We Don't Need Meninism
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Politics and Activism

We Don't Need Meninism

A reaction to the most unnecessary political movement of our time.

We Don't Need Meninism

When I was younger, I learned that feminism is a bad word. Feminists were hairy, unattractive man-haters who yelled a lot, and what young girl aims for that image? So I bit my tongue when someone told me I “ran like a girl," and continued in silence when at age 14 a man told me that I “belonged on a pole" as I walked down the street with my parents. It wasn't until high school that I realized that maybe I needed feminism, but I wouldn't say it out loud. I didn't want to “overreact." In college I took a course on Race, Class and Gender and started to research the real meaning of feminism and everything clicked. I have been a feminist my whole life, I just didn't realize it.

Feminism is the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. It is the belief that men and women are inherently equal, and should have the same rights and responsibilities in society. Essentially, I want the same paycheck as a man with the same job as me, but I also expect to pay for my own dinner when we go out to eat. I want paid maternity leave, and I also think my future husband should have paid time off to get to know our child. Nothing about this sounds controversial to me. You can imagine my dismay when I discovered meninism, an online parody of feminism where various social media users tried to point out the hypocrisy of feminists. At first I was amused; most of the posts demonstrated that the writer didn't understand what feminism actually is. As I saw men joke that I should be grateful for attention from them regardless of the context, make rape jokes, and talk about how much they deserved women I became angry and alarmed. Words are words. A bunch of jerks online won’t make a difference so just brush it off, right?

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The ideas behind meninism stem from a very real and serious political group. Men's Rights Activists (MRA's) believe that women are equally or more privileged than men in society. They have global reach and have influenced legislation in the US and around the world. They have fought anti-dowry laws in India and opposed the White Ribbon Movement, a global campaign against domestic violence. Their goal is to “educate men, women, girls and boys about the threats they face in feminist governance and to promote an end to that governance" and achieve “equal treatment" for men and women. They believe that feminists are the root of the problems that men face in the 21st century. People of every gender face obstacles and challenges. Both men and women have faced oppression under abusive government regimes, but when I think the level of control men have had over society for all of history and all of the women in the world who were or are currently oppressed--young girls who have suffered through genital mutilation, women sold into sex slavery by ISIS, rape victims who are told that they were "asking for it" –-I find it hard to imagine that men as a whole have it worse off because of their gender.

Among the claims of MRAs include that men have higher rates of suicide and homelessness and are discriminated against in family courts. They argue that women should be paid less or should not receive paid maternity leave, and that forced conscription (the draft) unfairly targets men. Additionally, they argue that men face increasing pressure to live up to unrealistic physical ideals portrayed by the media, and that male victims of abuse are not taken seriously. I can't say that none of these concerns are valid, but they are absolutely not a result of feminism or the action of women. I could go from issue to issue and tell you why, but this article does a great job of explaining it, and this blog post has some interesting information about the draft.

What MRAs neglect is that feminism already addresses many of their concerns. Feminism is widely misrepresented in the media, especially by major outlets like Fox News, who once claimed that female empowerment is a threat to national security. Some feminists are jerks and some do hate men, but none of that is what feminism is actually about. Feminism is not just for women and it does not just benefit women. It is about challenging the patriarchal nature of the society we live in, a society in which males predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and (in some areas of the world) control of property. It is fairly obvious how being denied decision-making power is oppressive to women, but let’s consider how this system might also be oppressive to men.

In patriarchal society, the ideal man is strong, hyper-masculine, and testosterone fueled. He works to support his family, does not need or accept help, and carries his stress on his shoulders. He makes the decisions for the family and leaves childcare to his wife. While the man is in a position of power, he also is under a great deal of pressure. He must provide, and if he cannot do so entirely on his own he is a failure. He is considered immune from mental health issues, and seeking help from a therapist would make him weak. It is inconceivable that he would ever not want sex, and it is assumed that he looks at all women as sexual prospects rather than people. Outside the role of disciplinarian, he is considered a distant or incompetent father who probably can’t change a diaper. It is very clear to me why this would lead to the problems outlined by MRAs – higher suicide rates because mental illness a perceived weakness, higher homelessness rates because seeking help signifies failure, and media pressure to appear as masculine as possible because it should be evident upon first glance that a man is dominant.

Feminist theory rejects the idea that men need to fit into this box. It says that men are capable of viewing women as people and as equal partners and of being fantastic fathers. It promotes effective communication where all parties are able to be honest about their feelings and discuss them without judgment. It tells men that they are not alone, can ask for help, and do not have to be the sole providers for their families. Feminism says that men are not weak, but human, if they have problems, and that their worth is not based solely on their level of masculinity. Never has feminism stated that emotional, physical, or sexual abuse of a man is acceptable, simply that statistically, it occurs less frequently. It is the patriarchal society we live in that says we should not take male abuse victims seriously because they should have been strong enough to stop the abuse. It is patriarchy that makes male abuse victims a joke. Instead of dealing with the cause of the issues that plague males in the 21st century, MRAs blame feminists for their problems and promote legislation that would further limit and in some cases endanger women. The Men’s Rights movement is an effort to blatantly misconstrue feminism and maintain male privilege, and this is denying men the privilege of acknowledging their humanity.

I need feminism because when a guy grabs me at a party, saying “I have a boyfriend" is more effective than “I don't want you to touch me," because he has no respect for my assertion that my body is my own, but respects that another male has claimed me as his property. I need feminism because a male Walmart employee thought it was acceptable to wolf whistle as I walked past and then follow me into a dark parking lot at 11 p.m., leaving me shaking as I tried to gather myself enough to drive home. I need feminism because even if I get my PhD in biochemistry, statistically I will still make less money than a male scientist. Despite this, I recognize that there are countless women in the US and other countries who need feminism more than I do. I recognize that there are women who were born into economic situations, sexual orientations, disabilities, ethnicities, and cultures deemed less desirable by society who face oppression on a greater scale. Further, I recognize that feminism is not just about women. It is about challenging the patriarchy that pressures men to be stoic providers who work unlimited hours and don't get to see their children. It is about allowing men to access, admit to, and deal with emotional trauma appropriately. It is about providing both men and women who are abused and raped with adequate legal, medical, and mental health services.

We don’t need meninism, because in almost every country in the world there is a predominantly male government in place to prioritize the interests of its male citizens. We don’t need meninism because we already know that not all men are rapists. We don’t need meninism because feminism is about freeing all genders, not pitting them against each other. We don’t need meninism because it perpetuates harmful stereotypes about women and it is a joke that should never have happened.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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