Most of the time, I don’t disagree with what meninism stands for. What scares me is that people are still willing to identify with it. Because they’re often not wrong, just uneducated – and if you’re reading this and getting angry, without really knowing what meninism is, then you’re demonstrating the reason meninism exists. People see the word feminist, or feminist ideas, and get angry without knowing anything else about them. In response, they then might find themselves identifying with the term meninist – the ‘opposite’ of feminism – without realizing that their opinions are often either feminist or misogynistic.
But first, some background. One of the most controversial topics of the moment, meninism actually started as a group of men supporting women’s rights movements back in 2001. It then resurfaced as the hashtag #MeninistTwitter before spiraling into a social movement criticising radical feminism. Those using the hashtag could be divided into three camps – people using it to highlight real problems men are facing, then those using it to criticize feminism, and then finally people joking about ‘meninism’ by suggesting inconsequential ‘problems’ to highlight women’s issues.
The first group, the most prominent group when the hashtag went viral, highlight some incredibly important issues. Domestic violence against men, fathers’ rights and divorce issues, suicide being the largest killer of men under the age of 50… The list goes on. And these need to be addressed. Where they miss the point is by not understanding that feminism stands behind these issues also. They all still hark back to gender inequality, the belittlement of ‘feminine’ traits. Suicide is the largest killer of men because it is not ‘manly’ to connect with other people on an emotional level, to talk through feelings or even acknowledge mental illness. Some people still think a man couldn’t experience domestic violence or rape. This group is fighting for the same ideals feminists rally for. These people are feminists – they just don’t know it.
Those using the hashtag to criticize feminist ideas show the real, fundamental problem with the movement. I’m talking about the ones wearing ‘Meninist’ jumpers or campaigning against the Women’s Marches. Their only point is to oppose feminists, rather than make any social change, and at the same time, they fail to represent men. In these areas, there is often little support for men of color, trans/gay men or male victims of rape. But the most terrifying aspect this movement shows is that people are still willing to identify with an identity that refuses to acknowledge problems with society that have existed for generations. Gender roles, the effects of systematic sexism on mental health, the pay gap. Simple ideas that a little empathy can now show to be out of date. This isn’t Victorian times – the facts are out there, walls are being broken down – making a change doesn’t require the Suffragettes. Meninism allows people to hide misogyny behind the banner of a social movement, much in the same way that outspoken misandrists proclaim themselves feminists and give feminism its man-hating image.
It’s this misunderstanding, the breakneck speed at which opinions can pass around society without their accompanying facts, and the short time people take to post an angry rebuttal which leads to meninism, straight pride, All Lives Matter and a whole host of other unnecessary ideas. Anger that could be channeled towards making things better, rather than returning the 2020s to the 1920s.
If you’re reading this angrily, fully educated on meninism and with your own opinions, regardless of whether you agree with me or not, then thank you. Differing (educated) opinions open conversation, and right now, that’s the way forward.