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Men's rights is an umbrella term, encompassing the political rights, entitlements, and freedoms of males within a nation or culture. Men's rights is a relatively recent concept—stemming from the late 20th century, as opposed to the 18th century roots of the women's rights movements—and is still underdeveloped as a theory.
The men's rights movement is concerned with topics such as inequities in reproductive rights, divorce settlements, domestic violence laws, and sexual harassment laws. It has also been expanded to include things such as education and health care.
The men's rights movement is part of the men's movement, and advocates are known as "men's rights activists," or MRAs. The men's rights movement is concerned with a wide variety of issues, some of which have spawned their own groups or movements. For example, the fathers' rights movement is concerned specifically with divorce and child custody issues.
The men's rights movement emerged in the United States during the late 1970s from the antifeminist branch of the men's liberation movement. The men's rights movement also helped create the father's rights movement during this time period. Early men's rights organizations include Men's Rights, Inc. and Free Men, Inc., both formed in 1977. During the 1980s, several men's rights organizations from different parts of the United States joined to form the National Coalition of Free Men (now the National Coalition for Men).
Like participants in most social movements, those concerned with men's rights comprise a wide variety of individuals and organizations, both united and divided in various ways on specific issues. Some groups are formally organized or incorporated, while others are casual alliances or the work of a few individuals.
Major men's rights organizations include the National Coalition for Men and the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. The National Coalition for Men has 22 chapters in the United States and chapters in 5 other countries. The American Coalition for Fathers and Children was founded in 1995 by Stuart A. Miller and Dianna Thompson in an effort to provide a forum for discussion of male rights.
Although the vast majority of men's rights leaders and activists are men, there are some women, including those in significant positions within the movement. For example, Sue Price and her husband, Reg Price, are co-directors of the Australian Men's Rights Agency. Naomi Penner was a women's rights activist in the 1960s who later helped to create the National Coalition of Free Men in America in 1981. Christina Hoff Sommers has written two books highlighting a perceived disparity in the feminist movement's level of support for issues that disadvantage women compared to the feminist movement's level of support for issues that disadvantage men.
There are a number of men's rights organizations active in India, many of whom focus around the perceived abuse of anti-dowry laws against men. One such organization is The Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) a registered non-profit headquartered in Bangalore, that claims more than 30,000 members. SIFF has stated that they feel that anti-dowry laws have regularly been used in efforts to settle petty disputes in marriage, and have said that their helplines receive calls from many men who say that their wives have used false dowry claims to get them jailed.
Marriage and divorce
Conservative men's rights groups began organizing in opposition of divorce reform and custody issues around the 1960s. The men involved in the early organization believed that family and divorce law discriminated against them and favored their wives.
In the US, spousal support may be awarded regardless of gender. A legal precedent for gender-blind spousal support in the United States was made in Orr v. Orr, where the Supreme Court invalidated Alabama's statutes by which husbands, but not wives, were required to pay alimony upon divorce. This statute was considered a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The percentage of alimony recipients in the US who were male rose from 2.4% in (1996–2001) to 3.6% in (2002–2006) and is expected to increase as more marriages feature a female primary earner.
In 1971 in the United States, draft resisters initiated a class-action suit alleging that male only conscription violated men's rights to equal protection under the US constitution. When the case reached the Supreme Court in 1981, they were supported by a men's rights group and the multiple women's groups, including the National Organization for Women. However, the Supreme Court upheld the Military Selective Service Act, stating that "the argument for registering women was based on considerations of equity, but Congress was entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, to focus on the question of military need, rather than equity.
In Australian immigration policy a distinction is regularly made between women and children (often treated erroneously as equivalent to "family groups") and single men. The details are subject to current debate and recently failed legislation (August 2006) in the Australian Parliament. But for example in one recent case, former Minister for Immigration, Senator Amanda Vanstone, determined as follows concerning Papuan asylum seekers: "The single men on the boat would be sent to an immigration detention centre, but families would not be split up and would be housed in facilities in the community".
In the countries where parental leave is available, it is often not distributed equally between parents. This can lead to fathers not being able to spend enough time with their children after birth.
Social security and retirement
Previously, in some countries that award some form of social security or pension, women qualified for benefits earlier in life than men. However, this is currently being phased out.
"Widow Allowance" in Australia is awarded to a woman born before 1 June 1955, with no recent workforce experience and with low income if she becomes widowed, divorced, or separated from a spouse or de facto partner (of either sex). The provision is available to women only; not to men in identical circumstances.
In the United Kingdom, women's earlier qualification for State Pension has ended for anyone born after 1955.
