I know that, by now, Meninism and its proponent, Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), are old news. But, in the wake of International Women’s Day, on which the Piers Morgans of the world jumped at the opportunity to condescendingly undermine the modern day feminist movement, it seems to me a good time to acknowledge that the Meninist ideology is still a prevalent one in today’s society, and so to ask: can Meninism actually achieve anything?
Now I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t seen genuine concerns aired in Twitter’s infamous Meninist hashtag. For example, I’ve seen issues of the unrealistic and damaging male body image standards raised a fair few times. However, the way issues such as this are presented by the MRAs I have seen are disturbingly individualist, and motivated by something that is far removed from the spirit of activism that their title suggests.
You see, from what I can gather, the MRA approach to body image issues shows little concern for, say, the dehumanisation of disabled, trans, or fat male bodies. There is also no visible regard for the fact that body image expectations in gay communities are often even more damaging than elsewhere, or the fact that black male bodies that live up to such standards are seen as inherently aggressive. In fact, there is also actually very little awareness shown of the way these body image expectations can be bad for their own mental and physical health. Honestly, it just seems to me like they think it’s unfair that they’re told they can’t call a woman fat.
It’s frustrating, because the truth of the matter is that male body image and other such issues really do need addressing, and I would be lying if I said that Meninist circles hadn’t identified legitimate problems. Unfortunately though, what Meninism as a movement boils down to is a new-wave misogyny, intended to act as both an attempt to further the privileges of the white, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled, middle-class men who are part of it, as well as a completely unproductive attack on feminism.
By bringing up this latter point, I don’t want to make it seem as though I believe that the feminist movement should be left uncriticised. There are also countless issues with feminism, which range from exclusion to miseducation. But at least in feminism there is an end goal, and a genuine movement towards global equality that the world sorely needs. Meanwhile, in Meninism, there are poorly printed T-shirts, and the awe-inspiring, rallying cries of “WHAT DO WE WANT?”, “TO CRITICISE WOMEN!”, “WHEN DO WE WANT IT?”, “I don’t know, we kind of already do that, but to do it without being criticised back would be nice”.
Maybe I’m being too harsh here, and there are actually self-identifying Meninists with significant, broader concerns. To be honest though, I imagine finding one is like looking for a needle in a haystack, since the vast majority of MRAs might as well have jumped straight out of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It reallyis no use having a small handful of “good” Meninists if what they identify with is an overarching movement that makes no significant or productive progress for those who genuinely need it.
The Meninist movement as a whole is, unfortunately, one that ignores the fact that there are genuine issues that many men face. The sooner that Men’s Right’s Activists acknowledge this, and the responsibility that the word ‘activist’ entails, the sooner they can maybe make some actual changes, and for the right reasons.
Aiden Alexander Wynn
(Image courtesy of The Odyssey Online)