'Being falsely accused of rape is as bad as being raped'

A screengrab from <i>A Voice For Men</i>. Clem Bastow went there so that you wouldn't have to.

A screengrab from A Voice For Men. Clem Bastow went there so that you wouldn't have to.

Paste-ups and posters spring up around Melbourne with such regularity that you need to take time out from your day to accurately track their comings and goings. However, plenty of people noticed when these posters started appearing. (In particular, at Monash University.)


Tagged with “avoiceformen.com”, they say things like “Domestic Violence: Women Are Half The Problem”.

Posters at Monash University. (Image from Twitter)

Posters at Monash University. (Image from Twitter)



There is no trigger warning comprehensive enough to cover the sheer depth of witless awfulness of this website, but here goes. Trigger warning for rape apologism, misogyny, hate speech, anti-feminist rhetoric, and utter, utter idiocy: A Voice For Men.


You’ll have to do your own cherry-picking of AVFM’s articles, since I attempted to find at least one that was reasonable enough to link to and ended up with steam shooting from my ears. I refuse to give them any site traffic, but selected topics of conversation include: Feminist lies and cruelty! Women drive men to domestic violence by complaining about their t-shirts! Women have psychologically scarred men and driven them to expensive and painful penis enlargements!!


I wish I were making this up.


Nobody is really sure if A Voice For Men is real, or a blood-curdlingly well done satire - it could be the ChristWire of anti-feminist commentary.


What is real, however, is the sentiment that fuels A Voice For Men: a new-ish movement known as “men’s rights”, its soldiers men’s rights activists, or MRAs in handy internet parlance.


MRAs tend to be concerned with spreading the word about issues like false allegations of rape, divorce law, and so-called “female privilege”. This BBC Magazine feature gives a handy rundown of who they are and what they want.


The frustrating thing about MRAs is that some of their points are quite salient: depression and rates of suicide among men are indeed troubling, for example. As the BBC piece notes, “[W]hatever one thinks about the spectrum of men's rights activism, there are important issues, like the fact that young men are three times as likely to die by suicide as young women.”


However, more often than not, MRAs seek only to derail discussion of far more pertinent issues, and typically issues that women face on a day-to-day basis. It would be unwise to attempt to deny the fact that, in many ways (especially beyond the privilege of the west), women are still second-class citizens.


MRAs want us to stop talking about issues like young victims of rape being killed for “adultery”, and talk about their issues instead. Yes, the ins and outs of divorce law and custody cause much heartache, but women are still being killed simply because of their gender, it’s vital that these topics stay in the news.


Look at what two politicians - not “vocal minority” nutbags - have said in the past week or so. Tony Abbott thinks that women’s right to “absolutely withhold” sex is a problem. Representative Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, believes that abortion is not necessary for rape victims who fall pregnant, because in cases of “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down”.


How can anyone read these comments, and the countless others like them, and believe that MRAs might have a point, that women have somehow “won the war” and are now dancing on the crumpled corpse of men’s rights?


We shouldn’t have to weigh these things against each other (“No, our problem is worse than yours!” “No, ours is!”), but here we are, because the men’s rights movement has emerged in order to tell women, once again, to shut up.


The irony is that most feminists are happy for all of these issues to be covered at the same time; they are aware of the ways in which patriarchal constructs can affect men. MRAs, on the other hand, want only for feminism to be swept aside in favour of men’s rights.


“...But this happens to men, too” is their super-fast-pointless-reply in the comments sections on articles concerning things like violence against women and sexism in the workplace.


Here’s an impression of a common men’s rights response to a story about rape: “Being falsely accused of rape is as bad as being raped”.


Now, no decent person is going to suggest that the anguish caused when an innocent person is falsely accused - and sometimes imprisoned for - a crime they didn’t commit isn’t a concern. Nor are they likely to suggest that sexual assault in prison, another issue MRAs often bring up, isn’t a troubling issue.


Suggesting that it’s as bad, or worse, in order to derail discussion of other issues, on the other hand, is counterproductive, and even harmful. If some men are marginalised, they are unquestionably in the minority.


Might I remind any men’s rights types who are planning to fire up their commenting powers on this topic: 77 per cent of reported family violence victims and 89.09 per cent of reported rape victims are women and girls (according to Victoria Police stats from 2010/11). Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of ill-health and premature death in Victorian women under 45.


You see, men’s rights activists reduce issues such as these to points-scoring; they infuriate feminist commentators to the point where we have to roll out statistics just to remind them that, for the most part, men still have it reasonably easy. In that way, MRAs get exactly what they want.


Yes, gender discrimination can go both ways, and hurt both women and men. The patriarchy, as we tiresomely have to keep reminding people in order to get them to side with feminism, harms men as well as women.


But to suggest that, in any way or in any known universe, men are now predominantly worse off than women is such utter rubbish as to beggar belief.


