I was talking about gender equality and civil rights with someone this morning, and was amused to hear one young woman (she said she was 21 or thereabouts) tell me that the reason women in the United States needed Feminism was so that, one day in the future when men pulled their heads out of their asses and stopped being misogynistic schmucks (I am paraphrasing... she didn't use the word "schmuck", she used the word 'fuckheads'), women might actually begin to enjoy equal rights with men.
She scoffed at the idea that they already do. Seriously, she laughed at me for saying such an "obviously incorrect" thing, and blamed my "inherent misogyny" on not understanding how oppressed and downtrodden women in the United States truly were.
As you can imagine, when I pointed out that American women actually enjoyed more civil rights than American men, she was so outraged and offended that she started insulting me. Finally, one of the more level-headed people stepped and demanded that I justify that statement by explaining, in detail, just what the supposed "rights" women had that men didn't. She was absolutely snide when making this demand, too, as if she expected me to slink away in shame now that I'd been put on the spot.
The problem for her being I never make up claims I can't back up with evidence. When I provided it, and explained what I mean, Ms. Insults just kept calling me a "motherfucking shithead MRA misogynist", while Ms. Snide started backpedalling for all she was worth, trying very hard to justify why she thought it was not only acceptable, but right, just, and proper that women have access to more civil rights than men, all the while trying to do so in a manner that didn't have her come off as an anti-male sexist.
She failed, by the way. The best you can say is that she's not actively advocating that men be enslaved, but anything less than slavery would be okay with her.
So anyway, here are the civil rights that women have that men just don't.
1. The right to not have their genitals mutilated against their will.
In the United States, the cutting of female genitalia for anything other than necessary medical treatments, without the consent of the female in question, is against Federal law. Cutting male genitalia, on the other hand, is a protected religious tradition. And in most cases, young boys don't get any say in it at all. I certainly didn't.
The official Feminist party line on this issue is that female genital mutilation is an order of magnitude more brutal and nasty than male genital mutilation, and this is why one is illegal and the other is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. You'll excuse me if I find "its only slightly traumatic and brutal" unconvincing. Its sort of like saying that having your pinky, ring, and middle fingers cut off is better than having your entire hand cut off, because at least you have two fingers and a thumb left.
Besides, "not as brutal" is irrelevant to the fact that women and girls have the right to not have someone else decide to mutilate their genitalia, while men don't.
2. Women have the right to vote free of charge. Men have to agree to potentially be drafted, fight, and die for their country in order to vote.
All women need to do to to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to cast a ballot in an election is reach the age of 18 years. Men, on the other hand, may not utilize this most basic of civil rights without first signing up with the Selective Service administration. By doing so, they agree that, at the discretion of the Federal government, they will take up arms and potentially die to defend our way of life. They agree to be drafted. Men are only allowed to vote if, and only if, they agree to serve themselves up as a sacrifice in the defense of the American way of life.
Women have no such obligation. They get to vote for free. In point of fact, they get to vote for the self-same government that can potentially round up the men and send them to their deaths. They get to vote without volunteering to die. Men don't.
3. Women have the right to determine when and under what circumstances they will become parents.
Basically, when it comes to absolving themselves of the legal, moral, and social responsibilities of parenthood, women have three options. They may abort the child before it is born. They may surrender the child for adoption. And they may in most jurisdictions surrender the child under Safe Haven laws. In all three cases, they are under no legal obligation to notify the father of the child that the baby ever existed.
Women simply cannot be forced or coerced into parenthood. Ever.
Men, on the other hand, have no such choices. They can be forced into supporting a woman's reproductive choices with no actual say in how those choices are made. In a majority of the states, in fact, men can be forced into financial responsibility for children whom they did not actually biologically father, because the mother of the child is allowed to name ANY MAN SHE CHOOSES as the child's father, and once the man's name is listed on the birth certificate, he is legally and financially responsible for the child, permanently.
Paternity fraud is not only legal, its protected by law.
In absolutely no states is the man allowed to absolve himself of the legal, moral, and social responsibilities of parenthood without the express consent of the child's mother. Women have the right to choose to be parents. Men do not.
4. Women have their status as nurturing parents assumed, instead of having to prove such status.
Current child custody laws in every single state assume one primary caregiver (almost always the mother) and one secondary caregiver (almost always the father). In order to win equal or shared custody, one of two things must happen. First, the mother of the child must voluntarily abandon her custody claim. Or, the more common option, the man must go to court and engage in a bloody fight to prove that he is just as fit a parent as the mother (who is automatically assumed to be a fit parent unless clear and convincing evidence can be provided showing she's not).
It is very difficult to prove parental fitness, not to mention expensive. The legal presumption of shared parenting upon divorce -- the idea that a child has a legal right to have an equal relationship with both of its parents following a divorce -- has been actively fought by the National Organization for Women and many other feminist organizations who know that women will pretty much always get custody of the kids under the current laws.
The truth is, men can be just as caring and nurturing to their kids as women are. Despite this, the defacto result of primary/secondary caregiver custody laws is that women have a legal right to be assumed a fit parent. Men don't.
5. Women have the right to call it rape when they are forced or coerced into sex.
For years, the official definition of rape used by the FBI in their crime statistic reports specifically identified the crime as something men did to women. The original definition of rape specifically excluded the possibility that a man could ever be raped.
The definition was updated, but unfortunately the new definition, while allowing for the minority of male rape victims who were raped by men, specifically excluded the majority of male rape victims: those who were raped by women. The FBI did this by retaining the "penetration" clause. According to the FBI, if you did not experience penetration of any of your "orifices", you were not raped.
The FBI doesn't consider a man being forced or coerced to penetrate a woman against his will to be rape, and thus such acts are not included in the national rape statistics. These numbers are collected separately under the header "made to penetrate," and includes all incidences in which a man was coerced, tricked, bullied, or outright threatened into having sex with a woman he otherwise wouldn't have.
The National Intimiate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey shows that these two "types" of sexual assault happen at the same rate. In 2013, 1.27 million women reported being raped, while 1.26 million men reported being "made to penetrate".
Why does this matter, you ask? I ask in return, have you not been paying attention?
The media is aflame with stories about how we live in a "rape culture" in which all women live in constant terror of being raped by men. A culture in which all men are animals just waiting for a chance to rape someone. Rape rape rape rape rape. Men do it to women, women are nothing but victims...
Except the "made to penetrate" numbers (and lets be honest, folks, forced sex is rape and I don't give a shit what the FBI says... these men were raped by women) say that its not just women. Rape is not a "threat to women", but rather a "threat to humans."
Despite insisting that Feminism is all about equality and freedom for everyone and rainbows and puppies and chocolate chip cookies, the facts suggest something quite different. By not including men in the rape statistics, the numbers are being manipulated for political advantage. And millions of men aren't getting the help they need because the trauma they suffered isn't being treated seriously.
That's why its important.