Published in the Martinsburg Journal, December 30, 2018

Welcome to the Manosphere

When asked if he could think of any laws “that give the government the
power to make decisions about the male body,” Brett Kavanaugh, now a
Supreme Court Justice, hesitated. It was obvious that the Senator who
asked that question was highlighting the fact that government legislates the
bodies of women, specifically our reproductive systems, but does not
mandate any limitations on the bodies of men, even though they initiate
half of the procreation process.


A friend who is an Army veteran and mother was sitting next to me at a
conference table last fall when we brought up the now-famous question
that had been asked during the confirmation hearings. When the man
we’d been speaking with mentioned that some men believe conscription
into the armed forces is an example of government taking power over the
male body, we were dumbstruck. We had ever heard such a flawed,
contorted logical fallacy---that forcing men into military service is analogous
to being forced to continue every pregnancy. When Judge Kavanaugh
answered the question during his Senate hearing ---what laws the
government has made about the male body---by saying “I’m not thinking of
any right now,” I would assume he does not believe his being drafted
qualifies as an example of the government using its power to make
decisions over his manhood.


So when I read last month that a federal judge in Texas ruled that
excluding women from Selective Service registration is unconstitutional, I
wasn’t surprised to see that the case was brought before the court by a
“Men’s Rights” group---the National Coalition for Men---arguing that the
male-only policy causes harm to men. But I was surprised that there were
no women’s organizations supporting the suit, arguing for the same
finding; that it causes harm to women if they are not required to register
alongside men.


In 1981, when President Carter reactivated registration for the draft and
asked Congress to allocate funds for it, he recommended that women be
included. Instead, Congress specifically provided funding only for men to
register. That led to the Supreme Court challenge, Rostker v. Goldberg,
which upheld men-only registration because women were barred from
serving in combat. Requiring both genders to register was endorsed at
that time by the National Organization for Women, and later, the
administrations of both Clinton and Obama. In 2015, the US Military
opened all positions, including combat jobs, to women, ending the rationale
for excluding them from involuntary service.


Enter the “Manosphere,” defined by Oxford Dictionary as “websites and
blogs where men express opinions about issues……. especially those
associated with views that are hostile to feminism and women's rights.”
Another website, Dictionary.com, further describes it as “full of misogyny,
and overlaps with parts of the alt-right.” The men’s rights group that
initiated this case is famous for posting online photos of “false rape
accusers” if the claim is dismissed due to lack of documentable evidence.
A recent post on its message board reads “women ……. have been no
more discriminated against because of their sex than men have.”


This backlash-laced forum is where aggrieved men complain that women
want to be equal to them, yet still demand “perks” like prenatal health care,
tax-free sanitary napkins, contraceptives, child support, and to have rape
kits processed. The most virulent voices rage that they should have the
“right” to have sex with women even against their will. Five mass
shootings in recent years have been by men who identify with
“Incells” (involuntary celibates), attacking random women in retaliation for
spurning their biological needs.


It’s as if every time women win a “right” previously denied to us by the
government, a bell goes off in some man's head that he has lost one of his
rights, as if it was a zero-sum sports game where her gain threatens a loss
for him. Perhaps the women’s movement over-did the “male-bashing.”
Perhaps, according to another Supreme Court Justice, “all we ask of our
brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” Yet, in spite of rampant
sex discrimination, I know of few women who dislike individual men just for
being men, and there are many women who prefer men for friendship,
over women. How people (both men and women) behave within their
group identity is unfortunately the thing that needs to be changed. Gender
equality is still evolving, for all of us.


But returning to the question as to whether government legislates the
reproductive rights of the male as it has with the female anatomy.
The answer is that it has not---ever. Government continues to use its
power to make laws that restrict, not protect, the needs and decisions of
only women. Meanwhile, we have had to protect ourselves from statutes
that have given men a voice over everything from our earnings to our
organs. Ironically, it would be far more effective to regulate men, who are
capable of procreating far more often, and far more irresponsibly, than
women.


Alongside licensed medical professionals, women should be trusted to
make crucial decisions about their bodies without interference from
politicians. And women---who create life often at the expense of their own
health, freedom and livelihood, and who have never initiated the warfare
that has killed hundreds of millions of living people---are not the ones who
need a law to order them to protect life.

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