LONDON - JUNE 8: 'Fathers for Justice' campaigners stand atop Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman's home on June 8, 2008 in south London. Picture Credit: William Wintercross/Getty Images

Fake feminists are the real MRAs

The feminist fix: Don’t believe the dudebros who claim to be on women’s side, but want to take away sex-based rights

Artillery Row

“Fake feminists are the real MRAs” is the latest article in Julie Bindel’s online column for The Critic, “The feminist fix”, which explores feminism’s answer to today’s challenges. The previous article, on the anti-women abuses of social services, can be read here.

There I was, innocently dropping male frogs into my witch’s cauldron at the weekend when an email from the newly launched Children & Family Party (CFP) hit my inbox. I clicked on the link to view the local election manifesto — with a heavy emphasis on the first syllable — and remembered how hilarious men’s rights activists (MRAs) used to be when they simply ranted on about women being inferior, selfish bitches. I look back on the likes of Families Need Fathers, and their superhero-clad successors, Fathers for Justice, with a kind of bemused nostalgia.

The poster family on CFP’s launch materials look like a cross between a relaunch of the Aryan Race Society and a teeth-whitening promo you’d expect to see at the dentist’s office. At the helm of CFP is Mike Buchanan, formerly the founder of the Anti-Feminism League in 2012, replaced the following year by the superbly named, Justice for Men and Boys (and the Women Who Love Them).

For men like Buchanan, feminists are mad, bad and dangerous

Proudly describing himself as an anti-feminist men’s rights activist, Buchanan is a hard-core hater of any woman who does not identify as a doormat. He once worked as a consultant for the Conservative Party but left in 2009 after Cameron announced his approval of all-women shortlists for selecting parliamentary candidates; Buchanan considered Cameron “relentlessly pro-female and anti-male”.

I am neither funny nor clever enough to parody the contents of this launch video, but handily, CFP has saved me the task by doing it itself.

We hear of the genocide of unborn children (abortion) — an issue, Buchanan tells us, that is “close to the dark hearts of feminists”. Over 10 million unborn children have been killed since the passing of the Abortion Act. To solve this problem, the time limit (currently set at 24 weeks) should be reduced to 13. But he would advise that wall-to-wall contraception be available, and that sexually active women should take monthly pregnancy tests as a matter of course. 

“You pay for those killings as a taxpayer,” says Buchanan, before going into a rant about rates of foetal alcohol syndrome disorder. “The government should make the drinking of alcohol whilst knowingly pregnant a criminal offence.” 

Laws against female genital mutilation (FGM) should be amended to make it gender neutral to give males the same right to bodily autonomy. It should be obvious that snipping some loose skin off a knob is much worse than hacking off the clitoris and labia before stitching the whole thing up. 

The MRAs of today are far more pernicious and persuasive

Boys underperform in school compared to their female counterparts (a quick thought here: if the curriculum included intimate knowledge of Pornhub’s content, these lads may well succeed in at least one module). This, we are informed, is down to the exodus of male teachers and headteachers. Apparently, when men left the profession, they had to be replaced with two females, because these silly girls can’t handle classes on their own. “It takes two women to educate children less well than one man and it costs a lot more money.”

Buchanan and his merry mob of misogynists will never have any sway, let alone get elected, because it is clear to any right-minded, vaguely intelligent person that they are spouting a load of lies and misinformation. They provide the odd belly laugh but will never change hearts and minds. The only supporters they have are other dyed-in-the-wool womanhaters and their female foot soldiers.

But the MRAs of today are far more pernicious and persuasive. They present as progressive but are more dangerous than the Buchanans of this world. These bearded, smug dudebros claim to be feminists; they support abortion rights because it suits them to not have to worry about ending up being chased by CafCass when they can barely afford to buy a new folding electric bike. 

As for FGM, these wolves in sheep’s clothing tend towards the cultural relativist line and call it “cutting”, explaining over glasses of Rioja that it is “Islamophobic” to speak out against it. 

They would never dream of arguing that women have “too many rights” or that men have ended up drawing the short straw, but, whilst spouting the mantra “Trans women are women!” call for us to ditch our rights and replace them with gender identity. These men don’t claim that women who report domestic abuse or rape are lying little minxes — rather, they tell us we lie about being at risk by men posing as women in female-only spaces (for example, when Owen Jones claimed that the convicted sexual predator at the centre of the WiSpa incident was an innocent transwoman, and the woman who reported them a vicious transphobe). 

For men like Buchanan, feminists are mad, bad and dangerous. For the modern dudebro, feminists are also mad, bad and dangerous. The feminist fix for today’s MRAs? Buchanan is nothing to worry about; it’s the dudebros that need bringing down.

Julie Bindel’s latest book, Feminism for Women: The Real Route to Liberation, was published in September 2021.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover