Thursday, June 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Backlash Against Feminism

There is no doubt that 2014 has been a great year for feminism (please note, before I fully begin, that I believe feminism entails equal rights for all genders). With the popularity of the HeForShe and the “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” movements feminism has gained a whole host of new supporters. However, with any movement for equality throughout all of history there seems to be a backlash.

Feminism has always experienced groups of people who disagree with it, who fail to understand it or who just think gender equality is down-right ridiculous. I may have been more willing to understand such point of views if I was born fifty, seventy or a hundred years ago. But in the modern age where everything seems to be developing and advancing positively, why is it that gender issues remain in a stalemate?

Anti-feminism, or a new one which I hadn’t heard of until this week “Meninism” is growing in popularity along with the popularity of the feminist movement. I first became aware of Meninism whilst scrolling down my Twitter feed. Of course, I was immediately interested in what it was. I expected to see promoting of male rights i.e reforming the laws and prejudices for paternity leave for men. However, that wasn’t the case. After being on social media for several years there isn’t really much that shocks me any more (which is quite upsetting really), but Meninism did. Or at least, what people seem to think Meninism should mean.

I think Meninism would be an excellent opportunity to promote the male side of gender inequality issues. There are societal constructs which can be damaging to men, and so men would also benefit from complete gender equality, though they clearly have nowhere near as much to gain as women. The point of feminism is gender equality, not the promotion of women’s rights whilst we ignore the discrepancies in law/opinion that our male counterparts experience. However, this Meninist Twitter account does not seem concerned with actually achieving equal rights (or even more rights for men). It seems determined to mock and bully feminists for their efforts to create gender equality for all. Take some example tweets:

“I’m supposed to get down on one knee but I have to beg for her to get on hers?” Oh, blowjob jokes. You were so hilarious in high school but rather pathetic now.

“How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb? None, they can’t change anything.” But of course, feminists have changed a whole list of things. I would not be at University today if it weren’t for feminists (including our RHUL Alumnus Emily Davison).

Feminism can, does advocate change for women. And for men too. But certain people are bent upon putting down the feminist movement, but why? The only analogy I can think of is that Feminism is an adult observing a small child playing with a toy. It seeks to grab the toy to share it, but the child with the toy decided to throw a massive paddy. It cries, whines, lashes out, gets angry, fights to get the toy back. The toy is equal rights and it should be shared. Those who feel it shouldn’t be shared aren’t doing themselves or their cause any justice by making jokes in the feminist movement. You think I haven’t heard/seen feminism mocked at least once a day for the past year? Yes I have. And is feminism still here? Yes it is.

Meninism would be a fantastic opportunity to call attention to the double standards in society and in legislation which prevents full gender equality. Instead it is used as a platform to mock an equality movement. What a waste. I cannot help but think back to time I spent in History class where I would look at the opposition to racial equality and think: How can anyone be so stupid, cruel and heartless to deny a person their rights? I cannot wait for the day when someone looks back at the opposition to gender equality and thinks the same. No matter what opposition equality faces, we will overcome it.