Melbourne Men’s Rights gathering an
September 23, 2014
On Saturday, September 13, 2014, at around lunchtime,
two sleep-deprived and nervous but also excited and hopeful
men made their way into Melbourne’s historic Young & Jackson
Hotel, ordered a pint of Guinness each, found a table in the
quietest corner of the back bar, and sat down to wait.
These two men were myself (Tom Voltz) and Adrian Johnson,
co-founders of Men’s Rights Sydney, and we were there to
take part in the first regional gathering of MHRAs to take
place under the banner of our newly launched national
umbrella group, Men’s Rights Australia.
We were sleep-deprived because we had been up doing
research for a future project until 1:30 a.m. the night
before and had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the first
flight from Sydney to Melbourne; we were nervous because
we weren’t sure how many, if any, would show up; and we were
hopeful because if things went well it would really
knock Men’s Rights Activism in Australia up a notch,spice
One by one, over the next hour, a series of men with
unfamiliar faces but familiar names and/or voices approached
the table, introduced themselves, and sat down to chat.
People who went by names like Nemo, Karma MGTOW, Jim
Muldoon, Bane666au, and
a bunch of others, they all started to arrive, and with each
arrival our nervousness dissipated and our excitement grew.
We even attempted to get James Huff to join the party via
Skype, but the complications inherent with mobile Wi-Fi
hotspots meant that we only managed to achieve that for
about three-quarters of a second before it crashed in a
heap. Sorry, James, we tried!
We started the meeting with a brief round of
introductions and a short explanation from myself about what
the broad goals of the meeting were and why we had gone to
the trouble and expense of setting it all up, but
this formal beginning didn’t last long. In almost no time at
all we had all clustered into groups of two to six and were
all yammering away like we had all known one another for
years. It was incredible how well everyone seemed to get on
and how naturally and easily the conversations started.
When we first conceived of this meeting way back in
March, we had no idea whether anyone would be interested in
a meeting like this so we scoured as many men’s rights
blogs, forums, websites, and friends of friends as we could,
in an attempt to find as many people as possible who may be
interested in coming.
Over the course of a few months, to our surprise, we
found a total of 23 people that we either knew, or strongly
suspected, lived in or near Melbourne, much more than we had
initially reckoned on. After contacting this 23, 17 replied,
16 expressed interest, and 13 said they were definitely
coming. We had a couple of no-shows and one person who had
originally declined change his mind so, in the end, we had
an even dozen attendees. Given how few MHRAs exist in
Melbourne and how difficult it is to get people to leave the
cocoon of their Internet-connected homes and come out for
anything these days, we reckon that’s not too shabby.
One of the primary reasons for this meeting was to
attempt to suggest and assist any interested parties
in setting up a regional men’s rights group in Melbourne
that would operate both independently, in their local area,
and under the umbrella of Men’s Rights Australia for
national issues, much in the same vein as Men’s Rights
Sydney currently operates. Also on the agenda was discussion
about the way the Men’s Rights Australia umbrella
group would operate, possible methods of taking formal
political action on behalf of men and boys in Australia, and
discussion of a formal list of guidelines, best practice,
and good strategies and tactics to use when conducting
activism under the name of Men’s Rights Australia.
I am happy to be able to say that all of this, and more,
was achieved and that we hope to be able to announce the
launch of Men’s Rights Melbourne in the near future.
However, despite the practical work we accomplished, the
most gratifying part for us was simply having an opportunity
to meet face to face with a group of activists who we had
previously only known online and get to know them in person.
The time and expense involved in an operation like this was
not insignificant, but both myself and Adrian agree that we
took away at least as much as we put into it, so we consider
it time and money well spent.
The day ended pleasantly enough with a few of us
stragglers and hangers-on, still madly yammering away at one
another, retiring to a nearby Chinese restaurant for dinner
before saying our final farewells. Adrian and I, completely
exhausted after a 15-hour day on only three hours of sleep
then made the slow trek back to our hotel, intent on falling
straight into our beds, only to find that we were so buzzed
by the meeting’s success that sleep eluded us. A thorough
postmortem, a couple of James Bond movies, and a pizza soon
solved that little problem, though. Thank god for late
All in all it was a huge success. We achieved everything
we had aimed to achieve and had a great time in the process.
However, this is not the end, far from it. In fact,
it’s just the beginning. We intend to repeat this process
all over Australia, eventually setting up a group in each
capital city that will operate independently locally and
nationally, under the combined banner of Men’s Rights
Australia. It’s an ambitious goal, but we are
determined to achieve it.
Finally, we want to say a huge thanks to all of you who
made the effort to show up and take part in this meetup, and
especially to those of you who have volunteered to set up
and run Men’s Rights Melbourne. Without you, none of this
would have been a success. We look forward to keeping in
touch with you all on a regular basis and, with any luck,
working with you on behalf of Australian men and boys for a
long time to come.