Since I feel that there's a couple good points to be had from the exchange..
Let's see if you agree... (quoted lines are from the OP)
"What I think is great (really, I mean that) is how perfectly this article illustrates how men and women have been stuck in a centuries-old patriarchal system that harms both sexes. From the tone of the article, I’m sure it’s unintentional, but it is there."
What most MRAs object to here is not that there are centuries-old sex-roles, but that they are "patriarchal". This mainly sprouts from a general tendency to regard Patriarchy Theory as rather thinly veiled man-hate "justified" by a made-up history, twisted via the exclusion of the male viewpoint almost entirely. An opinion I happen to share.
"This system tells us that “real men” are expected to act a certain way: tough, macho, strong."
The people I hear using the phrase "real man" are nearly universally both women, and feminists. More on this in a bit...
"When the patriarchal system says that women are the tender caregivers and not men, is it really any wonder why the courts are biased in favor of giving women child custody?"
Actually, back a few years ago, when women were "owned" (you know, The Patriarchy), child custody was nearly universally granted to men, not women (this was because the children were legally considered his property, I know). That alone makes your contention that it's head-patting condescension leading to this imbalance tenuous at the very best. You also conveniently ignore such Feminist inspired (and implemented) gems as "no fault Divorce", the Duluth Model (only men abuse, only women are victims) - and the sorry state of the DV industry as a result - which consistently bombards the public with messages that men are dangerous, paedophiles, and incompetent parents at best. We also talk about "father figures" in children's lives as if they're somehow equal with "father"...when do we say "mother figure"?
ALL of that, and more, factors quite heavily into the Family Court decisions, of that you can be quite sure...
"Both men and women should be allowed to choose for themselves what they want, not have it dictated to them by an oppressive system."
On this, we both most definitely agree. Enthusiastically on my part, and on many others.
We all know there's no putting toothpaste back in the tube, and many of us would NEVER choose that path if given the option. What seems to rub you guys the wrong way is our motivations differ strongly on which changes should take place.
You seem to want men to be either exactly where they are now, or even more feminised. This betrays strong sexism, as a stance, by assuming "female" quite literally equals "superior"...what else can the goal of an ideal be? Feminists may talk of Patriarchy...we talk of Feminism. We don't want to roll back the clock at all. We don't want "helpless" housewives (by and large...we ARE international in scope after all), we want to get rid of the expectations men have placed on them...
If you want to get a better idea of what the MRM is, look at Feminism in the very early 60s. I mean that. To us, you look exactly like a slave owner asking another what the slaves are complaining for, they're fed and sheltered after all.... And no, that is not an exaggeration in most cases.
Which means OUR idea of an "oppressive system" and YOUR idea of an "oppressive system" will differ signifigantly, both in the definition of "oppressive" and the changes in the system desired.
That's the long of it.
The short of it, is we demand literal equal protection under the law, equal rights (including the right to parental self determination you hold so dear), and an end to systemic discrimination against men. That might sound familiar to you since it's nearly identical to early feminist goals, and most of the discrimination in place was put there by feminist ideologues to correct "past injustice" and "promote empowerment".
The results are in...you're ahead. Now it's time to give up the special considerations.
"The machinations of a system don’t have agency- it’s like blaming god for burning down a wooden house after a storm."
That's the "only following orders" approach in reverse. Systems are made up of people. Systems are defined in part by commonality. For example, what makes you a feminist? (It's a rhetorical question, I know you're all completely different from each other). There HAS to be commonalities, or the definition is rendered meaningless.
We have identified many of those commonalities to not only reside in feminist rhetoric, but also in legal text, etc. In my own Province, the "task force" looking into the poor performance of boys in Education BEGAN their working paper with the declaration that the whole proceedings were to be carried out in light of their "commitment to Feminist Principles" (and no, I'm not making that up). Needless to say, the report found that boys were the problem, and more socialization (read: feminisation) was needed to help them change to fit the current system....
But hey, Feminist ideology doesn't oppress men...People do.
"But instead of playing the who is really oppressed or who is really privileged games, it makes tons more sense to be working together to dismantle a system that has institutionalized the notion that women should be the delicate protected and the men the macho protectors."
I find this bit hilarious. I've been around for a long time, on BBS's, then blogs and forums. I've interacted with feminists online for nearly 15 years... Know what?
Until about a year ago, none of you had any time for us. ...Told us that if we had problems as men, then men should go about fixing it...why should women be involved...?
So, we went off and started doing stuff, and getting more effective, and now we get vilified for speaking up for ourselves (as if I didn't know it's because what we're saying doesn't agree with what you THINK we should be fighting against - a perfect example of how Feminism can NEVER be of benefit to men). Strangely, over the years I've not seen a whole lot of Feminists who've done much for men. In fact, given the goals MRAs have, I think we were quite right in being a tad perplexed at why Feminists told us off in the beginning. Now that we understand you better, it's not surprising at all that Feminist posts at our sites consist largely of ad hominem attacks, and an unyielding desire to maintain the status quo.
Hell, we even have a dictionary to classify the various tactics used.
It's the last 4 pages in the first issue of the 'zine I do, called the Catalog of Anti-Male Shaming Tactics. Getting back to that bit about telling men to be "real men", or calling them "gay", you know, forcing those "rigid gender roles" on men.... Wanna guess what over 90% of the feminists posting are saying?
As MRAs, we believe Feminism has a LOT to answer for. That's something that is central to the MRM, in fact, and many of us define ourselves as "counter-feminists" instead...which implies exactly what it means...once the damage wrought by Feminism on men -and society- is fixed, we're gone. This is a reactionary movement, one that cannot exist with nothing to react too. What you would call a "backlash".
But, if any of you ever actually cared to listen, you might be a little shocked at what men are deciding for themselves.
The posting continues: