Yes, the article was published two years ago. The problem still exists, even here on the Vine.
Men's rights activism has been in the undercurrent of American culture since at least the 1970s and has been largely explicit in its role as a backlash against feminism. The movement has neither a central platform nor any acclimated leaders, but the central themes are consistent: It is men, not women, who are oppressed. Men are required to enter the selective service; women are immune. Men typically lose their children in otherwise equal custody disputes. Men are expected to work dangerous and difficult jobs in construction and agriculture. Beyond these overt disadvantages, they claim more subtle systemic disrespect from a culture increasingly focused on what they take to be feminine values, from emotional expressiveness to total sexual and reproductive liberation. When they vary, it is in extremity, with some merely decrying the "anti-male" attitude of feminism and others seeking, for example, to reverse the criminalization of marital rape.
When I met him, Max lived in the River North neighborhood of Chicago. River North is — at 70 percent white in a city where the white population is 32 percent and declining — one of the few places one can live in the Chicago where it is still possible to avoid even a vague awareness of the city's racial and cultural dynamics. I found Max on Reddit, on a forum largely devoted to making fun of teenage leftists on Tumblr. It was only good luck that he lived in my city and was willing to talk.
In the popular imagination, men's rights activists are "neckbeards": morbidly obese basement dwellers with a suspect affection for My Little Pony. But Max is remarkably unassuming in appearance, handsome enough and normally tall; equally imaginable in board shorts and a snapback as he is in the sort of graduation suit one wears to a first post-collegiate interview downtown. He was raised in St. Louis, one of two children. (He has a brother, younger: "He goes to school in Seattle. Kind of a hippie.") His parents are alive and married. Before Max was born, his father was a unionized carpenter in Newark, New Jersey, part of a long line of the same until the 1980s came around and Max Sr. followed the dawn of management consultancy into a white-collar job and the Midwest suburbs. When Max came to Chicago in 2006, it was for college ("not the first in my family to go to college but the first to go at the normal time" — that is, at age 18). Four years after graduating, he has a solid entry-level job at an area financial institution. "Plenty of women work there," he offers in the middle of a preliminary biographical rundown. "They're getting paid the same as me." We had not yet begun discussing politics.
Max fits in with the crowd at the faux-Mexican bar where we spend several nights in August. Eight-dollar tequila shots; polo shirts tucked in or dress shirts tucked out of pre-faded jeans; groups of guests emitting an oscillating screech from every booth. "This is just, like, my neighborhood place," he tells me the first time we walk in the door. Not the kind of spot he'd "hit up" on a Friday, or where he'd look for what he insists on calling "action."
"These girls here are a little ... eh," he said. "Could be fun. Definitely annoying." (Distinguishing them from the similarly well-highlighted, halter-topped women he shows me on Facebook as examples of what he's "into" requires some capacity for discernment I do not possess.)