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’.
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?