Please, guys, get real.


  • "The irony is that most feminists are happy for all of these issues to be covered at the same time;"

    Really? That certainly hasn't been my own experience. Any attempt to bring gender balance to most such discussions results in accusations of misogyny and 'oh, poor you' self-pity for even daring to raise the issue.

    Idiots like the ones on that 'voice for men' site really annoy me. They are the Wesboro Baptists of the gender discussion world. A bunch of idiot extremists that are held up as a strawman example to dismiss the concerns of everybody else even tangentially related to them.

    The 'men's rights' movement is just ultimately as self-defeating as the 'women's rights' movement in any society that isn't clearly and deliberately biased towards one gender. Once it is clearly acknowledged that both genders should be provided equal rights and opportunities, focusing on one gender's issues to the exclusion of the other is futile and will inevitably cause a reactionary backlash from idiots who feel excluded.

    One gender is always more disadvantaged than the other in such societies (nearly always women), and this needs to be acknowledged - but it should not always be the default assumption, and it should not be focused on to the exclusion of all other issues.

    "Here’s an impression of a common men’s rights response to a story about rape: “Being falsely accused of rape is as bad as being raped”.

    I'm not sure where you got that 'impression', but claiming that it is a 'common response' is like claiming that a 'common response' of mainstream feminism to men getting screwed-over in family court is to say 'you have a penis, you deserve it'. Painting extremist rantings as the norm isn't helpful, it just causes more resentment.

    Date and time
    August 22, 2012, 9:28AM
    • I agree with the sentiment that its almost as if a lot of "activists" see gender discrimination almost as if its a spectrum. I.e. "women are more discriminated against on the whole, so lets focus on women's issues". This is completely the wrong way to go about it, as many people from the other gender then feel that their issues are trivialised or glossed over, leading to the extreme rhetoric and hatred that we often see on websites like the one mentioned above.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 10:48AM
    • I agree that idiots like the "A Voice for Men" website really do detract from real issues men face. Let's face it. Women have problems with an unjust society. Men have a problem with an unjust society. It's not helpful for them to be seen as an "either\or" proposition.

      There is no way that I would ever call myself a men's rights activist, because of sites like this - but I guess some women wouldn't call themselves feminists for the same reason. But I'm certainly not against slipping some money to Movember, or sending off the occasional email to my MP about proposed changes to family law that disadvantage men.

      Somethings I do disagree about though, is how some of the statistics used - or misused - in the article by feminists to score points, or dismiss men's rights points. For example, it's well known if you collect crime statistics, women do account for the vast majority of domestic violence victims... But if you survey men and women anonymously, suddenly, it's men who are the majority victim, but their pride doesn't allow them to report the crime, hence they're hidden - but feminists prefer to ignore that stat. Likewise, a new study by Harvard show that women on average earn more than men until they have their first child - but feminists prefer to keep the whole statistics and keep bleating that part time work and gaps in their career shouldn't impact their pay...

      All very sad, really.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 1:08PM
    • Ken,

      If you want to talk about misuse of statistics, you can start with the ones you have quoted (without reference, I might add).

      "But if you survey men and women anonymously, suddenly, it's men who are the majority victim, but their pride doesn't allow them to report the crime, hence they're hidden - but feminists prefer to ignore that stat."

      - No, we question its accuracy. I could spend many pages explaining why, but here's a brief rundown. Firstly, studies indicate that women under-estimate/report violence inflicted on them, whereas men tend to over-estimate it. Secondly, women are much more likely to be subjected to serious, ongoing and life-threatening violence resulting in injury, hospitalisation or death. They are also more likely to be killed when attempting to leave a violent relationship. Finally, much of the "violence against men" measured in studies purporting gender symmetry is actually defensive in nature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence has a nice summary of references on this subject.

      "Likewise, a new study by Harvard show that women on average earn more than men until they have their first child - but feminists prefer to keep the whole statistics and keep bleating that part time work and gaps in their career shouldn't impact their pay..."

      - Reference, please! I have never seen a study that says women in general earn more than men, in general. In fact, recent ABS data suggests that women in Australian earn 82% of men's wages, and that salaries are several thousand dollars lower for female than male graduates with the same qualifications.

