Feminism Vs Meninism…
Here at Got Your Back HQ we are always thinking about new ways to discuss the issues that mater to you and our last 3 work placements have picked a topic close to their hearts and spend the week researching, exploring and debating them. Creating blogs and creating Podcasts in the process. Last week, Mary set her topic as the state as Feminism in Hull and discussed the issue with Jenni from the eskimosoup team.
The aim of the podcast was to clear up the misconceptions around feminism, and address the negative atmosphere around “meninism” and this is a sneak peak of the discussion out together by Aaliyah and the podcast with Mary will be ready for you soon!
The concept of feminism has been around for centuries. Throughout history, women have had to fight for rights as men were deemed the most powerful and dominant gender. This, of course, was not the fault of any one man but was more down to societal standards overruling the concept of equality between genders.
The word feminism originated from the French word “féminisme” meaning “womanhood” or “feminization” and it was first used in the 1890’s around the time of the suffragette movement. Mary explained at the beginning of the podcast how the definition of feminism has been lost in translation because many believe that feminism is a pro-women movement for women only. Mary corrected this belief, saying “Anyone can be a feminist… it’s about working towards equality”.
There are many people in modern society who still disagree with feminism as it focuses on giving women rights in order to be equal to men, which appears to be making some men feel excluded. After doing research on the term “meninism”, Mary concluded that it was originally created to mock feminism and to counteract it in favour of men rather than equality. The men who originally created and used this term appeared to be feeling victimised since feminism favours improving women’s rights as a way to achieve equality. Mary pointed out that meninism is quite divided since some men, particularly on Twitter, use meninism to make fun of certain feminist movements. For example, many feminist women pointed out that photoshopping models to look “perfect” in magazines and online is promoting impossible body standards for women which could therefore have a negative impact on the self-esteems of women, especially young girls. Men then took the concept of pointing out unrealistic body standards and turned it into their own joke by taking ridiculously photoshopped images of men and pointing out the new photoshopped figures of the men
Mary gave examples of other people using “meninism” for social good. She explained how one group of men in America campaigned for baby changing stations in men’s toilets as well as having them in women’s toilets. This is an example of identifying a real problem for men, specifically for single fathers, and striving for equality, similar to how feminists would approach situations they feel are problems. Although this is an example of men acting for equality, many would argue that this still fits in with feminism and feminist values, it strives for equality which is the core belief of feminism, and would in fact benefit women too as it helps relieve the women of the task of changing their child’s nappy.
As Mary initially pointed out in the podcast, everyone can be a feminist as feminism acts for equality, so despite this being an example of “meninism” identifying a true problem for men and aiming to solve it so they can have parity, it still fits in perfectly with feminist values. This must mean that there is no need for “meninism” at all since the good side of it could be classified as feminism anyway.
Mary also mentioned the issue that due to the mocking and false stereotypes that feminists have been labelled with, young people become misinformed and mislead about feminism to the point where they are ashamed to call themselves feminists. Since younger people are commonly more impressionable, this is becoming an increasingly large problem. As Mary pointed out in the beginning, the definition of feminism has been clouded by other people. A term that is sometimes seen around social media is “feminazi”. This term has been used many times in the past to make feminist views seem evil and wrong as it is a portmanteau of the words “feminist” and “nazi” and therefore implies that the liberation movement has equal values to Nazism. It is often used when women speak up and act against sexism – many people believe that “feminazi” is a term intended to silence radical feminists. This term may play a part in certain young people wanting to avoid association with feminism because they want to avoid being labelled with such a pejorative term. They may also believe that “feminazi” is an accurate description of what feminists stand for, which is completely untrue.
Towards the end of the podcast, Jenni concluded that many people may be against feminism because they are so overwhelmed as well as being severely misinformed that they don’t know how to respond positively. Jenni said “so many different groups of people who are calling for equality may be confusing people”, referring to the many minority groups who point out the injustice that they face. Many outsiders of these groups misunderstand and respond with belittling jokes, which Jenni explained may be a “knee-jerk reaction” since they cannot relate to these minority groups and may be afraid of them speaking up about the injustice they face, which could create a sense of insecurity for those who are not part of this group. These jokes might not be aimed to hurt or offend others, but they do anyway because they often come from a place of ignorance. Jenni also pointed out that anyone can face injustice in their lives, and everyone should aim for equality in general because no one needs to be part of an oppressed group of people in order to recognise that they are lacking rights and help to achieve justice.