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.