- - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Many feminists hate “meninism.” I, a proud and staunch feminist, don’t.
Yes, meninism is partly a mockery of the real struggles that women face. Yes, self-proclaimed meninists are mostly privileged white men. But they have raised some real issues.

One Twitter user pointed out that while it is inappropriate to ask a woman her waist-size or weight (and it should be!), many men are asked how tall they are before women agree to date them. It’s a double standard we’re rarely conscious of. It’s considered rude if a man doesn’t offer his jacket to a woman in cold weather, even if the man is cold. It’s rude if a man doesn’t offer to pay for a first date.

As a feminist, I find a lot of what I do is wish for “male” traits. I want to be beautiful because I’m confident, not shy. I want to be able to be more assertive without people calling me “intimidating.” I want to go makeup-free to parties and interviews and not be criticized. I want to earn as much as men, argue as much as men, and be respected for being powerful and independent. I don’t want to have to cross my legs when I sit and I don’t want to stay at home if I have children.

And because many women feel the same way, everyone has gotten more attitude, gotten more career-driven and confident, and learned to mask their feelings in shows of bravado. Not only has it become acceptable for women to like war movies, action heroes and “Star Wars,” it’s become desirable.

Here’s the problem

#WheresRey recently trended on Twitter, as it has done a couple times before. Consumers responded very negatively to the fact that Rey, the lead character and heroine in “The Force Awakens,” isn’t as widely featured in the franchise’s merchandise as her male co-stars. In fact, in a box of six figurines, there were two unnamed male characters from the movie, but no Rey or Leia. Disney has done the same in the past with Gamora, the only female “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and Black Widow, the only female Avenger, both of whom were not featured in many toy sets.

Many feminists think that the issue is Disney not believing that women want to see “Star Wars” or Marvel and refusing to see women as powerful heroes. That is certainly a part of the story. But another part is that marketers don’t believe that their target male audience would dare be seen playing with a girl figure. While girls will buy Finn, boys and their parents won’t want Rey. That mentality may be the bigger story.

It’s the same mentality that doomed President Obama to downpours of criticism after he shed more than a few tears while talking about gun control. The deaths of children in Newton and thousands of people across the country every year, is worth crying about. It shouldn’t be seen as embarrassing or weak to cry. But it was.

By saying that successful women are strong and that “like a girl” means “powerful,” feminism has unconsciously doomed traditionally “female” characteristics.

Meninism should be about bringing them back.

Feminism is about being tough. Meninism should be about being sweet.

Meninism should be about how important characteristics like grace, vulnerability, kindness and empathy are, just like feminism is about strength, pride, attitude, and confidence.

Meninism should be about men wearing makeup, taking yoga classes and learning to be charming and coy.

Meninism should be about boys being allowed to play with Rey figurines and President Obama being allowed to cry.

If the meninist movement works, hopefully men won’t feel that hunting, owning gun, and getting women are the only ways to “earn” their status. Hopefully women will no longer be criticized for staying at home, wearing makeup, crying in public, or enjoying rom-coms.

A part of what feminism did is make traditionally male traits desirable – and attainable – to women, who can be confident, successful and career-driven. Meninism can show the world that traditionally female traits aren’t so bad either.

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