Guest Post: MRA Whiners of 118 Years Ago 

The following post was written by Dana Hunter and originally published at En Tequila Es Verdad. It has been reprinted here with express permission. 

The older I get, the more I tend to agree with the author of Ecclesiastes: nope, nothing new under the sun. Even the howling manbabies of the Men’s Rights Movement are just retreads of the same old tire. As long are there are women demanding equality, there will be men whining, “But what about teh menz???Help, help, men are being oppressed!” A few words are changed, a few flourishes added, a sad trombone appended to the end, but it’s still the same ol’ song.

Travel back to me to the year of our Lord (who is a MAN, obvs) 1898, when some poor anonymous New South Wales reporter braved undiluted inanity in order todescribe the Men’s Rights Activists of that day and age. You may recognize the tune:

 “MEN’S RIGHTS” MOVEMENT.

An Ungallant Society.

[Daily News, 6th May]

The Women’s Rights movements has [sic] scored another great success. It has called forth a League for Men’s Rights to counteract it. This league, with the object of securing legal and moral protection to men against the encroachments of women, is in process of formation in London.

Oh, my, yes. A few women band together, ask for equality, and manage to win a few political and legal crumbs from the patriarchy, and the next thing you know, the dudes are screaming their lungs out, convinced teh wimminz are about to take over the universe, castrate them with their fingernails while grinding a high heel into their pathetic faces, and steal their wallets, all the blessings of society and the law.

Mind you, these particular terrified men were crying oppression in an age when women still weren’t allowed to vote.  This fact probably goes a long way towards explaining the sarcastic tone the reporter takes throughout the piece.

What follows is a fact-free rant wherein every tiny concession women won after decades of legal battles is held up by the horrified male as proof positive that women now have all the advantages. You will be unsurprised to discover that in every case he cites as support for his argument, he’s either dead wrong, had it ass-backwards, or is crying about the consequences of centuries of women being treated as male property. And, like today’s MRAs, he doesn’t want equal rights for men and women so much as he wants a return to the days when men had all the power. Anything less is a terrible injustice to the poor suffering menfolk.

After finishing it, I understood why there was an advertisement for Gould’s Bile Beans for Biliousness right in the middle of it. It was so laughably bad, I began to suspect the Riverine Grazier was a satirical paper, but it turns out it was legit and not the Hay, NSW version of the Onion.

I’ll be going through this antique example of offended male entitlement in some detail. I meant to merely transcribe it for you and do a light bit of laughing, but as I corrected machine transcription errors, I began to pay closer attention to his words, got curious, and then started looking up the legislative acts and court cases he mentions. Hours later, I emerged from a deep rabbit hole bearing some interesting historical insights into marriage and divorce, and with an intriguing tome about feminism in Victorian times on order. Once it gets here, I’ll begin the deep-dive into this dude’s rant. It will be fascinating to see how far we’ve come since the days when women were given the same legal status as children and the insane. Alas, it doesn’t look like the men’s rights contingent has evolved in the slightest. But you’ll hopefully be amused to see what the people Dave Futrellemakes a living lambasting would sound like if their diatribes were translated into Victorian English.

Stay tuned…

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