When “Men’s Rights” Narratives Kill

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 14:47 EDT
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The so-called “men’s rights” movement is very intent on convincing the public that domestic violence is overblown by feminists, and that many to most victims are lying to the police and the courts, who take them at their word because the justice system is supposedly in the thrall of the all-powerful feminist regime. This narrative tends to have a lot of power, because it feeds off long-standing stereotypes of women as deceitful, manipulative gold diggers. Unfortunately, the widespread credulity for anti-feminist ravings about lying women in cahoots with the police does lead to tragedy, as Dear Prudence this week demonstrates:

Q. Haunted By My Mistake: Last year my friend’s girlfriend disappeared with their two young children. He was desperate to find them, but he did not trust the police so he did not involve them. I saw his girlfriend a few weeks later when I went to visit my sister a few hours away from where my friend and I lived. She seemed to be working at a hair salon. I called my friend and told him I’d seen her and where. My friend tracked his girlfriend down, followed her home, and killed her and one of their kids before taking his own life. I had no idea his girlfriend fled because he’d been abusing her; nothing ever indicated to me that he was controlling or violent. Even so, I am haunted by my mistake. I have fallen apart over the past year. I cannot hold down a job or maintain relationships. Two innocent people are dead because of me, and a child will grow up an orphan because of me. No one knows my involvement in the case. I fear a counselor would push me to confess to the victim’s families. Maybe that is what I deserve: to be hated by them. I do not know what to do with myself.

Emphasis mine. It’s too late for the people involved in this situation, but I wanted to single it out as a good example of why it’s important to learn how to spot anti-feminist narratives in the wild, and learn to be skeptical of them. The notion that the police can’t be trusted to deal with a straightforward kidnapping case where the boyfriend is innocent of any wrongdoing is exactly the sort of tale MRAs spin. As this case shows, the likelier story is that he can’t call the police because he’s under some kind of restrictions for abusing his ex, and probably has an order not to contact her.

I mention this because I continue to run across men, even supposedly pro-feminist men, who are seduced by MRA claims that the court system is somehow anti-male and that it’s easy and common for women to make evidence-free false accusations that are immediately believed and used to strip men of all custody rights of their children. Perhaps, like this letter writer, they have male friends who swear this is what’s happening to them. But sad stories like the one above should serve as a reminder of the importance of rating real world evidence against your friends telling tales that are missing details and rely heavily on misogynist stereotyping to convince you.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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