Men's Rights is the ideology according to which men have intrinsic rights
that are often denied them in contemporary Western culture -- indeed, according
to this view, society does not usually recognize that men, as men, even have
Feminists in western countries have, over about 200 years (since Wollstonecraft),
established as a given the thesis that society is male-dominated and oppresses
women. This is the meta-issue that Men's Rights activists raise, as a logical
(but not necessarily practical) precondition to the raising of various specific
Men's Rights proponents consider that Feminists have argued for "equality"
in respect of self-selected issues only, -- using ad hoc (and seldom explicit)
definitions of "equality" that they developed themselves, rather than (for
example) calling a conference of all interested parties for the purpose of
clarifying the issues. It is argued that Feminists have not sought gender
equality on issues such as child custody, the decision to abort one's unborn
child, compulsory military service, unsegregated professional sports, law
enforcement relating to domestic violence, funding for men's and women's groups,
Men's Studies vs Women's Studies, ministries of Men's Affairs to complement
ministries of Women's Affairs, and health research funding.
Many Men's Rights activists also criticise Feminism for relying on a restricted
view of political power, whereby a count of the relative numbers of men and
women in important decision-making positions suffices to determine whether
men or women are the more powerful. Men's Rights proponents point out that
there are many other sorts of political power - e.g. control over the information
and stereotypes that decision-makers rely on as the basis of their decisions.
This information and these stereotypes, in the West, are largely under the
control of Hollywood, the mass media, the education sector, and the bureaucracies
- which are all strongly influenced by Feminist ideology, if not actually
The term "Masculism" (aka "Masculinism" or "Virism") may be used interchangeably
with "Men's Rights", but conservatives in the Men's Rights scene often reserve
the term "Masculism" for the liberal branch of the Men's Rights movement (as
epitomised by ex-Feminist author Warren Farrell). Liberal Masculists (such
as Farrell or Rod van Mechelen) take the position that Feminist aspirations
to gender equality should be taken at face value, and men made equal to women
in those areas where women are over-privileged. Conservatives (such as Richard
Doyle, and religious individuals and organisations such as the Promise Keepers)
would prefer to return to a traditional division of labour between the sexes.
A third way is espoused in Peter Zohrab's book "Sex, Lies & Feminism",
which demands that Society either abolish female privilege or revert to a
traditional division of labour between the sexes, as a fall-back position.
The response of Feminists to the Men's Rights movement has not generally
been to respond to Men's Rights at the ideological level. Rather, they have
either ignored this movement, publicised new issues (e.g. eating disorders)
where women might plausibly be shown to be disadvantaged,
and/or tried to deny Men's Rights activists access to the media and publishers
and influence in education systems and bureaucracies.