President Obama’s newly-made personal Twitter account wasted no time in disassociating itself from a controversial movement that has been gaining traction.
The account “Meninist,” which has accumulated over 877,000 followers, tweeted a screenshot of a page notifying the Twitter community that it had been blocked from following the President and viewing his tweets.
The account tweets jokes at the expense of women and mocks the feminist movement, often utilizing sexist slurs in what they assert in their description to be “obviously sarcasm.” The Meninist website sells shirts emblazoned with “#MENINISM,” the buyers submitting photos of themselves wearing the shirts to be posted on the Meninist Twitter and Instagram (28,000 followers).
While @MeninistTweets claims to be a joke, online communities in which men post anti-feminist messages have been growing.
One such website is the forum SlutHate, whose definition of “slut” as circumstantial as “if the woman sleeps with the person than [sic] being a slut means she was wild in bed, if she rejects the person it means she’s hypergamous and a stuck-up.” “Hypergamous” is defined in SlutHate’s glossary as “the tendency of a woman to only become romantically involved with men who are of higher value than she is.” On SlutHate, men discuss what they see to be the negative effects of feminism, arguing that the new sexual freedom many women are discovering has led to a select few men (“alpha males”) having sex while the majority “underclass” is left without.
Another site, Angry Harry, asserts that equality between men and women is completely impossible, and the desire for such is creating a war between the sexes. NiceGuy’s “American Women Suck” page welcomes the visitor with several paragraphs bemoaning women who reject “nice guys,” contending that a show of basic manners should be more than enough to earn boyfriend status. The first page of the website Return of Kings promotes an article titled, “Playboy Endorses Dating Women Who Have Had Double Mastectomy,” subtitled, “Don’t settle for damaged goods just because you’re shamed into it.” The list goes on: Elam’s A Voice for Men, The Spearhead, The Rational Male--the network that has been dubbed the “manosphere” runs deep into the online world.
Men’s rights activists (or MRA's) cite many situations in which they feel men have been oppressed. The list includes high rates of male imprisonment, high injury rates at the hard labor jobs into which many poor and working-class men are forced, denial of male domestic and sexual abuse victims and a lack of men’s shelters for the men who make up the largest contingent of the homeless population. However, the MRA community pays more attention to what they see is an epidemic of false rape reports (which have been estimated to make up 2-10% of reported rapes) and advocating for the boycott of the movie “Mad Max,” a movie that involves women escaping sexual slavery and that Return of Kings dubbed “a feminist piece of propaganda.”
The movement can trace its roots back to Warren Farrell, whose 1993 book The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex made the case that men bear the brunt of gender-based discrimination. He has organized conferences for MRAs and serves on the board of The National Coalition for Men, which has attempted to cut off state funding for domestic abuse victims if men are not included. His friend Paul Elam runs A Voice for Men, and has posted justifications for abuse against women, saying that some “walk through life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH--PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.”
Farrell has stated he feels messages like this and the men who attack feminists with rape and death threats are extreme, likening himself to the MRA version of Martin Luther King, Jr. versus the more extreme Stokely Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver.
Men are not the only ones participating in anti-feminist movements. The Facebook page “Women Against Feminism” has more than 30,000 likes, featuring pictures of women holding up signs explaining why they don’t need feminism. Explanations range from “because I cherish the family unit and feminists are trying hard to destroy it by villifying [sic] men” to “as a Christian, I follow the Bible’s commands that I submit to my husband in all things.” All agree on one thing: they are not being oppressed by men.
The movement has even inspired the creation of a political party, with members of the Justice for Men and Boys Party running for Parliament in the United Kingdom’s recent elections. The party was created by Mike Buchanan, author of The Glass Ceiling Delusion (The Real Reasons More Women Don’t Reach Senior Positions) and Feminism: The Ugly Truth. Their platform includes eliminating the Equality Act 2010 and hiring more male teachers, as they claim female teachers give lower grades to boys. Buchanan plans to field fifty candidates for the next general election.
One notable member of the men’s rights movement and frequenter of the aforementioned websites was Elliot Rodger, known for his 2014 “Day of Retribution” at UC Santa Barbara, during which he killed six people in retaliation for being rejected by women. His 137-page manifesto reads remarkably similar to the language found on the sites that make up the manosphere and that are gaining more readers by the day.
In spite of the fact that @MeninistTweets markets itself as a joke, the anti-feminist movement is certainly growing in numbers; with people like Elliot Rodger in their ranks, this may have dire consequences for men and women alike.