A couple of weeks ago while searching for information on an unrelated issue, I came across an article, titled “Herding Porcupines in the MRM,” linking the Men’s Right Movement to Quakerism on the site, A Voice for Men. Please be aware that the above link is to a site identified by the SPLC as having at least some of the characteristics of a hate group. While I don’t care to evaluate the site in its entirety and don’t know all of the nuance of identifying what is and is not a hate group, at the time of this writing the site seems to feature an “enemies list” with names, dossiers and photographs, an advertisement (for an affiliated site) depicting blood dripping from a knife, as well as imagery and text which seem to serve no function other than to dehumanize activists from other communities.
If you’ve never encountered the men’s rights movement before, it can puzzling to newcomers. Most people are correctly under the impression that men have rights, and many MRM groups know how to artfully incorporate legitimate concerns alongside their reactionary politics in a way that can confound outsiders. That said, I find the movement as it is actually, widely practiced to be a manifestation of modern misogyny belonging in the same category as white supremacist and other hate-based movements.
For whatever reason the author of this particular article has chosen to identify as both a quaker, a woman, and a men’s rights activist.
That women sometimes choose to associate with the men’s rights movement is unsettling but not surprising — sexism is unique among all forms of prejudice in that it can never rely on people’s unfamiliarity with each other to perpetuate it’s vicious misconceptions. Men and women who are exposed to misogynistic media and lack the insight to resist its influence are likely be indoctrinated with very similar ideas regardless of their gender.
I do identify as a quaker. Although I am not a member of my meeting, I attend frequently and share many of their values. These values, as I understand them, include taking time to listen and form consensus with every stakeholder as part of the decision-making process, opposition to all forms of violence regardless of the context in which the violence may take place, the will to defy injustice wherever it occurs, and the frequent practice of silent worship without defining the object of that worship. I understand these values to be entirely in opposition to the values I see espoused in the men’s rights movement.
In spite of those values, it does not surprise me that a quaker somewhere in the world would identify with the men’s rights movement. Quakers are a diverse group. I’ve been told that some quaker meetings are almost indistinguishable from a modern conservative christian church, while others more closely resemble Occupy Wall Street organizing committees filled with youngsters eager to get themselves arrested. The meeting I attend tends to be reserved, having taken some modest actions to contribute aid for the homeless and to agitate in favor of gay marriage.
The article itself contains little that I find objectionable because it amounts to little more than a dry review of quaker organizational structures. I have no rebuttal to its content, but I feel that if I remain silent about this article, reasonable people might take away the idea that there exists some widespread sympathies between quakerism and the men’s rights movement. I find this possibility utterly horrifying. A Voice for Men and sites like it do not speak for me or my meeting. I have no doubt that the ideas advocated by the men’s rights movement would be greeted by strenuous protest among the overwhelming majority of friends at my meeting, several of whom are feminists.
My only real goal in posting this is to provide some guidance to anyone who may have come across this article and be curious as to whether it represents a presence of men’s rights sentiments in modern quakerism. I believe that it does not.