Editorial: Meninism is no joke

The+Oakland+Post

The Oakland Post

By Oona Goodin-Smith

In the spirit of all things April foolery, there’s a lot to laugh about this year: waking up to a fresh blanket of snow in April, Nickelback’s newest attempt at a revival, and the possibility of ever finding a legal parking spot in P2.

A little humor never hurt anybody – in fact, according to PBS’s “This Emotional Life,” laughter may actually be the best medicine, proven to have physical, cognitive, emotional and social benefits, ranging from increased creativity and self-esteem to the reduction of physical pain. 

In recent years, Internet humor has become the name of the game, with memes, parody accounts and ironic hashtags popping up to give us that online pick-me-up. 

One hashtag in particular, #MeninistTwitter, arrived on the Internet scene in late 2013 in the name of funny and has stuck in the name of anti-feminism, spawning the informal movement known as “meninism.” 

Originating as “men sharing jokes – some of which were criticised [sic] as offensive by feminists,” according to Benjamin Zand of the BBC, the movement is one meant to “promote equal rights and gender equality,” says The Telegraph.

Often defended as “good-natured,” “meninist” tweets today range from asking “Where’s men’s history month?”  as we close out Women’s History Month to questioning other physical and social gender double standards to mimicking anti-rape, abortion and domestic violence ads and campaigns from “the man’s perspective,” according to BuzzFeed News

The punchline: the gender gap still exists, even for us millennials, and statistically, women lose almost every time. “Meninism” is not a Twitter movement but the society in which we live.

According to a 2014 report in Forbes, “college-educated women working full time were paid an unexplained 7 percent less than their male counterparts were paid one year after graduation.”

Male figures dominate leadership positions, boardrooms and media – a study by the Women’s Media Center last year found that a whopping 63 percent of bylines in today’s journalism (those controlling our news intake) are owned by men.

While we question the lack of men’s history month, let’s remember that history was predominately written by white males – it’s been less than a century since American women even won the right to vote for our country’s leader. A majority of our history is taught through the male lens by default. Laughing, yet?

It’s 2015, and while there’s no denying progress has been made, in the words of James Brown, “it’s a man’s man’s man’s world” and when the reality of any marginalized group is belittled and mocked, we are only moving backward in progression and time.

Is misandry or ignoring male inequity the answer? Absolutely not – the world is cruel to all. In fact, a TODAY Show study examining the male body image found nearly two-thirds of American men to be “dissatisfied with looks” or their body – a growing trend often ignored in male culture.

Instead, we must work to build up and support a group’s struggle or concern – not belittle them through near-sighted stabs at humor. 

At the 26th GLAAD Media Awards on March 21, “Scandal” actress Kerry Washington may have said it best: 

“We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each others existence and the truth of each other’s hearts. We must be allies…to be represented is to be humanized. And as long as anyone, anywhere is being made to feel less human, our very definition of humanity is at stake and we are all vulnerable.”

It’s the truth, and that’s no joke.