Masculinity Manifest: Meninism, MRAs, and 'Post'-Feminism

March 20, 2016 Written By Kartik Maini

‘Meet the women who think men are the real victims…’ and thus they are introduced. The most notable of the Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), Deepika Bhardwaj, calls feminists ‘misguided’ as she points that it is men who are the fallen, the voiceless, the forgotten gender…

Ideologies, movements, and systems of thought are never sacrosanct. They are critiqued, thence remodelled in a constant dialogue of variegated viewpoints. Such is, similarly, the feminist movement – from its inception in ‘first-wave’ feminism, marked by Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, to the rich diversity that has prompted many to call it an ideology. Throughout its course in varied discursive domains set in their peculiar historical contexts, feminism has exhibited tremendous receptivity towards alternative viewpoints, such that commonality has now become difficult to trace. This blurring of the ‘norm,’ and the kind of transcendence that the feminist movement now enjoys faces marked disturbance with what is popularly known as ‘meninism.’

Meninism, first coined in the 2000s, is the movement against ‘feminist misandry.’ It seeks to address the male perspective to patriarchy – masculine gender constructions, cases of rape of men and its societal lacunae, the oppression that patriarchy poses to men –  and simultaneously  ‘pledges to denounce feminism’ as a movement of hatred. Alternatively, and rather correctly, the Urban Dictionary defines meninism as ‘a mockery of feminism which proves that women can’t request equality without white men making everything about themselves.’ 

It is undeniable that feminist discourse is yet to come to terms with men, and that the paradigm shift that third-wave feminism created vis-à-vis the men-are-the-oppressors schema has not created enough space for addressing feminism from the point of view of men, or in furthering discourse from seeing men as passive beneficiaries – as allies not safe from patriarchal oppression, without whom the imagined society of gender equality and justice is impossible to create. Yet, one wonders if meninism is the paradigm that feminism requires.

With its punctuated cries of men being the ‘truly oppressed,’ or the ‘forgotten gender,’ meninism derails discourse from the centrepiece of patriarchal oppression: women. Although it is now recognised that patriarchy oppresses both women and men, it is problematic to ignore that patriarchy, as a social system, is engineered and designed to oppress the woman – relegating her to a position of perpetual subordination, grateful dependency, and harrowing social, political, and economic conditions of life. ‘Meninist discourse’ (if it can be called so), in fact, focuses mostly on denouncing the feminist movement –  its ideals, its theory, its practice. With its depiction of feminists with their mythical rhetoric on gender equality as ‘bra-burning, man-hating,’ meninism hampers the feminist movement’s long-drawn struggle for gender justice, and impedes further pursuit, like consciousness-raising, drowning the voice of the drowning. This, then, makes it apparent that feminists must now confront the pedagogical war being fought against it, with even public figures proclaiming unabashedly that they ‘believe in gender equality, but aren’t feminists.’

It is unmistakable, then, as even the Urban Dictionary points out, that meninism and the terminology of ‘post-feminism’ which decrees that ‘feminism has gone beyond itself’ is but an offshoot of the patriarch’s ego that sees women urging for equality as having gone beyond the conduct of subservience that patriarchy cements for them. Such voices ought to be treated with the indifference that they deserve. Voices that seek to desist feminism must realise, then, that feminism will be as long as patriarchy is. And the struggle to defeat the latter has only just begun.

Masculinity Manifest: Meninism, MRAs, and 'Post'-Feminism

March 20, 2016 Written By Kartik Maini

‘Meet the women who think men are the real victims…’ and thus they are introduced. The most notable of the Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), Deepika Bhardwaj, calls feminists ‘misguided’ as she points that it is men who are the fallen, the voiceless, the forgotten gender…

Ideologies, movements, and systems of thought are never sacrosanct. They are critiqued, thence remodelled in a constant dialogue of variegated viewpoints. Such is, similarly, the feminist movement – from its inception in ‘first-wave’ feminism, marked by Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman, to the rich diversity that has prompted many to call it an ideology. Throughout its course in varied discursive domains set in their peculiar historical contexts, feminism has exhibited tremendous receptivity towards alternative viewpoints, such that commonality has now become difficult to trace. This blurring of the ‘norm,’ and the kind of transcendence that the feminist movement now enjoys faces marked disturbance with what is popularly known as ‘meninism.’

Meninism, first coined in the 2000s, is the movement against ‘feminist misandry.’ It seeks to address the male perspective to patriarchy – masculine gender constructions, cases of rape of men and its societal lacunae, the oppression that patriarchy poses to men –  and simultaneously  ‘pledges to denounce feminism’ as a movement of hatred. Alternatively, and rather correctly, the Urban Dictionary defines meninism as ‘a mockery of feminism which proves that women can’t request equality without white men making everything about themselves.’ 

It is undeniable that feminist discourse is yet to come to terms with men, and that the paradigm shift that third-wave feminism created vis-à-vis the men-are-the-oppressors schema has not created enough space for addressing feminism from the point of view of men, or in furthering discourse from seeing men as passive beneficiaries – as allies not safe from patriarchal oppression, without whom the imagined society of gender equality and justice is impossible to create. Yet, one wonders if meninism is the paradigm that feminism requires.

With its punctuated cries of men being the ‘truly oppressed,’ or the ‘forgotten gender,’ meninism derails discourse from the centrepiece of patriarchal oppression: women. Although it is now recognised that patriarchy oppresses both women and men, it is problematic to ignore that patriarchy, as a social system, is engineered and designed to oppress the woman – relegating her to a position of perpetual subordination, grateful dependency, and harrowing social, political, and economic conditions of life. ‘Meninist discourse’ (if it can be called so), in fact, focuses mostly on denouncing the feminist movement –  its ideals, its theory, its practice. With its depiction of feminists with their mythical rhetoric on gender equality as ‘bra-burning, man-hating,’ meninism hampers the feminist movement’s long-drawn struggle for gender justice, and impedes further pursuit, like consciousness-raising, drowning the voice of the drowning. This, then, makes it apparent that feminists must now confront the pedagogical war being fought against it, with even public figures proclaiming unabashedly that they ‘believe in gender equality, but aren’t feminists.’

It is unmistakable, then, as even the Urban Dictionary points out, that meninism and the terminology of ‘post-feminism’ which decrees that ‘feminism has gone beyond itself’ is but an offshoot of the patriarch’s ego that sees women urging for equality as having gone beyond the conduct of subservience that patriarchy cements for them. Such voices ought to be treated with the indifference that they deserve. Voices that seek to desist feminism must realise, then, that feminism will be as long as patriarchy is. And the struggle to defeat the latter has only just begun.

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