A scientist’s view: equality, feminism and men’s rights

Recently scientist Laura Waters wrote a piece explaining “why I’m an equalist and not a feminist.” Molecular biologist and feminist Andrew Holding responds.

The world is against men. This week a man was turned away from Legoland for not having a child, apparently to protect the families and children that visit. Men are not allowed to sit next to unaccompanied children on planes because apparently they’re all paedophiles-in-waiting. I’ve had my own experience of someone alerting the whole of John Lewis that my daughter was abandoned, because she wasn’t near someone who looked like a mother. Then there’s the old issue that only 8% of children in single parent families are with their fathers. Perhaps all this contributes to high suicide rates in young men. So we need equality not feminism? I don’t agree.

When I was born, my father could rape my mother. Legally. The act was only criminalised in England in 1991. We’re less than 100 years since Emily Murphy fought to be recognised as a person because she didn’t have a penis, and still, in the 21st century, girls have been shot in the head for suggesting the radical thought that we should educate people with uteruses.

If you think feminism is a dirty word, or some kind of female ‘supremacist’ movement, you’ve been had. This slippery-slope sensationalism is the same old dirty trick we see when anti-equality campaigners make ridiculous arguments about marrying their sons in an effort to stop marriage equality, or suggest that giving all genders an equal chance in life is some how going to lead to the oppression of men. It’s ridiculous, and those who protest are typically those who have the most to lose from equality.

There are individuals who dislike men, in a hand-wavingly general sort of way, but that does nothing TO men on the whole. There is no power structure in place – and never has been – that causes men to be systematically disadvantaged compared to women. That is misogyny, the history and the culture and the actions of individuals that pile up to create a hostile environment to women in work, life and play, and in  a country where a woman’s attractiveness is still seen to be more important than her achievements it is impossible to miss.

So what about single fathers, young men committing suicide, or suggestions that every man is some kind of Schroedinger’s paedophile? The answer to these problems is more feminism.

Feminism fights patriarchy. It’s this system that is responsible for the fallacy that women need to be mothers in place of men; a lie that can cost fathers their children and women their lives. It places unreasonable expectations on young men, leaving them ill-equipped for the modern world and leading to an epidemic of mental health issues. It runs the entire country, and those that gain from it would prefer that women don’t stand together for their rights because they have so much to lose.

And feminism is pro-men. In discussion of rape and sexual assault, it is feminists who have challenged the myth that men are incited by short skirt, and the belief that the average man can barely stop his penis leaping from his trousers into the nearest woman.

We need a word because it provides focus, a banner to rally behind and, in the case of feminism, a history. Yes, equality is great, but we wouldn’t expect those fighting against racism or homophobia to drop their banner because a few people want to make it into something it’s not.  We all need, in the words of Geraldine Horan at Bright Club recently, to ‘grow a pair of ovaries’ and start calling ourselves feminists.

If you’re affected by issues around young men and mental health, CALM offer information and an advice line.

Andrew Holding (@AndrewHolding) is the father of two amazing children, who happen to have four X chromosomes between them.


Covering international news, feminist and politic issues and everything else that catches the panda's eye.

  • Mark Neil

    “When I was born, my father could rape my mother. Legally. ”

    And your mother could likewise force your father to have sex against his will. legally. Difference now is, your mother still can. And if your father resists, she can claim his physical resistance as abuse, or she can divorce him and sue him for distress caused by a failure of your fathr to perform his marital duties. and if she does rape him and gets pregnant when he didn’t want another, there is nothing he can do about it. And I ued the term I used because, rape requires the victim to be penetrated by the attacker, meaning men can be attacked by women and never be raped, not because they aren’t being forced to have sex, but because men don’t matter as victims. Nobody cares, including you.

    “If you think feminism is a dirty word, or some kind of female ‘supremacist’ movement, you’ve been had.”

    Sure, because it’s not possible that it is you who has been misinformed. PS, thinking feminism is a dirty word is not the same as being anti-equality. It’s this claim to monopoly over equality, and attempt to paint any opposition as anti-equality, that shows feminism for it’s true self. When it refuses to meet criticism with anything more than tired rhetoric and attempts to shame, what does it really stand for?

    “There is no power structure in place – and never has been – that causes men to be systematically disadvantaged compared to women”

    If you truly believe this is the case, when Julia Gillard in Australia used her influence to eliminate efforts to have equal parenting time post divorce by making courts automatially accepts any accusation of abuse against men, while simultaneously ensuring false accusations by women could not be held against them in any way. Sure. When harriat harman has opposed equal parental leave for men, tony blair has denied there is any discrepancy in family courts, and other labor ministers are claiming women should be given training instead of jailtime when they commit crimes, and you to pretend there is no power with influence pushing a female privileged/anti-male agenda. This outright denial of reality demonstrates you don’t want to know the truth, that you are comfortable in your dogma, and that this post will likely never see the light of day.

    “Andrew Holding (@AndrewHolding) is the father of two amazing children, who happen to have four X chromosomes between them.”

    Not surprised. you have no son’s of your own, so a society of female supremacy only benefits your daughters.

