Is gender egalitarianism libertarian?
By Rod Van Mechelen
The Men's Rights Movement has always been both liberal and conservative, but is the Gender Egalitarian Movement libertarian?
The Liberal and Conservative Men's Rights Movement
2013 Olympia, WA - Some sites feature articles and comments claiming the Men's Rights Movement (MRM) is liberal and that it is just feminism for men, while articles and comments on other sites claim that the MRM used to be dominated by conservatives but is now apolitical.
In the beginning of the MRM we had Angry Harry, Richard Doyle and Roy Schenk. Schenk is a socialist, Doyle is a conservative, and I'm not sure about Angry Harry, though I suspect he has a sense of humor. But following their early work the Men's Movement expanded to include the Mythopoetic Men's Movement, which was dominated by Jungian Psychologists, some of who were liberals and most of who were leftists.
Concurrently, the Fathers' Rights Movement (FRM) began in response to government policies that gave precedence to mothers over fathers regardless of the fitness of the mother. The policies were leftist and unjust, while the FRM was conservative. During this same time other elements arose in response to the emerging sexism of feminist leftism, and many of them were liberal, including Warren Farrell, Fred Hayward and Mel Feit.
Since then, the Mythopoetic Movement has faded, while the FRM and the MRM have drifted apart. The FRM is still conservative-leaning while the MRM is liberal-leaning, but it's not clear cut just how liberal or conservative each is. Seattle was and still is the epicenter for a lot of the anti-feminist activity for the simple reason that Seattle has been a hotbed of feminist activism for many years. Being originally from Seattle I am best acquainted with the MRAs who were there in the 1990s, and there was always a mix of conservatives and liberals. You could not generalize it as being one or the other.
To gather the article links on my Backlash home page I visit hundreds of sites, and nowhere do I find any evidence that the MRM could be characterized as either liberal or conservative. It has always been a mix, because liberal or conservative, we are all equally outraged over the injustices inflicted by feminists and their progressive policies. And it has certainly never been leftist or rightist.
Left and Right are not the same as Liberal and Conservative
Leftist, rightist, it's all about partisan politics that has little to do with conservatism and liberalism. Progressives on the left and right throw mud at one another, but they're two sides of the same coin. The same could be said about conservatism and liberalism. As I have previously noted, conservative policies best serve the majority--the statistically normal people--while liberal policies best serve the minority--the statistical outliers who don't easily fit the norm.
Conservatism serves our need for traditions and permanence, order and propriety, but conservatism in its purest form supports aristocratic institutions, with their rigid hierarchies and totalitarian rule. Liberalism began by breaking with that aristocratic past to found societies--like America--based on individual freedom, political liberty, and personal property.
If the elements of conservatism kept a society anchored, the elements of liberalism allowed for the outliers to push the boundaries, break the limits, and stir the pot. Liberalism may be inherently starry eyed but so is every new venture, every new company, new invention, new expedition and new colony until it is established and successful. Conservatism may be stuck in the mud, but everybody needs a place to call home where they can return at the end of the day or the end of some long ordeal to regain their sense of order and security. The brilliance of the past two centuries was created by the system of dynamic tension that maintained a balance between the conservative and liberal elements in society.
The progressives on the left and the right, meanwhile, work to bamboozle the rest of us into thinking that leftist is synonymous with liberal, rightist with conservative, and that liberalism is a mental disease while conservatism is avaricious and stupid. It's a strategy to divide and conquer us, and so far it's working because the progressives now dominate both major political parties in the US and most people don't know that, leftist or rightist, the progressives on both sides serve the same masters and their ultimate goal is totalitarian rule of the rest of us.
The Libertarian Gender Egalitarian Movement
In the late 1980s and early 1990s several MRAs (back then we thought of ourselves as "Men's Rights Advocates," not activists) in Seattle, WA, and Vancouver, BC, but also including pockets of MRAs in other parts of Canada and the US, began to advocate for a gender equality that in many ways exemplified libertarian principles applied to gender politics.
Principles like individual freedom, property and non-aggression, that could be summed up as, every individual has the right to live their life as they choose so long as they do not violate those same rights in others.
In Alberta, Canada, Prof. Ferrel Christensen formed MERGE: Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality. The only US Chapter was in Seattle, and I was a founding member. (The organization is now defunct.)
Androgyny was not our goal. We never envisioned making men of women or women of men. The idea was that everybody should have the freedom to choose. If a woman could meet the same requirements as men to serve in the the infantry, then she should be allowed to serve. If she could do the job, let her compete with everybody else. There should be no legal or social barriers restricting her based on her sex. Same for men.
This was the beginning of the Gender Egalitarian Movement and in most respects it was libertarian, in that it exemplified the libertarian principles.
And it began in 1987.
Rod Van Mechelen
Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ Backlash.com and Cowlitz Country News. He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.