men’s money. They also tend to promote the idea that women who want to keep primary custody of their children after divorce are evil. The irony is that we live in a country that has refused to pass an amendment to the constitution to guarantee equal rights for women; yet some men are still out there claiming that women have too many rights and that men don’t have enough.

Bancroft also warns about groups preaching a return to patriarchal values:

Other groups don’t use the language of “rights”, but promote abusive thinking by talking about the “natural” roles of men and women. These groups teach, for example, that men are biologically programmed to be the ones making the key decisions, and that women are just naturally the followers of men’s leadership. These philosophies sometimes teach that men and women are just too different to have really close relationships.

In the end, Bancroft urges women whose partners are picking up new philosophies that seem to be making their behavior worse rather than better to start researching the subject themselves, and reaching out to other women in the same situation, in order to better understand what their partners are getting into — and defend themselves against it.

I’m curious how many readers here have had personal experience with men who’ve embraced Men’s or Fathers’ Rights philosophies (or any of the varieties of backwards Manosphere philosophies), or who know of women whose partners have.

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genderneutrallanguage
6 years ago

So, lets see what Bancrofts words look like when it’s not phrased as misandric male bashing.

When a PERSON has some unhealthy relationship patterns to begin with, the last thing they need is to discover philosophies that actually back up the destructive aspects of how they think. Take a PERSON who is somewhat selfish and disrespectful to begin with, then add in a dose of really negative influences, and you have a recipe for disaster. And the Sad reality is that there are websites, books, and even organizations out there that encourage PEOPLE to be at their worst rather than at their best when it comes to interpersonal relations.

Well without the bigoted misandric man hate, that is an argument that I can support. Lots of PEOPLE have unhealthy relationship patterns. Lots of philosophies can be twisted to back up the most destructive aspects of dysfunctional relationships. I’m not even going to try to argue that Men’s Rights is some how immune to this. It is not. But neither is any other group organization movement or idea. We see this same thing with Feminism and White Nationalism and Civil Rights (Malcolm X) and LGBT rights and the KKK and intactivists and MRAs and Womens Suffrage and worker rights and environmentalism and every other movement ideology organization or philosophy.

The argument that because MRA philosophies, just like Feminism and envionmentalism, can be twisted into something sick we should shut it down only works if you also want to shut down Feminism and environmentalism and the NAACP and White Nationalism and intactivism.

Dave
Dave
6 years ago

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having a friend who has adopted MRA philosophies and is of the opinion feminism is the biased and irrational ideological standpoint. I try to not engage with him on these subjects, because in regards to all other things we largely agree, and as far as I can tell he is a loving father to his new-born daughter and to his wife.

But the couple of times we have locked horns it has been frustrating to the nth degree. Instances where MRAs have been abusive or stalked women, have only been examples of extraneous outliers of the group, and he does not consider them as representative of the group. And instead, he points out how in some Toronto college some feminist counter-protesters started a fight with a group of MRAs as an example of feminist violence, and indicative of how feminists are incapable of engaging in proper discussion to critique their ideology, or that of MRAs.

I tried to show him this blog as an example of MRA critique, but he only seemed to see the articles you posted about MRAs using swear words, and largely dismissed this :/

guh :s

dlouwe
dlouwe
6 years ago

The argument is not that the MRM has valid philosophies that are twisted into something sick, but that the MRM’s core philosophy is already sick.

Ally S
6 years ago

@GNL

That’s rich. Person-first language used to obscure gender dynamics. You’ll sure get a lot done by ignoring the factor of toxic masculinity in most cases of abuse. /sarcasm

Anyway, shoo.

Luzbelitx
6 years ago

I’m still not sure if this is bad news (MRAs “recruitment” actually works) or good news (experts are exposing them).

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

That was in no way misandric or male bashing.
You may be dim enough to buy into your own bullshit, but most people are not.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Fuck off, Gender-Not-So-Neutral Troll.

Luzbelitx
6 years ago

And the sad reality is that there are websites, books, and even organizations out there that encourage men to be at their worst rather than at their best when it comes to relating to women.

Lots of philosophies can be twisted to back up the most destructive aspects of dysfunctional relationships.

You’re not even reading. go back to your hole.

Luzbelitx
6 years ago

Yay! Double blockquote win! In your FACE, Monster!

