8 Sep 2014

First And Second Wave Of The Men’s Rights Movement

Mirriam-Webster MOVEMENT
a : tendency, trend
b : a series of organized activities working toward an objective.

The Farlex Free Dictionary MOVEMENT
a. A series of actions and events taking place over a period of time and working
to foster a principle or policy: e.g. a movement toward world peace.
b. A tendency or trend: e.g. a movement toward larger kitchens.

The first-wave of the Men’s Rights Movement:
By While slowly increasing its membership the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) has until recently consisted of various groups or individuals fighting for improved social and legal rights for men. Historically these groups consisted of individual men, or small collectives of men, along with the occasional sympathetic woman, who agitated for corrections to anti-male laws, the reinforcement of men’s right to live traditional or alternative male roles if they so choose, and to challenge the growing misandry that was attacking that freedom of choice via its manipulation of the social and legal environment. The accompanying (and not less important) of its aims has been to challenge the gynocentric customs rooted in mainstream culture which have tended to reinforce sexism.
The following is a small sampling of Men’s Human Rights initiatives constituting the first wave, a list that could be easily expanded into thousands of men’s rights initiatives by the dilligent researcher. Bear in mind that although we are talking of a single MRM, it is more accurately defined as the aggregate of separate MRM initiatives:

Ernest Belfort Bax, England, writes his first major commentary on gynocentrism and misandry, ‘Some Bourgeois Idols; Or Ideals, Reals, and Shams.’
1890s New York Alimony Club (informal) 1896 Anti-Bardell Bachelor Band, Atlanta Georgia. Formed to fight against a national campaign headed by activist Charlotte Smith (Women’s Rescue League) to promote a tax on bachelors. Another, similar effort was made by the Hoboken Bachelor’s Club in Hoboken, New Jersey. 1898 League for Men’s Rights formed by Mr. William Austin in London. The movement is reported in newspapers of the time as a “Men’s Rights Movement”. 1908
Ernest Belfort Bax, England, co-authors book, The Legal Subjection of Men
1911 Anti-Alimony Association, New York 1912
Ernest Belfort Bax, England, writes a landmark book ‘The Fraud of Feminism’ in which he called feminism a fraud and discussed “female privilege”
1912 Anti-alimony leader: George Esterling – Denver, Colorado 1925 Samuel Reid, “Alimony Sam,” the “alimony martyr” of California 1926 Men’s Rights organizations formed Bund für Männerrechte, Vienna, founded by Sigurd von Hoeberth (Höberth) and Leopold Kornblüh in March 1926. In January 1927 the Bund split into two organizations circa: Aequitas (Hoeberth), Justicia (Kornblueh); journal “Self-Defense” 1926 Themisverbandes (Men’s Rights organization for female members, Sigurd Höberth von Schwarzthal). The founding of this organization led to a schism in Bund January 1927 Aequitas Weltbund für Männerrechte (Aequitas Word Federation for Men’s Rights) (international), Vienna, following a schism in Bund für Männerrechte (Federation for Men’s Rights). This was Sigurd Hoeberth’s new organization for men’s rights which welcomed female members. 1927 Justitia Verein für Männer und Familienrecht (Justitia Society for Men’s Rights and Family Rights), Vienna, founded by Leopold Kornblüh following a schism in Bund für Männerrechte (Federation for Men’s Rights). This group did not allow female members. 1927 Alimony Club of Illinois, Society of Disgruntled Alimony Payers, Chicago, founded by Dr. Vernon B. Cooley and second wife, Mrs. Bessie Cooley 1927 Alimony Payers Protective Association, led by Robert Gilbert Ecob 1927 Milwaukee Alimony Club, Wisconsin 1927 Fifty-Fifty League, London; manifesto “The Sex War” 1928 Tibet Men’s Rights organization (name of org. unknown), founded by Amouki 1929 ‘World’s League for the Rights of Men’ formed in the UK, advocating for male issues, and holding an anti-“ultra-feminist” stance. The League had chapters in Vienna, Berlin, Munich, and other Continental centres. 1930 D. A. M. Association, Kansas City, Missouri, founded by French L. Nelson 1930 National Sociological League, Dr. Alexander Dallek, executive secretary 1932 Alimony Club of New York County (Adolph Wodiska) (cited Jan. 9, 1932) 1932 Ohio Alimony Association, Cleveland 1933 National Divorce Reform League, Theodore Apstein (cited Feb. 14, 1933) 1935 Alimony Reform League, New York 1960 Divorce Racket Busters (incorporated 1961 as U.S.A. Divorce Reform, Inc.) – California – Reuben Kidd. This initiative continued to operate into the late 1960’s. 1970
Esther Vilar publishes Der Drissierte Mann’ (The Manipulated Man) in Germany, and subsequently in English in 1972.
1971 Coalition of American Divorce Reform Elements, founded by Richard Doyle 1973 Lone Fathers Association established in Australia by Barry Williams- still running. 1973 Men’s Rights Association formed by Richard Doyle 1976
Richard Doyle publishes ‘The Rape of the Male’.
1977 Free Men Inc. was founded in 1977 in Columbia, Maryland, spawning several chapters over the following years, which eventually merged to form the National Coalition of Free Men (now known as the National Coalition for Men). Men’s Rights, Inc. was also formed in 1977. 1977
Richard Doyle founded Men’s Equality Now International (MEN International) in 1977 and edited its newsletter, “The Liberator” until 2004.
1980s The mythopoetic men’s movement refers to a loose collection of organizations active in men’s work since the early 1980s. 1985
Texas Fathers for Equal Rights formed.
Professor Thomas Oaster director of the Missouri Center for Men’s Studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, established the first International Men’s Conference in Kansas which was attended in 1992-1994 by men and women from all continents. He also inaugurated the first International Men’s Day on February 7, 1992 – an event that is now celebrated in over 60 countries.
Warren Farrell publishes the landmark book The Myth of Male Power: Why Men are the Disposable Sex, which reiterates many of the men’s issues published at the beginning of the century by the Ernest Belfort Bax.
After the publication of Warren Farrell’s book The Myth of Male Power, men’s rights initiatives proliferated until the formation of A Voice for Men in 2009 which represents the beginning of the second wave of the MRM.