Equal treatment and protection under the law
In 2011, California lawmakers, headed by state senator Carol Liu, implemented a policy to release female inmates who are parents, convicted of non-violent, non-sexual and non-child related crimes, which they have deemed “primary caregivers" despite not having custody due to being in jail. Robert Oakes, legislative director for Liu, stated about Liu's goal: “In crafting the bill, her intent was to single out female inmates with children...But that could not be done because of a constitutional ban against gender-based discrimination. So the phrase ‘primary caregiver’ was added to the bill.” The program is currently only being offered to women. It is believed that similar actions will be extended to men at some point in the future, although no date has been set.
In most states in the United States it is possible to get a conviction for rape without corroborating evidence. Thus the issue of false accusations of rape is very serious. Studies that review the evidence and report those that they can determine are conclusively false tend to find lower numbers while studies that ask the claimants to indicate if they have lied find higher numbers. More than half report a prevalence greater than fifteen percent.
Sentencing for those convicted of making such allegations are often perceived as being too lenient in comparison to the severe penalties imposed upon rapists.
In many jurisdictions, alleged victims of rape are given anonymity while this is not extended to the accused. The British government announced plans to grant anonymity to the accused but withdrew plans after criticism from campaign groups such as "Women Against Rape."
Spousal notification laws
In China the law states that a woman has no overriding priority over her spouse in deciding whether to have a child. Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Malawi, Morocco, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates all legally require that an abortion must be authorized by the woman's husband. However, in some countries, this authorization law can be overridden if there is genuine concern for maternal health.
In Oregon an adoption may be granted without the consent of a married woman's husband if it has been determined that her husband at such time was not the father of the child; in this case, consent of the husband (or father) is not required.
In the US in 2006, Dubay v. Wells argued that in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, the male should have an opportunity to decline all paternity rights and responsibilities. Supporters said that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women. In its dismissal of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stated that "the Fourteenth Amendment does not deny to [the] State the power to treat different classes of persons in different ways."
Reproductive rights after divorce
In 2003, a British woman lost her challenge against the 1990 Human Fertilization and Embryology Act which specifically states that both partners must consent to the use of their genetic material. She was attempting to gain access to fertilized embryos, frozen prior to her divorce from her ex-husband who had since withdrawn his consent. However, another British man was forced to pay child support for children conceived artificially after his ex-wife used sperm frozen during their marriage. In this case, the woman had falsely claimed his consent when undergoing the procedure.
Estimates have ranged that there might be as many as 800,000 incorrect paternity judgement in California alone (because of defaults). Once so judged, it is extremely difficult or even impossible to get liability for child support removed. In some cases a husband is responsible for his wife's children no matter what, even if the child is not his own.
Male parental rights
In many industrialized nations where divorce is common, father's rights activists hold the belief that men are unfairly discriminated against in family courts when deciding issues of child custody.
In the United Kingdom, where there is a Minister for Women, there have been calls for an analogous "Minister for Men". Lord Northbourne, who made the first parliamentary call for such in 2004, told the BBC that "if the government feels they need a minister to address women's issues, it should be the same for men." Northbourne's proposal was presented to the prime minister during prime minister's questions the same year. The proposal was rejected and Northbourne and others[who?] argue that such a minister is needed, pointing to a relatively poor standard of health for men, Fathers' rights, male suicide rates, and males under-performing in education compared to females.
Since the late 1970s and 1980s men's rights activists have asserted that a combination of feminist ideology and men's reluctance to admit being victims has covered up the large amount of domestic violence and murders committed by women. They state that women are as violent as men and that domestic violence is sex-symmetrical. They argue that the judicial system too easily accepts false allegations of domestic violence made by women against their male partner. Men's rights writer Christina Hoff Sommers has commented that "false claims about male domestic violence are ubiquitous and immune to refutation". In Western countries, men's rights activists have been vocal critics of legal and policy protection for abused women. They have campaigned for domestic violence shelters for battered men, and for the legal system to be educated about women's violence.
The men's rights movement claims that men suffer shorter lives, higher successful suicide rates and higher incidents of most stress-related diseases than women do.
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- The Men's Bibliography, a bibliography of writing on men, masculinities, gender and sexualities, listing over 16,700 works - primarily from a constructionist perspective
- Boyhood Studies, features a 2200+ bibliography of young masculinities.
Masculism Concepts/subjects By countryMen's rights See also Types: Initimate partners Types: Other family members or partners Articles about domestic violence by country Religion and domestic violence Related topics
Abuse · Battered person syndrome · Battered woman defense · Birth control sabotage · Cycle of abuse · Domestic violence court · Effects of domestic violence on children · Epidemiology of domestic violence · LGBT topic, domestic violence · Men's rights in domestic violence · Misogyny · Feminist dominance in domestic violence discussions · Violence · Violence against women · Domestic violence (women's) shelter
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