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

GNL: Fuck off. You’re a disingenuous fuckwit, and you’re not fooling anyone. It’s in no way “bigoted misandric man hate” (redundant much) to call the MRM what it is: the last refuge of abusive shitstains. Real nice group you’re trying to defend.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

GNL,
That’s a pretty sad attempt at false equivalency. Since when do the majority of feminists advocate abuse or promote rape?

Don’t act like virulent misogyny in the MRM is only perpetrated by a few bad apples. Every website, every major figure in the MRM says appalling shit. Can you find me one MRA site that isn’t full of hate?

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

I’m not even going to try to argue that Men’s Rights is some how immune to this. It is not. But neither is any other group organization movement or idea. We see this same thing with Feminism and White Nationalism and Civil Rights (Malcolm X) and LGBT rights and the KKK and intactivists and MRAs and Womens Suffrage and worker rights and environmentalism and every other movement ideology organization or philosophy.

False equivalency is false.

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
6 years ago

While this is indeed sad (it certainly makes me fear for those close to MRA members), it isn’t exactly surprising, knowing what I and most others here know of the MRA, and the ideas/values they espouse. :

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
6 years ago

@GNL: Of course we want to shut down White Nationalism. Why the hell wouldn’t we? Are you seriously suggesting that White Nationalism isn’t completely horrible?

cloudiah
6 years ago

If you take a movement that is obsessed with blaming and punishing women, it doesn’t promote healthy views of women.

Luckily I’ve never met one of these guys away from my keyboard.

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

BreakfastMan – yes, GNL is seriously suggesting that very thing. He does not realize how he looks to any reasonable person. He certainly believes that he is, in fact, a reasonable person himself.

Note: if GNL does not, in fact, identify as a man, my apologies for misgendering. The point, however, remains.

Lady Mondegreen
6 years ago

The argument that because MRA philosophies, just like Feminism and envionmentalism, can be twisted into something sick we should shut it down only works if you also want to shut down Feminism and environmentalism and the NAACP and White Nationalism and intactivism

He’s got White Nationalism in there with feminism, environmentalism, and the NAACP.

Cute.

Why yes, asshole, as a matter of fact we do want to “shut down” white nationalism–it being, like the MRM, motivated by a sense of aggrieved entitlement and populated largely by bigots.

Cthulhu's Intern
6 years ago

But stating that men are at all capable of doing bad things and that some men do bad things is misandry and man-bashing!

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

I am also lucky enough not to know any of these assholes in meatspace.

We see this same thing with Feminism and White Nationalism and Civil Rights (Malcolm X) and LGBT rights and the KKK and intactivists and MRAs and Womens Suffrage and worker rights and environmentalism and every other movement ideology organization or philosophy.

One of these things is not like the others….

Quackers
Quackers
6 years ago

@Dave

That’s pretty typical of MRAs. Anytime individual feminists do something bad, or some teenage “social justice warrior” says something mean about men on tumblr, it’s proof all feminism is terrible. Meanwhile every single day this blog tracks a new example of horrible shit MRAs say straight from their websites, including major MRA sites like AVFM and r/mens rights but those are…like…extremists and not true MRAs.

thefreeair
thefreeair
6 years ago

My stepdad was an abuser who was quite active in the Men’s Rights movement. He authored a booklet called [name of booklet removed by DF as it could be used to ID him] and spent a lot of time in Edmonton (a hub of MRA “activism” here in Canada) with his fellow movement members. He was buds with a man named Mel Feit, who founded the National Center for Men (based out of New York, I think) and who used to appear on talk shows in the 90s in a kilt-as-a-pointed-statement. (We hosted the dude at our house once in his travels. Another story…) He actually was more about activism than the guys you see in the manosphere these days. I remember they did a radio ad for a men’s help line, and there was a bingo fundraiser I was too young at age 12 to help out with.

Anyway, yeah. I mentioned the booklet he wrote (and was super proud of) first because to this day my brothers and I like to bring it up and laugh about the hypocrisy of him parading this pamphlet around and then coming home to beat the shit out of all of us.

Stepdad was an insecure narcissist who needed constant validation and deference. He had a violent, abusive upbringing himself, didn’t know his father, and his mom was an alcoholic. He had that kind of rage-meets-victim-complex that sometimes comes with white male poverty (the frustration of trying to reconcile the wider society’s messages that feed white male privilege and entitlement with circumstances that are often pretty shitty on a personal, individual level). He felt like the world owed him something, essentially, and saw no struggles but his own.