The second-wave of the Men’s (Human) Rights Movement:
Founded by men’s rights advocate Paul Elam, A Voice for Men has become a global platform for promoting awareness of, and advocacy for men’s human rights issues,4 and is the largest organization of it’s kind to-date. While the second wave continues to advocate for most of the traditional concerns of the MHRM, it has deepened its understanding of those concerns and sufficiently developed its approach to them to be considered a legitimate second wave of the movement. For example the second wave is:

  • Nationally and internationally networked (as opposed to the poorly networked 1st wave);

  • Inclusive of all: women, men, straight and gay, trans, white, black are actively involved (as opposed to predominant hetero white male of the 1st wave);

  • Strictly anti violence (as opposed to occasional violence tolerance of 1st wave)

  • Anti-domination of MRM by traditionalism (which dominated 1st wave);

  • Anti-domination by partisan politics (1st wave was dominated by right wing sentiment);

  • Inclusive of people of all faiths while having zero tolerance for proselytizers (1st wave had slight dominance by Western religion);

  • Are generally anti-feminist, anti-gynocentrism, and anti-misandry (in unison with the first wave) with the addition of being more broadly oriented to human rights principles;

  • Are more committed to building bridges between the MHRM and the general community (unlike 1st wave);

  • Have elaborated a more thorough socio-political history of misandry and gynocentrism (unlike the patchy attempts of 1st wave);

  • Have developed a more sophisticated discourse about sexual/psychological/social/political issues to inform the basis of the MRM (more than 1st wave)
The second wave of the MHRM is not limited to the activities of A Voice for Men, and the signature principles first promoted by AVfM have migrated into the general discourse about men’s issues; principles such as inclusiveness, creating a wider and greater number of options for men, and an open acceptance of a variety of masculinities – including the rights of men to enjoy self-determination and to Go Their Own Way (MGTOW).
“Waves” of the Men’s Human Rights Movement:
The notion of ‘waves’ is familiar to us from first, second and third wave feminism. However our use of the term is not in any way related to the content or structure of feminist waves and is used here for metaphorical convenience as in ‘waves of soldiers’ or ‘waves of emotion’ to connote a surge of activity that is unique and yet related to another surge of activity.1
For the concept of ‘waves’ I employ the philosophical perspective of Alfred North Whitehead over Hegel. Hegel developed a progressivist dialectic model: eg. → thesis (gynocentrism) → antithesis (men’s rights activism) → synthesis (equality for all). Hegel’s progressivist model is also implied by Ernest B. Bax and Warren Farrell who describes a similar progressivist theme in his writings: eg. → Women’s movement → men’s movement → gender transition movement.
The benefit of Whitehead’s approach is that it is a process philosophy like Hegel’s but, unlike Hegel, he insists that we do not leave the past behind us – we do not “progress” in the dialectical fashion described by Hegel. Whitehead proposes, rather, that the past always remains with us and informs all developments in the present. Thus by thinking with Whitehead’s philosophy the Men’s Rights Movement continues to undergo waves of activity, but they are not essentially “progressivist” waves.

[1] Peter Wright, Welcome to the Second Wave (January 25, 2013)
[2] Robert St. Estephe, The Unknown History of Misandry
[3] Paul Elam, Entering a new ERA (January 30, 2013)
[4] Mission Statement of A Voice for Men

Feature image by James Brandon


Via AVfM


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