Ten Things You Should Know About Two Opposing Movements
- Have you heard of the anti-feminist counter-movement, “Masculinism”? Probably not. This mobilization of women-haters has garnered little research. Initiated in 1980’s Quebec, “masculinists” claim they are victims of the work that feminism has done and that “the intrinsically male competitive spirit and, thus, the sound operation of the capitalist economy” (Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri 27). Déri 22) is in danger. Members of the campaign assert that women are dominating Quebec, resulting in a superseding of the patriarchy. In short, their aim is to reverse the work that feminists have done in the province.
- The opposition began over the issue of ‘fathers’ rights’ in the 1980’s and 1990’s. During this time, women convinced the government to enact a law forcing estranged fathers to pay child support. Simultaneously, members of the feminist movement built a large network of resources for women who had been victims of male violence (committed mainly by spouses and ex-spouses). In response, much of the efforts of the masculinist operation is spent fighting for the sapping of resources to shelters for women of domestic violence, which they claim work to transmit a negative image of men. The most devout sect of the movement is Fathers-4-Justice, with members not only in Canada, but the UK, the USA, and elsewhere.
Fathers-4-Justice members dressed up in superhero costumes protest by hanging a banner off the side of a building.
3. The reality of women’s rights achievements in Quebec leaves plentiful room for improvement. Politically, 70% of the government’s parliamentary seats and 84% of its mayorships are made-up of men. Furthermore, Quebec’s largest corporations are led largely by men, with 84% of board room participants being male. In Canada, the 86% of people who own firearms are men. It may not come as a surprise, then, that the female–male ratio of spousal homicide victims is 5 to 1. Yet, “Masculinists…see themselves as victims of women and feminists” (Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri 22).
4. The authors of the article “Masculinism and The Antifeminist
Countermovement” compared masculinism to racism: “The masculinist movement is grounded in political, economic, and social power relations between men as a class and women as a class. It combats feminism and the progress women have achieved with the help of feminists, just as neo-Nazism strives for the domination of one group (the Aryans) over another (essentially the Jews), or as the white supremacist movement fights against the legal and social gains accomplished by the descendants of Afro-American slaves, which entail a loss of advantages for whites” (Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri 25).
5. Many masculinists hold praise for the single worst anti-feminist violent act in history. On December 9, 1989, Marc Lépine shot and killed 14 women at the E´ cole polytechnique de Montre´al and then took his own life. He’d left a note voicing his belief in anti-feminism as a catalyst for the event. Today, Lépine is often applauded and even regarded as an inspiration for the masculinist movement.
6. Meanwhile, Shaun Wiley, et al. in the article “Positive Portrayals of Feminist Men Increase Men’s Solidarity With Feminists and Collective Action Intentions” considers “male feminism” (93) and its potential as a conciliatory event. They first combat the question, can males be feminist? One concept, termed the “impossibility theory” says no. “Because there is no exit from male patriarchy. Men simply don’t know what it’s like to be a woman. Men are the colonists of the feminist front, women are the natives” (84).
7. On the other hand, the authors consider that our identities as male and female are completely intertwined. One sex cannot exist without the other. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all persons to appeal for gender equality. The problem with the “impossible theory” is that “the conceptualization of feminism as a “women’s only” political movement is that the idea is often buttressed by by a social construction of gender that posits all men as the enemy” (90), and that’s not what feminism is supposed to be about. It should be about equality for all genders.
8. “Central to this claim”, therefore, “is the notion that all of us (women and men) have a stake in transforming gender relations. Feminism provides an ideological vehicle for which to do the work” (90). The first obligation of any man (or woman for that matter) who wants to understand and be a part of the feminist movement should first confront the deeply ingrained patriarchal tendencies with which they construct their lives. Here is a helpful article for people who aren’t sure how to have a conversation about feminism.
9. Also, the HeForShe movement is a great place for men who want to fight for gender equality to get started. “With more gender awareness men would be in a political position to challenge the ways in which they enact and naturalize the patriarchal codes of manhood in their everyday social encounters” (Wiley, Shaun et al. 87). Click the link to get aware!
10. Finally, vote for Bernie Sanders, a male feminist.
Blais, Melissa, and Francis, Dupuis-Déri. “Masculinism and The Antifeminist Countermovement.” Social Movement Studies 11.1 (2012): 21-39. Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 5 Nov. 2015.
Wiley, Shaun, et al. “Positive Portrayals of Feminist Men Increase Men’s Solidarity With
Feminists and Collective Action Intentions.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 37.1 (2013): 61. Publisher Provided Full Text Searching File. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.