He was quite vain about his intellect, and he was a smart guy. My mom supported us all while he spent his money on books and built himself an impressive library. We lived in public housing, and then rundown market housing while my mom and him both went to school. Our entire income was student loans and money from my mom’s part time jobs.

Some particularly telling things I recall, which I will just leave right here (trigger warnings):

1. My mom was an excellent student and always made straight A’s. Stepdad struggled with some learning disabilities despite his solid grasp of the materials. Once, frustrated with a poor grade of his own, he hid a paper from my mom on the day it was due. He said that she needed to “learn a lesson” because he thought her grades came too easily to her. My mom had to plead for an extension and write a new paper. He never returned the original paper to her.

2. After he graduated (it took him 8 years), Stepdad went to Korea for a year to teach English. When he returned, he would not stop talking about the experience of (his words) being “treated like a god.” He kept telling stories about how respected and worshipped he was, and I’d never seen him happier. Those were the words he used: he was worshipped, he was a god.

3. He finally left my mom when I was 16. My younger brother is his biological son, and was 12 at the time. Stepdad told me and a person we had living with us at the time that my brother did not “deserve a father” because my brother was not as smart as my older brother and me, and that Stepdad felt like he was ripped off to have such a disappointment for a son. He said he’d done “everything he could” with my artistic, lovely, talented little brother and that he’d “turned out” (at age 12) poorly in spite of all of stepdad’s better efforts. He used this “reasoning” to justify leaving and never contacting or financially supporting his son afterwords.

4. Once he told me to do the dishes on a day it was my brother’s turn. I pointed out to him that it was not my turn in a sassy teenage way, and got my head slammed repeatedly against the cabinets for my trouble.

So… supporter of father’s rights. Abandons his son. Writes about husband battery. Beats his wife and kids. Whines about women siphoning off men financially. Spends all his money on himself and was supported for 13 years by my mom. He didn’t even pay rent.

So, yeah. I have a lot of personal experience with MRAs, and the MRA I knew best was abusive. My childhood was FULL of Warren Farrell too.

J.J
J.J
6 years ago

Lookit a troll.

I don’t think I know anyone who would identify as an MRA using the term, but I’ve known a few who seem to follow the ‘all women are whores unless they sleep with me and only me’ mentality. But I think that’s just general misogyny.

Oh, and GNL, yeah, except for White Nationalism, none of those movements are like the MRM. Those movements are not dominated by hate, that’s a false equivalency. Try harder.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Their writings spread the message that women are trying to control or humiliate men, or are mostly focused on taking men’s money. They also tend to promote the idea that women who want to keep primary custody of their children after divorce are evil. The irony is that we live in a country that has refused to pass an amendment to the constitution to guarantee equal rights for women; yet some men are still out there claiming that women have too many rights and that men don’t have enough.

Yeah, see our “gender-neutral” troll, who was the very first to poop on this entry. He thinks feminism = elevating women above men = misaaaaandryyyyyy! And that the MRM on the whole isn’t violent or hateful. Um, what? This entire blog is rife with examples of their violence and hatred. Pick any random entry and you’ll see ample documentation, in the abusers’ lobby/support group’s own rancid, ugly word-turds. They bash women like the Nazis bashed (and still bash) Jews.

If there is any such creature as a moderate MRA, I’d say that’s like finding a moderate Nazi. There is no such creature, unless rainbow-marshmallow-farting unicorns actually exist too.

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

Wow. Just floored by thefreeair’s story. A more classic case of abuser-lobbyism is hard to imagine. Not a bit surprised to learn that the MR(B)M and Warren Farrell were in the mix, either.

“Compassion for men and boys”, huh.

Lea
Lea
6 years ago

thefreeair ,

I’m so sorry.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

Aw, genderneutrallanguage has come back. They should go hang out with Asixpack.

misandric male bashing.

How exactly are Bancroft’s words male-bashing? Because it actually talks about MEN? You really are reaching here.

The argument that because MRA philosophies, just like Feminism and envionmentalism, can be twisted into something sick we should shut it down only works if you also want to shut down Feminism and environmentalism and the NAACP and White Nationalism and intactivism.

Okay. What’s a NON-sick version of MRA philosophies? Please, link us. I really want to know.

