Meninist…Feminist – Can’t We All Just Agree On Equality?

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Image credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

One of the latest additions to the socio-political furore we call the 21st Century is the ‘Meninist’ movement. It’s a seemingly satirical effort that nevertheless has left everyone wondering whether it marks the beginnings of a serious men’s movement, or just a means of lightly mocking the perceived runaway train that is online feminism. Or maybe it’s even mocking the patriarchy? Who knows. But it certainly seems to be getting critics all flustered.

First, a bit of history. The so called meninist movement began over a year ago with an article published on feminist.com that heralded it as ‘equality for all.’ This in reality, supports the feminist notion of equality, though also provided a platform for the hashtag #MeninistTwitter (set up by Ti Balogun) as a form of ‘satire’ against ‘the way feminists express themselves, which is a turn-off’. Nice.

But this is where the problems lie. A serious article claiming that meninism means equality leads us to the very heart of the issue – if there needs to be separate parties for equality for men and for women then we are missing the point of equality.
Alternatively if meninism is just a way of pointing fun at the feminist movement then this creates even more problems. Feminism is becoming accessible to more and more people as a direct result of the internet, yet it is hindered every time someone reads an article that derides it. People should be proud of supporting a cause that seeks to secure a future where there are equal opportunities for everyone, yet belittling feminism to over 650,000 Twitter followers, means that’s 650,000 more people who might take it less seriously.

Some of the points made by @meninisttweet are genuinely well meaning – why should we be able to objectify men without question? There’s a whole campaign with 40,000 followers that say no to page three, but as far as I know there has been no such backlash against Heat magazine’s ‘Torso of the Week’. Do women really feel that objectifying men is ok just because their ancestors enforced the patriarchy? Equality has to mean ‘everyone is equal right now’ not ‘everyone is equal providing we can still hold the past against you’.

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Image credit: www.twitter.com/meninist

Yet on the other hand some of the #meninist views are nothing short of disturbing – claiming that pushing a women down the stairs as a means of birth control is not only a joke in very poor taste, but also leaves meninism open to being labelled as ‘hateful’ and ‘anti-woman’. Having this kind of stigma attached to it is hardly going to help the cause. There is nothing more wonderful than a male feminist: rather than hopping on board with the patriarchy and running with, the male feminist instead strives for the balance and equality between men and women.

We live in a world where personal opinion is highly valued on the far-reaching platform of social media; for every well-intentioned meninist, there is someone who uses it to mock women. Yet, if we dismissed every new movement based on comments made by the odd few attached to it by the finest thread, then we would have to dismiss feminism too, and democracy for that matter – and any other idea throughout history. The whole debate essentially comes down to the wording: separating equality into men and women just serves to segregate us even further, with pigeon-hole images of testosterone fuelled cave-men and bra burning she-devils desperate to castrate all men. This is why the #heforshe campaign heralded by Emma Watson has gained so much momentum. She breaks it down the simplest form – men and women should be treated the same, no questions – perhaps a movement we could all get on board with?

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Image credit: www.twitter.com/barnesgunner

 

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Discussion3 Comments

  1. avatar

    The problem is the impression among many people (mostly men, it must be said) that feminism is some kind of insidious force, hell-bent on overturning the entire social order and making men into inferior beings in revenge for our historic domination.

    This is, of course, utter rubbish – or rather, it is the view of a mere handful of lunatics on the fringes of the feminist movement, and should be dismissed as such. But the trouble with fringe elements is that they tend to be pretty vocal, and this kind of view has somehow become the main way in which a large number of men view feminism as a whole.

    The situation is analogous to the socialist movement – the word ‘socialist’ has been dirtied by its association with Stalin, Mao and others on the fringes. It is now difficult in mainstream political circles to declare yourself a socialist. ‘Feminist’ has now acquired similarly negative connotations; if, during a conversation with a person I had not met before, they declared themselves a ‘feminist’, I must admit that this would affect my forming opinion of them, probably negatively.

    This is patently ludicrous, since I would consider myself a feminist as well, but the connotations of the term become so prevalent in society that they are internalised even against our own will. This is one of the most significant problems the campaign for gender equality faces – one of branding. You see it right there – gender equality sounds much nicer than feminism, even though it means the exact same thing.

    Simultaneously, to capitulate to this and re-brand the movement would be an admission of failure which I know many would find intolerable. I also dislike the idea of it – it seems too much like giving in to misogyny. But where to go from here? Is it really possible to eradicate the connotations entirely? The only way to do so, surely, is to combat them at source.

    And so, therefore, I come in my usual roundabout way to this point: perhaps the emergence of a defined ‘meninist’ movement is not necessarily a bad thing. To challenge a nebulous anti-feminism, existent in isolated pockets across society and throughout the web, is impossible. To challenge a more coherent group, to which anti-feminists are likely to attach themselves, is far easier.

    And there is a lovely comment essay for you all to TLDR ;). Enjoy.

  2. avatar

    You do realize that #HeForShe has nothing to do with addressing gender in an egalitarian fashion?

    “Now it’s time to unify our efforts. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity [men] in support of the other half of humanity [women], for the benefit of all.”

    It’s not a change in tact, it’s just asking more men to be gender-feminists. It has no interest in addressing men’s issues.

    Dan Murphey
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    “The HeForShe Commitment;
    Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.”

    Equality for all! Woo! Inaction against all violence and discrimination faced by men and boys! Take their foreskins! Beat them! Lock them in prison! She raped him? Lucky Guy! HEFORSHE! HE. FOR. SHE!!!

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