  • mcc99

    “There is no power structure in place – and never has been – that causes men to be systematically disadvantaged compared to women”

    Really? Nothing like… The Selective Service System, which has existed all over the world by many other names now for countless centuries? Or the social systems that have been in place likewise that have *required* men to assume the role of provider to a woman even if he isn’t even heterosexual, or just plain doesn’t want to be married? For example, arranged marriages have been around a very long time. Both participants were (are still, in some places) usually being coerced into the marriage, as the teenagers being married to each other are still essentially children being ordered, in essence, to marry who their parents/elders set them up with. Sympathy gets reserved however for the girl, not the boy. Funny, that.

    There are other things wrong with your essay, Mr. Holding, but the hour’s gotten late. I can’t help but think though that if you had a son and a daughter and not 2 daughters, your POV might be more “balanced”. I have noticed parents of either sex tend to have their views on these matters shaped by the genders of their offspring. Guess it should come as no surprise. The limbic system is as you know, very powerful.

  • whatever

    As a divorced father, I’m glad to have feminism’s support.

    Tell me, does your state recognize that in divorce their should be a rebuttable presumption of joint shared CUSTODY? (50/50 custody as the default.)

    If not, have you called your state representatives demanding they pass this?

    Are you a member of ACFC (http://www.acfc.org/) or NPO (https://www.nationalparentsorganization.org/)

    I often hear that feminists have my back as a divorced father, can you tell me how you’ve put that into real world actions?

  • Robert Hewett

    There exists a difference, any scientist worth his degree would know, between feminism and actual feminist movements. Here in the states the movement has been founded on false data. Even the wage dispute if fundamentally a mistruth. The results? Nearly half American Children live in Poverty. Newborns are more likely to be born to single mothers and raised in poverty. The Nuclear family is gone.
    And ever major point (rape culture, educational favortism and wage disparity) have been shown to be based on distorted information.

    Thanks feminism… It pays to have a stupid uneducated society. Maybe Profit has something to do with it? We all know Koss and Ms. Magazine got rich off their lies.
    ”gender equity” group that got a five-year grant from the United States
    Department of Education after putting out statements to the effect that ”every
    year nearly four million women are beaten to death.” That would mean that
    11,000 women are beaten to death every day, while Federal Bureau of
    Investigation statistics for 1996 showed that 3,631 female deaths were
    attributed to murder in the entire year.

  • Toysoldier

    I am curious, Holding: what are feminists doing to help single fathers, prevent male suicide, or challenge the notion that all men are rapists and pedophiles?

    I ask because I know of no current feminist activity trying to get aid to single fathers, no attempt to challenge the discrimination those men face when it comes to government assistance or dealing with teachers and doctors, let alone general support for these men raising children by themselves.

    Likewise, I know of no feminist groups that actively reach out to young men contemplating suicide. All the feminist-run men’s groups I know of focus their attention on preventing men’s violence against women.

    The same goes for presenting all men as inherently sexually dangerous. No feminists I know of challenged British Airway’s decision to bar men from sitting next to unaccompanied children. When Kate Harding wrote her Schroedinger’s Rapist article, it got nothing but feminist support.

    What are feminists actually doing to help men?

  • Rod Van Mechelen

    “The answer to these problems is more feminism.” The answer to hate is more hate? I disagree.

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  • Copyleft

    I can see that you WANT feminism to be all about equality, and you WANT it to be seen that way… but that’s not the reality.

    Feminism has a poor reputation that its adherents have worked hard to earn; and part of that was due to their insistence on treating the cause as women-first, women-last, and women-always in orientation. Men’s issues were simply not addressed, and eventually, inevitably, men noticed.

    There are plenty of feminists who favor equality; there are also plenty of dentists who do too. The two factors are unrelated, sad to say.

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  • Mads Jorgensen

    This is the least scientific article I have ever read by a scientist. It is stock full of information bias and instead of setting out to explore and understand the subject, you explain your own oppinions and then hide behind a header to make it seem more objective.

    I have yet to find a single feminist who have said or done anything to support men in any way, shape or form. Men are severely disadvantaged compared to women in suicide rates statistics, workplace death incident statistics, childsupport cases statistics, parental rights statistics, murder statistics, age-of-death statistics and so forth. Feminists even fight for more women being accepted in universities regardless of the fact that more than 60% of all bachelors degrees were earned by women the last 5 years and that 80% of all masters degrees were earned by women in the same number of years.

    Feminism has nothing to do with equality (and the word you/her are/is looking for is not equalism but rather egalitarianism). Even the word “feminism” quite clearly indicates that this is only about women and has nothing to do with mens rights. But let´s take a look at what feminism and egalitarianism means when set up against a very manly subject shall we?

    The NAVY Seal is quite possibly the epitome of what is considered manly – strong elite people in a peerless physical shape defending the country while having a strict chain of command and being able to survive for months in the wilderness, using rifles and other manly things. These people have a very strict demand that you must be able to lift yourself over a pole 10 times within a minute, using only your arms – this is to simulate the strain of climbing a wall without any place to put your feet. The fact that this rule was in place for everyone was egalitarianism – they didnt care about your gender because there is a very real assignment here and if you are not up to par, you will die and you will possibly cause the deaths of your fellow soldiers as well as they try and help you. Feminism is when they suspended this rule for women, stating that women only need to be able to suspend themselves for a number of minutes instead of being able to physically lift themselves.

    So what about all those walls in the field? I assume they do not really care about feminism or genderissues and I can gurantee that they will be there just as much for the men as for the women. In other words, they are purposely allowing people in who are not up to the challenges they will face, and all based on their gender – because equality right?

    Feminism. That is why. And that is why feminism has nothing to do with equality.

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