RE: WWTH

Since when do the majority of feminists advocate abuse or promote rape?

But consent law is TOTALLY like rape guys! Totally!

RE: BreakfastMan

Of course we want to shut down White Nationalism. Why the hell wouldn’t we?

You noticed that but NOT the KKK? Seriously, GNL really doesn’t seem to realize that some movements are overall douchier than others. For instance, the KKK and Malcom X? Not even remotely comparable. The KKK hanged and terrorized a fucking demographic for a fucking century. Malcom X… tried to organize neighborhood protection when white cops were doing nothing for black folks.

RE: thefreeair

Jesus. I’m sorry your stepdad was such a douchenozzle, and I’m glad he’s no longer a part of your life.

thefreeair
thefreeair
6 years ago

@David, yes probably for the best that you redacted the title. I don’t think it’s still kicking around since it was University published and as far as I remember didn’t hit the internet, but better to be on the safe side.

@Bina and Lea,

Thank you for your thoughts. Fortunately, I’ve been able to move past that period of my life and now I mostly just laugh at MRAs.

Ally S
6 years ago

@thefreeair

That story is horrifying. I’m sorry all of you had to endure that from him.

Cthulhu's Intern
6 years ago

And MRAs get all up at feminists for supposedly saying that “women can’t do anything wrong.”

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

Thank you for sharing your story Freeair.

It’s sad, but not surprising at all unfortunately.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Wow, thefreeair, that must have been terrible. Glad you made it out okay!

ceebarks
ceebarks
6 years ago

Dang, thefreeair, that’s a crazy story. I’m sorry you and your brothers went through that. Your description of your stepdad’s “rage-meets victim complex” is really perceptive.

kittehserf
6 years ago

Welcome, thefreeair, thank you for sharing that.

banshee
banshee
6 years ago

@thefreeair, I am sorry too…but thanks for sharing your story.

samantha
samantha
6 years ago

@ genderneutrallanguage – I have to take issue with just about everything you said.

Well without the bigoted misandric man hate, that is an argument that I can support. Lots of PEOPLE have unhealthy relationship patterns.

There was nothing misandric about pointing out that many men who have anger and relationship issues, and who subscribe to MRA philosophies, tend to be violent in some way.

The argument that because MRA philosophies, just like Feminism and envionmentalism, can be twisted into something sick we should shut it down only works if you also want to shut down Feminism and environmentalism and the NAACP and White Nationalism and intactivism.

Neither Feminism, Environmentalism nor the NAACP advocate stalking, violent language, violent actions, or the removal or civil rights from any one group. MRM’s and MRA’s do, and they are organizations for, by and about MEN. White Nationalism is the same, except they encourage women to hate as much as the men. MRA and White Nationalist philosophies do not have to be “twisted” into something sick. They already ARE sick, in toto.

And I agree with Ally – Shoo.

leftwingfox
6 years ago

So sorry to hear about that thefreeair.

(Actually just got back from Edmonton, visiting friends, family and furries. Hi again all.)

Quackers
Quackers
6 years ago

@thefreeair

That must have been terrible growing up with such a raging asshole of a stepfather. I am happy to hear that you were able to move on, though 🙂

augochlorella
6 years ago

I just read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds Of Angry and Controlling Men last week. I saw my college library had it and blazed through all of it in an afternoon. I found it incredibly enlightening.

I don’t have the book in front of me now, but I recall a section where Bancroft was describing different types of abusers. He called one type “The Victim” – which was partially characterized by believing that men are abused by women more than the reverse and that women control the legal system. For a book that’s twelve years old, what Bancroft described is very close to the beliefs heralded by today’s MRAs.

Alex
6 years ago

Welp, a former neighbour of mine likes to insist that feminists have as many violent members as the MRM, but the only example he can point to is Tumblr feminism. He also likes to insist that all the bile-spewing members of the MRM are just outliers, but when I ask him to point me to an MRA space that’s more representative of the movement, I hear crickets.

A former high school friend of mine, same thing basically. He actually did link to a few sites, but one was totally ableist, others were really obscure and didn’t have a following, and the rest didn’t identify as part of the MRM (one, in fact, clearly stated it had nothing to do with the MRM).

Aaannd one of my exes never identified as an MRA but did use eerily similar language at times. Giney tingles (I still shudder in revulsion), alpha this, and had a kind of Nice GuyTM attitude.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: Alex

the only example he can point to is Tumblr feminism.

