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On #meninism and Why We Still Need the Stella Prize

Originally published on Lip, March 3 2015

I recently read a feature on the #meninism social media “movement”, which has been described as everything from satire gone wrong to a mockery of first world feminism.

The piece was written by Jesse Fink, well known to leagues of Aussie sports fans for his columns and commentary across all spectrums of media.

It wasn’t exactly a thought-provoking piece about #meninism or the fight for equality between the sexes, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Fink’s words.

Don’t get me wrong; Fink does make some fairly interesting surface arguments about the so-called movement, which has become, as writer Petra Starke puts it, a parody of itself. Fink is a man who isn’t buying into it – and there is no way he’ll be wearing a hashtag shirt to show his support.

And I applaud his side-note to ‘disgruntled young men behaving like pigs’ telling them that ‘women don’t deserve to be called “bitches” – however amusing you think you’re being’.

The story started to lose me when Fink began to make an argument for meninist, a “catchy” term that could be used to describe the ‘hypocrisy and double standards of our society, as seen by men’.

Take, for example, how it’s acceptable for women to judge a man by his height but not for men to judge a woman by her weight – a common “joke” on the #meninist and #meninism Twitter feeds. While this could have been a valid (and unoriginal) point about social conditioning, there was no thoughtful debate about the beauty standard. Fink made it sound like a get out of jail free card.

It was the next paragraph in particular, though, that made me stop and wonder whether Fink was taking the piss or whether he was serious. According to the author, it is unnecessary for women writers in Australia to have their own prize – the Stella Prize – an award that points to double standards because  apparently ‘Hell would freeze over’ before there was a single literary prize for men’.

Unfortunately, Fink was serious. This was not a tongue-in-cheek reference to the thousands of #meninist outcries for justice and equality.

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