One loud voice on gender equality is not enough (4/4)


I have 50% custody of my son, Talon Jacob Kroker, because of lobbying done by MRAs that changed Australian family law.  My son is the centre of my universe, so for that, I will always be grateful.

The world needs feminism, but as my family’s history and now my own experience has taught me, one voice speaking loudly on gender equality is not enough.

Like my father, I too am divorced and I too have a son. Unlike my father I have a relationship with that son and 50% custody of my child.  The reason for this is that here in Australia, Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) successfully lobbied for an end to at-fault divorces, lobbied for there to be a default of 50% shared child custody as part of divorce proceedings, with the ability to opt out if you do not want that custody.  If you’re an Australian male divorcee with 50% custody of your child, thank the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM), in another country you may not have been as lucky.

Unfortunately during my dad’s divorces there was only one voice on gender equality, a voice that remains the loudest voice on gender equality. Had there been two equal voices, so that a balanced perspective could be provided to the government, so that the issues faced both by men and women as part of divorce were taken into consideration, I sincerely believe that I would have two more brothers in my life.
Rarely will you hear something positive said about the MRM and the individuals that represent it known as MRAs.  They get almost no credit for their work and are presented as a misogynistic hate group out to oppress women.  The issues they represent are almost always automatically dismissed out of hand by the general public—if you do a google image search on MRA, be prepared for pages upon pages of hate propaganda against them.  I completely support that all ideology attracts a segment of radical hateful people.  Feminism has hateful radicals, the MRM has hateful radicals—I don’t believe the ideologybehind either is in any way hateful (though there are ‘RadFems’ and ‘Red Pill’ MRAs).  I do not believe that a hateful vocal segment is indicative of the message or the whole. 
Whether or not you like individual MRAs is irrelevant. Right now, the MRM is the only ideology representing men’s issues, and there must be a voice for each gender.
Even though my family was so burdened by gender role and gender equality issues, I never felt the need to learn more about it or speak out on it, I was aware but almost indifferent—until my partner got pregnant and under the anticipation of having a daughter I asked my feminist friends what kind of issues they felt I would need to deal with as the father of a growing girl.  After their input I started reading about topics that I had already heard a great deal about, sexual objectification, body image issues, anorexia, bulimia… then I found out I was actually having a boy so I started exploring if there were gender issues I would need to prepare for as the father of another son.

Suddenly I’m reading about male violence, success objectification and the proclivity of eight year old boys and older for committing suicide…

As I read about this I thought, ‘how do I not know this already…  I already have a son that is seven years old?’  I started reading things that spoke to me on a personal level, things that I had long felt but had no name for and until that moment, had no understanding of why I felt that way.  I was further shocked to find out that two of the women I grew up with both had brothers commit suicide, but there was no discussion of this, no mention.  The silence pushed me to read about more and more men’s issues that seemed to go without voice.
I am now well-educated on issues represented by both feminism and the MRM but during my reading I was always left with two questions:
  1. If MRAs have already been written-off in the court of public opinion and they are the only voice on men’s issues… how can my son’s issues be heard and represented?
  2. As I plan to still have a daughter and feminism is frequently perceived as gender biased and angry… how can my future daughter’s issues be heard and represented? 
Even if I were to work from within feminism, I would again be propagating the issue that caused my family’s downfall to begin with—the promotion of only one side of gender issues.
I think someone needs to fight for women, I think someoneneeds to fight for men, but what I witness when both sides meet is their focus on fighting each other, instead of coming together for an attempt at balanced perspective on ‘issue’.   

If feminism and the MRM joined forces in the fight for gender equality, seeking common ground instead of opposition, the world might become an amazing place.  Until then, someone else must stand the middle ground.

Therefore someone, must hold the middle ground, someone must focus on ‘issue’ regardless of gender, without representing a ‘side’.

Considering how gender role has affected my family I feel I have an obligation to nominate myself as that someone. So I started with a promise to myself that since gender debate is an area that creates such negativity, such anger, such venom, I will hold the middle ground, but only for 12 months.  If I cannot create enough awareness in that time so that other people pick up this banner also, I will have sacrificed of my emotional well-being all that I could.
Until then I intend to hold the middle ground. I will draw the line in the sand—here in this space, I fight for gender equality and an end to gender roles without taking a gender side.  I welcome all people ready to fight ‘issue’ without gender prejudice; I call for the forming of an army of masterless gender-equality Ronin. Because a gender equality war fought with gender prejudice, from a perspective of opposing gender sides, leads to the victory of one gender, and the equality of neither.  

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