I have pretty low opinions of tumblr, but have any tumblr feminists actually stalked and doxed guys for existing on the Internet? Because that’s something I’ve only seen MRAs do.

dustedeste
dustedeste
6 years ago

I don’t know anyone who identifies as an MRA or their nasty brethren, but I’m afraid my little brother will come under that kind of influence. He’s headed off to university this year, and while I really hope he takes a women’s or gender studies course or at least Soc 101, I really doubt he will, as the rest of my family thinks such courses are, at best, useless. I wish I had more of a relationship with him so I could talk to him about it, but I moved out for university myself when he was in middle school, and every time I came back to visit, it seemed like more and more of my dad’s douchey attitudes about gender roles had rubbed off on him, plus the gross entitlement that comes with being a white, cis, male, athletic, attractive, popular teenager.

I guess I’m partially just bummed because I had high hopes in him for at least one family member who wasn’t a gross, misogynistic, homophobic asshole, and I don’t see that being in the cards so much anymore, but I really do worry about him, too. I just hope he escapes the stew of awful prejudices that he’s been raised to think are normal. *Sigh*

@freetheair – I’m so sorry that you went through all that. Glad you’ve found some closure with it, though!

Alex
6 years ago

thefreeair,

Wow. Really sorry you went through that, and thanks for sharing your experience.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: dustedeste

If it helps, remember that college isn’t the end of learning. Your brother might change and grow the fuck up.

My brother was a Grade-A asshat throughout his teens… basically the dudebro party jerk stereotype. He took our coming out the worst, and I cut off all contact with him for two years, coming back only after our parents had cut him off and he was depressed and self-medicating with drugs.

Funny, he seemed a lot less douchey to us when we were calling to help him out after that. And he’s one of the two people we still talk to in the family.

Skye
Skye
6 years ago

Thefreeair, thank you for sharing. I’m sorry you and your family had to deal w/that guy. He sounds awful.

thefreeair
thefreeair
6 years ago

Thank you everyone, for your kind words.

I don’t think of my stepdad often, but now that he’s on my mind, one thing that strikes me is that the language of the movement I grew up with (in the late 90s, early 2000s) was a lot more careful with how it presented itself and the language it used. I think this may be because it wasn’t happening amongst a bunch of anonymous internet tough guys, so the official party line was always “Feminists suck” and never “women suck.”

Of course, the same misogynist messages and motives were behind it all, but the language was very cuddly Warren Farrell and not so much Rage Boner.

I was a budding feminist, but the term was so demonized for me that when I discovered it for myself in University, I was surprised by how non-hateful it was. Whenever I would advance notions of female equality, I was always told I could of course be whatever I wanted to be but gently reminded of my physical limitations (the old, “I’d want a 6 ft, 200lb dude carrying me out of a burning building” bit). For years, even while I had very feminist views, I always called myself a “gender equalitarian” instead of a feminist.

The interesting thing, thinking about PUA/MRA intersection, is that stepdad actually had a lot of old school books on how to pick up women. For all the talk of feminism teaching women to exploit men, it’s pretty clear looking back that he was sticking it out with my mom for room and board while he finished school.

I used to go down to his study and talk to him because I was always reading books from his library and wanted to pick his brain (I think he loved this, because he was never happier then when he was pontificating to a rapt audience). Of course I cut these chats off when he suggested to me, at age 13, that maybe in a few years “if it [didn’t] work out with [my mom]” he and I could get together. Of course, he made sure to emphasize that it would be after I turned 18, so I guess he thought he wasn’t being a total creep about.

Redcap
Redcap
6 years ago

My only brush with real life MRAs wasn’t even a real MRA. My friend’s boyfriend wanted to get into men’s issues stuff (like, real men’s issues) and mentioned that he’d seen some MRA stuff and was interested. I sent him a link to AVFM with no commentary added, and he messaged me back: “This looks like a hate group.” That was all it took to scare him off the misters.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Of course I cut these chats off when he suggested to me, at age 13, that maybe in a few years “if it [didn’t] work out with [my mom]” he and I could get together. Of course, he made sure to emphasize that it would be after I turned 18, so I guess he thought he wasn’t being a total creep about.

ohmydog! ohmydog! All the ick.

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