Looking at the meninist side of things
The year of 2014 saw the rise of a movement that had seemingly been forgotten among other modern issues. Feminism received an increase in popularity last year that took most social media platforms by storm. Despite the immense amount of support for the movement, some opposition has arisen. Specifically, an anti-feminist countermovement called ‘meninism’ has been gaining notoriety for its views.
There is an argument that meninism was created by men who see feminism as a largely anti-male movement. Among this opposition there is a common misconception that society values women above men and that the issues feminists bring up are groundless. Other fallacies about the movement are that all feminists hate men, they do not believe in equality and sexism does not exist in modern culture.
The meninism movement first showed up in 2001 on a then-popular website about feminism called feminist.com. It was used to describe a group of men dedicated to supporting feminism but recently transformed into an anti-feminist movement.
One of the first wide-scale mentions of the anti-feminist version of meninism was during 2013, when the hashtag #MeninistTwitter started trending on Twitter. It originally started as a group of men creating parody posts about the difficulties of being a man in the 21st century. However, as its following increased, followers began to see the posts in a serious light and called themselves “meninists.” The current most popular Twitter account, @MeninistTweet, boasts about 691,000 followers with subject matter ranging from complaints about having to hold the door open for women to generalizations about women’s needs.
Rider Farris, a freshman student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, followed the meninism Twitter during its early stages because of the double standards it pointed out. However, he said now it has gone too far.
“The main thing is that people need to see it as a joke,” Farris said. “Although I do believe that the original things they were posting were pointing out double standards, a lot of it has gone too far. People just need to relax – both guys and girls.”
YouTuber Kat Blaque, whose video about meninists has received over 55,000 views, said she found much at fault with the entire movement.
“[Meninists] are honestly a little scary, because I can’t help but feel, looking at these people, like they’re really missing the point,” Blaque said. “They’re missing that feminism is about equality and that there are many areas where men fit into the discussion on feminism, and they’re criticizing things that feminists talk about constantly.”
Blaque said she has seen satirical posts about male survivors of rape posted by meninist accounts. She said it bothered her to see the perpetuation of ignorance surrounding male victims of rape. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, about 3 percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
In October of 2014, a female gym teacher at a New York City high school was charged with statutory rape for the alleged sexual abuse of her 16-year-old student. Feedback for this crime was mainly in support of the woman, and commenters expressed feelings of jealousy and anger toward the male student. Most of the comments were in support of the gym teacher, claiming that the student was lucky and that she shouldn’t have to go to jail.
It was this type of audience that further fueled the satirical meninism movement. Despite modern meninism being a relatively new concept, men’s rights activists, commonly referred to as MRAs, and the Men’s Rights Movement, referred to as the MRM, have been around before the modern meninist movement. The MRM started due to concern over men being victims of extreme discrimination and is believed to also be a countermovement to feminism.
MRAs have been repeatedly criticized over the years due to their direct opposition to feminist goals. Anger toward MRAs grew to such a point where the MRM organization A Voice for Men was forced to change the location for their conference in June 2014 after it gained so much backlash that the venue demanded they pay $2 million of insurance. There was even a petition that gained about 3,500 signatures, asking the hotel to cancel the event. With A Voice for Men having a reputation as the most well known MRM organization, such a negative response proved how far feminists would go to prevent this from gaining more attention than it already had.
Despite the massive amount of controversy surrounding both the meninism movement and MRAs, it is important to note how new these concepts are. Although meninism is now seen as hateful and anti-feminist, its initial meaning was completely different.
On feminist.com, meninism is described as “a global organization of men that believe in and support the feminist principles of women’s political, social and economic equality.” The website details five goals of meninists, including, “We are opposed to all forms of misogynist behavior and sexist attitudes,” and, “We understand the need for men to participate in the women’s movement and help end 2,000 years of men’s patriarchy.” The description ends by asking all “meninist men” to join them and to submit their own letters of support to the page.
Blaque said she found the shift in meaning to be understandable but still incredibly discouraging.
“It’s now on both ends being seen as a movement for men who don’t understand feminism and probably hate women,” Blaque said. “It’s an unfortunate change, but things change – it’s the nature of language. I think we would need a strong group of men who identify as feminists to use the term again in order for it to be taken back.”
Kalia Kornegay is a freshman journalism major who thinks meninists are from Mars and feminists are from Venus. You can email her at [email protected].