America Tonight

Men's rights activist: Feminists have used rape 'as a scam'

Robert O'Hara of A Voice for Men explains the beliefs of the growing men'€™s rights movement.

WASHINGTON – Elliot Rodger’s shooting rampage has attracted a lot more attention to the “manosphere,” a corner of the Web that’s been growing for years. Rodger was active in the pick-up artist (PUA) arm of this online universe, where men swap dating tips and rant against women. Other websites, blogs and forums focus on men’s rights and what they consider the destructive influence of feminism. 

To better understand the contours of the “manosphere,” America Tonight sat down last week with Robert O’Hara, a full-time pedicab driver in Washington, D.C., who moonlights as a radio show host and U.S. news director of the website A Voice for Men. The site’s stated mission is to “denounce the institution of marriage as unsafe and unsuitable for modern men,” “educate men and boys about the threats they face in feminist governance,” “push for an end to rape hysteria” and “promote a culture that values equal treatment under the law for all human beings.” Questions and answers have been edited for space and clarity.

A screenshot from A Voice For Men's website

How long has A Voice for Men been around?

A Voice for Men started as more or less a personal blog for Paul Elam. It has been in existence for five years. In the past three years, however, it’s grown into a phenomenon… We get about, right now, on average, 30,000 hits a day.

How did you get interested in men’s rights?

I worked for a time in higher education and as an administrator I saw what was going on with male students. As many people are aware, there’s a crisis with men and boys in education… I saw a lot of instances where male students were discriminated against administratively, and the environment for males in higher education is caustic.

And also… really my entire adult life, I’ve always had a friend going through the process of divorce. And what happens to men when they get divorced, and what happens in custody battles, is just incredibly destructive… Once you start seeing these things for how they are, you start to catch on to other things about how men are discriminated against and treated poorly in our society. 

The idea that men kind of run the show – this patriarchy theory – and that we’re having a big huge party at the expense of women is really a hateful idea.

Robert O'Hara

What is the mission of A Voice for Men?

It is primarily a source of commentary and news. It is, as its name implies, a place where men can find their voice. In our society, men aren’t really allowed to talk about their problems – for a lot of reasons.

We also want to challenge the media environment. It seems that our opponents – feminists – have a stranglehold on the media and the entire discourse about gender relations and gender issues. And we seek to basically challenge that. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it.

What do you mean by a stranglehold on the media?

The media tends to ignore things. There’s a huge feminist influence in the media and the events of last week have proven this with the whole Elliot Rodger thing, the rash of yellow journalism has just been appalling. They’ve used it in a very cynical way to paint the men’s rights movement as a bunch of crazy psychopaths who hate women and want to kill them… and they do this in order to basically silence us and keep us from getting our message across.

A still from Elliot Rodger's YouTube video, where he explains the plans for his deadly rampage in "retribution" against female college students who wouldn't sleep with him.

The shootings in Santa Barbara opened up a big conversation about male entitlement, and how that affects women’s lives. What do you think about that idea?

The idea of male entitlement is almost entirely a fabrication of feminist ideology. The idea that men kind of run the show – this patriarchy theory – and that we’re having a big huge party at the expense of women is really a hateful idea. And while [Rodger] clearly felt entitled, he was not your typical male. And anybody who reads his manifesto can see that. The guy was just a mad man. 

So what do you think about the PUA community that Elliot Rodger was a part of?

Pick-up artists, they believe in this magical thing called “game.” And if only you had game, then your whole life would be great. You can have sex with any woman you want, everyone’s going to love you, your boss is going to love you, you’re going to make more money. And they honestly believe this. They’re deluded people. 

As a men’s rights activist, how would you advise a man who’s young and struggling with women?  

First thing is take care of yourself and realize that when you’re engaging in the current culture that we’re in and you’re a male and you’re looking for a relationship or when you’re engaged in a relationship with a woman, you are automatically put at some social and legal disadvantages. And you need to learn what those are and you should try to safeguard yourself from them.

I love women. My mom is a woman.

Robert O'Hara

How should a man conduct himself in a relationship?

Make sure that you get in return what you offer in a relationship. Everything should be even… Many men like myself – I’m not married, never been married, never will be married – I’m perfectly happy being a bachelor. It’s a glorious existence… This whole traditional idea of marriage, it’s a very narrow definition. It’s not something I think men should espouse to, this idea that I’m going to be a husband and a provider and a protector, you can be so many other things besides that, even if you’re with another person. You can be anything you want to be.

What about sex?

Well, if you’re gay, straight, do whatever you want to do. Consensual sex is great… There’s no doubt that male sexuality has been demonized in our culture. And that’s a real shame. I think that inhibits a lot of men’s sexuality to the extent where it’s not healthy – especially homosexuals, especially gay men.

What’s the men’s rights movement’s position on rape?

False accusations of rape are a serious issue that the men’s rights movement deals with. It’s one of our top issues.

Rape is one of those things… We hear all these silly lies: there’s a rapist behind every corner; all men are potential rapists. Common things you hear over and over again coming out of the mouths of feminists. And the inflated rape statistics, this idea that one in four women in college are going to raped before they graduate, you hear this all the time, it’s just not true. It’s not true.

That’s not to say that sexual assault doesn’t happen. Of course it does. But men who rape because they’re rapists, they rape because they’re criminals, not because they’re men.

When you say the one-in-four statistic isn’t true, what is true?

I don’t have the exact statistics with me right now, but you’ll see it’s usually around 2 percent of women in their lifetime will have some kind of problem with sexual assault. That’s the same as having been mugged or having someone break into your house.

Of course, once is too many… But this is one of those issues that it’s so easy to draw so much hysteria about it because we have this natural inclination to want to protect women, especially from rape, that this whole rape things has been used by feminists to garner political power, lots of it, and money. The whole thing has been used as a scam.

[Editor’s note: A 2011 study of 16,507 adults by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly one in five women had experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes.]

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which normally tracks hate groups like neo-Nazis, has come to look at your group and other websites in the “manosphere” in a similar way. How do you feel about that?

The SPLC, they’re not a credible organization, not like they once were. And I think the whole this of them listing us, or targeting us as a hate group didn’t work out too well for them. It worked out much better for us [in terms of publicity] than it did for them.

Do you hate women?

No, I love women. My mom is a woman. I like women just fine. What I do not like is that we live in a culture and in a legal environment where if you do choose to have a relationship with a woman, it makes things very complicated and oftentimes dangerous.

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter