Masculist / Masculinist
Waiting in my inbox when I returned from summer holidays was a letter from Martin Lewis, founding editor of MENZ Issues.
I was googling my name to see if something I had written had a reference on the net when the MENZ Issues archives came up. Interesting to revisit them. Also good to see that someone is still keeping up the ‘good fight’!
One thought that struck me though was that the MENZ term was originally “Masculist” not “Masculinist” … ever heard the term “Femininist”? I haven’t. More importantly a masculist would be to the Men’s Movement what a feminist is to the Women’s Movement whereas as I understand it, in feminist parlance, a masculinist is one who fights against feminism … for the macho male tradition. Which do we wish to promote and align ourselves with? Personally I support the former.”
Now I would have sworn that I’d seen an early draft of the then Men’s Centre North Shore newsletter using the word “Masculinist”, but I can’t find anything so I must have imagined it. I’ve always personally thought the term “masculist” to be uncomfortably close in sound to the word “emasculate”. I also have trouble with the idea that elements of male culture can be appropriately defined by feminists. In addition, the reality is that much of the driving force behind the current men’s movement is a fight against feminism – or more accurately, against that strain of feminism which actively works to disadvantage males.
In regard to my mystery source, Martin notes:
“Definitely not one of mine as it was an issue I debated before joining MCNS 🙂 The reason I was debating it was that I was told (by a feminist) that a masculinist was someone who wanted to maintain the status quo … men in control of women (her perspective) and I was arguing that I, and men like me, wanted to achieve equity or equivalence for men and women, (which was why I supported feminism in the ’70’s) not so much equality as ‘viva la difference’ I say. Equality suggests androgyny to me. Equivalence means ‘different but of equal value’ and equity, fairness.”
Characterisation of the men’s movement as a bunch of conservative, reactionary, patriarchal oppressors has been a regular theme in feminist publications over recent years. In my experience of over 10 years attending support meetings I would say that only a tiny minority bear any resemblance to this description. Most of us actually like women very much, and we fully support their right to be treated fairly with men in society. I’m sure the majority of us would go along with Martin’s attitude of ‘viva la difference’ .
In the end, labels are not as important as collective action by the people actively involved. Perhaps more relevantly, I’m not about to edit hundreds of ancient web pages, so it looks like we’ll have to remain “Masculinist Evolution New Zealand” and define the term for ourselves.
What do you readers think about this?