      Red Pony
      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 2:57PM
  • Yes I am a guy.
    i do agree completly with much of what you say here. Any SANE man would tell you that if you hit or worse rape another person you are weak criminal and should face the full wrath of our legal system.
    As for those 2 pollitical clowns that you quote, rest assured I am sure that the collective pollictical consciousness of the voters will not allow them anywhere near public office.
    The statists you quote are gender biased and I am glad that the rates of reporting these crimes is increasing, cause that's what they are, crimes. We have laws that are there to protect people and theirs rights to safety. these are good laws and no-one would argue there value.
    I want to talk about other laws that exist in our own society that still do discriminate though. You mentioned male suicide rates and about 6 words on family law matters.
    I am going to ask you to read something that i penned about 18 months ago after being prompted by a suicide that hit very close to home. It is not offensive and I hope it may give give you an insight as to some laws we DO have still that many RATIONAL men are faced with, ( not talking about these other nutters you are penning about)
    Clem please read it. I hope it may provide some balance you have and understand what many of us do face in this country.
    will email it

    Date and time
    August 22, 2012, 10:18AM
    • Shoes - I am a woman, and I work as a criminal lawyer in Melbourne. I have been involved in the criminal justice system for a number of years, but exclusively in criminal law now for about 12 months. You claim the statistics quoted in this article are gender biased..I am not a statistician, nor do I work for the government. I have no vested interest in skewing statistics. From my experience working with police, the courts, and alleged offenders, I can say I have literally never dealt myself, or have been exposed to in my well known and busy firm, a male that has been a victim of domestic violence. Does this mean that it never occurs? Of course not. But it is a fact that in my experience of dealing with hundreds of criminal matters, that women are victims of domestic violence a majority of the time.So I'm not too sure why you think the statistics quoted are gender biased?

      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 12:35PM
    • @malibu. The first thing that needs to be established is what "domestic violence" is. I would say that it is violence that occurs within a family household. I would say that in a household housing a traditional family (i.e. male, female and possibly kids) the adult male in the house is generally going to be the physically strongest in the household, therefore domestic violence against the said male would be somewhat difficult to inflict. Now i reckon that if the male is intially attacked in a domestic dispute, the result will 99/100 be that the adult male will get the better of the attacker (whether it be a child or a female). And in a situation where the male instigates the attacks, 99/100 the male will also get the better of their juvenile or female victim. So by my made up statisitics, 198/200 of the time that there is domestic violence, the male isnt going to be the one that is worse off and therefore would not be reporting himself as a victim domestic violence. I dont think that this is a "sexist" issue by any stretch of the imagination, yet the feminists jump on these stats to make their case. The fact is that males are physically stronger nothing more nothing less.

      The statistics quoted here are in relation to "domesitc violence". I could looks at the stats of "pub violence", "violence in sports", "street violence", "gang violence" and im sure that males would be over represented.

      Now, if someone could get be the statistics for victims of violence in general, i would be very interested to see which gender is represented in higher numbers. And i suspect i already know who it would be.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 1:25PM
    • JB88, I am also a lawyer and I work with both victims of family violence and offenders. Your defination of family violence is incorrect. The legislation incorporates many other types of violence than physical.

      It is absurd to say that if a male is physically attacked and defends himself such that a woman is injured or terrified, that somehow he is the victim. If that is the case, then he can argue self defence if he is charged with assault. I have seen quite a few men try to do that. In fact, I had a male tell me recently that he believed he had a defence of self-defence because he had to ward his mother off. This was his elderly mother who punched him once in the arm and promptly received a black eye and badly bruised arms as her 6' son 'defended' himself.

      Those are the sorts of incidents I see often - a stupid argument, often fuelled by alcohol or drug use, an argument esculates and the male lashes out in a way that is totally out of proportion to the incident. Then of course there are the men who just do not believe that a woman has the right to say no. If you don't think that being constantly phoned, texted, emailed and blackmailed and threatened via facebook is violence, you need to have a little think about how you'd like it.

      Of course men are over-represented in violent crime in the streets. The fact that most men are assaulted in public places and most women in private or domestic situtations clearly reflects where people socialise and what they do in their public and private lives.

      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 2:34PM
    • @vj. I am not a lawyer and my definition may not be correct, however that doesnt really take away from my point and your comment doesnt really say anything disprove anything i said. I dont dispute that anything you say occurs.

      My point is that it is very difficult for a male to be the victim of domestic violence, simply because there is genreally no one in a household that can put the male in a position where he has no option but go to the authorities. How many males do you think would report their wives or children to the authorties when they hit them? Remember, the statistics only represent voilence which is REPORTED

      Date and time
      August 22, 2012, 2:48PM
  • I'm 40 and pretty much every one of my mates agrees, that we have no idea what women are whinging about. Things have been more than equal as long as any of us can remember. There is no conspiracy against women. It's utter nonsense. You say it's rubbish, well just as many of us feel the same about waffle like above. Until you tempter your accusations you will never receive the kind of support you seem to expect.
    You want to stop the comparisons of different problems? Stop saying women have it worse, and accept all of the issues for both sides as being valid, and also learn to understand many of them are just symptoms of the nature of humans.
    Men do cop a raw deal, especially when women are playing the victim. Women cop a raw deal when men are dismissive of them. Feminism often seems hypocritical by ignoring men in exactly they way they insist is unreasonable treatment for women.

    Date and time
    August 22, 2012, 10:20AM

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